Indy corrects. New text refutes claim Israel stops Gaza docs from traveling to training seminars

On July 11th, we demonstrated that a claim made by Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, and uncritically cited by The Independent, was erroneous.  The article by Bethan Mckernan (“Three Palestinian babies have died in Gaza and no one will accept responsibility”, June 30th) included the following passage:

Ms Moss [spokesperson for PHR – Israel] also blamed Israel for the current healthcare crisis. The state prevents Gazan doctors from travelling abroad for training and the blockade prevents essential medical equipment from reaching hospitals, she said.

Though we addressed the extremely misleading claim that the the blockade prevents medical equipment from reaching hospitals, we particularly focused on the specific claim by PHR-Israel that Israel “prevents Gazan doctors from travelling abroad for training”.  We contacted a spokesperson from COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories) to get an answer about this claim, and they flatly denied it.  In fact, they provided us detailed statistics on the hundreds of such crossings over the past couple of years. 

We contacted Indy editors, providing them with the information from COGAT, and we learned this morning that our complaint was upheld. The article has been updated and now includes the following text immediately following the claim by PHR-Israel.

A spokesperson for Cogat (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories) denied that Israel stops Gazan doctors from receiving training. “In 2016 alone, 221 crossings of doctors were coordinated for professional training abroad, whilst an additional 43 were coordinated in 2017,” the organisation said in a statement. “The list of doctors is determined by the Palestinian Authority,” added the Cogat spokesperson. 

We commend Indy editors for the correction.

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11 replies »

  1. The problem here seems to be that it may well be the policy of the Indy and the Guardian to publish libellous stories, then to retract or correct elements of them when challenged only to proceed to publish further libels the following day. This process seems to go on ad infinitum. They work on the basis that more people read the original story or article than are ever likely to read the retraction or correction.

  2. A friend wrote to the Indy to complain about Kel Loach and ‘Apartheid Roads’. He recieved the following reply:

    Thank you for your email. We are always glad to hear from our readers, whether or not feedback is positive, and I am grateful to you for taking the time to get in touch.

    I am naturally sorry to hear that you found this article so disagreeable. We are very conscious that not all readers will agree with the views of all of our writers – but in the final analysis we would rather that columnists felt able to express their honestly-held opinions, even if they provoke a strong reaction, than stick to the anodyne for fear of causing offence.

    Furthermore, our understanding is that there are some roads in the West Bank that are only accessible to Israeli citizens (albeit both Jews and Arabs). With that in mind, and in the context of a comment piece, we don’t believe that Ken Loach’s summary of the position is misleading.

    If you’d like to submit a letter for publication which makes the distinction we’d be happy to consider it for publication.

    I hope very much that in spite of your concern on this particular occasion, you will continue to read our newspaper and find much to enjoy (even if you don’t always agree with our commentators).

    With best regards
    Angela Smith
    Customer Services

    So. In short. It’s OK that Ken Loach describes roads that Palestinians are banned from traveling on for clear security reasons as ‘Apartheid Roads’ because it is in the context, (of hatred of Israel), that Ken Loach writes. WOW! The Indy is a great … great ……..

    • How clever of Angela Smith to find a new way to discriminate between day and night -by using similar logic – though the sun is shining it is night because the moon is visible

      • It should go without saying that the Indy reply is entirely disingenuous. If the standard is not factual accuracy but simply “honestly-held opinions” then quite literally anything goes. One need look no farther than the Hamas Charter for a mine-field of repulsive and historically inaccurate statements that are surely the “honestly-held opinions” of genocidal maniacs and religious fanatics. Would the Indy publish an opinion piece explaining that the Jews are responsible for all the world’s wars and exist only to sow discord among nations? Is there any doubt that the Indy would never publish an opinion piece focused on Islamic Jew-hatred – and would no doubt justify its action with a “community cohesion” excuse, even if the piece were factually accurate. Have journalists indeed reached the point where factual reality is trumped by an “honestly-held” but baseless, misguided or hateful “opinion”? For some, it would seem so.

        • I wouldn’t say that these are necessarily “honestly held opinions” either. It’s really more economic in nature. They have an audience and they tell them what they want to hear. Much like a whore who sells her body to the clients who desire it.

        • “Would the Indy publish an opinion piece explaining that the Jews are responsible for all the world’s wars and exist only to sow discord among nations?” – just give it time, Charlie, just give it time.

  3. Almost a correction. It continues the pattern of quoting an Israeli statement rather than correcting by stating the facts. “Israel says” carries the implication that a) they could be (probably are) lying or b) mistaken (they are unreliable). Palestinian statements are usually written as fact with the implication the professional, conscientious journalists from this organ have independently verified.