Photo Credit: statedept.gov screen capture
Said Arikat, al-Quds Washington, D.C. reporter. Jan. 29, 2015

Once again Said Arikat of the al Quds newspaper used the bully pulpit of the U.S. State Department briefing room to lobby for aid for the Palestinian Authority. But this time he also slandered Israel with an outright lie, stated as fact. And no one corrected him. Where is the voice of truth in the State Department press corps, let alone the State Department?

On Thursday, Feb. 26, Arikat artfully built on a lie that Israel intentionally flooded Gaza by opening dams in the region. That lie has been conclusively disproven – there are no such dams in southern Israel that could be opened to flood Gaza, even if Israel wanted to to that.

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Perhaps sensing that some journalists or even the State Dept. Spokesperson herself might have learned that major media outlets such as AFP, MailOnLine and Yahoo! News had to pull their Israeli dam stories because they were proven false, Arikat reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out another (false and disproven, but older so maybe not so fresh in people’s minds) slander against Israel.

Arikat claimed that Israel was intentionally flooding Gaza “farmland” with waste water.

ARIKAT: Okay. And lastly, the Israelis have flooded the areas – farm areas of Gaza with some waste water and so on. Do you have any comment on that? Are you aware —

MS. PSAKI: With some waste?

Arikat: Yeah, waste water, whatever, I don’t know what they call it.

MS. PSAKI: I can check into those reports.

ARIKAT: Could you check? Yes.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any confirmation of those.

During the huge rains of 2013, Gazan public officials claimed that Israel was flooding Gaza with waste water. Those were disproven decisively as well.
Over the past month there have been record-breaking rain and snow storms throughout the Middle East, resulting in flooding throughout large swathes of  Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Israel and the disputed territories, as well as Gaza.

If Arikat wants to blame someone for flooding in Gaza, no doubt farmers throughout the region will readily join in, but they won’t find a human to blame.

This latest slander of Israel followed yet another plea by Arikat for more funding to the Palestinian Authority. As if that is something a “journalist” should be ever do at all, and certainly not repeatedly as Arikat does, and most certainly not in a State Department press briefing.

ARIKAT: Very quickly. The Secretary called Mahmoud Abbas yesterday. Could you —

MS. PSAKI: He did. I don’t have a readout of that, Said. I’m happy to – we can get you one after the briefing.

ARIKAT: Okay. Are they taking any measures, because of the – the PA is really on the verge of collapse completely?

MS. PSAKI: As we’ve discussed quite a bit in here.

Maybe Arikat has forgotten he is not supposed to be an advocate.

Arikat used to be a United Nations spokesperson for Iraq. Now he is supposed to be a journalist, one who asks questions during the state department press briefings, not one who pleas for more money for the Palestinian Authority or dresses up mendacious claims as mere questions.

Perhaps some official needs to forcefully remind Arikat he is a journalist or else see that he no longer is allowed to claim to be one.

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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the JewishPress.com. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com
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