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Monday, December 19, 2011

CAMERA’s ‘fact checking’ misses out some facts

Yesterday, the pro-Israel monitoring group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) published an article attacking Ethan Bronner’s coverage in the New York Times of the 2nd stage release of Palestinian prisoners (the Times have since printed a correction with the article).

But for a piece claiming to be about ‘fact checking’, CAMERA was not entirely accurate about Israel’s imprisonment of Palestinian children. In the piece – authored by CAMERA’s Associate Director Alex Safian – the following statements are made:
Now, as should be obvious to Bronner and his editors, if Israel really imprisoned Palestinian children merely for putting up flags or throwing stones, there would be tens of thousands of Palestinian children in Israeli jails, instead of less than two hundred.
And why did the ludicrous claim that Israel imprisons children for years just for throwing stones and hanging flags ring true to Bronner?
Leaving aside the illogical argument in the first quotation, the fact is Israel does imprison Palestinian children for stone-throwing. B’Tselem reported in July on this very issue, noting how:
From the beginning of 2005 to the end of 2010, at least 835 Palestinian minors were arrested and tried in military courts in the West Bank on charges of stone throwing…93 percent of the minors convicted of stone throwing were given a prison sentence, its length ranging from a few days to 20 months.
According to information provided by the IDF Spokesperson, over the reporting period 32 Palestinian children aged 14-15 were given total prison sentences (actual and conditional) of greater than a year. Of the children convicted aged 16-17, seven served a prison sentence of more than one year.
At 12.30am (EST) this morning, I tweeted the following:

While ‘fact checking’, @CAMERAorg mocks idea Israel imprisons Palestinian kids for stone-throwing. Yeah, about that…
Dec 19 via webFavoriteRetweetReply
In what could be a coincidence, the CAMERA article was subsequently amended, with the following addition (in bold):
And why did the ludicrous claim that Israel imprisons children for years just for throwing stones and hanging flags ring true to Bronner? (Of course, throwing stones is one thing, seriously wounding someone by throwing stones is another matter entirely, and could well lead to a prison term.)
Ah, of course – CAMERA seems to know that all those imprisoned by military courts that boast a 99% conviction rate were guilty not just of “throwing stones” but also “seriously wounding someone”. Keep digging…

As it happens, Ethan Bronner’s article contained a mistake spotted by Joseph Dana - also now corrected. Ofer Prison is not “in Israel” – it is in the occupied West Bank. How did such a glaring error escape CAMERA’s ruthless ‘fact checking’?

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