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August 04, 2005

Sderot's "Settlers" Revisited

As mentioned in an earlier entry, AP's Ravi Nessman—along with the LA Times and other newspapers which ran Nessman's story—imprecisely referred to Tuesday's anti-disengagement demonstrators, who gathered in Sderot from both the territories and Israel, as "thousands of Israeli settlers protesting the upcoming Gaza Strip withdrawal."

In the opening paragraph of a story in the Aug. 3 Christian Science Monitor, correspondent Joshua Mitnick similarly described the rally-goers uniformly as "settlers":

In a last-ditch effort to stop the Israeli government from withdrawing from Gaza and portions of the West Bank later this month, tens of thousands of Jewish settlers gathered Tuesday ...

Only further on in the story does the reader discover that the tens of thousands of rally-goers whom Mitnick had dismissed as "settlers" also included large numbers of religiously observant Jews who do not live on Israeli settlements:

... the overwhelming majority of protesters hail from settlements in Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights, or are religiously observant Jews from inside Israel.

Interestingly, nowhere does the journalist explain how he determined that "the overwhelming majority of protesters" were settlers. Did he base this assessment on a scientific poll? He cited none in the article. Did he himself informally poll the demonstrators? Judging by the article's "Tel Aviv" dateline, no.

Posted by at August 4, 2005 10:14 AM


I find it highly ironic that you write:

"Did he himself informally poll the demonstrators? Judging by the article's "Tel Aviv" dateline, no."

You dismiss Mitnick for not indicating how he determined the makeup of the 10,000+ protesters, yet you make a huge assumption that he didn't attend the rally personally based on the Tel Aviv dateline. Who's reporting inaccurately now?

If you look into Mitnick's work, you might notice that while he datelines his articles Tel Aviv when he submits them from there, he almost always does on-site research, evidenced by the photos he takes that often accompany his articles. Additionally, Mitnick is an Israeli Jew who made Aliyah and works as a journalist,
his work is incredibly objective.

I respect CAMERA and its work greatly, but you need to draw attention to bonafide issues, not create issues where they don't exist.

For the record, I have no idea how Mitnick, Nessman, or the GAZA AP determined the makeup of the protest attendance, but I would note that you don't reveal your method either. Where's the "accuracy" in that.

(I can suggest a method, though: At a rally in a place like Sderot, if you want to know where those attending the rally are coming from, you go to wherever the buses are parked. Given that transportation to rallies is often organized regionally to help interested citizens attend, the buses usually have signs indicating where they are returning to, and the buses themselves often display the name of the regional council where they are from.)

Posted by: Harry Pell at August 18, 2005 10:16 PM

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