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Update: PBS's Getler repudiates reference to 6,000 Palestinian deaths in Six Day War

06/27/2007

Michael Getler, ombudsman of the Public Broadcasting System, has published a correction disowning his recent online reference to 6,000 Palestinian deaths in the 1967 Six Day War.

According to the PBS ombudsman, the producers of Ilan Ziv's documentary film "Six Days in June" blame the error on a misunderstanding in an interview between them and a writer for the Toronto Globe and Mail.

A June 2 preview in the Toronto newspaper referred erroneously to "the deaths of 6,000 Palestinians during the war." The PBS ombudsman repeated this in his June 8 column, citing it as if it were fact.

The false allegation went uncorrected at the PBS site for two weeks, until MidEastWeb called attention to it on June 21. The PBS correction confirms MidEastWEb's finding that, "the newspaper article was in error and the number 6,000 applied not to deaths but to the population of three Palestinian villages which Israel destroyed during the war. These villagers were deported, not killed."

Getler published the correction as a parenthetical paragraph at the end of his weekly column for June 22. The entire text of the correction:

"(Correction: In the column about the 'Six Days in June' film, there was a reference to the earlier story in the Globe and Mail that had praised the international version of the film shown in Canada for 'not shying away from the deaths of 6,000 Palestinians during the war, something thatís clearly described in every version except the one for PBS.' The Canadian producers of the film say that was a misunderstanding in the interview with the reporter and that the producers were referring to the 6,000 expelled from three of the villages.)"

The villages that Israel destroyed were Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba. They were part of the strategically important Latrun salient, which commanded the Ayalon Valley entrance and controlled the main road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the 1948-49 Israel-Arab war. Gunmen from the villages took part in lethal ambushes of Jewish convoys trying to lift the Arab siege of Jerusalem in that war.

After capturing the villages in 1967, Israel later moved the route of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway. The road now passes through land that once belonged to the village of Imwas.

Imwas is believed to have been the site of ancient Emmaus, a place of historical military importance. It is first mentioned as the camp of a Syrian Seleucid army defeated in 166 BCE by 3,000 Jews commanded by Judah the Maccabee. (lst Maccabees:3-4).

Almost two centuries later, according to the historian Josephus, the legate Quintus Varillus ordered the town burned to the ground in retaliation for a Jewish ambush that killed the centurion Arius and 40 of his soldiers as they were delivering grain and weapons to the legion. This happened a few years before the first century CE. The town was later rebuilt, and Vespasian's Fifth Legion camped there for two years prior to the siege of Jerusalem in the first Jewish-Roman war (66-73 CE). Many centuries later, Crusaders built a fortress there.

Imwas was one of several sites in the vicinity thought to have been the location of Emmaus of Christian scripture (Luke 24:13-35). The exact location of the New Testament Emmaus remains uncertain.

-- Joseph M. Hochstein, Tel Aviv

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000603.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

by Joseph M. Hochstein @ 02:23 PM CST [Link]

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