CiF Watch prompts another UK media correction to Palestinian ‘political prisoner’ claim

Back in late July, we posted about a story in The Independent written by Allistair Dawber pertaining to concessions Israel made to the Palestinians in order to restart peace talks, which included the following passage:

Details of the latest Middle East peace plan began to emerge today, hours after John Kerry announced that he had brokered an agreement that is likely to lead to fresh talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The most significant concession appears to be a promise by Israel to release a number of high-ranking [pre-Oslo] Palestinian political prisoners, many of whom have been behind bars for decades. Prisoner releases have been a longstanding demand of the Palestinian leadership.

As we noted at the time, characterizing these 104 prisoners (convicted before the Oslo Agreement in 1993) as “political prisoners” – mirroring the Palestinian narrative which glorifies even the most loathsome terrorists – is definitively contradicted by detailed information CiF Watch obtained from the Israel Justice Ministry. This data (translated and published exclusively by CAMERA) included details of the crimes and other relevant facts on every Palestinian prisoner in question – proving conclusively that all of the prisoners were convicted of murder, attempted murder or being an accessory to murder.

As we’ve noted previously, one of the Palestinian prisoners in question, Ateya Abu Moussa, was convicted of murdering a Holocaust survivor named Isaac Rotenberg with an axe in 1994. (The attack on Rotenberg was carried out by Abu Moussa and an accomplice as a ‘precondition’ of their entry into a terrorist organization.) 

The following – a snapshot from a site dedicated to Sobibor survivors – is one of the few photos we were able to find of Rotenberg.

So conclusive was our evidence that we were able to get a correction from the Guardian a month after Harriet Sherwood had also described the Palestinians in question as “political prisoners” in a report.

We similarly engaged in a series of exchanges with Indy editors over the language used in Dawber’s story and, after some time, they agreed to revise the passage. Here’s how it reads now:

The most significant concession appears to be a promise by Israel to release a number of high-ranking Palestinian prisoners, many of whom have been behind bars for decades.  Jail releases have been a long-standing demand of the Palestinian leadership, which regards the individuals as ‘political prisoners’.  The Israeli government disputes that view.

Whilst the last sentence of the revised passage – suggesting that the ‘question’ of whether murderers should be characterized as political prisoners is open for debate – is in itself a troubling commentary on the moral relativism which infects the debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we nonetheless commend Indy editors on their decision.

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