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Calling Evil by its Name
It took a wave of attacks on non-Israeli targets, but the international editor of Australia's The Age (Melbourne's largest paper) finally understands that the media's blanket refusal to call Islamic terror "terror" is simply absurd:
The bombing of the Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad exposes yet again the absurdity of attempts to portray the wave of violence in Iraq as other than a vicious and calculated campaign of terror. The International Committee of the Red Cross is one of the world's most respected international aid agencies. In anyone's language, this was an unconscionable act of terror...
So why are some of the world's media still walking on eggshells, groping for euphemisms such as "organised resistance" as if attempting somehow to legitimise these bleakest of atrocities?
The author himself, Tony Parkinson, knows precisely why:
The terms of the debate are by now familiar: "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." In the Middle East, this has become code language for extending a blanket exemption to Palestinian extremists who target Israeli civilians on school buses, at seaside cafes, shopping malls or nightclubs...This is the conflict at the heart of the definitional dispute. But for how much longer can these semantics go on?
Indeed, Mr. Parkinson, for how much longer? We've been asking this for years now -- and your paper has fallen right in step with the others in refusing to refer to Palestinians who blow up Israeli civilians as terrorists. In the pages of The Age, a Hamas leader with blood on his hands is a "militant" (6/26/03 "Targeted Killings Take Their Toll") and Hamas itself simply an "Islamist movement" (6/17/03: "Mideast Peace Hope Left Alive").
While the fact that Parkinson is finally willing to address this issue head-on (like some other editors) is commendable, it's highly disturbing that it only merits attention when the terror victims are not Israeli.
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The Controversy of Israel
Jerusalem Post editor Bret Stephens has an article this morning questioning the media's use of the term "disputed" to describe matters such as Shaba farms (Northern Golan), which was attacked this week yet again by Hizbullah:
The fact is, Syria and Lebanon jointly pretend the Shaba farms are Lebanese in order to furnish Hizbullah with a pretext for continued attacks on Israeli targets. By calling the farms "disputed," Reuters and AP only lend credibility to what should be described as a fraud.
Stephens goes on to probe how Israel's very right to exist has come to be termed controversal, not only by the Arab nations, but now by Westerners as well:
Israel's existential legitimacy has been widely assailed for years – but that came, or comes, mainly from Arab, Islamic and Soviet corners. By contrast, Israel's critics in the West usually confined themselves to arguing about Israel's borders. As for the rightness of the Zionist dream itself, that was ideological territory upon which they dared not trespass...Now that's changed. A line has been crossed. With the media's help, Israel has become "controversial."
An important article. Look for more on this matter in an upcoming HonestReporting communique. Sign up on the HR homepage to receive communiques as they're released.
AP Covers Anti-Semitic Hezbullah Series
On numerous occasions, we have called on the media to report the rampant incitement to terror and anti-Semitic content of the Palestinian and Arab media. Why should it be news? Arab media plays an central role in fomenting mass hatred of Israel and the U.S., which blocks any progress toward a lasting regional peace.
The Associated Press today has done so, with a story on the horribly anti-Semitic mini-series airing on Hezbullah's satellite TV channel Al-Manar, for the large Ramadan viewing market. Read the AP article, and encourage your local newspaper to run it.
For more on the Al-Manar program, "Diaspora," see the "review" at MEMRI.
Media Blunder of Week
HonestReporting's media blunder of the week goes to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which has deliberately altered a statement of Rep. George Nethercutt so as to make Nethercutt look bad.
On Tuesday, Nethercutt took out ads in the Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Times, accusing the P-I of misquoting him, but so far the P-I isn't admitting fault.
Judge for yourself: see an overview on Shark Blog, an article on the affair in the Post-Intelligencer itself, yesterday's editorial on the matter in the P-I, and commentary on James Taranto's Best of the Web ("Did Nethercutt get Dowdified?").
[By the way, Taranto's term "Dowdified" derives from NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who deliberately misquoted President Bush in a May column critical of the president's Iraq policy.]
Your Taxes for PLO Propaganda
Frontpage Magazine has a disturbing expose on American funding of the Palestine Academic Society For the Study of Academic Affairs (PASSIA) -- the PLO lobby group in Jerusalem "which trains PLO media professionals in the art of transforming the image of the Arab-Israeli struggle into an Arab David against an Israeli Goliath." According to this report, American taxpayers are actually bankrolling the ongoing, organized Palestinian campaign to lobby Congress and influence the Western media.
PASSIA produced a booklet to educate Palestinian activists how to effectively manipulate the media. It includes this suggestion:
In order to influence the general policy in one way or another, all [Palestinian organizations] should know how to influence the media. The best known way to do this is to come up with a hidden agenda, and deciding on the most suitable time to release information to the media in order to direct the media towards a predetermined slogan, a defined demand. The best method for exerting pressure, is to transform a problem into a public opinion issue, using the media.
Another portion of the booklet (funded by U.S. taxpayers) transcribes a PASSIA seminar that featured speakers Eric Weiner of National Public Radio and Lyse Doucete of the BBC:
Readers are first told by Weiner that, "being balanced, according to their mandate, can be frustrating" and urges the audience/reader "to present your stories on a human level and not rely on the facts." Present tear-jerkers in which Israelis "have to justify their [Palestinians] existence, which makes it easier to get through to us."
Ms. Doucete, who refers to homicide bombers as "honor" killers, believes "her job is to translate" rather than simply report the news, because "Israel is led by a Prime Minister who believes that it is not Israel's policy that is wrong, just that they have to explain it better." And so she admonishes the Palestinians, "if you want to beat the Israelis, you have to beat them at their own game." Thereupon follows eight pages of clear instruction on how the Palestinians can manipulate the press to their own advantage. Weiner again: "The fact that you have 1,000,000 pounds from the British government is not particularly interesting. But, if you explain why it is going to make such a difference by saying, ‘Did you know that since the closure was imposed we haven't been able to get paper through to Bethlehem?’ . . . we are far more likely to be interested."
Read the whole article here.
This is certainly a matter that requires follow-up in Washington. Could it be that while American foreign policy demands the uprooting of Palestinian terror, another federal body is funding the campaign to whitewash that terror via the media -- while demonizing Israel?
Read the article, then express your concerns to your Congressional representative. To find contact info for your representative in the House click here and for a list of Senators click here.
BBC Spin on Oxford Prof
In June, Oxford University professor Andrew Wilkie refused to admit an Israeli student to his doctoral program because, as Wilkie stated in his rejection email to the prospective student, "I have a huge problem with the way that the Israelis take the moral high ground from their appalling treatment in the Holocaust, and then inflict gross human rights abuses on the Palestinians because they [the Palestinians] wish to live in their own country....no way would I take on somebody who had served in the Israeli army."
Oxford today suspended Wilkie from his post for two months. Here's how BBC reported it:
A professor who rejected a student's application because he had been in the Israeli army has been suspended by Oxford University. Professor Andrew Wilkie, Nuffield professor of pathology, emailed the student saying he would not enrol "someone who had served in the Israeli army."
Wilkie's rejection email went far beyond BBC's version. In fact, it's doubtful Oxford would have suspended Wilkie if he hadn't detailed his entire anti-Israel ideology before rejecting the applicant out-of-hand. BBC's spin job actually leaves Oxford seeming intolerant.
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Minnesotans Against Terrorism
Minnesotans Against Terrorism are models of local media activism.
When Minnesota’s largest newspaper, the Star Tribune, demonstrated clear patterns of anti-Israel bias and whitewashing of Palestinian terror, MAT was formed by concerned locals to fight back. The group's campaign featured a full-page ad that they managed to place on the Star-Tribune's own pages - no small feat. The MAT campaign eventually elicited admissions by Star Tribune editors that their Israel coverage had been “awful,” an “editorial disaster,” an “egregious stumble” and an “embarrassing wart.”
For their remarkable success at raising awareness on the issue, the MAT media campaign has now received the "2003 Bulldog Award for Media Relations Excellence & Publicity" from the public relations organization Infocom. To accompany the award, Infocom has just released an article that chronicles MAT's success. It all began like this:
When Minneapolis-based businessman Marc Grossfield and attorney Mark Rotenberg—founders of MAT—returned from Israel, having eyewitnessed a suicide bombing a few feet in front of them, they were justifiably peeved to find their hometown paper refer to these incidents as the work of “activists” or “rebels.” It was enough to make them start an organization to educate others about such misreportings. The main question was, where to begin?
Read the whole article by clicking here:
Continue reading "Minnesotans Against Terrorism"
U of Florida Cartoonist
In today's communique on anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic sentiment on college campuses, we brought this editorial cartoon from Friday's University of Florida campus paper to our subscribers' attention:
Florida's Jewish Student Union apparently protested to the paper over the weekend. This is the cartoon waiting for them this morning:
The cartoonist had the audacity to compare himself to an Auschwitz survivor, and the Jewish Student Union ("JSU" on the tape) to suppressors of free speech.
One of the precious rights of the free world today is freedom of expression. But when the paper of a large public university (48,000 students) is used to spread hatred and lies, a concerned public must respond and demand the record be set straight. That's democracy.
A journalism lesson for the young editorial cartoonist: Nobody ever challenged your legal right to express your opinion. But when you resuscitated the canard that the Jewish people killed Jesus, and paralleled pro-Israel activism with with Nazism, you used your position of influence to spread dangerous lies. Don't cower behind the First Ammendment -- go to the library, study Jewish history, and submit a public apology.
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UPDATE: The paper's opinions editor and editor-in-chief have posted responses.
Media Parroting of Official Propaganda: Then and Now
A matter of journalistic ethics with direct relevance to current Mideast coverage:
The New York Times has been told that the Pulitzer prize awarded to one of its correspondents in the Soviet Union 70 years ago should be rescinded because the journalist was not critical enough of Stalinism.
The recommendation came from the history professor hired by the paper in response to calls from Ukrainian-Americans for the prize to be revoked. Prof. Mark von Hagen said of the reporter, Walter Duranty: "He really was a kind of disgrace." (The Guardian)
[Here's the Times article on the development, and some excerpts from Duranty's writings from Stalinist Russia.]
Duranty, due to his uncritical repetition of the Soviet regime's specious official statements, failed to report a famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in 1932-33, the infamous purge trials, and the Stalinist terror of 1936-39. "It's absolutely true that the work Duranty did, at least as much of it as I've read, was credulous, uncritical parroting of propaganda," says one present-day Times editor. According to Professor von Hagen's report: "The lack of balance and uncritical acceptance of the Soviet self-justification for its cruel and wasteful regime was a disservice to the American readers of the New York Times and the liberal values they subscribe to and to the historical experience of the peoples of the Russian and Soviet empires and their struggle for a better life."
Hmmmm...."Credulous, uncritical parroting of propaganda"?
Let's recall Jenin, April 2002, widely reported as "a brutal massacre of hundreds" (consistent with Palestinian propagada) before it emerged that no more than 52 died there, the majority armed. Or the ongoing parroting by the media of the official PA line that the present three-year terror campaign began because Ariel Sharon step foot on the Temple Mount. Or the media parroting of terrorist claims to be fighting a mere "uprising for independence." Or the Hamas claim that a hudna (ceasefire) still held while they blew up a Jerusalem bus, but a subsequent IDF action "broke it" -- a claim swallowed whole by the media.
"Uncritical acceptance of...self-justification for its cruel and wasteful regime"?
How about continuous media acceptance of Yassir Arafat's claim to be the "democratically elected leader of the Palestinian people," despite the fact that Arafat has never allowed a real democratic opposition to form, and his term of "election" (from 1996) has long expired? And what about PA financial corruption -- the skimming-off of hundreds of millions of foreign "aid" dollars to personal PA bank accounts, and personal monopolies on Palestinian industry to the detriment of an impoverished Palestinian populace?
"A disservice...to the peoples of the Soviet empires and their struggle for a better life."
Don't Palestinian children deserve better than to be treated as guinea pigs, encouraged to become suicide bombers, and taken to summer camps that promote genocide?
We've made this point in a number of recent communiques -- the parroting of official PA statements in news reports is not sufficient to achieve media "objectivity." A tragedy of historic proportions -- irresponsible Palestinian leadership -- is occurring under our very eyes, and the media are by and large ignoring it. Hopefully, it won't take 70 years for the Times and others to recognize their error this time around.
UPDATE: New article from JPost: Palestinians Demand Missing PA Money. Contact your local editor to encourage reprinting of this article.
Disturbing Survey of Palestinian Opinion
According to a survey released this week, fifty-nine percent of Palestinians believe that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad should continue their armed struggle against Israel even if Israel would leave all of the West Bank and Gaza, and a Palestinian state were to be created.
That's disturbing and a very significant new piece of information, yet it didn't make the news in the West. What does continue to appear is Reuters' fallacious claim in nearly every news report regarding Hamas and Islamic Jihad that those terrorist group are fighting "a three-year uprising for independence."
If even the common Palestinian believes the battle extends beyond Palestinian independence, Hamas and Jihad themselves certainly do. (The Hamas charter openly claims the goal to "obliterate Israel" and "raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.") So how can Reuters continue to use this phrase to whitewash (and garner sympathy for) the terror organizations' goals?
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Palestinians Conduct Public Execution
Did this story (from the AP wire) make your local paper today?:
Palestinian gunmen kill suspected collaborators, display bodies
A source in Al Aqsa said the men had been kidnapped and interrogated by Islamic Jihad, but that the two groups had carried out the killings together "to share the honor."...The bullet-riddled bodies were then dragged to the central square and propped up for camp residents to see, witnesses said. The bodies were displayed for about 15 minutes around 7 a.m., a time when residents are heading to work and children are on their way to school.
This is how "dissident behavior" is being handled by the Palestinian powers-that-be. Compare this with Israeli protest of government policy -- which the world media are very careful to cover. That inbalance is simply unacceptable from responsible journalists. Kudos to AP for running the story...but how widely was it reprinted?
UPDATE: NY Times now has a lead article on the executions as well.
Jeff Jacoby, today in the Boston Globe, regarding Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's antisemitic diatribe:
The Muslim world suffers from many problems, but none is more crippling than its culture of intolerance. Rampant anti-semitism anywhere is always a sign of grave moral sickness. Until more Muslims are prepared to confront and conquer that sickness in their midst, the Muslim world will remain the benighted backwater that so many Muslims deplore.
The Arab press is a major part of this problem, as detailed in many HonestReporting communiques.
The Western press, in turn, generally doesn't consider the phenomenon newsworthy. Encourage your local editor to recognize this intolerance -- which blocks any progress toward peace with Israel and the West -- in an upcoming editorial.
When Protestors Attack
Evan Coyne Maloney attended the controversial "Palestinian Solidarity" rally outside of Rutgers University on October 11, in an effort to peacefully counter-protest and pose pointed questions to those who attended.
Maloney, who was filming the event, was attacked by the protestors:
I tried to move, but I was now completely encircled. When I tried to escape, the protesters then started smacking the camera with their signs, while others were shoving me from different directions. I started retreating, pushing my way back from the loudspeaker, all the while leaving the camera running and asking the protesters why they weren't letting me film. One man tried to prevent me from getting audio by unleashing a high-pitched squeal into the microphone. Another man asked me whether my camera was expensive, a question that -- under the circumstances -- I interpreted as a veiled threat.
Maloney has now posted his video here.
Upon viewing it, one is struck by how much attention Maloney himself drew from the rally's attendees and speakers. The speakers' focus was on two things: a pro-Israel advocate and the evils of Zionism. No calls for ending terrorism, democratic accountability from Palestinian leaders, economic development for Palestinians. Just blame. Reminiscent of the Palestinian leadership and media -- blame of Israel and the US for all internal problems.
Maybe when the Western media draw more attention to the utter failure and corruption of the Palestinian leadership, "pro-Palestinian" rallies will begin to be constructive, calling for real reform in the internal Palestinan system, for the sake of the poorly-represented Palestinian people.
Telegraphing "a massacre"
Our communique from yesterday, "Of Missiles and Videos" is now posted on the HR site.
The communique addressed premature media claims of a missile that struck a Palestinian civilian group. Here's another report that just came to our attention -- from UK's Telegraph:
After the vehicle exploded, killing those inside, a crowd of hundreds gathered. Seconds later, the Apache fired a second missile into the centre of the throng, killing five and wounding at least 70. (emphasis added)
The Telegraph reporter not only accepts the Palestinian claims of a missile hitting a crowd as fact (without attribution or IDF response, a la Reuters) but also strongly implies that the IDF pilot fired a missile intentionally into the "centre of the throng."
No followup article from the Telegraph to bring the IDF video (which shows two missiles striking with no civilians in sight) to their readers' attention.
Send comments to the Telegraph by clicking here.
The Associated Press has another article out today on the video. Now that the video has been distributed to reporters as well, there's some speculation that the second missile did in fact cause some injuries or deaths (there's no dispute, apparently, that a 11-year-old boy, a 29-year-old doctor and a 49-year-old cement factory owner were killed in Nusseirat). These people, in an adjacent alleyway, may have been struck from debris.
But claims to the missile "striking a crowd" remain entirely unfounded.
Palestinian Policeman Wants to Nuke US
The Christian Science Monitor has an article that includes this statement by a Palestinian police officer, Said al-Jubein, after an IDF strike:
Said explained that he had stepped inside the house to fetch coffee when the missile hit. In the emergency room he seemed to veer between shock at his own good fortune and anger at the situation. "If I had a nuclear bomb I would explode it on Israel and America," he vowed.
Note this is a PA police officer. While his anger at having family members injured is understandable, this sort of a statement -- post-9/11 -- cannot be taken lightly.
Note also the CSM's mild, nonplussed characterization of his statement. The CSM should have been alarmed by a Palestinian police officer calling for nuclear annihilation of the United States.
It seems that the media have become accustomed to Arab extremism. That in itself should be cause for all of us to be alarmed.
PA Smuggles in Antiaircraft Missiles
Middle East Newsline is reporting:
A Palestinian security officer detained by Israel asserted during interrogation that the PA used more than a dozen tunnels that extend from the southern Gaza town of Rafah to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula for the smuggling of anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, insurgents, semi-automatic weapons and ammunition.
According to this, it's just a matter of time before terrorists target commercial airliners from the ground -- unless the IDF continues to act boldly against the weapons smuggling in southern Gaza. This information must be stated when the media reports Israeli anti-terror actions in Rafah (building demolitions, etc.). Be sure to contact your local media if it's not!
Gaza Attack and the Palestinian Power Scheme
Though much ado is being made in the press about how disastrous the killing of three Americans is to the Palestinian leadership, Elliot Chodoff raises another angle:
Why would any one want to bomb an American convoy on a mission to interview prospective Fulbright scholarship candidates? Isn't this exactly the type of American aid that should be welcomed and encouraged by all Palestinian factions who want to see their people develop a more affluent society? Simply put, the answer is that in the Mafia-style world of Palestinian politics, money allocation is equated with direct influence, and that is the last thing any of the factions wish to see given to the US. It may be ok for Saddam or the Iranian Ayatollahs, but it would be disastrous to have anything that looks like democracy gaining any sway on the Palestinian street.
One of the fundamental assumptions of the media and Western diplomats is that Palestinian leaders want their own, democratic state. But such a state would mean accountability, and loss of their power and influence, so Arafat and co. actually undermine any movement in that direction. When will the media catch on to this? Write your local editor, encouraging recognition of this fact in their next editorial.
American Victims of Palestinian Terror
In today's Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby reminds us that PA-enabled terror against Americans is not a new phenomenon -- "Palestinian Terrorism, American Blood." An excerpt:
Three Americans -- John Branchizio, Mark Parson, and John Martin Linde -- were murdered last Wednesday when terrorists in Gaza bombed the diplomatic convoy they were riding in. News accounts immediately described the attack as a first -- "an unprecedented deadly attack on a US target in the Palestinian territories," to quote the Associated Press. But Branchizio, Parson, and Linde were not the first Americans to be murdered by Palestinian terrorists. They were the 49th, 50th, and 51st in the past 10 years alone....Americans have been dying at the hands of Palestinian terrorists for decades, yet the US government and media rarely if ever portray Yasser Arafat and his lieutenants as avowed enemies of the United States.
Arafat has, over his decades in power, convinced the West that he's a "freedom fighter" interested only in the "liberation" of his people. The media buy it, and regularly leave his statements unchallenged. But in light of the recent bombing and Arafat's proven ties to terror, is this not a disservice to the American people? This is an important matter to contact your representative in Washington regarding -- and encourage them to write an editorial as well. To find your representative in the House click here and for a list of Senators click here.
Short coverage of the Gaza bombing
How quickly the story of Palestinian terrorists' killing of three American security officials in Gaza disappeared from the newsmedia's attention. Apparently, sports hero scandals are more interesting:
As the cartoonist (from Cox and Forkum) laments: "This story from Wednesday was displaced within hours by the "Defense Drops Bombshell" in the Kobe Bryant hearing story (words from an actual FoxNews headline)."
What info is relevant?
An important point submitted by an HR reader:
In discussions with friends and family about biased reporting in the Mideast, I have
been taken to task when criticizing news sources for reporting a "fact" while failing to
mention relevant information which contradicts it. One friend said that it was unfair to
take a reporter to task for what he DIDN'T say; another said that news sources were not
responsible for running entire histories in single articles.
Below is a quote from today's Fox News which illustrates my point. I have heard
mention of terrorist Yasser Arafat being the "elected" leader of the "Palestinians" many times on NPR. However, in today's article on the Mideast on Fox News, a slight addition to the sentence changes the entire perspective:
"Palestinians ... note that Arafat is their elected president -- although the term he won in a 1996 vote has formally expired."
This is without even going into the subject as to whether the "Palestinians" had the
actually freedom to make their votes count in a free election.
We raised a similar point in our communique "The Media's Mideast Relativism." -- journalists use the "he said/she said" approach in their attempt to present a "balanced picture," but when one side issues patently false information, isn't the cause of "objective reporting" compromised, unless statements are qualified by the reporter?
Greek Artist Glorifies Suicide Bombing
According to the Greek daily newspaper Ta Nea, this pink lace embroidery montage displays an Arab woman and her bomb belt "heroically" obliterating an Israeli supermarket:
(The photo caption has the artist Alexandros Psychoulis stating that "I am trying to get into the psychology of a person who is preparing the vests which women wear in suicide attacks.")
See the text of the article by clicking here:
Continue reading "Greek Artist Glorifies Suicide Bombing "
Two PA Faces on Terror
Our communique from Thursday (detailing PA response in their press to the terror attack on a US convoy in Gaza) has now been posted in updated form on our site: Two-faced Response to Gaza Bombing . This edition includes more quotations from the Palestinian press directly accusing Israel of perpetrating the bombing.
The ever-vigilant Itamar Marcus at Palestinian Media Watch has an important bulletin on this matter as well:
PA Promotes, Then Condemns Killing of Americans
Tom Friedman on Giving Chances
NY Times columnist Tom Friedman has a piece today calling for greater Israeli "initiative" toward peace. Here's an excerpt:
If the Palestinians are going to miss another opportunity to miss an opportunity, let it be a real opportunity — one that any fair-minded person would deem fair. At best, Israel would enable the real interests of the Palestinians to emerge, and at worst it would create a moral clarity where Israel can fight a permanent war with the Palestinians, without 27 Israeli Air Force pilots going on strike, saying justice isn't on their side.
First, a literary note: The Aba Eban quote that Friedman aludes to is "The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." What Friedman meant to say is "If the Palestinians are going to have another opportunity..."
Now, the substance: Friedman states that Israel needs to give the Palestinians "a real opportunity — one that any fair-minded person would deem fair."
Yet didn't Israel try that already in Taba 2001, when Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians 97% of the West Bank and Gaza, and a capital in Jerusalem? If Friedman does not regard that as an opportunity that "any fair-minded person would deem fair," then perhaps Friedman is not a fair-minded person.
Missing here is the danger Israel would irresponsibly place its citizens in by making another major commitment to the PA leadership at this juncture, while the terror organizations remain intact and strong.
Berkeley City Council
The Berkeley (CA) city council recently passed a foreign policy statement, calling for an investigation into the death of Rachel Corrie. A rejected version of the statement called for an investigation into the deaths of all Americans in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (including UC Berkeley grad Marla Bennett, a Palestinian terror victim).
An excellent response from Berkeley local John Gertz, printed in the SF Chronicle.