On May 2, the Globe and Mail produced its regular “Social Studies” compilation by Michael Kesterton which carried the following unsubstantiated allegation (emphasis added):
“Pigs running hog wild: “This may seem like a ludicrous pitch for a doomsday blockbuster … but the fact is, wild pigs have overrun the planet,” says ModernFarmer.com…They’ve become a fixture on the West Bank, after Israeli settlers, some say, released boars to destroy Palestinian croplands.”
In reality, there is no evidence confirming that Israeli settlers intentionally released (or trained) wild boards to destroy Palestinian croplands. There are only Palestinian allegations which have not been substantiated. In 2009, Israeli authorities claimed they made efforts to cull the wild animals. As Arutz Sheva reported at the time: “The claims of malicious Israeli control of the wild animals have continued this year despite Israel’s efforts to cull the wild boar population in areas under its control. The Nature and Parks Authority has worked to control the boars since May of this year, due to damage caused by boars in the Haifa district. Israel is unable to cull the boar population in Arab villages in Samaria, as those areas are entirely under PA control.” Meanwhile, Palestinian news agency Ma’an notes that: “Jerusalem says that while Israel claims it cannot control the wild boar population in the area, and the purposeful release of pigs cannot be confirmed”.
We are of the positiion (and have communicated this directly to the Globe) that news organizations must take responsibility for the consequences of its decision to publish a person’s statement and claims in the context that was choosen, as was in this case with indirect attribution of Palestinian allegations. When the Globe presents a person’s statements in support of their reporting of facts, editors must ensure that those statements have been diligently checked and that the claims are grounded in facts on matters of public interest.
Is it accurate that Palestinians have made this allegation? Yes, they have made this allegation, just as Egyptians have claimed that the Israeli Mossad planted sharks in the Sinai to sabotage Egyptian tourism, while the Saudi’s have claimed Israel used vultures for spying. But is there any evidence to substantiate the allegation that “Israeli settlers… released boars to destroy Palestinian croplands.” No. Did the Globe provide context or an Israeli rebuttal (as per above) to this allegation, regrettably no.
As such, we asked the Globe to issue a clarification to explain the Israeli rebuttal to this allegation. Additionally, we asked that this brief be amended online to account for the Israeli defense of these charges.
Responding to our complaint, Globe and Mail Public Editor Sylvia Stead turned down our request saying the Globe didn’t make this statement, it was a statement attributed to modernfarmer.com who in turn had linked to a report by an organization called Peace x Peace. In so doing, the Globe set a very dangerous precedent by cementing its journalist’s ability to pull a quote from any publication which gave platform to unsubstantiated allegations without context, evidence, and rebuttal.
Would the Globe publish a serious allegation from a random blog (credibility unknown) quoting unnamed sources and without providing evidence claiming that “… some say, (insert name of high ranking government official) committed rape and had an extra-marital affair while serving in office”?
The Globe would surely be recipients of a libel lawsuit. Would the Globe ignore the veracity of the matter by trying to pass the buck to the blog arguing that it wasn’t us, it was “a statement from another publication.”?
The Globe should have acknowledged its journalist’s failure to point out that Israel strenuously denies this unfounded allegation saying Israel cannot control the wild boar population in the area as the PA has jurisdiction over the whole area.
Sadly, the Globe opted to go hog wild by indicting Israeli settlers with claims which have not been substantiated.