CiF Watch prompts correction to Indy post by Matt Hill about Ethiopian contraception

Yesterday, we posted about a commentary at The Independent, written by ‘Liberal Conspiracy’ blogger Matt Hill, on April 16 titled ‘At 65, modern Israel is falling short of Zionism’s most basic goal, which included the following passage:

Israel’s story, in brief, might be described as overcoming a horrific infancy to grow rich and successful. But its triumphs have come at a cost. Once full of youthful idealism, today it is cynical, increasingly corrupt, and calloused by hubris. The land of socialist pioneers has become, besides America, the most unequal country in the world. A state established as a home for the homeless now treats immigrants with contempt, as the scandal of its forced sterilisation of Ethiopian women has shown.

However, as we noted in our post, the row which Hill alluded to – based on an Israeli documentary and subsequent reports by Haaretz – merely involved unproven allegations that some Ethiopian women may have been coerced by doctors into receiving a long-lasting popular contraception called Depo-Provera.  

There was never anything resembling “forced sterilisation’ – a term which is commonly defined as ‘a process of permanently ending someone’s ability to reproduce without his or her consent’.

Shortly after our post yesterday we contacted editors at The Independent to object to the misleading term, and today the paper removed the reference to “forces sterilisation” and added this note at the end of Hill’s commentary:


Indy editors deserve credit for their prompt response after being alerted to this error. 

24 replies »

  1. Hill’s was typically unethical, lazy, sloppy journalism, quoting half-baked, unresearched, emotional ideas as hard fact.

    I hope he got an ear bashing from the Editor, but I shan’t hold my breath

  2. Let us hope someone gets in touch with the editor of Maariv and force him to correct the impression this interview has left with its readers

    Benzion Netanyahu told the Israeli newspaper Maariv:
    “The Bible finds no worse image than that of the man from the desert. And why? Because he has no respect for any law. Because in the desert he can do as he pleases. The tendency toward conflict is in the essence of the Arab. He is an enemy by essence. His personality won’t allow him any compromise or agreement. It doesn’t matter what kind of resistance he will meet, what price he will pay. His existence is one of perpetual war.

    “The two-state solution doesn’t exist. There are no two peoples here. There is a Jewish people and an Arab population… There is no Palestinian people, so you don’t create a state for an imaginary nation… They only call themselves a people in order to fight the Jews.”

    When asked what he thought the solution to the conflict was, the elder Netanyahu replied: “No solution but force… strong military rule. Any outbreak will bring upon the Arabs enormous suffering. We shouldn’t wait for a big uprising to start, but rather act immediately with great force to prevent them from carrying on.”

    Asked how his views had influenced his son’s policies as prime minister, in the same 2009 interview the elder Netanyahu stated:
    “Bibi might aim for the same goals as mine, but he keeps to himself the ways to achieve them, because if he gave expression to them, he would expose his goals.

    “Because he is smart. Because he is very careful. Because he has his ways of handling himself. I am talking about tactics regarding the revealing of theories that people with a different ideology might not accept. That’s why he doesn’t expose them – because of the reaction from his enemies as well as from the people whose support he seeks. It’s an assumption, but it might be correct.”

  3. This correction is a double edged sword. If you don’t protest, the lies get bigger and nastier (as per BBC/Guardian) and if you do protest and the correction is made, anti-Semites will point it as just another example of the omnipotent Jewish influence on our media.

    But still, good call.

    • June, they are going to construe it in such a way regardless, but I take some solace that intelligent readers – not the ignorant, mindless haters – will actually realise that where Israel is concerned they should read critically and questioningly whatever is written and, where necessary, triangulate the information they are given from disinterested sources.

      Only by chipping away in writing at what the “thoughts-as-facts” and emotional thinking faux-journalists drivel on about can what they drivel be undermined. It’s a slow process but I have to believe that such an approach will work eventually.

  4. While congratulations may be in order to the blog, congratulations are even more in order to Adam for bringing this to their attention and getting the retraction!!

  5. I would like to add a clarification to this article. The correction was made as a result of my emailing the editor and asking for the wording to be changed to remove the reference to ‘forced sterilisation’. I did so following the discussion under yesterday’s CiF Watch piece, which persuaded me that ‘sterilisation’ was a misleading word because it implies a permanent or difficult-to-reverse procedure. The amended sentence which now appears in the article is my wording.

    • Well done, Matt. As I said on the other thread, credit where credit is due. I just hope that you have taken on board the other points that were made on that thread (or at least the calmly argued ones, not necessarily the abusive ones) about your other mis-conceptions about Israel and her behaviour. We look forward to reading your future articles on this topic with interest!

    • Good job. Be careful of your sources when citing treports from Israel – there are many there, like Ha’aretz, BTselem, Breaking the Silence, who are pushing agendas which for reasons on someone like Glenn Greenwald could understand, are intended to show their own country in as bad a light as possible

    • Well done, Matt, but….
      What might have happened had Adam not published as he did? As it was you wrote an ill-researched piece, the lies in which might have stood had Adam and others here not taken you to task about it.

      “One of the major weaknesses of Westerners in the current cognitive war with Islamic imperialism is a seemingly boundless commitment to being fooled. It’s almost as if, on principle, we need to accept lies from the other side as true, lest we be accused of being racist. ”
      This is the perfect answer to your self constructed narratives.

  6. Is trolling also a privilege reserved for Pakistanis such as yourself(“Jason”, “Jeremy Hunt” –> “Jabal Karim”), or is it a rather cheap disguise for feelings of deep inadequacy on your part?
    The latter seems more probable, doesn’t it, Jabal?

  7. Why is that you never answer the question and instead break into abuse. Is your conscience worrying you?

    • “jason” – one reason nobody can be bothered to answer your questions is because we have done that time and time and time again, and you simply ignore or twist those answers and come back with other stupid questions or baseless aleegations of racism, fascism etc.

      The other reason is that your question does not make any sense. What is “the Kibbutz” and what relation does this bear to “entry to Heaven on Earth”. Where is this “Heaven on Earth”? I simply don’t understand the question.

      But let’s humour you. I’ll try and answer it for you. “The Kibbutz” as you refer to it is, I presume, the nascent blooming communities that made up the proto-state of Israel. Pre-1947 (i.e. before the modern state of Israel was declared) the Jews who lived in the area were known as Palestinians.

      So, the simple answer is: Yes – Palestinians were “allowed to be members of the Kibbutz”.

      An alternative interpretation of your question is: “Were Arabs allowed to be citizens of Israel”? To that again, the clear answer is: Yes. In fact 20% of the citizens of Israel today are Palestinian Arabs (i.e. Arabs from the historic region known as Palestine).

      Happy? I suspect not.

    • It’s a thoroughly daft question (from an equally daft person, I should imagine) which would insult if we took it or you seriously.

      But I, for one, don’t.

    • “Why is that you never answer the question”

      Why is it that you employ the use of sock puppets to state your inane, one-sided, off-topic comments as questions?

    • Jason:

      “Why is that you never answer the question and instead break into abuse. Is your conscience worrying you?”

      Pot, kettle, black?

  8. Jason:

    “Were Palestinians ever allowed to be members of the Kibbutz?”

    My mother born in a kibbutz pre 1948 under British mandated Palestine.
    I guess you can say she’s a Palestinian…

    I guess the real question you need asking is why were Palestinians who for the sake of argument wanted to create a Kibbutz were prevented from doing so.

    I think you need to refer this question to the governments of Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Kuwait.

    “…is the entry to Heaven on Earth restricted to non-Palestinians only?”

    You assume that a kibbutz is heaven on earth. If so how come there are no kibbutzim anywhere else in the world except Israel and one in southern France?
    How come the majority of kibbutzim are now fragmented and bust?

    also the below could answer your question…

    “A significant feature of the Kibbutz was the enhanced absence of gender roles. In the early days of the kibbutz movement, kibbutzim tended to be male-dominated with significantly more male members. Nevertheless, women performed many of the same tasks as men. Both men and women worked in the fields and performed guard duty…”