Backspin FrontPage
Backspin FrontPage
Media Backspin
About Media Backspin Contact Media Backspin Media Backspin
  Media Backspin
Backspin FrontPage
Media Backspin RSS Feed   [ About RSS ]
Subscribe with Bloglines
Add to My AOL
Subscribe in Bloglines
Subscribe to MyMSN
Subscribe in NewsGator Online
Add to Google Reader or Homepage
ARCHIVES January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010
Media Backspin
« May 2004 | Main | July 2004 »

Wednesday, June 30 2004

Warped sense of 'world threats'

This week's poll on the homepage of Japan Today:

"Who do you think the biggest threat to world peace is?"

1. Israel
2. Osama bin Laden
3. The Bush Administration
4. North Korea

So far, Israel's in third place -- a bigger threat than North Korea. The Bush Administration's in first...

Endangered Journalists

The Foreign Press Association condemned Israel's recent attack on a Gaza building housing the offices of a Hamas-linked newspaper. The same building housed offices for BBC, NBC, CNN and Al-Jazeera. The Israeli air strike was in retaliation for a barrage of Kassam rockets that fell on Sderot, killing two Israelis (including a four-year-old boy). After the FPA accused Israel of "callous disregard" for the lives of journalists, the Israeli Government Press Office fired off a response:

…we are rather curious as to whether the FPA will also protest the reckless behavior of the Hamas, whose indiscriminate shelling of Sderot must certainly be endangering the many journalists who are there today.

(Hat tip: Daily Alert)


Tuesday, June 29 2004

How did he win a Pulizer?

Tom Gross joins Bret Stephens in thoroughly discrediting journalist Richard Ben Cramer's new book, How Israel Lost.

Unicef, ambulances, and access

US Fund for UNICEF has an immunization campaign for Palestinian children. They issued a press release today to publicize the campaign, taking the opportunity to criticize Israel's tight control over Palestinian medical vehicles:

"The incidence of vaccine preventable diseases has been under control until now and immunization coverage is beyond 90 percent — among the highest in the region," said Peter Hansen, UNRWA's Commissioner-General. "But curfews and closures are creating huge access problems both for Palestinian health professionals trying to get to their centers and Palestinian parents trying to get their children to clinics. In this environment, I fear a measles outbreak could become a major threat affecting not only Palestinian children, but all children in the area."

UNICEF, UNWRA, WHO and OCHA called upon the Israeli Authorities to abide by its obligations under international Humanitarian Law as well by its obligations to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child — ratified in 1991. The UN bodies call for safe, timely and easy access of health professionals to their centers, parents to health clinics and all needed and relevant supplies to allow the smooth functioning of this very important campaign.

No mention from Hansen or UNICEF of how those Palestinian health professionals have recently had their UN 'medical' vehicles used as cover for armed terrorists -- perhaps that contributes to Israel's reluctance to grant medical vehicles a free pass? And the various organizations are not apparently concerned with the PA'snon-compliance with 'international Humanitarian Law,' as Palestinian children are continually encouraged in PA-controlled media to become 'martyrs for Allah' via suicide terror.

Perhaps the supporters of US fund for UNICEF should be aware of the greatest threat to Palestinian children's health -- their own, irresponsible ruling class.

Comments to:


Monday, June 28 2004

Deadly Palestinian rocket attack in Sderot

qassam_missileIt was, unfortunately, a matter of time. This morning two Israeli civilians were killed (including a 4-year-old boy), and at least 7 injured, in a Hamas rocket attack upon the Israeli town of Sderot. Though Sderot residents have been injured by the hundreds of Kassam rockets fired from Gaza in the past, this was the first lethal strike.

As HonestReporting has documented in the past, the media consistently downplayed the threat of terrorist rocket-fire on Sderot, suggesting it was nothing to really worry about, and that IDF strikes against the launching pads in Gaza were unnecessarily harsh. Perhaps now the media's take on these 'homemade' and 'inaccurate' missiles will more accurately describe their deadly potential.


Sunday, June 27 2004

Dangerous time to be a Jew

The cover story in the New Statesman is by Simon Sebag Montefiore, an English Jew who feels a dangerous turn of the tide that is palpable in European media:

something has changed about the European attitude to Jewishness. One feels it everywhere: we have moved, as it were, from the world of Howard Jacobson back to Franz Kafka. This is connected to Israel, America, 9/11 and Iraq. For more than a decade now, Israel has been the fashionable bete noire of the chattering classes. The response to Israel in the European media, particularly the BBC and the Guardian, has long been prejudiced, disproportionate, vicious often fictitious.

A typical case of the media's mendacity on Israel was the invented coverage of the Jenin "massacre" (not) by British news organisations, which were so anti-Israel that they popularised an event that they could not have witnessed, because it had not happened. They never apologised - because any Israeli "atrocity" is seen to illustrate a greater truth. Another example was the Israeli assassination of the man whom the BBC called Hamas's "spiritual leader": Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was actually a terrorist boss, about as "spiritual" as Osama Bin Laden.

Yet, in the British media, every Israeli sin is amplified, while those of the Arab world are ignored.


Thursday, June 24 2004

AFP - still distorting PA terror ties

In an HonestReporting communique earlier this week, we noted that Palestinian PM Ahmad Qurei openly admitted to Fatah's 'bearing full responsiblity' for the actions of the terrorist Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade.

We called on the media to acknowledge this bond with Fatah in ongoing coverage of the Al Aqsa Brigades. Yet AFP, for one, has not heeded the call. From an AFP report on Tuesday:

The gunman was named as Khaled as-Shimbari, 21, a member of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group loosely linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah party.

Still calling them 'loosely linked'?! After Qurei's statement, this is a blatant misrepresentation of reality.

Comments to AFP:


Wednesday, June 23 2004

Journalists' panel at HR mission

Today the HR mission visited the new and impressive building of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. No cameras were allowed in, so unfortunately, no pictures on this post.

The highlight of the session was a panel with three journalists -- Greg Myre of the NY Times, David Gilbert of CBS News, and Jamil Hamad of Time -- who fielded questions on the difficulties and challenges of reporting on the Mideast conflict. Daniel Pipes moderated the session.

Regarding the (non-)use of the term 'terrorist', Myre said that in principle his paper is open to using the term, but with no official policy, there are alot of grey areas. For example, Myre said, a Hamas suicide bombing on an Israeli bus is certainly 'terrorism,' but when the IDF raid Gaza City and claim to kill 5 terrorists, without further verification Myre is not prepared to use that term.

Jamil Hamad spoke of the intimidation that some Arab journalists feel from the PA, and in response to a question about journalists' supposed impartiality, said: "Impartiality is a dream, but honesty is a responsibility." Daniel Pipes responded that Hamad's insight applies equally to non-journalist writers like him.

David Gilbert emphasized the distinction between journalism and the news business: "I would like to be practicing more pure journalism, but we are in the news business, and that means advertisers come into play." Gilbert indicated that his reports must be compelling, to keep viewers tuned in, and that this necessarily informs his news coverage.


Tuesday, June 22 2004

Bayefsky speech to UN

Professor Anne Bayefsky of Columbia University delivered a powerful speech at the U.N. conference on Confronting Anti-Semitism yesterday:

This meeting occurs at a point when the relationship between Jews and the United Nations is at an all-time low. The U.N. took root in the ashes of the Jewish people, and according to its charter was to flower on the strength of a commitment to tolerance and equality for all men and women and of nations large and small. Today, however, the U.N. provides a platform for those who cast the victims of the Nazis as the Nazi counterparts of the 21st century. The U.N. has become the leading global purveyor of anti-Semitism--intolerance and inequality against the Jewish people and its state.

If you want a straightforward review of discriminatory U.N. policy toward Israel, read the whole thing.

Caroline Glick at HR mission


Caroline Glick, columnist and Deputy Managing Editor of the Jerusalem Post, addressed the HonestReporting mission this morning in Jerusalem.

Glick delivered a powerful talk on Israel and the West's confrontation with radical Islam, describing an inherent cultural clash between totalitarian Islamists on one side, and Israel/the U.S. -- founded upon individual liberty and democracy -- on the other. Glick stressed that world terror groups are not 'amorphous and non-definable', but rather are actively enabled by Arab states (such as Iran, Syria and Pakistan) that must now be confronted aggressively to cut off the terrorists' lifeline.

"We have to make it clear," said Glick, "through HonestReporting and continual letter-writing, who the enemy is and what is really happening with the Islamist threat against Israel, the U.S. and the West. Just as they used jetliners to destroy the twin towers, they will use the media to destroy our will. We cannot let that happen."

With regard to Israeli politics, Glick believes the Israeli left is suffering from a type of 'battered wife syndrome' that leaves one with the illusion that 'my husband will come to like me if I learn to make creme boulee!' In fact the husband may be a beast who cannot be appeased -- likewise, implied Glick, the current Palestinian leadership.

Regarding NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Glick said:

Tom Friedman is an honorable man, but he's been wrong about everything he's written on the Mideast and Israel for about 25 years. [As illustrated by his recent columns] Friedman doesn't understand that with the Lebanon withdrawal, Israel brought the enemy to our doorstep -- Israel is a much less safe place than before the withdrawal.

Friedman is not only wrong -- his views are downright dangerous, for he consistently blames Israel for the fact that someone wants to exterminate us. By failing to acknowledge the true nature of the threat, Friedman is guilty of encouraging it.

Glick left the mission participants with a thought on Nazi Germany's ongoing impact on the Jewish people:

The Nazis made it hard to understand antisemitism outside of mass extermination and gas chambers -- if you don't have chimneys, many now believe, it's simply 'anti-Zionism' or something else. We must understand that this attitude is another, ongoing form of victory for the Nazis. Today's antisemitism, when disguised as anti-Zionism or 'sharp criticism of Israel', must be exposed, delegitimized and crushed.
Itamar Marcus at HR mission


Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, addressed the HonestReporting mission this morning.

Marcus presented the latest examples of glorification of shahada (death for Allah) and villification of the Jewish people that permeate Palestinian media, including numerous examples that obscenely target young children.

Marcus stressed that the concept of shahada is inaccurately translated as 'martyrdom', since the Islamist version prevelant in Palestinian media stresses an active desire for death, as opposed to the Christian and Jewish notions of 'martyrdom' as an after-the-fact, passive status.

Marcus also pointed out that this entire matter is inaccurately grouped by the media under the rubric of 'incitement' -- meriting short coverage, if at all -- when in fact it is much deeper, social reality of hatred of Jews and Westerners that is properly understood in the broader context of world terrorism.

Lieberman at HR mission

Twenty-five participants landed in Israel yesterday for the first HonestReporting Leadership Mission, a week-long program featuring top speakers and visits to essential sites.

One of our first guests was Avigdor Lieberman (right), Israeli cabinet minister until two weeks ago, who spoke with HonestReporting mission participants at a scenic courtyard in Jerusalem's Old City about the Gaza Disengagement Plan:


Ambulance abuse

The IDF arrested three wanted Tanzim fugitives riding in an ambulance near Bethlehem. Haaretz reports that one of them, Imad Faraj, a senior leader in the organization, claimed to be suffering from appendicitis. Faraj was taken to Hadassah Hospital and then transferred to the Shin Bet.

See this blog entry documenting previous examples of ambulance abuse by Palestinian terrorists.

Brigades apologize to photojournalist

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade admits it attacked a Palestinian photographer employed by AFP and the PA’s daily paper, Al-Ayam. Last April, Jamal Arouri’s arms were broken by three masked men; at the time, nobody claimed responsibility or offered a reason why Arouri was targeted. The photographer agreed not to press charges after receiving a written apology from his attackers, but the Jerusalem Post reports that Yasser Arafat personally intervened to mediate the dispute, possibly because Arouri’s attackers are also wanted by Israel. We haven’t noticed any coverage of this from AFP or anywhere else.


Monday, June 21 2004

Hezbollah's 'anti-aircraft' missiles

Analyst Elliot Chodoff on NY Times coverage of yesterday's Hezbollah skirmish:

“Despite an Israeli military withdrawal from southern Lebanon four years ago, Israeli warplanes still fly over Lebanese air space and sometimes draw fire from Hezbollah.” (Israel and Hezbollah Clash, NY Times, June 21, 2004) The Times neglects to mention that sometimes IAF planes draw Hizbullah fire when they fly on the Israeli side of the border, and sometimes even when they are not flying at all.

The story of Hizbullah antiaircraft fire landing in Israel is a fine illustration of the truth but less than the whole truth, since antiaircraft munitions are designed to explode in the air, and not to reach the ground even if they miss their airborne targets. How is it that Hizbullah antiaircraft shells not only refuse to self-destruct, but always manage to land coincidentally near Israeli populated areas?

Clearing the record

camp_david_iiJudging from the advance coverage we’ve seen so far, former President Bill Clinton’s memoirs paint an unflattering portrait of Yasser Arafat. It also debunks the Camp David II revisionist claims by Clinton’s assistant, Robert Malley, who tried blaming the summit’s failure on allegedly inadequate Israeli concessions. After an exclusive interview with Clinton, The Guardian wrote:

Clinton's version is that Israel's Ehud Barak was ready to make enormous concessions but that Arafat was not able to "make the final jump from revolutionary to statesman ... he just couldn't bring himself to say yes".

We already debunked such revisionism by Malley and AP, but the memoirs provide an opportunity to clarify the historical record once and for all.

Palestinian integration

Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement finally acknowledged what we knew all along: the Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades are an integral part of Fatah. Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurei said to the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on Sunday:

“We have clearly declared that the Aksa Martyrs Brigades are part of Fatah...We are committed to them and Fatah bears full responsibility for the group.”

But now, rather than dismantle the movement (which is designated by the US State Department as a terror organization), Qureia wants to integrate them into Palestinian Authority, with salaries and a political role.


Sunday, June 20 2004

Tom Gross on 'the BBC bubble'

Veteran journalist and commentator Tom Gross has an excellent (and scathing) review of BBC Mideast coverage in National Review. After recounting many of the most egregious BBC violations of journalistic ethics over the past few years, Gross addresses the institutionalized problem at the Beeb:

The problem is not that every individual correspondent is biased. Whereas some, such as Orla Guerin, make almost no attempt at balance, others, such as James Reynolds in Jerusalem, do make a genuine effort to be fair. The problem is that the culture that permeates the BBC, a habit of thought that has become engrained throughout the network, allows only one worldview, in which the U.S. and Israel are vilified well beyond any reasoned or justified criticism of anything these states have actually done.

Hiring practices reinforce this. Recently, Ibrahim Helal, editor in chief of the much-criticized al Jazeera TV network was hired by the BBC World Service Trust. The job the BBC wanted him for? To advise on balance in Middle East coverage, and head "media training projects," i.e. to train BBC (and perhaps other journalists) into "understanding the Middle East better."

An important, cogent critique from a leading international journalist -- read it here.

Cool new Israel atlas

Check out this new, flash-based Israel atlas. Don't miss the little moving planes, trains and automobiles.

And if you haven't seen it yet, check out 'Israel's Story in Maps' (via the Israeli Foreign Ministry's site).

Proud to be censured

john_gibsonJohn Gibson of Fox News says he’s "proud to be censured by the British government." Gibson got a wrist-slap from Ofcom, the British government’s media watchdog.

Commenting on the Hutton Commission inquiry into the death of Dr. David Kelly and the BBC’s Iraq reporting, Gibson accused the Beeb of “a frothing-at-the-mouth" anti-American bias.

Intifada's End

Did Israel win the intifada? That’s Charles Krauthammer's belief. The Washington Post columnist makes a strong case that Israel has won a strategic victory over the Palestinians:

Israel is now defining a new equilibrium that will reign for years to come -- the separation fence is unilaterally drawing the line that separates Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinians were offered the chance to negotiate that frontier at Camp David and chose war instead. Now they are paying the price.

It stands to reason. It is the height of absurdity to launch a terrorist war against Israel, then demand the right to determine the nature and route of the barrier built to prevent that very terrorism.

These new strategic realities are not just creating a new equilibrium, they are creating the first hope for peace since Arafat officially tore up the Oslo accords four years ago. Once Israel has withdrawn from Gaza and has completed the fence, terrorism as a strategic option will be effectively dead. The only way for the Palestinians to achieve statehood and dignity, and to determine the contours of their own state, will be to negotiate a final peace based on genuine coexistence with a Jewish state.

Similar sentiments presented recently at the Wall Street Journal Europe, and Jerusalem Post.

Closing the Loopholes

Palestine Media Watch got the attention of Congress by documenting how Palestinian organizations (even municipalities) exploited loopholes in US foreign aid regulations.

One example of how US taxpayer money was spent: Approximately $410,000 in US aid helped pay for a Nablus recreation center named after Salah Khalaf, whom the Washington Times describes as "the spiritual godfather of the Palestinian Black September faction responsible for the 1972 massacre at the Munich Summer Olympics." The Times goes on to report that the Senate Appropriations subcommittee overseeing USAID funding is looking to close the loopholes.

Oldie But 'Goodie'

Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds notes an issue with a BBC Gaza reporter that HonestReporting highlighted more than two years ago. Since we still get occasional emails about Beeb correspondent Fayad Abu Shamala, here’s a reminder of what Abu Shamala proclaimed at Hamas gathering on May 6, 2001:

"Journalists and media organizations [are] waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people."

Tom Gross says that Abu Shamala is still reporting for the BBC from Gaza.

(Hat tip: David G.)


Thursday, June 17 2004

CSM Editor on bias

Christian Science Monitor Editor Paul Van Slambrouck addresses the question of his paper's biases. Van Slambrouck invited readers to respond and now publishes some of their comments.

NBC catches Saudi double-speak

abdullahKudos to NBC News for picking up on the Saudi double-speak on the kingdom's latest wave of terror -- for western audiences, the royals blame Al-Qaeda, but or home audiences, the Saudi leaders blame - guess who - the Zionists.

A video report from Nightly News with Tom Brokaw is available as well.

The material used in the NBC report came from MEMRI. It's certainly a positive sign that MEMRI's documentation is getting more play at major western news outlets.


Wednesday, June 16 2004

BBC Radio, still unbalanced

Last night, BBC Radio 3 had a 13-minute segment on its 'Night Waves' program that addressed media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- listen to it here (in RealPlayer).

The program included three guests: A BBC deputy head of news, a BBC Mideast reporter, and the central guest 'expert' -- Professor Greg Philo of Glasgow University, who recently did a study that, he claims, demonstrates a anti-Palestinian bias in TV news coverage of the conflict.

Philo's primary claims: 1) BBC News doesn't give enough historical background on Arab suffering at the hands of Israelis, and 2) BBC journalists are intimidated by pro-Israel activists, and therefore hold back on criticizing Israel. Philo is a notorious anti-Israeli ideologue whose biggest fans appear to be John Pilger and Noam Chomsky.

What's unbelievable here is that BBC radio has once again produced a show on an important topic in coverage of the Mideast conflict, but refused to present the balance necessary to fairly tackle the issue. (In March, the issue was the terms 'terrorist/freedom fighter', and the two BBC Radio guests were terrorist-sympathizers.) Certainly BBC Radio should have balanced out Philo's anti-Israel views -- which they present as 'academic' and therefore supposedly 'neutral' -- with those of another British critic of BBC coverage, such as Trevor Asserson at BBC Watch, who has produced three exhaustive studies demonstrating the BBC's anti-Israel bias.

Comments to BBC Radio 3: click here

(Hat tip: Arnold M.)

See the HR communique on this topic.


Tuesday, June 15 2004

Worth reading today

* The Baltimore Sun reports on the failure and irrelevance of the Palestinian Authority:

After more than three years of bitter fighting with Israel ... the people of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are increasingly disillusioned with Arafat and the government he leads, the Palestinian Authority. The forces arrayed against him include many of the people who had looked to him as the person who could best help them gain an independent Palestinian state.

* IDF home demolitions are driving Rafah residents to confront smugglers (Haaretz):

Two angry residents of the Al-Salaam neighborhood in Rafah murdered Fathi Abu Ghali, who was active in Rafah's popular resistance committees, after he dug a new shaft that connected to a smuggling tunnel, capping a series of actions by Rafah residents against tunnel operators

* NY Times: Differing attitudes among Orthodox Jews on Gaza withdrawal

* Anti-terror: Two Al Aqsa leaders killed in Nablus; foiled car bomb attack in Gaza

* World Shrugs as Iran builds nuke program

* Wash Post's Richard Cohen likes Jeffrey Goldberg's New Yorker article on Israeli settlers. (Barbara Sofer and Andrea Levin disagree.)

The Fatah-Al Aqsa Brigade

In February, we issued a communique on the media's misrepresentation of the relationship between Yassir Arafat's Fatah faction and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade - one of the most deadly Palestinian terrorist groups. While the large media outlets were describing 'loose ties' between the two, the evidence clearly showed a direct and ongoing bond.

Now, Fatah is openly acknowledging that bond. The Jerusalem Post reports that a disagreement between the two groups has led Fatah to publically recognize its obligations to the AAMB. For their part, the AAMB is feeling abandoned by their sponsor:

"Thanks to us, Fatah restored its dignity and power during the intifada," [an AAMB leader] added. "But now the members of the Fatah Central Council are putting pressure on us to disband. We don't trust them any more and we tell them that they are the ones who must go."

Given this acknowledgement, there is now even less justification for media distortions of the ties between Arafat's dominant party and this terrorist gang. As we noted in February:

This is not merely a semantic matter. The close ties that bond the Fatah-led PA to terrorist groups are the fundamental problem that prevents progress toward peaceful reconciliation. The dominant political party in the PA remains a direct sponsor of ongoing terrorism ― the ruling politicians and the terrorists are one and the same.

If you see a news article that continues to describe mere 'loose links' between Fatah and the AAMB, please notify us at


Monday, June 14 2004

Romeo and Juliet in Gaza

romeoVia Yediot Achronot (Hebrew):

On Wednesday, IDF soldiers spotted a Palestinian couple in their 20s approaching the security fence near Kfar Darom in Gaza. The soldiers at first thought they were dealing with suicide attackers, but something about the pair caused the soldiers to hesitate before opening fire.

After their capture, the couple explained that they had been seeing each other for six years, but their families disapproved of their marrying.

Out of despair, they decided to commit suicide by entering a forbidden zone so that the soldiers would shoot them.

After additional questioning, the two were released.


Sunday, June 13 2004

Gulf News' idea of journalism

BJ Turner of Fort Smith, AR points us to her correspondence with the Dubai-based Gulf News, which is presently on the Gulf News letters page. See the 'editor's note' at bottom:

Sad, but true
From Mrs. B. J. Turner, Arkansas, US

This letter definitely will fall on deaf ears and will not be published in the letters column. Nevertheless, I feel the need to write it. I find it amusing, pathetic, that you publish letters using the term "Israeli terrorist" yet you always edit mine when I write using the word "terrorist" in connection with certain Palestinian actions by substituting it with the word "militant". And you call yourself "free" and "open-minded".

I would be only too glad to write rebuttals to Messrs. Aluva and El Thaher's letters ("Ground realities" and "Uprising" Gulf News, Online, June 8) but won't because Gulf News edits my 100 word emails so heavily that I often don't recognise my own writing. Shame on Gulf News for this censorship!

Editor's note: Mrs. Turner should thank Gulf News for publishing her letters regularly, though she sends them from America. Every newspaper has a policy – and our policy towards all Palestinians is that they are freedom fighters. If Mrs. Turner does not like our policy, then she can stop writing to Gulf News.

Buried context

In the HonestReporting communique from Thursday, we raised concern for Associated Press burying the context for last week's Israeli airstrike just south of Beirut. Lack of context suggests the IDF acts aggressively for no good reason.

HR reader Ed F. from Winnepeg adds an important point:

In practical terms, burying the context or the Israeli side of events deep in the story often means that such information gets cut by newspaper copy editors. At the newspapers, that is usually not done for reasons of hostility to Israel but due to shortage of space and the exigencies of moving on to the next story and getting the paper out.

The question is: Do the editors at the news agencies who send these stories out over the wires know that?

They probably are aware of this issue. But even without getting cut by copy editors, the buried context is not seen, or properly understood, by the great majority of readers. And that's bad reporting.

BBC whitewashes Saudi preacher

sheikBBC reports on a guest preacher at the opening of a new London mosque. BBC presents the preacher -- Sheikh Abdur-Rahman al-Sudais, from Saudi Arabia -- as an unexceptional leader promoting 'community cohension' (sic) and 'building communities'.

But Harry's Place and MEMRI have the real story on Sheikh al-Sudais, who has made these public statements:

In one of his sermons, Saudi sheikh Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayyis, imam and preacher at the Al-Haraam mosque — the most important mosque in Mecca — beseeched Allah to annihilate the Jews. He also urged the Arabs to give up peace initiatives with them because they are “the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs.”[2]

“Read history,” called Al-Sudayyis in another sermon, “and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil fathers of the Jews of today, who are evil offspring, infidels, distorters of [others’] words, calf-worshippers, prophet-murderers, prophecy-deniers... the scum of the human race ‘whom Allah cursed and turned into apes and pigs...’ These are the Jews, an ongoing continuum of deceit, obstinacy, licentiousness, evil, and corruption...”

A fair report on this Saudi preacher's visit would have made reference to his wildly anti-Semitic views.

Comments to:

UPDATE: AP has a similar report on the 'peaceful' preacher.


Friday, June 11 2004

Bummer of a wedding

weddingarrestVia Maariv:

A wanted Hamas terrorist was in for an unpleasant surprise on his wedding night – an IDF force interrupted the wedding and arrested him. "Dozens of soldiers suddenly appeared and detained the groom on the dance floor," the owner of the banquet hall told NRG Maariv. The IDF says the man in question is a Hamas activist with "blood on his hands."

Too bad for the about being left at the altar. They should have eloped.


Thursday, June 10 2004

More on EU-financed Palestinian terror reports that the EU continues to uncover a money trail from European taxpayers to Palestinian terrorists:

Bayerische Rundfunk (Bavarian TV) reported that 246 million euro of EU money, granted to the Palestinian Authority by the European Commission, ended up in fully uncontrollable bank accounts. Bayerische Rundfunk said, on the basis of a letter by Arafat that it had obtained, that the Palestinian leader personally ordered terrorist attacks, using the accounts where the EU money ended up.

For more on this, see here.

The lack of media interest in this story is baffling...

New Yorker article on settlers

Barbara Sofer critiques a recent article in The New Yorker by Jeffrey Goldberg, entitled 'Among the Settlers: Will they destroy Israel?':

A more important problem is the writer's obvious dislike of his subjects. This from a reporter who interviewed Ahmed Yassin and Hizbullah leaders in Lebanon without expressing antipathy. Let it suffice to say that I doubt he would have remarked on the unkempt fingernails of a working mother with 10 children had she lived in Beirut, Bombay, or Belfast.

But in Hebron, the rules are different. The same mother of 10, claims Goldberg, suffers from a "Moriah complex." The traditional site of the binding of Isaac, says Goldberg, "symbolizes a Jew's absolute devotion to even the most inexplicable and cruel demands of God. The Moriah complex is characterized by a desire to match Abraham's devotion to God, even at the price of a child's life."

The suggestion that she – or, by extension, all of us who live here – values her children less than he does and would welcome the sacrifice of a child is an obscenity, not to mention his misuse of a seminal story of Jewish tradition.

See also the response to the article from David Wilder, spokesman for the Jewish Community of Hebron. Wilder claims Goldberg both misrepresented the tone he intended to use in the article (in order to gain access to interviews), and fabricated elements of the story. Your classic 'charm and betray' reporter's M.O.

Israel's northern threat

Israel's northern border heated up this week. Here's a rundown of what happened:

1) On Monday, a Palestinian group (probably the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) fired a number of rockets from Lebanon toward Israel. At least one splashed down near an Israeli sea vessel in Israeli territorial waters.

2) In retaliation hours later, the IAF struck a PFLP target just south of Beirut.

3) On Tuesday, Hezbullah shelled IDF positions on Har Dov, and the IDF returned fire. (article)

Now, here's a map that explains why it's essential for Israel to respond to these provocations forcefully. The relevant item here is the range of Katyusha missiles:


News stories don't include the information conveyed by this map. But you have no idea what's really flying in this story if you don't understand this map and its implications for Israeli security -- over a million civilians live within range of Ketushas fired from southern Lebanon. And thanks to Syria and Iran, there are plenty pointing that way.


Wednesday, June 9 2004

The worst exploitation

The Israeli consul to New England on Palestinians' use of women suicide bombers:

From childhood, Palestinian girls are targeted by the same propaganda campaigns as their male counterparts: school textbooks teach hate, posters of male and female suicide bombers hang on classroom walls, and children trade "martyr medallions" like baseball cards. However, women in Palestinian society are especially vulnerable to such coercion due to their subordination, which is enforced both legally and socially. Terror organizations frequently recruit women with problematic social statuses, such as suspected adulteresses and rape victims. In fact, one of the most despicable methods used by Yasser Arafat's own terror organization, the Fatah, is to seduce young women or arrange their rapes and subsequently pressure them to rehabilitate their social status by becoming "martyrs."

Tuesday, June 8 2004

Foreigners First

When Washington Post correspondent Daniel Williams was nearly killed by Iraqi insurgents, the paper’s foreign editor, Philip Bennett wrote that covering Iraq is unlike any other war zone:

Good reporting is as urgently needed as ever, with lives and the political futures of perhaps two countries at stake. But it has never seemed more dangerous. Kidnappings and ambushes have driven most foreign civilians out of the country, or into bunkers guarded by U.S. soldiers. For journalists, the familiar rules of engagement have been stripped away. Gone is the assumption that correspondents are more valuable as witnesses than as targets, and that they share only the risks that all civilians face in wartime. To insurgents, foreign journalists are foreigners first, just another element of an occupying force to which we don't belong….

It is worth asking whether these conditions make coverage overly negative, expressing journalists' oppressive sense of siege, or too complacent, reflecting the reporters' estrangement from Iraqis and their lives. As an editor spending a few days in Baghdad with Post correspondents and local staff, I didn't see evidence to support either view. But I was struck that what is invisible in Iraq now feels much larger than what is visible.

Courageous reporting is necessary in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Gaza Strip. But if a reporter’s mental stress can impact coverage, we have to wonder about the accuracy of what's presented. The Post published Williams’ account of Friday’s ambush on the dusty desert highway between Falujah and Baghdad.

Uncle Samadi Wants You

UncleSamAn Iranian group calling itself "The Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign" claims it has registered thousands of recruits for “martyrdom operations” against Israel, American forces in Iraq, as well as Salman Rushdie. Forms were sent to religious universities, and spokesman Mohammad Ali Samadi says the committee awaits permission from Iran’s 'supreme leadership' before dispatching bombers. (Hat tip: Daily Alert)

[UPDATE: Here's the official application form to participate in the 'martyrdom operations'.]


Monday, June 7 2004

NY Times Duped Again?

Joel Mowbray argues that the NY Times was used by the CIA and State Dept. to smear Ahmed Chalabi and his allies in the Bush administration. The Times recently admitted it was duped by questionable sources about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program.

Bird's Eye View of the Liberty Incident

miragexThe USS Liberty incident continues to provide grist for all kinds of conspiracy theories (here, here, here, here, here, and here, among others). Recently, the Israeli Air Force allowed a reporter from the Jerusalem Post to listen to tapes of the radio transmissions before, during and immediately after the June 8, 1967 attack on the US intelligence-gathering vessel. One of the pilots involved, Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Yiftach Spector, agreed to be identified for an interview as well.

On that fateful day, a mysterious ship was reported off the coast of El-Arish; the IDF thought the ship might have been responsible for the shelling of an arms depot on the beach. Three torpedo boats were dispatched but then the Air Force was requested to intercept the ship.

We recommend readers read the transcripts and interview in full.


Sunday, June 6 2004

D-Day revisited

Silent Running on how the BBC would have reported it, given their attitude today.

Mike Lester's version:


Friday, June 4 2004

Winning vs. the terrorists

Two further items to support our communique from yesterday:

* 'Is Israel Winning the War on Suicide Bombers?' Arieh O'Sullivan, JPost

Every night, soldiers and Shin Bet agents round up suspected Palestinian terrorists and fugitives in the West Bank in a quiet but effective crushing of terrorism. Intelligence from interrogations of detained Palestinians is key to thwarting attacks. There were three major suicide bombings inside Israel in the first five months of 2004 that killed 28 and wounded 120 people. In comparison, in the first six months of last year, six suicide bombings killed 54 people and wounded over 300. In 2003, there was a total of 23 suicide bombings that killed over 180 people.

* Security Fence Brings Stability to Jenin - Matthew Gutman, JPost

According to Hader Abu Sheikh, an official of the Palestinian Legislative Council, "there is 70% more nightlife in Jenin than a year ago." "We are talking about the resumption of traditional Palestinian nightlife," explains Abu Sheikh. "Weddings, men sitting in cafes late at night, women visiting each other....The point is, people are no longer confined to their houses at night, because Israel has left the city." According to the IDF, the security fence relieves the army of the necessity to regularly patrol the city.

"There are positive business indicators, as people are starting to think of capital and investment and commerce again," said Ziad Mifleh, director-general of the Jenin Chamber of Commerce. Even Palestinian Legislative Council member Sakhri Turkuman, a Fatah official, concedes that the security fence has "created some stability in Jenin."

Now why don't the major Western media outlets pick up these stories?


Thursday, June 3 2004

Dore Gold on the 'neocons conspiracy'

doregoldDore Gold is the latest to address the problem of blaming 'Jewish insiders' for the Bush administration's decision to go to war on Iraq. Excerpt:

* An insidious but steady drumbeat can be discerned over the last several weeks charging that the primary interest of the Bush administration in going to war against Saddam Hussein was to defend Israeli security interests. This newest wave is often more subtle but also far more mainstream than what was voiced in this regard just last year.

* Yet from Israel's perspective, by 2003 the Iraqi Army had been severely degraded in both military manpower and equipment. Continuing UN sanctions had made Iraqi re-armament difficult and Iraq was clearly not Israel's primary concern. Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens concluded in August 2002 that in the immediate future, "the [missile] threat that Israel most likely will have to contend with" is that of Syria. He described the Iraqi capability as "relatively limited." During the same month, Israel's current chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, declared in Jerusalem that the threat posed by Iraq "doesn't make me lose sleep."

* In other words, the American war against Iraq may have had an unintended side-effect of removing a secondary or tertiary threat to Israel, but not a primary threat.

See also our earlier post on this topic.

HR's response to AJR article

The American Journalism Review published an article by Barbara Matusow criticizing the role of media monitors in coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Here's HonestReporting's response to the AJR:

To the AJR Editor,

In her recent article 'Caught in the Crossfire', Barbara Matusow critiques our organization among others that advocate balanced coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Unfortunately, Ms. Matusow omits any mention of the countless corrections and significant improvements in coverage that our organization has been reponsible for, and for which Mideast correspondents themselves often express appreciation. Perhaps worse, Ms. Matusow maligns responsible news outlets such as CNN that have devoted resources to improving balance in their Mideast coverage, claiming editors there are merely bowing to the "intense pressure."

"One newspaper reporter," laments Ms. Matusow, "acknowledged in an interview that she has balanced the number of quotes in her dispatches to ward off criticism." Our understanding is that balanced quotations are a desirable practice when covering a conflict. Why does Ms. Matusow consider this an unfortunate result of media monitors?

Indeed, Ms. Matusow's tendentious piece is precisely the type of journalism our organization seeks to correct.


Michael Weinstein
Managing Editor

Dershowitz at Berkeley


Transcript of a fine speech by Alan Dershowitz at UC Berkeley on May 29, 2004:

a young student came to me from Harvard College and asked me for forgiveness. I said, "What do I have to forgive you for? I don't even know you."

He said, "I never speak up on campus, in my classroom, in my dormitory, at dinner. I never speak up in favor of Israel even though I've been there on Operation Birthright and I know the facts and hear the lies."

"Why not?" I asked.

He replied, "Because if I am perceived as pro-Israel, pro-Zionist, in favor of Israel, I won't be able to get dates with young girls."

Continue reading "Dershowitz at Berkeley"


Wednesday, June 2 2004

Jay Rosen on bias, balance, and fairness

Big discussion on Jay Rosen's blog regarding issues of media bias, balance, and fairness.

Rosen doesn't think 'bias' is a helpful term at all, since

any work of journalism is saturated with bias from the moment the reporter leaves the office--and probably before that--to the edited and finished product.

There's bias in the conversation our biased reporter has with his biased editor, bias in the call list he develops for his story, bias in his choice of events to go out and cover, bias in the details he writes down at the event, bias in his lead paragraph, bias in the last paragraph, bias when his editor cuts a graph. The headline someone else writes for him-- that has bias. There's bias in the placement of the story. (No bias in the pixels or printer's ink, though.)

Two of Rosen's readers reframe the question, therefore:

Any selection of facts will necessarily represent a bias. I think the main problem most Americans have with the current incarnation of the mainstream media is not that they have biases, but rather that they all share the same rather narrow biases, a reflection of the fact that almost all the media is now controlled and produced by a very narrow and unrepresentative slice of the population.


The overriding value in journalism, along with accuracy, must be not objectivity but fairness. Not the kind of fairness wherein for every Hannity you have a Colmes, but the kind of fairness where, regardless of the journalist's personal feelings, he or she can judge a piece of reporting on whether all the important points of view have had a legitimate chance to change minds.

Though we at HonestReporting sometimes use the term 'bias' to describe problematic Mideast coverage, 'fairness' might be a more appropriate term in many cases. And there is certainly a narrow, pack mentality among many Israel correspondents that results in unbalanced coverage of this conflict.

Hizbullah TV's 'Road to Palestine'

Via MediaLine:

Hizballah's TV station Al-Manar is airing video-clips day and night depicting the fight against Israel and the aspiration to correct what it sees as the historic injustice done to the Palestinians. In other words: the complete destruction of the state of Israel.

A recent video clip says: "We shall return," together with the names of Israeli cities such as Beersheva and Tiberias.

With funding and assistance from Iran, Syria, and more recently from al-Qaeda, Hizballah has turned into a leading force in the Arab and Muslim world.

Not just in Lebanon, that is.
Here's a clip (4 min. in .wmv) of some of this video, with English subtitles.

Only Israel labled 'Nazi'

NAZIWalter Reich in the LA Times (req. reg.) :

Genocidal mass murder continues to foul the world. So do large-scale massacres of civilians and brutal executions.

Yet the foulest epithet in any language — "Nazi" — is hurled not against any of the perpetrators of those crimes but, uniquely and systematically, against Israel.

A piece well worth reading. We received a number of alerts from concerned Times readers regarding an illustration that accompanied this article in the print edition. The illustration (above - click for larger version) was the word 'NAZI' with Israel written inside the 'I'.

While the illustration was ill-conceived, its context alongside the article indicates that there was no major impropriety from the Times on this one.


Tuesday, June 1 2004

Reuterization of Washington Times?

AtlanticBlog points out this line from a Washington Times report on the UN Human Rights Commission:

Washington has staked out an increasingly moral and, in many quarters, unpopular stand in the HRC by aggressively seeking the censure of China, Zimbabwe, Cuba and other dictatorial regimes, even as it defends Israel.

Asks William Sjostram:

"even as"? So when did Sharon pull off a military coup and cancel elections?

Comments to Washington Times: click here


HR Links

HR Social Media

Featured Blogs

Featured Links

Media Backspin