From the Times of India: Azam Amir Kasab, the only Mumbai terrorist captured alive, explains the rationale for attacking the Chabad center, a.k.a. the Nariman House::
Kasab has told police that they were sent with a specific mission of targeting Israelis to avenge atrocities on Palestinians. This was why they targetted Nariman House, a complex meant for Israelis.
Last I saw, as the attack sites are searched, casualties stood at 174 dead, 295 injured, and unknown number of people missing. The majority of casualties are Indian.
The Wall St. Journal obtained a copy of an email sent by the Deccan Mujahideen claiming responsibility for the attacks. And The Jawa Report flags (and re-uploaded) a YouTube video originally titled "Deccan Mujahideen."
But whether or not the terrorist's primary motives were to target Hindus or Jews, and the possibility of formal ties to Al-Qaida are technical questions that miss the larger point. Bottom line: the war on Islamic terror is the world's fight.
UPDATE Nov. 30: Australian columnist Greg Sheridan may be on to something.
We have our differences with the NY Times, but I have to give them credit where credit is due. The Lede is essentially live blogging developments in Mumbai and doing a heck of job too.
I'm impressed with the array of links to outside newspapers, blogs, even quoting people from Twitter.
A case study of how the media will address international stories in 2009? Too soon to say, but worth discussing when the dust settles. For now, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this horrific terror.
Arab pundits and Islamic websites are blaming Israel for the latest piracy around the Horn of Africa. What took so long? My favorite chestnut:
“The aims of the Zionist enemy in the Red Sea have never ceased,” wrote the Islamist cleric on his website, illustrating his long article with a quote by a former commander of the Israeli navy regarding “a diabolical plan” which aims to “transform the Red Sea into a Jewish lake.”
If online political activism is a form of lobbying? If so, Washington state regulators might force some bloggers to disclose their finances. AP writes:
In a collision of 21st century media and 1970s political reforms, the inquiry hints at a showdown over press freedoms for bloggers, whose self-published journals can shift between news reporting, opinion writing, political organizing and campaign fundraising.
State officials are downplaying any possible media rights conflict, pointing out that regulators have already exempted journalistic blogging from previous guidelines for online campaign activity.
Off the top of my head, here are a few reasons for and against such disclosures:
Against: Bloggers, like unregulated pundits and journalists, offer opinions about everything.
For: Dare I say: Pundits (like Henry Siegman, who got money from, Saudi Arabia, Yasser Arafat's friends, etc.) and journalists (like Lauren Booth, now on Iran's payroll) may deserve scrutiny too.
Against: Kosher activist groups with tax-exempt status already disclose their funding to the IRS or the relevant government authorities in other countries. And the majority of legitimate bloggers only post as a hobby, or for professional reasons unrelated to advocacy.
For: Some blogs really are extensions of various organizations, or loosely affiliated with them.
For: What's wrong with holding bloggers to the same scrutiny they hold others?
Against: Regulation will inevitably lead to the unpleasant awareness that other forms of media, such as books and movies, are sometimes supported by funny money too.
YouTube gave Jordan's Queen Rania a "Visionary Award" for setting up her own channel to address stereotyping. This really highlights the potential of people using Web 2.0 as a tool to positively address Mideast problems.
Unable to accept the award in person, the queen delivered her acceptance via -- you guessed it -- YouTube, spoofing David Letterman with a very witty top ten list of reasons she launched the channel.
According to the Jordan Times, Queen Rania's channel has more than 3 million video views, 10,000 subscribers, and has "mobilised hundreds of YouTubers around the world to create their own video clips that challenge many of the misconceptions about Arabs and Muslims."
How do you think Israel's P.R. efforts in the social media compare? Post your comments below.
Robert Gee of Cox News went on a tour of the Temple Mount last week. On his blog at the Austin American-Statesman he makes this perceptive observation:
Inside the third holiest site in Islam, a glass case displayed tear gas canisters fired by Israeli troops there.
There was symmetry to the moment. Israelis keep hundreds of homemade Palestinian rocket casings on display at the police station in Sderot, which has been pummeled by Gaza militants over recent years. The collection is largely for the benefit of visiting journalists and diplomats and often serves as a backdrop for televised statements by dignitaries.
Gee is right that both sides want to score P.R. points with the MSM. Perhaps there are two additional points to consider:
Tear gas cannisters represent a non-lethal form a riot control, whereas Qassam rockets are indiscriminately fired in the hopes of killing people.
The number of times Israeli security has fired tear gas onto the Temple Mount is pretty limited, compared to the daily rocket barrages coming from Gaza since the disengagement.
Haaretz picks up on Arab media reports that Hezbollah held military maneuvers south of the Litani River.
Though the maneuvers focused on force deployment in mountainous areas and did not include any live fire exercises, holding such exercises south of the Litani would be a breach of the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which bans any Hezbollah activity there.
Hezbollah youth, better known as the Mahdi Scouts, apparently need a little experience under their belts.
Meanwhile, UNIFIL wants Israel to leave Ghajar so they can police the border village. Heh.
The ministry's Arab media department chief Ofir Gendelman told Haaretz on Wednesday that they seek to reduce Israel's dependency on Arab media channels, who tend to give Israeli spokespersons relatively limited airtime.
He also said that the amount of coverage depends on Israel's fluctuating relationship with Arab channels. . . .
"The internet scene in Arabic is buzzing, and we wish to establish another communication channel for dialogue."
CNN is courting newspapers -- and possibly competing with The Associated Press -- with a new wire service the cable network plans to launch soon, with plans for an all-expenses-paid, three-day summit in December to show off its news gathering capabilities.
AP's vulnerable. A number of North American papers gave notice to the wire service that they don't intend to renew their contracts. Publishers forced to make drastic cutbacks are far less inclined to spend money on AP content for two primary reasons:
Newspapers today are putting more and more of their resources into local coverage.
Why spend money for articles that readers can easily find on hundreds of other papers carrying AP online?
Since August, I've blogged this trend a mere 123 times -- the tip of the iceberg. Seeking Alpha raises some good points about this endeavor.
Hamas launched Al-Quds TV, its second satellite TV channel. And it's broadcasting with a little help from Egypt. The IICC explains:
The channel broadcasts via two Arab communications satellites: Nilesat —an Egyptian -owned satellite company broadcasting to the Middle East and North Africa, and Arabsat, an inter-Arab satellite company a third of whose shares are owned by Saudi Arabia. It broadcasts to the Middle East and North Africa. The satellite broadcasts can also be viewed in several south European countries where local Arab communities live. The Al-Quds channel's offices are located in Lebanon, even though they claim to be broadcasting "from the heart of Jerusalem".
You'd think the Egyptians wouldn't be keen to help Hamas.
But unfortunately, when it comes to channels like Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas' first channel) and Al-Zawraa TV (run by Al-Qaida), Cairo's powers-that-be have their own agenda. Nilesat eventually pulled the plug on Al-Zawraa, more likely due to US pressure.
An anonymous source identified only as a senior official in the Gaza Electricity Company told the Fatah-controlled Pal-Press Web site that Hamas is staging the latest fuel "crisis." The Jerusalem Post picks up:
"Hamas has seized more than 220,000 liters of fuel that was intended for generators belonging to our company," he revealed. "There's no shortage of fuel and as such there is no reason for a crisis."
The official also disclosed that Hamas militiamen had been forcing the company to cut off power supplies to some areas in the Gaza Strip so as to create the impression that the outage was due to a lack of fuel caused by the ongoing closure of the border crossings.
And PA officials told the Post that Hamas also smuggles "tens of thousands of liters" of fuel supplies through Gaza tunnels. Read the whole article.
In 1978, Gunnar Bergstrom and his friends in the Swedish Cambodian Friendship Association visited Cambodia as guests of the Khmer Rouge. The trip was a propaganda coup for the regime, whose genocide is still being documented. But Bergstrom is back in Cambodia -- this time to apologize. He told the Phnom Penh Post:
"We saw what they wanted us to see, but we also saw what we wanted to believe."
Might we one day see an equally brave act of public contrition from Lauren Booth? Think the Daily Mail columnist feels pangs of regret for allowing herself to be used by Hamas? Naaah.
'No Intention of Inciting a Connection With the Holocaust'
Friday's Emory Wheel (pdf) featured this cartoon by student Dylan Woodliff.
Alongside the cartoon, amazingly enough, was Woodliff's 251-word explanation.
I have no intention of inciting a connection with the Holocaust . . .
Of course, that's the whole point of his cartoon. The paper gave Deborah Lipstadt op-ed space to reply:
There is a serious problem in the Middle East but Woodliff’s glib comparison of Jews to Nazis is not only ill-informed, it demonstrates a certain prejudice — antisemitism — which will never help resolve the situation. Whatever one thinks of Israeli policy, to describe it as akin to the Nazi policy of murdering all of European Jewry is to engage in antisemitism and a form of Holocaust denial.
Finally, I was struck by the explanatory note the Woodliff appended to the drawing. No editorial cartoon should need an explanation or an addendum. If the cartoonist is any good, his work should speak for itself.
Palestinians protest Israeli power cuts. Unfortunately for the Hamas P.R. machine, AP didn't crop out the blazing lights in the background.
Palestinians hold candles and placards during a protest against Israeli sanctions, at the main road in Gaza City, Thursday, Nov.13, 2008. Gaza officials shut down their only power plant, cutting off electricity to much of the city of 300,000, after Israel canceled plans to ship in some diesel fuel for the plant as well as 30 trucks full of humanitarian supplies. The Israeli move came after Gaza militants fired at least eight rockets and some mortar shells at Israel on Thursday, according to the Israeli military. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Can't fault AP on the caption. Memo to Hamas: Will the last person leaving for the vigil please turn out the lights?
A Palestinian security officer's not-so practical joke got out of hand. YNet News explains what happened when a Jenin family was falesly told their son was shot and killed by Israeli police in Nazareth:
The family opened a mourners' tent and the official Palestinian news agency WAFA even published an announcement . . . .
Much to the surprise of the Nazal family, Wednesday evening their "dead" son Majdi contacted them saying he was returning to Jenin after failing to find work in Israel.
The shocked family members, who were in the middle of mourning their son, rushed to tell comforting guests that he was still alive.
The news, however, did not reach the Fatah movement in time, and activists had already started a vehicle procession, and were mourning, through loudspeakers,the Fatah "martyr" who was killed in cold blood by Israeli police.
I wonder if this soon-to-be-ex-officer was one of those "unanmed Palestinian security sources" often quoted by the MSM.
Palestinian columnist Abd Al-Nasser Al-Najjar makes a bold statement about Arab persecution of Christians, especially by Palestinians. Translation from Memri:
Let us be honest with ourselves and courageously say out loud that Palestinian Christians are taking many severe blows, yet are suffering in silence so as not to attract attention. I do not refer here to the suffering caused by the occupation . . . but to actions of the past 20 years at least - that is, since the beginning of the occupation in 1967 - involving the confiscation of Christian property, especially in Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Al-Birah . . . .
Furthermore, there has been an attempt to marginalize Christian culture in Palestine, even though it is rich and deeply rooted [there]. This began with [accusations] of unbelief [against Christians] - a move that ultimately harmed Palestinian society as a whole . . .
But the most fundamental problem here may be related to culture. We continue to instill a horrific culture in our children, one that sees Christians as infidels. . . and as 'the other.' We need an injection of humanistic and national awakening; we must raise an outcry and stand up to restore the Christians' rights, of which they have been deprived - [and we must do this] in order to preserve the demographic balance, which will safeguard the unity of our homeland and the justness the Palestinian cause.
Justus Reid Weiner further elaborates on the injustices and also on how they're manipulated to shift blame on Israel. Al-Najjar's bravery is particularly appropro: we're approaching the Christmas season, the only time of the year the MSM bothers to examining the declining status of Christians in the Holy Land. Guesswhoisblamed.
UN investigators found traces of uranium in Al Kibar, site of a mysterious Syrian facility destroyed in an Israeli air strike last year. Reuters writes:
They said the minute uranium particles turned up in some environmental swipe samples U.N. inspectors took at the site in a visit last June. They said the finding was not enough to draw conclusions but raised concerns requiring further clarification . . .
The story twist further congeals:
Moreover, Syria has been made an official agenda item at the year-end November 27-28 meeting of the U.N. watchdog's 35-nation board of governors, unlike previously when IAEA officials said initial inquiries were inconclusive.
While the US elections have pushed Israel off the MSM's radar, Michael Oren and other Mideast pundits miss the spotlight:
For those of us involved professionally in interpreting Israel for the media, who in the past were frequent contributors to the op-ed pages in the United States and regular guests on CNN and Fox, the falloff of coverage has been neither good nor bad, but rather disorienting.
Though we, too, sometimes complained about the disproportionate scrutiny to which Israel was subjected by the press in this country, we nevertheless basked in the certainty that Israel would always top the news and that our views would be aired and listened to. Now, entire weeks pass without a single press inquiry or an invitation to an interview.
Within hours of releasing HonestReporting UK's critique, Sky News removed the entire photo montage from it's coverage. In an email to one of our readers, executive producer Julian March wrote:
The picture gallery you saw is created by a tool which automatically pulls in agency photos with a pre-determined search term (in this case Gaza).
The captions to the photos make it clear the attack depicted is from October 4th, so not contemporaneous.
Having said that I acknowledge your concerns. On a story as sensitive as this we should have been stricter about the relevance of material we added as related content. So I have removed the picture gallery from the article.
Sky News isn't the only news service using tools to automatically generate this kind of content. Is Journalism 2.0 leaving us with editors asleep at the wheel while web sites run on auto-pilot?
Another example of MSM fauxtography? Something about this photograph by AFP's Marco Longari seems odd.
HonestReporting contacted veteran photographer and imagery advisor David Katz for a more professional assessment. There's no absolute smoking gun, but Katz raises some serious concerns.
The motion of the toy: "When you throw something like that, the moving object blurs slightly. So I magnified the picture. If you look around the shape of the bunny and around the shape of the hand throwing it, there’s a difference in the pixels. I’m not making an accusation, but this is something that needs to be explained."
The lighting: "The bunny looks too well lit. Judging from the look of the sky, I would expect part of the bunny in shadow. It looks too perfect. The chances of getting such perfect lighting in a natural setting is complete luck."
The size and angle: "From where the photographer is standing, the size of the bunny is out of proportion to the size of the man throwing it. If he shot it with a telephoto lens, he wouldn’t have gotten the man and the bunny in such perfect focus from that distance. If he shot this with a wide angle, which looks most likely, everything would be in focus, but there’s a greater potential for distorting the angles and sizes. Even if the image was shot with a wide angle lens, in my opinion, it wouldn’t justify the size of the bunny that appears. Unless the bunny is coming right at the photographer, it would be somewhat smaller in relation to the man’s hand. But it’s difficult to be sure."
The bottom line: "My gut feeling was that it was electronically manipulated. But I’ve seen situations where props like teddy bears or dolls were brought in and laid down next to a scene to create an effect. This brings to mind photos of Qana that included a Mickey Mouse doll. The pink rabbit is a child’s toy, and anything that smacks of a child is a cynical use of photography. It’s propaganda that Hamas wants, and the photographer is either going along with that in agreement or because he knows the image will sell."
HonestReporting contacted AFP for an explanation. We await their reply.
You can see plenty of examples of altered and staged photos, botched captions and props in MSM photojournalism which dominated our 2006 Dishonest Reporting awards.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the PA is threatening Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem not to particpate in Tuesday's municipal elections. Indeed, eligible Arab voters have boycotted the ballots for years.
It's facetious for eligible Palestinians to boycott elections on principle, then claim they're discriminated against in city hall, long-term planning, budget allocations, etc.
So here's a look at the numbers, based on Jerusalem Post reports 1 and 2, and a report by Justus Reid Weiner worth reading in it's own right:
725,000 Estimated overall population of Jerusalem.
527,627 Overall Jerusalem residents eligible to vote next week.
250,000 Estimated number of Arabs eligible to vote next week.
95 percent Eligible Arabs who have boycotted previous elections.
0 Arab representatives on city council.
2 Instances in the last 35 years where an Arab ran for mayor.
31 Total city council seats.
25percent Council seats under Arab control had they participated as a unified bloc in 2003.
13 Parties fielding candidates for the council.
8,000 Minimum threshold of votes necessary for a party to receive a council seat.
4 Mayoral candidates.
40 percent Minimum threshold of votes the leading mayoral candidate must receive to win and avoid a runoff.