Sunday, February 14, 2010
When journalists routinely brush off criticism of popular governments
Last summer, New York Times Columnist Stephen J. Dubner wrote a column in which he trashed claims that the Israeli military was harvesting organs from palestinians without the permission of their relatives.
Dubner, with no facts but probably an instant bias against all claims critical of Israel or, more likely, that drive sympathy for the oppressed Palestinians, write that the claim was “probably false.”
Wow. A whole column on why something so significant would be false. you wouldn’t expect the New York Times or its flashy columnist, Thomas Friedman to explore the veracity of such an outrageous claim against Israel, athough Dubner made sure to include the knee-jerk response that Israel always makes when it is criticized, quoting:
“The Israeli government has struck back, claiming that Boström’s article is false, outrageous, and, in the words of Benjamin Netanyahu, a “blood libel,” the sort of malicious rumor that has led to the persecution of Jews for centuries.”
Then, Dubner went on to explain why harvesting human organs would be unlikely. It requires so much technical know-how.
That was in August 2009. A few weeks back, Jan. 19, 2010, Dubner offered a mild correction in typical pro-Israel bias seen often at the New York Times and in larger mainstream news media that just don’t want to be bothered by the facts when defending Israel or bashing Arabs. Dubner wrote:
“And in a more distant post, I discussed why an accusal of “the Israeli Army of harvesting organs from Palestinians wounded or killed by soldiers” was “probably false.” In a separate but related story, it has since been reported that “Israel has admitted that in the 1990s, its forensic pathologists harvested organs from dead bodies, including Palestinians, without permission of their families.” ”
Tragically, this kind of shoot-from-the-hip defense of a foreign government is not unusual. Had this story involved any other nation, it would have dominated the news headlines for weeks. It is scandalous.
The response of the Israeli government — and I want to stress here that this is NOT about criticizing Israel or Israelis, but criticizing a government — is outrageous. They finally admit a decade later that they did indeed harvest organs from Palestinians. They lied about it when it happened, denied it and, as you read, slandered those who made the claims.
What does that say about today? That because the mainstream news media does not do its job, we must wait 10 more years to discover the truth?
What about the accusations in the report by renown war crimes Jurist Richard Goldstone, a report that detailed numerous atrocities committed by Israeli soldiers, including in one case rounding up civilians in a school building and then shooting them dead.
Read the Goldstone Report, if you have any foundation of professional journalism. The facts are outrageous and offensive. Those who are using the Goldstone Report to slander Israel and Israelis are clearly overstepping their bounds. But the news media refusal to hold the Israeli government accountable amounts to a violation of their professional responsibilities. Allowing people like lawyer Alan Dershowitz slander those calling for an investigation by publishing his columns in their newspapers is a violation of professional journalism, a violation especially when his accusations are published without adequate defense of the Goldstone Report.
The Goldstone Report reminds me of the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam by Lt. William Calley. Then, the news media held the US Military and the government accountable. yes, it was an outrage. But by airing the crimes and demanding justice, journalists reflected the highest levels of ethics and morality.
Today, that moral high ground is AWOL in mainstream American journalism.
I would like to see it return not just for the of the victims but for the sake of Israel. By investigating and prosecuting the crimes, the United States did this country a great service strengthening our Democratic principles by investigating and standing up for justice. Israel can and should do the same thing.
– Ray Hanania
(Ray Hanania is a columnist for Israel’s Jerusalem Post Newspaper, writing every Wednesday, and also a columnist for PalestineNote.com, the leading news and opinion site for Palestinians.)