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Media Backspin
« February 2004 | Main | April 2004 »

Wednesday, March 31 2004

Sharansky slams BBC

Jerusalem Post reports:

The BBC employs a "gross double standard to the Jewish state" that smacks of anti-Semitism, Minister Natan Sharansky charged Tuesday, reacting to its coverage of the IDF's arrest of a 16-year-old would-be suicide bomber last week. Sharansky quoted BBC correspondent Orla Guerin as describing to viewers how the IDF "paraded the child in front of the international media," then "produced" the child for reporters, "posed" him a second time for the cameras, and then "rushed him back into a jeep." Such language, Sharansky said, casts doubt on what happened.

Other news agencies, such as the New York Times in their report on this event, also prominently noted the "propaganda victory" for Israel that it provided. But the Times also printed an entire photo spread on their front page that day of Husam Abdu.


Tuesday, March 30 2004

Arafat's terror ties

The Israeli government has long argued that Yassir Arafat is not merely failing to uproot terror groups -- he's actively supporting them.

Some new evidence emerged yesterday (via Ha'aretz):

A confession by a member of Fatah's armed branch in Nablus has shed new light on the extent of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's involvement in terror. The terror suspect told Shin Bet security service interrogators that money he received from Arafat was used to purchase weapons and to carry out shooting attacks in the West Bank.

Raaf Mansur, from the Nablus area, was detained by Israel Defense Forces soldiers last February. Mansur headed a wing of Fatah's military branch, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. His cell was responsible for attacks in the Nablus and Jenin areas.

Letters confiscated by Israeli security forces from Mansur's home included pleas sent to Arafat for money to fund armed activities. Mansur told interrogators that his appeals to Arafat resulted in a monthly NIS [new Israeli shekels] 7,500 [about $1,650] payment to him. The allocations continued up to the time of Mansur's arrest.

For more on what Israel has on Arafat, which is almost never reported in the western press, see this article from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and the HonestReporting communique The Fatah-Al Aqsa Brigades.


Monday, March 29 2004

Hanson on Israel support

Victor David Hanson, senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, has a strong new column on his blog: When Should We Stop Supporting Israel

Hanson points out the key problems with Palestinian culture that simply don't exist in democratic Israel, then concludes:

for the present, Palestinian leaders shouldn’t be too surprised that Americans increasingly find very little in their society that has much appeal to either our values or sympathy. If they continually assure us publicly that they are furious at Americans, then they should at least pause, reflect, and ask themselves why an overwhelming number of Americans—not Jewish, not residents of New York, not influenced by the media—are growing far more furious with them.
Jewish 'Right of Return'

Comprehensive report by Jack Epstein in SF Chronicle on efforts to compensate Jews who fled Arab lands after the founding of Israel. Great background on the scope of the problem, how recent changes in Iraq and Libya have altered the equation, reaction from Palestinians, and the latest actions in Congress:

In recent months, independent Jewish groups have begun a concerted effort on behalf of these "forgotten refugees," who they say were ignored by the global community after being absorbed by other countries -- mostly Israel -- while Palestinian refugees captured worldwide sympathy for living in squalid camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip.

Sunday, March 28 2004

Response from/to Parkinson

Thursday's HonestReporting communique included a critique of an article by Tony Parkinson, international editor of Melbourne's The Age.

In his article, Parkinson made an outrageous comparison between Sheikh Yassin and Leon Klinghoffer, the wheelchair-bound American tourist brutally murdered by Palestinian terrorists nearly 20 years ago.

Parkinson wrote to HonestReporting, complaining that we misrepresented his article in our critique, which he termed "an orchestrated attempt at disinformation, vilification and defamation." Moreover, Parkinson believes nobody actually read his article, but rather fired off angry emails based only upon the few lines in our communique.

Click here to view the correspondence between Parkinson and HonestReporting.

Reporting, or demonstrating?

Here's one of the most biased picture captions we've seen in awhile, courtesy of AP:

Members of Sydney's Muslim community hold posters of murdered Palestinian Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin as they pray before marching through the center of Sydney to condemn the killing, in Sydney, Sunday, March 28, 2004. The peaceful march was also to voice their anger at the brutal murder of Yassin and to call for ongoing and a peaceful resolution to the situation in the Middle East.
(AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Comments to:

(Hat tip: LGF)


Friday, March 26 2004

Stephens on media bias

Very good column by Bret Stephens today on a media bias conference in Tel Aviv that was itself biased, with no real critics of media coverage invited. One particularly sharp observation, directed toward the European media:

Basically, the European media looks at Israel-Palestine as an occupation story. I know this because more than one senior European journalist has told me so. That's not necessarily the wrong prism through which to see things, but it's also not the only prism. You might also, conceivably, play this as a cycle of violence story, as much of the mainstream US media do. Or you might view the conflict as a function of the Arab world's abiding rejection of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. Each captures a different aspect of reality, and each contributes to our overall understanding. But you choose to capture only one aspect, which happens to be the aspect favored by the Palestinians. This is a form of bias.

And in case you missed it, Stephens also had a good article in the Wall Street Journal this week addressing the world's reaction to Palestinian terrorism: The Fear Factor


Thursday, March 25 2004

Cruelty to Palestinian children

Remember Mohammed al-Dura? He was the Palestinian boy who, crouched under his father's protective arms while dodging hostile fire in September 2000, became the most recognizable global symbol of supposed 'Israeli cruelty' to Palestinian children:

(Some serious questions have since been posed regarding the actual source of al Dura's death.)

Now, with Palestinian children cynically used for terrorist efforts three times in the past three weeks, the world is seeing quite another perspective. Yes, Palestinian children are the victims of cruel violence -- but it seems their own adult guardians are the reprehensible culprits:

Born to Die

From John Cole at the North Carolina Herald-Sun.


At Melbourne's largest daily, The Age, international editor Tony Parkinson makes a Yassin comparison almost as outrageous as Brazilian Osmani Simanca's :

The grim spectacle of an ageing, wheelchair-bound invalid being slaughtered in cold blood is not new to the world of terrorism.

Almost 20 years ago, four heavily armed Palestinian terrorists hijacked an Italian cruise ship, the Achille Lauro, in the Mediterranean, taking hostage its 400 passengers and crew.

Demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners by Israel, and as a demonstration of their murderous intent, they chose a sacrificial victim, 69-year-old Leon Klinghoffer. They shot him, and then pushed his body overboard, wheelchair and all.

So the IDF are terrorists, and Yassin is best compared to a retired American on an anniversary cruise. Has the world turned upside down?!

Comments to:

14-year old terrorist

The third time in the past month that Palestinian children were apprehended after attempting terrorist acts:

From Haaretz:

A 14-year-old Palestinian boy was detained yesterday near Nablus, carrying an explosive belt. He is the youngest suicide bomber ever to be caught...Abdu told the soldiers he had dreamt of meeting 70 virgins in heaven, as his dispatchers had promised him, and said he had been tempted by the promise of sexual relations with the virgins.
UPDATE: The IDF has arrested some of his schoolmates.

Wednesday, March 24 2004

Yassin as Jesus

The Brazilian cartoonist Osmani Simanca rehashes the ancient deicide charge against the Jewish people:

The insult here to Christians is at least as great as the insult to Jews.

Defending yourself

It's truly remarkable that on the very same day that US officials were being grilled for not eliminating Bin Laden before 9/11, Israel's elimination of a Hamas leader was criticized from coast to coast. Just a few of the efforts to whitewash Yassin and castigate Israel:

LA Times:

The Hamas cleric had a moral authority that motivated many to give their lives to kill others.

One shudders to think of the moral order proposed by the Times in this statement.

Knight Ridder (printed in all their papers):

Yassin called for violent resistance to Israeli occupation, but he wasn't simply a Palestinian Osama bin Laden, as Israeli leaders prefer to cast him. The elderly, partially blind quadriplegic was the beloved leader of a popular movement to create an Islamic Palestinian state.

This was in a "news" article, not an editorial! Here's what Hamas' idea of a 'Palestinian state' includes (from Hamas Covenant):

Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.
Wilmington (DE) News-Journal:
Israel's sin is a political, not a moral one. It is foolish to repeat the same action time and again expecting a different result ... Israel strays very close to the line separating peace lovers and those who kill when it refuses to take the moral high ground.

Note that Israel, not the one who ordered the cold-blooded murder of hundreds of civilians, is the 'sinner.' Note also that, according to this, 'peace lovers' simply don't 'kill'. So News-Journal editors are pacifists...and we're waiting for their next editorial to call for the dismantling of the United States Armed Forces.

On the other hand, editorials in support of Israel's removal of Yassin were published in the Times of London, Detroit News, UK's Sun, New York Post, Providence Journal, Canada's National Journal, The Australian, and Access Middle East.


Tuesday, March 23 2004

HonestReporting obtains correction from BBC

In response to the HonestReporting communique on skewed children's primers on the Mideast conflict, BBC has changed the wording in two sections of their kids' website: The lead page no longer claims that "Arab Muslims used to own the land Israel now controls," but rather that "at the heart of the conflict is a dispute over land and borders." And the "peace progress" page has eliminated the previous reference to Jerusalem as the source of the 2000 peace talks breakdown.

Neither section became fully accurate, even after the changes, but it's certainly an improvement.

T-shirt protests

The Governor of West Virginia has demanded that the clothes company Abercrombie and Fitch stop selling a popular T-shirt that plays off on the stereotype of that region as a haven for incest.

Meanwhile, we're wondering where the public outcry is about this T-shirt, on sale at the 'anti-war' rally in San Francisco this weekend:

Their idea of Palestinian 'freedom' apparently includes the elimination of the State of Israel.

Wash Post ombud on 'T-word'

In the March 17 HonestReporting communique, we critiqued the ongoing double standard at news outlets such as the Washington Post, which described the Madrid bombing as "the worst terror attack in modern Spanish history," but insisted on calling the nearly-simultaneous (and nearly-identical) Ashdod bombing as the work of Palestinian "militants."

In apparent response to this HonestReporting alert, Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler maintains his position (first articulated on 9/21/03) that the double standard against Israeli terror victims is justified, in his weekly column:

A couple of readers last week, noting Post news reporting from Madrid about "the worst terrorist attack in modern Spanish history," once again challenged The Post's use of language when reporting Palestinian suicide bomber attacks against, for example, an Israeli bus or cafe. These are usually not described as terrorist attacks in The Post, except in the words of Israeli or other officials. This issue has come up before and has been discussed in this column before. But the initial stories from Madrid provide a new challenge.

Continue reading "Wash Post ombud on 'T-word'"


Monday, March 22 2004

Nothing Left to Lose

Allison Kaplan Sommer on the Israeli man-on-the-street's reaction to downing Yassin:

Whenever I challenged someone with the old arguments, by saying, "But aren't you worried about the retaliation? Don't you think this is going to provoke some terrible terror attacks? Isn't it just going to make things worse?" the response was the same: "And you think that if we DIDN'T kill Yassin there wouldn't be terror attacks? What exactly has been happening up till now? Every day they are trying to attack us? How exactly could it GET any worse?"

That is what these three-plus years of Intifada have done to the Israeli public.

Following the generous offer of a Palestinian state in 97% of West Bank and Gaza, we'll add. There's a sense of having tried everything, but receiving only more terror in return.

Sheikh Yassin's 'Happiest Day'

HonestReporting has just released a communique on coverage of the targeted killing of Ahmad Yassin -- view it here.

To receive HR communiques by email, simply sign up above.

See also:

- Why Israel Targeted Ahmad Yassin, by the Israeli Foreign Ministry

- Targeted Killings Can Save Lives, by Tuvia Blumenthal

Jack Kelley's terror tale

USA Today's Jack Kelley has been dismissed after the paper found he fabricated many of his stories.

One of Kelley's biggest stories was his claim to have personally witnessed the Sbarro's pizzaria bombing in Jerusalem in 2001, which earned him a Pulizer nomination. But USA Today reporters now say he probably made the whole thing up:

Perhaps the most riveting story Jack Kelley wrote for USA TODAY involved a suicide bombing in Jerusalem on Aug. 9, 2001 — a bombing Kelley says he witnessed. Afterward, Kelley spoke about the bombing often — first for, then on cable TV and in speeches.

Two witnesses contacted by USA TODAY put Kelley at the scene within minutes of the bombing.

On Thursday, Kelley stood behind his eyewitness account. "I know what I saw," he said.

But what really happened that day, based on police records and interviews with rescue workers and others at the scene, differs substantially from Kelley's Aug. 10 account.

Read the whole thing, which goes on to detail the problems with Kelley's account of the attack.

While the growing critical oversight by editorial desks is certainly a good thing, the Kelley affair leaves us wondering how many other Mideast reporters have 'enhanced' their stories over the years...


Sunday, March 21 2004

AP caption from Iraq protest

What do you think about the caption on this AP photo?

Officer A. Cohen apprehends a demonstrator during an anti-war protest in San Francisco, Saturday, March 20, 2004, as hundreds of thousands of people around the world rallied against the U.S. presence in Iraq on the first anniversary of the war. (AP Photo/Jakub Mosur)

An LGF reader says, "“Have you ever seen the press identify a cop by name like this before? Think it has anything to do with what his name is?”

Charles Johnson says:

I look at these photo captions a lot, and no, I’ve never seen one identify a cop by name. Yes, I think it has a lot to do with what the cop’s name is. And it also has a lot to do with the photographer’s name—the person who probably provided the caption.

This is media bias at its most naked. This AP photographer was not just taking pictures. He was taking part in the demonstrations.

Agree? Or is the fact that the policeman is (apparently) Jewish just adding interesting background to the scene?


Saturday, March 20 2004

Passion sequel: Hanukkah story?

The Internet Movie Database says Mel Gibson has indicated his next film will be an account of the Revolt Of The Maccabees, the story behind Hanukkah. The article notes that Gibson, "who was criticized by some quarters of the Jewish church" (!) for The Passion of the Christ, finds the Hanukkah story riveting:

"The story that's always fired my imagination is the Book of Maccabees," said Gibson. "The Maccabees family stood up, and they made war. They stuck by their guns and they came out winning. It's like a western."

The response from ADL director Abe Foxman:

"My answer would be, 'Thanks but no thanks.' The last thing we need in Jewish history is to convert our history into a western."

Better a western than a horror, Mel's genre of choice for his last Jewish flick.

UPDATE: Yassir Arafat has decided that Gibson's Passion is not anti-Semitic. Well, that should settle the matter.

Palestinian propaganda in US textbooks

HonestReporting recently exposed the anti-Israel bias of two children's primers from BBC and Knight Ridder.

FrontPage magazine now has an article entitled 'Textbooks for Jihad' that finds that prestigious American textbook publishers such as Prentice-Hall, Simon and Schuster, TCI, and others are educating children to the "Arab point of view" and its aspirations of world domination:

The content of TCI’s book and resource material for its Modern Middle East curriculum unit is blatantly anti-Israeli. High school teachers are instructed to require class “exercises” designed to pit some students in roles as advantaged Jews against other students as disadvantaged and unfairly treated Palestinian Arabs. The teachers, representing a world power, are instructed to intentionally and unfairly side against Arabs to suggest the existence of favoritism to Jews. The course material is quite shocking and clearly biased.

Furthermore, the TCI material turns Middle East history on its head. It does not present the history of Arab terrorism against Israel much less outline its extent over the last 55 years. The theme is constantly implied, stated and reiterated that Israel is a foreign entity that stole the Palestinians’ “country.”

If you have a child in high school in North America, take a look at his/her world history or world events textbook. As we stated regarding the BBC and Knight Ridder material:

By distorting the history of the region, ignoring the legacy of Arab rejection of Israel, denying the reason for peace failings, and omitting Palestinian terrorism, these news agencies do a great disservice not only to Israel, but to our young people, the decision-makers of tomorrow.

Thursday, March 18 2004

BBC radio's moral nihilism

The BBC's Today program this morning tackled the issue everyone's been struggling with:

"In the aftermath of the Madrid bombings, we discuss the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist."

So who did they bring on the show to clarify this for us? Palestinian hijacker and hostage-taker Leila Khaled, and IRA publicity head Danny Morrison.

We kid you not. Hear it for yourself: RealAudio link

Melanie Phillips is outraged:

This is the BBC's idea of balance -- two apologists for terror, in earnest discussion. And this is the organisation the public nevertheless still appears to trust and venerates as an icon. Is it any wonder the country is in the grip of so much appeasement, irrationality and ignorance?

(Hat tip: Dan S., Biased BBC)

PETA ad campaign

The animal rights group PETA has a new European ad campaign that compares the slaughter of chicken to the murder of Jews in Auschwitz:

The text at the top reads: "To animals, all people are Nazis"

From Reuters:

Paul Spiegel, president of the Central Council of Jews, said he would ask prosecutors to raise charges of "inciting racial hatred" against vegetarian group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for the advertisements called "Holocaust on a plate."

PETA campaign coordinator Matt Prescott said he was aware of the council's views, but added: "We are not willing to end the campaign." He said he himself was Jewish.

The posters, due to be displayed in Stuttgart from Thursday and in 11 European cities at later dates, show pictures of battery hens packed into cages next to historic pictures of emaciated Jewish inmates in Nazi concentration camp bunk beds.


- PETA was the group that decided to voice its moral outrage against Palestinian terrorism only when donkeys (not Israeli humans) became threatened.

- PETA's comparison of Jews to fowl is disturbingly similar to regular Arab descriptions of Israeli Jews as "sons of apes and pigs." But at least to the Arabs this is considered an insult!

UPDATE: Here's another of the ads in this campaign:

The quotation from German Jewish philosopher Theodor Adorno reads "Auschwitz begins when someone is in a slaughterhouse and says they are only animals."

UPDATE: Last year, PETA did this campaign in the US.

Guardian: There are no bad guys

From an editorial at the Guardian after the Madrid bombing:

Life stopped in the winter drizzle of Madrid yesterday. Offices, shops and cafes emptied, as funeral candles were lit in moving scenes of solidarity...If cities across Europe were waking up to the fact that they were as much in the crosshairs of an attack on this scale, as New York or Washington were, the Israeli mass circulation Yedioth Ahronoth could not restrain itself: "Welcome to the real world", it declared unsubtlely.

But which real world? The world in which neighbourhoods are razed, water supplies cut off, children shot, in thinly disguised acts of collective retribution? ...

We need to get beyond the them and us, the good guys and the bad guys, and seek a genuinely collective response.

Andrew Sullivan responds:

Notice how the Guardian instinctively, viscerally, blames the victim, Israel, for the terrorism that has plagued it for so long. For in the Guardian's view, the democracies are always wrong; and the terrorists always have a point. Alas, the measures the Guardian refers to are a few of the most extreme tactics that the Israeli government has deployed in an attempt to stop the constant stream of atrocities wrought upon the only democracy in the Middle East. They are not acts of indiscriminate "collective retribution"--nor, as the Guardian implies, deliberate attempts to kill children--but bids to stem the tide of murder flooding into Israel's streets and mass transportation systems.

In Europe, there are no bad guys, even those who deliberately murdered almost 200 innocents and threaten to murder countless more. Ask yourself: If the Guardian cannot call these people "bad guys," then who qualifies? And if the leaders of democratic societies cannot qualify in this context as "good guys," then who qualifies? What we have here is complete moral nihilism in the face of unspeakable violence.

Glenn Reynolds: "It's not complete moral nihilism, alas. It's not as if they show the same unwillingness to pass judgment where American actions are concerned."

Or Israeli actions, of course.


Wednesday, March 17 2004

Mideast democracy oversight

Correction, New York Times, March 14:

"An article last Sunday about attempts to create democracy in Iraq misstated the precedent in the Mideast. Iraq would become the region's second functioning democracy, after Israel, not its first."

The oversight would be understandable if this weren't a defining characteristic of the entire Mideast -- Israel, the region's pariah, perennial scapegoat, and (not coincidentally) only democracy. This was like a Mideast reporter forgetting that there's oil in the region.

Three new IDF videos

The IDF has released three short videos on the corruption of Palestinian culture, which is probably the most significant force they are really up against:

- The Exploitation of Palestinian Children by Terrorist Organizations

- Born to be a Shahid (Martyr)

- Exploiting Ambulances for Smuggling Explosives - Actual footage of the search for, discovery, and demolition of a suicide bomber belt that was hidden in a Palestinian ambulance to evade IDF security.


Tuesday, March 16 2004

Real Progress on 'The T-Word'

We've just released a new communique that tracks some real success in the HonestReporting campaign to ensure media outlets refer to Palestinian terror as 'terror'. View the communique here, and sign up above to receive HR communiques by email.

Also, see the HR webpage addressing this issue in greater depth: Calling Terror by Its Name

And we've posted a new study that finds a broader pattern of anti-Israel bias in terrorism reportage at the San Jose Mercury News.


Monday, March 15 2004

Using children for terror

Haaretz reports another shocking case of Palestinian use of children for terrorist activity:

Israel Defense Forces soldiers on Monday caught a 10-year-old Palestinian boy trying to get a large bomb through a roadblock in the West Bank city of Nablus.

Border Police sappers managed to safely detonate the device. The boy was reportedly with a group of school children.

Israel Radio reported that the boy told the soldiers that he had been offered a large sum of money to carry the device through the roadblock. An IDF officer told Army Radio the military believed the device was destined for a terror attack inside Israel.

For some reason, neither AP nor Reuters deemed this worthy of a story.

UPDATE: Jerusalem Post quotes an IDF commander on the incident:

"When the boy's dispatchers saw he was being detained, they dialed the cellphone inside the bag in an attempt to detonate the bomb, but it failed to go off."

Since the outbreak of violence, terrorists have dispatched 29 suicide bombers younger than 18, officials said.

Since 2001, more than 40 other minors who were involved in planning suicide bombings have been arrested by security forces.

AP does have a story now: 'Palestinian Child Conscription Draws Ire'
Palestinians, including the boy himself, are now denying the whole thing.

Brits on suicide bombing

It's not just MP Jenny Tonge who would consider becoming a suicide bomber to kill innocent Israelis if she were a Palestinian.

From AP:

Just under half of British Muslims questioned in a poll released Sunday said they might consider becoming suicide bombers if they lived in the Palestinian territories, and more than one in ten said further terror attacks on the United States would be justified.

Perhaps even more scary:

An overall sampling of Britons asked the same question found that 15 percent said they might consider becoming bombers if they were in Palestinians' shoes.

Says commentator Tom Gross, in correspondence with HonestReporting:

The Guardian newspaper, perhaps because it fears the results of its own poll, tucks these results at the very end of an article on today's front page and does not give prominence to them in its headline.

If people are wondering how so many Muslims and non-Muslims came to formulate such views, they could start by examining the consistent inflammatory misreporting and lies about the Israeli- Palestinian conflict in The Guardian itself in recent years, and even more so by the BBC, the world’s biggest radio and television broadcaster.

Reuters on Spanish Elections

Reuters headline today:

Socialists Score Spectacular Spanish Election Win

We're wondering if Reuters would have described it as 'spectacular' if the center-right party had won...


Sunday, March 14 2004

Bin Laden reclaiming Occupied Spain

An article that appeared in The Age (Australia) and London's Daily Telegraph addresses radical Islam's 'claim' to Spain:

Thursday's bombings have raised an uncomfortable question for Spaniards. Is Osama bin Laden dreaming of exacting revenge for the loss of Al-Andalus, the ancient Moorish kingdom in Iberia?

A group said to be close to bin Laden's al-Qaeda, the Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri, sent a message to a London-based Arabic newspaper saying: "This is part of settling old accounts with Spain, the crusader and America's ally in its war against Islam."

While the authenticity of the message is open to doubt, there is no question that it reflects the thinking of Islamists who hold that any land that has once been part of the Muslim community should forever remain under Muslim rule.

At the beginning of the 11th century, three-quarters of Spain's population was Muslim. But as soon as the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella reconquered the country for Christianity, the Muslims were ordered out.

The humiliation has never been forgotten in the Arab world.

Journalist and commentator Tom Gross adds: "Not stated in this article (perhaps because the Daily Telegraph in Spain is unaware) is that many radical Islamists regularly refer to Spain as occupied territory in their sermons and websites."

Terror in Madrid

We join the Spanish community in mourning those killed and injured by the brutal attack on Thursday.

It's remarkable that the major news agencies continue to refer to it as a 'terrorist attack' (which of course it was), though these same agencies refuse to refer to Palestinian attacks on packed Israeli public transportation as 'terror':

Associated Press: "Spain's interior minister said Sunday a videotape has been discovered claiming al-Qaida carried out the Madrid terrorist attacks and threatening more..."

Washington Post: "...trying to manipulate public opinion about the terror attacks before the elections..."

AFP: 'Terror Attacks Will Not Stop Spanish Football'

We reiterate that this is not merely a semantic issue -- as the West unites against barbaric, utterly unjustified terrorism that threatens everyone, it is essential that Israel's struggle against terror be understood as part and parcel of the larger concern. When news outlets differentiate between a bus attack in Jerusalem (the work of 'militants') from a train attack in Madrid (the work of 'terrorists'), they expose their editorial decision that the Jerusalem attack is somehow more justified. That's not just wrong, it's downright dangerous. And far from 'neutral reporting.'

Reuters, meanwhile, has referred to the Madrid bombs as a 'guerilla attack'. For this, Reuters gets one point for consistency (they've also referred to Hamas as 'guerillas'), but loses two points for accuracy.

UPDATE: Dr. Stephen Plaut has an article on this as well.


Friday, March 12 2004

Selective coverage at Wash Post

David Gerstman notes that the Washington Post made a big deal of Israeli Chief of Staff Yaalon's statement in November that Israel should loosen up restrictions on Palestinians, but when Yaalon said this week that a rapid IDF pullout from Gaza could be intensifying Palestinian terror, the Wash Post chose not to report it at all.

Says Gerstman:

If the Chief of Staff publicly criticizing the Prime Minister is news, it's news whether his dissent is something that a reporter agrees with or not. This is as clear a case of bias as anything we've seen. This doesn't have to do with choice of words or use of adjectives. It has to do with an objective standard that was used once and then ignored.

Thursday, March 11 2004

Communique on biased kids' media

We've just released a new communique on biased descriptions of the Mideast conflict in children's media --BBC and Knight Ridder.

To view it, click here.

To receive HonestReporting communiques in your inbox, subscribe above.


Wednesday, March 10 2004

Worth Reading Today

- Commentary by the Israeli Consul to New England in The Christian Science Monitor:

As part of an effort to restore diplomatic ties with Egypt, Tehran's city council recently agreed to rename Khaled Islambouli Avenue, a street named after the assassin of former Egyptian Prime Minister and peacemaker, Anwar Sadat. On one hand, this is a positive sign of increased openness to the ideas of peace and moderation. However, the street was renamed Intifada Avenue after the violent Palestinian uprising against Israel, and a likeness of Islambouli still adorns a downtown building.

This story reveals a great deal about the conflicting attitudes and interests at work in the Muslim world - reform is possible, but old hatreds, misguided prejudices, and support for terrorism are still the norm.

- FrontPage Magazine has a commentary on EU funds being diverted to Palestinian terror.

- From Haaretz: A spokesman from PM Sharon's office says the security fence will not extend to the eastern side of the West Bank:

Tirza said his committee has tried to limit the damage wrought by the fence. "In places where I can, I move the route of the fence so as not to destroy olive groves and hot houses. Not a single home has been destroyed as a result of the route of the fence, except for some homes built illegally in the area of Baka al-Garbiyeh."

- From Jerusalem Report: The new Justice Minister of Canada is Jewish, and an committed Zionist.

- From Washington Institute for Near East Policy -- 'All Quiet on Israel's Northern Front?' :

The U.S. has repeatedly indicated that Syrian President Assad must take initial trust-building steps such as controlling Hizballah, preventing terrorist spillage from Syria into Iraq, and putting an end to terrorism directed from Hamas and Islamic Jihad headquarters in Damascus. Given Israel's current focus on Gaza, Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations do not appear to be in the cards for the time being.


Tuesday, March 9 2004


Israeli Prime Minister Sharon is regularly branded a 'hardliner' by the English-language press (even after showing considerable flexibility on, for example, the proposed Gaza withdrawl).

It's telling to note where else in the world the major agencies use the term 'hardliners':

- In Yemen, to describe fugitive terrorists, including al Qaeda operatives.

- In Iran, to describe the radical Islamic forces that have rolled back women's rights.

- In India, to describe a 'right-wing Hindu group' that is 'dedicated to creating an exclusive Hindu nation,' and those who want to ban Valentine's Day.

- In Macedonia, to describe 'ethnically divided' war-mongers.

- In Bahrain, to describe (in translation) Islamists who shut down an 'immodest' TV show and insist on 'no champagne-spraying or scantilly clad women' at an upcoming car race.

- In Pakistan, to describe Taliban-supporting radical Islamists.

The implication is clear -- these are bad folks, the whole lot of them, opposed to reconciliation and progress (and even love).

Is this fitting company for Sharon, the elected leader of a modern, pluralistic, truly democratic nation?

Hamas makes global ties

Don't miss the significance of this news item: Hamas just announced that they were responsible for the April, 2003 bombing of Mike's Place in Tel Aviv:

The Hamas declaration of responsibility for the event was at least externally similar to declarations of responsibility claimed by the organization for other attacks. But the content reveals what has been a mystery since the bombing - the identity of the organization that conducted the only successful terror attack inside Israel that emanated from Gaza.

More significantly, strategically, for the first time the organization presents one of its actions as part of a global Islamic struggle and for the first time, it used non-Palestinian suicide bombers.

Hamas, formally founded in 1987, has so far emphasized the local nature of its goals and character. Any attempt to tie it to Islamic organizations like al-Qaida were met by vehement denials by its spokesmen.

So while news outlets continue to insist that terrorist Islam among Palestinians is local in nature, and tied to Israeli occupation, Hamas themselves have now declared their ideological ties to al Qaeda et al. Note that the AP report on this development, however, does not mention this element of Hamas' declaration.


Sunday, March 7 2004

Failed Attack?

(Via Sharkblog)

A headline from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

Failed suicide attack claims six Palestinian lives

No Jews were killed, but four of the dead guys were trying to commit suicide. They shouldn't be written off as a total failure.

Worth Reading Today

- Chicago Tribune (req. reg.) reader's rep Don Wycliff comments on the paper's Uli Schmetzer debacle and the role of web-based media watchdogs:

It could be that technology already is providing us a kind of ultimate check in the form of the Internet. In the past, national and foreign correspondents could roam the country or the world writing stories about people who would never see their work. In the Internet age, there are fewer and fewer places where the Chicago Tribune--or the Waxahachie Daily Light, for that matter--cannot be accessed and read critically by people about whom we write. And that is a very good thing.

We at HonestReporting will take that as a compliment.

- From The Independent: The UK has offered to send military advisors to the Gaza Strip to bolster security if Israel disengages.

- Prominent Arab journalist Anis Mansour, an Egyptian, calls on Yasser Arafat to make peace with Israel, or the Palestinians will "sooner or later call you to account." Here is Memri's report. And here is the report from the Jerusalem Post.

- Jerusalem Post quotes a Palestinian paper that Ron Arad is being held in Lebanon by a group with Syrian connections, and that Israel received from the German media an authentic DNA sample.


Friday, March 5 2004

Erekat double-talk

Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat should long ago have been discredited by news agencies. Erekat, after all, is the one who claimed that over 500 Palestinians were 'massacred' by Israel in Jenin, April 2002. This, of course, was utterly false, yet the media continue to lend credence to Erekat's statements.

Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook of Palestinian Media Watch now have a report exposing Erekat's duplicity, a la his boss Arafat, in glorifying suicide terrorism in Arabic, while condemning it in English:

Upon hearing that three Palestinian children, aged 13, 14 and 16, were caught by Israel on the way to a suicide mission, Erekat was quick to create the impression for the English media that the PA opposes such actions.

"That´s absolutely unacceptable," Erekat told the Associated Press. "Our children should have hope and a future and should not be suicide bombers. We want them to be doctors and engineers."

The great hypocrisy of Erekat's statement is that he and the PA leadership have been the driving force indoctrinating PA children to aspire to Shahada - Death for Allah. As PMW has reported, it was only a few months ago that Erekat and other top PA leaders, including Yasser Arafat, sponsored a soccer tournament honoring 24 Shahids ("Islamic Martyrs"), including such arch-terrorists as Yechya Ayash, the first Hamas suicide-bomb maker, who masterminded the Palestinian suicide bombings; Adin Al Kassam, the name of the suicide terrorist wing of the Hamas; Raid Carmi, a regional head of a suicide terrorist unit; Jamal Mansour of Hamas; and Salah Drowza of Hamas.

As a sponsor, Saeb Erekat was present at the tournament honoring the terrorists, and personally distributed the trophies. [Al Ayyam, Sept. 21, 2003, Al Quds, Sept. 29, 2003]

Read the whole report, and keep this in mind the next time Erekat is quoted in your local paper.


Thursday, March 4 2004

Recommended from Chicago Sun-Times

Two opinion pieces of note from the Chicago Sun-Times:

- Jay Bushinsky on PA intimidation of journalists:

The PA's first decade of existence has been a nightmare for Palestinian journalists, especially the independent thinkers and analysts among them.

- Anne Bayefsky on the UN's policy toward Israel:

The International Court of Justice in the Hague is being asked by the U.N. General Assembly to provide advice on the ''legal consequences'' of Israel's security fence...One element, however, is missing: the human rights of Israelis. Annan's report does not describe a single terrorist act against Israelis.

The U.N. message is clear: The human rights of Israelis are not part of the equation.

Chicago Trib writer made up names

The Chicago Tribune severed its relationship with a freelance international writer now in Australia, who pulled a Jayson Blair.

Reporter Uli Schmetzer has, at the very least, attributed a real quote to a fictitious name. Here is the Trib’s correction. Here is Schmetzer’s original report. Here is ombudsman Don Wycliff’s column on the mess. And here is an AP report on the Trib’s site indicating that Schmetzer was fired.

Shmetzer also reported from Israel for the Tribune. Two examples:

Aug. 11, 2003 'Israeli Planes Strike in Lebanon'

July 10, 2002 'Jews Only Bill Roils Israel'

We're wondering if Shmetzer invented any quotes in his Israel coverage also...


Wednesday, March 3 2004

Backspin on RSS feed

Media Backspin is now available as an RSS feed.

Don't know what that is? Read this.

Try out a news/blog aggregator like My Yahoo, which is running RSS feeds in beta mode now. Then add our URL to your list of news/blog feeds.

This is a great way to see, on one page, all of your favorite news sources and activity on your favorite blogs. This way, you don't need to check on each blog all the time for new content -- you can just check your RSS newsreader page, and if there's a new entry that interests you, click through and see the whole thing on the blog's page.

For a review of three other, independent RSS aggregators, see this article from PC World.

Englehart cartoon

Bob Englehart of the Hartford Courant pens this cartoon today:

Our take: Englehart is encouraging the viewer to identify with the idea that the recent rise in anti-Semitism is attributable to Israeli policy.

Something like this recent column by two Israelis (which doesn't actually address anti-Semitism), or an inverted version of George Will's point from last week.

What's particularly odd about this is that Israel critics have long claimed that criticizing Israel is not tied to anti-Semitism: 'You can be anti-Israel, and not anti-Semitic'. But now Englehart, through his Jewish characters, makes the connection himself, suggesting that Jewish fear of anti-Semitism could be lessened by adjusting Israeli policy.

What's your take on this cartoon? We're interested to know -- leave a comment below.


Tuesday, March 2 2004

Baltimore Sun on IDF bank raids

A staff-ed from the Baltimore Sun comes out in support of Israel's raid on Palestinian banks holding terrorist funds:

Israel's seizure of about $9 million in suspect funds may do more to deter future suicide attacks than its targeted assassinations or controversial security barrier. And while Palestinian militants don't lack for recruits in executing their deadly plots, cutting off their finances is essential to crushing the terror network - and saving lives on both sides of this dispute.

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon drew sharp criticism from the State Department for the raids, but the United States is pursuing the same money trail in its war on terrorism.

Israel has been in the anti-terror business for some time and presumably knows the value of following the money over the long term. The Israeli bank operation so far has yielded not only the suspect cash but the alleged going rates for carrying out a terrorist attack - estimates range from about $650 to $10,000.

Read the whole thing, and if you are so inclined, drop them a line:

Wash Post: Chaos in Fatah, PA

In a recent HR communique, we insisted that the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades is an integral part of Fatah, and urged media outlets to refer to is as such.

The Washington Post's John Ward Anderson replied to an HonestReporting subscriber's inquiry on the matter:

Our lack of consistency reflects confusion within Al Aqsa itself. On the one hand, when you talk to the members of Al Aqsa, as we frequently do, almost to a person they swear allegiance to Arafat. Politicians from Fatah acknowledge the ties as well. However, as we have reported in the pages of The Post, Al Aqsa is extremely decentralized--perhaps chaotic is a more accurate term.

We still believe the evidence is strong enough to refer to this terror group as a part of Fatah.

On a similar note, Anderson and Molly Moore have an article on the possible disintegration of the PA:

Three years and five months after Palestinians began their second uprising against Israel, the Palestinian Authority is broke, politically fractured, riddled with corruption, unable to provide security for its own people and seemingly unwilling to crack down on terrorist attacks against Israel, according to Palestinian, Israeli and international officials.


Monday, March 1 2004

End Sleaze or Lose Aid

From The Scotsman:

The World Bank has issued the Palestinian Authority with an ultimatum to put an end to rampant corruption or lose hundreds of millions of pounds of vital foreign aid.

The Bank’s top official in the region, Nigel Roberts, said Yasser Arafat had to stop the handing of large cash payments to his security commanders - used to keep them loyal to Arafat personally - and other financial practices open to corruption.

Otherwise, he said, the Palestinian Authority risked losing the support of the international community.

In an interview with Scotland on Sunday, Roberts said the Palestinians were receiving the largest amount of money per capita in the history of foreign aid but this was still not enough to balance the budget.

He said it was now crunch time for the Palestinian Authority: support the reformers, led by Finance Minister Salam Fayyad, or face financial ruin.

The largest amount of money per capita in the history of foreign aid. And Israel is blamed for the plight of Palestinians?!

Compound Interest

According to an LA Times subhead, Israeli police "entered the Al Aqsa mosque without cause" on Saturday.

One glaring problem with the subhead is that reporter Ken Ellingwood later buries the fact that Palestinians were throwing stones at Jewish worshippers, (reporting it as a mere "Israeli claim"). But a second, more serious error, is that while police entered the Temple Mount - a hilltop plaza which contains the Al- Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock - police never entered any of the mosques on the Temple Mount.

News services often refer to the Temple Mount as a "holy site," a "compound" or a "plaza." They sometimes even refer to the site by the Muslim name (Haram al-Sharif) or its translation (the Noble Enclosure). But in bending over backwards to show impartiality towards the conflicting religious claims, the Times simply fell over.

False claims about Israeli actions on the Temple Mount unfairly and inaccurately portray Israel as conniving to gain control over the site and sometimes even extend legitimacy to Palestinian terror. For example, when snow and tremors led to the collapse of a stone wall on the site, Hamas blamed Israel for undermining the Temple Mount. This prompted the BBC to write:

Israel has been carrying out archaeological excavations in an area outside the compound, inviting the charge that they are trying to destabilise the mosque, Islam's third holiest site.

In related coverage of Saturday's riot, AFP described the Western Wall as "the only surviving remnant of the temple." Actually, the Western Wall is the only surviving remnant of a retaining wall built around the Temple Mount and was never attached to the Temple itself.


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