Ultra-leftist newspaper Haaretz, which is partially owned by a German publishing family with a Nazi past, has published a "clarification" to an article it ran as its main front page story, in which it accused Israelis of supporting an apartheid regime against Arabs.
The article and accompanying opinion piece by Gideon Levy misrepresented the findings of a Dialog poll, thus supplying invaluable (and false) ammunition for enemies of Israel and Jew-haters the world over.
The paper came under fire from Israeli media watchdog Presspectiva/Camera.org, from Maariv's Ben-Dror Yemini and from other sources, and published the short "clarification" five days after the original slander appeared.
The short, six-line clarification appears on page 5 of the print version of Haaretz, which is considered to be much less influential than its internet sites, especially the English language website. The English language website features a "clarification" in the opening paragraph of the original article, but – to the best of Arutz Sheva's knowledge – no apology appeared in the home page of its website. It did publish an op-ed by Yehudah Ben-Meir that opposes Levy's presentation of the poll's findings.
The clarification reads thus: "The original headline for this piece, 'Most Israelis support an apartheid regime in Israel,' did not accurately reflect the findings of the Dialog poll. The question to which most respondents answered in the negative did not relate to the current situation, but to a hypothetical situation in the future: 'If Israel annexes territories in Judea and Samaria, should 2.5 million Palestinians be given the right to vote for the Knesset?'"
Writing in Camera.org, Yishai Goldflam noted that Levy began the article by stating:
Most of the Jewish public in Israel supports the establishment of an apartheid regime in Israel if it formally annexes the West Bank.
"It is an emphatic conclusion, but not what was asked in the survey," says Goldflam. "The only question addressing annexation of the territories was Question 16:
If Israel annexes the territories of Judea and Samaria, in your opinion, is it necessary to give 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote in the Knesset?
"While 69% of respondents answered no, the survey’s question addressed a hypothetical scenario that had no bearing on the current situation. Moreover, there were more interviewees who responded that they oppose annexation than those who responded that they support it (48% oppose, 38% support). In other words, almost half the respondents were forced to choose an answer about a hypothetical scenario that they explicitly oppose."
Goldflam notes that Levy "claimed that according to a recent survey the majority of Israelis not only support apartheid, but also hold racist views towards Israeli Arabs and believe that apartheid already exists today in Israel. Predictably, the story spread like wildfire and was quoted in major media outlets such as London’s The Guardian and The Independent, Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Agence-France Presse, and dozens of other sites, blogs and forums."
Gideon Levy wrote that "a sweeping 74 percent majority" of Israelis is "in favor of separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. A quarter – 24 percent – believe separate roads are 'a good situation' and 50 percent believe they are 'a necessary situation'."
However, notes Goldflam, Levy conveniently omitted the original question and answers from the survey. They were:
"In the territories, there are some roads where travel is permitted only to Israelis and others where travel is permitted only to Palestinians. Which of the following opinions are closest to your own:
- It is a good situation. (Selected by 24%)
- It is not a good situation, but what can you do? (Selected by 50%)
- It is not a good situation and it needs to be stopped. (Selected by 17%)
All together, 67%, or two thirds of Israelis, said the separation on roads – which is carried out for security purposes, because Arab terrorists use the roads to murder innocent Jews who are traveling on them – is "not good." Levy's representation omits this essential fact.
Levy also wrote that "A majority of Israeli Jews also explicitly favors discrimination against the state's Arab citizens..."
"Levy misled his readers," says Goldflam, who notes that there are five questions in the survey relating to discrimination against Arabs. Below are the questions and results:
- In your opinion, is it desirable or undesirable for Jews to receive priority over Arabs in government hiring? 59% said this was desirable, 34% said it was undesirable.
- In your opinion, is it desirable to enact a law that prevents Israeli Arabs from voting in the Knesset? 33% said this was desirable; 59% undesirable.
- Do you agree or disagree with the argument that the state needs to care more for its Jewish citizens than its Arab citizens? 49% agreed; 49% disagreed.
- Would it bother you if in your place of abode, for example in your apartment building, an Arab family also lived there? 42% said it would bother them; 53% said it would not bother them.
- Would it bother you if in one of your children’s classrooms at school, there were also Arab children? 42% said it would bother them; 49% said it would not bother them.
Goldlfam writes: "Does the overall picture obtained from these results support Levy’s characterization of most Israeli Jews favoring discrimination against Israeli-Arabs? On the contrary. Most people reading these results would perceive just the opposite, that a majority of Israelis do not support discrimination against Arabs."
This did not prevent Levy from writing that:
"Most Israelis do not want Arab voters for the Knesset, nor Arab neighbors at home, nor Arab students near the bookcases of Jewish texts in Jewish schools that teach Jewish heritage. And our camp will be pure, as pure of Arabs as possible and perhaps even more."
Ben Dror Yemini, who has published scathing criticism of Levy in the past, calling him "the baron of the industry of lies," said the story was "one of the grossest lies published against Israel in recent years."
"The lie already has made waves in the world. It is spreading like wildfire, and it burns us. The goal has been accomplished."
Several years ago, Haaretz Group sold 20% of its shares to newspaper and book publisher DuMont Schauberg.
The publishing group's owner during the Nazi era, Kurt Neven DuMont – the current owner's father – was reportedly a member of the Nazi party, and his newspapers advanced Nazi ideology. As a result, the publishing house was among the only private ones in Germany whose operations were never outlawed by Hitler.
Despite his systematic slander of Israel and the IDF, Gideon Levy is far from being a pariah figure in democratic Israel. This summer, he starred in a reality show called "Connected," that followed the lives of five men. He is a welcome guest in numerous journalistic panels.