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May 18, 2015 3:59 pm

CNN Journo Causes Uproar Over Palestinian Olive Tree Story

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

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An olive tree. Photo: Dror Feitelson via Pikiwiki Israel on WikiMedia Commons.

A news editor for CNN’s London desk came under fire over an article he wrote on Sunday alleging that Israeli West Bank settlers had chopped down hundreds of olive trees from Palestinian groves.

Critics’ central complaint revolved around Don Melvin’s lack of sources for the story, which was based entirely on an anonymous “local activist” speaking to the official Palestinian News Agency, more commonly known in the region as Wafa.

The anonymous author of the influential pro-Israel Elder of Ziyon blog wrote: “Really? CNN has sunk so low as to parrot Wafa’s lies without doing a modicum of fact checking?”

Another user, a self-declared activist among Jewish settlers in the West Bank, asked on Twitter: “have u [sic] any idea how long/how many people to chop down 800 trees? u really trust source claiming so? do u know of what u write?”

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The CNN article also quoted Israeli rights group B’Tselem through the Palestinian Authority’s news agency as saying Israeli soldiers often are not deployed in advance to protect Palestinians from settler violence and that often restrictions are imposed on Palestinians themselves.

As for the Israeli response to such claims, Melvin wrote: “CNN is working to get Israeli comment on the assertion.”

On Monday, responding to the backlash against his story, Melvin wrote on Twitter that: “Twitter trolls accuse me, the father of two beautiful Jewish girls, of favoring genocide of Jews. Then accuse me of inaccuracy.”

“Write about the Israel-Palestinian issue and people on opposing sides will each accuse you of bias in the opposite direction,” he tweeted.

The original Wafa story claimed a group of Israeli settlers (their settlement or settlements were not named) had chopped down and seized about 800 olive trees belonging to Palestinians from a village near Hebron called Shuyukh.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that at least 10,000 olive trees belonging to Palestinians were either uprooted or destroyed in 2013 by Israeli settlers.

In the past, Palestinians have been accused of destroying their own crops and framing local settlers for the crime.

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  • classic lethal journalism.
    http://www.theaugeanstables.com/2015/03/18/lethal-journalism-middle-east-style/

    where are the cut down trees? or did they remove the stumps? and if so, where are the holes, or did they plow over the fields to hide that too? and where did they get dumped?

  • henry

    Boycott CNN the Communst News Network.
    Cancel your cable
    Boycott any company that advertises on CNN
    CNN is no different than the racist Aljazerra pigs

  • shloime

    olive trees are also pruned annually, and this wouldn’t be the first time that “activist” ngos deliberately misrepresented the pruning as “chopping down”. anti-israeli foreigners are “useful idiots” for plo propaganda. (i would guess that the “anonymous source” didn’t name the settlement, because there isn’t a big enough settlement nearby. even pallywood must have expected cnn to do some, minimal, fact-checking.)

    it’s amazing that melvin would fight back through twitter, rather than doing the research that he is paid for (and had obviously neglected to do), and either airing a retraction, or presenting the facts. the “twitterverse” seems to have displaced reality for him.

  • Paul

    Does anyone really doubt that certain fanatic Israeli settlers destroy Palestinian olive trees, or commit other acts of violence against Palestinians ? They usually JUSTIFY their actions, they do not deny them. When caught, they arrogantly raise their fingers in victory, and have been trained how to keep silent when interrogated by Israeli Authorities. They believe God supports them.
    Interestingly, the final sentence in this article is “In the past, Palestinians have been accused of destroying their own crops and framing local settlers for the crime”. Coming at the end of an article blasting someone for quoting charges that were not proven, this is a very very problematic statement – was it PROVEN the Palestinians destroyed their own crops or was it only an unproven accusation ?
    Maybe the Arabs, as usual, exaggerated. Maybe only 80 ancient ancestral olive trees belonging to simple farmers were chopped down ? Does God want these trees destroyed ?

  • SARA RIFKA

    SICK AND SICK…BUT THEN CNN IS JUST THAT A FACTION OF THE C.A.A. AND MR. O…..THE LAST LETTERS OF HIS NAME HAVE FALLEN AND FLOWN INTO SPACE….

    HOW MUCH MONEY ARE THESE INDIVIDUALS OR GROUPS PAID TO CUSE HAVIC…..AND SENSITIVE TERRORISM……I WOULD LAUGH IF NO ONE GOT HURT……BUT THIS IS NOT THE CASE….

    WE ARE THE BEST…….AND, THEY KNOW IT…..’CHOP I’M DOWN’…ALL THE UGLY WORDS AND UGLY JOURNALIST AND UGLY HUMANS WHO JUST GET THEIR NUCKIES FROM THIS FORM OF INSULT.

  • esther noodelman

    CNN MUST HAVE BEEN DESPERATE TO PRINT SOMETHING DAMAGING AS USUAL VS ISRAEL.TO RELY ON THE U.N. OFFICE FOR THE COORDINATION OF LIES VS ISRAEL…SORRY,THE COORDINATION OF HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS .
    AND,AS USUAL THE U.N. OFFICE ESTIMATED THAT At least 10,000 olive trees belonging to PALESTINIANS WERE EITHER UPROOTED OR DESTROYED BY ISRAELI SETTLERS.
    BUT,REMEMBER,IN THE PAST,PALESTINIANS HAVE BEEN ACCUSED OF DESTROYING THEIR OWN CROPS AND FRAMING LOCAL SETTLERS FOR THE CRIME.
    DOESN’T THIS REMIND YOU OF THE STORY OF THE 2 MOTHERS WHO BOTH CLAIMED THE LIVE BABY WAS THEIRS AND KING SOLOMON SUGGESTED THEY CUT THE BABY IN HALF.THE REAL MOTHER OBJECTED AND SAID ..DON’T CUT THE BABY ..GIVE IT TO HER, SO KING SOLOMON KNEW WHO THE REAL MOTHER WAS.THEY HATE THE JEWS SO MUCH THAT THEY DESTROY THEIR OWN CROPS TOO,JUST SO THAT THEY CAN BLAME THE JEWS!

  • HaDaR

    This accusation is equal in malignant and malicious idiocy and stupidity to the blood libels against Jews for allegedly using the blood of non Jewish children for Passover, given that in BOTH CASES, they should contravene commandments from the Torah: 1) never to consume blood [that’s why there are precise rules on how to slaughter animals and salt them, without which the meat is NOT kosher; 2) destroying fruit trees is FORBIDDEN, in fact observant Jews would not have even furniture made from fruit producing trees (cherries, nuts, etc.).

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