Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Biased op-ed on the Middle East classified as "culture debate" in Dagens Nyheter

On March 23 Michael Löfgren, a journalist from the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, wrote piece on the Middle East. The newspaper would come to classify the piece a “cultural debate” rather than as an op-ed—which is what it actually was. Additionally, the newspaper omitted the disclaimer that Löfgren is an politcally active member of a group that works for a one sided Palestinian cause. This was reported by the very informative blog “Fred i Mellanöstern” (Peace in the Middle East), they further note that:
In the article from Dagens Nyheter , Löfgren calls for the Swedish ship “Götheborg” to join with his organization in sailing to the Gaza Strip. The article was a bizarre way for the journalist to draw attention to the non-profit organization “Ship to Gaza” of which he is a member. As “FiM” reports, once one visits the homepage of the organization, one can be sure that their main goal is propagating their wholly biased political opinion rather than humanitarian efforts. The link can also—conveniently enough—be found in the “cultural debate” piece written by Löfgren.

The organization "Shipt to Gaza" claims to send aid to the needy in the Gaza Strip. Still, in a recent shipment that was supposed to be made up of ”60 ton” groceries and medicine, toys and 10.000 units of blood plasma", the needy in Gaza instead recived only 150 bottles mineral water, some dozin kilos of food and medicine. Also on the ship was 22 demonstrators, among them the greek-catholic bishop Hilarion Capucci who was arrested in Israel 1974 and sentenced to 12 years in prison for smuggeling weapons.

The organization "Ship to Gaza" is further not supported by the UN. The UN on the other hand chooses to sends it aid through Israel.
Jurech Hirschberg, who appears as guest writer in the “FiM” blog, contends correctly that it is extremely important for the readers of Dagens Nyheter, who think they are reading a “cultural debate”, to be informed and aware of the political agenda of the journalist as well as his membership in a group which supports a terror organization.

The motive of the newspaper can also be questioned –why did the editorial staff decided to call it “cultural debate” rather than an opinion piece? Was the real intent of the newspaper to falsely represent Löfgren’s one-sided political message as a journalistic debate? Shouldn’t a debate show more than one side of the issue? Since the article failed to do so, one must really question the credibility of Dagens Nyheter.

The article was one in a series from the journalist on topics related to Israel. During the last number of years Löfgren has been writing “independent-liberal” pieces which—among other things—encourage boycotting Israel. He has also argued that Sweden conducts “ambiguous” reporting on the Middle East due to Swedish correspondents’ "Jewish backgrounds". Löfgren also participated in a TV show on November 1, 2001 with Donald Boström- the same Boström who concocted a story of Israel harvesting Palestinian organs.

It is a disgrace for a newspaper (especially with as large a readership as Dagens Nyheter has) to print distorted “news” –misleading its readers when it terms a clearly political opinion article a “cultural debate”. After reading Löfgren’s piece it’s fair enough to say that, by publishing Löfgrens piece, Dagens Nyheter has allowed its name to be used for the spread of propaganda.

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