Since the Gaza war, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights’ casualty figures (pdf format) have been accepted by the MSM as gospel, or at least as a counterweight to Israeli findings. While the question of how many people were killed is still disputed, another question remains: how many of the Palestinians killed during Op Cast Lead were really civilian?
Elder of Ziyon pored through the PCHR findings, comparing the PCHR’s names with info available on public web sites. (See EoZ's subsequent updates 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). He determined that at least 459 of the PCHR’s “civilians” were in fact combatants.
Now, recently released research by the Institute for Counter-Terrorism concludes that the PCHR misidentified 314 Palestinian combatants as so-called civilians.
You'd think a story as fundamental as "who really died" would be of more interest to the Western journalists. Why are they abdicating their responsibility to bloggers think tanks and NGOs?
Al-Jazeera English found a provider in the USA. Having a struck a deal with MHz Networks, AJE is now available in the Washington area. According to the Washington Post, some 18 million homes in 20 cities throughout the US will receive "some or all of the network's programming."
What are viewers in for regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
For starters, the network's English-speaking correspondent in Gaza, Ayman Mohyeldin, told Online Journalism News last week that "the Western media has failed tremendously in covering Israeli-Palestinian conflict." And colleague Sherine Tadros added:
Tadros said the 'success' of the Gaza coverage had been the incorporation of emotion and feeling in the reporting. "We lived the war with the 1.5 million Gazans and we tried to tell it how it was," she said.
And Americans can watch Al-Jazeera's birthday tributes to baby killers like Samir Quntar.
Tony Burman, AJE's managing director, is also lobbying hard for Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for permission to broadcast in Canada. (Burman, is the former head of the CBC News.)
It's widely assumed that AJE will obtain CRTC approval and hit Canadian airwaves this fall. After all, time -- and Arab cash -- appear to be on AJE's side. Broadcasting and Cable explains why:
And with Western news organizations facing painful budget cuts to their foreign bureaus, the need for news from abroad has only served to further the network’s cause. Including the original Arabic language service, Al Jazeera operates 69 bureaus internationally. That’s more than the BBC or CNN.
Roger Cohen trivializes Israeli fears of a nuclear Iran, Walt Rodgers attributes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's atomic ambitions as bombast, and The Economist suggests that Israel's "Iran first" approach is a diversion tactic to avoid negotiating with the Palestinians.
But it seems clear that the Netanyahu government's wild overstatement of the Iranian threat, and its linkage to progress on the Palestinian issue, is asubterfuge to allow the continued illegal Israeli settlement of Palestinian areas on the West Bank, which will ultimately subvert a two-state solution.
For comparison, I was impressed with this reserved, respectfully written Baltimore Sun staff-ed.
Benjamin Netanyahu is supposed to visit Washington in June. I can already picture the White House press corps greeting him with torches and pitchforks.
Do Palestinians Really Want a State? For strategic reasons, Gaza's quasi-statehood may be more desirable to the Palestinians than full sovereignty. The "conflict may never end because the Palestinians may already have what they want."
Wayne Long, a former UN security officer in Somalia sheds shocking light on how he dealt with pirates who kidnapped UN aid workers and other foreign nationals.
His description of Somalia sounds awfully like Gaza, where Gilad Shalit is being held captive. Long writes in the NY Times:
Eventually, after long and heated internal discussion, the United Nations security team persuaded the United Nations country team that the most effective approach would be to use humanitarian aid and assistance as a lever to gain release of hostages.
Somalia is pretty much a stateless state. Humanitarian aid and clan association are major centers of gravity. In fact, clan leaders stay in power in part by controlling the distribution of aid. Our strategy was therefore simple: United Nations assistance was withheld from the Somali clan or region by which or in which hostages were being held until those hostages were released. In every case there was a release, and in no case were hostages harmed or ransom paid. (On the downside, no pirates were brought to trial or punished in any way.)
In 1995, for example, the water supply for Mogadishu, the capital, was shut off by the United Nations humanitarian agencies until a hostage who worked for another aid organization was released.
Let's imagine the headlines if Israel followed the UN's "collective punishment model" for freeing captives.
After all, giving the Holocaust-denying fruitcake Ahmadinejad a platform to lecture the world about racism is like inviting Bernie Madoff to headline a global conference on business ethics.
2. Haaretz writes that Hamas learned at least one lesson from the Gaza war -- clothes make the man:
Israeli officials say Hamas military commanders have recognized that their militants' decision to take off their fatigues and don civilian clothing a few days into the fighting was a mistake. The Islamic group believes the decision damaged morale and was perceived by Gazans as indicative that they had lost control of the territory.
3. Does the road to Mideast peace run through Tehran, or does the road to resolving Iranian nukes run through Jerusalem? According to the Washington Post, the direction of the linkage depends on whether you ask Israeli or US officials:
U.S. officials are wary of linking the two issues and, if anything, would like to do the reverse of what Israel has proposed, by using progress in the Israeli-Palestinian talks to curb Iranian influence, which is wielded in the region through anti-Israeli organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas . . . .
While Israeli officials have long expressed concern about Iran, Netanyahu views the threat from Tehran as so acute that he is shaping Israel's policy toward the Palestinians around that issue -- a shift in approach that effectively puts Palestinian statehood after resolution of a complicated regional and international issue.
Why is Palestinian life so dear in the eyes of the world -- and Chechen life so cheap?
After examining various reasons, Stephens advances his own idea. Spoiler alert:
Maybe the world attends to Palestinian grievances but not Chechen ones for the sole reason that Palestinians are, uniquely, the perceived victims of the Jewish state. That is, when they are not being victimized by other Palestinians. Or being expelled en masse from Kuwait. Or being excluded from the labor force in Lebanon. Things you probably didn't know about, either. As for the Chechens, too bad for their cause that no Jew will ever likely become president of Russia.
Last month, the MSM set a high bar for coverage of allegations of Israeli war crimes. Western news services devoted amazing amounts of air time and print space to their investigations and commentary.
The claims were ultimately debunked, but we saw the extent of the media's scrutinizing capabilities. The Guardian, in particular, spent a whole month producing an extensive package of reports, videos and opinions.
Fast-foward to yesterday, when Human Rights Watch issued a report accusing not Israel, but Hamas, of arbitrarily arresting and torturing collaborators and political rivals, and of murdering 32 Palestinians during and after the Gaza war. The full report's here.
Where are the blaring headlines? Will we see an equally extensive investigation by The Guardian and friends of Hamas's own crimes?
No doubt the Human Rights Watch report will be ignored or dismissed in the greater cause of demonizing Israel. This has been the trend of late. No doubt, too, some will excuse Hamas's criminality as the inevitable result of Israeli actions -- the Officer Krupke School of Behavior made famous by the singing gang members of "West Side Story." But as much as some would like to criticize Israel -- and I have done so myself -- they still have a minimal obligation to acknowledge the difference in core values between Israel and its enemies.
But there's a big difference between one 571-word article quoting from someone else's study, and spending a month on an entire package of original "journalism." Don't hold your breath waiting. When it comes to these kinds of claims, the coverage is, well, disproportionate.
Al-Jazeera fact-checking made me grimace after identifying Alan Dershowitz as the Israel's recalled ambassador to Switzerland:
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday morning instructed Israel's ambassador in Switzerland Alan Dershowitz to return to Jerusalem for consultations following Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz's meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The ambassador is Ilan Elgar. But Dershowitz did make news from Geneva too, which was probably what confused someone at Al-Jazeera.
I just read your column, Israel, Iran and Fear. Instead of minimizing the threat Iran poses to Israel, you instead minimize legitimate Jewish fears, then turn the tables to blame Israel:
Far from Iran, and the tired Nazi analogies misleadingly attached to it, there is another threat. As Gary Sick, the prominent Middle East scholar and author, suggested to me recently: “The biggest risk to Israel is Israel.”
A core contradiction inhabits Israeli policy. While talking about a two-state solution — at least until Netanyahu redux — Israel has gone on building the West Bank settlements that render a peace agreement impossible by atomizing the 23 percent of the land theoretically destined for Palestine.
Israel negotiated with Arafat and got nothing but years of intifada. Israel disengaged from Gaza and got nothing but Hamastan on its doorstep, hundreds of rockets and another kidnapped soldier. Israel talks with Abbas, but Fatah-Hamas infighting points to a three-state-solution.
So if the possibility of Israeli Jews perishing in a Iranian nuclear attack doesn't move you, then consider the strike's other consequences on the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean:
The Palestinian casualties would give new meaning to naqba, an otherwise grossly abused Arabic word.
The Holy Land would also be uninhabitable to any survivors, Jewish or Palestinian.
The Gulf states the West relies on for oil would be cowed by Tehran.
Am I to understand that you're prepared to live with a zero-state solution from the relative safety of New York City?
There's been serious tension between the Mubarak regime and Hezbollah ever since a terror cell was busted in the Sinai.
Now, the fallout is reaching Al-Manar, Hezbollah's TV station, which -- till now, at least -- reaches millions of Arab homes on Nilesat, Egypt's state-run satellite service. YNet News writes:
The petition maintains that the Shiite-affiliated station recently began broadcasting false news reports about Egypt. Among these, al-Manar was said to have accused Egypt of collaborating with the United States, promoting Jewish interests and trying to "implement the Zionist agenda."
It's purely Egyptian self-interest. Until 2007, Nilesat also beamed Al-Qaida's Al-Zawraa TV; Egyptian authoriities only pulled the plug due to US pressure. (Al-Zawraa has since "resurfaced in Syria under the name of Al-Rai TV," according to Memri,)
Hezbollah apologists will no doubt say that putting an end to Al-Manar broadcasts violates free speech. But the Washington Times debunked that argument in 2006 after the US Treasury Dept. designated the station as a terrorist entity:
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.
Nilesat reaches millions of homes in northern Africa, southern Europe and the Arabian peninsula.
A top Hezbollah figure debunks the idea that the Lebanese terror group has distinct political and armed "wings." This from the LA Times, via Israel Matzav:
On one point, the United States agrees with Hezbollah's No. 2 leader, Naim Qassem, and not such allies as Britain.
Neither Qassem nor Washington distinguish between the Shiite militant group's political wing, which has members serving in the Lebanese Cabinet and parliament, and its military wing, preparing for the next round of battle against Israel. "Hezbollah has a single leadership," said the 57-year-old cleric in a rare interview with an American reporter recently.
"All political, social and jihad work is tied to the decisions of this leadership," he said. "The same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work also leads jihad actions in the struggle against Israel."
Washington Times columnist Tony Blankley commented on the spurious distinction often made by the Western media and Israel's critics:
. . . Al Capone set up soup kitchens during the Depression. And the Nazis provided social services to poor and starving Germans in the 1920s and early '30s. But they both kept killing until, respectively, the FBI and the Allies put them both out of business.
Hezbollah is certainly a ruthless band of cutthroats, but there is no evidence that they are insincere in their beliefs, or that they are open to changing their minds and joining the Women's League of Voters. If, at their heart, they oppose our objectives, then either they have to be defeated or we do.
Any political party -- be it Sinn Fein, Hezbollah, Hamas or the Nazis -- that has its own private army is inherently not a democratic institution. Nor is it likely to evolve into one if it holds undemocratic ideas.
Leave it to the BBC to be the burning issue after I took a week off for Passover.
The BBC Trust which investigates complaints about the Beeb's news coverage determined that Jeremy Bowen breached guidelines on accuracy and impartiality in the June, 2007 dispatch: How 1967 Defined the Middle East and in a second January, 2008 radio report from Har Homa which is not online. See the Trust's full findings in pdf format, plus HonestReporting UK's response to the dispatch.
The reports are shoddy; in and of themselves, they wouldn't normally create an untenable situation for a journalist. But Bowen unfortunately, has a history of problematic reporting. And as the Mideast editor of one of the world's most-watched news services, the BBC must take responsibility for Bowen's litany of errors, omissions, and attitude:
A documentary on Israel's 60th anniversary, full of omissions and historical revisionism, downplaying, delegitimizing or altogether ignoring the legitimate roots of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel going back three millennia. Instead, the Arabs are painted as victims of Jewish power and malevolence.
An internal memo leaked to columnist Stephen Pollard laying bare Bowen's views on the Mideast conflict. Pollard reacts, "Indeed, Israel is to blame for almost everything. The Palestinians are not responsible for anything; Israel is the culpable party. He has contempt for every Israeli politician he mentions;"
A report blaming Israel for the Hamas take-over of Gaza and the Strip's hardships, never mentioning the reason for Israeli sanctions nor the increasing aid provided by Israel and the West.
Publicizing a Palestinian woman's shocking claim in Bowen's Gaza war diary -- that her husband and 4-year-old son had been shot in cold blood by Israeli soldiers -- with no supporting evidence or any other media coverage of such a serious charge.
A report attributing Palestinian hardship solely to Israeli security precautions, without acknowledging Palestinian responsibility for allowing rocket crews to fire Qassams or prepare other terror attacks.
An unbalanced radio report questioning the viability of the two-state solution. Failing to acknowledge Israeli security concerns, Palestinian suicide bombers or intra-Palestinian chaos, Bowen discusses restrictions on Palestinian movement and the security barrier near Bethlehem, as well as "illegal" Israeli settlements. .
A morally inverted, oversimplified report from Gaza claiming Israel "brutalized" the Palestinians with a "violent occupation."
But Bowen touched a nerve at The Independent, where the matter has mushroomed into a staff editorial, plus a colorful Robert Fisk reaction:
The trust – how I love that word which so dishonours everything about the BBC – has collapsed, in the most shameful way, against the usual Israeli lobbyists who have claimed – against all the facts – that Bowen was wrong to tell the truth . . . .
Danny Zamir, the soldier at the heart of the controversy surrounding alleged IDF war crimes in Gaza spoke publicly for the first time.
In a Jerusalem Post op-ed, he writes that a non-story was spun way out of proportion by an over-eager MSM:
It was as if the media were altogether so eager to find reason to criticize the IDF that they pounced on one discussion by nine soldiers who met after returning from the battlefield to share their experiences and subjective feelings with each other, using that one episode to draw conclusions that felt more like an indictment. Dogma replaced balance and led to a dangerous misunderstanding of the depth and complexity of Israeli reality.
Zamir said he had no way of knowing whether the alleged shooting incidents ever took place, though he felt isolated incidents of vandalism described by soldiers did occur.
"I think that some of the acts of vandalism inside homes were done, but you have to put it in context. That doesn't turn them into war criminals," he said . . . .
Zamir said that what disturbed him the most was an article in The New York Times under the headline "A religious war in Israel's army," which left the impression that a veritable kulturkampf between religious and secular soldiers was under way.
As for his Zamir's background as an IDF refusenik, Keinon raises eyebrows, writing:
Zamir said Monday that until the recent events, he did not even know that he had appeared in that book.
"They took something I wrote in 1990 and included it," he said. "They didn't ask me, and I didn't know about it."
He explained that "that was before Oslo, and I thought that Israel was using methods that were not in keeping with the Jewish and democratic nature of the state. Since 1992 I have made it clear that there is no rationale for refusing to serve, and I believe that to this day."
I don't expect Zamir's comments to generate anything close to the headlines associated with the original bogus accusations. The MSM has demonized Israel yet again.
People view footage and believe they are eyewitnesses to an event when in fact they are not. I knew this before but never realized it so acutely until working on this documentary. The problem usually lies with a correspondent who didn’t see an event with his own eyes. Information is delivered by fixers at the spot who may not be free of their own political agenda, and we journalists report it but have no way of validating. And if the images fit a theory or idea we already have in our minds, they are the most dangerous of all because we don’t question them.
Naharnet (via Elder of Ziyon) takes note of a Hezbollah spokesman's observations about the UK press. After visiting the UK, Hussein Hajj Hassan, a Lebanese MP and Hezbollah loyalist, said:
"British public opinion has actually changed to benefit our causes, even the [British] press is clearly reflecting this, one can easily find this to be tangible." Hassan called for removal of the routine patterned image promoted "by the Zionist and [some] Arab media in Lebanon and Palestine."
Add Pat Oliphant to Hezbollah's list of media sympathizers on the other side of the Atlantic. According to Barry Rubin, the Lebanese Islamists prominently posted his cartoon on their web site.
I'm not a fan of anonymous sources, yet I accept that they sometimes grease the wheels of journalism when there's no other way to get out some information. But the Boston Globe took anonymous sources to a new level absurdity.
Reporting on the NY Times Company's threat to shut down the Globe, reporters Robert Gavin and Robert Weisman write:
The Times Co. is seeking concessions from the union because the New York company, which is also suffering from the recession, can no longer subsidize the Globe's losses, said the Globe employee who requested anonymity because the person is not authorized to speak publicly. The Times Co. posted a net loss of $57.8 million in 2008.
So Gavin and Weisman 1) auoted a fellow Globe employee anonymously, 2) about an issue they all have a stake in, 3) saying that the Globe and its parent company are losing money, which is no secret anyway.
We've seen the BBC create distance between terrorists and their actions with headlines for 1, 2, 3 bulldozer rampages which focused on the deaths of the Palestinian terrorists rather than on their Israeli victims.
Now, with Shlomo Nativ killed in Bat Ayin by an ax-wielding Palestinian terrorist, the NY Times caught a different strain of the Beeb's bug. Memo to the Times: Axes don't kill people; people with axes kill people.
"We must also take a decisive stance of solidarity alongside fraternal Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir."
According to the ICC, Bashir "is suspected of being criminally responsible, as an indirect (co-)perpetrator, for intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property."
When it comes to allegations of Israeli war crimes, however, Mahmoud Abbas and the PA have no trouble recognizing the authority of the International Criminal Court. In the Arab League's warped world view, only Israel is capable of war crimes.