Guardian

The Guardian inflates the number of Palestinian refugees by 4,970,000


The Palestinian “refugee” problem is an issue this blog has explored on quite a few occasions, often in the context of pointing out UK media errors relating to the true number of actual refugees.

A case in point is a long article published on April 6 in The Observer (sister site of the Guardian) by incoming Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont, titled ‘Middle East: does either side have the will to strive for peace?.  Though the nearly 2,000 word article is largely unproblematic, the print version included the following graphic which includes extremely inflated figures on “refugees”:

refugees

First, the wording of the passage (underlined in red) on “refugees” is quite confusing, as the words “5 million refugees and their descendants” could be understood as implying that there are ‘5 million Palestinian refugees’ from 1948, PLUS an additional number of descendants.  

Alternately, it could be an attempt to acknowledge that not all of the “5 million” Palestinians who are regarded as refugees (per UNRWA’s bizarre formula) are actually refugees, but, rather, are the descendants of the original (unstated number of) refugees.  However, even assuming it’s the latter, this is extremely misleading, since readers would likely never imagine that there are only 30,000 or so actual Palestinian refugees from the 1948 War (out of the original 711,000) still alive – or less than 1 percent of the ‘5 million’ figure cited.

As we’ve noted previously, the 5 million figure (used by UNRWA) includes the children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren (ad infinitum) of Palestinian Arabs who may have once lived somewhere in Mandate Palestine, and includes even those who are citizens of other Arab countries (such as Jordan or Lebanon) as “refugees”.

Though such egregious distortions about the actual number of Palestinian refugees are ubiquitous throughout the UK media, we had at least one notable success when we prompted a correction last August in The Telegraph to a passage mirroring the language used by The Observer cited above.  After a series of communications with Telegraph editors, they agreed with our argument and our figures, and revised the original passage (which you can see here) thusly:

corex

Emphasis added

Even this passage isn’t perfect, because it fails to note how many Palestinian refugees from the 1948 War (of the original 700,000 or so) are actually still alive, but, in comparison to the Guardian, it at least represents an attempt to accurately represent this widely misunderstood issue. 

h/t Izzy

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6 replies »

  1. “Even this passage isn’t perfect, because it fails to note how many Palestinian refugees from the 1948 War (of the original 700,000 or so) are actually still alive”

    This also fail to note that a proprtion of those refugees never left “Palestine” and are in “refugee camps” such as Balata, Jenin and Deir el Balah to name but a few.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine_refugee_camps

  2. And poor Peter probably thought that he would have it easy disseminating capricious distortion and outright lies. Awww, poor baby!

  3. Surprised you haven’t picked up the box on the left concerning Jerusalem. If I recall the Camp David negotiations, the Israeli’s offered administrative control but not sovereignty over areas of East Jerusalem. That’s significantly different from “cannot countenance the division or sharing of the city”

  4. Why was the Telegraph not picked up on “Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian lands”? The settlements are on on land to which both parties lay claim. The Jews have an historical legal and moral claim as good if not better than the Palestinians – why do we allow the media to get away with this without challenge?

  5. Not sure why you chose only to pick up on the false claim about “5 million refugees” when in fact the entire text under “What Divides Israel and Palestine” needs a thorough fisking.