I sent a letter to the New Haven Register in response to Rasheed's screed and The Register was good enough to publish it on August 16. There are, however, some interesting differences between the letter published and the letter submitted. We include both, followed by some comments.
Questionable assertions about Gaza, civilian deaths
Jamilah Rasheed's Forum article, "Palestinians also struggle for freedom,"contains many questionable assertions.
Rasheed contradicts her assertion that the "Gaza Strip is an open air prison" with her acknowledgment that Gaza has an open border with Egypt.
Rasheed says Israel killed 1,417 civilians during Operation Cast Lead. This is blatantly false. Nobody knows how many Arabs in Gaza were killed and the number given by Rasheed is the highest estimate, including civilians and combatants, I've seen.
If one accepts Rasheed's inflated figure as the total, Hamas admitted that between 600 and 700 of those killed were combatants, so no more than 817 could have been civilians.
Most likely, the total number of casualties was below 1,200 and the number of civilians killed well under 500.
Editor's note: Alan Stein is president of Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting-Connecticut.
Dear Mr. Kochakian:
Jamilah Rasheed's August 9 Forum article, "Palestinians also struggle for freedom," contains many questionable assertions. Indeed, Rasheed herself contradicts her assertion that the "Gaza Strip is an open-air prison" with her acknowledgment two paragraphs below that Gaza has an open border with Egypt.
In the same paragraph as her assertion about Gaza being a prison, Rasheed falsely asserts Israel killed "1,417 civilians" during Operation Cast Lead. This is a blatantly false assertion which should not have been published and should be corrected by The New Haven Register.
Nobody really knows how many Arabs in Gaza were killed during Operation Cast Lead and the number given by Rasheed is the highest estimate of total casualties, both civilian and combatants, I've ever seen. Even if one accepts Rasheed's inflated figure as the total, even Hamas representatives ultimately admitted that between 600 and 700 of those killed were combatants, so that no more than 817 could possibly have been civilians.
Most likely, the total number of casualties was below 1,200 and the number of civilians killed well under 500. However, however generously one estimates the number of civilian casualties, Rasheed indisputably inflated the number of civilian casualties by at least 600.
While Rasheed's biased arguments are appropriately countered via letters to the editor, such a factual error calls for an official correction by The New Haven Register. Also, since Rasheed's Forum articles almost always contain blatant factual errors, we strongly urge you to carefully scrutinize future submissions from Jamilah Rasheed for factual accuracy.
Note: Two reliable sources, among many, for the Hamas admission are the Alan Dershowitz article "Finally, a Hamas Leader Admits That Israel Killed Mostly Combatants In Gaza," available at
The original letter was sent directly to the editor, not to the address for letters for publication. It was clearly written as a request for The Register to issue its own, official correction of one of the factual errors in Rasheed's screed, not as a letter for publication. The Statement of Principles of the American Society of Newspaper Editors obligates newspapers to issue such corrections.
Instead of issuing that correction, The Register basically eliminated that portion of the letter and published it as if it was written for publication. It also eliminated the part where it was pointed out such false assertions should not be published in newspapers.