Maurice Ostroff has written a scathing letter to the Guardian in response to Chris McGreal’s “revelations” of a supposed offer by Israel to supply nuclear weapons to South Africa that we systematically debunked here, here, here and here.
Quoting the Guardian’s code of conduct, Ostroff writes:
I will appreciate it if you will please publish my response to the above article in terms of the Guardian’s admirable code of conduct which provides that
i. The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information,
ii. A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and –
where appropriate – an apology published and
iii. The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
The above May 24 article demands a right of reply because it is blatantly misleading, as evidenced by the hero of the story himself, Sasha Polakow-Suransky. He is quoted as having uncovered evidence of an Israeli offer of nuclear arms to South Africa (SA), although he contradicted this claim during a TV interview with Al Jazeera, in which he said categorically that the alleged discussions in SA were not about nuclear arms. They were about the Jericho missile and there was no actual offer mentioned in the documents; South Africans only perceived there was a non-existent nuclear offer on the table.
As Ostroff points out:
In the circumstances the title, “Secret apartheid-era papers give first official evidence of Israeli nuclear weapons” is glaringly inaccurate. The inference that “the issue of nuclear weapons was broached and that the South Africans believed it was on the table” is nothing more than Mr. Suransky’s opinion, formed, in his words, by” connecting the dots” and presented as factual. But good journalism precludes presenting of opinion as fact and should be accurate and balanced. Accuracy requires not only avoidance of misinformation but also presentation of all relevant facts that assist the reader to understand the topic even when some of them conflict with the writer’s preconceived views. Omitting relevant information distorts the perception of events and misinforms the public. Balance requires the presentation of a perspective, so that the reader can evaluate the event in relation to surrounding circumstances.