Last week Chris Gunness, a spokesperson for the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency, had a lengthy temper tantrum on twitter.
The object of that tantrum, the Jerusalem Post‘s editor-in-chief, Steve Linde, responded publicly today.
Linde issued a press release in which he, on behalf of his paper, calmly and soundly rejected the assault by UNRWA’s Gunness.
Gunness was enraged that the Jerusalem Post ran an opinion piece criticizing UNRWA and suggesting numerous conditions be placed on the UN agency by donor nations as a means of ensuring the agency put the needs of the Palestinian Arabs ahead of the agency’s desire for increasing its own girth and coffers.
The Post‘s op-ed was written by a Palestinian Arab, Bassem Eid, the founder and director of the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group.
As described fully in Friday’s UNRWA Spokesman Calls for Boycott of Israeli Paper, Gunness attacked the Post and Linde. Gunness called Eid’s piece “garbage,” referred to the Post as “far right” (a much greater insult than internationally-condemned terrorist group as far as Gunness is apparently concerned) and calling for a complete boycott – “Boycott the JPost! Don’t read their lies” of the Jerusalem Post and calling out Linde. Gunness issued this call to his more than 35,000 Twitter followers.
The UNRWA spokesman falsely claimed the Post had boycotted him, “boycotting me ie no quote.”
In a response which is now posted on his Facebook page, Linde wrote that Gunness’s campaign against the Post “represents an unacceptable breach of protocol and neutrality he is supposed to uphold.”
“An attack of this kind by a senior staff member of a UN body that employs as many as 30,000 people and provides aid to millions of Palestinians is unbecoming,” Linde said.
An op-ed is not a news article. It is an opinion piece written by someone with either expertise or other first-hand knowledge or is credible and has a view not widely covered elsewhere in the media.
The Post‘s op-ed editor, Seth Frantzman, shot back at the petulant claim that Gunness was boycotted simply because he was not quoted – in an op-ed.
“We have a long track record of publishing op-eds from diverse voices on a wide range of issues and will continue to subject all groups to robust critique, despite this intimidation,” Frantzman wrote. “UNRWA’s call for a boycott over an article published by a Palestinian activist who critiqued UNRWA contravenes the concept of open debate and has a chilling effect on free speech.”
The full press release from the Jerusalem Post can be found here, on Linde’s Facebook page.