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May 20, 2012

Open Letter Challenges Ha'aretz on Kfar Sava Hospital Headline


Writer and activist Maurice Ostroff writes an open letter to Ha'aretz editors challenging Friday's headline ("Kfar Sava hospital bans teaching staff from speaking in Arabic"). Ostroff writes:

Contrary to your report, Kfar Sava hospital does teach Arab kids in Arabic

The grossly misleading banner headline in Haaretz English issue of May 18, "Kfar Sava hospital bans teaching staff from speaking Arabic" has already been eagerly reproduced widely, including on Peter Beinart's Open Zion blog (part of the Daily Beast), the Forward, the International Middle East Media Center and others

The headline contravenes The Code of Ethics of the society of Professional Journalists which requires that journalists ""Make certain that headlines,.. do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context".

To compound the sin, without indicating that it is merely repeating an unverified allegation, the sub-heading states categorically "Arab teachers and students working in Kfar Sava's Meir Medical Center have been forbidden to speak to each other in Arabic, despite the fact that Arabic is one of Israel's official languages".

But the facts are very different. Contrary to the impression created by the headline, the Arabic language is encouraged and is spoken widely and freely throughout Meir Hospital and the allegation, that the use of Arabic is restricted, irresponsibly provokes racial tensions. . . .

Later in the small print Haaretz presents facts that contradict the headline. It reports that the Education Ministry which operates the education department in the Meir Medical Center insists there was no instruction forbidding teachers to discuss things in Arabic and said the allegations were untrue. "Every Arabic-speaking child receives treatment and lessons from Arab teachers, according to his needs", ministry officials said.

And, we notice, that in yet another apparent case of Lost in Translation, the Hebrew headline is markedly more fair and accurate than the English headline. Here is the online English headline:

Kfar Sava hospital.jpg

While the English headline states as fact that the Kfar Sava hospital categorically bans the teaching staff from speaking in Arabic, the Hebrew headline depicts the alleged ban as just that -- an allegation. Specifically, an allegation leveled by the parents of hospitalized children. Thus, the Hebrew states (CAMERA's translation):

Parents of Children Hospitalized at Meir Hospital: Teachers at the Institution are Prohibited From Speaking Arabic

And the Hebrew subheadline gives additional information conspicuously absent from the English version, including the fact that the Education Ministry denies the parents' allegation:

According to the parents' complaint, the director of the intistution's education center berated teachers in front of them. The Education Ministry: No such instruction exists in the regulations book

Kfar Sava hospital Hebrew.jpg

For the Hebrew version of this post, see Presspectiva.

Posted by TS at May 20, 2012 04:26 AM


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