Monday, February 14, 2011

Guardian admits spinning PalPapers quote - but where are the other corrections?

From Just Journalism:
On the first day of The Guardian’s Palestine papers expose, on Monday 24 January, when Palestinian negotiators were attacked as ‘weak’ and ‘craven’, a quote from then foreign minister Tzipi Livni appeared in a box, titled, ‘What they said…’. It read:

‘The Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible, we already have the land and cannot create the state.’ Tzipi Livni, then Israeli foreign minister

However, the newspaper on Saturday acknowledged that the full quote shows that Livni was characterising the Palestinian perception of Israeli policies, and not the policies themselves. What she actually said was:

‘I understand the sentiments of the Palestinians when they see the settlements being built. The meaning from the Palestinian perspective is that Israel takes more land, that the Palestinian state will be impossible, the Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible, we already have the land and cannot create the state.’
By cutting the quote to exclude the first part of Tzipi Livni’s sentence, The Guardian portrayed the Israeli politician as brazenly admitting a policy of making a Palestinian state impossible.
That's great, but it is a drop in the bucket of Guardian misquotes from The Palestine Papers, a pattern that can hardly be accidental.

Here are some:

The Guardian headlined an article "Palestinian negotiators accept Jewish state, papers reveal." yet the papers said no such thing. Instead they said that the PLO has no problem with how Israel defines itself, a position they have said publicly, but they would never accept that definition. In fact, they would never accept that there is something called "the Jewish people."

In that same article, they claimed that "Israeli leaders pressed for the highly controversial transfer of some of their own Arab citizens into a future Palestinian state." In reality, the Israeli leaders were saying that they did not want to have villages divided into two states, and the villages should be in one state or another. Moreover, the Guardian misuses the word "transfer" which is usually meant to indicate moving people from their homes.

The same article mischaracterizes Livni a third time by writing
[I]n an extraordinary comment in November 2007, Livni – who briefly had a British arrest warrant issued against her in 2009 over alleged war crimes in Gaza – is recorded as saying: "I was the minister of justice. I am a lawyer ... But I am against law – international law in particular. Law in general."

She made clear that what might have seemed to be a joke was meant more seriously by using the point to argue against international law as one of the terms of reference for the talks and insisting that "Palestinians don't really need international law". The Palestinian negotiators protested about the claim.

In fact she was referring to putting a reference to international law in the Terms of Reference of a joint statement at Annapolis - not saying she was against international law altogether, as the Guardian implies. They also put the "Palestinians don't really need international law" as a  Livni quote, when it was a paraphrase in the actual memo, again referring to the joint statement.

Three misquotes in one single article. Three examples of willful deception onthe part of those who read the actual memos. And The Guardian has yet to correct any of them.