Spout Shout & Bellow


Letter to Editor
September 19, 2009, 6:41 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

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TO: letters@nytimes.com

webeditor@nytimes.com

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Conversation: Neil MacFarquhar misrepresents 575-page report. The title should read….

Subject: Neil MacFarquhar misrepresents 575-page report. The title should read….

Goldstone Reports Israel Guilty of Massive War Crimes and Also Faults Hamas. That’s what a true headline would have read.
I greatly object to the title, Inquiry Finds Gaza War Crimes From Both Sides. I would challenge that your Mr. MacFarquhar did not read the whole of Mr. Goldstone’s 575-page report on the three-week war in Gaza.

“To start the report basically is consistent with the findings of the other human rights organizations, that Israel targeted civilians, Israel targeted civilians who were carrying white flags, Israel systematically targeted the Palestinian infrastructure. The findings were consistent with those of the other human rights organizations: Israel is guilty of a very significant number of war crimes. And also, the findings which were—other reports, the same conclusions, that the Palestinians were not using hospitals to hide Hamas officials. There’s no evidence that the ambulances Israel targeted were carrying Hamas militants or ammunition. And most significantly, in terms of the coverage during the Gaza massacre, the report found, as did Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, there’s no evidence whatsoever—and I would want to underline that—there’s no evidence whatsoever that Hamas was guilty of human shielding. But on the other hand, there is significant evidence, actually copious evidence, that Israel was guilty of human shielding.

The report found that the Palestinians were guilty of war crimes because of its indiscriminate and intentional firing on civilians in Israel. I’m not trying to make any apologies, but I want to get the facts right. The Goldstone report, like the Amnesty report and the others, you have to look carefully at the proportions. About nine-tenths—literally, about nine-tenths of the Goldstone report, like the Dugard report, like the Amnesty report, about nine-tenths was devoted to Israeli war crimes; about one-tenth was devoted to Palestinian war crimes. And you have to understand why, because you have to look at the comparable damage. The ratio of killings was about a hundred to one: about—exactly thirteen on the Israeli side, about fourteen hundred on the Palestinian side. If you look at the damage, the damage is actually quite astonishing. Israel just systematically blasted everything in sight and reduced it to rubble, whereas on the Israeli side they say that several houses were damaged and one was almost completely destroyed. So if you look at the facts, the facts on the ground, the proportions in the reports, including the Goldstone report, are correct. It’s about ten to one.”

And that’s why today’s headline in the New York Times is so misleading. It’s like a Pravda headline. It says the Goldstone report finds both sides guilty of war crimes. Well, that’s technically true, but an accurate headline would have read, “Goldstone reports Israel guilty of massive war crimes and also faults Hamas.” That’s what a true headline would have read.

And again: Goldstone Reports Israel Guilty of Massive War Crimes and Also Faults Hamas. That’s what a true headline would have read.

MacFarquhar has done a great disservice to your readers by using his preposterous headline. Please ask this reporter to read the 575-page report in full before he writes and titles an article on the three-week war in Gaza. And please pass this on to
Mr. MacFarquhar.

Shelby S.

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