Public Integrity snarks Adelson, but who deserves the snark?


Sometimes, like everyone else, I get taken in by names.

The Center for Public Integrity — I thought it had to do with, you know, integrity.

But it just posted this bit of snark about Sheldon Adelson’s riposte to their earlier profile of him.

CPI staffer Paul Abowd clearly is proud of himself for getting a rise out of the billionaire, and takes keen pleasure in Adelson’s email typos:

A "Primary Source" report from earlier this week from the Center for Public Integrity about Sheldon Adelson’s charitable giving clearly touched a nerve with the casino magnate, the nation’s top donor to super PACs in the 2012 election.

Adelson, currently listed as the world’s 14th wealthiest man, generally avoids speaking with the press.

Abowd packs his quote of Adelson’s email with "sics."

Abowd’s original post has great spelling. But it includes this howler:

The program has been criticized for offering tours that gloss over Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and its economic blockade of Gaza.

Birthright is doubly controversial because of its sponsorship by the Israeli government. While it offers any member of the Jewish faith free travel to the country, the organization does not extend the same offer to non-Jews who consider Israel or Israeli-occupied lands their home. Israel has defied a decades-old United Nations Resolution 194 providing millions of Palestinian refugees the “right to return” to homes they were displaced from inside Israel.

Note that the criticism of Birthright for glossing over the occupation has a link to substantiate Abowd’s claim; the "double controversy" about a program that offers Jews tours to Israel because it believes that Israel is the Jewish birthright does not. Because there is no such controversy, to my knowledge; it is an absurd argument on its face.

There have been controversies about allegations that Israel thwarts parallel programs seeking to connect Palestinians with areas within Green Line Israel; that’s a different matter. There has been criticism of Birthright per se as an appropriate identity vehicle. But the notion that anyone serious believes that Jewish philanthropists, the Jewish Agency and the government of Israel should fund all comers who believe their roots are in Israel? First I’ve heard of it.

More serious is Abowd’s claim that Israel has "defied" 194. First, why is a journalist linking to Wikipedia for substantiation when he can just link to the resolution itself?

Second, does Abowd believe these circumstances as outlined in the resolution have eventuated? My bold:

Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

Negotiators have been trying to figure out what "practicable" means since 1949. No less a body than the U.N. General Assembly charatcerizes its own Resolution 194 not as law that Israel "defies" but as an expression of an ambition toward an equitable resolution of the conflict. Here’s its most recent consideration of the matter, in the resolution last November elevating the Palestinians to non-member state. My bold:

The report states that the Committee continued to work for the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to self-determination, and a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in all its aspects, resulting in an end to the occupation and the independence of a sovereign, viable, contiguous and democratic Palestinian State based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, and a just solution for the Palestine refugees based on General Assembly resolution 194 (III).

Here, from McGill University’s Palestinian Refugee ResearchNet, are more considered examinations of the refugee controversy.

This is a topic that demands research, not assumption, and broadening one’s scope beyond Wikipedia.

You know, what you’d expect from a center with "public integrity" in its title.

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