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December 27, 2006

In S.F. Chronicle Opinion Piece, Something Missing

CAMERA noted earlier this year that the San Francisco Chronicle's opinion pages have been somewhat of a refuge from journalistic standards of accuracy—at least in Op-Ed's criticizing Israel, where factual errors are consistently published and left uncorrected.

This despite the newspaper's promise "to promptly correct errors of fact and to promptly clarify potentially confusing statements."

The latest problems come in a Dec. 24 column in the newspaper's Insight section. The column, by C├ęsar Chelala, starts by describing the recent murder of 3 children in the Gaza Strip:

It is a miracle that 6-year-old Lydia Abu Eid is still alive. She was being driven to school in Gaza with her three cousins -- Osama, 9; Ahmed, 6; and Salam, 3 -- when their car was riddled with more than 70 bullets by masked gunmen.

The story went on to bemoan the situation in Gaza, protest measures taken by Israel and claim that because Israel is an occupying power in Gaza, it has responsibility for what happens in that territory:

On a recent visit to Gaza, Louise Arbour, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said widespread violations against civilians had taken place in the Gaza Strip. She also told journalists that the lack of accountability for human rights violations in Gaza leaves locals with no one to turn to when a violation occurs.

Articles 19 and 50 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions state clearly the responsibility of the occupying power -- in this case Israel -- to treat humanely the wounded and sick, to protect hospitals and to care for children."

One major omission/error is apparent to anyone who follows the conflict (even putting aside the issue of whether Israel is bound by the Fourth Geneva Conventions in relation to the occupied territories)—Israel no longer occupies the Gaza Strip, and thus can't be held responsible for the territory's ongoing human rights violations. Unfortunately, because Chelala never mentions this point, those less familiar with the details of the conflict are likely to believe Israel still occupies and is responsible for the Gaza Strip.

But that's not the worst omission. Nowhere in the article does the writer mention that the 3 murdered children mentioned in the first paragraph were killed by Palestinians, and not Israelis. The children were the sons of a Palestinian security officer, and Palestinian intelligence sources suspect the shooting was perpetrated by Hamas. (See here for more details.)

In the context of her column criticizing Israel, Chelala's failure to note that the gunmen were Palestinian is clearly "potentially confusing" to readers, and should be clarifed.

Posted by GI at December 27, 2006 05:07 PM

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