Stephen Hawking’s decision and Haaretz — giving credit where credit is due

Haaretz deserves due recognition for its major part in motivating Stephen Hawking’s negative attitude to Israel. After all if I lived abroad and my knowledge of Israel were based on the views expressed by Haaretz as so eagerly quoted by international media, I would react in the same way as Hawking did.

We shouldn’t be surprised by his reaction to the distorted picture of Israel conveyed to the outside world by Haaretz as in the sample of cartoons reproduced below?


and in headlines like the following

Israel’s dark deeds  It is still possible to make people disappear even in the Israel of 2013. By Gideon Levy

An inconveivable crime By Efrat Yardai| Dec.11, 2012 with a subheading alleging falsely that Israel sterilizes Ethiopian women

IDF in Gaza: Killing civilians, vandalism, and lax rules of engagement By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent 19/03/2009

Kfar Sava hospital bans teaching staff from speaking in Arabic Arab teachers and students working in Kfar Sava’s Meir Medical Center have been forbidden to speak to each other in Arabic, despite the fact that Arabic is one of Israel’s official languages.  May.18, 2012 [completely untrue] 

Stop killing innocent citizens. The consecutive incidents in which Palestinians were killed in recent days give the feeling that Palestinian blood may be shed with impunity. Haaretz Editorial         Jan.17, 2013

Israeli cruelty reached a point of no return in the 2008-09 Gaza war by Gideon Levy

Israeli doctors who betray their training  From the prison guards and from Shin Bet personnel nobody expects any measure of compassion or humanity. By Gideon Levy 04.04.13

The above typical headlines demonize not only our soldiers, but all Israelis without any effort to substantiate the accuracy of the allegations or to deal with them in their relevant context. And even if they did contain an element of truth they are completely unbalanced in reflecting on the entire state, alleged sins committed by individuals.

One may reasonably ask Haaretz how it justifies its double standard in exaggerating every Israeli wart while turning a blind eye to the existential threats Israel continues to face and by ignoring for example, the public calls by Hamas for Israel’s destruction and its charter which essentially threatens all non_Muslims.

Certainly like most countries, there is much to criticize in Israel.  But one should not expect unbalanced criticism and distortion of facts in a newspaper that respects journalistic integrity and abides by Rules of Professional Ethics of Journalism of The Israel Press council which expressly requires inter alia that

The publication of news items shall be fair and not misleading.

The headline shall not be misleading. A newspaper or journalist shall not knowingly or negligently publish something which is not true, not accurate, misleading or distorted.

Prior to the publication of any item, the newspaper and the journalist shall check the accuracy thereof with the most reliable source and with appropriate caution in the circumstances of the case. Moreover such EXAMINATION OF THE ACCURACY OF AN ITEM SHALL NOT BE WAIVED BECAUSE OF THE URGENCY OF THE PUBLICATION.

And the fact that an item has been published in the past shall not discharge the person seeking to rely on it in a publication from checking the reliability of the item.

One should be entitled to expect a newspaper of Haartez’s standing to engage in in-depth discussion of the realistic factors involved in arriving at an equitable solution to the seemingly intractable Arab-Israel conflict; A solution that will result in Israel and Palestine side by side within secure borders as envisaged in SC resolution 242. Sadly, the prevalent unbalanced destructive criticism contributes nothing constructive towards reaching a solution.

About the Author
Maurice Ostroff is a founder member of the international Coalition of Hasbara Volunteers, better known by its acronym CoHaV, (star in Hebrew), a world-wide umbrella organization of volunteers active in combating anti-Israel media and political bias and in promoting the positive side of Israel His web site is at