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March 11, 2013

Self Justifying Journalists Just Cannot Admit They Were Wrong

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Jon Donnison, pictured on the left, and Max Fisher, pictured on the right

A previous blog entry, "Media Outlets That Promoted Story Wrongly Faulting Israel Should Now Post Full and Clear Corrections" called on readers to demand that journalists fully and forthrightly correct their earlier stories blaming Israel for the death of Omar Mashrawi, the baby son of a Palestinian BBC staffer. Among the worst offenders were the BBC's Jon Donnison and the Washington Post's Max Fisher who abandoned journalistic standards in their rush to indict Israel without sufficient substantiation. Now that even the UN Human Rights Council has shown otherwise, they are twisting themselves into knots to avoid admitting they were wrong.

Jon Donnison grasps at straws as he throws out excuse after excuse to avoid admitting his irresponsible error:

1. "The family, and human rights groups, said that the house was hit in an Israeli attack."

2. "The Israeli military ...never denied carrying out the strike."

3. "Privately, military officials briefed journalists that they had been targeting a militant who was in the building."

The UN Human Rights Council is hardly a supporter of Israel. It is known more for its unwarranted attacks on Israel than for ever defending Israel. But now that it has found that Israel was not to blame, Donnison makes every attempt to discredit its findings. According to Donnison, the UN finding:

1. comes "despite the fact that the Israeli military had reported no rockets being fired out of Gaza so soon after the start of the conflict. "

2. The UN representatives only visited the house "weeks after the attack."

3. "They said they did not carry out a forensic investigation..."

4. They said they "could not 'unequivocally conclude' it was a misfired Palestinian rocket."

5. One official said "it was also possible the house was hit by a secondary explosion after an Israeli air strike on Palestinian weapons stores."

And finally, Donnison quotes the father of the boy, a Palestinian BBC staffer who had insisted that Israel was to blame. Donnison defends himself by saying that "Jehad Mashhrawi dismissed the UN findings as 'rubbish'... "

Max Fisher, of the Washington Post, who rushed to highlight the original story on his blog in November is similarly loathe to admit he was wrong. So he resorts to the echo chamber tactic, quoting Donnison to cast doubt on the UN report. And then he launches into a song and dance about how apportioning blame for the death of the child is really irrelevant and meaningless:

Omar Mishrawi’s death and his photo, like so many incidents before it, are treated as a microcosm of the much larger conflict that took his life. But, as I wrote in November when reports suggested that an Israeli strike had killed Mishrawi, does knowing which military’s errant round happened to have landed on this civilian home really determine the larger narrative of one of the world’s thorniest and most complicated conflicts? Does assigning blame for Mishrawi’s tragic death, awful as it may be, offer us any real insight into who holds the blame for 60 years of fighting? And is partitioning blame really going to serve either side particularly well?

It’s difficult to see how knowing whose rocket or missile killed Mishrawi would resolve the larger questions for which that debate is a proxy: responsibility for continuing the long-term conflict, for sparking the latest round of fighting in November, and for the Israeli and Palestinian civilians who suffer as a result.

And there you have it--journalists who eagerly bash Israel without substantiation and refuse to own up to their journalistic misdeeds when they are exposed.

Such tactics defy journalistic ethics and standards. Readers should not allow them to get away with it!

Posted by RH at March 11, 2013 11:20 PM


You cant expect the BBC and Jon Donnison to retract his lie that Israel killed Omar Mashrawi.
The BBC would lose 80% of their viewers?

All deaths, whether it was friendly fire or civilians killed collaterally because Hamas fires rockets from civilian areas could have all been avoided if Hamas just did not fire any rockets into Israel at all!
Again and again and again it is Arab aggression that causes Israeli defensive use of force!
Arabs cannot ever be trusted to tell the truth. Even when they kill their own, they will blame it on Israel or twist the truth to demonize Israel when it is always the Palestinian Arabs who refuse to live in peace with the Jewish state of Israel, it always has been!
Due to the many generations of Arab training to hate and kill Jews, I don't see how peace is possible with these hatemongers.
Palmediawatch has brilliantly documented this.

Posted by: Lisa Epstein at March 12, 2013 12:44 PM

It's not like the activity of constantly blaming Israel has actually brought peace to the region. These reporters and the many more like them are more responsible for baby Omar's death than Israel ever can be. They created the atmosphere that dead, Palestinian babies make targetting school buses and pizzerias as appropos.

Posted by: Asher Garber at March 12, 2013 05:39 PM

I am not a blogger, nor have i the power to raise questions to the like of Jon Donnison.

However, one aspect of the story is very interesting and I hope that someone on CAMERA can take it further.

This relatest to the name of the father of the dead child, the BBC journalist. His surname was trancribed from Arabic in many ways (Mashrwai, Mishrawi, etc), but his first name was consistently spelled "Jihad" by all except one agency. Jon Donnison spells his name "Jehad". Why? Most likely because the photogenic and European-looking father would be more sympathised if his name would not draw association with "jihad" in the eyes of the European and American viewers. I can't find it again, but i think that early after the incident, even Jon Donnison spelled his name his name as "Jihad".

It is unlikely that BBC wud not have the spelling of its Gaza staffer and it is unlikely that this spelling wud be different from that of other media. Therfore, it is likely that Jon donnison "improved" Jihad" into "Jehad", after all, it is only a question of "pronounciation"...

I think that this is an indicator of bias from Jon "Jehad" Donnison and it cud be used to embarass him and discredit his impartiality. Will anyone in the pro-Israeli blogosphere pick this challenge?

Posted by: Asher Pat at March 13, 2013 09:04 AM

Golda Meir had it right 40+ years ago:
"This conflict will end when the Arabs come to love their children more than they hate us."
Unfortunately that happy day still lies in the future.

Posted by: David J at March 14, 2013 08:05 PM

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