Re Misleading reports
The following email was sent to Peter Beinart regarding a page on his "Open Zion' blog that contains the following information that is considered misleading as explained in the body of the
word shouted in the warroom seconds before another missile was shot at a building with members of the Samouni family, wrote
Maariv, revealing for the first time the orders that lead to the killing of 21 members of the same family in Operation Cast
hospital bans teaching staff from speaking in Arabic - Arab teachers and students working in Kfar Sava's Meir Medical Center
have been forbidden to speak to each other in Arabic, despite the fact that Arabic is one of Israel's official languages.
Date: Mon, 21 May 2012 16:25:48 +0200
To: Peter Beinart<Beinart@newamerica.net>
Subject: Your Open Zion blog
Resolution (74) 26 of the council of Europe Committee of Ministers states that any natural and legal
person regarding whom facts have been made accessible to the public which he claims to be inaccurate, may exercise the right
of reply in order to correct the facts and the medium in question shall be obliged to make public the reply which the person
concerned has sent in.
Although this is a European resolution, it nevertheless is relevant to the content of this email
which I ask you to please publish on your Open Zion blog in terms of an equitable right of reply.
While my readers
and I are very disappointed that your responses to my previous letters dealt only with generalities and failed to address
any of the issues I raised, I do hope you will deal more adequately with the following examples of failure to observe journalistic
ethics on your aforementioned blog.
I don't believe you can be unconcerned about the repeated violations of the Code of Ethics of the society of Professional
Journalists which requires that journalists
- test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent errors.
- diligently seek out subjects of news stories which give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
- identify sources wherever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources.
I quote the following examples:
1. The Samouni Family.
Completely out of context and without any explanation,
y our blog reports the following
" The word shouted in the warroom seconds before another missile was shot at a building
with members of the Samouni family, wrote Maariv, revealing for the first time the orders that lead to the killing of 21 members
of the same family in Operation Cast Lead".
The above statement is a very distorted interpretation of the unfortunate
incident that Judge Goldstone described in his famous Report as the single most serious incident in the Gaz war. However,
during a panel discussion on "Civilians in War Zones" at Stanford University on January 20, 2011, Judge Goldstone
dealt at length with the aforementioned Samouni case. He said that as several male members of the al-Samouni family returned
to the house carrying firewood, projectiles fired from gunships killed or injured them. Subsequent reports showed that this
was not a deliberate unprovoked attack as originally understood. What happened was that photographs from a drone of firewood
carried by a a group of men, was incorrectly interpreted to be rocket launchers. This precipitated the order to bomb
the men and the building.
This explanation was repeated in Goldstone's much publicized April 2011 article in the Washington
Post. It was consistent with the transcript of evidence given to the Goldstone Mission in Gaza on June 28, 2009 by Mr. Wail
El-Samouni who told the Mission that he and a number of cousins were targeted by an Apache missile when they went out to find
The above facts convey an entirely different picture than the quote on your site. Unlike some of his colleagues
who stubbornly adhere to preconceived opinions irrespective of contradictory information, Judge Goldstone demonstrated courage
and an open mind when he revised his opinion on learning the new facts. Can we expect that you too will show similar
courage in revising some of your opinions in the light of several incisive criticisms published about your book and articles?
2. The same blog page makes the following completely false allegation:
"Kfar Sava hospital bans teaching
staff from speaking in Arabic - Arab teachers and students working in Kfar Sava's Meir Medical Center have been forbidden
to speak to each other in Arabic, despite the fact that Arabic is one of Israel's official languages. (Haaretz)".
facts are very different. The Arabic language is encouraged and is spoken widely and freely throughout Meir Hospital. The
allegation that the use of Arabic is restricted is irresponsible and provokes uncalled for racial tensions.
an isolated complaint that was promptly and satisfactorily dealt with by the hospital was completely distorted by the reporter
who invented an irresponsible, inflammatory allegation that the hospital banned teaching staff from speaking Arabic and that
Arab teachers and students were forbidden to speak to each other in Arabic.
To compound the sin, your
article omits the highly important contradictory information contained in the small print of the Haaretz article from which
it was extracted - namely that the Education Ministry which operates the education department in the Meir Hospital insists
there was no such instruction and that the allegations were untrue. "Every Arabic-speaking child receives treatment and lessons
from Arab teachers, according to his needs", ministry officials said.
The Ministry's statement is borne out by
the experience of my colleague David Frankfurter whose son was recently hospitalized at the Meir hospital. David took his
son to the education room to review his mathematics homework. David is obviously Jewish; his skullcap makes this obvious.
David tells that a charming young Muslim teacher wearing a hijab, explained the facility in perfect Hebrew. She also offered
to assist his son with his homework. When she turned her attention to a young Arab child she spoke in Arabic. She conversed
with the patients and other staff, including her supervisor, in whichever language was appropriate to the situation. There
was no language self-consciousness on the part of any person in the room.
David says this real co-existence was
an oasis of calm for all the parents who were stressed by the fact that their children were ill. Unlike your unjustified criticism,
he says the facility is a credit to the Department of Education, the hospital and its dedicated staff
do you consider it unreasonable that I ask you, as an academic and teacher of journalism, to check the facts that you publish
and to refrain from adding fuel to the fire of extremism on both sides?
As with my earlier emails this open letter
will be publicized as will the considered reply I dare hope to receive from you
Peter Beinart's reply
At 5/21/2012,07:18 PM,Monday, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Per general blog style, we have a comments
section-you are welcome to note your objections to any articleUnusually for blogs, we also accept submissions challenging
the arguments made in previous posts. If you'd like to submit one, email email@example.com you'd like to avail yourself
of these opportunities, please do. They are the forum in which we arbitrate such arguments not in email exchanges such as
this. With this I will consider our correspondence to be over.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
Ostroff's response to the above reply
May 21, 2012
I am really sad to learn that
as editor, by refusing to correct blatantly untrue inflammatory reports about Israel on your 'Open Zion" blog, you appear
to condone them. I refer for example to the absurd and inflammatory story that at Meir hospital Arab teachers and students have been forbidden to speak to each other in Arabic. Does it not concern
you that this false story exacerbates racial tensions? Do you have no interest in dousing rather than fanning the flames?
attitude does not inspire confidence in the accuracy of information provided in your much publicized books and articles.