Wednesday, November 7, 2007

CAMERA Obscura - Gaza Glazing

The last three articles have focused on CAMERA. I would like to continue doing that since I think I am beginning to get a picture of what CAMERA does and how it works.

To test it, I am going to make a working hypothesis: CAMERA is not concerned with accuracy in middle east reporting; CAMERA only examines media material that is critical of the Government of Israel; CAMERA does in depth research to find something, anything, in an article that is not factually accurate or which it can possibly interpret as inaccurate; CAMERA makes, in common vernacular, a mountain out of a molehill; and CAMERA works tirelessly to protect the Government of Israel from criticism.

(NOTE - I have not yet devoted time to researching one of my assumptions. Would someone please forward to me, if you can find it, an article that is highly critical of the Government of Israel where CAMERA issued a press release indicating an inaccuracy which, when corrected, made the article more of a criticism of the Government of Israel.)

Even though I intended to focus on the CAMERA attack of ICAHD, I came across this press release (I think that’s what this is) dated June 30, 2005 entitled "No Excuse for Ha'aretz Gaza Population Error", read it and could not move on.

Here is "accusation" CAMERA hurled at Ha’aretz

“In a May 23 Snapshots blog entry, CAMERA documented that Ha'aretz that day ran an Op-Ed by Amram Mitzna which wrongly identified the Gaza Strip as “the most densely populated area in the world.” (My note - In that entry it says that Amram Mitzna said “A million-and-a-quarter Palestinians living in the most densely populated area in the world, and in terrible poverty across the way from the red rooftops of Gush Katif, are victims.”) Gaza is not the “most densely populated area in the world.” According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2004-2005, the population per sq. mile for 2003 in the Gaza Strip is 8,666. Gaza is less densely populated than numerous places around the world, including Monaco (41,608), Singapore (17,751), Gibraltar (11,990), Hong Kong (17,833), and especially Macau, which is nearly ten times more densely populated than the Gaza Strip (71,466). CAMERA that day contacted editors providing them with the Statistical Abstract’s figures and requesting a correction. The Israel Press Council's Rules of Professional Ethics and Journalists requires:
Substantive mistakes, omissions or inaccuracies in the publication of facts must be corrected speedily, fairly and with the appropriate emphasis relative to the original publication.
Ha'aretz never ran a correction as required by the Press Council, and instead settled for a letter to the editor by this researcher on May 26. Not only did the paper not run a correction, but the very same error appeared in an Op-Ed yesterday
by Yitzhak Laor. Writing about the Gaza disengagement and the demolition of
Jewish homes there, he continued:
The thirst and the destruction that have been imposed on the most densely populated place in the world for the benefit of a few thousand settlers . . .

Gotcha, Ha’aretz!!!


I assume that you think I am making this up. I’m not. CAMERA issued this and really demanded that Ha’aretz correct it.

CAMERA quotes from the rules of ethics for journalists stating that “substantive mistakes, omissions or inaccuracies … must be corrected.”


What do you think that these two were talking about? What was the point they were trying to make?

Monaco is the most densely populated country. Singapore is an island nation (one of the few remaining city states). Macau and Hong Kong are special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China. Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory. Look up “densely populated” in Wikipedia and it only lists these countries and regions. It does not even list the Gaza Strip so I guess it is just a densely populated place or area, right? What it does point out, however, is that after these five the next six have between 2000-3000, the next ten have between 1000-2000 and the remaining 224 countries/regions have less than 1000 people per square mile, most less than 500 with the United States listed as having 80 people per square mile.

As an aside, the most recent figures I found for Gaza on MSN Encarta were "2007 population was 1,482,405, giving the region a population density of 10,665 per square mile.

Just google “Gaza most densely populated” and you find pages and pages of quotes from around the world from those who say that it is the most densely populated “place” or area” in the world”. There is only one link cited that says that Gaza is NOT the most densely populated” from, guess who, CAMERA.

But just a minute, let’s give CAMERA a little support in its attack on Ha’aretz. I did a little of my own research and guess what I found in this article on a Sears News page about the Sears Tower in Chicago. "The Sears Tower turns into a city of 10,000 'residents' every morning." Being somewhat of a researcher myself (and a math major in college) I also found that the square foot area footprint of the Sears Tower was designed to be 55,000 square feet. A few strokes on my reliable handheld calculator and, what did I find? During every work day there are approximately 5,000,000 people per square mile in the Sears Tower. . Take that, Monaco!!.

I just received a cover letter from B’Tselem enclosing a newspaper insert addressing Israel’s continued control over the Gaza Strip. The letter notes, “The situation in Gaza is more dire than ever. Some 1.5 million Palestinians are living under dismal conditions as health, education and economic conditions continue to deteriorate. Israel bears a large measure of the responsibility for this situation. The insert shows the far-reaching control that Isarel continues to exercise in the Gaza Strip, affecting all aspects of daily life.

Now here’s someone who, fortunately for him, will not incur the wrath of CAMERA,
“But the full picture of what comes next in Gaza remains open. It is one of the most densely populated places on earth, grinding poverty abounds, and the unemployment rate approaches a staggering 60 percent.”

But, just in case CAMERA has not gotten around to attacking this miscreant journalist, I am taking the opportunity of “ratting” on him by printing Gaza: Yesterday, today and tomorrow by Micah D. Halpern, September 5, 2002

"I recently spent a day in Gaza. This was by no means my first visit to Gaza. There was a time when I used to go there just for fun, to relax and enjoy the beach. Those days are probably gone forever. It might very well have been my last visit to Gaza outside Israel's small borders. It was a fascinating visit. I'll tell you why. The day was a kaleidoscope of contradictions - some of the most beautiful and serene seashores I have ever seen careening against some of the worst squalor and poverty known in this world. Almost 7,000 Jews living in their enclaves, about 1,300,000 Palestinians fenced into theirs. I came away spinning and over stimulated…. Gaza is the most densely populated area in the world. Hong Kong is the most densely populated city, but Gaza is the most densely populated area. It is very small and it is home to several major Palestinian cities: Gaza City, sister city Jabaliya, Khan Yunis and Rafiah. There is no urban sprawl in Gaza, nothing like Mexico City. Gaza is dust and sand. Gaza is poverty and sewage. And many, many people."

What do YOU think was the substance was in the comments by Amram Mitzna and Yitzhak Laor? Do you really think they were trying to win the Pulitzer Prize for Writing about Geography?

What difference does it make where the Gaza Strip ranks in the list of densely populated areas?

Isn’t the “substance” - the issue, the focus, the heart - the inhuman and inhumane living conditions of a really really large number of people living in a really really small area?

Here is what CAMERA did in this case. It attempted to attack the credibility of Ha’aretz by pointing out what it has decided is an inaccuracy by forcing one interpretation of a phrase. The inaccuracy was not at all a significant fact. It did not in any way detract from the point of, or the substance of what was being said. (Were I had been able to find the entire op-ed in the Ha’aretz archives, I believe I would have been even certain of this.) CAMERA issued and publicized a demand that the paper run a retraction. CAMERA tried to divert the attention, and the eyes, of its readers from the issue - the wrongdoing of the Government of Israel for disengaging from its responsibilities in Gaza.

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