AP picked up on Palestinian summer camps. Did this photo make your local paper?
A Palestinian girl holds a homemade model of a rocket that reads 'Al-Quds', the Arabic word used for Jerusalem, in Hebrew and Arabic on it during Islamic Jihad rally in Gaza City, Wednesday, July 30, 2008. The rally was held for children who are part of summer camps run by Islamic Jihad funded organizations. Israel and Hamas are observing a cease-fire in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip since June 19, 2008. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
"You Jews should be aware: You will never, but never have peace with Hamas. Islam, as the ideology that guides them, will not allow them to achieve a peace agreement with the Jews. They believe that tradition says that the Prophet Mohammed fought against the Jews and that therefore they must continue to fight them to the death." . . . .
An entire society sanctifies death and the suicide terrorists. In Palestinian culture a suicide terrorist becomes a hero, a martyr. Sheikhs tell their students about the 'heroism of the shaheeds.'"
"Joseph," formerly known as Masab Yousef, a Palestinian who converted to Christianity, interviewed by Haaretz. His father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, is Hamas' most prominent figure in the West Bank.
Now that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that he is stepping down, here's a calendar of key dates coming up based on Jerusalem Post coverage.
Aug. 24, 2008: Deadline for Kadima party personalities to join the race.
Sept. 17, 2008: Party members vote for new leader in primaries.
Oct. 26, 2008: Deadline for new party leader to form a Knesset coalition and present the government (i.e., the cabinet) to President Shimon Peres for approval.
The situation gets sticky if the new Kadima leader fails to muster a coalition. The Post explains the "fine print."
In case the elected leader fails, the president customarily grants another 90 days to form a government; after the 90 days are through, in case no coalition is formed, a general election is scheduled, thus potentially allowing Olmert to remain in power until March 2009.
After the primary Olmert will remain in office as prime minister of a transitional government, until his successor in Kadima manages to forge a new coalition or until general elections are held.
Backspin made Elder of Ziyon's short list of favorite blogs and the compliment comes with a challenge: to list my seven favorite blogs. I likewise call on my favorite bloggers to list their seven favorites as well.
Making this list wasn't so easy. Feeds sterilize the enjoyment of a good post. Entries blur over the day. There are other blogs I wish I had more time for. And this list doesn't reflect the time I spend on other blogs that fill other important niches. For that, I must suffice with a salute to everyone on my blogroll.
It's worth pausing to savor good blogging, if only because a good blogger should be a connoisseur of good blogging. Here are my seven faves in no particular order:
• I used to say, "I want to be a cartoonist when I grow up." After meeting Yaakov Kirschen, I figured out Dry Bones' enduring appeal: the best cartoonists never really "grow up."
• If Michael Totten worked for a newspaper, he'd have a Pulitzer or three. Journalism students take note.
• Nobody stays on top of the Arab language media like Memri and I waited patiently for the launch of the Memri Blog. The daily findings were worth the wait.
• The well-connected, consistent Jim Romensko has a broad knowledge of the media industry and the Poynter Institute's backing. That's a recipe for solid blogging.
• If you haven't noticed, Professor Richard Landes has a lot to say about media issues beyond l'affaire al-Dura. I'm learning a lot from his style at The Augean Stables.
• Media monitoring's not his thing, but if I had to choose one blogger to replace me, I'd hand over my keyboard and mouse to Daled Amos. His combination of thoughtful posts and understanding of the Mideast conflict give me confidence he can handle the media issues I deal with every day in an articulate way.
• Steve Rubel forgets more about Web 2.0 than I'll ever know. Micro Persuasion is but one tool in his Batbelt -- you're cheating yourself if you don't explore Rubel's social media links. What does that say about the future of blogging?
I now invite everyone to list their favorite blogs (no more than seven, please) in the comments section.
Mark MacKinnon wants to equate the Palestinian bulldozer terrorists with Israeli bulldozers. The Globe & Mail reporter fails to take into account that Israel bulldozes structures, not people.
Lost in the understandable hysteria was the tragic irony and thick symbolism of construction equipment being used by Palestinians to inflict harm on Israelis. Though few would dare say it last week for fear of being seen as justifying the attacks, the truth is that the bulldozer has long been an Israeli weapon of choice in this uneven conflict. And the two Palestinian attackers had experienced first-hand the violence a bulldozer can inflict before using the tool as a weapon themselves.
Bulldozers have long been associated with the harsher side of Israel's 41-year-old occupation of the Palestinian Territories. In the past eight years alone, they've been used to destroy more than 2,300 Palestinian homes, uproot orchards of olive trees and construct the controversial 723-kilometre-long barrier that weaves through the West Bank, effectively annexing large chunks of land to Israel. American peace activist Rachel Corrie was famously crushed under an Israeli army bulldozer in the Gaza Strip as she sat in front of a Palestinian home in 2003, trying to prevent its demolition.
Memo to MacKinnon: Rachel Corrie's death was an accident.
Hamas banned three Fatah-affiliated newspapers from Gaza and has threatened several Palestinians journalists. Fatah too, is pressuring journalists. The tension leaves the Palestinian Media Union with little room to maneuver. The Jerusalem Post writes:
The PMU also warned its members of favoring one side over the other. "We must remain neutral," it said. "We must avoid serving as mouthpieces for any party."
A nice statement at face value. But Palestinian journalism was never renowned for its independence. Print and broadcast news enjoy zero press freedom, and are largely owned by the factions themselves. Even John McCain and Barack Obama don't have to contend with that level of partisanship. Or maybenot.
The only question now is how much longer this negation can go on, and how long it will be before a state premised on it is superseded by its opposite, an affirmative, genuinely democratic, secular and multi-cultural state, the only kind that can offer Jewish Israelis and Muslim and Christian Palestinians alike a future free of discrimination, occupation, fear and violence.
The picture Makdisi paints is too good to be true.
1. There's no shame in the concept of a Jewish state for the Jewish people.
2. The one-state solution negates Palestinian national aspirations just as it negates Jewish national aspirations.
3. Jews and Arabs don't share the language, history, religion, culture, or values required to make a bi-national effort work. Case in point: without an iron-fisted ruler, Yugoslavia disintegrated along ethnic lines and "Balkanization" became part of the world's lexicon.
4. Among themselves, the Arabs have no history of successful multi-ethnic states. Lebanon is spiraling into civil war. Sectarian violence continue in Iraq (don't rule out a partition). And Christian Arabs are fleeing the Mideast in droves. What's to inspire Israeli confidence?
5. The South African model doesn't apply. Among the many differences between the two regions, Benny Pogrund points out that South Africa's blacks and whites had a cohesive leadership who could sell power-sharing to their constituencies, as well as economic interdependence. This is not the case with Israelis and Palestinians.
6. How can Israel possibly negotiate a one-state solution with West Bank Palestinians as if Hamastan -- which the PA may now designate as a "rebel region" -- doesn't exist?
A report by a Palestinian human rights organization documents arbitrary arrests and torture by both Hamas and Fatah-affiliated police in the past year. Later this week, Human Rights Watch is to release a similar report detailing systematic abuses in Gaza and West Bank jails.
Credit AP with some good journalism, independently corroborating the accounts of torture.
Among the victims of a violent Gaza weekend was the Wafa News Agency. Their Gaza offices were ransacked by Hamas. In response, Wafa, which is the official news service of the PA and loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, stated online:
Head of Palestine News and Information Agency WAFA, Riyadh al-Hassan, said on Saturday that Hamas takeover and destruction of the Agency's equipment in Gaza will not hinder our national duty to expose the crimes of the occupation.
Considering that Israel no longer occupies Gaza (the Washington Post adroitly elaborates on this point), the only occupiers Wafa can be referring to is Hamas.
Ira Rifkin argues that Israel's supporters must take the fight to smaller, local papers, and not limit their efforts to major US dailies:
In short, the Arab Lobby regards papers such as The Capital as important in its propaganda campaign to win over grassroots American public opinion - which is why it is incumbent upon Israel's supporters to take local media just as seriously.
Think globally but act locally. Bogus anti-Israel claims must be contested, no matter how seemingly inconsequential the platform. Israel's narrative must be voiced - again and again and again, if necessary - so that public opinion is not molded by Israel's enemies alone.
The party, held in Beirut, was organized by the Al-Jazeera bureau there to honor Kuntar on the occasion of his release from Israeli prison. He was hailed as a hero who carried out a brave military operation against the Jewish state . . .
Al-Jazeera's bureau chief in Beirut, Ghassan bin Jeddo, has long been known for his close ties to Hizbullah.
Kuntar, for his part, thanked Jeddo and Al-Jazeera for supporting him and other prisoners in Israeli jails and for waging a campaign to bring about their release.
What next from Al Jazeera? Annual commemorations for Seung-Hui Cho?
If Nobody Claims Responsibility, Is It Still Terror?
Is there a reluctance to call yesterday's bulldozer rampage "terror" because it was carried out by a lone individual? AP seems to suggest just that:
Like the perpetrator of the previous attack, the driver in Tuesday's incident was a Palestinian from east Jerusalem with an Israeli residence permit and he drove the same type of front loader, police said. Israeli police called it a "terror attack" but no group immediately claimed responsibility.
"Terror" can be spontaneous, and a "terrorist" doesn't necessarily have to have the backing of any organization.
UPDATE 12:20 pm: The BBC makes the same ridiculous assertion:
Israeli police called it a "terror attack", although there was no immediate claim of responsibility by any Palestinian militant organisation.
Police describe this as a copycat attack from a similar attack earlier this month. Unfortunately, we're seeing copycat headline problems too. The BBC's first response to terror, as we critiqued last time around, is just as woeful. Here’s a screen grab we made from this page:
Vehicle attack? Sounds more like a silly video game than a Palestinian terror attack.
Unfortunately, the Beeb's not the only news service bulldozing today’s headlines:
Yariv Ben-Eliezer, a professor of communications, says the Israeli media forced the government into a prisoner swap against the nation’s interests:
Usually you expect the media to present a debate - to present facts from both sides of an issue. In this case the media was unified. That's why I say they had an agenda. Even though my heart was with the families, I think the media pressured the government to do something that was against the national interests of Israel. I believe we will pay for it with Gilad Schalit, that as a consequence Israel will have to give up a lot more prisoners to bring him back than would have otherwise been the case . . . .
The media used the families, and the families used the media to get their message across. They put disproportionate pressure on the government and left it no choice but to surrender to the demands of Hizbullah . . . .
I wouldn't say that the media's behavior has put more soldiers at risk, but they did force the government to do something that might cause more kidnapping.
Israel Matzav and I wonder how AP can describe Samir Quntar's Nazi salute as a "gesture?"
Released prisoners Samir Kantar, left, gestures with other prisoners as they symbolically breakthrough a makeshift prison bars, during celebrations for their release from Israeli prison, in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, July 16, 2008. Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah greeted the five Lebanese militants who were released by Israel, at the massive rally in south Beirut, his first public appearance since January.
With all the coverage of the prisoner swap, these three out-takes deserve closer attention:
• Acerbic commentary in Now Lebanon (via PJM) slams Hezbollah, says Lebanese public paid the real price for Samir Kuntar's freedom:
Add to the two Israeli bodies the bodies of 1,200 Lebanese civilians, nearly 400 of them children under the age of 13, sacrificed by Hezbollah to secure Kantar’s return. Add to that the 4,400 wounded civilians, of whom almost 700 are permanently disabled. Add to that those killed and wounded, most of them children, by the cluster bombs still littering large swaths of South Lebanon. Add to that the billions of dollars in destroyed homes, infrastructure and livelihoods.
In the final tally, Kantar – whose alleged taste for violence far exceeds the remit of the typical heroic freedom fighter – is a very expensive man. For make no mistake, his release is the sole profit weighed against the thousands of Lebanese dead and wounded. The four other Lebanese prisoners to be released were themselves captured on his account during the July War . . .
• France 24 raises possibility of Kuntar entering politics:
According to Sayyed Franjieh, a Beirut-base political analyst, “it wouldn’t be surprising to see Qantar as a Druze candidate on the opposition list in the Baabda district.” This district, located in the Mount Lebanon region, has an important Shia and pro-Hezbollah electorate as well as numerous Christian supporters of General Michel Aoun, two pillars of the Lebanese opposition.
• Last word goes to the Washington Post, which quotes Einat Haran’s grandmother:
"He's a hero? Because he killed a 4-year-old? Because he smashed her head with his rifle?"
A Jerusalem Post staff-ed about this week’s images showing a yawning disparity between Israeli and Arab values. While two coffins have been sent to Israel and await positive identification by Israeli forensics experts, the Lebanese are planning to celebrate the release of Samir Kuntar.
I was impressed with the Post's points about the power of visuals, so I reprinted the editorial with links to the relevant images.
A controversial Iranian missile test raised even more furor when it was discovered that a photo credited to Sepah News and distributed world-wide by AFP was doctored.
To shed a little light on Sepah News, Backspin editor Pesach Benson talked to Meir Javedanfar (pictured), a Mideast analyst specializing in Iranian affairs. An Iranian-Israeli, Javedanfar is also director of Meepas.com (Middle East Economic and Political Analysis).
What is Sepah News?
It’s the arm of the Revolutionary Guards. It’s one of many news agencies in Iran reporting on the views and activities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Its audience is the Iranian public, current and former members of the Guards, and foreigners around the world.
Describe its relationship with the Iranian regime.
Basically, it’s the media outlet, a very important part of the Islamic administration in Tehran. It’s the administration’s way of showing the thinking and activities of the Revolutionary Guards to the world. It allows the Guards to flex their muscles in the media. Many people in Iran believe the Guard’s views are not properly presented in Iranian and foreign media. Not all Iranian media is interested in everything the Revolutionary Guards do.
Can Sepah be considered a legitimate news service?
Yes. It’s a source in Iran. If you want to know what’s going on in the Revolutionary Guards, Sepah’s the web site to go to. If you want general news about Iran, there are much better sites.
Any idea why they manipulated the photo?
Maybe to cover up the mishap and to boast Iran’s capabilities. They’re worried about a possible Western attack. They don’t want the West to use its military muscle to force them to accept Western conditions for the nuclear program.
Does Sepah have a history of fudging news, or could this photoshopped image of the missile test be considered an isolated incident?
I don’t know about Sepah doing this before.
What is the relationship between Sepah and Western news services?
Sepah hopes that as many people in the West who speak Farsi and are interested read its content. That’s all there is. It doesn’t have any real relationship with the Western media. AFP believed the pictures were from a legitimate source. The foreign press wasn’t allowed to attend the missile launch. And if you want photos, then Sepah’s the place to go to. When [AFP] realized the picture was doctored, they pulled it.
Is the relationship between Sepah and the Revolutionary Guards any different than the relationship between Hezbollah and Al-Manar, or between Al-Qaida and As-Sahab?
It’s the same. It’s the media arm of the Revolutionary Guards. Al-Manar probably gets better funding though. They have their own TV station. Sepah doesn’t.
TheState Dept.has already designated the Revolutionary Guards as a terror organization. Should Sepah News get the same designation?
No. It doesn’t spew hate. It basically reports on what the Revolutionary Guards believe. In terms of analysis of Iranian news, its pretty poor. I’m sure one its intended audiences are the Western news agencies. I think the Guards use it to show their strength and ideology, and perhaps for psychological warfare purposes.
Today's poison pen comes from veteran cartoonist Nicholas Garland at the Daily Telegraph:
UK readers might understand the cartoon in a slightly different context -- revelations that knife crimes claim 60 victims a day, a shocking 35 percent rise in parts of the UK.
Nonetheless, as Colin Rubinstein aptly pointed out (before Iran's discredited missile test), there's no comparison between Israeli and Iranian atomic programs:
Despite parallels drawn to Israel's alleged nuclear capability, Israel is not violating international commitments (it didn't sign the NPT); it hasn't threatened to use nuclear weapons against its neighbours (it doesn't even confirm it has them); and its neighbours haven't sought a similar hedge against it.
You may have seen images of four rockets blasting skyward in major newspapers or websites like the BBC or NY Times, to name a few. Look again. Iran is engaged in a little Fauxtography.
The altered image:
The original image:
Here's what's known so far. The photo first appeared on the web site of Sepah News, the PR news service of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. A NY Times media blog, The Lede, explains what followed:
Agence France-Presse said that it obtained the image from the Web site of Sepah News, the media arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, on Wednesday. But there was no sign of it there later in the day. Today, The Associated Press distributed what appeared to be a nearly identical photo from the same source, but without the fourth missile. . . .
So far, though, it can’t be said with any certainty whether there is any official Iranian involvement in this instance. Sepah apparently published the three-missile version of the image today without further explanation.
AFP retracted the photo, suggesting,
The 2nd Right missile has apparently been added in digital retouch to cover a grounded missile that may have failed during the test.
AFP later followed up by showing the photo to several experts who concurred that the image was manipulated.
So how did AP obtain a photo of three missiles while AFP got four? Editor & Publisher's Joe Strupp put that very question to AP:
AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll referred E&P's requests for further information to spokesman Paul Colford. He said only that AP obtained its image from the same Sepah News site as other news outlets.
Colford cited the AP caption with the image it transmitted that stated: "In this image made available Thursday July 10, 2008, from Sepah News website owned by Iran's Revolutionary Guards, showing Iran's Shahab-3 missiles being launched from an undisclosed location on Wednesday July 9, 2008, which officials have said have a range of 1,250 miles and is armed with a 1-ton conventional warhead...." It was labeled "AP Photo/Sepah News."
Perhaps the best assessment of Sepah News' flubbed fakery comes from the people who know Photoshop as well as anybody -- an editor's note at Photoshop News:
Editor’s Note: Even from the small images above, it’s obvious to anybody who knows anything about digital imaging, that the image has been altered. Aside from the cloned clouds of dust, the sky surrounding the 4th missile obviously doesn’t blend naturally. Clearly Sepah News service doesn’t employ the best Photoshop artists…file this one under OOOPS!
One positive development is the closer scrutiny of the Revolutionary Guards' so-called "media arm." The Guards already earned itself a place on the State Dept. terror list, so there's no reason Sepah News shouldn't be designated too. The logic the Washington Times once applied to Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV goes for Sepah News too:
Al Manar had hoped to stave off the designation as a terrorist entity by framing criticism of its connection to Hezbollah as an effort to deprive it of its First Amendment rights. But as the Treasury Department made clear, the issue is not al Manar's role as a television station but its role in facilitating the activities of Hezbollah, an organization that has killed more Americans than every other terrorist group save al Qaeda.
"Any entity maintained by a terrorist group -- whether masquerading as a charity, a business or a media outlet -- is as culpable as the terrorist group itself," said Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey.
Israelimediareports that two Israeli Bedouins suspected of transferring information to Al-Qaida were arrested in June.
The two Negev residents confessed to providing Al-Qaida handlers info on strategic sites and public places, including army bases, Ben-Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv's Azrieli Towers (pictured) and the Ashkelon power plant.
They also gave handlers details on how to infiltrate Israel through the West Bank.
Why is Aaron Klein of WorldNetDaily the only reporter noting that yesterday's Gaza "work accident" indicates a clear breach of Israel's truce with Hamas?
The explosion underscores the Gaza-based terrorists' utilization of a cease-fire agreed to with Israel last month to rearm, train and produce advance weaponry for use against Israel.
"It is not really a period of rest. We have been training, receiving religious courses ... we've been producing weapons, working on smuggling everything that can reinforce us," said a senior terrorist in Gaza, speaking on condition his name be withheld. . . .
Hamas sources told WND the explosion occurred while Hamas experts were testing a new Qassam rocket they were trying to fit with two engines. Current Qassams run on one engine.
Now that the BBC apologized for airing graphic footage of last week's bulldozer attack, Caroline Glick compares it to the Ramallah lynch. That incident, the only other example of Palestinian terror caught on film, also elicited an apology from the Italian news service:
In this case, as in the case of the lynching eight years ago, the reason the BBC apologized is not because the film's images were too gruesome, but because it strayed from the accepted narratives of the Palestinian war against Israel. To maintain the narratives, "the right editorial balance between the demands of accuracy and the potential impact on the program's audience," is one that engenders the belief that Israel is either morally indistinguishable from the Palestinians, or that Israel is morally inferior to the Palestinians.