Reuters’ faulty math and translation

From a Reuters report today on Israeli plans to expand the Golan Heights population:

Israel’s main daily Yedioth Ahronoth said the $62 million plan would double the Golan’s 18,000 settler population within three years. But an Agriculture Ministry spokesman said “only” 900 families would be settled — a roughly one-third increase.

The Yedioth Ahronoth report has now been disproven, so let’s turn to the actual plan: How exactly are 900 familes one-third of 18,000? They would have to be families of 6.6 persons each – more than double the Jewish Israeli average (which is 3.2). The actual article in Yedioth Ahronoth (here, in Hebrew) said (we’ll translate):

The head of the Golan Regional Council, Eli Malka, explained that the council’s plan does not include building new communities, but rather expansion of existing communities as tourist villages. He added that the essential focus of the plan is expanding the rural population by about 30% (900 familes in three years), and raising agricultural exports by 70%.

Haaretz adds:

The program aims to increase the population on the Golan by some 300 families every year, just a few more families a year than the current Golan Regional Council program has drawn in the last 18 months.

So Reuters:

1) misrepresented the explanation as coming from an ‘Agriculture Ministry spokesman’ (i.e. Sharon crony), when actually he was a local Golan leader,
2) misrepresented his statement in defense of the program, which referred to expanding the rural population along natural growth lines, not increasing the entire population of the Golan by 30%. (The actual increase in Golan Jewish population, according to the plan, would be about 16%.)

The result: Israeli policy is attacked, then denied an accurate explanation. Unfortunately, this is par for the course for Reuters.

Comments to:

AFP also got their numbers wrong:

Official sources said a cross-ministerial commission had ratified a plan to speed up the building of 900 homes which would increase the Jewish population from 10,500 to around 15,000 over three years. (emphasis added)

Actually, two years ago the Golan had 16,000 Jewish residents, and that figure has now increased to the 18,000 stated by Reuters. And to meet AFP’s calculations, the 900 new families would need to average 5 per household ? still much larger than actual Israeli families.