LA Times Rehashes A Libel

All too often the media is quick to take Palestinian claims at face value, keen to fit the story to a preconceived narrative that protrays Israel as a serial human rights abuser while casting doubt on legitimate Israeli narratives. (See HonestReporting’s “The Big Lies” interactive presentation for some of the most infamous.)

Such was the case in July 2008 when a number of British media outlets reported that Mohammed Omer, a Palestinian journalist from Gaza, had been physically abused by Israeli security at the Jordanian border on his way back from the UK. It should be noted that Omer is the Gaza correspondent for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, a journal known for its anti-Israel positions.

HonestReporting UK, while recognizing that it may already have been too late to arrest the damage, disseminated, in full, the statement of Israel’s official inquiry into Omer’s allegations in order to counter this anti-Israel libel and to ensure that the statement remains on the web for the record.

Despite this and CAMERA’s further investigation into the allegations and faulty press reporting, which cast even more doubt on Mohammed Omer’s credibility, the LA Times has chosen to rehash the Mohammed Omer story some three months later.

The presumptive trigger for the LA Times’s interest in this story is perhaps even less credible than Omer himself. Richard Falk, the UN Human Rights Council’s “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967″ has called for futher investigation. Falk is a person described by UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer in a letter to the Jerusalem Post as:

One with the moral compass to argue, as Falk did in 2002, that suicide bombings were the “only means still available by which to inflict sufficient harm on Israel so that the (Palestinian) struggle could go on.” One with the political judgment to write, in a 1979 New York Times op-ed, that Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution “may yet provide us with a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country.” One with the good sense to support – as Falk has done openly and repeatedly – conspiracy theories about the September 11, 2001 attacks.

In March 2008, he told a radio interviewer that there are “a lot of grounds for suspicion” that the attacks were an inside job. In June, he called for an investigation into whether “some sort of controlled explosion from within” destroyed the Twin Towers. Finally, Falk praised “the patience, the fortitude, the courage, and the intelligence” of conspiracy theorist David Ray Griffin, to whose 2006 book, 9/11 and the American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out, Falk contributed a chapter.

Why has the LA Times revived a discredited anti-Israel blood libel promoted by a discredited Palestinian journalist and a discredited extremist at the UN?

Please ask this question and send your considered comments to the LA Times – letters@latimes.com remembering to include your full name, mailing address and daytime phone number (your number will not be published).

NOMINATE THE DISHONEST REPORTER OF 2008

In addition to US and forthcoming Israeli elections, now’s the time to vote for the 2008 Dishonest Reporting “Award” — our annual recognition of the most skewed and biased coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Please nominate one reporter or news service along with a brief explanation why he/she/it deserves to receive HonestReporting’s ignoble award. Send your submission to action@honestreporting.com.

Results will be announced in special year-end communique.

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