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Monday, March 25, 2013

Obama's Speech to Israeli Students: An "Apology" from The Washington Post

In a March 21 blog entry entitled "The Washington Post, 'Obama Heckled in Israel': Falsifying the Facts (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/03/the-washington-post-obama-heckled-in.html), I referred to a Washington Post article entitled "Obama heckled in Israel" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/03/21/obama-heckled-in-israel/?wp_login_redirect=0), which noted that Obama had been interrupted while speaking before Israeli students in Jerusalem:

"The man was shouting in Hebrew. According to a White House pool report, he was referencing Jonathan Pollard, an American who pleaded guilty in 1986 to passing top-secret information to Israel."

However, as reported by The Jerusalem Post (http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Obama-heckler-His-speech-was-extremist-and-Zionist-307394):

"The Israeli-Arab student who shouted a pro-Palestinian slogan, interrupting US President Barack Obama's speech at the Jerusalem International Convention Center on Thursday, said Friday that he had done so because he found the speech to be 'extremist and Zionist.'

Speaking in an interview with Channel 10, Rabia Eid said that 'Obama talked about a Jewish state, and that is unacceptable to me and to the Arabs of the world.'"

I complained to WaPo about the inaccuracy and today received an e-mail from Rachel Weiner, the author of the article:

"Your email was forwarded to me. I am genuinely sorry for the mistake, which was based on an inaccurate White House pool report. We corrected it on Friday and added a note explaining the correction, as you can see here:



My response to Ms. Weiner:

"This has gone from bad to worse.

You now write:


"The man was shouting in Hebrew. He later identified himself as Rabeea Eid, an Arab-Israeli student activist from Haifa University. He questioned whether President Obama really supported peace and asked about the death of Rachel Corrie, an American activist who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Eid called Obama’s speech 'extremist and Zionist.'"

Killed by an Israeli bulldozer"? As you are surely aware, an Israeli district court ruled that Corrie's death was an accident (see: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israeli-court-u-s-activist-rachel-corrie-s-death-was-an-accident-1.461156). There is an enormous difference between writing that 'Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer' and 'Corrie was accidentally killed by an Israeli bulldozer.'

Your description of Corrie's death without reference to the judicial determination is inaccurate and inflammatory. Do you question the impartiality and judgment of Israeli courts?

I live in Israel and am an Israeli attorney. I believe in a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. My views are center/left by Israeli standards. I do not question the impartiality and judgment of Israeli courts or the conscientiousness and morality of Israeli judges.

By the way, what exactly is an 'activist'? I write a blog that is read around the world. Does this also make me an 'activist,' or must someone heckle an American president or burn a mock American flag (as did Corrie) to achieve this status?

Are 'heckling' and 'questioning' an American president one and the same? I never realized that this was the case."


Ms. Weiner's response:

"I'm sorry you feel that way! Personally I think an accurate post is better than an inaccurate one, regardless of any disagreement over word choice. We'll have to agree to disagree."

My response to Ms. Weiner:

"So at The Washington Post 'heckling' and 'questioning' (in a language President Obama does not understand) are one and the same, 'activism' goes undefined, and selection of words has no bearing upon 'accuracy.' Splendid."

My further response to senior editors of The Washington Post:

"Please note that in Ms. Weiner's original post, she wrote:

'The man was shouting in Hebrew. According to a White House pool report, he was referencing Jonathan Pollard, an American who pleaded guilty in 1986 to passing top-secret information to Israel.'

Remarkably, when WaPo finally acknowledged the inaccuracy of its initial report, the true 'heckler' from the Israeli left became an 'activist.' Obviously, Ms. Weiner thinks little of the matter, but perhaps one of you can explain to me the meaning of 'activist' as used by WaPo. Must one be associated with the 'left' in order to achieve this appellation? Does 'activism' in any way excuse shouting down an American president while he is giving a speech? Why wasn't the imaginary 'heckler,' purportedly protesting Pollard's imprisonment, also labeled an 'activist'?

I would welcome any enlightenment that you can provide, given that Ms. Weiner does not attribute significance to her choice of words."

It just never ends.

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