Monday, June 7, 2010

Al Jazeera Provides its own Evidence

Al Jazeera has now taken the process of argumentation beyond reporting reactions to Benjamin Netanyahu's claim that the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish vessel trying to carry humanitarian aid for Gaza through the Israeli blockade, was harboring "violent Turkish terror extremists." One of its own correspondents, who had been on board the Mavi Marmara, has now stepped forward to provide his own eyewitness evidence. This appeared in the latest report to be posted on the Al Jazeera English Web site:

Jamal el-Shayyal, Al Jazeera's correspondent who was on board the Mavi Marmara from the beginning of its voyage, said no such group joined the ship after it had left port.

"Not less than 24 hours before Israel attacked I was granted access to all areas of the ship to see whether there were any unwanted people or weapons on board," he said.

"There was nothing of this sort on the boat… The only way for someone to get on board without being screened would be if an aircraft dropped them on board, and the only one that did this was an Israeli military one, and it ended up killing people."

Presumably those responsible for the humanitarian aid project wanted to make sure that this on-board reporter was given the fullest opportunity to assess the legitimacy of their mission. As we know from psychological studies of eyewitness accounts, this is no guarantee of the accuracy of his statements; but those statements need to be weighed against other evidence and the reliability of the sources providing it. Indeed, the diversity of those sources and the need for a fundamentally skeptical analysis of each statement should reinforce the proposal that any investigation should not be internal to Israel but should be conducted by a panel of detached third parties more likely to apply that skepticism in all necessary directions. Odds are, however, that Israel will continue to resist such an investigation, persisting in the priority of their national security, even if that persistence fosters a world opinion that will ultimately make them all the more vulnerable.

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