By Geoffrey Paul
February 6, 2009
Proud front page claim of the New York Times since 1897 is that it gives its readers “All the News That's Fit to Print.” In recent years, its critics have amended that to proclaim “All the News that Fits We Print.” Many British media outlets might be said to have further adapted this slogan to boast: “All the News that Fits Our Opinions We Print.” You'll remember that UNRWA school in Gaza the Israelis were said to have deliberately shelled causing upwards of 40 deaths? The one that Al Jazeera and its copycat newspapers suggested should be the subject of a war crimes inquiry? The fact is that no shells landed either inside the school or its yard. There were casualties in the street outside, not in the school. This has now been admitted to a Canadian newspaper by the senior UN official who, with a studied lack of clarity at the time, encouraged reports suggesting the school had been targeted. Have you read a correction and/or apology about it? Will you tell me where?
And where in the last week have you read that Egypt's President Mubarak blamed Hamas for causing the bloodshed in Gaza by miscalculating how the Israelis might react to their provocations.? He accused Hamas of following an Iranian agenda in the area. That's not all Hamas has been doing. According to a detailed report from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (yes, there is one, brave folks that they are), Hamas has taken advantage of the Gaza conflict to brutally bump off or hideously to maim their political (mainly Fatah) rivals inside Gaza. There is a detailed, grisly report from the Centre at http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/Reports/English/pdf_spec/Increase_rep.pdf. I may have missed any reference to it in the British newspapers or on TV. In which case, my apologies. I certainly missed any reference to the activities of two young Israeli women who launched an appeal for relief supplies to assist the women and children of Gaza. They were overwhelmed with offers from all over Israel, have already sent many truckloads into the refugee camps and have been offered storage facilities for their continuing collections by a Negev kibbutz which has itself been the target of rockets from Gaza.
This is in no way my personal effort to whitewash some of Israel's more extreme actions inside Gaza. It is, though, my puny attempt to try and do what newspaper editors once thought a prime purpose of their endeavour: to keep the record straight.