In Dec. 2012, Ha’aretz reported on an investigation by Israeli journalist Gal Gabai claiming a “systematic mechanism” in which Ethiopian women who wanted to immigrate to Israel were required to take a contraceptive injection called Depo Provera. According to the deeply flawed report, the women were “coerced” to receive the drug, and alternative means of birth control were not offered. The accusations were leveled against the Jewish Agency, the Joint Distribution Committee and the Health Ministry.
Both the Guardian and Independent published stories based on Haaretz’s coverage of Gal Gabai’s “scoop” alleging that Ethiopian women were given contraception without their consent, and neither publication even minimally challenged the claims.
In addition to a straight news items on the row, the Indy also ran an op-ed by Matt Hill that went so far as to characterize the incident as the “forced sterilization” of Ethiopians. The Guardian published an equally inflammatory op-ed charging Israel with “forced contraception” in order to “reduce its poor black population”.
Though UK Media Watch prompted a correction to Hill’s egregiously false claim regarding “forced sterilization” (and CAMERA prompted a revision to an important element of the Haaretz story), the general charge – echoed by the Guardian and Independent – remained unchallenged pending the outcome of an investigation launched by the State Comptroller.
However, just this week, it was reported that the State Comptroller’s Office finally concluded their lengthy investigation and determined that the allegations were categorically false.
“No evidence”, a letter from State Comptroller Joseph Shapira obtained by Haaretz stated, “could be found for the claims raised that shots to prevent pregnancy were administered to Ethiopian women under pressure or threats, overt or covert, or in any way that was improper.”
The full report is expected to be released soon.
In the meantime, we’ll be contacting the journalists, contributors and editors responsible for the original Guardian and Indy pieces and ask that they cover the new findings by State Comptroller and update their original pieces accordingly.
- Lets Get the Facts Straight About Ethiopian Jews and Contraception (Tamar Sternthal)