The following letter was submitted to The Hour when it responded to PRIMER's request for a correction to just one blatant error, among several other factual errors, in a letter by Scott Kimmich by saying a letter was more appropriate. There are two parts, an introductory explanation to the editors, not for publication, followed by the letter submitted for publication. As this is being posted, the editors of The Hour have not yet indicated whether they will publish the letter.
The introduction, not for publication:
I requested The Hour publish a correction to one of the several factual errors in a letter from Scott Kimmich published on June 11, but was told "Please feel free to send a letter to the editor. Would be better handled as such."
A correction issued by the newspaper could be very brief, such as: "In a letter from Scott Kimmich published on June 11, the writer wrote 'with the exception of the Yom Kippur war in 1973, all seven wars that Israel has fought, including the 'war for independence,' were initiated by Israel.' This is false. It is indisputable that Israel's Arab enemies initiated the 1948 war and the actual start of other wars is open to interpretation."
On the other hand, a correction via a letter to the editor must be far more thorough, lest it create the false impression there is simply a difference of opinion. The consequence is the following letter which I am submitting for publication.
I still believe The Hour should adhere to the Code of Ethics for the American Society of Newspaper Editors and publish its own, official correction such as that suggested above. Failing that, I believe it would be unfair to not publish the letter below.
The following was submitted as a letter and was published by The Hour on June 14 as an op-ed with the title "Claims Israel started wars are false and should be corrected." I commend The Hour for publishing it. Other newspapers, with less integrity than The Hour, have not just refused to issue corrections but then refused to publish letters pointing out the errors.
One of the provisions of the Code of Ethics for the American Society of Newspaper Editors is the stipulation "Editorials, analytical articles and commentary should be held to the same standards of accuracy with respect to facts as news reports. Significant errors of fact, as well as errors of omission, should be corrected promptly and prominently."
I'm disappointed that The Hour apparently follows a code of ethics which doesn't include this provision, since when, as president of PRIMER-Connecticut, I requested The Hour issue a correction of just one of several factual errors in Scott Kimmich's latest anti-Israel screed, I was told "Please feel free to send a letter to the editor. Would be better handled as such."
The Hour is to be commended, however, for offering that opportunity. There are other newspapers in Connecticut that have refused to correct factual errors and also refused to publish letters pointing out those factual errors.
In a letter published June 11, Scott Kimmich falsely asserted "with the exception of the Yom Kippur war in 1973, all seven wars that Israel has fought, including the 'war for independence,' were initiated by Israel."
This statement is so obviously false as to border on the absurd which, in my opinion, the editors should have either refused to publish or accompanied by a note pointing out its falsity.
There is absolutely no question that Israel's Arab enemies initiated the 1948 war, Israel's "war for independence." Israel's Declaration of Independence, proclaiming its desire to live in peace with its neighbors, was issued on May 14, 1948, only to have the armies of Transjordan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq invade the next day. Not even Israel's enemies deny they initiated that war.
My studies indicate all the wars were actually initiated by Israel's enemies. For example, even the 1967 war was really started by several acts of war by Israel's enemies, such as cross-border raids and the illegal closing of the Straits of Tiran, prior to Israel's pre-emptive attack. However, there is some element of ambiguity and legitimate differences of opinion, so I only requested The Hour point out the indisputable factual error regarding the start of the 1948 war.
Kimmich's letter contained several other factual errors, of which I'll mention just two, neither of which I asked The Hour to correct.
Kimmich referred to Israel's "1967 borders."
There were no borders in 1967, only temporary armistice lines. Indeed, each of the armistice agreements specify the armistice lines are to have no political significance. For example, Article VI, Paragraph 9 of the armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan reads: "The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto."
It's unfortunate that most people, including President Obama, seem to be unaware of this fact, but that's a separate issue.
In the very same sentence, Kimmich writes about "the return of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians." This short phrase contains at least two factual errors.
The first is the reference to "East Jerusalem." While the use of that term is quite common, it is in error since there is no such entity.
The second is the reference to returning territory to the Palestinian Arabs. It would be possible for Israel to return territory to Jordan or Egypt, the powers which occupied the disputed territories prior to the 1967 war. But the Palestinian Arabs never had possession of any of that territory so, while Israel can turn territory over to them, Israel cannot possibly "return" territory to them.
Besides being filled with factual errors, Kimmich also resorts to what I consider the promotion of hatred and, at best, the pandering to prejudice, as in the next to last paragraph of his June 11 letter: "In contrast, a tiny claque wildly applauds the head of a foreign government dictating policy to the White House and the Capitol." (This, too, contains an assertion many would consider a false statement, since obviously no foreign government dictates policy to the United States, but some might argue Kimmich is merely giving an opinion.)
In my opinion, many of Kimmich's letters and op-eds have crossed the line between legitimate opinion and criticism and venomous, bigoted, illegitimate attacks and should not have been published. That, of course, is itself a subjective opinion and it is up to The Hour to determine its standards.
I do hope the editors will in the future bear in mind an unfortunate truth pointed out by David Horovitz, editor of the Jerusalem Post, when he recently wrote an article referring to the veracity of Israel's enemies and aptly entitled it "Guess what: Our enemies lie."
Alan Stein, Ph.D.
Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting