Canada Free Press
We simply cannot be bothered to deal with the other distortions and fantasy in Lee Kaplan’s “SFSU to host Al Awda’s tax deductible war on the Jews” — found at http://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/kaplan061706.htm — because it would take all weekend and the sun is out. But the one distortion that needs to be addressed is the following:
“Al-Awda operates another website known as the Electronic Intifada.”
The fact of the matter is that Al-Awda has absolutely no role in The Electronic Intifada, nor has it ever.
Reading Lee Kaplan’s various articles, in a variety of publications over the last several months, on the supposed links between organizations that work for Palestinian freedom, my primary reaction is how severely and routinely they are riddled with basic factual errors. He clearly knows next to nothing about what he is writing about. Where there is not error, there is speculation that bases its trajectory on error.
In the example above, he takes a clearly bylined Al-Awda press release from our site (linked from the CFP article) at http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article4785.shtml and mutates this into “Al-Awda running our site”. This is as asinine as if I were to write an article claiming that “Equifax runs Canada Free Press” based on your running that skyscraper advert from Equifax on your website. Kaplan’s articles are full of these assumptions, the product of hasty, conspiratorial, wishful thinking.
One obvious reason that has given rise to all of this is that Kaplan has never once picked up the phone to ask myself or anyone else at EI the usual questions that journalists are supposed to ask before they put pen to paper. I am assuming — from the laugh-out-loud assertions Kaplan writes about other organizations that I am familiar with — that he has never done this with even a single one of the other organizations he writes about.
This comment has absolutely nothing to do with which side of the political divide Kaplan or I fall on to. In plain English, Kaplan makes up half of what he writes. If Kaplan wrote a bio for George Bush, I would fully expect to learn our president was a hang-gliding, Lithuanian cross-dresser. Kaplan’s articles are the kind of thing we pass round the EI office to share a laugh at how wrong he gets it about the most basic, objective facts, never mind the strange conclusions this utterly broken foundation leads him to make.
The Electronic Intifada is open to criticism. Agenda-driven demagoguery, undermining itself by the opposite of research and presented as credible journalism, we are less enthusiastic about. We would appreciate a correction.
But please do not take this letter as any reason to stop Kaplan writing for your publication. The breaks between the weekly release of The Onion would be unbearable without his familiar and welcome source of some of the deepest chuckles I have enjoyed for months.
Nigel Parry is a cofounder of The Electronic Intifada.
UPDATE: 3 JULY 2006
Nigel Parry writes: In a response to the above letter, published today on the Canadian Free Press website (which bizarrely continues to assert a non-existent Al-Awda organizational role in the production of EI’s website), Kaplan proved my point about his error-ridden commentaries in the most delightful way possible. Here’s the headline:
I am in fact Scottish, not Canadian.
And just to drive the point home again, Ali Abunimah is neither (nor has he ever been) the “current leader” of Al-Awda, nor has he ever been “based in Ramallah”, as Kaplan claims.
In today’s letter, Kaplan writes “few people really do research the facts like I do.”