Commentary Magazine


Topic: celebratory media attention

You’re Not Going to Believe This, But…

Yet another “human rights” NGO has been caught trafficking in made-up statistics. As Yaacov Lozowick and Elder of Ziyon report, Addameer, a Palestinian “prisoners’ rights” NGO, has been inflating the number of Palestinians it claims have been arrested by Israel to a point of total absurdity:

For Addameer’s numbers to be accurate, Israel would be arresting some 10,000 people a month. Yet the PCHR [Palestinian Centre for Human Rights -- no PR operation for Israel by any stretch of the imagination] says that the number of arrests was 23 last week, 26 the previous week, 23 the week before and 17 the week before that – for a total of less than 100 people a month.

And B’Tselem says that “about 6,831 Palestinians were held in Israel as of the end of December ’09.” How could only 6,800 Palestinians be held in Israel if the IDF is arresting 10,000 Palestinians per month?

Addameer not only made up the initial numbers but they keep grossly inflating them, confident that their anti-Israel audience will lap them up without question.

Precisely right: click here for an example of a prominent anti-Israel blog spreading the lie. (Naturally, this site is also the first link in the “Daily Reads” section of Stephen Walt’s blog.) This claim appears in the Goldstone Report and has been cited by everyone from UN “Special Rapporteur” John Dugard to Jimmy Carter to Time magazine.

There is a symbiotic relationship between the international press and NGOs such as Addameer: the NGOs supply reporters with context, anecdotes, and “data” they can use to bolster the preferred narrative, which is Israeli cruelty and Palestinian victimhood. In exchange, the press sanitizes the NGOs with credulous and often celebratory media attention, transforming what are in fact small and disreputable groups of political activists into sources of objective information. It remains true that hacks will always cover for hacks.

Yet another “human rights” NGO has been caught trafficking in made-up statistics. As Yaacov Lozowick and Elder of Ziyon report, Addameer, a Palestinian “prisoners’ rights” NGO, has been inflating the number of Palestinians it claims have been arrested by Israel to a point of total absurdity:

For Addameer’s numbers to be accurate, Israel would be arresting some 10,000 people a month. Yet the PCHR [Palestinian Centre for Human Rights -- no PR operation for Israel by any stretch of the imagination] says that the number of arrests was 23 last week, 26 the previous week, 23 the week before and 17 the week before that – for a total of less than 100 people a month.

And B’Tselem says that “about 6,831 Palestinians were held in Israel as of the end of December ’09.” How could only 6,800 Palestinians be held in Israel if the IDF is arresting 10,000 Palestinians per month?

Addameer not only made up the initial numbers but they keep grossly inflating them, confident that their anti-Israel audience will lap them up without question.

Precisely right: click here for an example of a prominent anti-Israel blog spreading the lie. (Naturally, this site is also the first link in the “Daily Reads” section of Stephen Walt’s blog.) This claim appears in the Goldstone Report and has been cited by everyone from UN “Special Rapporteur” John Dugard to Jimmy Carter to Time magazine.

There is a symbiotic relationship between the international press and NGOs such as Addameer: the NGOs supply reporters with context, anecdotes, and “data” they can use to bolster the preferred narrative, which is Israeli cruelty and Palestinian victimhood. In exchange, the press sanitizes the NGOs with credulous and often celebratory media attention, transforming what are in fact small and disreputable groups of political activists into sources of objective information. It remains true that hacks will always cover for hacks.

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