The Pied Piper Played And The Rats Followed (Updated)
This is the post I knew I’d be writing this morning. In fact I could have written it last night just after I wrote yesterday’s story.
Yesterday I published, ahead of the entire world’s mainstream media, a complete demolition of the latest lies and pseudo-intellectual dishonesty produced by UNRWA’s Chris Gunness. Gunness and the entire UNRWA organisation exists solely to use the Palestinians as a weapon against Israel and Jews. And the world’s media are willing accomplices.
Yesterday I wrote this post: Chris Gunness Of UNRWA Is Lying Again And The World Won’t Check. Here’s the timeline of this latest blood libel against the Jews just as I predicted yesterday.
On the 4th of August a pseudo-scientific study about infant mortality in Gaza (in 2013) was published in an open access journal. The lead author tweeted about this (she has 3 followers today and one of them is me).
My paper #PLOSONE: Increasing Neonatal Mortality among Palestine Refugees in the Gaza Strip http://t.co/ggyV47IIzP
— Maartje van den Berg (@BergMaartje) August 4, 2015
Her team’s study has many problems (which is probably why it wasn’t submitted to any kind of prestigious journal) but the biggest one can be found in these two statements, first from the “discussion” section and then from the “conclusion”:
Discussion: However, post-neonatal mortality rate declined significantly and the infant mortality rate was only slightly higher. These estimates are based on small numbers of deaths, and the confidence intervals are wide, so the infant mortality rate could in fact be stable or continuing to decline.
Conclusion: In conclusion, we have estimated that, for the first time in five decades, the mortality rate has increased among Palestine refugee newborns in Gaza, and this may reflect inadequate neo-natal care in hospitals.
That’s pretty clear. They didn’t have enough data to reach the conclusion they did. Did I mention that I have published peer reviewed papers in my fields top journals and have a PhD thesis sitting on a shelf in a prestigious University in the UK? Those two statements have no place in a serious scientific paper and would merit it’s immediate rejection.
A few days later Chris Gunness picked this up but still it was accompanied by crickets. Because journalism, even the kinds of “journalists” we have today, are not looking at primary sources like scientific papers. They’re waiting for a Press Release from their friends in the NGO world.
For whatever reason it took Chris and his overpaid team of haters until August 8th to write their press release. This they duly did and Chris tweeted it. Chris, of course, had to sex up his press release in the title and very first sentence.
The paper spoke of “Increasing Neonatal Mortality among Palestine Refugees in the Gaza Strip”, Chris’s press release immediately expanded this to “Infant Mortality Rate Rises in Gaza for First Time in Fifty Years”. Suddenly everyone in Gaza is a “refugee” and the recollection of 65 women gives a representation of the entire 1.5m (or more) population of Gaza, many of whom do not live in the refugee camps UNRWA has carefully maintained in squalor.
And just as Matti Friedman and others have carefully document in recent times, the entire media took his press release and, without ever opening the scientific paper, they copy and pasted it. Most of it flows from Agence France Press AFP and this story: Gaza infant mortality rises for first time in 53 years: UN. That wire piece has been picked up and repeated (often verbatim) by everyone.
1,071 more articles. Yesterday, before the press release and AFP there were 3.
This headline from Albawaba is particularly impressive in managing to get so much wrong in so few words: Palestinian infant mortality rate at 50-year high. Of course infant mortality is way, way, way lower after decades of Israeli medical care than it was under any Arab control.
I did send my post to the Times of Israel editors just after they were one of the first to publish the AFP re-write of the press release without opening the original source. No reply and they haven’t changed the story. Obviously all the usual outlets like the Guardian and Ha’aretz are moist with excitement over this.
Not one of them has printed the fact, which is in the UNRWA press release but not in the AFP story, that infant deaths were 127 per 1,000 live births in 1960 and are somewhere around 20 today.
I know it was seen by people at the Jerusalem Post and (unless I can’t manage to navigate their search engine) I don’t find the story on Jpost. Well done, we’ll see what they do.
Right now I’m just too horrified to write more.
Jewish Press have published a great take down which quotes from my posts.
Overnight Arutz7 ran the press release: they managed to tag on a bunch of stuff refuting the boycott claim but didn’t look into the fundamental shakiness of the whole story. They’ve done that now and amended the headline from “UN: Gaza Infant Mortality Rises for First Time in 53 Years” to the much better “UN Claims Gaza Infant Mortality Rise in Self-Contradicting Study”.
As far as I can see none of the major sites have acknowledged problems yet. We’ll see if this is a slow burn like the Pope story: we did eventually see them all issue corrections in that case. This one will be a lot harder though.
Update 12 August 10:20:
Unfortunately the Jerusalem Post did publish the entire Reuters version of the press release unedited.