Following CiF Watch post, Guardian corrects John Pilger’s false casualty figures from Gaza War (Updated)

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 titledJulia 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.

10 replies »

  1. Unless they actually post that correction under the Pilger piece, or even better, as with a recent Greenwald piece, change the language in the article itself, I will not be surprised to see Pilger’s lie being cited as a source elsewhere.

    Still, well done Adam on catching that anti-Israeli lie buried in an article about … feminism in Australia!

  2. Pilger is a serial lair and a disgrace to journalism.

    Auberon Waugh, writing in The Spectator in the 1970s coined the verb “to pilger”, defined as: “to present information in a sensationalist manner to reach a foregone conclusion.”

  3. Good article which shows the hypocrisy of John I support Assad Pilger.
    Click on the link to read the full article.
    Houla massacre: the truth is out. Will Pilger now apologise to the Syrian rebels?
    July 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm (apologists and collaborators, conspiracy theories, Human rights, Jim D, media, New Statesman, Pilger, reblogged, Syria)
    Assad-apologist and professional conspiracy-theorist John Pilger, in a typically incoherent ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ rant (New Statesman, 20 June 2012), suggested that the anti-Assad rebels, in an attempt to discredit the regime, were responsible for the Houla massacre:

  4. It’s funny that the casualty figures never give anybody any pause about the rhetoric. It’s a sort of bloody mathematics, but it shows pretty clearly that more men than women were killed. Well, who is most likely to be involved in combat — men, so it makes sense that more men were killed. If the attacks were indiscriminate, the male/female ratio should be close to 50 – 50.

    The boy girl ratio is even more troubling, because again it should be 50 – 50. That it’s so heavily weighted to boys should be a warning that the Gaza terror groups are using children for combat. I would think that would be worth an investigation by the UN or a human rights group. (Sorry, I lost my head thinking for a minute that the UN or Amnesty would actually investigate based on something provable like statistics.)

    • In a place where the median age is under 18, and 43.5% of people are under 15 (at least according to it is hardly surprising that in this type of warfare, a number of under 18s were killed.

      This is also hardly surprising, as mishamb points out, when many of those actively involved in combat would have been under 18. I presume that the published stats record anyone under 18 killed as “chidlren” whether or not they were also “combatants”.

  5. Presumably, Pilger will also state that Hamas was lying when they said that they lost 700 of their own fighters in the war.

  6. One look at the ratio of men to women will show the IDF targeted fighters including 17 year olds.

  7. Let’s cut to the chase–no detailed analytic or defensive responses are needed. It’s clear from this piece and many before that Pilger is simply a lying antiSemitic sack of shit.

  8. Adam,

    I truthfully appreciate that one small area of John Pilgers article was put into question, and that you ran with it. Further, I have read with great interest the 9 replies to your post that support it.

    There were fully 96 times as many deaths on the Palestinian side as to that of the Israeli side in the 22 day Operation Cast Lead of 2006 – if sides are what you appeal to – excluding 5,000 palestinian casualties in those numbers.

    With media such as it is – in my wonderment that Yaakov Lappin (Journalist for the Jerusalem Post, covering military/national security affairs) can be added to this thread as though his input were unbias – even lorded-over back-slapping vitriol, backed-up with scant facts as truths are surely also bias.

    Speaking briefly of Lappin, is it any wonder he has the position that he has at the Jerusalem Post if he writes for and on behalf of the mainstream Kabal. How long he would last in this post and his lifestyle if he spoke of the ommission of fact’ rather than appealing to his paying masters is anyones guess, but my summise is he would meet you ten in some form or other, becoming something of a match for the attacks on Pilger.

    I can quote the organisation If Americans Knew on child deaths (on both sides) since September 29th 2000 to the present – if you like:

    11 times as many Palestinian child deaths than Israeli – but with a twist – 295 of those Palestinian deaths happened in 2009, where there was but 1 Israeli child death.

    Sadly – and even though the statistical body count was drawn from the exact same six organisations you quote above to castigate John Pilger, the organisation – If Americans Knew – has been coined anti-Semitic by The Anti-Defamation League – characterized by fellow Jew Noam Chomsky as having “lost entirely its focus on civil rights issues to become solely an advocate for Israeli policy”; holding that the “ADL casts all left-wing opposition to Israeli interests as antisemitism” – left wingers such as John Pilger, for example?