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
« August 2004 | Main | October 2004 »

Wednesday, September 29 2004

Ongoing intimidation of journalists in PA

JournosisraelHonestReporting has repeatedly reported on official harassment of journalists in the Palestinian areas. Though media outlets are claiming that CNN producer Riad Ali's kidnapping was out of the ordinary for Gaza, this trend is changing, and the long arm of PA intimidation has in past months been reaching the Strip. Here are just a few of the events this past year:

March 2 2004 - Khalil al Zaban, editor of the monthly Al-Nashra, is murdered in Gaza City while working on an article critical of Gaza leader Mohammad Dahlan.

May 19 2004 - Former New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief James Bennet is the victim of an attempted kidnapping by Palestinian gunmen in Gaza City.

July 20 2004 - The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate warns that any reporter caught covering clashes between rival groups in Gaza will be 'punished severely.'

August 9 2004 - Armed Palestinian militias in Gaza threaten to attack journalists working for Arab satellite stations due to their continued focus on the power struggle in the Palestinian Authority.

There are indications that Ali himself may have felt threatened even before his kidnapping, as he had recently spoken to CNN and colleagues about quitting his job, despite the opportunity it provided him.

Ongoing intimidation of journalists to report antiseptically on Palestinian corruption, misdeeds, and internecine fighting plagues not only the PA, but worldwide coverage of the Mideast conflict (see our recent report on Reuters' regulating its language to appease terrorists). It is essential that the public insist on more honest reporting from the field, and that Yasser Arafat himself be called to task for allowing the intimidation to continue.

Stockholm Syndrome redux: Part II

The release of CNN producer Riad Ali yesterday from kidnappers in Gaza City is shrouded in mystery. Although Ali initially identified his captors as members of Arafat's Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, he has since retracted this statement, and no other Palestinian group has stepped forward to take responsibility.

What is striking, though, about this particular episode is both Ali and his father's over-the-top praise for Ali's captors -- it's Stockholm Syndrome Redux: Take II. (Definition of Stockholm Syndrome)

Ali has said that "his captors treated him very well and offered him tea, coffee, and cigarettes." An earlier version of the Jerusalem Post's article on Ali's release includes part of a conversation between Ali's father, Sa'id, and Yasser Arafat:

Right after he spoke to his son, Sa'id Ali spoke with PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. "Thank you Mister President [Arafat]. May God bless you Mr. President. You proved that you are a great and decent man today ... "

"The Arab Israeli community is both proud of and thankful to you," he said.

Ali himself also offered thanks to Arafat for helping secure his release.

Odd words to extend to the man whose Fatah Aqsa Brigades may well have orchestrated the CNN producer's abduction to begin with.


Tuesday, September 28 2004

Hamas: Reporters Help Our Cause

The Chicago Tribune reports that Hamas wants kidnapped CNN producer Riad Ali released, but not for the humanitarian reasons you might expect. The Trib writes:

Palestinian militant groups denied responsibility for Ali's abduction. A statement on the Hamas Web site called for Ali's release, saying that journalists "are playing an important role to help the Palestinian cause."

We know what happens to journalists who aren't helpful enough to the Palestinian cause.

Is Cat Stevens Linked to Hamas?

CatstevensMaybe Homeland Security officials weren’t so wrong about Cat Stevens after all. The National Post reports that Stevens, who now goes by the name Yusuf Islam, was the guest of honor at a 1998 Toronto fundraising dinner for the Jerusalem Fund for Human Services, which the Canadian government considers a Hamas front. In a video of Islam's keynote speech obtained by the Post, the former singer told his audience

"Palestine is close to the heart of each and every Muslim. What the Muslims of Palestine have been doing for many years now has been that bright light shining, that hope ... that they are still believers that can raise the banner of jihad in the most difficult of circumstances."

CORRECTION: The former Cat Stevens did not, according to the article, say these words, but rather the man who introduced him did. Apologies for misrepresentation of the former Cat Stevens.


Monday, September 27 2004

Iran, Israel and the Bomb

JpowerThe latest HonestReporting communique was just released: Iran, Israel and the Bomb

The communique critiques a particularly warped commentary by columnist Jonathan Power (pictured) in the International Herald Tribune, and addresses the larger issue of Israeli vs. Iranian nukes.

Sign up above to receive HR communiques in your inbox.

And please use the comments section below for discussion of this article.

CNN producer kidnapped in Gaza

RiadaliCNN itself reports:

A group of armed men abducted a CNN producer in Gaza City on Monday.

The men kidnapped producer Riad Ali after stopping a taxi he was riding in with CNN Correspondent Ben Wedeman and a CNN camerawoman.

A white Peugeot pulled in front of the taxi, blocking its way, Wedeman said.

"A young man got out of the car, pulled a gun out of his trousers, came up and said to me -- actually in Arabic -- 'Which one of you is Riad?'"

Ali answered, "I am Riad," Wedeman said.

The kidnapper ordered Ali to get out of the taxi, Wedeman said. As he did so, several other men, some with AK-47s, exited the Peugeot.

Wedeman said the kidnappers made no attempt to cover their faces.

"They took him out of the car and drove him away," said Wedeman. No one was injured in the incident.

Ali, who is an Arab, has worked for CNN for about two years. He has worked in Gaza and the West Bank.

So they were looking for Ali -- who's a Druze Arab and Israeli citizen -- specifically. Perhaps his reporting had become too 'independent' for their taste.

YNet (Hebrew) adds that Ali recently worked with Israel's Channel 1 and is a father of three. They quote an Arab Knesset member indicating that 'The Rais Arafat himself is addressing the matter.' That must comfort Ali's family considerably.

Ali's longtime editor at Channel 1 said:

Riad is a fantastic guy. In my opinion, he's the finest Arab journalist working in Israel. A very opinionated guy - doesn't attempt to follow anyone's particular line...I have no idea why they abducted him -- there's no way anyone could think he was a 'collaborator' with the Israeli government.

Perhaps he was abducted precisely because he 'doesn't follow anyone's particular line' -- that has been shown to be unacceptable and downright dangerous in Palestinian areas. Especially for an Arab journalist.

UPDATE: AFP is already suggesting (through selective quotation) that this was a response to Israel's probable hit on a Hamas leader in Damascus yesterday:

tension had risen in the territory following the assassination in the Syrian capital by suspected Israeli agents of Hamas founding member Ezzeddin Sheikh Khalil.

That is, it was Israel's fault. As if the tension level was low in that neighborhood two days ago...


Sunday, September 26 2004

Educated Europeans

Bloghead has the text of a very disturbing rejection letter from a London employer to an Israeli applicant, who happened to mention her IDF service. Excerpt:

Speaking personally however may I suggest that for European consumption you would be wise to omit details of your national service, which you describe with such evident and ingenuous pride? The natural reaction of most educated Europeans to the information you provide is likely to be "so it was she who guided those guinships to targetted assasinations and the murder of women and children with indiscriminate bombing and strafing of refugee camps (refugee camps!!!! 50 years after your compatriots drove them from their homes - and you have done nothing for them ever since.)!".

(Hat tip: Israellycool) stops selling 'Protocols'

ProtocolsFrom Reuters:

Bowing to a barrage of complaints from Jewish groups, retail giant Wal-Mart Inc. on Thursday stopped selling "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," an infamous anti-Semitic tract long exposed as fake.

Jewish leaders had complained that the book, which purports to tell of an international Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, was being sold on with a description that suggested it might be genuine instead of a forgery concocted by the Czarist secret police in the early 20th Century.

The description, now withdrawn from the Wal-Mart Web site, said, "If ... The Protocols are genuine (which can never be proven conclusively), it might cause some of us to keep a wary eye on world affairs. We neither support nor deny its message. We simply make it available for those who wish a copy."

More on this protest from Chicago Jewish News. The best debunking of the book is available from the Simon Wiesenthal Center: Dismantling The Big Lie: Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble continue to sell 'Protocols' online, but with dislaimers that are much stronger than Walmart's 'we neither support or deny.' Amazon's disclaimer recognizes the book as a 'pernicious fraud', and includes this:

'The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion' is classified under "controversial knowledge" in our store, along with books about UFOs, demonic possession, and all manner of conspiracy theories. You can also find books in other sections of's online bookstore that analyze The Protocols' fraudulent origins and its tragic historical role in promoting anti-Semitism and Jewish persecution, including 'A Lie and a Libel: The History of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.'

Friday, September 24 2004

Latest Scandanavian 'art' outrage

In November 2003 it was 'Snow White,' in February 2004 'Anti-Semite in the Name of God' and now there's 'Wall: Fragments of History':

Israel's ambassador to Oslo has protested to Norwegian authorities over a sculpture she considers insulting to her country.

It is the second time this year she has protested over a controversial artwork.

In a letter to the culture ministry and the Oslo city authorities, envoy Liora Herzl denounced a statue on display in the central Youngstorget Square which links Israel with the Holocaust, greed and a notorious massacre of Palestinians.

Continue reading "Latest Scandanavian 'art' outrage"


Thursday, September 23 2004

Zerbisias knocks HR, redefines 'objectivity'

Zerbisias2In her column today, Toronto Star's Antonia Zerbisias questions our recent report publicizing Reuters' admission that its editors regulate the language of news reports to safeguard reporters in Arab areas.

Remarkably, Zerbisias experiences no cognitive dissonance between a) believing Reuters provides 'straightforward objective reporting,' and b) Reuters' active regulating of language to appease volitile bad guys. How could a news outlet be 'objective' if it's afraid of what one side of the conflict will do to its reporters if it uses the 'wrong' word?

How objective is a referee who fears calling a foul against one team, lest they beat him up after the game?

Zerbisias completely sidesteps this, the central issue in our critique. Instead, Zerbisias asks why we didn't question CanWest's altering of Reuters copy. The answer should be obvious -- CanWest's decision is based solely on its editors' judgement of what constitutes accurate, independent news reporting. This, as opposed to Reuters, whose own 'Trust Principles' stipulate that

the integrity, independence and freedom from bias of Reuters must be upheld at all times.

Reuters violates this principle -- undermining its readers' trust in its 'independence' -- when it allows threats from Islamic thugs to influence word choice in ostensibly 'neutral' news reports.

The use/non-use of the 'T-word' in news reporting is a debatable matter. But for a major news outlet to claim to readers it is 'independent' and 'unbiased', while admitting it regulates word choice in response to threats, is hypocritical and irresponsible.

Comments to Ms. Zerbisias:


Wednesday, September 22 2004

Unwelcome return of the 'bystanders'

ZakamanToday a female Palestinian suicide bomber killed 2 Israeli police officers and wounded 16 civilians by detonating a bomb at a crowded Jerusalem bus stop.

Associated Press is describing the casualites this way:

A Palestinian teenager blew herself up at a busy Jerusalem bus station Wednesday, killing two Israeli policemen who stopped her for a security check and wounding 16 bystanders ...

The wounded were not 'bystanders' -- they were undeniably the intended target of the terrorist. We dealt with this issue some time ago, and in fact AP stopped using the misleading term for the past year or so, in response to criticism. Why has it returned?

Comments to:

Non sequitur of the day

Yesterday's International Herald Tribune included a rambling, incoherent column by Jean Daniel, defending France from anonymous anti-Semitism charges. The article includes this paragraph:

[T]here probably is no other country in the world that displayed as much warm and active sympathy for Israel as France did from 1948 to 1967 (the government) and to 1975 (public opinion). The entire French intelligentsia was profoundly pro-Israeli. Yes, there has been a change in France since then - as there has been in Israel. There exists an Israeli opposition, to which a whole segment of the French political class has rallied. After all, it was not an Arab or a Palestinian or a Frenchman who killed the great Yitzhak Rabin.

Try as we may, we cannot understand the relevance of the last sentence to the rest of the paragraph.

Yet this poorly-argued piece dominated yesterday's comment page of the International Herald Tribune. In fact, it was translated from the original French for inclusion in the IHT. Did IHT editors believe the thrust of the article compensated for the extremely poor prose?

(Hat tip: Tom Gross)

Top online news outlets

Here are the Top 20 Online Current Events & Global News Destinations for August 2004 from Nielsen//NetRatings:

Brand or Channel Unique Audience (000) Time Per Person (hh:mm:ss)
All Current Events & Global News 74,549 1:19:09
CNN 22,898 0:43:00
Yahoo! News 22,003 0:31:59
MSNBC 21,771 0:23:17
AOL News & Weather 11,689 0:55:27
Gannett Newspapers 11,608 0:14:42
IBS 10,754 0:15:59
Knight Ridder Digital 9,661 0:12:24 8,549 0:38:19
Tribune Newspapers 8,252 0:17:36
ABCNEWS Digital 8,130 0:13:43 8,060 0:15:59
Associated Press 6,294 0:07:51
Hearst Newspapers Digital 5,863 0:17:57
Google News 5,815 0:11:18
WorldNow 5,295 0:10:23
Fox News 5,172 0:50:31 5,170 0:28:57
CBS News 4,818 0:08:17
Advance Internet 4,614 0:10:10
McClatchy Newspapers 4,288 0:18:37
AFP bungles Bush speech

Palgirlparadise_1During his speech at the UN yesterday, President Bush said:

"Arab states should end incitement in their own media, cut off public and private funding for terrorism, and establish normal relations with Israel."

Here's how AFP reported it:

[Bush] had an additional word for Arab states, saying they "should end excitement in their own media, cut off private and public funding for terrorism and establish normal relations with Israel."

It seems the AFP reporter/editor was unfamiliar with this term -- and ongoing problem.

Comments to AFP:

Big blogger links

HonestReporting's work has received a couple high-profile citations recently.

Charles Johnson of LGF, one of the bloggers who broke 'Rathergate', links to our Reuters/CanWest story. And Andrew Sullivan links to our recent critique of Swedish media.

The acknowledgement - and increased readership - is much appreciated.


Tuesday, September 21 2004

'Americans are like Jews'

DrdavidstarkeyOn BBC 4's 'Any Questions' last weekend, historian Dr David Starkey addressed the motivation behind the Iraq war:

'The action in Iraq was driven by one thing, and it was a very understandable desire for vengeance. Americans again are a little bit like Jews (murmur from audience), let me please, I'm being really serious, I'm not calling names but calling for us to understand a different mindset. Here the notion of vengeance is on the whole regarded as deplorable... In Judaism, Islam and American Protestantism vengeance is a wholly acceptable notion (audience murmur) ... that's the truth, and after 9/11 they wanted to strike back. And that is it. End of story.' (see transcript in .pdf)

Host Jonathon Dimbleby moved right along after this comment without batting an eyelash. Melanie Philips handles the retort:

This idea that the Jews are vengeful is, in fact, one of the most deeply entrenched, vicious prejudices about the Jews -- and one that currently surfaces again and again in the language used to describe Israel's defence against terror. In other words, whenever the Jews try to prevent themselves from being murdered, this is presented not as self defence but vengeance. When the Americans tried to prevent another 9/11, this was not self-defence but vengeance. (Starkey's inclusion of Islam appeared to be a lame attempt to camouflage the outrageous prejudice of his opinion).

Comments to BBC 4: click here

Chilling and under-reported

Neo-nazis are gaining political strength in Germany:

The anti-immigrant Nationalist Democratic Party (NPD) won 9 per cent of the vote in Saxony, almost equal to the vote for the Social Democrats of the Chancellor, Gerhard Schroder... The gains by the NPD, which had been semi-extinct since its heyday in West Germany 36 years ago, shocked Paul Spiegel, president of Germany's National Council of Jews, who said it was a symptom of the failures of mainstream politicians.

"Memories of the end of the Weimar Republic are awakened," Mr Spiegel said.

"A party that makes anti-Semitic and xenophobic propaganda doesn't belong in any parliament."

The anti-Israel material that fills European media has played no small part in fueling this highly disturbing trend.

Us guys in pajamas

TimecoverratherbigWe haven't commented on the biggest media bias story of the year - 'Rathergate' - because it's out of our Mideast focus. But the process of Rathergate - with bloggers and media monitors scrutinizing big media, insisting on the truth - is identical to HonestReporting's mandate.

Time Magazine devotes their latest cover story to the scandal, and Andrew Sullivan makes a good point about the bloggers' victory over old media:

Does this mean the old media is dead? Not at all. Blogs depend on the journalistic resources of big media to do the bulk of reporting and analysis. What blogs do is provide the best scrutiny of big media imaginable—ratcheting up the standards of the professionals, adding new voices, new perspectives and new facts every minute. The genius lies not so much in the bloggers themselves but in the transparent system they have created. In an era of polarized debate, the truth has never been more available. Thank the guys in the pajamas. And read them.
Reuters admits appeasing terrorists

A new HonestReporting communique, 'Reuters Admits Appeasing Terrorists,' has just been released.

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

Please use the comments section below for discussion on this communique.

Worth reading today

Arafatt-- Christian Science Monitor reports on Arafat's still-unreformed security apparatus. Ben Lynfield focuses on the Palestinian Naval Police Force (which, inexplicably, has offices in Hebron, Nablus and Jericho), and spotlights Arafat's style of divide and rule.

-- Lucid commentary by Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael Oren in The New Republic (req. reg., but also here) about Israeli success against terror and the lessons for the US.

-- Jerusalem Post on women suicide bombers: How many, who they are and who recruits them?

Reuters, terrorists and intimidation

CBC radio has an interesting report on wire services (Reuters, AP) and the altering of their material by local news outlets. It's available here in RealPlayer.

This CBC report is in response to the Reuters-CanWest squabble over use of the term 'terrorist' in wire reports from Israel and Iraq (see more on that here). The Reuters editor in the radio clip expresses concern for the 'serious consequences' if 'people in the Mideast' were to believe that Reuters calls such people 'terrorists.'

Though the CBC report focuses on the ethics of CanWest's editing, the more striking thing to come out of all this is Reuters' open acknowlegement that their reporters/editors are intimidated into using 'neutral' language to describe those who wantonly kill innocent civilians.

In every other area, western journalists pride themselves on boldly 'telling it as is,' regardless of their subjects' reactions. So why do wire editors bend over backwards to appease Islamic terrorists?

This is remarkably similar to CNN's Iraqi cover-up from last year, when CNN admited that their knowledge of murder, torture, and planned assassinations in Saddam's Iraq was suppressed in order to maintain CNN's Baghdad bureau. We asked back then:

Now that this senior CNN executive has come clean, it leaves us wondering: In what other regions ruled by terrorist dictators do the media toe the party line so as to remain in good stead?

It seems we have our answer.


Monday, September 20 2004

Breaking ranks in 'T-word' debate

CanWest -- Canada's largest newspaper agency -- has been inserting the word 'terrorist' into Reuters reports, in place of Reuters' terms 'insurgent,' 'rebel' or 'activist.' Reuters isn't happy about this, and informed CanWest that if they intend to continue the practice, they should remove Reuters' name altogether from the byline. From NY Times coverage:

"Our editorial policy is that we don't use emotive words when labeling someone," said David A. Schlesinger, Reuters' global managing editor. "Any paper can change copy and do whatever they want. But if a paper wants to change our copy that way, we would be more comfortable if they remove the byline."

Mr. Schlesinger said he was concerned that changes like those made at CanWest could lead to "confusion" about what Reuters is reporting and possibly endanger its reporters in volatile areas or situations.

"My goal is to protect our reporters and protect our editorial integrity," he said.

So the intimidation of journalists -- which effects even langugage choice -- is openly acknowledged by this high-ranking Reuters editor. A first, to the best of our knowledge.

Why does CanWest feel compelled to adjust Reuters copy?

Scott Anderson, editor in chief of CanWest publications and an author of the policy, said Reuters' rejection of his company's definition of terrorism undermined journalistic principles.

"If you're couching language to protect people, are you telling the truth?" asked Mr. Anderson, who is also editor in chief of The Ottawa Citizen. "I understand their motives. But issues like this are why newspapers have editors."

Mr. Anderson said the central definition in the policy was that "terrorism is the deliberate targeting of civilians in pursuit of a political goal."

For more on this matter, see HonestReporting's special report, 'Calling Terror by its Name.'

The big 'Why?'

On Israel21c, Theo Dov Golan - former Director-General of Israel's Ministry of Health - addresses the media's misrepresentation of Israeli medical support for even its sworn enemies:

At my recent presentation to the United Nations Correspondents Association, one of the journalists addressed the so-called 'barbaric treatment of the Palestinians by Israel', which he was convinced was the whole story. When explaining that events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict results from Israel's being forced to protect its citizens from Palestinian terror, he exclaimed emotionally: "You Israelis, you Jews who have suffered so much in the past, - from you the world expects a more humane response."

As a physician, I unequivocally can give proof that the opposite is true. Israel has set an example of a level of humanitarian medical aid to others including Palestinians, which no other nation can compete with.

Continue reading "The big 'Why?'"


Sunday, September 19 2004

CNN's 'The Impact of Terror' tonight

SbarrosattackA reminder that CNN will be airing a documentary, "The Impact of Terror" tonight at 8pm eastern time. According to CNN's press release:

CNN Presents' 'Impact of Terror' goes beyond the headlines with an in-depth look at the Aug. 9, 2001, Sbarro restaurant bombing in Jerusalem to explore how the effects of terrorism radiate beyond the immediate act. Film crews follow the survivors for years after the bombing to discover just how deeply their lives have been altered. 'Impact of Terror'... will premiere Sunday, Sept. 19, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. (ET) on CNN/US...It will re-air Saturday, Sept 25, at 8pm and 11pm.

Please share your feedback on this program in the comments below.

Ottawa Citizen on T-word

The Ottawa Citizen is a voice of reason among journalists who continue to refuse to call terror by its name:

Terrorism is a technical term. It describes a modus operandi, a tactic. We side with security professionals who define terrorism as the deliberate targeting of civilians in pursuit of a political goal. Those who bombed the nightclub in Bali were terrorists. Suicide bombers who strap explosives to their bodies and blow up people eating in a pizza parlour are terrorists. The men and women who took a school full of hostages in Beslan, Russia, and shot some of the children in the back as they tried to flee to safety were terrorists. We as journalists do not violate our impartiality by describing them as such.

Continue reading "Ottawa Citizen on T-word"

Response from Dagens Nyheter ombudsman


In response to our communique on the sad situation in Swedish media, HonestReporting readers flooded the inbox of Lilian Öhrström, ombudsman of Dagens Nyheter, the paper that published the highly offensive cartoon of a stereotypical, wicked Jew (at left, click to enlarge).

Öhrström wrote a column in response, which has been kindly translated by the Stockholm Spectator -- see it here.

Öhrström brushes aside HR subscribers' emails, claiming: effect the campaign defeats its own purpose.

In a way, this campaign confirms the message conveyed by the cartoon: that it is impossible to criticize the state of Israel because it can result in allegations of anti-Semitism.

Is it even possible for a non-Israeli to satirize Israel’s politics? It has to be; for just as one can criticize Palestinian leaders, the United States, France, Germany or Sweden, so too must we be able to criticize Israel (even using humor).

Nowhere in our communique did we accuse the cartoonist of anti-Semitism -- though he certainly partook of classic anti-Semitic imagery and stereotypes, which was the focus of our critique. And while it is certainly possible (i.e. legitimate) to criticize the state of Israel through humor, the use of Der Sturmer imagery to do so is highly problematic. Any European journalist with even the slightest historical consciousness should be aware of that.

Öhrström goes on to recognize the possiblity that HR was right:

[the cartoon] can also be seen as a malicious caricature of a Jew with a long nose and curly sideburns.

Neither Jews nor Israelis have distinctive [racial] features (and Hans Lindström’s characters all have big noses, regardless their affiliation to particular religious or ethnic groups)...Satirical cartoons often use special characters to represent countries; for instance, the corpulent mother Svea for Sweden and various guises of Uncle Sam for the United States. But by selecting an orthodox Jew to represent Israel the cartoonist has unintentionally allowed his work to be exploited for ulterior purposes.

Even though the cartoonist is not an anti-Semite, his illustration can be misappropriated by those who are. Unfortunately it can also be exploited for numerous other propagandistic purposes.

So HonestReporting is lumped together with neo-Nazis...

But back to Öhrström's point about the caricature. The problem was not merely his use of a Hassidic Jew to represent Israelis (though it was that also -- Öhrström's other two examples are fictional characters, while Hassidic Jews are alive and well today). It was also the fact that Lindström's 'Jew' is plainly immoral. He rejects a perfectly legitimate statement by the Swedish 'Everyman' regarding walls separating people, without responding about the particulars of Israel's anti-terror fence. This also calls upon ancient stereotypes of the 'immoral Jew' who rejects the most basic humanitarian norms. Add that to the imagery, and we've moved disturbingly close to Goebbels.

Note that Öhrström doesn't find any fault with the cartoonist Lindström himself, but rather laments that his imagery could be 'exploited for ulterior purposes.' Unfortunately, those with 'ulterior purposes' don't have far to go. Lindström has taken them to the very doorstep of Germany, 1938.


Wednesday, September 15 2004

The Real Cycle of Violence

'Bicycling Palestinian suicide bomber wounds two Israeli soldiers' -- AFP headline, 9/14

-- Via James Taranto's Best of the Web Today


Tuesday, September 14 2004

Sad Situation in Sweden

See HonestReporting's latest communique: 'Sad Situation in Sweden'.

To receive HR communiques by email, signup above.

Please use the comments section below for discussion on this communique.

UPDATE: See 'Response from Dagens Neyheter's ombudsman'

Intellectual honesty?

Chicago Tribune ombudsman Don Wycliff addresses the Tribune's use of the words 'militant' or 'rebel' -- but not 'terrorist' -- to refer to the Chechen hostage-takers in news stories:

Our eschewal of the word "terrorist" was in keeping with a stylebook policy adopted several years ago, a policy that is in keeping with the journalistic purpose of the news pages: to provide as complete, thorough and unbiased an account as possible of the important news of the day.

No intellectually honest person can deny that "terrorist" is a word freighted with negative judgment and bias. So we sought terms that carried no such judgment.

James Taranto's appropriate, tongue-in-cheek reply: "All they did was murder children, after all. Why would anyone want to judge them? That wouldn't be intellectually honest!"

One Race, One Rabbi, One Million Dollars!

EricetelOn Sunday, Nov. 7th, Rabbi Eric Ertel will be running the New York City Marathon. His goal is to raise a million dollars for causes that support the State of Israel -- including HonestReporting -- and translate awareness into activism.

See Eric's website: RunningForIsrael

"One day there will be peace in Israel and on that day everyone who contributes, even in the smallest of ways, will be able to look back and know that they had something to do with that," says Ertel. "I'm just an ordinary guy, who's trying to accomplish an extraordinary thing."

See press coverage of Eric's inspiring project in the Jerusalem Post an on PR Web.

Interested in joining Eric's sponsors? Email or visit this page.

And print out a RunningForIsrael flyer to post in your local community center.

A new Iraq?

Iraqi National Congress fires Chalabi aide for visiting Israel:

Al-Alousi, who was in Israel attending a conference on terrorism at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, said that many elements in Iraq are interested in diplomatic ties with Israel.

Al-Alousi heads the Iraqi government's de-Baathification campaign, meant to keep Baathists from the old regime out of the new government...Al-Alousi said he was aware of the risk of coming to Israel - he flew via Turkey - but with so many other threats against him, he was used to daily threats to his life. He said he expects to have a lot of problems from some people, but "faith in the cause is a guarantee I will solve the problems."

Ousting Iran/al-Qaeda from Lebanon

An update to our recent special report on Syria: Maariv's Jonathon Ariel says the reason for the recent pressure on Syria from both the Israelis and Americans has less to do with Syria's interference in Lebanese elections or calling terror shots in Israel, than it does with Iranian/al-Qaeda efforts to establish a foothold in Lebanon (by outsting Arafat's Fatah leaders in camps there) and among Palestinians in the West Bank/Gaza.

It was these developments that have prompted the renewed demands on Syria to withdraw from Lebanon. Once the Syrian military leaves Lebanon, Beirut can begin reasserting its sovereignty, bringing Hezbullah to heel. Without Hezbullah, Iran loses its Lebanese base, hence by challenging Syria the US is issuing a new challenge to Iran, after having called its bluff by going after al Sadr’s ragtag Mehdi army.


Monday, September 13 2004

Swedish humor

This cartoon was published in yesterday's edition of Sweden's largest morning daily, Dagens Nyheter. Penned by the paper's staff cartoonist, Hans Lindström, it appeared on the "Family" page, a section of light columns and "humor":

The man with the dog: "I don't think that one should build walls between people."

The Jew: "Damn anti-Semite !!"

Comments to Dagens Nyheter's ombudsman:

(Hat tip: Bob S.)

UPDATE: The Spitball Effect photoshops in a way to get the cartoonist off the hook. That would have been much more, er, thought-provoking.

Chechens vs. Palestinians

Cathy Young of the Boston Globe addresses Russia using Beslan as an excuse to crack down harder on Chechnya, adding important points of comparison between the Chechen and Palestinian conflicts:

The Palestinians, like the Chechens, have specific demands for independent statehood. But even there, the differences far outweigh the similarities.

The Palestinian militants seek the destruction of Israel, not just a state of their own; not even the most extreme Chechen factions want Russia destroyed and all of its lands turned over to the Chechens. Israel, unlike Russia, was willing to negotiate with the Palestinian leadership and accede to virtually all of its demands for autonomy.

Finally, whatever human rights abuses Israel may have committed in the occupied territories pale in comparison to the Russian Army's wholesale atrocities in Chechnya...


Sunday, September 12 2004








See 'The Road to Jenin'

A reminder that Pierre Rehov's film 'The Road to Jenin' is available for a limited time, in full, on Phyllis Chesler's site.

Rehov's film is much more than a review of the Jenin episode -- it's required viewing for anyone who wants to understand this conflict, the IDF's uniqueness, and the role of the media in the broader war against terrorists.


John Cole of the Durham Herald-Sun regarding the upcoming Palestinian solidarity conference at Duke University:


More on this issue here.

And speaking of homosexuals and their treatment in Palestinian areas, see Bret Stephen's column from Friday's JPost.

Yassir laments 9/11

MSNBC produced a nice multimedia piece on 9/11.

Just one thing struck us as odd. The 'reactions' page contains clickable statements of sorrow from President Bush, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Tony Blair and ... Yassir Arafat!

Zerbisias pulls a Jukes

When Reuters' global news head Steven Jukes refused to use the word 'terrorism' in coverage of 9/11, he defended his position with the quip: 'One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter.'

We thought this line of reasoning -- that it's legitimate to consider this 'freedom fighting' -- had been thoroughly discredited by the ongoing wave of horrific world terror. But Antonia Zerbisias of the Toronto Star invokes it yet again, while critiquing a recent article by Daniel Pipes:

So here's my definition of terrorism, imperfect and subjective as it is: It's violence against civilians to achieve a political end which one doesn't support or agree with.

Remember, one nation's terrorist is another nation's freedom fighter. Depending on whom you're asking, American founding fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, South Africa's Nelson Mandela and Israel's Menachem Begin could be described as terrorists.

One of Zerbisias' claims: 'the word ['terrorism'] is almost always judgmental, which makes it non-objective.'

It's another classic example of amoral 'objectivity' propping the journalist up beyond the fray of real human beings fighting a very real force, that demands real language to describe it.

In what rarefied atmosphere does the bayonetting of children begging for water not require 'judgmental' description?

Comments to Toronto Star:

NGOs make war on Israel

Gerald Steinberg of Bar Ilan University has has an outstanding (and lengthy) new article in the Middle East Quarterly that traces the development of NGOs toward their current anti-Israel concensus. The larger NGOs - Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, ICJ - began by 'protecting the rights of individuals in repressive systems.'

But over the last decade, NGOs have expanded their agendas dramatically, going far beyond campaigning against the violation of individual rights. The leaders of these organizations have been able to parlay the platforms and the massive resources at their disposal, to influence "high politics" on behalf of those they cast as the weak and oppressed...In the process, they have taken sides in international disputes. Nowhere has that been more evident than in the case of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Continue reading "NGOs make war on Israel"


Thursday, September 9 2004

Understanding Palestinian Poverty

New HR communique -- 'Understanding Palestinian Poverty' -- just released in response to this AFP report.

Sign up above to receive HonestReporting communiques by email.


Wednesday, September 8 2004

Another thwarted attack

This was just released by the IDF to the media:

Arrest of potential suicide bomber who planned to explode at "Café Filter" in Jerusalem

Murad Alan, a Tanzim operative in the area of Bethlehem arrested.

Alan, who holds an east Jerusalem I.D, planned to carry out a suicide bombing attack in a coffee shop "Café Filter", a coffee shop in Jerusalem, where he worked as a cook. The planned suicide attack was to clear himself of accusations regarding collaboration with Israel.

Continue reading "Another thwarted attack"

Upcoming CNN special on terror victims

CNN is producing a documentary about the bombing of the Sbarro's pizzeria in Jerusalem, Aug. 2001. They followed survivors for an extended period of time, interviewed them, their families, friends, and medical personnel. This press release states that the purpose of "Impact of Terror" is to "explore how the effects of terrorism radiate beyond the immediate act."

To be aired on Sunday Sept. 19 and again on Sunday Sept. 25.

For just one of the victims of that particularly heinous terrorist attack, see Keren Malki.

Free Choudhury

choudhury2Bangledeshi journalist Salah Choudhury has been imprisoned in his home nation for nine months. His crime? Planning to attend a writers' symposium in Israel last December, where he was to deliver a speech calling for greater Jewish-Muslim understanding.

Michael Freund at the Jerusalem Post has more, including action items at the end.

Arab media reaction to Beslan

MEMRI has a special report on responses in Arab media to the massacre in Beslan:

Some columnists condemned the use of terror and the harming of innocent civilians, others criticized the Russian forces' failed rescue attempt, and a few even blamed Jewish elements of being involved in the affair. In addition, many articles argued that the terrorists do not represent Islam and that Islam does not endorse violence. They also aimed sharp criticism against Muslim leaders and clerics who incite against civilians in the name of Islam.

The latter is relatively new. Here's an example from Iraqi columnist Aziz Al-Hajj:

"What kind of national cause is this that uses children like gasoline for igniting a total war of destruction in the name of national and religious liberty?… The Islamic-Arab terrorism has turned into the greatest danger in the world, and threatens civilization, security, and life everywhere…The Arabs and the Muslims today contribute nothing to civilization and progress except for blood, severed heads, scorched bodies, and the abduction and murder of children. The Jihad for religion and Arab chivalry have turned into the art of exploding, booby-trapping, and spilling blood. What an innovation and what a social contribution the Arabs have made in the 21st century!!"


Tuesday, September 7 2004

BBC: Hamas are freedom fighters

Has BBC failed to learn the lesson Reuters learned regarding accurate portrayal of Hamas' stated goals?

In today's BBC TV report (see video) Alan Johnston states:

Many times in the course of its fight against Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories, Hamas has sent suicide bombers into cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Also, in today's BBC article 'Hamas swears Gaza strike revenge', the reporter refers to Palestinian mortars and rockets that 'struck Jewish areas near Gaza,' and also to 'the Jewish town of Sderot.'

Is the BBC defining a new area inside of Israel, yet close to Palestinians -- 'Jewish areas' and 'Jewish towns' as opposed to 'Israeli'?

Comments to BBC:

Brooks stares into the abyss

David Brooks in today's New York Times identifies the evil that so many refuse to accept:

We've been forced to witness the massacre of innocents. In New York, Madrid, Moscow, Tel Aviv, Baghdad and Bali, we have seen thousands of people destroyed while going about the daily activities of life.

We've been forced to endure the massacre of children. Whether it's teenagers outside an Israeli disco or students in Beslan, Russia, we've seen kids singled out as special targets...

the death cult is not really about the cause it purports to serve. It's about the sheer pleasure of killing and dying.

It's about massacring people while in a state of spiritual loftiness. It's about experiencing the total freedom of barbarism - freedom even from human nature, which says, Love children, and Love life. It's about the joy of sadism and suicide.

We should be used to this pathological mass movement by now. We should be able to talk about such things. Yet when you look at the Western reaction to the Beslan massacres, you see people quick to divert their attention away from the core horror of this act, as if to say: We don't want to stare into this abyss. We don't want to acknowledge those parts of human nature that were on display in Beslan. Something here, if thought about too deeply, undermines the categories we use to live our lives, undermines our faith in the essential goodness of human beings.

Brooks points out the media's role in the delusion:

If you look at the editorials and public pronouncements made in response to Beslan, you see that they glide over the perpetrators of this act and search for more conventional, more easily comprehensible targets for their rage.

The Boston Globe editorial, which was typical of the American journalistic response, made two quick references to the barbarity of the terrorists, but then quickly veered off with long passages condemning Putin and various Russian policy errors.

Sounds awfully familiar to those who have followed coverage of the Palestinian terror campaign.

Pipes on 'T-Word'

Daniel Pipes joins Mark Steyn in wondering why journalists refused to call the Chechen terrorists by the 'T-word.' Pipes has a whole list of the euphemisms used, and comments on where this practice began -- the Israeli/Arab conflict.

For more on this issue, see HonestReporting's special report, 'Calling Terror by its Name.'

New HR communique

Just released: Special Report: Syria

Sign up above to receive HR communiques by email.

Headline distortions

Last night, an IDF strike hit a Hamas terror-training camp in progress. The Jerusalem Post quoted Palestinian media reports that the 14 killed and 25 wounded were “members of the Hamas military wing,” while Haaretz quoted a Hamas statement that Israel had indeed hit a "scouts camp where a group of fighters was training.” According to the IDF statement, Hamas was training recruits to plant and detonate explosives, fire RPGs and Kassam rockets, and infiltrate Israeli targets.

Since nobody disputes that all the casualties were members of Hamas training for terrorism, we’re bewildered by the quotation marks in this BBC headline:

Gaza strike kills 14 'militants'

Did the Beeb have doubts whether "militants" or "scouts" were at this camp?

In an unrelated issue, Israel announced it was redrawing the route of southern portions of the security fence, prompting the following backhanded Reuters headline:

Israel Plans to Grab Less West Bank Land for Barrier


HR Links

HR Social Media

Featured Blogs

Featured Links

Media Backspin