Is a lie of omission still a lie? Guardian report failed to include key words in Lieberman quote

Harriet Sherwood published a report today, Nov. 6, on the acquittal of Avigdor Lieberman, titled ‘Avigdor Lieberman to return to Israeli cabinet after corruption acquittal‘. Whilst there is nothing especially problematic in Sherwood’s report about Lieberman, who was cleared on charges of fraud in a unanimous ruling by three judges after a lengthy trial, we noted a related ‘recommended’ article on the right side bar:

lieberman

The 2009 article, by the paper’s former Jerusalem correspondent, Rory McCarthy, is a profile of the Yisrael Beiteinu party leader (and former foreign minister), titled ‘The rise of Israel’s foreign minister‘, which includes the following claim:

In typically blunt terms Lieberman has called for the trial and execution of Arab fellow MPs.

However, upon researching the claim it became clear that McCarthy omitted a few words in Lieberman’s quote, which go back to comments attributed to him in May, 2006. Here’s a translation of a Hebrew media report on what he said on the floor of the Israeli Knesset:

Lieberman called the execution of Arab Israeli MKs who met with the Hamas…

Whilst Lieberman’s comments were still, quite obviously, extremely inflammatory (and were condemned at the time by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as an act of “incitement”), Guardian readers who come across McCarthy’s report could likely believe (falsely) that Lieberman was calling for death sentences to be carried out arbitrarily against Arab members of the Israeli Knesset.

It’s quite notable that other news sites (even ones not typically friendly to Israel) got the 2006 Lieberman quote right, including even Electronic Intifada (EI).  An EI post shortly after Lieberman’s comments were published included the following:

A few days previously, on 5 May, Lieberman expressed the hope that Arab legislators who met with the Hamas leadership be put on trial and executed

Interestingly, even McCarthy’s colleagues have accurately reported his comments.

Extreme left Guardian columnist Jonathan Steele got the quote correct in a 2006 essay, which included the following:

Lieberman has described Tibi and other Israeli Arabs who have met Hamas officials as traitors. They should be executed, he said…

Here’s Peter Beaumont – foreign editor of The Observer, sister publication of the Guardian – in 2012:

 At various times he has called for the expulsion of Israel’s Arab population, [and] the “execution” of Arab MPs who met with leaders of Hamas,

Bottom line?  

A ‘lie of omission’ is still a lie.

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