One of the first errors we noticed when reviewing a recent Independent article (“Nakba Day: What is the annual ‘Day of Catastrophe’ observed by Palestinians?”, May 15) was that the journalist seemed to think it was 2018, not 2020.
He also erred on the year of Israel’s anniversary. Israel was of course created 72 years ago, not 70.
We found that strange, so we did some searching and, lo and behold, we discovered that the article was – save for a few new sentences to note the impact of coronavirus on Nakba commemorations this year – a copy and paste from an Indy article published by the same journalist two years ago.
We tweeted this to the Indy journalist, Joe Sommerlad.
Hi @JoeSommerlad I see your Nakba Day piece @Independent https://t.co/UbDEr5RMVR is a copy of the same piece you wrote in 2018 – which is your right, I guess, since you wrote the original. https://t.co/UfNr9epQXq
But, you might want to change the date of the new piece. pic.twitter.com/dZoGxjh7EH
— CAMERA UK (formerly UK Media Watch and BBC Watch) (@CAMERAorgUK) May 15, 2020
Even stranger is the fact that the original 2018 article disappeared. We were only able to find a cached version via the WayBack Machine.
So, what happened? Well, the journalist replied to our tweet to explain.
Hello, I did write this piece in 2018 and my employers appear to have republished it now without my knowledge, which is nice of them. They have made some effort to update it, it seems, but I've corrected the error you point out
— Joe Sommerlad (@JoeSommerlad) May 15, 2020
So, assuming Sommerlad is being truthful (and we have no reason at this point to doubt his version), it appears like editors not only decided to republish his 2018 article – with a few revisions – owithout telling him. But, they also decided to disappear the original article from the internet – in hopes most people wouldn’t realize it was a copy and paste job.
As far as the
2020 2018 article itself, it’s not bad by Indy standards – except for this claim:
Israel refuses to meet the demand because doing so would compromise the Jewish nature of the state – defying Resolution 194 passed by the UN in 1948, siding with Palestinians on the issue.
As we’ve noted previously, Resolution 194 is non-binding, and actually does not specifically relate to Palestinian refugees (despite long-standing media claims to that effect). Also, contrary to often heard assertions, neither does it grant any unconditional ‘right of return’. Rather, it recommends that refugees be allowed to return to their homeland if they wish to “live at peace with their neighbours”.
Moreover, the resolution, passed in 1948, only relates to actual refugees, which initially numbered over 700,000, but today is only 20-30,000. It doesn’t stipulate that future descendants of those original refugees (who now number in the millions) should be given the right of return.
Finally, let’s remember that there was another ‘Nakba’ around that time – the expulsion of over 800,000 Jews from Arab lands – none of whom were ever offered the ‘right of return’ to their families lived for generations.
Regardless of how many times the charge is recycled, 5 million Palestinians do not have a “right” to ‘return’.
- NY Times, Jesus and Palestine (CAMERA)
- BBC Arabic continues to showcase hateful social media comments (CAMERA UK)
- Dr. Einat Wilf: The War of Return (Video)