Andrea LevinAndrea Levin is executive director of CAMERA, an organization that fights misinformation and distortions of Israel in the press and on college campuses.
Dear President Carter:
We at CAMERA have been outspoken in our criticism of the many factual errors and distortions about Israel in your book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, as well as in various Op-Eds and media appearances. We've been greatly concerned that false allegations you've made damage Israel, promoting misunderstanding, enmity and prejudice against that nation and its people.
It is against this backdrop that we sincerely welcome your recent letter to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in which you ask forgiveness from the Jewish community for
In Judaism the process of repentance also entails action to reverse any harm caused.
statements that may have stigmatized Israel.
As you may know, in Judaism the process of repentance also entails action to reverse any harm caused.
In this spirit, we urge you to join your promising words with concrete actions to redress troubling false statements you have made only recently about the Jewish state. In a Nov. 6, 2009 Op-Ed in the International Herald Tribune entitled "Goldstone and Gaza" you made false and exaggerated charges concerning the UN's Goldstone report on the Gaza conflict. You referred erroneously to the "destruction" of 40,000 homes in Gaza and claimed "several hundred thousand homeless people suffered through last winter." You refer to the "destruction of hospitals" and claim the Gaza Strip is "surrounded by an impenetrable wall." You claim "the Goldstone committee examined closely the cause of deaths of 1,387 Palestinians who perished. . . "
All these statements are factually false and contribute to inflaming negative perceptions of Israel. Efforts to redress the errors via communication with IHT editors failed with their saying you have refused to correct the false statements.
We do hope you'll set the record straight and affirm your commitment to undo any wrongful stigmatizing of Israel. Below is the factual detail corroborating our concerns about the errors made:
• Israel did not destroy 40,000 Palestinian homes.
Al Mazen Center for Human Rights, a pro-Palestinian NGO, recently issued a report called "Cast Lead Offensive in Numbers" in which it found that 2,632 houses were destroyed beyond repair and 8,522 were assessed as repairable. The Goldstone Report provides additional sources including the Palestinian NGO, Al-Dameer-Gaza, that cites 2,011 civilian and cultural premises as destroyed, of which 1,404 were houses that were completely demolished and 453 partially destroyed or damaged." There is no credible report that comes near your charges.
•There was no "destruction of hospitals."
Along with the World Health Organization and the Arab League, other international and Palestinian sources confirm that while there were hospitals damaged in the Gaza Strip, none were destroyed. The January 22-23 report by the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that four days after the cease-fire, hospitals were running at full capacity to treat the wounded.
• "Several hundred thousand" people were not made homeless, spending the winter in tents and caves and under plastic sheets.
A January 21-27, 2009 report by the United Nations, issued just days after the end of the
We hope your conciliatory words are indicative of a true change of heart.
Gaza fighting found that "Tens of thousands of Gazans remain homeless, with most staying with relatives or other host families." OCHA’s January 2009 report stated: "As of late January, 18,035 people remained in 30 shelters.” The U.N.'s figure for those displaced last winter is one-tenth or less of the number you posit. Of those displaced, most stayed with relatives and not in tents, caves or plastic sheets.
• Gaza is not "surrounded by an impenetrable wall."
While a concrete and steel wall does separate Gaza from Egypt, a fence made of metal wire, posts and sensors separates Israel from the Gaza Strip. The fence has been penetrated many times, including when Palestinian gunmen crossed into Israel and kidnapped Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit and killed two of his comrades.
• The Goldstone Report did not examine "closely the cause of deaths of 1,387 Palestinians."
The report identified by name only a small fraction of the1,387 reported fatalities, and certainly did not "closely" examine the "cause of deaths" of that total.
Again, we hope your conciliatory words are indicative of a true change of heart in which Israel is no longer subjected to unwarranted and false criticism. We urge you to take the concrete step of correcting the wrong and distorted statements about Israel in your recent column in the IHT.
Thank you for considering this request and, perhaps, setting the stage for a new beginning.
Andrea Levine, Executive Director, CAMERA