UKMW prompts Indy correction to sentence claiming 750,000 Palestinian prisoners since 1967

Earlier in the month, we complained to editors at The Independent about an article (“Restaurants in Gaza only serve salt water in solidarity with hunger strikers”) by Bethan McKernan which included the following claim, attempting to contextualise Palestinian support for the hunger striking prisoners:

“750,000 Palestinians have at one point or another in the last 50 years been imprisoned by the Israeli state, affecting almost every family.”

This statistic, stated as fact by McKernan, is at minimum highly disputed.  As blogger Elder of Ziyon has persuasively demonstrated, it’s almost impossible for these numbers (cited frequently despite the fact that it originated from a radical NGO with ties to a terror group) to add up. Elder showed that, for the number to be accurate, it would mean that there were over 23,000 new prisoners a year since 1967, or 500 a week.  However, even during the height of the intifada, the number of new prisoners a year never even reached 10,000. 

Indy editors responded to our concerns by agreeing to add text to make clear that the “750,000 Palestinian prisoners” figure is merely a Palestinian claim, one which is disputed. Here’s the new sentence:

“…according to Palestinian estimates, disputed by Israel, 750,000 people have at one point or another in the last 50 years been imprisoned by the Israeli state, affecting seven out of ten families”.

Note that McKernan, who wrote this piece, was the Indy correspondent who published a piece last month quoting conspiracy theorist Ralph Schoenman. After complaints from UKMW, the Indy completely removed the article from its website.  

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16 replies »

  1. If the Sun reported 1000 cases of sexual assault this year by Independent employees, but stated the Independent disputed it, that would seemingly pass the Independent’s journalistic standards.

  2. Let’s just add some quotes around the number and print the words “Palestinian claims”. That’ll make our shitty reporting much better.

    Oh to be an Editor in England.

    • koufaxmitzvah don’t worry Robert Browning will not sue you for plagiarizing the start to his poem ‘Home-thoughts, from abroad’

      “O, TO be in England
      Now that April ‘s there,
      And whoever wakes in England
      Sees, some morning, unaware,
      That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf 5
      Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
      While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
      In England—now!”

    • Oh come on, koufaxmitzvah, these are Palestinian estimates, and therefore very special. How could anyone ever dispute their integrity? I’m sure they have teams of their best statisticians going about this in the name of objectivity and accuracy. Truth and accountability is what Palestine means in Palestinian. That’s how they are and that’s the way they have always been during their 10,000 year peaceful Palestinian history in peaceful Palestinian Palestine. Just make sure you remember that.

        • jeff21st, Some people are just stupid enough or brainwashed enough to take your words seriously. Too bad there is no font for sarcasm but I am writing this, not really for you but for the intellectually challenged.

  3. I think that I’ve seen the even more ridiculous claim of 850,000 prisoners sine 1967. However. as far the PLO’s many lies go, this one is rather mild. Mild that is compared to the denial of Jewish history in the Land of Israel.