Canadian Arab News
March 2, 2006
Anyone who has ever had the dubious pleasure of reading Marcus Gee’s opinion columns on the Middle East and the U.S. knows how impossible they are to digest. To write, for example, that George Bush aids democracy; that Israel’s Wall is defensible; or that Palestinian refugees have no inherent right of return shows contempt for honest argument, accurate research and respect for the Globe and Mail’s readers.
As I have argued in past columns, Gee is not so much a journalist as he is an unapologetic shill for Israel. This fact is obvious from the literary devices he uses— ignoring contrary evidence, begging the question, using value-laden terminology, drawing unsupported conclusions and shameless cheerleading.
In contrast, Palestinian resistance groups, and Arabs in general, are invariably referred to as “terrorists,” unless they’re willing to play by Israeli/U.S. rules, in which case they are champions of “democracy”—one of Gee’s favourite loaded terms.
On more than one occasion I have debunked Gee’s pseudo-journalistic effluvium—in fact, anyone can because there is a wealth of objective, unassailable contrary evidence. Yet, for some strange reason, Globe management doesn’t seem to mind that one of its senior editors writes so ineptly in aid of such an ignoble cause. “Entitled to his opinion,” is generally the response I get, as if to imply that accuracy were either implied or not important.
So long as Gee penned his poisoned prattle under his own name he risked only his own reputation. Now, in his capacity as editorial page editor, Gee’s zionist hubris has tainted the reputation of the entire paper.
At issue is Gee’s Feb. 15 editorial “See Hamas for what it is,” a petty screed against the group that won Palestine’s recent democratic election:
“With the responsibility of governing on its shoulders, Hamas will have to put aside its campaign to obliterate Israel and concentrate on delivering public services instead. Those who take that view should take a look at a video presented on the Hamas website this week. It shows suicide bombers delivering statements before they begin their mission.”
First, juxtaposing the video and the election in this manner is defamatory and misleading since one is not connected to the other, though Gee would like us to think otherwise. He waits four paragraphs before deigning to tell us that the video was shot on Dec. 7, 2004. Non sequitur, anyone? Not according to ol’ Marcus:
“…the fact that Hamas is airing it now shows it has not changed its depraved views or methods just because of winning an election. To the contrary, Hamas leaders have made it clear that they reserve the right to use suicide bombing as a means of resistance to Israeli occupation. Their goal of liberating “all of Palestine”—by which they mean Tel Aviv and Haifa, as well as Jerusalem—remains unchanged.”
Leaving aside the fact that Hamas conducts sacrifice bombings because of the Occupation and the world’s indifference to Palestinian suffering, and that its goal to liberate “all of Palestine” is legitimate, this is the second time Gee linked Hamas directly with the act of airing the video. First he referred to “the Hamas website” and then said “Hamas is airing it now.”
Fact is, Gee never saw such a video or visited such a website. He couldn’t have, because he doesn’t read Arabic. He only “saw” this “video” because Palestinian Media Watch, a zionist propaganda front based in Israel, posted clips from it on its website. In fact, Gee’s account of the “video” is almost identical to that of PMW writers Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook.
In short, Gee plagiarized the PMW propaganda and passed it off as his own research, whereas Ha’aretz and The Jerusalem Post, which ran similar stories, properly sourced the video to PMW.
Gee’s misconduct, though, goes beyond the obvious unethical act of theft; it showed how easily and seamlessly zionist propaganda can make its way into the Globe. The paper’s management now has no honourable alternative but to fire Gee, unless it wants to risk the Globe becoming known as a conduit for zionist disinformation and Arab defamation.
Gee’s plagiarism became public on Feb. 23 when the website Counterpunch ran an article by Ottawa activist Samah Sabawi. After a phone call and series of e-mails requesting Gee to provide the source for the Hamas video, she discovered that he based his Feb. 15 editorial solely on a report from PMW. (See sidebar). Sabawi’s story was picked up five days later by Toronto Star reporter Antonia Zerbisias, who had earlier discussed it on her blog.
Remarkably, Gee not only makes no attempt to apologize for his ethical lapse but puts Sabawi on the defensive. First he resorts to the lame “everyone has seen it so it must be so” argument, and then admits he merely parroted what PMW wrote: “that’s what the PMW people say and I have no reason to think they are making it up.”
No reason?! Really?
Itamar Marcus is a Settler Jew from Efrat who has a history of inciting hatred against Palestinians. When he was research director with the Jewish-American NGO Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace he wrote a fraudulent, defamatory report on Palestinian textbooks alleging that they taught Palestinian children to hate Israel.
New York Times reporter Deborah Sontag visited a school in Ramallah and found no evidence to substantiate Marcus’s claims. Furthermore, a research team from the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, led by Dr. Ruth Firer, found that the new Palestinian textbooks had fewer negative stereotypes of Jews and Israelis, compared with Jordanian and Egyptian books.
She told Le Monde diplomatique that the CMIP report was devoid of educational or methodological merit and that the researchers were driven by political ambition to prove that peace with Palestinians was impossible. ( Fouad Moughrabi, “Battle of the Books in Palestine,” The Nation, October 2001.
The sabotage worked. The Clinton administration denounced the textbooks, and the World Bank withdrew funding from Palestinian schoolbooks and teacher training.
In light of this, Gee had plenty of reason to doubt PMW’s honesty, especially concerning the timing. Just as Marcus had sabotaged Palestinian school funding, it was perfectly reasonable to see the “rerelease” of the video as an attempt to sabotage the new Palestinian government.
Regarding Gee’s flippant comment to Sabawi that Hamas might not be good at PR (see sidebar), PMW is listed on most right-wing websites as a resource for Hasbara, the Israeli PR project.
I decided to conduct my own investigation into the video scandal, and spoke with Deputy Editor Sylvia Stead. Instead of contrition and concern for journalistic integrity, I found a concerted effort to circle the wagons around Gee. She said that editorials don’t have to name sources and that the accuracy of the video’s translation had been corroborated independently by others at the Globe.
Later, she e-mailed me a link to two sites where the video could be found. Unlike Gee and Stead, I can read Arabic, and on one site a disclaimer under the title reads: “This site is not an official site of the Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas.” It is a special section to study the movement and its thoughts. What is posted here doesn’t necessarily reflect the movement’s opinions.”
Of course, all this after-the-fact research is irrelevant since it does not address Gee’s plagiarism or the fact he used uncorroborated zionist propaganda. Fact is, it’s hard to see where Itamar Marcus stops and Marcus Gee begins. We might as well speak of “Itamar Marcus Gee,” since the following passage from the Feb. 15 editorial could have been written by either of them:
“The West must take an unblinkered view of Hamas. In practice, that means withholding all aid from a Hamas-run Palestinian government until it forswears terrorism as a method and the destruction of Israel as a goal.”
It’s another textbook case of Palestinian sabotage. It never dawns on IMG to demand that Israel forswear terrorism and the destruction of Palestine as a prerequisite for receiving foreign aid. It also seemed to have escaped his attention that Hamas has agreed to work with Israel provided that it comply with international law and withdraw from all occupied territories.
Why should the victims of the Occupation renounce violence when the occupiers have free rein to commit violence, and the world concocts sophistries to justify it?
This is the sort of question a journalist would ask himself, but there is no mistaking IMG for a journalist. Readers can have no faith in the Globe so long as plagiarism goes unpunished and propaganda is allowed to pass for informed opinion. IMG has to be fired, lest the paper become known as just a slightly upscale National Post.