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Media Backspin
« October 2003 | Main | December 2003 »

Sunday, November 30 2003

Worth Reading Today

* The Independent reports that European Union funds may have been channelled to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the terrorist group responsible for the deaths of scores of Israelis in suicide bombings.

* Feminist psychotherepist Phyllis Chesler on "The New Anti-Semitism" :

What's new is that this hatred has, incredibly, been embraced and romanticized by all manner of so-called progressives and activists and, to a great extent, by the presumably objective media. What's new is that Jew-hatred (disguised as anti-Zionism) has itself become "politically correct" among these so-called intellectuals. They have one standard for Israel: an impossibly high one. Meanwhile, they set a much lower standard for every other country, even for nations in which tyranny, torture, honor killings, genocide, and every other human rights abuse go unchallenged.

* Veteran Israeli diplomat Yehuda Avner re-enacts a 1979 meeting between Menachem Begin and Margaret Thatcher:

Begin then turned to Thatcher. "Madam Prime Minister, I shall tell you why the settlements are vital: because I speak of Eretz Yisrael, a land redeemed, not occupied; because without these settlements Israel could be at the mercy of a Palestinian state astride the commanding heights of Judea and Samaria. We would be living on borrowed time. And, whenever we Jews are attacked, we are always alone."

* Lee Kaplan reports on a pro-Palestinian "Campus Rally for Terror" at Ohio State University.

Nominations for 2003 Dishonest Reporting "Award"

It's that time of year again - time to submit your nomination for HonestReporting's 2003 Dishonest Reporting "Award," our annual recognition of the most skewed and biased coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Previous ignominious winners:

2002 : British media, for coverage of the IDF Jenin incursion (4/02):

"We are talking here of massacre, and a cover-up, of genocide..." -- London Evening Standard

"Rarely, in more than a decade of war reporting from Bosnia, Chechnya, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, have I seen such deliberate destruction, such disrespect for human life." -- The Times of London

Israel's actions in Jenin were "every bit as repellent" as Osama Bin Laden's attack on New York on September 11. -- The Guardian

"Hundreds of victims 'were buried by bulldozer in mass grave'." -- Daily Telegraph

The official UN report on Jenin found that 52 Palestinians died, the great majority armed combatants. As Richard Cohen of the Washington Post said, "What got massacred in Jenin was not Palestinians but truth itself."

2001: The BBC

In May 2001, BBC fabricated a film clip in an attempt to show Israeli brutality. When Israelis struck a Palestinian base in Gaza, there were no pictures of victims -- since Israel struck at empty buildings. But BBC editors inserted a film clip of Israeli victims of Palestinian terror arriving at an Israeli hospital, to suggest that these were victims of Israeli attack. The newsreader in London, a former BBC correspondent in Israel herself, ended the segment with "These are the pictures from Gaza."

BBC's bias is perhaps summed up best by one of its own employees, Fayad Abu Shamala, the BBC correspondent in Gaza for the past 10 years. Speaking at a Hamas rally on May 6, 2001, he declared:
"Journalists and media organizations [are] waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people."

For a reminder of this year's most skewed coverage of the conflict, peruse the HonestReporting archives. Then submit your nomination for the 2003 Dishonest Reporting "Award," to be announced in mid-December.


Saturday, November 29 2003

Guardian Columnist Quits

Regular HonestReporting readers are familiar with our critiques of London's Guardian -- one of the most virulently anti-Israel publications around. Guardian columnist Julie Burchill has published an open letter, explaining that she is leaving the Guardian because its anti-semitism (a "dirty little secret masquerading as a moral stance") has simply gone overboard:

[I]f there is one issue that has made me feel less loyal to my newspaper over the past year, it has been what I, as a non-Jew, perceive to be a quite striking bias against the state of Israel. Which, for all its faults, is the only country in that barren region that you or I, or any feminist, atheist, homosexual or trade unionist, could bear to live under.

I find this hard to accept because, crucially, I don't swallow the modern liberal line that anti-Zionism is entirely different from anti-semitism; the first good, the other bad...If you take into account the theory that Jews are responsible for everything nasty in the history of the world, and also the recent EU survey that found 60% of Europeans believe Israel is the biggest threat to peace in the world today (hmm, I must have missed all those rabbis telling their flocks to go out with bombs strapped to their bodies and blow up the nearest mosque), it's a short jump to reckoning that it was obviously a bloody good thing that the Nazis got rid of six million of the buggers. Perhaps this is why sales of Mein Kampf are so buoyant, from the Middle Eastern bazaars unto the Edgware Road, and why The Protocols of The Elders of Zion could be found for sale at the recent Anti-racism Congress in Durban.

Read the whole article.

UPDATE: The Guardian had another article as well today about how anti-Zionism is often thinly veiled anti-semitism, by an Oxford scholar named Emanuele Ottolenghi. Read it here.


Friday, November 28 2003

Arutz Sheva Accused of Incitement

The Israeli Attorney General has instructed the police to launch an investigation against Arutz-7's internet site for incitement to political violence. This is the article that raised the complaint of MK Zahava Gal'on (Meretz) - an op-ed piece by Gil Ronen that called for a popular movement to encourage Palestinians to flee over the Jordan river. This section in particular was cited by Gal'on as incitement:

Transfer is “cold” expulsion. What we need to set in motion is a more hot-blooded version of this: something that is obviously the result of great rage, a temporarily semi-crazed state of a tortured nation that simply cannot bear to suffer any longer. The only way to throw the Palestinians out is to be as crazy as they are – almost...Unlike the Palestinian’s mass madness, which is purposely created by brainwashing from above, our “craziness” will be a temporary state that we enter into deliberately, and it will not be suicidal in nature. The only ones getting killed will be the Palestinians, and whoever doesn’t want to die will have to run.

Arutz 7 responds to the accusation:

Though Arutz-7 does not endorse the opinions it publishes in its op-ed section, it should be noted that the sentence in question was taken out of context, and does not incite to murder. In fact, the author, Gil Ronen, writes in the article, "no one will have to take the law into his own hands."

This raises a whole host of issues, among them the legal relationship between a news outlet and its op-ed contributors, and defining prosecutable incitement. But one thing's for certain: if such standards were applied to the Palestinian press, every PA-sponsored newspaper would have been shut down long ago.

On Eliminating Terrorist Leaders

Earlier this week, NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd presented a position that's often conveyed in news reports on Israel's anti-terror effort: the elimination of terrorist leaders actually worsens the terrorist threat, since it breeds more members of terrorist organizations.

Military analyst Elliot Chodoff has a response to Dowd:

Two points need to be emphasized: first, that it is perfectly legitimate to target, hunt and eliminate terrorists, leaders and followers alike. Second, that the policy is an effective component in an overall strategy of fighting terrorism...True, eliminating terrorist leaders will bring new ones to the fore. But the new ones will certainly be less experienced than those they replace, and with a rapid enough turnover surviving the experience will become their primary if not exclusive goal...The war against terrorists is going to be long and drawn out. More pressure on them, not less, is the only way to shorten it and reduce the number of the inevitable innocent casualties that will be sustained while it lasts.
Worth Reading Today

* Charles Krauthammer on the Geneva Agreement:

On the Palestinian side, the negotiator is former information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, who at least is said to have Yasser Arafat's ear. The Israeli side, however, is led by Yossi Beilin, a man whose political standing in his own country is so low that he failed to make it into Parliament. After helping bring his Labor Party to ruin, Beilin abandoned it for the far-left Meretz Party, which then did so badly in the last election that Beilin is now a private citizen...

This is scandalous. Israel is a democracy, and this agreement was negotiated in defiance of the democratically (and overwhelmingly) elected government of Israel. If a private U.S. citizen negotiated a treaty on his own, he could go to jail under the Logan Act. If an Israeli does it, he gets a pat on the back from the secretary of state.

* Israel was forced to withdraw its UN resolution calling for the protection of Israeli children from terrorism.

* Caroline Glick weighs in on Netanyahu's economic plan, arguing that "peace is required to bring economic prosperity" is a falsity perpetuated by the Israeli left:

Netanyahu is doing yeoman's work in convincing us to reject the Labor party's lies about our economic impotence. But these positive changes cannot stand on their own. Until we free ourselves of the canard that we cannot remain a Jewish democracy unless we enable the establishment of a terror state that will undermine both, our leaders will continue to delude themselves, and most of us, that fences and unilateral surrenders will save our lives and our state.

* Yoel Esteron on Tony Judt's outrageous New York Review of Books article last month (where Judt claimed the State of Israel is an "anachronism").

* Bret Stephens on Turkey and "the real Mideast mystery" -- "Is Islamic religious radicalism separable from terrorism, practically speaking?"


Thursday, November 27 2003

The Future of Video News?

MSN has a beta version up of its choose-your-own-news video service. (requires a broadband connection, registration, Windows Media Player 9.0, and watching a 30 sec. ad)

The idea: you select what news items you want to view, then only receive those (bye-bye Michael Jackson updates). Sort of like a video blog. Perhaps in the not-so-distant future, we can select also what news outlet we want to see covering that story...

Right now, there's a mini-story there about the Israeli confiscation of dancing Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein dolls. The anchorwoman can't stop laughing at the gyrating terror duo long enough to finish her text!

Worth Reading Today

FoxNews has background on Israeli doctors working to save the life of an Iraqi baby who was born with a congenital heart defect, and the fine Israeli charity that made this possible.

William Safire critiques the newfangled peace proposals, concluding that movement toward peace "will [only] have meaning when the Palestinian majority takes charge of its enemy within."

Israel's ambassador to the US, Danny Ayalon, was in Denver and was interviewed by the Rocky Mt. News editorial staff. Good questions, good answers.

The LA Times reports on an activist who brought a blown-up Egged Bus to the U.S. and plans to take it around North America as part of an anti-terror campaign.

The Boston Globe gave Israeli consul general Meir Shlomo op-ed space to write about the security fence. Shlomo has a refreshing, plain sense style:

IT TAKES about 10 minutes to walk from Coolidge Corner in Brookline to Kenmore Square in Boston. Why is this important? Because it takes the same amount of time for a Palestinian terrorist to walk from Kalkilya in the West Bank to Kfar Saba in Israel. Nothing can stop one from walking from Brookline to Boston; so too, nothing can stop a Palestinian terrorist from walking from the West Bank to Israel. Unfortunately, it's as easy as it sounds.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution gave op-ed space to Avraham Burg, who literally begs President Bush to take a more active role in the peace process.

BBC reports that Iraq has banned the Al-Arabiya network because its reports incite violence against US troops.

The Montreal Gazette published a commentary by a Canadian-Ukrainian community official who pours scorn on the Pulitzer committee, which recently decided that Walter Duranty's 1932 Pulitzer stands.

Duranty knew but didn't care that millions were deliberately starved. This Pulitzer committee didn't care either. Instead they worried over setting a precedent that might require reviewing whether other awards were as ill-deserved as Duranty's.
Are there more like him in the ranks of the Pulitzer winners? And what would be wrong with establishing such a model? If Joseph Goebbels had secured a Pulitzer in 1932 for eloquent prose about the New Order in Europe, does anyone believe his prize would still stand? Why this reluctance to do what's right?

The LA Times has a similar opinion piece, decrying modern-day "Durantyism" among dictator-friendly reporters.

NY Times picked up on the Indiana CANDLES (Holocaust museum) rebuilding effort.


Wednesday, November 26 2003

Evolution of an Outrage

In 1819, Francesco de Goya painted the grotesque "Saturn Devouring One of His Children" :

In January, 2003 editorial cartoonist Dave Brown of Britain's Independent penned this horrible allusion to the Goya painting, with Ariel Sharon eating a Palestinian child:

The Brown cartoon was then adopted by radical Islamic groups in India this summer as part of their vicious anti-America and anti-Israel campaign:

And now...the UK's Political Cartoon Society has given the Brown cartoon first prize in its annual "Cartoon of the Year" competition, winning out over 34 other entries!

From the pages of a paper, to the global political realm, to professional approbation - has the "Demonize Israel" campaign gotten so out of hand?!

Contact the Political Cartoon Society here.

UPDATE: Here's Israel's real attitude toward Arab babies: "A week-old Iraqi infant has arrived in Israel to undergo an operation to correct a congenital heart defect," the Associated Press reports. An Israeli organization called Save a Child's Heart brought Bayan Jassem to the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, south of Tel Aviv, whose director, Moshe Mashiah, came to Israel as a refugee from Iraq in 1951.

UPDATE: The founder of the Political Cartoon Society has written to us with this statement:

You have all taken this award completely out of perspective and context. Shame on you! We do so much good. If only you looked at our website properly you would have noticed that in fact we promote anti-facism and educate about the dangers of extremism.

Dr Tim Benson
Founder PCS

It's hard to learn anything from the PCS site (it's poorly done), but let's assume Dr. Benson is right and the organization has done "so much good" to fight facism. If so, we have here a prime example of how the European left has warped its moral compass when it comes to Israel, falsely ascribing to Israeli democracy the most horrific characteristics of totalitarianism, while downplaying the greatest threat to all liberal societies today: radical Islam.


Tuesday, November 25 2003

Palestinian Pez

These toy hand grenades were on sale yesterday in Gaza, to share with kids on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr:

Just the latest from a culture that encourages children to blow themselves up. Where are the media reports on this terrible form of child abuse?

UPDATE: StrategyPage has a picture of another Gaza toy:

Does it give Americans pause when their tax dollars fund the PA, which is doing nothing to discourage this?

UPDATE: Some of these dolls have been confiscated by the Israeli authorities.

Sheik Yassin Interview

Blogger Stefan Sharkansky translated an interview that the German paper Die Welt did with Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the Hamas head who is often referred to in the press as Hamas' "spiritual leader." (The original report in German is here.)

We've copied the translated interview and Sharkansky's commentary below. One lowlight: Sheik Yassin hadn't even heard about last week's terror attacks in Istanbul.

Continue reading "Sheik Yassin Interview"

From the Wild File

The Independent has a follow up on Yvonne Ridley -- the UK reporter held hostage by the Taliban, who then converted to Islam and subsequently was hired and fired by the terrorist-friendly Al-Jazeera network. Ridley hasn't received an exit visa to leave Dubai. The Independent's spin is that the US objected to Ridley's coverage for Al-Jazeera, somehow pressured al-Jazeera to fire her, and now won't let her go.

Is the Independent following Ridley's lead, right off the deep end?


Monday, November 24 2003

al-Qaeda in Gaza

Elizabeth Sullivan at the Cleveland Plain Dealer on the "Bin Ladenization of the Palestinian cause":

A tightly organized militant faction tied to al-Qaida could gain leverage by offering its terrorist services to radical Palestinian aspirants for power. That in turn could push Hamas in an even more extremist direction, toppling an older wing now looking for a more mainstream political status by cooperating with Arafat and signing cease-fire deals.

The further radicalization of the [Gaza] Strip would shatter hopes of a Middle East peace deal by making it unlikely Palestinians will ever do the minimum required to rein in terrorist groups.

It is this very political radicalization that al-Qaida seeks as it spreads its tentacles into sensitive crevasses of the region.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are already fueled by radical Islam, and already see themselves in the context of a global movement to overthrow the "infidels." From the Hamas charter:

Article Seven: The Universality of Hamas By virtue of the distribution of Muslims, who pursue the cause of the Hamas, all over the globe, and strive for its victory, for the reinforcement of its positions and for the encouragement of its Jihad, the Movement is a universal one. It is apt to be that due to the clarity of its thinking, the nobility of its purpose and the loftiness of its objectives. It is in this light that the Movement has to be regarded, evaluated and acknowledged. Whoever denigrates its worth, or avoids supporting it, or is so blind as to dismiss its role, is challenging Fate itself.

But Sullivan is right that the universalist dimension of Hamas et al is a growing concern. Given this, the media effort to separate Israel's anti-terror struggle from the rest of the civilized world's is artificial. This is a point we made in our last communique. The problem is when the media then turn the whole thing on its head and blame Israel for the global Islamist jihad against western civilization.

The al-Qaeda/Hamas link is real - and Israeli policy has nothing to do with it.

Asserson vs. BBC

J Post has an article on the BBC's unprecedented appointment of a "Middle East policeman" to oversee their own coverage of the region. The author gives justified credit to British lawyer Trevor Asserson and the Daily Telegraph, whose work in documenting BBC bias has been important, but doesn't mention the central role of HonestReporting and other organizational media monitors in pressuring the Beeb to get their act together in Mideast coverage.

As we've noted recently, the jury's still out on the BBC. One appointment does not objectivity make. Stay informed by subscribing to receive HonestReporting communiques: just go to the HR homepage.


Sunday, November 23 2003

This Just In

From The Christian Science Monitor on Friday:

There is a pattern emerging, say some experts, that indicates the terror group [al Qaeda] is determined to wage a sort of world war.

You don't say?

Truth is, most media outlets (and their "experts") have simply refused until now to accept the scope of the self-proclaimed jihad against the West. By returning ad nasueum to the questions "What did Israel do to cause this?" and "What did America do to make them so upset?", they're simply turning a blind eye to what the jihadists themselves are saying - their enemy is not Israel or America, it's Western civilization.

Did we really need Istanbul to know this?

Ted Rall's "At Home" with Terrorists

In our communique on Thursday, we addressed the troubling trend of blaming Israeli policy for the entire Islamist war on Western civilization. Here's yet another example:

In response to President Bush's Tuesday speech at Whitehall, syndicated editorial cartoonist Ted Rall had this offering, blaming checkpoints and poverty for Muslim terrorism:

Note that while Bush's speech addressed the phenomenon of global Islamic terrorism, Rall insists on a) locating the problem in Israel, and b) blaming Israeli policy.

And regarding the "substance" of Rall's claims...

OCCUPATION: Palestinian terrorism far predates the 1967 war, and terrorist groups make it abundantly clear that their goal is not the elimination of the Israeli presence in their midst, but the elimination of Israel, period (see the Palestinian National Charter, and the Hamas Charter).

CHECKPOINTS: The necessity for checkpoints has been created by the Palestinians. By pursuing a violent campaign of terror against Israel’s citizens, they have forced Israel to set up barriers to make it as difficult as possible for terrorists to enter Israel or travel through the territories to carry out acts of violence. The checkpoints are an inconvenience to innocent Palestinians, but they do in fact prevent terror and save lives.

Commercial goods, food, medicine, ambulances, and medical crews continue to circulate freely, hampered only by continuing attacks. Palestinian workers going to jobs in Israel also may pass through the checkpoints with the proper identification; restrictions are only imposed when necessitated by the security situation.

Barriers are not set up to humiliate Palestinians, but to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens. Unfortunately, every time Israel has relaxed its policy and withdrawn checkpoints, Palestinian terrorists have taken advantage of the opportunity to launch new attacks on innocent Israelis. (from MaF)

And why the thoroughness of the checkpoints (which slows things down)? One recent example: on October 14, a Palestinian woman was arrested at the Hizma checkpoint north of Jerusalem after they found a knife and gun hidden in a baby stroller she was traveling with.

PALESTINIAN POVERTY: While the blaming of Israel for Palestinian poverty was always absurd, it reaches new heights of absurdity at a time when massive PA financial corruption (see this and this) is increasingly exposed. And whoever's responsible for the poverty, that's not what causes terror anyway.

But there's something else here, from the fourth frame of the cartoon:

- Rall's refusal to accept the idea that freedom (as defined by Bush) really does scare "Joe Terrorist." It scared Stalin, it scared Hitler, it scared Saddam Hussein, and it scares Hamas and al Qaeda, because democratic reform in the Muslim world means their twisted brand of Islam cannot thrive.

- Rall's refusal to accept that there really is a culture of glamorizing suicide bombing among Palestinians, telling them that "terror rocks." Children are encouraged to become shahiddim, leaders regularly call for terrorist jihad, and terrorists become national heroes.

It seems that no matter how many attacks or facts you line up for some media personalities, they simply can't accept the monstrosity of Muslim fundamentalist terror. There's always that effort to "understand their grievences," which inevitably leads to blaming the victims for horrific terror. Wake up folks - we are dealing with a different culture here, with different definitions of values and meaning of life.

Did the Rall cartoon run in your local paper? If so, write a letter that raises the points above.


Friday, November 21 2003

Invading Israel

Gerald Kaufman at the Spectator (UK) has an outrageous screed suggesting (half-seriously?) that the US should invade Israel, now that it's done with Iraq.

This is the villification campaign, in a thousand words or less.

Comments to:


Thursday, November 20 2003

Friedman Parody

Allahpundit has taken a timeout from parodying an Islamist whacko to parody Tom Friedman's last few columns (which were particularly bad - find them here, here, and an old "classic" here). Don't miss this.


Wednesday, November 19 2003

BackSpin's Place in the Orchestra

A worthwhile article from Annenberg's Online Journalism Review on the internet's effect on media criticism includes this apt remark by William Powers, media critic for the National Journal:

Media critics all do the job so differently that I honestly don't think of us as competitors. Some operate more as reporters, some as pundits, some as ideo-warriors, some as gossips, some as pure ranters. It's like we're a bunch of musicians reading the same sheet of music, the media, but interpreting it with different instruments and in radically different styles.

As members of that orchestra, it's about time we at BackSpin define our instrument. Look for something more polished on our "About" page sometime soon, but for the time being here's the skinny on this relatively new blog: BackSpin is an outgrowth of, the leading monitor of anti-Israel bias in world media, with over 60,000 subscribers. HonestReporting releases 1-2 email articles a week and encourages activism to promote fair reporting. BackSpin aims to address topics that don't make their way into those HR articles, and supplement the articles themselves with additional information that emerges after they're published.

So our focus is the Mideast conflict between Israel and the Palestinians (not that other one happening a few hundred miles to the East), and our overarching concern will remain the fair portrayal of Israel in world media. We believe there exists a chronic and near-ubiquitous problem of anti-Israel media bias, and that that bias is both morally wrong and deleterious to the welfare of the state of Israel. Since one of the key problems is a lack of presentation of the full context of the conflict, we occasionally present backgrounders that go beyond critiquing particular news articles to explore under-reported aspects of the conflict (like Arafat's corruption). BackSpin is an additional forum for this background info.

BackSpin is anchored to HonestReporting, but we'll take advantage of the blog form to sail around a bit. (That's a musical and nautical metaphor in one posting.) Please comment often, and send us your feedback on this blog's contents regularly.

A Slight Error

The Cleveland Plain Dealer issued this today, which Taranto calls "The Best Correction Ever":

Because of an editing error, a story on the front page yesterday misattributed a quote from the speaker on an audiotape purportedly of Saddam Hussein as coming from Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota. It was the speaker on the tape, not Daschle, who said, "The evil ones now find themselves in crisis, and this is God's will for them." The only solution for Iraq was for "the zealous Iraqi sons, who ran its affairs and brought it out of backwardness . . . to return . . . to run its affairs anew," the speaker on the tape said, referring to the Baath leadership.

Once you stop laughing, you realize this demonstrates how precarious news reporting can be.


Tuesday, November 18 2003

Excessive the NY Times?

An Iraqi blogger posts a letter from an Iraqi property owner to NY Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger about harassment and property seizure at the hands of guards employed by the Times in Baghdad:

My family has a property in the green zone in down town Baghdad on Abi-Nuas street. The New York Times rents the adjacent property. For several weeks now my brother Ali Al Ali has been denied automobile access to our property by security guards. Until two days ago we thought this was a coalition security measure. Now we known these guards are not coalition personal but are instead the private security force employed by your news paper.

The family property has two store fronts. Yesterday (Saturday November 15, 2003) my brother and two hired men were in one of the stores installing shelves. My brother lost his livelihood in the war and needs to open this store to make a living. His efforts were interrupted by several of the security guards employed by your paper. He was knocked roughly to the floor and threatened. Your guards pointed there AK-47 rifles and my brother and his work men and told them they would be shot if they did not leave immediately.

I feel sure if learned the United States Army was responsible an incident such as this you would feel obligated to publish the story and condemn the act.

In this his case I respectfully suggest you have an obligation to do somewhat more.

The author hasn't had any response from the Times, and asks readers to join him in sending copies of the letter. If you'd like to do so, the email is

Arafat vs. LeBron

The latest report from the Palestinian Authority Finance Ministry indicates that Yassir Arafat personally received nearly 10% of the total PA budget for September. That's 10% of $90 million, or $300,000 a day.

Let's see how Arafat stacks up against NBA super-rookie LeBron James in daily earnings:

Yassir Arafat, Palestinian Authority - $300,000/day
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers and Nike - $46,000/day

Arafat's outearning LeBron 6 to 1 (and we suspect he's not paying income tax).
The Nobel Laureate "revolutionary leader" of the Palestinian people doesn't have a $90 million sneaker deal, but he does have financiers who are finally starting to wonder.


Monday, November 17 2003

Monitoring Down Under

An enterprising group of Australian media monitors has released a very thorough study that exposes the anti-Israel bias of The Age, Melbourne's largest daily paper.

HonestReporting is hosting the report on our site: click here to see it (in .pdf format), but be aware that it takes awhile to download.

This is a model in local activism - a very convincing, well documented case that is now being presented to the editors of The Age. Critiques of individual articles are often brushed off as limited in scope, but this is a long-term study whose conclusions can't be denied. We'll keep you updated when we hear the editors' response.


Sunday, November 16 2003

Reuters' "Scare" "Quotes"

Each of the following two lines began Nov. 15 Reuters articles. Note which one gets scare quotes, distancing the news agency from the statement from the very start of the article:

From Many Britons Think Bush is Stupid :

More than one in three Britons think George W. Bush is stupid and a majority branded the U.S. president a threat to world peace, opinion poll results published have shown .

From Israel Denounces Blasts at Istanbul Synogogues :

Israel denounced blasts at Istanbul synagogues that killed at least 20 people on Saturday as "terrorist attacks" and said it was confident Turkey would find those responsible.


Alan Jacobs on scare quotes:

Scare quotes have two functions, the first of which is quite straightforward: They allow their users very easily to express incredulity about, and often contempt for, the views of their political opponents. But they also allow those users to avoid the hard work of thinking up their own descriptions of events or people or ideas. And they're parasitic: They suck all their nourishment from the host words, contributing nothing of their own.

Comments to:

PA Financiers Starting to Wonder

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that an important meeting of international Palestinian Authority donors has been postponed because of the latest corruption charges raised by the BBC and 60 Minutes and a "damning International Monetary Fund report published in September." The meeting was supposed to take place on Wednesday in Rome.

This organization - the "Ad Hoc Liaison Committee" - is the main funding channel for international support for the PA, authorizing over $2 billion transferred from world taxpayers in recent years.

Pressure applied by media monitors certainly played a part in the BBC and CBS revelations, so this is a great example of how media activists can directly affect the political scene, and for the better.


Saturday, November 15 2003

Reuters Still Omits Terror in Israel

In the HR communique of Nov. 12, we indicated that both AP and Reuters omitted attacks in Israel when compiling lists of recent terror attacks around the world.

Reuters released an updated list today, to accompany reports on the terrible attacks in Istanbul. CNN is running the Reuters list.
Still no Israel.
But once again, if Jews were killed outside of Israel, that merits entry to the list. An explanation from the London wire agency is in order.

Comments to:

UPDATE: CNN removed the Reuters list. But as LGF indicates, it's still (broken) linked from CNN's Mideast main page.


Thursday, November 13 2003

The Pendulum Swings

As any observer knows by now, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict swings back and forth like a pendulum:

Palestinian terrorist groups and the PA talk peace; the IDF lowers its guard. The terrorists then launch a series of deadly attacks on Israeli civilians; the IDF applies pressure on the terrorists, re-entering Palestinian cities. PA leaders then call for "new talks" and the terrorist leaders (feeling the heat) become willing to enter an internal Palestinian "ceasefire."

The pendulum has been swinging back and forth for some time now, with Israel and the US's fundamental demand to uproot the terrorist infrastructure still unfulfilled (that's what would end its perpetual motion). Yesterday marked a swing back to the "peace talk" side, when Arafat made some conciliatory remarks before the Palestinian parliament, and Hamas and Islamic Jihad began talking "hudna" again.

At this stage, the media generally enter a historical amnesia period and begin describing Israeli hesitancy to lower its anti-terror guard as unfairly "rebuffing" Palestinian gestures toward peace (Reuters said Arafat "extended an olive branch" yesterday). But given this well-established pattern, (and new revelations about PA funding of terror), that characterization by the media is simply unfair. Be on the lookout for it in your local coverage, and respond with the historical context that tends to disappear when the pendulum swings this-a-way.

Palestinian Media Mocks US Deaths

On a number of occasions, HonestReporting has noted the shocking anti-American content of the PA-run Palestinian media -- content that is almost never reported to Americans (see our latest critique on this matter).

Palestinian Media Watch now has an alert that the official Palestinian Authority daily has used the picture of a memorial to dead American soldiers in Iraq to mock the United States' dead.

At this difficult time for the US forces in Iraq, this is appalling, and it shows a definite alliance between the PA-backed paper and the Saddam-loyal terrorists wreaking havoc and spilling blood in Iraq.

Encourage your local paper to bring this to the attention of your community, so as to raise a healthy skepticism about today's media barrage regarding the PA's sudden interest in making peace. While Arafat is "reaching out in peace," his Palestinian population is reading this.


Wednesday, November 12 2003

CNN "Covers" the Debate

The HR Media Blunder of the Week is in:

CNN, while covering a debate of Democratic presidential candidates, planted a question in the hand of an audience member in order to make the debate appear more "lighthearted" to CNN's TV audience.

A relatively benign, yet telling, example of how the media influence even the most democratic forums.


Tuesday, November 11 2003

Winds of Change at BBC?

The Daily Telegraph is reporting that the BBC has appointed a "Middle East policeman" to oversee its coverage of the region amid mounting allegations of anti-Israeli bias.

The BBC denied that the appointment amounted to an admission that it had "got its coverage wrong" but conceded the corporation was sensitive to criticism.

A very positive sign, and a real victory for media monitors of the BBC. This, on the heels of the BBC's uncharacteristically honest report Friday on PA financing of terrorism.

Both the report and the decision to appoint the "senior editorial adviser" on Mideast coverage should be commended.

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UPDATE: Some HonestReporting subscribers have written us that we shouldn't be commending the Beeb for these developments. Why? Click on "Continue" below.

Continue reading "Winds of Change at BBC?"

Dershowitz on Europe Poll

Alan Dershowitz has a strong response to the poll that showed Europeans regard Israel as the greatest threat to world peace. An excerpt:

Sometimes a public opinion poll tells us more about those being polled than about the question at hand. This is such a case. Having been exposed for years to virulent anti-Israel media coverage and anti-Israel bias from their leaders, it is not surprising that so many Europeans have had their views poisoned.

Encourage your local paper to print the article on its op-ed page.


Monday, November 10 2003

Calling the Times

Donald Luskin reprints the account of a NY Times reader who was disturbed by an article and decided to just pick up the phone and call the reporter. It took two weeks, but the reporter actually called back, accepted the criticism as valid, and agreed to an ongoing correspondence. His summary and directions:

The lesson is: though not every reporter may take your calls seriously or even listen to them, some will. By staying on top of these reporters, Times readers send a message that they can see through the insidious bias that finds its way into straight "news reporting." The Times number is 212-556-1234. You will get a recording asking if you know the extension or name. Never mind the extension. Press 2 and you will be asked to state the first or last name of the party you're trying to reach, at which point you'll be switched to that party's extension. Likely you'll get a voice mail, where you can feel free to vent, keeping in mind that the more decorous your call, the more likely it will be taken seriously or even returned.

We at HonestReporting have always believed that the key to effective media critique is responding to the media outlet in one's own, concerned voice (as opposed to forwarding an HR communique -- don't do it!). Though sheer volume can't be ignored, a handful of carefully worded, cogent emails that express respect for the journalist can also open journalists' eyes to an inaccuracy or misrepresentation.

And if it's true for emails, all the more so for phone calls. Most journalists are conscientious people who really do want to get the story right. They'll take an articulate voice-mail seriously -- so let's use this avenue more often.


Sunday, November 9 2003

AP's Terror List Omits Israel

The Associated Press released a list of "Recent Terror Attacks Around the World" (since 1998).
Not one terror attack is Israel is mentioned (though AP does note the attack on the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Kenya). Why does AP go out of their way to avoid mention of Palestinian terrorism?

To correct the record: see Jacob Richman's memorial to Israeli terror victims.

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UPDATE: Reuters released a similar list on 11/9, and it also completely omits terrorism that occurred in Israel.


Saturday, November 8 2003

Arafat's Embezzlement and Funding of Terror

Attention American readers -- Haaretz is reporting that CBS's "60 Minutes" will report this Sunday night that "Arafat transfers $100,000 a month from funds directed to the Palestinian Authority to his wife Suha," who lives the good life in Paris. "According to the report, Arafat has accumulated in his private accounts more than $800 million from aid originally appropriated to the Palestinian authority."

And how about this: A BBC investigation found that the Arafat-led PA is funding the terrorist al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigade to the tune of $50,000 a month. The al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigade has admitted to at least 13 suicide bombings against Israeli citizens in the past three years.

Be sure to catch the 60 Minutes program, and express your concern to your elected officials that American funds continue to flow to Arafat's corrupt, terror-enabling PA.

UPDATE: Here's a transcript of the 60 Minutes program.


Thursday, November 6 2003

Media Can't Ignore Us

In response to a public outcry, CBS decided not to air its TV program "The Reagans" on the national network. Terry Teachout identifies two important developments that this successful media protest effort brings to light. The first is "the megaphone effect":

Boycotts of Big Media have always been feasible in theory. (Newspapers, in case you didn't know, take cancel-my-subscription-you-bastards letters very seriously—if they get enough of them.) In practice, though, they rarely worked, because it was too difficult to mobilize large-scale support quickly enough. No more.

What's true for conservative web sites and blogs is also true for HonestReporting, where 60,000 subscribers are instantly alerted to anti-Israel media bias, and respond en masse to the news agencies. Megaphone indeed. Then there's the effect:

Five years ago, opponents of The Reagans would have failed to sway CBS because of their inability to make enough noise. The network would have taken the "high road" and stared them down, and been praised for its courage by other Big Media outlets. And if it were only a matter of noise, CBS would have done the same thing today...but it isn’t. Today, CBS is fighting for its corporate life. So are NBC, ABC, Time...They can’t afford to ignore the noise anymore, no matter which side of the political fence it comes from. And they won’t.

When an HonestReporting communique causes thousands of people to write concerned emails to media outlets, believe us, they're listening and we are making a difference.


Wednesday, November 5 2003

What Tourists Fear

Why are less people coming to visit Israel these days? They're afraid of getting attacked by Palestinian terrorists, of course.

The UK's Independent manages to twist even this fact around:

The costly military response [to Palestinian terror], led by the Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, has severely damaged tourism and investment in Israel.

The IDF, the Independent suggests, is more responsible for the drop in Israeli tourism than are Hamas and Islamic Jihad!

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Salt Lake Slant

The Salt Lake Tribune ran a staff-ed expressing opposition to the Israeli security fence. Why? "The fence undermines the whole notion of land for peace."

It is remarkable that a respectable paper could make such a statement without even mentioning the utter failure of the Oslo Accords, which were based on the land-for-peace principle, and ended in a three-year campaign of terror against Israeli citizens.

The editorial goes on to refer to all of the Israeli communities in the West Bank as "outposts." Does this (city of Ariel, pop. 17,000) look to Tribune editors like an "outpost"?

The term "outpost" suggests impermanance --rashly-assembled extentions of existing towns. But most Israeli towns over the Green Line (such as Ariel) do not fit this description. The Tribune has misled its readers by framing the debate over the status of the West Bank in wholly inaccurate terms.

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Tuesday, November 4 2003

Ethics of Photojournalism

Our communique on an oddly distorted AFP photo and caption is now posted and available on the HonestReporting site.

Poynter, the journalists' site, has a list of different papers' standards for photojournalist ethics. Here are guidelines from the New York Times, Washington Post, and AP.

All of these documents demand photojournalists refrain from distorting their photos to achieve a certain effect, such as exaggerating a destructive scene.

UPDATE: Our original communique described the lens used by the photographer in the distorted picture as a "fisheye" (extreme wide-angle) lens. That was incorrect -- the lens was probably a medium wide-angle. The communique on the HonestReporting site has been updated with this correction.


Monday, November 3 2003

Reuters Editorializing

Reuters reports that Israel reinstated 15,000 Palestinian work permits today. The reporter includes this comment:

150,000 Palestinians [previously] made a living in Israel, so Sunday's restoration of 15,000 Israeli work permits is still only a drop in the ocean.

No, a drop in the ocean would be one work permit. 15,000 is fully 10%, and a risky loosening of anti-terror policy. Even the Palestinian official quoted by Reuters called it "an important step."

This is an ostensibly objective news report -- how does Reuters justify such blatant editorializing by the journalist, Shahdi al-Kashif, who seems to take a more anti-Israel line than the Palestinians he reports on?

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Sunday, November 2 2003

Film on Israeli Terror Victims Refused Airtime

Television Week reports on a new documentary film on Israeli victims of Arab terrorism, named "No Safe Place." Though the film is now complete, its LA-based producers haven't suceeded in getting it aired anywhere in the U.S. because the documentary doesn't portray Palestinian victims. Hollywood star Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier") donated his time to narrate the film and calls the repeated rejections "political correctness run amok."

Palestinian suffering makes the news nearly every day, and is rarely balanced by displays of Israeli pain. So someone finally devotes a film to Israeli suffering...and it's rejected for being unbalanced!

Get involved to make sure this important film is aired in your area. Contact the film's producers at the Jewish Television Network (, and plan a joint pitch to your local cable station.


Saturday, November 1 2003

Poll of European Opinion on Israel

What's the result of years of European media coverage villifying Israel?

Almost 60 percent of Europeans say that Israel is a larger threat to world peace than North Korea, Iran or Afghanistan, according to a poll scheduled to be made public Monday by the European Commission...The result is from a survey of about 7,500 people across the European Union...

Israel was rated first when pollsters presented a list of 15 countries and asked: "Tell me if in your opinion it presents or not a threat to peace in the world." Fifty-nine percent of Europeans chose Israel...El Pais, the Spanish daily newspaper, said in an article Thursday that the Dutch, Austrians and Luxembourgers were most likely to see Israel as a "threat in the world".

Israel more dangerous than Iran! This article ran prominently in Friday's International Herald Tribune. AFP reported the response of the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center:

This poll is an indication that Europeans have bought in, 'hook, line and sinker,' to the vilification and demonization campaign directed against the State of Israel and her supporters by European leaders and media.

Absolutely. But why wouldn't they? If your local paper has waiting for you every morning another front page account of inexplicable Israeli "atrocities" (and you don't know any better), of course Israel would seem horribly threatening to world peace.

English-language activists must redouble our efforts against UK anti-Israel bias, and encourage local efforts on the Continent. It's an uphill battle in Europe, but the truth demands to be heard.

UPDATE: The president of the European Commission, Roman Prodi, said the poll results "point to the continued existence of a bias that must be condemned out of hand," and "to the extent that this may indicate a deeper, more general prejudice against the Jewish world, our repugnance is even more radical."


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