Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Balance and objectivity lacking

In an article generally critical of the United Nations' report on Israel's Cast Lead operations in Gaza, Peter Hartcher, the Sydney Morning Herald's international editor, writes (my bold):

Goldstone found that "Palestinian armed groups were present in urban areas during the military operations and launched rockets from urban areas", and that "it may be that the Palestinian combatants did not at all times adequately distinguish themselves from the civilian population".

This was the whole point of the Hamas strategy. By deliberately positioning themselves in residential areas, the Hamas fighters were goading Israel to shoot back at civilians' homes.

Notice how the bolded text is supported by the direct quote in the paragraph preceding? Just in case there's any doubt about Palestinian armed groups "positioning themselves in residential areas", here's more from the Goldstone report:

While the Mission is unable to form an opinion on the exact nature or the intensity of combat activities carried out by the armed groups in urban residential areas that would have placed the civilian population and civilian objects at risk of attack, their presence in these areas as combatants is established from the information that has come to the attention of the Mission.

Middle East "expert" Antony Loewenstein obviously missed several such references in the report, writing in today's Crikey newsletter (subscription, but provided free at Loewenstein's site):

Hartcher alleges Hamas of “deliberately positioning themselves in residential areas”, yet the UN report, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch found no evidence to back these claims.

Uh, yes the UN report did. Reporting like this explains why Loewenstein has established himself as the left's go to guy for anti-Israel material.

He also castigates Hartcher for not seeking out diverse views when visiting Israel:

Hartcher did not explain why there are no voices from Gaza or the occupied territories.

A token inclusion of a Palestinian voice at the end does not change the fact that the article could have been written in the Israeli Foreign Ministry, such is the acceptance of official claims.

The mutually beneficial relationship in these kinds of articles is revealing. Hartcher says that he simply visited Israel, heard a variety of voices and assessed the information fairly. But this is not “balance” or “objectivity”. Being presented with only one side of the story reveals nothing other than what your hosts want you to hear.

Well, if I recall correctly, Loewenstein's best-selling My Israel Question (#1,896,507 at Amazon!) is hardly a balanced report - in researching the book he sought out no Israeli views other than those of his relatives the Greens, who did not know they would be quoted and who Loewenstein quotes from memory rather than from notes.

If you're looking for balanced and objective Middle East reporting, Loewenstein is the wrong place to look.


Anonymous Dan Lewis said...

Note also the comments on the page. It seems escapees from the ABC's Unleashed forums have ended up at the SMH. Hartcher went on a journalists' mission sponsored by a Jewish organisation. He fully disclosed it as well.

Naturally, the usual suspects are carrying on about eeevil Zionist control of the media (although in an original twist, they failed to mention control of banks and world government).

Needless to say, had he been schlepped around Gaza on an Iranian sponsored visit, with Loewenstein as his tour-guide, well, that would just be journalism...

7:24 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home