NY Times ‘editors note’ reels back anti-Israel fish tale

Paper walks back central claim of article blaming Israel for “devastating” Gaza Strip fishing industry.

By Ira Stoll, The Algemeiner

It turns out that the New York Times story blaming Israel for “devastating” Gaza’s fishing industry really was fishy.

After a November 28 article in the Algemeiner reported on complaints about the story from the Israel Defense Forces and from the media watchdog group the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), The New York Times issued an editors’ note in its December 3 print editions.

The editors’ note says the article “omitted important context surrounding the impact of Israel’s blockade on the industry, leaving the impression that the industry had been devastated.”

The note continues, “While the blockade has led to a shortage of parts needed to keep some fishing boats operational, the annual catch has varied from year to year. The current catch is higher than that in the early years of blockade.”

In other words, the main premise of the article was phony, basically a false accusation against Israel.

The editors’ note generated a strong response online. Author Gary Weiss tweeted that the Times “buries an embarrassing correction of its much-criticized Gaza fishing story on the bottom of page A14 — even though, as noted in the correction, it undermines the point of the original article. It consumed an entire page in the Sunday paper.”

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He called the original article a “hatchet job” and noted, “Her story sailed through the editing process without anyone asking, ‘so how many fish are they catching?’”

“This is why, as a 3d generation reader of the NYT, I cancelled our subscription,” tweeted Gregg Mashberg, a lawyer and Israel advocate.

“Camera gets results,” said the director of CAMERA’s Israel office, Tamar Sternthal.

The editors’ note, even buried at the bottom of A14, is certainly better than letting the original claim stand. But when will we see an editors’ note from the Times retracting the entire defective premise, animating much recent Times news and editorial coverage, that Arab suffering is mainly the result of Israeli racism, ultranationalism, extremism, and cruelty rather than largely attributable to Arab antisemitism, terrorism, extremism, internal feuds, and leadership failures?

A bigger long-term success for those concerned about the New York Times fueling Jew-hatred with inaccurate journalism would be to get the Times to stop publishing these false articles to begin with, rather than issuing corrections after the fact.