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June 30, 2008

Globe Correspondent Apologizes for Doing Her Job


A reporter for the Boston Globe gasp ... apologizes!

In a stunning display of humility, Globe reporter Victoria Cheng apologized to Cambridge "peace" activists who visited Bethlehem as part of a "people-to-people" delegation last fall. The delegation met with members of the Bethlehem City Council (who, by the way, were elected with the political support of groups like Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Al-Askas Matyr's Brigade) to -- get this -- highlight the impact of Israel's security barrier on the people of Bethlehem.

The average reader might want to know that the delegates think politicians elected with the support of terror groups are credible sources of information about a security barrier built to stop suicide attacks.

Cheng did not apologize to her readers for leaving this information out of an article she wrote about the Cambridge delegation's trip to Bethlehem which appeared on Dec. 23, 2007. Instead, she apologized to the delegation for "not doing justice to [their] trip."

Hillel Stavis broke the story at Solomonia.

Judging from the emails Stavis has uncovered, (they were posted on a publically-viewable yahoo group), it appears that Cambridge's peace activists were outraged that Cheng did what her editor (and basic tenets of journalism) required of her -- get a response from someone with a different perspective. For this she went to Nancy Kaufman, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Boston, who had the temerity to remind readers that the barrier was built to save lives. (In reporting the Kaufman's remarks, Cheng incorrectly stated that construction on the barrier began in 1997, when in fact it began in 2002.)

In a letter to the editor complaining about article, published on Jan. 6, 2008, Nancy Murray, a member of the Cambridge Peace Commission, says that Kaufman's presence in the article was a "discordant note." This is a telling phrase. For Cambridge peace activists, its all about orchestrating the coverage. In the song and dance about innocent Palestinian suffering offered by Cambridge peace activists, there is no room for acknowledging that Bethlehem's Mayor, Victor Batarseh, himself a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (a group responsible for the murder of Leon Klinghoffer), was elected with the support of Hamas, a group dedicated to Israel's destruction. (Another useful bit of information that did not appear in Cheng's article.)

Cheng's apology is amazing, but what is more amazing is the sense of entitlement on the part of the peace activists involved with the trip. In the email chatter posted on the delegation's public yahoo group, one poster said that in the future he will insist on seeing pre-publication copies of any article he is involved with. (Good luck with that!)

Despite Cheng's having writen an overtly sympathetic piece on the delegation's trip to Bethlehem, the delegates and their supporters were still angry that the Globe would do its job and offer someone with a different perspective a chance to speak.

The whole episode should serve as a cautionary tale for journalists. Cambridge peace activists are not all that interested in protecting the reporters who do their bidding. Posting the text of Cheng's apology on a publically viewable yahoo group is a pretty bone-headed play. Even if exposing Cheng's apology to the general public was an inadvertant mistake on the part of Cambridge peace activists, it indicates an indifference to the professional reputation of a reporter who gave them more sympathetic coverage than they deserved.

They did get pretty much what they wanted -- a portrayal of the security barrier as an unreasonable hardship on Palestinians, very little acknowledgement of why the barrier was built, and a complete whitewash of the people with whom the delegation met. And Eva Moseley, a delegate who offered to "do [her] I escaped from Nazi Vienna and am unhappy with what Israel does' schtick, if you think that would help" after the delegation returned to Cambridge, was able to use her "schtick" in the Globe article. Cheng wrote about Moseley as follows:

As a Jewish member of the delegation and as someone who had escaped from the Nazis in Vienna, Eva Moseley, 76, said the trip left her with "complicated feelings about the Holocaust," because "on top of the usual outrage and horror at what it was, I feel another layer of outrage at the way it is used to punish the Palestinians, who had nothing to do with it."

As to the assertion the Palestinians had nothing to do with the Holocaust, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem sided with the Nazis and successfully derailed deals to divert Jewish children away from death camps in the 1940s.

In short, the Globe gave the delegation a pass on the true nature of their trip to Bethlehem (since when does meeting with politicians supported by terror groups qualify as a "people-to-people" trip?) and the delegation was allowed to pass off misinformation as fact. And yet they still weren't satisfied.

What more do they expect?

Posted by dvz at June 30, 2008 11:09 AM


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