Yet while Haaretz “is a product of Israel’s vibrant democracy and press freedom, it also plays a major role in the demonization of Israel,” wrote Simon Plosker, managing editor for the website of the media watchdog group HonestReporting. Plosker cited the “hateful writing” of Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy, who won HonestReporting’s 2012 “Dishonest Reporter Award” for “manipulating an opinion poll to ‘prove’ that Israel was an apartheid state,” and the work of correspondent Amira Hass, who “brazenly defended Palestinian stone throwing even if it could cause Israeli fatalities.”
“Schocken’s mission statement is also noteworthy by what it omits,” Plosker wrote. “While he is happy to employ positive terms such as ‘liberal,’ ‘pluralism,’ and ‘civil and human rights,’ what about ‘Jewish?’ This speaks volumes for a media outlet that often looks like it is embarrassed by Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state.”
CAMERA’s Sternthal, who regularly monitors both the Hebrew and English print editions of Haaretz, points to what she sees as a pronounced difference between Haaretz’s Hebrew and English non-opinion news reporting. Most Haaretz stories are written first in Hebrew, then translated for the English edition—and Sternthal believes more than translation is going on.
“In preparation for the English edition, the Hebrew articles are not merely translated—they’re often also whitewashed,” she said.
Sometimes in a dramatic fashion, and other times subtly, information that first appeared in the Haaretz Hebrew edition regarding Palestinian or Arab terrorism, extremism or other wrongdoing is either downplayed or omitted entirely, at times to the point of being completely at odds with the original Hebrew text.
One of the most recent examples of this “Lost in Translation” phenomenon is the Haaretz English article “Lag Ba’Omer in Hebron: Settlers torch Palestinian orchard,” whose headline is not corroborated by the facts in the rest of the story, CAMERA noted.
The article itself did not support the “torching” claim in the headline, and the headline of the article’s Hebrew version did not use the same erronous wording. Haaretz later corrected the headline of the English piece to “Lag Ba’Omer in Hebron: Settlers light bonfire in Palestinian orchard.”
In another incident earlier this month, Haaretz reported on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement concerning Israel as “the nation-state of one people only—the Jewish people” by using the English headline “Netanyahu: Israel is home to one people—Jewish.”
CAMERA’s report on that article stated that “the difference between an exclusively Jewish ‘home’ and an exclusively Jewish ‘nation-state’ is vast.”
“If Netanyahu said Israel is ‘home’ only to the Jewish people, then he was indicating that 20 percent of Israel’s population… are not welcome… In fact, the prime minister explicitly affirmed that Israel ‘provides full equal rights, individual rights, to all its citizens,’” CAMERA said.
Haaretz also corrected that headline in both print and online, and issued a formal correction statement.
Schocken’s “open letter,” meanwhile, is likely to “strengthen the readership and following [of Haaretz] among anti-Israel elements,” Sternthal told JNS.org.
“Perhaps [Schocken] believes that Haaretz’s credibility as a reliable news source has by this point been so damaged that he may as well appeal to ideological elements whose interest is not actually in reliable news,” she said.
But Georgetown University’s Stern stressed that American readers should perhaps have different expectations regarding the standards of domestic and foreign media.
“Ideally, we would expect a news source to remain as objective as possible and try to inform rather then to educate. … But perhaps in the case of a foreign newspaper like Haaretz, which is trying to penetrate the American market, it is not all too bad,” he said.
“In other words, Haaretz projects [or] conveys a message of integrity to American readers by saying what its publisher’s political and social views are regarding Israel,” Stern added.