An open letter to Gideon Levy and Larry Derfner
From Maurice Ostroff
October 17, 2009
Gideon Levy, when you were was asked by Robert Hirschfield in an interview on September 9
whether you agree that your articles are proof that Israel, for all its faults, has a free, aggressive press, you answered
"We are under no pressure from the government. Journalists are free to write what they want."
justifiably proud of its free press, but I ask in all seriousness whether you have interpreted that freedom as a licence to
discard sound journalistic ethics of fairness and objectivity as well as sound investigative procedures and judgments. I refer
to your consistent broadcasting to the world, your subjective accusations that Israel has committed the most dreadful war
crimes and crimes against humanity, with no attempt at balance or even placing events in their context. You have in effect
set yourselves up as prosecutors and judges.
For example, no sooner had the Cast Lead operation begun, than
you, Gideon, wrote in Haaretz on 29/12/2008, "Once again, Israel's violent responses, even if there is justification
for them, exceed all proportion and cross every red line of humaneness, morality, international law and wisdom".
you too, Larry Derfner, in the JPost on September 16 assumed the role of judge. You wrote "Before, during and since
the war with Gaza, Israel has been overwhelmingly the victimizer, not the victim".
No matter how unqualified
or unjustified they may be, your views have been eagerly used by anti-Israel journalists worldwide as proof of Israel's wickedness.
After all, if Israelis say these terrible things about Israel, they must be true and there can be no doubt that you have made
a substantial contribution to the pervading anti-Israel prejudice among sincere persons. Please don't misunderstand
me. I do not for one moment suggest that Israel is above criticism. On the contrary while I advocate that abuses of human
rights by the IDF must be punished, I strongly deprecate irresponsible damaging accusations and generalizations based on preconceived
opinions. And the above two examples are nothing more than the expression of your prejudiced opinions stated as facts.
important question is why we should take your judgments on the Cast Lead operation, with your known subjective agendae of
seeking out and emphasizing every Israeli wart, whether real or imaginary, more seriously than the views of an independent
outsider expert who has experience of warfare as a commander under circumstances similar to those we encountered in Gaza.
I refer to Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan, whose military credentials are exemplary.
This is what he said at the UNHRC meeting on October 16, "During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence
Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare. Israel
did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian
population. Hamas, like Hizballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews
condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents."
fair minded people will consider Colonel Kemp's assessment far more credible than your strident but less qualified views and
I strongly recommend that you read and listen to the full text of his address at http://www.unwatch.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=bdKKISNqEmG&b=1313923&ct=7536409
This open letter is being publicized and I look forward to your considered response which will be similarly