John Pilger, arguably one of the more virulent anti-Zionists to grace the pages of ‘Comment is Free’ (which is no small feat), took a gratuitous swipe at Israel in an essay concerning Australian politics, and, in so doing, no doubt thought his statistical fiction would go undetected.
He was wrong.
In a ‘Comment is Free’ essay titled ‘Julia Gillard is no feminist hero‘, Oct. 15, Pilger, in the context of vilifying Australia’s Prime Minister for being a liberal apostate, added one last sin – being soft on the Jewish state.
Pilger’s piece included this passage:
“A passionate supporter of the Israeli state, Gillard in 2009 went on a junket to Israel arranged by the Australian Israel Cultural Exchange during which she refused to condemn Israel’s blood-fresh massacre of 1,400 mostly women and children in Gaza.”
Leaving aside Pilger’s crude, vitriolic and unserious libel that Israel’s military actions (during the 2008-09 war, in response to thousands of Hamas rockets) represented a “blood fresh massacre”, his claim that Palestinian casualties were “mostly women and children”, as we noted in a post on Oct. 16, was simply a lie. (Further, the link Pilger provided to “prove” his claim – a Harriet Sherwood report in 2009 – didn’t even mention the number of women who died in the conflict.)
While Cast Lead arguably had one of the “lowest ratios of civilian to combatant deaths in any asymmetric conflict in the history of warfare” (even compared to NATO operations), even the most pro-Palestinian sources don’t back up Pilger’s claim about the number of women and children (Palestinians under 18 years old) killed.
Our post asked our readers to contact the Guardian’s readers’ editor, Chris Elliott, to complain about the error and – while we’ll likely never know the identity of the friendly CiF Watcher who responded to our request – it looks like our efforts paid off.
The Oct. 17 edition of the Guardian’s ‘Corrections and clarifications’ page included this.
As of yet, however, the original piece has not been revised to reflect this correction. We’ll keep an eye on the piece to see if they make the appropriate correction.
UPDATE: The piece has now been revised. The correction has been added at the end of Pilger’s piece and the false statistics in question have been deleted.
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