Learning from Iraqi Good Samaritans

Just a few days ago, I returned from a short trip into Iraq with a small group of Christian peacemakers. Most of us had been to the country before, but under varying circumstances: I was on a combat deployment in 2004; Greg Barrett, our organizer, went as a journalist in the run-up to the invasion in 2003; and four were part of a peace team protesting the bombing campaign during that same period.

Shane Claiborne, Cliff Kindy, Weldon Nisly, and Peggy Gish were leaving Iraq in March 2003 when one of their vehicles was involved in an accident, leaving Cliff and Weldon with life-threatening injuries. Had it not been for a few Iraqi Good Samaritans, they may have never made it out alive.

Off the Mark?

Robert Hirschfield was wrong about media coverage of Israel and about the media watchdog organization CAMERA (“Peering Through the Wall,” November 2009). But if you’re trying to sell the patently false idea that the U.S. media treats Israel with “kid gloves,” it surely can’t hurt to simultaneously sling mud at the organization that has demonstrated otherwise.

First, there is the absurdly false charge that CAMERA is “pro-occupation.” We are nonpartisan, and take no position with regard to ultimate solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict. No less disingenuous is the author’s caricature that CAMERA “attacks” reporters “it determines to have been insufficiently positive about Israeli policies.” In fact, we encourage journalists to abide by the journalistic codes of ethics that responsible media organizations have aspired to follow ever since the American Society of Newspaper Editors penned its “Canons of Journalism” in the mid-1920s. Foremost among these ethical guidelines is accuracy, something CAMERA’s research staff focuses on extensively and raises in cordial discussions with editors at major media organizations worldwide. These discussions often yield important corrections, which only help the media’s accuracy and credibility.

As to the wider argument of the article, anyone who reads the mainstream American press—not to mention Sojourners—realizes there is no shortage of criticism of Israel. And anyone who reads CAMERA’s Web site understands that many of these criticisms are overzealous, biased, and inaccurate.

Gilead Ini
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
Boston, Massachusetts

Robert Hirschfield responds:

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Sojourners Magazine January 2010
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