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February 6, 2018 1:11 pm

A Media Platform for Anti-Israel Bias

avatar by Daniel Pomerantz

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Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman visits Israel’s northern border. Photo: Ariel Hermoni / Israeli Defense Ministry.

NOTE: Since publication of the critique below, much of the Newsweek editorial staff has been fired, and there is speculation that the publication might close entirely. Newsweek is also being investigated for lying about its finances and its web traffic.

There are few journalistic lapses more obvious and unprofessional than simply making up a statement by a public figure. Yet Newsweek’s serial offender, Tom O’Connor, has done exactly that — again.

In his Newsweek article, entitled, “Middle East’s Next Oil War? Israel Threatens Lebanon Over Hezbollah and Natural Gas,” O’Connor fantasizes that at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)  conference on January 29:

Israel has threatened to invade Lebanon amid a recent spat over natural resources and militant groups that, once again, raised tensions between the longtime foes.

He then claims that at the same conference, Israel’s minister of defense, Avigdor Lieberman:

…threatened to wage a full-scale war against Lebanon if Hezbollah launched any attacks against Israel.

But Lieberman never said that in his speech. Period.

HonestReporting has obtained the full text of Lieberman’s remarks, in the original Hebrew.

In his entire 2,815 word speech, the Minister of Defense never once said the words: “invade,” “invasion,” “full-scale war,” or anything similar. Nor did Lieberman threaten to go to war over gas or other natural resources.

We’re not talking about the subtleties of nuance, context or balance. Lieberman just didn’t say in his speech what O’Connor claims. The statements are quite simply, made up.

As “support” for his assertions, O’Connor makes reference not to the speech itself, but to a Reuters article, which also does not support his claims.

The closest that Lieberman came to even touching on the topic was a clarification that Lebanon, Hezbollah and the Lebanese army are — in his opinion — no different. He explained that all of these groups are part of the same entity, and that if “heaven forbid” there were to be a conflagration in the north of Israel, that all of them would “pay the full price.”

And this is not the first time that Tom O’Connor has made up statements by Lieberman — or “facts” about Israel.

O’Connor previously attributed an entirely nonsensical and fictional position on Palestinian statehood to Minister Lieberman, with no basis in facts or actual statements. O’Connor also claimed that Israel was actively supporting the terror organizations Al-Nusra and Al Qaeda.

In response to action by HonestReporting, both articles were retracted, and Newsweek issued an apology — stating that the articles, “contained factual inaccuracies and did not conform to Newsweek’s editorial standards.”

HonestReporting also exposed a tweet by O’Connor, in which he claimed that Israel is an apartheid state. The tweet was removed shortly after we published our critique. O’Connor’s tweet contained the following text:

Nice, so when does “birthright” include #Palestinians ? #Apartheid #Israelhttp://t.co/tBVQo0G8Qr

— Tom Roggio O’Connor (@ShaolinTom) January 23, 2014

Aside from being openly biased against Israel on Twitter, Tom O’Connor has a consistent track record of simply making up “news.”

All of which begs the question: why does Newsweek continue to give O’Connor a platform at all?

This article was originally published at HonestReporting. The author can be followed on Twitter at @danielspeaksup.

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