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Media Backspin
« September 2004 | Main | November 2004 »

Sunday, October 31 2004

BBC reporter weeps over Arafat's fate

PlettbbclargerBBC correspondent Barbara Plett describes Yassir Arafat's departure from Ramallah:

But where were the people, I wondered, the mass demonstrations of solidarity, the frantic expressions of concern? Was this another story we Western journalists were getting wrong, bombarding the world with news of what we think is an historic event, while the locals get on with their lives?

Yet when the helicopter carrying the frail old man rose above his ruined compound, I started to cry... without warning.

Read on (or listen to it, 5:30 into the show) as the ostensibly neutral BBC reporter describes why she identifies so closely and emotionally with Arafat. How very similar to Fayad Abu Shamala, the BBC correspondent in Gaza, who announced at a Hamas rally on May 6, 2001:

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

So now, Palestinians are apathetic (at most) about Arafat, after all the damage he's caused them, but the foreign reporters -- like Plett -- are all choked up! Says Plett: 'Mr Arafat's life has been one of sheer dedication and resilience.'

As Miriam Shaviv says, 'This piece is just about all you need to know about the BBC's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.'


Saturday, October 30 2004

The US election in Arab media

BahraincartoonbushkerryThe ADL has a collection of cartoons from the Arab media on the upcoming US elections. From the intro:

Some of the most shocking editorial cartoons depict accusations of a Jewish or Israeli conspiracy to control the American democratic process. One dominant theme is the claim that America's elections are being controlled behind the scenes by a manipulative Jewish lobby and the Israeli government.

See it here.


Thursday, October 28 2004

Arafat on deathbed?

ArafatpaleLast night papers were reporting that Arafat was in critical condition, and that his wife and Palestinian leaders were told to fly in from all over the world. This morning there are reports he stood up and went to morning prayers. The man has more lives than a cat, but this could finally be 'it'.



Wednesday, October 27 2004

Updike on new biblical translation

UC Berkeley professor Robert Alter has a new annotated English translation of the Hebrew Bible (Pentateuch). In the New Yorker, novelist John Updike gives Alter's work a mixed review, and concludes with this:

The miracle of the Pentateuch is that, unlike the numerous other tribes and gods that vitally figure in it, the Jews and their God have survived three millennia. The Israelites’ effort to claim and maintain their Promised Land fuels a contemporary crisis and occupies today’s painful headlines. It is still cruelly true that, as we read in the Alter version of Numbers:
If you do not dispossess the inhabitants of the land from before you, it will come about that those of them you leave will become stings in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they will be foes to you on the land in which you dwell.
Jewish tradition 'fuels' this crisis? Seems abundantly clear that Palestinian terrorism is actually responsible for that.

But the modern applicability of the quoted biblical passage is certainly striking, as Updike notes.

(If you're interested, here's another, glowing review of Alter's work in the New York Times.)

BBC slideshow on terror victim

TerrorvictimbbcBBC, which recently announced that filmmaker Michael Moore will be on their team for covering the US election on Tuesday, has just published a second sympathetic photo essay about Israelis in recent months. This one profiles one of the thousands of Israelis who were 'only injured' by Palestinian terrorists:

Elad Wafa lives in Netanya, Israel. He is 27 years old and was born in Ethiopia. On the afternoon of 19 May 2002, a Palestinian suicide bomber let off his explosives near the vegetable stall in the market where he worked. Elad suffered severe injuries and is now paralyzed from the lower back downwards.

Elad had plastic surgery on his face and arms. Gradually, he has recovered use of his arms. Only now, two years after the attack, is he trying to stand with the help of physiotherapy.

Like the BBC's first photo essay sympathetic to Israel, this appears only on the "UK edition" of the BBC's website -- not the "World edition" which is read throughout most of the world.

Guardian: settlements are 'colonies'

The Guardian's Chris McGreal today joins RFI in calling Israeli settlements 'colonies':

They all believe that yesterday's vote in the Israeli parliament backing the removal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza strip is a historic step that will inevitably lead to the unravelling of his life's work at the vanguard of expanding Israel's colonies and borders...

This language is dead wrong. As we articulated in 'Not an 'Apartheid Wall'', the deep Jewish historical relationship to this land clearly places settlement activity outside of the realm of 'colonization' in the European or North American sense. Israeli legalist Ruth Gavison addressed this issue in an important article in Azure last summer.

Comments to The Guardian:

Not up for debate

CampaignkerryHR campus affiliate IsraelActivism has a collection of great hand-outs that emphasize the importance of Israel in both US presidential candidates' platforms. It's not too late to order them for election day!
Just email:

Just the Facts, Please

Abc_news_1Speaking at Harvard University, ABC News President David Westin criticized network news for injecting too much opinion into coverage at the expense of pure information:

"The more time we express our opinions, the less time we have to talk about the facts," Westin said. "Unfortunately, opinion is driving out facts too often in most of what we see on television today."

Westin went on to add:

“If viewers see news people on different channels that look pretty much the same, on sets that look pretty much the same, and graphics that look pretty much the same, with some expressing opinion some of the time and some expressing facts, is it surprising that the audience believe that they’re all expressing facts?”

We couldn't agree more, ABC.

(Hat tip: Romanesko)

A French Apology

When the Franco-German TV channel Arte aired an Egyptian film portraying Israel’s founders as Nazis, Frenchman Armand Laferrere was outraged. Not just because "Les portes du soleil” (Door to the Sun) depicted Israeli soldiers massacring Palestinians and compared kibbutzim to slave labor camps. Laferrere was also angry that his tax money supported the broadcast. So after writing to Arte executive Jerome Clemente, Laferrere apologizes to the Jewish people in FrontPage Magazine.

After watching the whole abomination, I wrote to Mr Clement to tell him that, had Hitler won the war, we French would have enjoyed exactly the kind of television that he had provided us. He will not answer. The movie was generally celebrated by the left-wing press, and ignored by the right-wing press.

Since no one with authority will apparently do it, and because only a Frenchman can, I have this to add.

I apologise to the Jewish people. I feel hurt in my flesh by the despicable Jerome Clement, by the French ministries of Culture and of Foreign Affairs who made me pay for this cloaca of a movie, and for the general apathy that surrounded this scandal. I am deeply sorry about the behaviour of my country, France - my only country, which I have always loved dearly and cannot support today.


Tuesday, October 26 2004

Sun-Times on UN/Hamas scandal

The Chicago Sun-Times has an staff editorial today castigating the UN for employing Hamas members:

[I]f you're a terrorist who brutally murders innocents or a sympathizer who supports such crimes, to further some political cause, you can't be held any less accountable because you help people on your "good" days... It's bad enough that the UN hasn't taken a more active role in censuring Palestinian terrorism and recognizing Israel's legitimate defense needs. To harbor Hamas terrorists or their sympathizers in the name of humanitarian good is a crime in and of itself.

See the HonestReporting communique on this topic, which called for media outlets to respond precisely as the Sun-Times has -- taking a responsible stand against the UNRWA.

More on blogs vs. mainstream media

- William Raspberry, Washington Post:

The explosion of the Internet leaves us, in effect, with no gatekeeper. Sometimes important information gains currency that way. The problem is that anyone with Web access can run any cockamamie story up the flagpole -- and if enough people salute, prompt the mainstream press to deploy its resources.

- Molly Ivins, in Philadelphia Inquirer:

I like the Web logs, the extent to which they play "got-cha" with the establishment media. Hey, I'm all for it... . I think they add tremendously to the national discussion. I think both journalism and politics will be beneficially influenced by the Internet.
Guardian removes call to assassinate Bush

On Oct. 23, Charlie Brooker, a columnist at The Guardian, called for someone to assassinate President Bush:

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?

The article was removed from The Guardian's web site, Brooker apologized and The Guardian printed a retraction for the statement that "caused offence to some readers":

Although flippant and tasteless, his closing comments were intended as an ironic joke, not as a call to action.

Just a 'joke'... Imagine the story The Guardian would run if an Israeli journalist called for the assassination of a democratic world leader. Would they describe that as a mere 'ironic joke'?

According to Canada Free Press, the US Secret Service is investigating Charlie Brooker on this.

This (The Guardian) is the same paper that recently flooded Ohio voters with 14,000 letters encouraging them not to vote for Bush.

Reader's Digest on photo manipulation

AldurastampThe Sept. 2004 Reader's Digest (page 142) has an expose on the media manipulating photographs for propaganda purposes.

One key case examined is that of Mohammed al-Dura, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy shot in 2000. Reader's Digest lays out the case that "circumstantial evidence suggests [the video] was probably faked." But that hasn't stop the images from being immortalized throughout the Muslim world -- see the Egyptian postage stamp pictured here, and a fuller account of the al-Dura affair in the Atlantic Monthly article from 6/03: 'Who Shot Mohammed al-Dura?'

(Hat tip: Kalman Packouz)

Click below for the section of the Reader's Digest article that addresses the al-Dura affair:

Continue reading "Reader's Digest on photo manipulation"


Monday, October 25 2004

RFI's lexicon

RfilogoRFI (Radio France Internationale) has an interesting Mideast lexicon:

1) A settlement: un colon (a colony)

In today's RFI broadcast, "L'avenir de Gaza devant la Knesset " ("Gaza's future in the Knesset"), we read of "colonies," not "settlements":

"les representants des colons" (the colonists' spokesmen or representatives), "indemnisations versees aux colons" (payments doled out to colonists) l'indemnisation des colons" (payment to colonists), "l'evacuation de ces colonies" (evacuation of these colonies), "apres 35 annes de colonisation dans les Territoires palestiniens" (after 35 years of colonization in the Palestinian territories), "un mot d'ordre de greve generale a d'ailleurs ete lance dans les colonies ... " (meanwhile, the word was given for a general strike in the colonies ... )

Obviously, "colon" for "settlement" represents a highly misleading translation, especially in post-colonial France. RFI has chosen this term for Israel's West Bank and Gaza Strip towns over more neutral words like "un hameau" (a village) and "une habitation" (a more isolated village).

Continue reading "RFI's lexicon"

Live coverage of Gaza debate, vote

SharonknessetThe all-important Knesset debate and vote on Sharon's Gaza disengagement plan is available live (untranslated) on the net right now -- the quality's even pretty good -- click here, then adjust your browser so only the video window in the upper-left appears.

This should be available during tomorrow's vote as well.


Sunday, October 24 2004

'Jewish Hezbollah'?

The NY Times' Thomas Friedman has this to say about Ariel Sharon's internal opposition:

Mr. Sharon, a man of the right, has finally realized the demographic threat posed by Gaza to Israel and wants to get out. He is being opposed by the Israeli far right - the Jewish Hezbollah. This includes settler rabbis who have urged soldiers to disobey orders and, with winks and nods, have let it be known that if someone were to eliminate Ariel Sharon he would be acting out God's will.

Michael Dinowitz responds:

Now let me see if I understand this. Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. They've attacked and killed innocent people. They've launched attacks into foreign countries. They've threatened even more attacks. They are terrorists.

Far right Jews are not terrorists. They are not dedicated to destroying anyone. They are not attacking other countries. They are not launching rockets or kidnapping people.

There is no connection between these two groups other than in Friedman's libelous mind. Why did he make this comparison?

Comments to NY Times:

Syria's Personality Cult

AssadHafez Assad may be dead, but his cult of personality is still very much alive. The Australian reports on why the late Syrian president is still needed by the ruling Alawites:

For despite the evident popularity of the new President, and his moves to build closer relations with the West and forge a more open economy, the regime's image-makers are still crafting a message of nostalgia for the old system.

Hence young Bashar Al-Assad's posters announce in firm fashion that he is "following the syllabus of his glorious father".

However, many observers of the political landscape in Damascus regard the continuing cult of the older Assad as a means of strengthening the cause of the ruling Baath Party's more doctrinaire and collectivist old guard.

The Sun's Cycle of Violence

A recent cartoon by Kevin Kallagher of the Baltimore Sun highlights the Mideast "cycle of violence." Kallagher's "Middle East Perpetual Motion Machine" describes a circular relationship between two combatants, neither of whom constitutes its causal source:


But the Arab world's rejection of Israel demonstrates that the violence isn't really so circular. A more intuitive test refutes Kallagher as well: If Palestinian terror were to cease entirely, the IDF would certainly stop military action against Palestinians. The result: Total calm. If, on the other hand, the IDF were to disappear, there's no doubt that Hamas and co. would continue to pursue their official charter, which calls for a jihad to "obliterate Israel" and "raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine." This is no circular "cycle," but rather a linear assault upon Israel, which acts in pointed self-defense.

Letters to

Canadian Islamic Incitement

Canadian Professor Mohamed Elmasry is the latest Islamic personality to come under scrutiny for incitement. Appearing on Michael Coren Live, the national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress said terror attacks against any Israeli over the age of 18 were justified. Said Elmasry:

"But they are not innocent if they are part of the total population which is part of the army. ... From 18 on, they are soldiers, even if they have civilian clothes.”

Although Elmasry is backtracking from his comments, Canadian federal authorities are already reviewing tapes of the show.

In other Canadian news, the leader of a Vancouver mosque, Sheikh Younus Kathradra is also being investigated for calling for an “offensive jihad,” and calling Jews “brothers of monkeys and swine.” Kathradra’s lectures were taped and made available on the Dar Al-Madinah web site, where the sheikh now claims his comments were taken out of context.

If so, at least one person who frequented the mosque this year didn't understand Kathradra's context. Rudwan Khalil Abubaker, a Vancouver native, was recently killed with three other Chechen gunmen in a shootout with Russian special forces.

No Equivalency

The BBC reports on Hamas’ execution of Hassan Musallamit, who was accused of providing Israel with information leading to the targeted killing of Sheik Ahmed Yassin. The following snippet decries “extra-judicial killings,” but it isn’t clear whether the criticism at the end is aimed at Israel’s policy of targeted assassinations, the Palestinian witch hunt for collaborators, or both:

Hamas men often die in very accurate missile strikes, frequently launched from unmanned spy planes.

There is much speculation in Gaza as to how the Israelis are able to target these high-ranking figures with such apparent ease.

It is often thought that they are assisted by informers.

In the nearly 40 years that they have occupied Gaza, the Israelis are widely believed to have built up an extensive network of collaborators.

Hamas says it knows the identity of several more suspected informers and it has warned that they will be hunted down.

Israel justifies its targeting of militant leaders by saying that they prevent attacks on Israeli civilian and military targets.

However, human rights groups describe the killings as extra-judicial killings.

Is the BBC comparing targeted killing of terrorists with the murder of alleged informers?

T is for Terror

Dan Abrams of MSNBC challenged the media to start using the word “terror” in coverage of the Mideast conflict, Iraq and Al-Qaida--even noting how more common words like “militant,” “insurgent” and “rebel” don’t accurately reflect terror’s nature. But Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media (AIM) responds to Abrams by pointing out that MSNBC’s own use of the “T-word” doesn’t meet Abrams’ own standards.


Thursday, October 21 2004

Film on anti-Israel bias on campus

From NY Sun -- Columbia Abuzz Over Underground Film:

At a history class, a professor mockingly tells a female Jewish student she cannot possibly have ancestral ties to Israel because her eyes are green.

During a lecture, a professor of Arab politics refuses to answer a question from an Israeli student and military veteran but instead asks the student, "How many Palestinians have you killed?"

At a student meeting on the topic of divestment from Israel, a Jewish student is singled out as responsible for death of Palestinian Arabs.

Those scenes are described by current and former students interviewed for an underground documentary that is causing a frisson of concern to ripple through the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University, where the incidents took place.

Continue reading "Film on anti-Israel bias on campus"


Wednesday, October 20 2004

Classic Reuters headline bias

The headline: 'Israelis shoot Palestinian on way to mosque'

What actually happened?

Continue reading "Classic Reuters headline bias"

'Media intifada' running out of steam?

Tom GrossIn today's Jerusalem Post, journalist and commentator Tom Gross suggests that the international 'media intifada' against Israel, like the intifada on the ground, is beginning to run out of steam -- but that this is likely to prove only temporary.

HonestReporting is noted by Gross as one of the key reasons for the improvement.

[Full article reprinted below -- click on 'Continue reading...']

Continue reading "'Media intifada' running out of steam?"

Palestinian credibility in news stories

tobinJonathan Tobin, editor of Philadelphia's Jewish Exponent, says journos should be more careful in checking the credibility of Palestinian sources:

Every once in a great while, a journalist can stumble upon something so important that even they themselves don't understand how crucial it is.

Philadelphia Inquirer staffer Michael Matza seems to have reached just such a point in a dispatch datelined from the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. In an Oct. 6 story titled "In desperation, Palestinians spin tales to rally support," Matza took on a disturbing angle on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians that is rarely reported in the mainstream press: The Palestinians lie.

Continue reading "Palestinian credibility in news stories"

The Shout

SonicwarIn its ongoing commitment to limit Palestinian civilian casualties, the IDF has developed another non-lethal weapon known as 'The Shout.' The Daily Telegraph reports that the 'acoustic weapon... uses a high intensity, high frequency sound beam to incapacitate targets up to 100 yards away without causing them permanent physical damage,' and will be ready for use in a few weeks. The IDF also developed a tactical stink bomb this summer.

This seems to explain the history and science behind the 'acoustic weapon.'

Abu Hamza charged

AbuhamzaToday's big news is in the UK, where Abu Hamza al Masri (aka Imam Hook) was officially charged with incitement to murder Jews and stirring up racial hatred. The charges mean that a US extradition request will be put on hold for the time being. Abu Hamza faces a life sentence.

The Guardian had the best summary of charges. Headlines in the Daily Telegraph and The Independent emphasize that the imam wanted to target Jews. And here's a new BBC bio.


Tuesday, October 19 2004

Ted Rall's mysterious cartoon

Rall101404What does Ted Rall's cartoon today mean??

It's the US turned on end to resemble Israel, and some kind of North American 'occupation'... that's where our current understanding ends.

Have an idea? Leave a comment.

Why the UN won't condemn terrorism

The LA Times published an insightful commentary by Joshua Muravchik (pictured) on the UN's inability to unequivocally condemn terrorism:

For eight years now, a U.N. committee has labored to draft a "comprehensive convention on international terrorism." It has been stalled since Day 1 on the issue of "defining" terrorism. But what is the mystery? At bottom everyone understands what terrorism is: the deliberate targeting of civilians. The Islamic Conference, however, has insisted that terrorism must be defined not by the nature of the act but by its purpose. In this view, any act done in the cause of "national liberation," no matter how bestial or how random or defenseless the victims, cannot be considered terrorism. This boils down to saying that terrorism on behalf of bad causes is bad, but terrorism on behalf of good causes is good. Obviously, anyone who takes such a position is not against terrorism at all - but only against bad causes.

Monday, October 18 2004

Israel-bashing in Medical Journals

The lastest HonestReporting communique has just been released: Israel-bashing in Medical Journals

To receive HR communiques, sign up above.

Please use the comments below for discussion of this topic.

UPDATE: See Melanie Phillips's comments on the British Medical Journal article.

UPDATE: Read the particularly articulate responses on the BMJ website.

Foul wind from Europe

-- JPost: Bruno Gollnisch, a member of European Parliament (MEP) and deputy leader of the French extreme right-wing party the National Front, led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, has caused an outrage in Europe by questioning the use of gas chambers by the Nazis.

-- AP/Haaretz: Hungarian parliamentarian resigns after Holocaust joke

-- AFP: French radio chief resigns over 'racist Israel' remarks


Sunday, October 17 2004

Letters from HR subscribers

HonestReporting subscribers 'cc' us on a daily basis their letters to local editors, written in response to distorted and biased coverage of the Mideast conflict.

Here are a couple good examples from today:

1) Printed in Saturday's Washington Post:

Unequivalent Intifada Tolls

In summing up the Palestinian intifada [news story, Oct. 5] your paper notes that 2,800 Palestinians and about 1,000 Israelis have been killed and that the Palestinian death toll now is rising much faster than Israel's. But such figures by themselves present a distorted picture because they fail to explain the far higher civilian casualty rate among Israelis because of the terrorist tactics of such groups as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Continue reading "Letters from HR subscribers"

Primal simplicity

GillespieThe British band Primal Scream appeared in a London benefit concert last night to raise money for Palestinian children. The Guardian gave Primal Scream lead singer Bobby Gillespie (left) op-ed space to explain why:

It is often said that the Palestinian issue is so difficult and sensitive that it's better not to get involved. But the truth is, it's not. It's easy. Everyone knows who is under the boot and who's got the mouthful of broken glass. The Palestinians are a prisoner nation, refugees and exiles treated like ghosts. Now we want them to feel our solidarity...

John Lennon used his name and money to oppose the Vietnam war and support the workers on strike. If Lennon were still on this earth, he'd be doing Palestine. In fact, he'd be rocking the Brixton Academy tomorrow night.

What's Gillespie's bigger chutzpa -- calling the conflict 'easy,' or comparing himself to John Lennon?


Thursday, October 14 2004

AFP's Compounded Error

HonestReporting just released a new communique: 'AFP's Compounded Error'

Sign up above to receive HR communiques by email.

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

UPDATE: In apparent response to the HonestReporting communique, AFP issued this 'official statement' at 1533 GMT on Oct. 14 (two hours after the communique was released):


'Israel's Gaza offensive shows no sign of let-up after two deadly weeks'

ATTENTION - CORRECTION in our story Mideast-Israel-Gaza- military sent on Tuesday October 12 ex-Gaza City please ignore the erroneous reference in the first paragraph that stated that most of the 111 Palestinians killed in the two-week Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip were children. This was wrong and was removed from subsequent leads to the story.



Wednesday, October 13 2004

Arafat talks to the Brits

Arafatt_1Yasser Arafat decided to spend time with a few British journalists. You get the sense that the reporters are becoming downright bored of these get-togethers:

The Guardian's Ewen MacAskill gives more ink to the Rais' environment, and rarely grants him quotation marks. A favorite snippet:

His ministers and advisers flanking him occasionally whispered into his ear to advise moderating an opinion, to complete a sentence, or to suggest that a fact was wrong.

Anton La Guardia of the Daily Telegraph writes a similar account:

The conversation is unfocused, but has constant themes - Mr Arafat's importance in history, his relevance to the present, the suffering of Palestinians, the wickedness of the Israelis and their blindness to his reasonable offers to make a "peace of the brave."

At no point would he accept that Palestinians, or he personally, shared any blame for the catastrophe of the intifada.

He claims to control every member of the Palestinian security forces, yet is unable to restrain the gunmen and suicide bombers without political concessions.

Speaking of the Noble laureate, check out the headline from the NY Post today:



Tuesday, October 12 2004

AFP: 'Mainly children'?

AFP opens their report today on the IDF's Gaza operation with this:

Israel's massive military operation into the northern Gaza Strip shows no sign of a let-up after two deadly weeks that have seen 111 Palestinians killed, mainly children, and Qassam rockets still being fired into Israeli territory.

'Mainly children'? The New York Times reported yesterday:

In 11 days of fighting in the northern Gaza Strip, Israeli forces have killed at least 90 Palestinians, including about 55 militants and 35 civilians, according to Palestinian hospital officials.

The dead include 18 Palestinians who were 16 or younger, according to a count by The Associated Press.

And those are Palestinian and press sources, not even Israeli.

This is a material error by the AFP, and should be corrected immediately.

Comments to:

UPDATE: HonestReporting spoke with the AFP news editor in Jerusalem regarding this error. The editor acknowledged the statement was wrong, and said a correction from AFP is forthcoming.


Monday, October 11 2004

Followup on recent HR communiques

- Followup to 'UNRWA's Hamas Employees': Jerusalem Post reports that the UNRWA suspended employees who have been detained by Israel for security reasons. Palestinians fear that UNRWA employees will now have to sign a non-terror pledge.

- Followup to 'Iran, Israel and the Bomb': The New York Times has a very good overview of the Iranian nuclear threat to Israel and the democratic West.

Flirting with death

HamashumanshieldsIsraeli anti-terror efforts are regularly criticized in the world media for causing Palestinian civilian casualites. The IDF makes extraordinary efforts at lessening such casualties (including endangering Israeli soldiers' lives on a regular basis), but the criticism remains. Part of the problem is the fact that armed Palestinians oftentimes take cover among children and civilians (click on picture), placing them in harm's way in the most irresponsible manner imaginable.

Here's some insight to the problem from the perspective of the kids: Peter Hermann of the Baltimore Sun reports on Palestinian kids "flirting with death" by cozying up to the armed men in the heat of battle. He quotes Mahmoud Youssef Abu Saleh, a 12 year-old-boy living in the Jabaliya refugee camp:

Mahmoud says the attraction of the fighters is often too much to ignore. "Sometimes we go to help," he says. "Sometimes we go to throw stones. But we are afraid. Sometimes children go because they want to be martyred." Those who participate, he says, "become big men" in the camp.

This article blames the problem on a breakdown of traditional authority -- Palestinian fathers who would prevent their children from running to battle sites are no longer taken seriously by their children, who see their protective fathers as weak.

So what about the armed Hamasniks themselves refusing to allow children in their midst during gunfights? Why doesn't Peter Herman talk with them, demanding an explanation for this extreme form of negligence?

Greg Myre of the New York Times also filed an article on this topic, which stresses Palestinian 'defiance' and willingness to die as a 'martyr.'


Sunday, October 10 2004

One-state talk

Michael Tarazi, an American lawyer and advisor for the PLO, received op-ed space in the NY Times to call for a one-state 'solution' to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Tarazi claims that Israel's (and most of the world's) strategy for a two-state solution is to 'segregate non-Jews while taking as much of their land and resources as possible,' and thinks it possible to create a multicultural utopia west of the Jordan:

The one-state solution, however, neither destroys the Jewish character of the Holy Land nor negates the Jewish historical and religious attachment (although it would destroy the superior status of Jews in that state). Rather, it affirms that the Holy Land has an equal Christian and Muslim character.

Former NY Times foreign correspondent Clifford May responded with a scathing op-ed of his own in the Washington Times:

And if Israelis refuse to willingly become a despised minority in their own country, ruled by people who have waged genocidal campaigns against them, that will demonstrate, Mr. Tarazi declares, "Christians and Muslims, the millions of Palestinians under occupation are not welcome in the Jewish state." "Not welcome." Imagine that. The nerve. The chutzpah. As Mr. Tarazi well knows but neglects to mention, there is only one Jewish state on the planet. It's about the size of New Jersey. By contrast, there are 22 Arab nations and more than 50 predominantly Muslim countries, covering an area larger than the United States and Europe combined. In these lands, Jews are, to varying degrees, conspicuously unwelcome. In Jordan, a relatively liberal country that has diplomatic relations with Israel, Jews are denied citizenship. In Saudi Arabia, no synagogue or church may be built.

Meanwhile, editors at the LA Times (without referring to Tarazi's piece) reject the one-state idea 'percolating through the Western intelligentsia and even into left-wing circles in Israel':

So what is the problem [with the 'one-state solution']? It's that such a state would not be Jewish. The premise of Zionism — the premise of Israel — is that Jews need and deserve their own state... A single state encompassing Israel and the disputed territories would reinvent this problem. It would bring the descendants of many 1948 refugees back into the fold, along with other Arabs. The higher Arab birthrate would make Jews a shrinking minority.

Many Americans might ask, so what? The United States prides itself on being a melting pot of different races, ethnicities and religions. But most countries are more like Israel. They define themselves ethnically or religiously or (like the surprising new states that popped up out of the dying Soviet empire) by some ancient and long-suppressed geographical chauvinism.


Saturday, October 9 2004

Sinai attacks

TabahotelHere's some supplementary material on Thursday's terror attacks aimed at Israeli vacationers in Taba and Ras a-Satan, which claimed at least 32 lives:

- IsraelInsider: 'Mega-terror: it could have been worse, but the worst may be yet to come'

- New York Times photo slideshow

- BBC photo slideshow

- JPost: 'Boim slams Egyptian hampering of rescue efforts'

- CBS: 'Egypt Detains Suspects in Taba Blast'

- AP: 'Israel: Al Qaeda Likely Behind Sinai Attacks'

- Haaretz: 'Arafat aide: Israeli occupation motivated Sinai bombers'


Wednesday, October 6 2004

Gaza operation - halfway effort?

IsrtankMilitary analyst Elliot Chodoff thinks the IDF's Gaza operation is an unfortunate waste of time:

The operation is a mix of intensification of existing tactics along with a massive insertion of infantry and armor into the areas surrounding Beit Hanun and Jebalya refugee camp. Both are hotbeds of terrorist activity, and sources of many attacks in the past, including suicide bombings along with the Kassam rockets. Insofar as the IDF has stepped up its campaign to eliminate terrorists, particularly the “middle management,” through direct attacks, either from the air or on the ground, it will succeed in reducing the effectiveness of the terrorist organizations. But the halfway measure of a ground incursion into Gaza, without actually hunting down and eliminating the terrorists and their infrastructure, as was accomplished in the West Bank during and after Operation Defensive Wall in April 2002, will prove to be a waste of time and resources at best, and politically and militarily detrimental at worst.

Continue reading "Gaza operation - halfway effort?"


Tuesday, October 5 2004

Abu Mazen: 'Whole intifada was mistake'

AbbasFormer PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen):

If we were to sum up where we have ended up after four years of the Intifada, [we would find that] there are three opinions: the first opinion is that after the killing of 1,000 Israelis in the Intifada, Israel would collapse, as would Sharon; the second opinion is that the armed Intifada would liberate the homeland; the third opinion is that the Intifada would bring the settlements to a halt. An examination [of the matter] shows that Sharon did not fall. On the contrary, he has become the most popular [leader] in the history of Israel, after having been subjected to condemnations in Israel. On the same note, all of the Palestinian lands are now occupied and vulnerable, and the settlements have nearly doubled. We damaged our relations with the Americans and with Israeli public opinion; the latest statement from the Quartet is an additional indication of what has become of us.
Good enough for Yasser


This is an actual banner ad (!) which is currently running on (no connection to the satellite 'news' agency).

The ad links through to MiddleOffice Geneva, which appears to be an real Swiss financial institution.

The whole thing could be a joke from the odd site, but even so, it's a good one...

(Hat tip: Harry's Place)

Worth reading today

Policemankassam- Reflections on Sderot as EU pays visit to grieving town (Jerusalem Post):

Once they were ensconced in their plastic chairs, Asiris Abebeh handed Hensch (an EU representative), who led the delegation, a parcel wrapped in tissue paper. The little black nuggets inside looked like dates. But as Hensch examined them, the grieving mother explained that they were shrapnel from the rocket that killed her baby ...

"We are working people; we don't need to be buried in ice cream and chocolate and visits by VIPs," said Gila Vazana ,who owns Star Felafel near city hall. "Our major problem is not poverty, or a loss of dignity, but Kassams. That's all."

- "Get down from the roof, you crazies"/ What's wrong with the Palestinians? (Ha'aretz):

Why, every time the door opens a crack for some Israeli compromise or concession, do the Palestinians suddenly have this urge to maim and kill? Why, after the Oslo Accords, which Israel went through hell and high water to approve, did they unleash a campaign of bloody terror? Why did they launch another wave of terror at the split second that another opportunity arose for a settlement brokered by President Clinton at Camp David? Why is every senior American peacemaker sent here always greeted by a terror attack that sabotages the mission even before it begins?

Why, when the patriarch of the settlements decides to disengage from Gaza, have the Palestinians gone on a rampage? Why are they attacking, ambushing, and wildly shooting Kassam rockets at Sderot? I say Palestinians, and not Hamas, because the PA has more power and say-so than we think. If the PA didn't want Sderot bombarded, it wouldn't be.

- A way out of Fallujah and Gaza (Editorial, Wall Street Journal Europe, 5 Oct 04) :

Continue reading "Worth reading today"

UNRWA's Hamas Employees

A new HonestReporting communique has just been released: 'UNRWA's Hamas Employees'

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


Monday, October 4 2004

Like a violin

From Mike Lester, Rome News-Tribune, Rome, GA:



Sunday, October 3 2004

What Reuters fails to grasp

Veteran journalist Noga Tarnopolsky reviews Reuters' egregiously skewed coverage of the most recent suicide bombing in Jerusalem:

Aside from its potential use in a Journalism 101 class as an example of how to fail as a reporter, this is a useless bit of writing. Or maybe it has a political point. I have no idea.

A number of HR subscribers responded to these articles, and have forwarded to us a very rare apology from Reuters' editors -- who recognized how bad at least this one was.

UN ambulances used to transport rockets

KassamunIDF cameras have caught Palestinian terrorists loading what appears to be a Kassam rocket into a UN ambulance.

For a very good review of the story, including the denial of the IDF account from the UN's rep in Gaza, see this entry at Israellycool.


Friday, October 1 2004

Worth reading today

Colinpowell- Powell: "Time to End the Intifada"

Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an interview on Al Jazeera Wednesday: "You say we blame the victims. Who are the victims? The victims are those who are being blown up by bombs. And then there is the response on the part of the Israelis, who have tried to protect themselves from these bombs by going after individuals who they believe are responsible. And so, there are victims on all sides of this question....What has it [the intifada] accomplished for the Palestinian people? Has it produced progress toward a Palestinian state? Has it defeated Israel on the battlefield? So it is time to end this process. It is time to end the intifada." (State Department)

- U.S. Threatens Green Light to Expel Arafat:

Arafat's personal advisor, Nabil Abu Rodeina, received a "cold shower" during his last visit to Washington. The Arabic newspaper Al-Arab Al-Yom reported this weekend that senior administration officials who met with Abu Rodeina gave him an unmistakable message: If Arafat fails to implement the commitments he made to the U.S. by the November elections, the administration will remove its objection to his being expelled by Israel.

- A rally organized in Ramallah on Wednesday to mark the fourth anniversary of the intifada was attended by fewer than 150 Palestinians. Similar rallies in other West Bank cities also drew small crowds.

- Palestinian Poll: 77% Support Bombing Israeli Civilians, 74% See Disengagement as Palestinian Victory

- Israel's Nuclear Program: No Double Standard - Gerald M. Steinberg

- Egypt Bans Madonna after Israel Visit

(Hat tip: COP Daily Alert)


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