Maurice Ostroff says he appreciates Dr Survé's purported guidelines, treats them as sincere until proven otherwise, and draws his attention to the manner in which they are ignored by some Independent editors. This after what Maurice feels was incorrect Nakba Day content published in the Cape Times. “I am a subject of the critical May 13, Cape Times article by Zaachira Suliman titled ‘How 750 00 (sic) people were forced into exile,” writes Maurice, “and I trust that this response will be published in compliance with the requirements of the Press Code.”
It was indeed encouraging to read in the May 5, South African Jewish Report, an assurance by Dr Iqbal Survé, chairman of the group that controls The Star, Cape Times, and other publications, that editors have been given clear directives to include all points of view and to ensure they do not come across as partisan on any issues, adding: “We as a group absolutely give voice to everybody. We don’t have a policy of being pro-Israel or pro-Palestine and we would guard against that.”
However, as a flurry of biased articles has attracted adverse attention it appears that some editors need to be reminded of the above guidelines to good journalism.
The South African Press Code requires that a publication shall seek the views of the subject of critical reportage in advance of publication and shall make amends for publishing information or comment that is found to be inaccurate by printing, promptly and with appropriate prominence, a retraction, correction or explanation. Having served in the Israel army in 1948, I am a subject of the critical May 13, Cape Times article by Zaachira Suliman titled "How 750 00 (sic) people were forced into exile" and I trust that this response will be published in compliance with the requirements of the Press Code.
RIGHT: Dr Iqbal Survé is asked by SA expat in Israel, Maurice Ostroff, to walk the talk in terms of his assurances to SAJR readers earlier this month
Mr Suliman's article not only fails to comply with the values set out by Dr Surve', it violates basic rules of the Press Code which requires inter alia striving for truth, reflecting a multiplicity of voices and that news be presented in context and in a balanced manner without any intentional or negligent departure from the facts whether by distortion, exaggeration or misrepresentation, material omissions or summarisation.
Note that omission of relevant information is no less culpable than disinformation. For example the article states as fact, the writer's opinion that "about 750 000 Palestinians were forced into exile by the Zionist terror groups" without the slightest mention of the context that caused many Arabs to leave for reasons which are considered debatable by eminent historians. It omits mentioning that this occurred as a result of war when the new-born State of Israel was attacked by the armies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon as well as the Arab Liberation Army commanded by Fawzi al-Kaukji; seven armies in all.
The opinion stated as fact that the 1917 Balfour Declaration (which Mr Suliman describes as treacherous by Britain) created Israel illegally is a complete distortion of the verifiable facts. To the contrary, the territory on both sides of the Jordan was legally designated for the Jewish homeland by the 1920 San Remo Conference, mandated to Britain, endorsed by the League of Nations in 1922, affirmed in the Anglo-American Convention on Palestine in 1925 and confirmed in 1945 by article 80 of the UN.
Mr Suliman's claim that Israel caused ethnic cleansing and genocide has been contradicted by none other than Hazem Nusseibeh, editor of the Palestine Broadcasting Service in 1948, who told the BBC how a false press report was compiled, claiming that atrocities had occurred at Deir Yassin. He added that these fabricated atrocity stories were “our biggest mistake”, because as a result Palestinians fled in terror and left the country in huge numbers. To read more, CLICK HERE
Sad that editors allow inaccurate statements
As Mr Suliman implies that Israeli attacks on Arab villages were unprovoked, I strongly recommend that he visit Arab towns and villages which remained neutral in 1948 such as the flourishing village of Abu Ghosh. Mohammed Abu Ghosh has been quoted as saying, "What we did, we did for Abu Ghosh, for nobody else. Others who lost their land, hated us then, but now all over the Arab world, many people see we were right. If everyone did what we did, there'd be no refugee problem .. And if we were traitors? Look where we are, look where they are."
It is sad that responsible editors, who should know the facts, allow completely inaccurate statements like "Palestine is the largest remaining refugee population in the world". Responsible editors cannot be unaware of the error on this claim and the many millions of refugees caused by other conflicts including WWII, The India/Pakistan conflict and recent conflagrations in Asia, Africa and Europe .
I quote former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, in an article on Al -Arabiya TV titled "Arab treatment of Palestinians far worse a crime than what Israel did to them". He said "Our insistence to lock the Palestinians in camps and treat them like animals in the name of preserving the issue is far worse a crime than Israel stealing land and causing the displacement of people. Read more: CLICK HERE
May I look forward to the retraction of errors as required by the Press Code?
What the Cape Times published:
Suliman’s Cape Times piece in its original format, below, and in text, below that:
How 750 00(0) people were forced into exile
By: Zaachira Suliman
AN ANNUAL calendar event during the month of May is the commemoration of the al-Nakba. Nakba Day is the day of the "catastrophe", which refers to the destruction of Palestinian society in 1948 when about 750 000 Palestinians were forced into exile by the Zionist terror groups.
Nakba Day reminds the world of one of the most disastrous decisions undertaken by Britain and her allies in 1917. Britain, as the colonial power, held sway over Palestine. With the Balfour Declaration this treacherous conduct resulted in the illegal creation of the Zionist State of Israel on May 14, 1948.
This heralded the beginning of the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinians by the terrorist organisations of the Zionists. Zionist forces used terror tactics as the British mandate of Palestine came to an end in 1947-48, to rid as much of the land of its Palestinian inhabitants as possible. Zionist forces depopulated more than 450 Palestinian towns and villages, most of which were demolished to prevent the return of the Palestinians.
Etched in the minds of Palestinians, the al-Nakba remains one of the greatest tragedies in their history. This fateful day in 1948 has resulted in a tapestry of events that has unravelled more bloodshed, turmoil, dispossession, oppression and terror. The catastrophe of the 1940s continues to this day and to many Palestinians is a reminder of the constant oppression and dispossession they face in everyday life as Israel maintains an illegal occupation and colonisation of historic Palestine.
Palestine is the largest remaining refugee population in the world that is subjected to constant violence, prejudice and inhumane standards of living. It is on this type of abomination that the apartheid state of Israel "celebrates" its foundation of so-called independence and statehood.
The Media Review Network South Africa calls on the public and the South African government to stand in solidarity and raise your voices against the largest remaining colonial entity based on violations of international law, human rights, injustices and dehumanisation.
Let May 15 be a day when South Africans join together to remember the people of Palestine.
- Suliman is a researcher for Media Review Network