Friday, May 02, 2008

April 30 ‘Media Critique’: “The Stench Spreads: Johann Hari's Stinking Op-Ed”

HR are in a lather over this op-ed piece from Johann Hari.

Again, HR exhibit their anti-free speech instincts by attacking Hari for expressing his opinion, based on his experience in the West Bank. Hari saw, and smelt, at first hand the settlements discharging their untreated sewerage onto Palestinian land.

HR sum it up thus,
"Using a falsified quote and revisionist history, Hari compares Israel to excrement."

HR is back to an old favourite tactic – misrepresent a story to incite it’s readers. An angry reader is an emailing reader, firing off complaint emails with a minimum of cerebral activity. And what better way to do it than with this lie – “Hari compares Israel to excrement”. No, he didn’t. There was no comparison being made, just a recollection of the smell he experienced. HR deliberately misrepresent Hari's words immediately after complaining of "falsified quotes"! They're nothing if not audacious in their dishonesty.

And onto the “falsified quote”. Hari reproduces a quote from Illan Pappe’s 'The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine'

The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.

Pappe gives 2 sources for the quote in his book. HR refer to a letter written by Benny Morris in 2006, after Hari first used the quote, to back their claim,

……is an invention, pure and simple, either by Hari or by whomever he is quoting (Ilan Pappe?)……..

Forgive me if I’m not entirely convinced by Morris’s assertion when he isn’t even sure of the source of the quote. Ephraim Karsh can usually be relied upon to point out any such errors by the ‘New Historians’ if they’ve been made, but I’ve seen no reference to this by him (corrections on this point welcome).

Interestingly, HR leave out the next sentence from Morris’s letter,

It is true that Ben-Gurion in 1937-38 supported the transfer of the Arabs out of the area of the Jewish state-to-be…

The real problem for HR with this article is simply the fact that it expresses an opinion that they don't agree with, and don't want to see expressed, because it is critical of Israel.

HR - enemies of intellectual diversity and free expression.

Sadly for HR, the chances of The Independent rolling over in the face of its contrived outrage are zero.


The HonestReporting zombies aren’t known for their capacity for independent thought, but the absolute disregard for fairness, accuracy and honesty displayed by HR in this case, has even been noticed by a few of the faithful. This is from HRs own comments section,

HR, you are up in arms that Hari dared to call you dishonest and fanatical, but take a look at how you've misrepresented him here, you claim he compared Israel to excrement then quoted him

Whenever I try to mouth these words [of reassurance for Israel], a remembered smell fills my nostrils. It is the smell of shit.’

conveniently cutting out the following sentence,

Across the occupied West Bank, raw untreated sewage is pumped every day out of the Jewish settlements, along large metal pipes, straight onto Palestinian land. From there, it can enter the groundwater and the reservoirs, and become a poison.’
which clearly shows Hari was not comparing Israel the country to excrement, but was talking about the failure of Israeli settlements to deal with their sewage properly by dumping it on Palestinian land. His point was quite clear.

……………And maybe it's time HR stopped fanatically defending everything Israel does, and perhaps put some of their time and effort into holding Israel to account where need be? Maybe a communique calling on readers to write letters to the relevant authorities in the Israeli settlements to deal with their sewage problem properly? – Alex

That'll be the day Alex!

Personally, I'm offended that HR slanted its quote in that manner. It was Dishonest Reporting; exactly the kind of "reporting” I do not look for in HR's reports.

……………..If Hari has a point, REPORT IT fully. I find that clipping a quote to be as disingenuous as anything I’ve ever seen in HR. – Beverly.