Thursday, August 25, 2016

Here's a case where social media works beautifully.

On Sunday morning, I wrote an article about an antisemitic series published in an Egyptian paper that included Holocaust denial. I noted that the series was being republished by the Palestinian media outlet Wattan TV.

The Tayara Herzl blog noticed my report and pointed out that Wattan TV was one of the Palestinian media outlets that are funded by George Soros, as revealed by the recent DCLeaks incident.

Later that afternoon, I reported on the findings from that blog.

Yair Rosenberg of Tablet then took the ball and ran with it:

On Monday, Tablet informed [Soros' organization] OSF that Wattan was distributing these anti-Semitic articles and asked the organization for comment. Soon after, the pieces were taken down from Wattan’s website, although no correction or apology was posted to educate misled readers. This morning, OSF issued the following statement condemning Wattan and promising better oversight in the future, though it did not withdraw funding:

The Open Society Foundations unequivocally condemn the anti-Semitic content published on Wattan News that promotes dangerous falsehoods about the Holocaust. We are shocked and disappointed that Wattan News, an organization we fund and one that has played an important role in contributing to informed debate on Israel and Palestine, would allow such deplorable content to appear on its website. The Open Society Foundations support Israeli and Palestinian civil society groups that defend democracy and human rights, and we firmly believe this work must be based on respectful, informed, and fact-based dialogue on all sides. Wattan News has informed us that they have removed the offending content which appeared in a column for outside contributors and are putting in place procedures to ensure that such a serious lapse in editorial oversight will not take place again.

Oddly, few mainstream media outlets have reported on the contents of the Soros leak, even as similar hacking dumps from groups like Wikileaks have received regular press write-ups. The Wattan News incident suggests that this neglect is a mistake—that there may be much more that is worth investigating in the leak’s contents, and that the public interest is ill-served by ignoring them.

I could not find the OSF statement anywhere on its website, so its statement was not exactly publicized outside the Tablet article. And, as Rosenberg notes, Wattan didn't apologize or explain its decision to publish the articles; it simply removed them because it didn't want to upset its embarrassed grantor.

Still, it shows that bloggers and writers can work together to make an impact, even if the guilty parties are more interested in minimizing damage rather than fixing the underlying problems.



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