Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Toronto Star Fixates on Fake Number of Palestinian Refugees, Despite Correction

CAMERA has prompted a correction by The Toronto Star in its article about Artist Ai Weiwei’s refugee documentary takes him to Gaza.

They write Toronto Star Corrects Inflated Number of Palestinian Refugees:
CAMERA has prompted correction of a Toronto Star photo caption which grossly inflated the number of Palestinians displaced in the 1948 war. The erroneous caption last week had stated:
The number of Palestinians who were displaced during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s establishment is estimated at more than five million people.

photo

Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei with his film crew in Gaza.
(Khalil Hamra / Associated Press)

In fact, in an article investigating the question How Many Palestinian Arab Refugees Were There?, historian Efraim Karsh's detailed analysis puts the number of Palestinian refugees as being at most 600,000.

So, if you are The Toronto Star and acknowledge that CAMERA is correct and the number of Palestinian refugees was 600,000 and not 5,000,000 -- what do you do?

Do you correct the caption to read:
The number of Palestinians who were displaced during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s establishment is estimated at six hundred thousand people
Not if you are The Toronto Star.

Instead, the new corrected caption still used the "5,000,000" number and now reads:
The number of Palestinians who were displaced during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s establishment, along with their descendants (emphasis added) is estimated at more than five million people
The text does bring the caption in line with the article itself which from the start made the point that by counting the descendants of Palestinian Arabs you reach 5,000,000 refugees. But the question is how accurate is such a statement, since the refugee count of no other people includes descendants to inflate their numbers.

More importantly, the article continues to impress the 5 million number upon the reader instead of using the more accurate 600 thousand one -- and leaving out the fact that the vast majority of those "refugees" today are in fact descendants.

On the other hand, the article does leave the reader with an insight into the dishonesty of the count of Palestinian refugees -- albeit unintentionally.

The end of the article reads:
Correction: A photo caption accompanying a photo with this article was edited from a previous version to make clear that the number Palestinians displaced during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s establishment includes their decedents (emphasis added).
This emphasizes a point CAMERA makes in Why Palestinians Still Live in Refugee Camps:
There is also incentive never to report deaths of people considered to be refugees – since the rations for the deceased would be discontinued.
I suppose we should be glad that The Toronto Star at least got that right.

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