Guardian

‘Comment is Free’ uses misleading Livni quote the Guardian previously corrected


In an Nov. 26 essay titled ‘Australia’s U-turn on Israeli settlements in occupied territories is shameful‘ ‘Comment is Free’ contributor  – another anti-Zionist Jewish voice associated with ‘CiF’ Australia – criticizes his country for supporting Israel, alleging that the new government is now “complicit in many breaches of international law” regarding the settlements.

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After citing Australia’s recent abstention at the UN in a vote which “called for an end to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories”, Brull adds the following:

There is little controversy about the status of settlements under international law. The international court of justice, in its 2004 advisory opinion on the wall being constructed by Israel in the West Bank, concluded that “the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.”

Indeed, as former Australian Labor party foreign minister Bob Carr recently noted, in 1967 the Israeli prime minister was informed by his chief law officer that settlements were illegal under international law. Nevertheless, Israel almost immediately began building settlements – a process that increased exponentially as the decades progressed. 

Then, a couple of paragraphs down, he purports to quote former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni to buttress his argument:

Livni knows perfectly well why Israel builds settlements. In another candid moment, she explained that “the Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible we already have the land and cannot create the state.” Livni admitted that this “was the policy of the government for a really long time.” She claimed that whilst it “is still the policy of some of the parties”, the government policy has changed. That was a less candid moment.

However, it’s Brull who is being “less than candid”, as his quote is a mischaracterization of what Livni said (during negotiations with the Palestinians in 2007), as documented in the “Palestine Papers” released by the Guardian in 2011. Indeed, as was widely reported at the time, the Guardian was forced to issue the following correction to a story they published on Jan. 24, 2011 which used the same Livni quote.  

Here’s their correction on Feb. 12, 2011:

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Even worse, in the passage in question in his essay Brull had the audacity to link to the original Guardian report which had the corrected, full quote by Livni.  This suggests that he may have knowingly cut the quote and deleted the words which showed it in its proper context.

As Just Journalism wrote about the Guardian’s “error” at the time, “By cutting the quote to exclude the first part of Tzipi Livni’s sentence, The Guardian portrayed the Israeli politician as brazenly admitting a policy of making a Palestinian state impossible.”

Now, more than two years later, CiF contributor Michael Brull – in an effort to show that Livni shared his views on settlements – repeated almost exactly the same Guardian deception. 

11 replies »

  1. Brull’s essay is sloppy, not thought through and superficial. In his haste to compare Australia to Israel and to condemn both he has used several of the revisionist ploys about Israel that are easily shown as being specious.

    He has no respect for his readers, expecting them to have a minimal knowledge of the facts and to be easily fooled, a sad commentary on his scholarship.

  2. And as I pointed out in a comment BTL on the article – the second Livni quote could very well be an error because it makes no sense and doesn’t agree with the other things she said at the meeting:

    My comment:

    In November 2007, during negotiations with the Palestinians, Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, from the Israeli centrist party Kadima, said “I am a lawyer … but I am against law – international law in particular. Law in general. If we want to make the agreement smaller, can we just drop some of these issues? Like international law, this will make the agreements easier.”

    A classic example of cherry-picking ! Why didn’t you post some other quotes by Livni from the same meeting and give the context of the discussion ? In any case, these “minutes” are an unofficial, incomplete and unedited jumble, no doubt containing many mistakes. Wouldn’t the quote make more sense (particularly in the context of the ensuing discussion) if what she really said was:

    “I am a lawyer … but I am NOT against law – international law in particular. Law in general. If we want to make the agreement smaller, can we just drop some of these issues? Like international law, this will make the agreements easier.”

    • According to a blogger for whom I have much respect Elder of Ziyon, Livni was referring to a particular point of negotiation when she made this statement. His comment:

      “When Livni says “I am against law” she is saying she does not want any reference to legal issues, or international law, in the joint statement. Just like the Arab side did not want the three principles of the Quartet.

      That’s it. She is not saying she is against international law, the notes are just a shorthand for her saying she doesn’t want it mentioned in this largely ceremonial statement.”

      http://elderofziyon.blogspot.co.il/2011/01/did-livni-say-she-is-against-intl-law.html#.UpTCebuIpYc

      As seems to be his unscholarly habit, Brull quoted this statement by Livni with no regard to context

  3. Sometimes a quote can be interpreted differently depending on the translation of an adjective – or the presence or not of a mere comma or definite article.

    This is obviously not one of those cases ….

  4. Michael Brull seems to have no problem lying. Perfect fit for the Guardian. He must be pretty pissed about the warm relations between Australia and Israel.

  5. Sometimes a quote can be interpreted differently depending on the translation of an adjective – or the presence or not of a mere comma or definite article.

    This is obviously not one of those cases