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Media Backspin
« January 2004 | Main | March 2004 »

Sunday, February 29 2004

We're Back Up!

The blog has been down, due to technical difficulties, since Wednesday.

We're still working out some kinks, but we're essentially back in action.

Apologies to our regular readers!

Job-Hunting Journalists

This just in from AP:

In other developments, Palestinian gunmen in black ski masks burst into a Gaza office of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corp. on Saturday and demanded work, a day after the mayor of the West Bank's largest city resigned to protest Yasser Arafat's failure to stop such violence.

But did they bring references?


Wednesday, February 25 2004

Photo Essay from The Hague

Carrie Devorah, a photojournalist in Washington DC, and the sister of Chezi Goldberg who was murdered in the Jan. 29th Jerusalem bus bombing, went to The Hague to document the security fence hearings.

A short photo essay is available for viewing on the HonestReporting website.

Europe Funds Palestinian Propaganda

IMRA notes that the salaries of the top two lawyers directing Palestinian propaganda effort in The Hague are funded by British and Swedish taxpayers.

The European Institute for Research on the Middle East has completed a study of the Palestinian Negotiations Support Unit, created in 1998 and funded by British and other governments, for technical assistance in its preparations for permanent status talks. The NSU is officially part of the PLO and therefore under the direct control of Arafat. After the collapse of the Oslo framework and negotiations, the NSU has continued to operate, primarily as an information and propaganda arm of the Palestinian Authority.

One of the lawyers, Diane Butto, told the Christian Science Monitor that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is "a battle over language sometimes more than over anything else." True enough, but should European taxpayers have to continue funding the Palestinian battle?


Tuesday, February 24 2004

Al-Jazeera Expands

Al-Jazeera, long criticized by the US government and the subject of a recent HonestReporting critique, is expanding to offer English language broadcasts, among other new services. Last year, efforts to bring the the Qatar-based news service to Canada met stiff resistance. The English language broadcasts begin in May. No word yet if any Western cable or satellite TV companies have expressed interest.


Monday, February 23 2004

More Scandanavian 'creativity'

First, there was the Swedish 'Art' Outrage. Now, from Norway:

The owner of an art gallery in Oslo has removed a painting from an exhibit aimed at fighting anti-Semitism, after the Israeli ambassador in Norway complained about the swastika in the words "Israel" and "USA":

The artist, Chris Reddy, is "furious":

He defends his painting...Reddy countered that it's "alarming" the ambassador "is using the fascists' own tool: censorship." He claims his art challenged the most important source of conflict in the world, nationalism, adding that "totalitarian and exteme regimes can't tolerate criticism."... He has called himself a "political artist," whose work was once described in newspaper Dagsavisen as a cross between "cartooning, graffiti and Picasso."

Picasso? To our eyes, it just looks disturbingly close to this, from a rally in San Francisco last year:

Some responses from the blogosphere:

Continue reading "More Scandanavian 'creativity'"

Noam Chomsky in NY Times

The New York Times today grants MIT radical Noam Chomsky op-ed space for a characteristic screed against Israel and the security fence.

The heart of Chomsky's attack is a comparison to apartheid South Africa. The security fence, he claims, will

turn Palestinian communities into dungeons, next to which the bantustans of South Africa look like symbols of freedom, sovereignty and self-determination.

For a rejoinder to this outrageous claim, see the HonestReporting communique: Not an 'Apartheid Wall'

And see Mortimer Zuckerman's fine column today:

The Palestinians and their leaders in the Arab world--who created the whole tragedy by waging a war of extermination in the first place, second place, and third place--have shown no willingness to accept Israel, no matter what concessions are offered. The vast majority of Israelis, and now their leaders, find the moral, financial, and political burden bearable no longer. Conflict management, not conflict resolution, is the only real option. The security fence is intended to provide a defensible and stable border.

Reuters' Lead Photo

On the Reuters site today, in coverage of the Jerusalem suicide bombing, their lead photo was...of the terrorist's mourning family!! :

Wash Post Ombud on Jerusalem Article

Last week the Washington Post published a very long and extensively-illustrated article criticizing Israeli policy on Jerusalem: "Israel Hems in a Sacred City".

The Wash Post ombudsman responds to criticism of the article today:

[Local Jewish leader David] Bernstein says, among other points, that the article "makes scant reference to the suicide terrorism that has shaken Israeli society to its core and necessitated the building of the fence."

Foreign Editor David Hoffman, in his written answers to Bernstein about this and other points, says that The Post has devoted many stories to the toll taken by violence and that this story is not only about the security fence but about the ring of settlements, roads and walls surrounding Jerusalem that stretch back decades. To me, that, indeed, is the value of this story.

But my own view is that an article of this length and effort should have reminded readers that 23 suicide bombings in Jerusalem in the past three years have killed at least 163 people, not including the bombers, and wounded 1,200 others, as Anderson himself reported on Jan. 30.


Sunday, February 22 2004

New communique

We've just released a new communique on the media's tendency to downplay the close relationship between Fatah and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade. View it here.

To receive HonestReporting communiques the moment they're released, sign up above.

'Perspective' at Chicago Tribune

This morning's horrific suicide bombing on a Jerusalem bus certainly lends credence to the Israeli government's case that the security fence is valid and necessary.

But readers of the Chicago Tribune don't even hear that case. The Tribune has not one, but three different columns arguing against the fence, available to see now online:

-- Gary Fields calls the fence illegal and strongly implies that Israelis always intended to control the Palestinians however they could.

-- Marda Dunsky, a journalism professor, argues that Israeli occupation has converted Palestinian towns into prisons and turned Israeli public places into “cantons of fear."

-- And this one was written by the mayor of Qalqilyah.

Where are all of these columns located in the Tribune? The Perspectives section, of course.

Unfortunately, only one perspective is actually made available to Chicago Tribune readers.

Comments to:


Friday, February 20 2004

HR Canada on Globe & Mail

HonestReporting Canada has a new article on the (Toronto) Globe & Mail, taking a close look at the recent, skewed poll on the Globe & Mail website, and the paper's record on accuracy in terminology when covering the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Subscribe to HR Canada media alerts at


Thursday, February 19 2004

Jenny Tonge's debate with Hadassah Doc

The BBC's Radio 4 has available on their site a very powerful 30-minute debate between British MP Jenny Tonge (see this entry for more on Tonge) and a doctor at Jerusalem's Hadassah hospital.

The discussion gets to the heart of the matter of why Israelis -- and most of the world -- are so utterly appalled by Palestinian suicide bombings. Tonge's position, well, hear it for yourself.

Click here, then go to the section on the right side "The extended interview with Dr David Sangan, from the Hadassah Hospital."

Thoughts? Leave a comment, below.

Israel's Story in Maps

The Israeli Foreign Ministry seems to have invested in improving the quality of their online material. Wise move.

They have a very good site on the security fence, and now there's a Flash feature called Israel's Story in Maps. Check it out.

Rachel Corrie: 'Housing Defender'

The (Washington) Olympian reports that Rachel Corrie, the American 'activist' who died in a bulldozer accident last year while trying to protect Palestinian weapons-smuggling operations, has won a posthumous award from a "housing rights group":

On Monday evening, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions presented Corrie's parents with the first Housing Defender Award given by the group. . . . Previously, the group gave awards only to national governments.

Housing Defender? James Tarranto asks, "A man's weapons-smuggling tunnel is his castle?"

Margolis mocks WMD 'hysteria'

Toronto Sun columnist Eric Margolis -- no stranger to the pages of HonestReporting-- mocks the 'hysteria over weapons of mass destruction':

No terrorist group is likely to sneak enough chemical or biological material into the U.S. to cause more than localized damage. Attacks like those on the World Trade Center may be horrible, but they are not mass destruction. Even a small nuclear device would cause only limited destruction.

About 3000 people were killed or injured in the complete destruction of two skyscrapers. How many casualties would it take for Margolis to call an act of terror "mass destruction?"

We suspect Margolis' definition of mass destruction is on a level that only America -- or Israel -- could bring about.


Wednesday, February 18 2004

Billboard contest

BlueStar PR of San Francisco is organizing a contest to design a billboard that best illustrates Israel's positive, progressive policies and achievements. The winning design will be posted on billboards around the Bay Area and its designer will win a big Israel bond:

“The billboard will speak for Israel advocates – both Jewish and non-Jewish – who feel uncomfortable publicly voicing support for Israel,” said contest organizer Meirav Yaron. “We want to create an atmosphere of tolerance by making people aware that many of Israel’s policies mirror the Bay Area’s social values. After all, Israel is the only Middle Eastern country that shares the Bay Area’s progressive views on women’s rights, gay rights, the environment, and universal health care.”

Enter your design by Feb. 29.

And check out Blue Star's pro-Israel posters.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution readers should see this one of MLK Jr.


Tuesday, February 17 2004

Jenny Tonge in Israel

British MP Jenny Tonge was asked to leave Parliament last month after she said of Palestinian suicide bombers: "If I had to live in that situation - and I say that advisedly - I might just consider becoming one myself."

The enterprising BBC saw a great opportunity for a hire, so they sent Tonge to visit and report from Israel and the Palestinian areas. In her journalistic debut, Tonge files a choppy, strange and disturbing column today in BBC Online. In Bethlehem, Tonge goes to meet "some al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terrorists" and visits the home of a suicide bomber, where she remarks:

The stories of indoctrination of little children right through their schooldays didn't seem to apply here.

Did Tonge honestly believe that during her five minutes in a Palestinian living room she would hear an Arabic sermon calling for jihad against the Zionist entity?

Then there's the kicker:

It is certainly true that suicide bombers are regarded as national heroes here, but what else do they have - born out of despair and the desire to resist occupation, laced with religious belief.

Civilian targets are chosen because there is no way of getting at military targets.

Regarding the first point, we encourage Tonge to read Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook's recent article, Aspiration, Not Desperation, which debunks the myth of suicide bombers being motivated by economic or political "desperation."

And we're baffled by Tonge's second point -- that Palestinian suicide bombers choose civilian targets because they "can't reach" military targets. In fact, in order to reach Israeli civilian targets, the terrorists must somehow bypass the considerably easier military targets. Just last month in Gaza, a mother terrorist demonstrated how relatively easy it is to blow up a military checkpoint, when the IDF lowers its guard for humanitarian reasons.

Tonge is missing -- willfully or otherwise -- the most fundamental moral outrage of terrorism: the choice of innocent civilians as intentional targets for murder.

Does Tonge fail to understand just why her statement of "understanding" for suicide terror caused such a backlash -- and the loss of her own job?

UPDATE: Here are Tonge's BBC radio reports.


Monday, February 16 2004

Wash Post on Brown cartoon

The Washington Post has an article on Dave Brown's outrageous cartoon of Ariel Sharon eating Palestinian babies, and the growth of anti-Semitism in Europe:

Many British Jews reacted with revulsion, accusing Brown and the newspaper of anti-Semitism. Some said the drawing echoed the virulent Jew-hatred of cartoons that appeared in Nazi publications such as Der Stuermer before and during World War II, while the Israeli Embassy here contended it perpetuated the ancient "blood libel" that Jews prey on non-Jewish children.

But Brown and the Independent have stood their ground, insisting that the drawing represented fair criticism of a head of government. They claimed vindication after the state-run Press Complaints Commission dismissed a formal complaint from Sharon and the embassy, and again, more recently, when the illustration won the annual award for best drawing from the Political Cartoon Society.

Still, the cartoon remains at the center of a simmering debate in Britain and throughout Europe over the distinctions between anti-Sharon, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views.

After mentioning the role of HonestReporting and others who encouraged protest of the Brown cartoon, Brown himself chimes in:

"To me it was an obvious case of being a manufactured outrage," he said. "I've no doubt a large number of people willfully misinterpreted the cartoon."

'Willfully misinterpreted'?? What does that mean?

World Press Photos of Year

Every year World Press Photo invites press photographers and photojournalists throughout the world to participate in the prestigious World Press Photo Contest. This year's winners were just announced.

▪ First Prize, General News:

Jerry Lampen, Reuters -- Woman mourns her husband, Gaza

▪ First Prize, Spot News:

Ahmed Jadallah , Reuters -- Raid on Jabalya refugee camp

▪ Second Prize, General News:

Kai Wiedenhöfer Germany, Lookat Photos for NZZ/Newsweek/Greenpeace --
The Wall, Israeli Occupied Territories

Curiously enough, none of the 41 prize pictures on news items were of Israeli terror victims.

The photojournalistic community, as represented by World Press Photo, has apparently decided that only one side's suffering in this conflict meet their standard for meritorious photos:

All entries will be judged for their news value and for the creative skills of the photographer.

We have contacted World Press Photo to ask how many photos of Israelis were submitted for consideration. This entry will be updated when (and if) we get a reply.

Get active on security fence issue

Recently, North American opinion pages include op-ed's in favor or, or against, the Israeli security fence almost every day. The battle for popular opinion on the fence is at its height, so now is a great time for you to write to your local paper as well.

Here's a recent, very good opinion piece: Ilana Freedman in the (Boston area) Metrowest Daily News makes many of the same points we covered in our recent communiques 'Photo Op' and 'Not an Apartheid Fence':

Earlier this week, a photograph of a weeping Palestinian woman appeared in the international press. Standing in front of Israel's new separation wall, part of the barrier now being built around the West Bank, the photograph showed her with her hands covering her eyes. The wall behind her was adorned with graffiti in both Arabic and English. A truly heart-rending photograph, I thought. Until I saw a second photograph, taken from a different angle and further away. This photograph showed the same woman, surrounded by photographers, who were covering her tears from every position. Not surprisingly, no newspaper carried this photograph.

That is not to say that there isn't a great deal to cry about in a land that has been torn apart by a conflict that seems to have no end. But this was clearly a photo op, photojournalists creating news instead of reporting it. It was deceptive and inflammatory, and illustrated the worst of what too much of today's cynical journalism has to offer...

Language, like photographs, can have great power, and the emotional content of loaded symbols can lead opinion and shape history. "Apartheid Wall" conjures up ugly images of the old South Africa, where blacks were kept separate from the mainstream culture by a system of brutal laws and customs that kept them at the bottom of society. The "Berlin Wall," as Palestinians also call the Israeli project, is no less evocative, the highly emotional image of a city torn in half by a wall running through its heart. The labels are intended to inflame and evoke an emotional response that casts Israel deep into the role of tyrant and aggressor.

Now is a great time to draft your own op-ed, or even an succinct letter to the editor, supporting Israel's right to defend herself via the security fence against relentless Palestinian terror. For talking points, see the following HonestReporting communiques:

- Not an 'Apartheid Wall'

- Photo Op

- Security Fence Distortions

BBC: We're not biased on Israel

Haaretz reports on a gathering in a Jerusalem synogogue with the BBC Mideast bureau chief:

Standing in the basement of a Jerusalem synagogue this week, the bureau chief of the BBC's Middle East desk acknowledged that he was entering a lion's den...

Continue reading "BBC: We're not biased on Israel"

No 'Terror' at ABC

From TownHall: The Australian government officially recognizes Hizbullah and Hamas as terror organizations, but the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has directed its staff not to call them 'terrorist' - in keeping with the UN standard:

An internal memo to ABC staff reportedly reads: “Please be careful with Middle Eastern references. Several recent slip-ups have attracted justified complaints. The ABC follows U.N. guidelines on proscribed groups: Hamas, Hizballah, and Islamic Jihad are not included in the U.N.’s list of terrorist organizations and therefore must not be described as such.”

Tulloh declined to elaborate on the “justified complaints,” saying that correspondence from ABC listeners and viewers was private.

(Hat tip: LGF)

The ABC should start hearing 'justified complaints' from the other side, indicating that the refusal to call these mass murdering groups 'terrorist' is both inaccurate and morally appalling.

Comments to:


Sunday, February 15 2004

Palestinian journalists boycott PA

Palestinian journalists are taking a brave stand against PA intimidation:

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the Gaza Strip has called on its members to stop covering events related to the Palestinian Authority's security forces to protest against continued attacks on journalists.

The boycott, which goes into effect on Sunday, is also directed against the PA Ministry of Justice, which is accused of failing to take appropriate measures to punish the perpetrators.

The journalists were instructed not to cover the activities of the security forces or interview their commanders until tough measures are taken against those responsible for a spate of attacks on correspondents and newspaper and TV offices.

Does this indicate a real, internal movement for Palestinian democratic reform? Are the journalists the vanguard of a larger, grassroots statement that Palestinians are fed up with the corruption and lack of freedom of expression under the PA?

UPDATE: Now they've taken over the Palestinian Legislative Council.

BBC breakup?

From AFP:

Britain's government is considering a plan to break up the BBC and remove its independent status in the wake of a bitter row with the state-funded broadcaster over the Iraq war, a report said.

Government papers detailing possible changes to the BBC's structure proposed breaking it into separate regional entities for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, The Sunday Times said...

Plans being considered include giving a government media watchdog greater control over the BBC's output, closing BBC outlets which are not considered "public service" and even forcing the corporation to share some of its licence fee revenue with other broadcasters.

Also this today from The Weekly Standard - The Wreck of the BBC :

Its Middle East coverage is notoriously one-sided. Its pro-Palestinian bias is so marked that recently the London bureau chief of the Jerusalem Post refused to take part in any more BBC news programs because he believed the corporation was actually fomenting anti-Semitism.

See a recent HonestReporting communique on double standards at the BBC here.

Support the movement to reform the license fee by writing to UK Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell:


Thursday, February 12 2004

Hamas' Use of Human Shields

IMRA says photos like this one from Reuters yesterday in Gaza go a long way toward explaining why Palestinian civilian casulties are so high:

Continue reading "Hamas' Use of Human Shields"

HR communique dubunking 'Apartheid wall'

An HonestReporting communique clarifying why Israel's security fence is not an 'Apartheid wall' has just been released and is available online here.

To receive HR communiques by email, the moment they are released, signup in the box above.


Wednesday, February 11 2004

HR cited

HonestReporting's communique on photojournalistic ethics received a link yesterday from Instapundit -- which triggered the coveted 'Instalanche'.

The lead article in the Hartford Courant today -- addressing the Israeli Foreign Ministry's decision to publicize a video of the aftermath of the last suicide bombing -- cited HonestReporting as well:

"The Israeli government has refrained from doing things like this, from showing films like this in the past," said Michael Weinstein, managing editor of, a website in Jerusalem that monitors media coverage of Israel. "Israel had considered it crass and inconsiderate to the victims to air such films."

The efficiency with which Israelis clean up areas where suicide bombings have occurred, he said, and a reluctance to allow photographs have had a "disinfecting effect" on how the attacks are reported in the mainstream media.

"The goriness of the video is intended to show this was not a legitimate military strike - this was beyond the pale," Weinstein said.

Eyebrow raisers

● Nasty headline of the day, courtesy The Australian:

Israel to Cut 100km off 'apartheid wall'

● We found the 'T-word' in The Independent's coverage of the security fence - Saudi Arabia's security fence, that is:

The project, involving fencing and electronic detection equipment, has been in the planning stages for several years. It may cost up to $8.57bn (£4.58bn). Behind the plan is a deep-seated lack of trust in the Yemeni authorities' ability to arrest infiltrators before they make it into Saudi territory.... The perpetrators of earlier terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, spanning at least a decade, also used explosives from Yemen, state-controlled Saudi media has reported.

The report then elaborates in detail the Yemeni connection to Islamic terror in the Saudi Kingdom. It's worth noting that the Saudi casualties to Yemin-based terror and the quantities of weapons seized are a drop in the bucket compared to the number of Israeli terror victims and the illegal weapons awash in the Palestinian areas.

European media: Israelis not victims

Ze'ev Schiff in Haaretz questions European coverage of the conflict:

terrorism against Israeli citizens is seen by many abroad, and especially in Europe, as part of a tribal war in a distant land. That accords with one of the conclusions of a study conducted in Germany (published recently in the professional journal Media Tenor) about the way in which German television covers Israel. "In the news, Israel is for the most part seen as the guilty party. Even when covering stories where Israelis suffer from the acts of their opponents, they are not simply presented as victims. Editors often frame suicide attacks as a reaction to injustices committed against Palestinians." When such a trend continues for years, it's no wonder that in many places Israel is seen as constituting a threat to world peace, much more so than North Korea or Iran, for example. The researchers say there is a direct link between the negative publicity about Israel and attacks on Jews.

On the other hand, a bigger headline is guaranteed if the Israelis dare to defend themselves determinedly. That has always been the approach, long before Israel began to build the separation fence. There is no point in going to the International Court of Justice in The Hague if Israel cannot succeed in convincing anyone that it is on the defense in the face of mass terror.

Here's the Media Tenor critique of German coverage of Israel, which Schiff refers to.

Palestinian Opinion Poll

From IMRA: The lastest poll of Palestinian popular opinion shows a sharp drop in support for current methods of anti-Israel violence.

Stefan Sharkansky presents a nice chart of the results, and comments:

I don't know what I find more remarkable, the stunning drop in support for the Intifada and suicide bombings; or the fact that an equal number of Palestinians assert that the Intifada serves Palestinian interests as admit that it harms their interests... Either way, Sharon and Bush deserve more of the credit for Palestinians losing their appetite for senseless violence, than does the world community of terrorism appeasers.

Rumsfeld on Israeli Nukes

Curiously, we didn't see this anywhere else, so we'll translate it from the Israeli news site, Y-Net:

During his visit in Munich, in the framework of the NATO summit, (US Defense Secretary) Rumsfeld was asked: "You speak of nations that are attempting to acquire nuclear weapons, like Iraq, Iran and North Korea. What are you doing with Israel? After all, Israel has more nuclear weapons than all other nations in the region. Why do you continue to be silent regarding Israel?"

Without confirming or denying the claim that Israel has nuclear weapons, Rumsfeld immediately responded to the questioner: "You know yourself the answer. The entire world knows the answer. Israel is a small nation, with a tiny population. Israel is democratic, but exists in a region that wants to see her in the sea. Israel clarified that she does not want to be in the sea, and as a result of that, for many decades, Israel arranged it such that they cannot throw her into the sea."

UPDATE: Here it is from the US Defense Department


Tuesday, February 10 2004

One war

Western media outlets such as the New York Times may differentiate between suicide bombings in Iraq and those in Israel, but this Jordanian woman doesn't:

Iranian paranoia

A reminder of how deep the anti-Israel paranoia runs in Iranian political culture and media -- an editorial in Tehran Times bemoaning an internal leadership conflict concludes:

Undoubtedly, the resentful enemies of Iran, particularly the destructive and racist Zionist regime, are delighted by the current disagreement between governmental officials, small as it might be. They intend to take advantage of the current circumstances and damage the reputation of the Islamic Republic through further mischief.

(Hat tip: Joe Schick)

Approaches to Hasbara

A number of recent articles discussing the best approach to making Israel's case in the court of world opinion:

Gideon Meir of Israel's Ministry for Foreign Affairs says Israel activists should stop using the term 'hasbara' ('explanation') because:

it has a negative or apologetic connotation and we have nothing for which we have to apologize. We have a strong case.

● The chairman of the Israel Hasbara Committee disagrees with Meir, and believes the main need now is to separate Israeli leaders from corruption:

Only this approach will prevent Israel from being labeled and equated as one of two warring peoples, as if we are on the same level as the corrupt regime of Yasser Arafat. When we really start to get serious on these issues, we will begin to change our fate.

It is said that societies produce leaders they deserve just as water will always find its own level. Leaders reflect the qualities of the masses. All change is made by leaders, not by the masses; and this is equally true of democracies. Once Israel starts to do a little house cleaning, perhaps we can start to make some real progress in our ‘Hasbara’ efforts. So let us not be shallow-minded and naïve and think that change will come about by any other means, such as making a few cosmetic name changes by replacing the word ‘hasbara’. Let us not make this word a scapegoat for our real failings.

● UK Chief Rabbi Jonathon Sacks believes it's necessary to adjust the message to the audience:

influencing public opinion has ground rules, and they are different in each country. In Britain they require a certain tone of voice: subtlety, the use of nuance and an absence of stridency. This is not always understood by Israelis or members of the Jewish community who sometimes feel that the purpose of a media intervention is to make Jews feel better rather than to persuade the unpersuaded. Shreying gevalt may be good therapy, but it is poor hasbara.

Monday, February 9 2004

Biased coverage of Israel down under

FrontPage magazine has a report on biased coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the Australian Broadcasting Network:

At the ABC, an unregenerate penchant for pro-Palestinian partisanship is nowhere more apparent than in the network's choice of documentary programs. A particularly egregious example of anti-Israel bias appeared in a film entitled "The Killing Zone" that was broadcast last year on ABC Television's Four Corners.

Anyone who watched "The Killing Zone" might be excused for thinking that Israelis are cold-hearted murderers, while Palestinians are pacifists who espouse the non-violent doctrines of Mahatma Ghandi. Yet, in truth, Gaza is a stronghold of Muslim extremism and its streets teem with gunmen from the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements who are constantly conducting armed assaults against Israeli soldiers and civilians alike.

See also the exhaustive work by Australian media monitors documenting bias at Melborne's 'The Age' - it's available here (as a rather large .pdf file).

Confirmed: PA paid terrorists with EU money

The (Hebrew) site News First Class is the first to relay this:

The German newspaper Berlin Morgenpost reported Sunday on the initial results of the European Commission's Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) investigation into suspicions that $1.1 billion in EU aid to the Palestinians was used in an illegal manner.

The initial report indicates that Arafat transferred much of the European aid money to various Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terror groups and to Palestinian officials.

There has been a great deal of speculation and some media reports regarding this, but this is the first official EU confirmation of the PA spending European taxpayers' money on arming terrorists.


Sunday, February 8 2004

Internal Palestinian Disorder

● Mitch Potter of the Toronto Star reports on the breakdown of law and order in Nablus, where mafia-like gangs rule the city:

Buoyed by what is now a total absence of islah, or public order, a fragmented array of heavily armed criminal gangs has turned the intifada on itself.

As many as eight separate factions in Nablus and the three refugee camps that ring the city — lay claim to the title Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the radical offshoot of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

But the name doesn't mean much these days, not when so many who lay claim to it are fighting for the spoils of criminal racketeering, car thefts, drugs, gun running and extortion.

"It is a mafia that controls our streets now," says Mayoub Abu Saliyeh, who last week witnessed a bloody turf battle from the vantage of the gas station he manages. "People get killed, nobody gets arrested, because there is no law, no security.

"I have never seen my city like this before, where any man with a gun can do whatever he wants. It is a dream for Israel, the way Palestinians quarrel with each other."

AP and Reuters picked up on the 400 Fatah members resigning en masse to protest PA corruption and ineffectiveness. BBC added:

There is a history of friction between the younger members of the Fatah movement and the old guard brought back from exile after interim peace agreements in the early 1990s to run the newly-formed Palestinian Authority.

Failure to hold elections for the party's governing bodies are at the heart of the dispute.

Party procedure calls for elections every five years, but none have taken place since 1989.

Jerusalem Post reports that Palestinian journalists continue to protest Fatah press intimidation:

Alarmed by a rise in the number of attacks on journalists, the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate and human rights groups have once again appealed to the Palestinian Authority to take stiff measures against perpetrators.

The journalists are also planning a one-day strike later this week to protest against the attacks, all of which have been carried out by Fatah gunmen.

The most recent attacks took place last week in Ramallah and Gaza City. In the first case, three masked Palestinian gunmen carrying AK-47 assault rifles stormed the offices of the Ramallah-based Al-Quds Educational Television.

Assistant manager Haroun Abu Arrah, one of two station employees present at the time, told the Committee for the Protection of Journalists that one of the men demanded that he hand over a tape. When Abu Arrah asked for clarification, the gunmen began beating the two staffers with rifle butts and fists.

Photojournalism, or staged emotion?

While a number of photojournalists were taking yet another photo of Palestinian suffering, Enric Marti of the AP shot the scene from a far more telling angle, including the photographers themselves:

Photographers take pictures of a Palestinian woman as she cries next to the 8-meter-tall wall part of the barrier Israel is building to separate the outskirts of Jerusalem from the West Bank in the village of Abu Dis Saturday Feb. 7, 2004. Around a thousand Israeli and Palestinians rallied against the controversial security barrier that is meant, according to Israel, to keep suicide bombers out. Others condemn the barrier, which dips deep into the West Bank in some areas, as a land grab. (AP Photo/Enric Marti)

One has to wonder if the woman's crying began before she encountered the photographers, or after. Were they merely 'capturing the scene', or making it?

UPDATE: Roger Simon calls this "one of the most graphic portrayals of media dishonesty I have ever seen."

Instapundit says the picture "demonstrat[es] just how manufactured much reporting is," and reminds us of this similar picture, from Cancun.

(Hat tip: LGF)


Friday, February 6 2004

Friedman: A Jewish conspiracy

HonestReporting's communique yesterday noted that NY Times columnist Tom Friedman showed blatant disregard for the facts regarding Israeli prisoner releases. We haven't seen a correction yet from the Times, but this certainly demands one.

Friedman also makes the outrageous claim in his column that there's a Jewish conspiracy operating in Washington:

Sharon has...Mr. Bush surrounded by Jewish and Christian pro-Israel lobbyists, by a vice president, Dick Cheney, who's ready to do whatever Mr. Sharon dictates, and by political handlers telling the president not to put any pressure on Israel in an election year - all conspiring to make sure the president does nothing.

Elliot Chodoff's response:

Friedman, whose writing skills far surpass his analytical ones, chooses his words carefully. After warning us that Bush is being held under "house arrest" by Sharon, he uses terms like "surrounded," dictates," and "conspiring." So, if we are to understand Friedman, US policy is made in Jerusalem and dictated to a surrounded president under house arrest, who is paralyzed by a conspiracy. The sinister absurdity of Friedman's assertions are so overwhelming that they make the nonsense of the rest of his article virtually irrelevant.

We are forced to wonder about the source of Friedman's sudden realization that American policy is controlled by the Jews. Is he simply parroting the conspiracy theories of his Saudi and Palestinian friends, or is he quoting from two of their favorite bed time story books: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf?

Comments to:

Send a copy to the Times' Public Editor, Daniel Okrent:


Thursday, February 5 2004

AP sarcasm reserved for Israelis

The Associated Press ran an article on Jewish Gaza residents that is just dripping with sarcasm:

A day after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Jewish settlements in Gaza would have to be removed, the settlers threw open their heavily guarded electric gates Tuesday to show they are just ordinary suburban folk who want peace - but will never leave this land.

Many say they do not believe Sharon is sincere, but just in case, they launched a full-scale counterattack with cookies, glossy brochures and media-savvy English speakers.

The reporter encourages the reader to join him in reveling in the fact that he wasn't taken in by the sneaky, 'media-savvy settlers'. Why is such tendentious treatment reserved for this community?

And when was the last time an absurd Palestinian statement was actively undercut like this?:

"It's a town. I never understood the word settlement. It's a town like suburban Long Island, like suburban London,'' [Anita Tucker] said.

Tucker's small town is protected by a triple layer of curled razor wire, electric fencing and a tall metal fence, its entrance guarded by soldiers.

Comments to AP:

Taranto links to HR

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal Best of the Web - edited by the incomparable James Taranto - brought our communique on the Minneapolis Star Tribune to the attention of many thousands of readers.

Thanks for the link, James.


Wednesday, February 4 2004

Star Trib apologizes

Yesterday's HR communique addressed the Minneapolis Star Tribune's anti-Israel double standard in applying the term 'terrorism'

HonestReporting heard today from the Minnesota JCRC that the Star Tribune admitted that they were in error in both instances noted by the communique:

- Regarding the January 21 article in which the Kach movement was described as a terrorist organization, but Hezbollah was not, Star Trib deputy managing editor Roger Buoen said:

Thank your for your recent email about the article and photo caption we published on January 21. As you noted, the Kach movement is described in the photo caption as a group on the U.S. State Department's list of terror organizations, while Hezbollah, which is also on the State Department's list, is referred to in the story as a guerilla organization. I agree with your point that referring to the organizations in this way gave readers and unfair and unbalanced description of the two groups.

The editor who worked on the photo caption added the information about Kahane's group to give background about an organization that is unknown to many of our readers. However, the article was trimmed back for space reasons, and similar background about Hezbollah was left out.

That was a mistake because it created an imbalance in the portrayal of the two organizations. We have talked to the editor involved, and she understands the balance and fairness problem that the editing created.

- Regarding the January 31 story which referred to "Zionist Terrorists," the editor of the Faith and Values section of the paper, Paul Walsh, said:

Quite simply, that was an oversight. A sharp-eyed editor should have changed that word.

Kudos to media monitors at Minnesotans Against Terrorism and the JCRC.

It's our sincere hope that the Star Tribune will not require further critique regarding a double standard in Mideast reporting.


Tuesday, February 3 2004

Biased coverage of Iraq

ABC News reports that American soldiers in Iraq are upset about biased media coverage:

In the following days, the press reported on the indiscriminant shooting of civilians. Soldiers were dumbstruck — "They ambushed us." Maj. Larry Perino was indignant. Although none of his men was involved, he felt the sting.

Many of the soldiers I spoke with were furious.T hey saw the incident as validation of their training as professional soldiers. "If you are a civilian and it's night during a war and you hear a firefight, what do you do?" Perino asked. "You get out of there." If you don't, he implied, then you're part of the fight. Maj. James Market put it another way: "You don't put your head into a wood chipper, then say, 'Hey, what did you do to my hair?"

Michael Novack at National Review, meanwhile, says reporters inflate the casualty numbers to make Iraq look worse:

The news media, which constantly accuse the Bush administration of exaggerating the threat in Iraq, are constantly exaggerating the number of U.S. combat deaths there. I first pointed this out last August. For a while, the exaggeration stopped, but early in January it recommenced. The round number "500" was apparently irresistible. . . .

These 343 (not 500) combat deaths, furthermore, need to be set in context. During 2003, the number of homicides in Chicago was 599, in New York City 596, in Los Angeles 505, in Detroit 361, in Philadelphia 347, in Baltimore 271, in Houston 276, and in Washington 247. That makes 3,002 murders in only eight cities.

Sounds awfully familiar to those of us following media coverage of Israel.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Competing BBC Buttons

While reporter Andrew Gilligan has quit and the entire BBC Board of Directors offered the same, competing statements of popular support and opposition to the Beeb have emerged:

Click here to find out why.

The BBC Lied, Dr. Kelly Died

Worth Reading Today

* Robert Fulford at National Post talks with a Palestinian human rights activist who's willing to point his finger at the PA:

He believes human rights develop from the bottom up; they are seldom bestowed by those in authority. "You have to take human rights. No one will give them to you." He expressed contempt for the European Union, which gives vast sums of money to Palestinian leaders without any honest accounting.

Despite his resentment of the Israelis, he has no illusions about the virtues of the Palestinians. He wondered aloud who was more to blame for Arafat's crimes: Arafat, or the populace that tolerates and even reveres him? He said Palestinians fall into three categories. Those who support the Arafat gang out of self-interest, those who are apathetic, and the rest, who are afraid to speak.

* Shimon Samuels reports that the anti-globalization World Social Forum has been hijacked by the anti-Israel movement:

The takeover of the World Social Forum by advocates of the Palestine cause, who made it the central axis, was insidious. The phenomenon may not have been widely picked up by the media, but its effects have been sown subliminally and globally among a young generation, and disseminated throughout civil society.

What can be done? The WSF must be constantly monitored. It must be challenged and engaged.

* From IMRA: Palestinian media figures guilty of advocating mass murder


Monday, February 2 2004

Sharon: Evacuate Gaza settlements

Quite a statement by Ariel Sharon to Haaretz today:

"It is my intention to carry out an evacuation - sorry, a relocation - of settlements that cause us problems and of places that we will not hold onto anyway in a final settlement, like the Gaza settlements," the prime minister added.

"We are talking of a population of 7,500 people. It's not a simple matter. We are talking of thousands of square kilometers of hothouses, factories and packing plants. People there who are third-generation."

Reuters picked it up right away.

Now, will media outlets continue to insinuate that Sharon's government is land-hungry and stubbornly refuses a peaceful settlement? Or will they properly turn attention to the PA's failure to take parallel steps, such as the uprooting of terror organizations?

Abu Ayish

IDF action today:

Israeli soldiers killed four Palestinian militants, including a one-armed leader of the militant Islamic Jihad group, in an intense gun battle in a Gaza refugee camp Monday.

The one-armed 'militant' was Yasser Abu Ayish. How did he lose his other arm (and two legs)?

Associated Press: 'Abu Ayish's legs and arm were blown off last year when a rocket he was building exploded prematurely.'

But Reuters reported:

A Palestinian militant who lost his legs and an arm to an Israeli tank shell a year ago battled soldiers who came to arrest him on Monday in a Gaza Strip raid that ended with him being killed along with three other gunmen...Yasser Abu al-Aesh, a senior local leader of the Islamic Jihad group who lost three of his limbs and four comrades a year ago when a tank shell hit his rocket-firing squad in Rafah.

Let's assume Reuters is right that Abu Ayish was injured by an IDF shell -- to bury the fact that he was actively firing rockets into Israel at that time is partisan reporting that sacrifices facts for drama. Note also how Reuters cranks up the near-heroism of the one-armed 'militant' 'battling' soldiers.

We reiterate our action item from the last HR communique: Encourage your local paper to stop carrying Reuters articles on the Mideast.

Star-Trib finds terrorists

The Minnesota Star-Tribune ran a profile of an evangelical priest who grew up in Jerusalem. Reporter Kay Miller describes his surviving the 1946 Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel (emphasis added):

It was midday July 22, 1946. Ovikian was eating in the basement of the King David Hotel when Zionist terrorists struck... The Brits had fortified the hotel's eight-story southern wing with barbed wire and tanks. But the terrorists sneaked in the northern end dressed as delivery people, their milk cans filled with TNT.

The Star-Tribune, which completely refuses to call relentless, deliberate Palestinian murder of Israeli civilians 'terrorism', describes the King David bombing as 'Zionist terror'. This, despite the fact that the Irgun warned the hotel, the adjacent French Consulate, and the Palestine Post of the impending military strike against the British command, and there is no indication that civilians were intentionally targeted. (For more information on the King David bombing, see the Wikipedia entry.)

Comments to Star-Tribune: click here

The Language War

Dartmouth University linguistics professor Lewis Glinert has an important article on language, the media, and the Mideast conflict: The Language War. Excerpt:

Advocates for Israel have fought a long and largely unsuccessful fight on this terrain. The term "peace activist" effortlessly scores a point about who is for peace and who is against it. When a 15-year-old Palestinian boy is shot by the IDF, the word "boy" tends to evoke tender age and innocence (compare "Police arrested several youths for loitering"). The term "Palestinian," by association with "Palestine" - used unchallenged as the time-hallowed name for the Holy Land - sends a clear message as to who are the rightful inhabitants of the land...

Continue reading "The Language War"


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