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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

NGOs and lazy reporters

Others have blogged or written about the recent "Physicians for Human Rights- Israel" report that accuses the Shin Bet of forcing Gazans who require medical treatment to act as spies. In particular, check out NGO Monitor's critique of the report.

One of the things that was striking about this episode is that many of the news reports about the accusations made little attempt to give Israel's side of the story. If they contacted any Israeli spokespeople the comments were buried way after the accusations, and often they weren't even mentioned except in very general terms.

What is interesting about this is that the PHR-I report itself, available to anyone over the Internet, includes the Israeli responses to the report, both from the Prime Minister's Office and from the IDF. It would have taken zero effort for any reporter to open the report, look at the table of contents, turn to page 71 and find the Israeli government's (and Defense Ministry's) answers to these and other accusations in the report, often showing PHR-I's facts to be completely wrong and sometimes finding contradictions.

So without even a phone call, any writers could have seen Israel's response. Of course, the reporters didn't bother to look at the report and only parroted the PHR-I's press release, showing once again that the number of reporters who actually report is diminishingly small.