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Media Backspin
« June 2004 | Main | August 2004 »

Thursday, July 29 2004

Al-Manar Banned, Al-Jazeera Monitored

In France, the French Broadcasting Authority banned Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s TV station. The move was sparked by Al-Manar airing al-Shatat, a mini-series about a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world (one episode depicted a graphic blood libel).

Meanwhile, in Canada, when the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission recently allowed Al-Jazeera to broadcast, the permission came with certain conditions. Would-be distributors and Canadian Arabs are claiming the conditions make it impossible for anyone to broadcast Al-Jazeera in Canada.

Continue reading "Al-Manar Banned, Al-Jazeera Monitored"

Gaza residents in pictures

bbcphotoessayEvery once in a while the BBC will surprise you -- here's a BBC photo essay of Gaza residents sharing their thoughts on the Sharon plan. You get a sense that these are real people, not fanatics.

You've got to admit...


[Via Yesha Speaks Out]


Wednesday, July 28 2004

Worth reading today

* Yossi Klein Halevi argues that the ICJ ruling changed the terms of the debate in favor of the Palestinians. The issue isn't the security fence any longer, but Israel's claim to the West Bank and Gaza:

The court, after all, hasn't challenged Israel's right to build fences along its borders with Lebanon or Gaza because those have been built on the 1967 lines. The real meaning of the court's decision, then, is to delegitimize not Israel's right to self-defense but its right to claim any territory, even for self-defense, over the Green Line.

The danger of that decision is to create the legal groundwork for an imposed solution that would force Israel back to the 1967 borders, even without a peace agreement - Yasser Arafat's dream scenario.
And so the war Israel needs to fight now isn't so much over the decision itself but its premise: that all land beyond the 1967 border belongs by right to Palestine.

* Dennis Prager lays out the key 'moral arguments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,' via numbers.

* Boston Globe has an in-depth look at the Palestinian cement scandal.

* Palestinian academic Marwan Bishara wrote a carefully worded commentary in the International Herald Tribune calling on Arafat to reform the PA.

When the media turn a corner

It seems the media pack, like a Tour de France pack, has turned some kind of corner on Yassir Arafat. Note the skepticism shown by these news outlets regarding Arafat's recent deal with Qureia:

'Qureia withdrew his 10-day-old resignation letter and prepared to take charge of part of the security forces formerly under Arafat's control. But the promises Arafat made to defuse the crisis were vague, and left Palestinians wondering whether real power would change hands.'

'But Arafat, a former guerrilla leader, has not honored similar promises in the past. Tuesday's deal leaves him in charge of national security and intelligence which encompass the bulk of Palestinian security personnel. '

Continue reading "When the media turn a corner"


Monday, July 26 2004

Bungled headline of the day

From Associated Press:

Israelis Form Human Chain Across Gaza

No, that would be from Gaza to Jerusalem.

Comments to:

Vanunu: Israel killed JFK

While Reuters was photographing Mordechai Vanunu as a halo-capped Jesus today (guess who's 'crucifying' him?)...


Vanunu himself was demonstrating remarkable credibility by claiming Israel had an agent on the grassy knoll:

Vanunu said that according to "near-certain indications," Kennedy was assassinated due to "pressure he exerted on then head of government, David Ben-Gurion, to shed light on Dimona's nuclear reactor."

Monomaniac, perhaps?

Media Intimidation Continues

While we recently noted Palestinian efforts to restrict media coverage of the intra-fadeh, efforts to cover up the in-fighting are now taking a more ominous turn. The Jerusalem Post reports that the various Palestinian groups at odds with each other are sending death threats to Arab journalists:

As a result, many of them said they have stopped covering the internecine fighting. Others said they were continuing to report on the power struggle, but without having their names mentioned for fear of reprisal.

The Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate in the Gaza Strip already warned its members not to cover anti-corruption rallies or attacks on PA offices, even threatening an unspecified punishment. The Arab news services Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyya also received threats. So free press in the Palestinian Authority is being stifled and the intra-fadeh is overlooked or under-reported in the Arab world. Because Western news services rely heavily on Palestinian stringers, we have to wonder just how complete the overall coverage is.

The Committee to Protect Journalists spoke out against the press intimidation, but judging from past experience, the PA won't act to ensure open press coverage, and the world media won't deem it worthy of attention.


Sunday, July 25 2004

Arafat's Stolen Fortune

yasser_arafatFrontPageMagazine published a commentary by Rachel Ehrenfeld describing how Arafat pilfered money to build up his personal fortune to finance terror. Her thesis is that Arafat has enough money amassed to maintain his power, despite the "intra-fadeh" against PA corruption.

Jawad Ghussein, who was the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Fund until 1996, remarked yesterday on the phone from London, "the billions Arafat has stolen over the years from the Palestinian people facilitated the corruption of the Palestinian leadership, and is the source of his power over them." He went on to say that Arafat "took aid money and contributions that were earmarked for the Palestinian people, to his own account." Ghussein was in a position to know: for twelve years, he had deposited $7.5 to $8 million each month into Arafat's personal bank account.

Ehrenfeld estimates that Arafat controls $495 million to spend at his sole discretion, and that at least 60 percent of the money comes from foreign donations.


Friday, July 23 2004

New BBC Watch report

BBC Watch has released its fourth comprehensive report on BBC coverage of the Mideast conflict. This time, Trevor Asserson and Cassie Williams analyzed all documentary programs broadcast by BBC from late 2000 to June 2004.

Their principal findings: the BBC is running a 'campaign to vilify Israel,' broadcasting a documentary critical of Israel every 2-3 months; 88% of documentaries on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict paint a negative impression of Israel; of 17 programs, only 1 was positive towards Israel. Conclusion:

Consistent with our previous reports, we find that the BBC is in persistent breach of its duties of fairness, accuracy and impartiality when it covers the Middle East. The overwhelming concentration on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict amounts to discrimination against all the other humanitarian and political causes around the world which also merit attention.

Within the programmes made on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict there is an overwhelming bias against Israel. This is particularly worrying because it has been such a long running bias. The BBC cannot argue that it is a temporary discrepancy, which will be remedied over time. What has occurred amounts to a campaign of vilification of Israel, which has persisted for some three and half years.

View the complete report here.

German sympathies

Published in the German paper Suddeutsche Zeitung -- Sharon is saying, "Why don't I get any sympathy?"



Thursday, July 22 2004

NY Times calls for Arafat's resignation

In an editorial published today -- 'The Arafat Problem' -- the New York Times calls for Yassir Arafat to quit:

It's been the misfortune of the Palestinian people to be stuck with Yasir Arafat as their founding father, a leader who has failed to make the transition from romantic revolutionary to statesman. All he seems capable of offering Palestinians now is a communal form of the martyrdom he seems to covet. Mr. Arafat should accept his limitations and retire as president of the Palestinian Authority.

Continue reading "NY Times calls for Arafat's resignation"

Israel's friends in the Pacific

Why is it that Micronesia and the Marshall Islands are always among the tiny minority of Israel supporters at the UN (as they were at Tuesday's vote)? Totally Jewish did some investigating:

Continue reading "Israel's friends in the Pacific"

Arafat to journalists: 'Toe the line!'

An addendum to our communique today on Yassir Arafat's seeming collapse:

The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that Arafat has issued "a warning to Palestinian journalists to cease all coverage of the kind of street protests that rocked the Gaza Strip and some West Bank cities last weekend":

Reporters have also been threatened with severe punishment if they depict clashes between rival groups in the Gaza Strip, such as the gunfight in Rafah that injured 12 people on Sunday.

The ban effectively prevents international news outlets from covering these events, since they depend on Palestinian photographers, reporters and editors to produce news footage and written copy for broadcasters, print media and wire services.

The last time such threats were issued was in September of 2001, when Palestinian reporters were forced to suppress images of huge street celebrations in Nablus and Bethlehem after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. International news bureau chiefs for wire services including Reuters and Associated Press were warned that their cameramen would be in danger if their footage was broadcast in the West.

(Hat tip: James Taranto)


Wednesday, July 21 2004

Throwing the Book at Arafat

Yasser Arafat has been dealing with deteriorating security in Gaza, calls for reform, even charges that he's obstructing an investigation of the murder of three Americans. Now, "Missing Peace," a new book by former US Mideast envoy Dennis Ross squarely blames Arafat for the failure of the Camp David II talks.

Ross, according to this book review, predicts that a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will be similar to the deal Arafat turned down at Camp David II.

So why hasn't this deal been struck? Ross blames Arafat. In the final process, at Camp David, the man who seized world attention for Palestinians appeared unable to adjust to anything but living in struggle. "Only one leader," Ross writes, "was unable or unwilling to confront history and mythology: Yasser Arafat."

Ross' claim further undermines the claims of Camp David revisionists. Read more about that issue here and here.

Arab Propaganda Coup

Richard Eisendorf makes a compelling argument that the media’s use of hostage videos coming out of Iraq rewards terrorism:

Is it not a cynical irony that American television stations would not air British interviews with Monica Lewinsky because they violate a tenet of journalism ethics not to pay for interviews, but they willingly air the propaganda videos produced by hooded gunmen reading prepared statements and forcing their victims to beg for their lives?

Journalism and societal ethics draw the line at showing the actual murder and the slayers proudly displaying the victim's head. That line should be pulled back even further. Disarm the terrorists by not giving them the platform from which to conduct their killing diplomacy.

(Hat tip:

Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera, which has no shortage of air-time for such videos, was recently approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for broadcast in Arabic. Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, in response to the CRTC decision, details some of Al-Jazeera’s excesses.

Thanks to the CRTC, shadowy Muslim terror groups will now be able to reach millions of Canadian viewers.


Tuesday, July 20 2004

Molly Moore's terror sympathy

EyeOnThePost has a very good critique of a lengthy Washington Post article by Molly Moore that is positively gushing in sympathy for a terrorist gang from Jenin:

On the pages of a responsible newspaper one would expect to read a feature story of lives shattered by terrorism. Not in The Washington Post. In The Post one finds a feature story of lives shattered by becoming terrorists. Molly Moore's sympathy for terrorists (who she never calls as such) could not be more apparent or more inappropriate than in today's large, front page, above the fold article (together with numerous photographs) recounting the melancholy reminiscences of a group of 7 Palestinian friends who in their teens aspired to careers in the theater, but five of whom have since deservedly ended up dead or in jail after choosing to devote their lives to killing innocent civilians.
IDF briefing on Lebanon border events

The IDF released this statement to the press today:

Chronological list of events along Israel's northern border in which Israeli civilians and/or soldiers were killed since the IDF pullout of Lebanon in 2000:

In all, including today's incident, 13 Israeli soldiers were killed (and 53 others wounded) and 6 civilians were killed (and 14 others wounded).

Since May 2000 the following attacks against Israeli targets have taken place:

Continue reading "IDF briefing on Lebanon border events"

We Should Not Forget

funeralFor those who aren't familiar with it: Jacob Richmand has been compiling an extraordinary collection of pictures of victims of every single Palestinian terror attack since October, 2000. It's a work of tremendous concern, a testimony to the senseless pain, and a reminder of the sheer volume of human loss.

Drop Jacob an email to let him know his work is appreciated:

Pipes on Palestinian Chaos

Daniel Pipes addresses the Palestinian Authority's possible collapse, and the matter that lies at the heart of it all:

The question now facing Palestinians is whether they have learned the right lessons from their bitter experience. That for once they are not blaming Israel for their problems gives some reason for optimism. Cox News Service notes that, "as the disorder spreads, Palestinian intellectuals and politicians are increasingly looking past Israel as the usual scapegoat and admitting they share a part of the blame." National Public Radio quotes a Palestinian saying that the PA is in trouble "because many people are being killed or kidnapped or robbed...We are all accusing the government of not doing anything." A poll by the Gaza-based General Institute for Information finds that just 29 percent of Palestinians hold Israelis responsible for the PA's failure to enforce law and order.

This is a good start. But to emerge from their political predicament requires Palestinians coming to terms with the existence of the Jewish state of Israel. So long as they resist this change of heart, the Somali model remains their fate.

Bayefsky on UCJ decision

Columbia University Professor Anne Bayefsky, who delivered an outstanding speech to the UN a short while ago, now responds to the UCJ decision condemning Israel's security fence. Bayefsky stresses that the implications of the UN court's decision reach far beyond Israel:

The Court has declared four new rules about the meaning of the right of self-defense in the face of terrorism today.

(1) There is no right of self-defense under the U.N. Charter when the terrorists are not state actors.

(2) There is no right of self-defense against terrorists who operate from any territory whose status is not finalized, and who therefore attack across disputed borders.

(3) Where military action is perpetrated by "irregulars," self-defense does not apply if the "scale and effects" of the terrorism are insufficient to amount to "an armed attack...had it been carried out by regular armed forces." (The scale in this case is 860 Israeli civilians killed in the last three years — the proportional equivalent of at least 14 9/11's.)

(4) Self-defense does not include nonviolent acts, or in the words of Judge Rosalyn Higgins: "I remain unconvinced that non-forcible measures (such as the building of a wall) fall within self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter."

These conclusions constitute a direct assault on the ability of every U.N. member to fight international terrorism. The U.N. Charter was not a suicide pact and Security Council resolutions in response to 9/11 were intended to strengthen the capacity to confront violent non-state actors, not defeat it.

Bayefsky includes some statements from the judges, rationalizing terror:

some of the judges were concerned that the go-ahead for Palestinian suicide bombers might not be obvious enough. So Judge Abdul Koroma of Sierra Leone wrote: "It is understandable that a prolonged occupation would engender resistance." Judge Nabil Elaraby of Egypt said, "Throughout the annals of history, occupation has always been met with armed resistance. Violence breeds violence." He "wholeheartedly subscribe[d] to the view" that there is "a right of resistance." Judge Hisashi Owada of Japan spoke of the "the so-called terrorist attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers against the Israeli civilian population."

It's a devastating critique, the best-researched and most compelling we've seen. Read it here.


Monday, July 19 2004

Call for Arafat's resignation

MEMRI translates a remarkably frank call for Arafat's resignation in the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat:

In the Palestinian Authority there are 12 security apparatuses, and their number has nothing to do with security but with the fact that there are 12 people who must each be given a security apparatus so they will be important.

Some of the [apparatus] heads are exploiting their apparatuses to gain influence and maybe even to get rich. Arafat has appointed his cronies heads of some of the apparatuses, has set himself at their head, and transformed his headquarters into the joint operations room of all the security apparatuses.

Arafat employs day-to-day tactics with no strategy, and thinks it important to appear in control of everything. This mentality has caused the missing of a rare opportunity, which former prime minister Abu Mazen tried to exploit. Prior to that, other opportunities were missed.

Arafat hangs onto his post, even though he knows that his heading the leadership is truly an obstacle to the Palestinian enterprise. The greatest service Arafat can do for the Palestinians is to submit his resignation. If he does this, the Palestinians will esteem him, and he will do an important service for the [Palestinian] cause.

Is there a wind of change in the air?

Worth reading today

* Responding to the current crisis in the PA, David Gerstman recounts the media's take on Arafat's popularity.

* Caroline Glick on the role of the media in the larger War against Terror:

the ability to harness the media and to control the images of the war is one of the chief components of the terrorist war doctrine. The enemy hides behind press credentials in order to gain operational cover. It stage-manages terrorist theater by giving "scoops" of attacks to fellow travelers with cameras, tape recorders and notepads. It reenacts battlefield defeats as victories before the cameras. It uses its video footage of its own atrocities to both frighten its foes and encourage its sympathizers.

In the strategic use of the media to advance their war aims, the terrorists are assisted by Western press agencies. "Reporters" from Al Manar, Al Jazeera, Hamas and Al Qaida websites and other propaganda organs are viewed as "colleagues" rather than agents of jihad and participants in the war.

* James Reynolds of the BBC interviewed Hussam Abdo about how and why he became a suicide bomber. Essentially, one of his friends was killed, and Abdo didn't like school.


Sunday, July 18 2004

Stockholm Syndrome redux

Four French aid workers were abducted and taken hostage by Palestinians in Gaza on Friday, then released a few hours later. Were they angry? Resentful? Naw...said one:

"I was very well treated. I was given water and I was comfortable in a room...They said they considered us as friends."

There's a real pattern of the Stockholm Syndrome developing in the region. Remember Newsweek's Joshua Hammer, whose recalled his own Gaza abduction in May 2001 almost fondly? Said Hammer, ''They never threatened us or pointed their guns at us...They actually fed us one of the best meals I've eaten in Gaza.' [It also recalls Robert Fisk's affection for his Afghani assailants.]

Campaign idea for kick-starting the Gaza tourism industry:

'Great food! Great drink! Visit Gaza now and you too may have the once-in-a-lifetime experience of personal abduction by gregarious Palestinian terrorists!'


Friday, July 16 2004

Third-party censorship

[Via Josh Harvey:]

David Bernstein points out that the NYTimes can’t even bear to acknowledge that Israel calls terrorists 'terrorists':

"In Israeli cities like Tel Aviv and Haifa, it is possible now to forget about the conflict, at least for a time. But on this side of the barrier, the conflict suffuses life. In June, Israeli forces regularly raided Jenin by night, arresting or killing young men the Army accused of being militants."

The Times, along with most media outlets, refuses to refer to any Palestinian, even a suicide murderer, as a "terrorist." That in itself is a highly questionable judgment. But the last sentence of the quoted paragraph suggests that Israel also refuses to refer to Palestinians it arrests as being anything other than "militants," which is simply inaccurate. Israel doesn't accuse the young men it arrests of being militants, it accuses them of being terrorists. It hardly seems too much to ask that political correctness regarding Palestinian terrorism be suspended when a newspaper is reporting third parties' views.

For more on this issue, see our special report 'Calling Terror By Its Name'


Thursday, July 15 2004

Security breach


From Cox and Forkum.

'Jews and French people'

From French President Jacques Chirac's speech for Bastille Day yesterday:

We are going through a period of displays of racism in which our compatriots, Jews, Muslim or even others, sometimes even simply French people, are the object of aggression with the only motive that they don't belong or are not from such and such a community.

This is the equivalent of George W. Bush saying, "9/11 was a terrible event for Jews, Blacks, and also normal Americans." The New York Times picked up on it:

The suggestion that Jews or Muslims are separate from French people was apparently a slip of the tongue. But it was reminiscent of the words of Raymond Barre, then prime minister, after a bomb attack on a Paris synagogue in 1980, when he deplored the fact that "Jews and innocent French were wounded."

Once might be a 'slip of the tongue,' but twice is an indication of something deeper, wouldn't you say? On this 215th anniversary of French democracy, just how far have the French elite come in accepting Jews into the 'fraternitie'?

Legal defense against terror

The SF Chronicle published a commentary by a legal expert who raises an aspect of the ICJ ruling that effects not only Israelis:

even if you are unconcerned about the lives of Israeli civilians, another portion of the opinion should be alarming to every American. Israel contended that the barrier was justified by its "inherent right to self- defense," as permitted by the U.N. Charter and various Security Council resolutions. Sorry, said the court. The right of self-defense applies only "in the case of an armed attack by one state against another state," which evidently excludes Palestinian terrorists. Thus, the court held that Israel's assertion of self-defense "has no relevance in this case." That same chilling logic would mean that the United States could not fully exercise the right of self-defense against al Qaeda terrorists, because they do not represent a "state" any more than Hamas does.

A similar position is held by Human Rights Watch, which regularly castigates Israel for anti-terror efforts, but never speaks out against Palestinian terrorism, since Hamas et al aren't a state.


Wednesday, July 14 2004

Nasty cartoon of the day

From Canada's Globe and Mail:


Bungled headline of the day


Israeli army fires on UN convoy

You have to read deep into the report to find out that the IDF was in the middle of a gunfight with Palestinians when a convoy delivering humanitarian aid showed up. The IDF claims it never fired on the convoy. The article itself is by AP.

Comments to AP:
Comments to MSNBC:

Jerusalem Post now reporting that the UN has retracted its claim that Israeli tanks fired upon the convoy. Haven't seen a correction on MSNBC though...


Tuesday, July 13 2004

Training children to terror


Sky News has an article on Palestinian terrorists training children to follow after them:

Children as young as 10 are being recruited to fight for the Palestinian cause.

Sky News has gained access to a young people's camp in Gaza, where the only lesson taught is how to kill Israelis.

Sky's Middle East Correspondent Emma Hurd said the camp, at an undisclosed location, had been set up to drill children in the ways of war.

The recruits, some of whom are dwarfed by their AK-47 assault rifles, are taught how to carry out ambushes.

They are also made to do an obstacle course, crawling under barbed wire and leaping through hoops of fire while their instructors fire live bullets overhead.


Hat tip to Charles Johnson, who also hosts the Palestinian Child Abuse slideshow.

UPDATE: Jerusalem Post also has an article on this camp.

Recommended Reading

* The NY Times published a response by Benyamin Netanyahu to the ICJ ruling.

* This commentary in the Toronto Globe&Mail argues that the ICJ will ultimately suffer in the long term for its inability to separate law and politics:

Israel can survive yet another piece of anti-Zionist propaganda labelling its every effort of self-defence a crime against humanity. What is less certain is whether the cause of international justice and the court itself can survive its politicization. Once the court has become so political, which states -- except the politically popular -- would submit to its judgments?

* A US court upheld a $116 million judgment against the PA and PLO for the murder of Yaron and Efrat Ungar, ruling they provided a safe haven for Hamas to plan the attack.

* A Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah wrote an op-ed criticizing PA corruption and mismanagement. Published in the Chicago Tribune:

Corruption and the Palestinian Authority have grown synonymous over the past 10 years. In fact, the government is often criticized, and for good reason, for resembling a Mafia state with Arafat as the godfather.


Monday, July 12 2004

CSM: Efrat is a 'settler outpost'

Ben Lynfield of the Christian Science Monitor did a story on settler outposts recently. The CSM has a feature called 'Reporters on the Job' that's intended to add background to such news reports. Here's what Lynfield submitted on this story:

Correspondent Ben Lynfield set off Thursday on a tour of Israeli outposts with Dror Etkes, a member of "Peace Now" as his guide. Mr. Etkes monitors the removal and expansion of the settlements. "It was a really hot day. We'd been walking around in the blazing sun," says Ben. "After taking a look at the Givat HaTamar outpost on the West Bank, we we were thirsty, and Dror was struggling a bit with his principles," says Ben.

The conundrum: If he buys a drink from a settler outpost, he is contributing to the economic well-being of a project that he's opposed to.

On this day, thirst won out. "We stopped at a little store in Efrat, another settler outpost, and he emerged with bottles of mineral water and orange juice," says Ben.

Efrat, a 'settler outpost'?! Actually, there are about 10,000 people living in Efrat, which is one of the largest and most established West Bank communities, and is situated in non-controversial Gush Etzion.

Is Lynfield so woefully misinformed regarding his own subject matter to believe that Efrat was defined as one of the 'settler outposts' slated for dismantling under the road map?

Comments to Christian Science Monitor: click here

And lest one believe Lynfield was referring to some outgrowth of Efrat, this is how Peace Now themselves define an 'outpost':

The term “outpost” refers to any area, (generally on a hilltop), with a number of structures, that is totally separated from the closest permanent settlement. The distance between an outpost and a permanent settlement can be a few hundred meters, however a majority of the outposts tend to span a number of kilometers. These outposts wish to become de facto settlements in their own right. Each outpost collects its own taxes, has its own secretariat and absorption committees, etc.
Article on Reuters' bias

On National Review Online, Tom Gross exposes Reuters' consistent anti-Israel bias, citing HonestReporting's work:

In a study last year, the media watchdog HonestReporting found that in “100 percent of headlines” when Reuters wrote about Israeli acts of violence, Israel was emphasized as the first word; also, an active voice was used, often without explaining that the “victim” may have been a gunman. A typical headline was: “Israeli Troops Shoot Dead Palestinian in W. Bank” (July 3, 2003). By contrast, when Palestinians attacked Israelis (almost always civilians), Reuters usually avoided naming the perpetrator. For example: “New West Bank Shooting Mars Truce” (July 1, 2003). In many cases, the headline was couched in a passive voice.

This is the HR study Gross refers to. Gross also has some insider info on Reuters' irresponsible reliance on Palestinian stringers:

Some of Reuters’s Palestinian stringers are honest and courageous. But, according to several ex-Reuters staffers, they feel the intimidating presence of Wafa Amr, Reuters’s “Senior Palestinian Correspondent.” Amr — who is a cousin of former Palestinian minister Nabil Amr, and whose father is said to be close to Arafat — had this title specially created for her (there is no “Senior Israeli Correspondent,” or the equivalent in any other Arab country) so that her close ties to the Palestinian Authority could be exploited.

As one former Reuters journalist put it: “She occupies this position in spite of lacking a basic command of English grammar. The information passed through her is controlled, orchestrated. Reuters would never allow Israeli government propaganda to be fed into its reports in this way. Indeed, stories exposing Israeli misdeeds are a favorite of Reuters. Amr has never had an expose on Arafat, or his Al-Aqsa Brigades terror group.”

For regular updates on Reuters' problematic Mideast coverage, sign up for HonestReporting communiques above.

Personal notes from HR Mission

A participant on the recent HonestReporting Leadership Mission to Israel, Rabbi Aryeh Markman, shares his thoughts on the trip:

We toured the controversial security fence, flew the entire length of the Green Line in a small chartered plane, and toured the Syrian border with an IDF officer who imparted lessons in military strategy that you only hear at West Point. We went through checkpoints, rode in armored busses, and handled guns, bullets and tank missiles. We saw documentaries on the issues, and heard from reporters -- Jewish, non-Jewish and even Palestinian -- from the New York Times, Time magazine, CBS News and more. We met with government ministers, visited victims of terror, and heard from the left, the right, the center, the passionate, the logical, and the frustrated.

I thought I knew my stuff before this trip, as I am an addicted Middle East news and history junkie. But I was wrong. It is one thing to read an article, attend a lecture, or watch a televised report. But to have the opportunity to grill an expert, a reporter, or a politician on their turf is quite another. I discovered vast underlying complexities that I never imagined.

The trip was a fantastic success. Interested in joining us on next year's HR mission? Just drop us a line, and we'll keep you updated as the date approaches.

Arabs in favor of security fence

Many Israeli Arabs think the security fence is essential to protect everyone from crazed West Bank terrorists. For example, Najeh Abu Mukh from Baka:

The 26-foot-high concrete-and-razor-wire barrier down the hill from Najeh Abu Mukh's house cuts him off from relatives and the West Bank.

But the Israeli Arab said he doesn't mind, because the controversial Israeli barrier has done something years of failed peace talks have not: It has taken the bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict away from his home...

On Friday, the International Court of Justice in The Hague condemned the barrier as illegal and inhumane, a ruling that Abu Mukh questioned.

''I'm wondering if the judges ever have been here or lived here and understand the real reason for its construction,'' the 30-year-old gas station worker asked, relaxing on his front porch with a cup of sweet coffee. ``If not, they should listen and not judge.'

And Sammi Masrawa from Tel Aviv:

"A month ago I went to protest the fence," he said, referring to the barrier Israel is building in the West Bank. "Now I believe it can only strengthen us."...

"These terrorists don't differentiate between Jews and Arabs, they just want to kill," he said, glass shards embedded in his leg, as his wife shook her head in disbelief at his political transformation.


Sunday, July 11 2004

HR communique on ICJ ruling

See it here.

To sign up to receive HonestReporting communiques in your inbox, just enter your email address in the field above.

Past rejections of ICJ rulings

BBC has a little backgrounder on the International Court of Justice, which includes these previous rejections of ICJ rulings:

In 1984, the United States walked out of a case brought by the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. The Sandinistas had complained about the activities of the US-supported Contra rebels but the Reagan administration was angered by the court's insistence that it had jurisdiction and refused to take any further part in the proceedings.

In 1977, Argentina refused to accept a ruling, which gave Chile possession of islands in the Beagle Channel. Only the intervention of the Pope prevented war.

Responses to ICJ opinion

* Alan Dershowitz responds to Friday's ICJ opinion that condemned Israel's security fence:

Virtually every democracy voted against that court's taking jurisdiction over the fence case, while nearly every country that voted to take jurisdiction was a tyranny. Israel owes the International Court absolutely no deference. It is under neither a moral nor a legal obligation to give any weight to its predetermined decision.

Here's a fitting comparison from Dershowitz:

The International Court of Justice is much like a Mississippi court in the 1930s. The all-white Mississippi court, which excluded blacks from serving on it, could do justice in disputes between whites, but it was incapable of doing justice in cases between a white and a black. It would always favor white litigants. So, too, the International Court. It is perfectly capable of resolving disputes between Sweden and Norway, but it is incapable of doing justice where Israel is involved, because Israel is the excluded black when it comes to that court – indeed when it comes to most United Nations organs.

* The best legal response that we're aware of was written by Laurence E. Rothenberg and Abraham Bell back in February

* See also this fact sheet on the ruling from the AICE

* Many Israeli Arabs think the security fence is a big relief:

The 26-foot-high concrete-and-razor-wire barrier down the hill from Najeh Abu Mukh's house cuts him off from relatives and the West Bank.

But the Israeli Arab said he doesn't mind, because the controversial Israeli barrier has done something years of failed peace talks have not: It has taken the bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict away from his home...

On Friday, the International Court of Justice in The Hague condemned the barrier as illegal and inhumane, a ruling that Abu Mukh questioned.

''I'm wondering if the judges ever have been here or lived here and understand the real reason for its construction,'' the 30-year-old gas station worker asked, relaxing on his front porch with a cup of sweet coffee. ``If not, they should listen and not judge.'


Thursday, July 8 2004

Redgrave's Blood Libel

vanessa_redgraveAt a Jerusalem press conference, actress Vanessa Redgrave, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, accused the IDF of deliberately firing at Palestinian school children. Said Redgrave, ''Any Palestinian mother or schoolchild knows that a schoolchild who is dressed in the uniform can be and is frequently shot in the head -- not in the chest, not in the legs, in the head.''

Reporter Jay Bushinsky followed up on the charge and was told by the UNRWA's Gaza spokesman, Paul McCann, that Redgrave was misunderstood. According to McCann, the charge was based on an incident where a Palestinian child was killed by a ricochet bullet whose source of fire was never determined. Writes Bushinsky:

This is an astounding and highly provocative charge. It is verbal poison that conforms to the 2,000-year-old blood libel that Jews allegedly engage in the premeditated murder of non-Jewish children.

And it is astounding that the representatives of UNICEF (the U.N. International Children's Emergency Fund) and UNRWA who sat at the dais alongside Redgrave did not deign to disagree or correct her remarks.

But don't expect to see significant reports of Redgrave's comments. Bushinsky adds that media turnout for the event was sparse, "perhaps because the proceedings were predictable."


Wednesday, July 7 2004

Foreign Influences

abu_mussab_alzarqawiFox News reports that US and Iraqi forces captured two Iranian agents in Baghdad. The two agents are suspected of attempting to carry out a “vehicle bombing.” Meanwhile, Time received a videotape made by Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist linked to Al-Qaida, indicating that most of the insurgents fighting against US forces are foreigners. (The video is available on ABC News.)

Apparently tired of being on the frontlines of Al-Qaida's war against the West, a previously unknown group of Iraqis calling itself the Salvation Movement accused Zarqawi of killing innocent Iraqis and defiling Islam, threatening to kill the terror mastermind if he doesn’t leave Iraq.

Out of Africa

Last time NGOs gathered in South Africa under UN auspices to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, things in Durban got so bad that it took the 9/11 attacks to push that conference out of the news. The NGOs were back for the UN African Meeting in Support of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (this time in Cape Town). While participants talked about taking action against Israel, we wonder if this recent report in Ethiopia’s Addis Tribune about Israeli agricultural assistance will have any impact on the NGOs.


Tuesday, July 6 2004

Reuters caption correction

Via Isreallycool:

Reuters has admitted to a blunder in a caption to this photo:

Here is the original caption:

An Israeli settler in the West Bank, a militant trying to infiltrate a Jewish settlement and a Palestinian pursued by police in a Jerusalem car chase were killed on July 4, 2004. Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group within Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for killing the settler in a roadside ambush of his car near the West Bank city of Jenin.

In this photo. a Palestinian boy kisses the body of Mahmoud Lahwani in the Balata refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus July 4, 2004 a day after he was shot dead by Israeli army during clashes at the camp. (Abed Omar Qusini/Reuters)

And here is the corrected caption:

CAPTION CORRECTION - CORRECTS CIRCUMSTANCES OF MAN'S DEATH A Palestinian boy kisses the body of Mahmoud Lahwani in the Balata refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus July 4, 2004 a day after he was shot dead by Israeli army during clashes at the camp. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini

Says Isreallycool:

In other words, the "important correction" is the deletion of the references to the murder of the Israeli, the PLO Arab terrorist trying to commit a terrorist attack, and the PLO Arab trying to evade police. Ironically, it is the mention of these incidences that brings more context to the death of a terrorist like Mahmoud Lahwani. Nevertheless, Reuters felt the need to delete these important passages.

If Reuters want to make an "important correction," they should start by replacing the word militant with terrorist.


Monday, July 5 2004

Way to go, Robert

From UK's The Sun:

Downing Street blasted The Independent yesterday for naming the judge in Saddam’s trial — putting his life at risk.

It accused journalist Robert Fisk of breaking an agreement with the Iraqi Special Tribunal not to identify anyone in the court other than the defendants.

Fisk, no stranger to HonestReporting, proves yet again that he has no moral bearing whatsover.


Sunday, July 4 2004

Kaplan, Wretchard on ISM

Lee Kaplan went undercover in San Francisco to see how the International Solidarity Movement (of Rachel Corrie fame) trains its 'Freedom Summer 2004' volunteers before they travel to Israel. New recruits are first encouraged to deceive Israeli security at Ben Gurion Airport regarding their intentions for visiting the region:

If they ask you questions such as ‘What are you doing here? Don’t you know there’s a war?’ you should reply, ‘I thought it was better now.’ Or say, ‘I had my ticket for a long time and my Israeli friends said I should come.’ If you are Jewish, know your Hebrew name if they ask you what it is. Know your story. Wear your Star of David especially if you are Jewish.”

Then they get assigned roles:

We were told once we were on the West Bank and under the Palestine Authority we were to attend another mandatory two-day training session where we would be assigned to "affinity groups." She then began making a bulletin board of how we were to function by setting up rules. The first rule was “Confidentiality.” Volunteers would be assigned to unknown affinity groups where they would function as teams to disrupt the Israel soldiers in military zones.

'Wretchard' at the blog Belmont Club makes an astute observation regarding the ISM's cult-like psychological tactics:

I can see how it would work. The volunteers were asked to lie from the git-go at the airport so that psychologically they would consider themselves outlaws from the first. The next step would be actually break the law. "Once we were inside Israel we were told we could make our way to the West Bank even though we were also informed that to go there is illegal ... We were assured the “ISM corps” was working on legal proposals to challenge the Israeli government at every turn if illegal entrants were discovered." From that point on, [they] belonged to the International Solidarity Movement. Alone in a foreign country, on the wrong side of the law, the "volunteers'" only lifeline would be to cling to the Palestinian "affinity groups" so that the psychological dependence would become a physical one. By the end of this process the "Freedom Volunteers" would be anything but.

Yet many media outlets persist in calling the ISM 'peace activists.'

Where's the outrage?

In the Washington Post, Arab columnist Mamoun Fandy wonders why the Arab press doesn't condemn the latest Al-Qaida beheadings, but instead repeatedly replays the videos:

the lack of condemnation of the beheadings, despite their barbarism, is a direct result of a broad and dangerous trend in Arab media and in Arab culture broadly. The Arab world today swims in a sea of linguistic violence that justifies terrorism and makes it acceptable, especially to the young.

Fandy talks to the head of Al-Arabiya, Rahman Rashed, who shares an unbelievable story:

Rashed blames both contemporary Arab culture and the culture of Arab newsrooms. He offered two examples -- one from print and the other from TV -- to make his point. He told me that last year, when he was still chief editor of the pan-Arab daily newspaper Asharq Al- Awsat (for which I am a columnist), he caught one of his editors changing the caption of an AP photo from "an American soldier chatting with an Iraqi girl" to "an American soldier asking an Iraqi girl for sex." "If I had not caught him, it would have gone to print this way," he said.

Read the whole thing - a rare, frank assessment of the state of Arab media.

Ready for 4th of July?

Leland Pritchard of Plattsmouth, Neb., displays four different models of 'Exploding Terrorist Heads' fireworks, on sale in a roadside fireworks tent in Plattsmouth, Neb., Tuesday, June 29, 2004. The fireworks sell for $1.99 each or $7.96 for a package titled 'Exploding Terrorists Heads,' which includes the likenesses of 'Sadly Insane (Saddam) Hussein,' 'Rag Hat (Yasser) Arafat', 'Cannibal (Moammar) Kadafi', and Osama bin Laden. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Down with the terrorists

One does have to wonder about the 'neutrality' of a photojournalist who gets a picture like this:

Palestinian guerilla fighters prepare a homemade bomb in Rafah refugee camp south of the Gaza Strip. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)

Now, photographer Mohammed Abed could not have just 'coincidentally been there' when these guys were assembling their bomb. So he was made privvy to their plot and was asked to document it. At what point does a photojournalist cease to be a neutral journalist and start becoming a collaborator in (terrorist) violence?

(Hat tip: LGF)


Thursday, July 1 2004

MSNBC headline distortion

MSNBC headline: 'Israeli copter fires missiles at Palestinian town'

At the town? The whole town? Here's where they actually fired the missiles, from the AP article itself:

The army said it had fired at least one missile at a group of militants who had planted explosives near Israeli troops operating on the outskirts of the town of Beit Hanoun.

The Palestinian witnesses said two missiles had been fired.

The witnesses confirmed that militants had been operating in the area.

It's agreed by all that the missiles were a targeted response to a group of armed and active Palestinan fighters. So why the headline suggesting wanton IDF anti-civilian violence, MSNBC?

Comments to:

MEMRI launches video site

The ever-valuable Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has just launched a new site dedicated to translated videos of Arab television.

MEMRI has continually documented the incitement to terrorism and anti-western sentiment that characterizes so much of the state-controlled media in Arab countries.

From the press release:

MEMRI's TV monitoring center operates 16 hours per day, overseeing every major Arab channel. The center has the in-house capability to translate, subtitle and distribute the segments from Arab TV in real time to Western news channels across the world, effectively "Bridging the Language Gap Between the Middle East and the West."

MEMRI's TV monitoring center will focus on political, cultural, religious, and other developments and debates in the Arab and Muslim world and in Iran.

The project archive currently includes over 100 new clips from the following sources and TV guests:

Al-Arabiya TV (Dubai), Dubai TV (Dubai), Dream2 TV (Egypt), Channel 1 TV (Egypt), Palestinian Authority TV (Gaza), Al-‘Alam TV (Iran), Sahar TV (Iran), Jaam-E-Jam TV (Iran), IRINN (Iran), New TV (Lebanon), Al-Manar TV (Lebanon), MBC TV (London), Al-Jazeera TV (Qatar), Qatar TV (Qatar), Iqra TV (Saudi Arabia), Channel 1 TV (Saudi Arabia), Syrian TV (Syria), Al-Majd TV (United Arab Emirates).

See MEMRITV, and the section on PA TV here.


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