Foreign Press Promotes the Slander: A Case Study in Ha’aretz-Led Bias
Of course, every anti-Israel website on the Internet picked up Gideon Levy’s original article. Interestingly, the US mainstream media did not run the story, possibly as a result of the speed with which Levy’s analysis was debunked before American print deadlines.
Consistent with the nasty anti-Israel bias displayed on an almost daily basis, the UK media went straight for the jugular. Unsurprisingly, The Guardian came up with an almost identical headline to Ha’aretz: “Israeli poll finds majority in favour of ‘apartheid’ policies“.
Not only did Harriet Sherwood parrot Gideon Levy’s faulty conclusions but she also added her own twist. Despite the poll findings that the majority of Israelis were opposed to annexing the West Bank, including settlements, she stated:
Talk of the possible annexation of the West Bank, or the main settlement blocks within it, has increased in recent months as expectations of a negotiated settlement to the conflict have sunk to an all-time low. Israel’s defence minister, Ehud Barak, recently argued for the annexation of land between the internationally recognised Green Line and the Israeli-built separation barrier.
The Daily Telegraph also came up with the following misleading headline: “Israelis favour discrimination against Arabs – poll“.
In Canada, the Globe and Mail published the story under the headline: “Many Israeli Jews support apartheid-style state, poll suggests“.
Rarely will the international media produce an exclusive story from Israel. The Ha’aretz English edition is the newspaper of choice for most of the foreign press corps in Jerusalem and it’s where the journalists find their most critical stories on Israel.
Ha’aretz has an even greater responsibility to publish fair and accurate news and opinion in the knowledge that it’s content will be used around the globe. That Ha’aretz has a relatively low circulation in Israel does not impact the foreign press from treating Ha’aretz as the Israeli paper of note.
In this case, clearly those journalists who reported Levy’s faulty analysis were not prepared to do any fact checking for themselves, preferring to take Levy’s word as read. This, despite Levy’s reputation as a radical and unrepresentative of any mainstream opinion.
Those foreign media outlets that published Levy’s slander should issue their own corrections and clarifications. Sadly, however, thanks to Gideon Levy and Ha’aretz, the damage has already been done.
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