Friday, June 07, 2002

Haaretz editor-in-chief Hanoch Marmari addressed the World Editors' Forum in Belgium. Here's the transcript, in which he circumspectly criticizes the performance of international media in its Middle East reporting. He cites yet more examples of shoddy reporting from Jenin and enumerates what he considers to be a journalist's four tragic (but avoidable) flaws: obsessiveness, prejudice, condescension, and ignorance.

He defends Amira Hass as someone who has the ability to distinguish the truth from rumor and propaganda (I disagree, and Marmari acknowledges that sometimes she simply juxtaposes the Israeli and Palestinian version events). But he resents her work being taken out of context and Haaretz' reputation being used to legitimize anti-Israel propaganda.

Marmari opines:

A more professional approach [to evaluating what happened in Jenin] would have factored in the five million cellular phones in Israel, and half-million more in the Palestinian areas, which would make a cover-up impossible. Even before the first reporters were on the scene in the Jenin camp, it was obvious that there had been no massacre there. Hundreds of soldiers who were involved in the operation are reservists, meaning reasonable and opinionated civilians, many of them are among our readers, and each one had a cellular phone in his pocket that he used constantly.

This is very well-put. By the same token it's now fully established that Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat, UNRWA officials Peter Hansen and Paul McCann, and many others are liars and cynics, and a professional approach requires doubting everything that they say. And don't buy a used car from Terje Roed-Larsen either.

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