Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Electronic Ali shared with me this letter (I cite with his permission):
" Dear Mr. McCarthy, On what basis do you write that:
"Five Lebanese prisoners, including the notorious murderer Samir Qantar, crossed free out of Israel today in a prisoner swap after the Hizbullah militant group handed over two black caskets containing the remains of two Israeli soldiers"?
Is it on the basis of the claims of the Israeli government that you refer to Mr. Quntar as a "notorious murderer"? I agree that if the Israeli account is true, then he would be a murderer. But Israel lies at every turn and its claims can never be believed without independent verification, as you should well know.
The New York Times reports today: "Mr. Kuntar, who was formally pardoned by Israel on Tuesday as part of the swap agreement, gave a different version of the night of the attack in his court testimony in 1980, excerpts of which were published for the first time on Monday in Yediot Aharonot, an Israeli newspaper. He told the court that Israeli gunfire had killed Mr. Haran as soldiers burst in to free him and that he did not see what happened to Mr. Haran’s daughter."
So by Mr. Quntar's account, the deaths of the Israeli victims was what military people call "collateral damage" from "friendly fire" in all three cases. Since you are apparently relying only on Israeli official propaganda for your reporting -- which has already been found to be false in a key respect by other media, you should be much more careful. For example, the Washington Post website, posted this correction today: "CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE Due to incorrect information on the Web site of Israel's Foreign Ministry, earlier versions of this story misstated the number of Israeli police officers killed by Samir Kuntar during the 1979 kidnapping and slaying of an Israeli man and his young daughter. Kuntar killed one police officer." Also, the term "notorious" is clearly subjective since the celebrations in Lebanon at his release suggest he is "famous" and not "notorious" in that country. Some more circumspect reporting please.
Ali Abunimah"