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
« October 2004 | Main | December 2004 »

Tuesday, November 30 2004

Worth reading today

* A disturbing review of the spread of anti-semitism in Southeast Asia in Asia Times. The author, though, grants a modicum of legitimacy to the conspiracy theorists that is itself disturbing. Regarding their accepted 'truth' that Jews run the world:

The problem with this "truth" is that the evidence to back it up is sketchy at best, relying on questionable facts and a selective interpretation of events and information. There is a vacuum of conclusive data, and corroboration can't be found in the mainstream media.

A 'vacuum of conclusive data'? We're not talking greenhouse gases here... we're talking Protocals!

* The Sacramento Union published a strong anti-Arafat piece, then was bowled over by pro-Palestinian complaints. The paper responds.

Continue reading "Worth reading today"

Moore checkpoint context, please

In yesterday's Washington Post, Molly Moore had a long (2,100 word) article on IDF checkpoints. The main focus -- decrying abuse of Palestinians (who must move through 'lanes resembling cattle shutes'), and amplifying statements of soldiers who are frustrated with the task.

These are Moore's two cursory references to the need for strict checkpoints in the West Bank and Gaza:

Continue reading "Moore checkpoint context, please"

HR: The biblical context

Rav Mordechai Kamenetsky mentioned HonestReporting in his commentary on last week's Torah portion: 'No News is Jews News'

From Iran: 'Sgt. Shimon's Exploding Doll'

IranianmovieMEMRI-TV has clips from a new video being shown in Iran, featuring an IDF officer and his charges using a secret weapon -- a doll loaded with a hand grenade -- against innocent Palestinian children.

[The actors are supposed to be speaking Hebrew (there are Persian subtitles), but since the Hebrew is so bad, MEMRI superimposed their own Hebrew subtitles. It doesn't seem to be available in English yet...but a non-Hebrew speaker can still get the jist of it.]


Monday, November 29 2004

UN to finally condemn terror?

The Daily Telegraph (req. reg.) reports that a UN panel will issue a report recommending that the UN ban terror attacks on civilians or risk losing its moral authority:

In a report to be unveiled on Thursday, seen in part by The Telegraph, a panel appointed to reform the UN said it must send "an unequivocal message that terrorism is never an acceptable tactic, even for the most defensible of causes".

This is a slap in the face for Palestinians, Iraqi insurgents, Kashmiri rebels, al-Qa'eda militants and other groups that claim to be fighting foreign domination. It is also a rebuke to Muslim states that have for years blocked agreement on an all-embracing UN convention on terrorism on the grounds that it should exclude groups fighting "occupation" or "colonialism".

On the question of "resistance" to occupation, the report declares that "there is nothing in the fact of occupation that justifies the targeting and killing of civilians".

The panel's report also offered its own definition of terror:

"any action that is intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or compel a government or an international organisation to do or to abstain from doing any act".

Will the UN adopt the findings? Stay tuned...

Fatah shakes off the dust

The dominant Palestinian party, Fatah, plans on holding internal elections next August -- its first elections in twenty years. They apparently need ten months to prepare.

The last time Fatah held internal elections, Michael Jackson's Thriller topped the charts, Michael Jordan was drafted by the Chicago Bulls, and the UK celebrated the birth of Prince Harry. Jackson went on to great fame, Jordan established himself as the most recognized athlete of his generation, and Prince Harry's in his "gap year" before military training at Sandhurst. Meanwhile, Fatah's leadership has ossified, creating tensions between "old guard" and "young guard."


Sunday, November 28 2004

Barghouti = 'firebrand'

It seems the journos all got together over the weekend and decided on a term they'd use for Marwan Barghouti:

* AFP: 'Israel rules out freeing Fatah firebrand Barghuti', 'The 45-year-old firebrand…' '… the 45-year-old firebrand said in a statement … '

* Reuters: 'Firebrand uprising leader Marwan Barghouthi came under pressure from his Fatah faction...'

* BBC: 'The jailed firebrand was said to be considering challenging Mr Abbas…'

* Washington Post: 'Abbas Rival Withdraws Challenge: Palestinian Firebrand Won't Seek Presidency From Israeli Prison'

* Toronto Star: 'But Palestinian political insiders say the firebrand Barghouti, 46, is likely to… '

* Times of London: 'Firebrand withdraws bid for Palestinian presidency'

Firebrand: [n] someone who deliberately foments trouble

How about a more accurate term -- 'convicted murderer' ? Barghouti has been convicted of five counts of murder, and is serving five life sentences.

Expanding blogosphere

ClickZ reports that the blogosphere is experiencing an explosion of growth.


Thursday, November 25 2004

Ending the Incitement

The latest HonestReporting communique, 'Ending the Incitement', has just been released.

To receive HR communiques in your inbox, just sign up above.

Please use the comments below for discussion of this communique.


Wednesday, November 24 2004

'Relentless' in WSJ

HonestReporting's documentary film 'Relentless' is mentioned in today's Wall Street Journal, in an interesting article on the reluctance of Holywood powerplayers to confront the reality of terrorist Islam.

Official PA paper: US raping Iraq

Palestinian Media Watch reports:

As the Palestinian media slowly return to their regular routine following Arafat's death, their well-documented hate promotion and incitement are likewise reappearing. One common theme that has quickly returned due to the war in Iraq is the depiction of the US, verbally and visually, as the cruel and inhuman enemy.

A cartoon in today's official PA daily, Al Hayat al Jadida, shows an American soldier raping a young girl, while the Arab world looks on with amusement and even offers support. The most recent Friday sermon on PATV depicts the US as the creator of international terror. In a third example, a vicious cartoon depicts US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as the exterminator of Arabs.

Here's the cartoon. No wonder Sharon is demanding the elimination of incitement in Palestinian media.

BBC not reporting Israel complaints?

The BBC reports quarterly on the complaints they have received on publicly-funded BBC programs (which includes their online news and radio programs). See this year's 'Complaints Bulletins' here.

It's very surprising that of the 641 items that generated complaints so far this year, only 2 are associated with Israel. We find that hard to believe, since HonestReporting subscribers have written to the Beeb on at least five items: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. (And that's not counting blog entries from BackSpin, which also generate considerable feedback to news outlets.)

Is the Beeb denying having received these complaints, or is there some other explanation for this omission?


Tuesday, November 23 2004

Worth reading today

* Chicago Sun-Times staff ed: 'Sharon has reasonable request for advancing peace'

Sharon is asking for something of great symbolic and practical importance: a reduction in the poisonous hate toward Israel that Palestinians are force-fed daily in school and on TV. "The venomous propaganda in the Palestinian media and education system is the root and foundation of the expansion of the suicide terrorism phenomenon,'' Sharon said. Palestinians should have taken care of this long ago, if they really want to someday live in peace with their neighbors.

* Michael Oren in the JPost:

No Palestinian leader today is capable of reversing the warlike brainwashing of children and of reeducating them for coexistence... At this stage it would be premature, if not counterproductive, for the U.S. and the other members of the Quartet to designate some Palestinian as Arafat's successor and railroad him into signing a treaty he might be either powerless or unwilling to fulfill.

* David Gerstman critiques Friday's New York Times editorial that called on Sharon to aggressively support Abu Mazen.

It's remarkable that the Times considers the fact that Abu Mazen hasn't yet delivered anti-Israel speeches a major forthcoming act on his part, worthy of international approbation and immediate Israeli concessions.

* In The New Republic, Ilene Prusher finds Abu Mazen lacks the charisma and guerilla/terror credentials necessary to rally significant Palestinian backing.

That, of course, is the heart of the problem -- the bulk of the Palestinian people don't accept Israel's legitimacy, and therefore won't support any Palestinian politico who makes gestures in that direction. Until this changes, it's hard to see real progress on the peace track.


Monday, November 22 2004

Rising protest at Columbia U

The NY Daily News reports on the growing protest against lecturers at Columbia University who deny Israel's right to exist and intimidate Jewish students who think differently. A pro-Israel professor at Columbia says

scores of Jewish students - about one a week - have trooped into his office to complain about bias in the classroom.

"Students tell me they've been browbeaten, humiliated and treated disrespectfully for daring to challenge the idea that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish nation," he said.

"They say they've been told Israeli soldiers routinely rape Palestinian women and commit other atrocities, and that Zionism is racism and the root of all evil."

The problem is addressed more fully in the film 'Columbia Unbecoming' -- details here.

HR's November mission to Israel

Participants on the latest HonestReporting mission to Israel just headed home after a week-long stay. It was another fantastic trip, with top-notch speakers and visits to essential sites.

Here are a few images (more to follow...):

-- Participants on the mission listen as Shay Ben Yeish (below), the vice-mayor of Sderot, describes the effect of 500 missiles landing on his town in the past few years:



-- Participants in the HonestReporting mission sit in an underground factory which secretly produced 2 million bullets prior to the outbreak of the 1948 War of Independence:



Sunday, November 21 2004

AFP anthropology

An unbelievable photo caption from AFP:

A British hooligan in the streets of Belgium. The typical Briton is polite, witty and phlegmatic, but lacks a certain style and has a dental hygiene issue while having an occasional drinking problem
BBC Road Warriors

Last week, BBC correspondent Martin Asser described a taxi ride through the Gaza Strip emphasizing IDF checkpoints and the hardships they cause ordinary Palestinians (he didn't acknowledge the army’s fight against Palestinian terror). This week, Beeb road warriors in Iraq reported that a cab ride from Baghdad to the city’s airport is the world’s most dangerous drive ($5,100 fare gives you two cars and several heavily armed bodyguards). Don’t miss the previous adventures of the Beeb’s road warriors in Gaza. Next up: a ride through Boston’s scandal-ridden “Big Dig.”

Recommended Reading

* The Toronto Star reports that conspiracy theories regarding the causes of Yasser Arafat’s death have taken on a life of their own. Even if Arafat’s medical details are ever released to the public, it may be too little and too late to combat rumors that the U.S. gave Israel a green light to poison the PA chairman:

"Arafat will join JFK as the subject of the all-time great conspiracy theories. Every Palestinian wants to see him as a hero; they expected him to be martyred," said Mohammed Yaghi, executive director of the Palestinian Center for Mass Communication, a Ramallah-based think-tank.

"So this fits him. It provides the heroic end for a man who was always a target for Israelis. And even if Israel didn't kill him, they wanted to kill him. That is enough."

* Commentary in the Washington Post regarding the lack of change in the ossifying world of Arab leadership -- the only term limit is an autocrat’s death:

Just as happens to any system that lacks a way to reinvigorate itself with competition, new ideas and younger blood, the result is predictable: corruption grows, innovation wanes and progress halts. Economic monopolies get sluggish and unresponsive, and so do political ones.

Even the death of a leader can fail to rattle the aging bones of these political systems -- and that's why it would be dangerous to hope for too much from Arafat's successor, whoever he might be. Old leaders die hard, but old habits die harder.

* Newsweek vividly describes how Iraqi insurgents systematically break all rules of warfare, and score propaganda points when the US errs. A classic case of Western values being used against Westerners:

For the insurgents, Iraq has become a war without rules, and yet the militants also score big propaganda victories every time Americans break their own codes of warfare. In the battle for Fallujah the insurgents feigned surrender, waving white flags to approach within killing range of U.S. Marines and Iraqi government forces. They positioned their fighters in mosques, medical centers and civilian neighborhoods. They booby-trapped their fallen comrades' corpses and shot at crews trying to collect the Muslim dead. Practically every taboo has been discarded. Women, children and international relief groups have become deliberate targets. Ambulances are used to smuggle weapons. Torture of hostages has become a public spectacle, with videos passed out like press kits to TV stations, and posted on the Internet when the Arabic channels balk at showing such atrocities.

* In the Washington Times, a critique of the Israeli Goliath vs. Palestinian David media spin.

Reality-Hasbara TV

Reuters reports on a new Israeli reality TV show on which contestants fight Israel’s image problem around the world:

Devised by an American-Jewish benefactor, the series begins airing next week with contestants in business suits plying their propaganda skills at various foreign locales, a Channel Two advertisement said on Thursday.

In a format recalling the U.S. reality show "The Apprentice," where participants vie for a management post under magnate Donald Trump, an Israeli panel including an ex-security chief and a former army spokesman will weed out the winner.

The prize: an all-expenses-paid year working as an Israeli public relations liaison in New York.

The Jerusalem Post reports that that filming will take place in Washington, New York, France and the UK, and that more than 5,000 people responded to an looking for potential participants.

(Hat tip: Daily Alert)

Al-Jazeera's Al-Qaida Connections

TayseeralouniThe BBC reports that Spain arrested Al-Jazeera reporter Tayseer Alouni (pictured), who is accused of fund-raising for Al-Qaida. Alouni, who has interviewed Osama Bin Laden, allegedly used reporting trips in Afghanistan as a cover for his Al-Qaida connections. Al-Jazeera is standing by Alouni.


Wednesday, November 17 2004

Anti-Sharon public signs in Spain

JPost: 'Along with the local time and temperature, venomous slogans against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Israel appear on the municipal information board in the northern Spanish town of Oleiros.

'"Let's stop the animal, Sharon the assassin, stop the neo-Nazis," reads the bright-red illuminated sign in the town of a few thousand people located in the Galicia region.'


Why in the world would some tiny Spanish town do such a thing?! The European media has apparently whipped the public into a manic frenzy against Israel.

More at Arutz Sheva.

UPDATE 11/18: Signs have been removed.

AP's bad history lesson

AP's report on the Hezbollah rockets fired into northern Israel included this background on the period when the IDF held a security zone in southern Lebanon:

During the Israeli occupation, Hezbollah guerrillas fired Katyusha rockets into northern Israel in response to Israeli attacks on civilians in southern Lebanon.

Israeli 'attacks on civilians'?! The IDF never attacked civilians. Has AP adopted Hezbollah propaganda on the history of the Lebanon war?

Comments to:


Tuesday, November 16 2004

Second wave

Helthom_1Watch out -- second wave of Arafat-love coming in:

-- Octogenarian White House correspondent Helen Thomas (pictured):

This is a requiem for Nobel Peace Prize winner Yasser Arafat, the fallen leader of the benighted but unbowed Palestinian people. He never achieved an independent state for his people or the return of thousands of exiled Palestinians to their homeland, but there was no question he was their unchallenged spiritual and political leader.

-- Eric Margolis rationalizes Arafat's terror in the Toronto Sun:

Along the way, Arafat and his lieutenants resorted to what we call terrorism -- the only way the weak can fight the strong.

Though Margolis later acknowledges Arafat's flaws, terror isn't among them:

In waging his epic struggle, Arafat made many grave mistakes. He was autocratic, allowed corruption to flourish, and always secretive. His management of Palestinian finances may well blow up into a tawdry scandal tarnishing his reputation. He was seen even by Arab admirers as too foxy and clever by half.

-- Waikato Times (NZ) staff-ed rationalizes terror:

Palestinians are oppressed and Arafat must have come to the conclusion in his younger days that bloodshed was a necessary evil. After all, in 1947 when the UN, in its stupidity, decided to divide Palestine between Palestinian Arabs and Jews, leaving Arabs with 47 per cent of their land, Palestinians did not accept the decision. War broke out and newly declared Israel expanded its state to about 75 per cent of Palestine by 1949. Since then, Israel has continued to forcibly expand and occupy Palestinian land despite UN resolutions calling for its withdrawal.

Squaring off in Chicago

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg skewers Chicago Tribune coverage of Arafat's death:

Before we leave Arafat, someone should observe how his death caused TV stations to go into Full Lady Di Grief Mode. As surprising as this was, the biggest shock came from our competitor. I know the Chicago Tribune is hopelessly biased against Israel. But even knowing that, never could I have imagined that it would publish on its front page a giant full-color PLO press office photo of Arafat looking like a Yosef Karsh portrait -- a cross between Churchill and Albert Schweitzer. I need to slide by Tribune Tower to see if the flag is at half mast, or the doorway draped with black bunting. Maybe they're saving that for the funeral.
Here's the Trib's Arafat bio.
Arafat memorabilia

Deutsche Welle asks: Will Yassir Arafat become the first pop icon of the 21st century? Che Guevara for Generation Y?

Well, let's see what's available on Ebay:

-- Yassir Arafat signed baseball (current bid $399)


-- Yasser Arafat signed kefiyyah (yours for just 5 grand!)

-- Inflatable Yasser doll

Do some browsing yourself, if you'd like.


Monday, November 15 2004

Arab TV salutes Arafat

MemriclipMEMRI TV has a new collection of clips from Arab television salutes to Arafat.

Hani Al-Hassan of the Fatah Central Committ­ee clarifies the tactics of the largest Palestinian party -- terror softens up the scene for 'diplomacy':

In Fatah we have a rule: the armed struggle sows and the political struggle reaps. He who doesn't sow doesn't reap, and he who sows and refuses to reap is a criminal. Therefore, when Oslo didn't bring results, the sowing came in the form of the Intifada. The question now is whether the current period is a stage of reaping or is it a stage of sowing. We think that the current period is a phase of sowing, until we see results in the international position. We see today that there is a change in the world. Europe has changed and its position has become more clearly in our favor. America is bogged down in Iraq and doesn't know what to do.

Colin Powell should see this while he's packing his bags for Tel Aviv.

Saluting Yassir

HonestReporting just released a new communique: 'Saluting Yassir'

To receive HR communiques in your inbox, just sign up above.

Please use the comments section below for discussing this communique.

UPDATE: Tom Gross has an article in the Jerusalem Post on this topic as well.


Sunday, November 14 2004

Palestinian art exhibit in NY

AP reports:

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A Jewish assemblyman said Friday that an exhibit of Palestinian art and crafts, scheduled for a one-day display in a building owned by Westchester County, should be canceled because it is anti-Israel and "promotes terrorism and violence."

The curator of the exhibit denied the charges, saying that while some of the art deals with Israel's military presence in the Palestinian territories and "the apartheid-type life that Palestinians are forced to live under ... what comes through is the desire for a peaceful life."

Nevertheless, the county executive is demanding a preview of the exhibit before deciding whether it should be canceled.

The exhibit, scheduled for Nov. 20 at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, is entitled "Made in Palestine." Assemblyman Ryan Karben, a Democrat from neighboring Rockland County, based his objections on artworks from another exhibit, also called "Made in Palestine," that was on display at the Station museum in Houston last year.

Here's that Houston exhibit. One painting shows Ariel Sharon 'in the act of torturing a Palestinian' -- an image right out of the historical anti-Semitic blood libels:


On objectivity

NY Times' Public Editor Daniel Okrent comments on journalistic objectivity and uncritical use of experts. There certainly are some lessons here for coverage of the Mideast conflict -- in particular, the uncritical reprinting of absurd statements from the likes of Saeb Arekat.


Friday, November 12 2004

FrontPage Magazine features HR

FrontPage Magazine is featuring HonestReporting's Arafat film on its homepage, and has a lengthy interview with HR's Michael Weinstein.


Thursday, November 11 2004

Platitudes for a terrorist

Jeff Jacoby brings two examples:

Derek Brown wrote in The Guardian that Arafat's "undisputed courage as a guerrilla leader" was exceeded only "by his extraordinary courage" as a peace negotiator. But it is an odd kind of courage that expresses itself in shooting unarmed victims -- or in signing peace accords and then flagrantly violating their terms.

Another commentator, columnist Gwynne Dyer, asked, "So what did Arafat do right?" The answer: He drew worldwide attention to the Palestinian cause, "for the most part by successful acts of terror." In other words, butchering innocent human beings was "right," since it served an ulterior political motive. No doubt that thought brings daily comfort to all those who were forced to bury a child, parent, or spouse because of Arafat's "successful" terrorism.


- CNN's special page has a quote from the late Ra'is that conveys the opposite of what his life was all about: "The battle for peace is the most difficult battle of our lives.”

- Tom Gross says Arafat got the 'Princess Di treatment' in the British media, which is entirely consistent with their history of adoring coverage:
For example, one BBC profile in the summer of 2002... described him as a "hero" and "an icon." It spoke of him as having "performer's flair," "charisma and style," and "personal courage." He was not only "respectable," but "triumphant" and "the stuff of legends."
- David Gerstman fisks Washington Post coverage

- AP's timeline of Arafat’s life was very widely reprinted, but it doesn’t note any of the terror attacks he was responsible for, so one can only wonder what kind of terror he 'renounced' on Dec. 12, 1988...

-- Edmonton Sun headline: 'Patriarch of Palestine dead'

'Palestine'? Not a nation. But it might have been if the 'patriarch' hadn't rejected that offer.

What about those 'loose links'?

'Al Aksa now Arafat Martyrs Brigades'

Here's more on the history of this bond.

Source of Palestinian poverty
Tony Auth, Philadelphia Inquirer:


Caption: 'It's the least we could do for Arafat. He always did the least for us.'
Unrealized prophesies

"Isn't it better to die bringing down your enemy than to await a slow, miserable death?" - Arafat, 1969

"I will die in Palestine and I will not leave." - Arafat, 2003

Yassir Arafat: 1929-2004

HonestReporting has produced two original works to mark the occasion:

1) A one-minute online film: Arafat's Legacy   Please view the film, then forward the link to friends, family, local media outlets, and community leaders.


2) A detailed biography of Arafat's life, chronicling his corruption and terror activities ― with a wealth of links to online sources. You are encouraged to use this biography to respond to distortions of Arafat's legacy in your local media outlets.


Please share your feedback on the film and biography in the comments below.


Wednesday, November 10 2004

Today's cartoons

J.D. Crowe, Mobile Register:


Tom Toles:


Dick Wright, Columbus Dispatch:


Mike Lester, Rome (Ga.) News-Tribune:


BBC's selective scare quotes

From BBC coverage of Hezbollah's drone-flying over northern Israel:

Hezbollah did not give details about the capabilities of its unmanned reconnaissance plane, or say whether it had more than one. But the group said there would be more such over-flights, which it said was a legitimate way to confront the Zionist violations of Lebanon's sovereignty.

Why is the Beeb so careful to use scare quotes around 'terrorist' and any Israeli statement, but here allow 'Zionist violations' to pass as is?

Comments to:


Tuesday, November 9 2004

BMJ publishes rebuttal

The British Medical Journal has published a rebuttal to the Derek Summerfield article in the BMJ that we critiqued here.

Cartoons of the day
Sandy Huffaker:


Bob Englehart, Hartford Courant:


The scene in Paris

Baltimore Sun's Todd Richissin describes Arafat's aides having to deal with Suha:

They were reduced to milling around the plush lobby of the Intercontinental Le Grand Hotel on Rue Scribe, near the Garnier Opera House, as they conferred in corners and talked on cellular phones, breaking occasionally to complain to reporters about Suha Arafat's behavior - careful to criticize the performance and not the performer.
They occasionally lapsed into wondering aloud whether they ought to go home after all. They drank $14 cups of coffee, chain-smoked and sank into red, velvety chairs and couches.

But they insisted that this first big test of their leadership in what might soon be a post-Arafat world was not a failure.

Press pass to terror
Carmelbomb Haaretz reports on the arrest of the driver for last week's Tel Aviv suicide bomber. How did he enter Israel?
Hundakji's passage into Israel was eased by a journalist's identification card he had obtained through the framework of his studies at Nablus' A-Najah University.
Arafat, 'freedom fighter'

We've seen a number of pre-obituaries that whitewash Arafat's terrorist history, but this semi-literate one from South Africa's City Press outdoes them all:

Faced with a string of rabid Zionist regimes that were never satisfied with just oppressing the Palestinians but hounded them out of their country and even from neighbouring states, yet Arafat remained resolute.

He mobilised world opinion, except for the United States, and got the United Nations General Assembly to pass a resolution equating Zionism to racism. He marshalled freedom fighters willing to take the fight to the Israelis, who were formidable in their own right, but even more so when backed by the US.

When it was time for militant talk to marshal the forces, Arafat could be relied upon to produce oratory that would galavanise young and old into action.

Take a deep breath, read it over, and send City Press your comments.

(Hat tip: It's Almost Supernatural -- who does a fine job fisking the column.)

UPDATE:  The French would seem to agree with this article's assessment.

Freedom squelches terrorism

From Harvard's Kennedy School of Government comes another study showing that poverty doesn't cause terrorism:

"In the past, we heard people refer to the strong link between terrorism and poverty, but in fact when you look at the data, it's not there. This is true not only for events of international terrorism, as previous studies have shown, but perhaps more surprisingly also for the overall level of terrorism, both of domestic and of foreign origin," Abadie said.

Instead, Abadie detected a peculiar relationship between the levels of political freedom a nation affords and the severity of terrorism.


Monday, November 8 2004


-- A followup to the HR communique 'Not an Apartheid Wall': Benjamin Pogrund has a full-length essay that puts the slander to rest: 'Israel and the Apartheid Lie'

-- A followup to the HR communique 'Weeping for Yassir':

Stephen Pollard in the Times of London doesn't understand what all the fuss is about:

For some reason, Ms Plett’s words have prompted a series of news reports. I am at a loss to understand why. There is nothing remotely newsworthy about her having expressed her adoring view of Arafat and her contempt for Israel’s attempts to defend itself from terror. Certainly, her tear-jerking might not convey the impartiality which license-fee payers ought to be able to expect from the BBC, but her sentiments are so straight-down-the-line a representation of the BBC’s bias against Israel that they are in no way newsworthy


Sunday, November 7 2004

The cartoonists' turn

Bob Gorrell:


Jim Morin,  Miami Herald:


Steve Benson, Arizona Republic:


Dignity of Life


Ekrima Sabri, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, told Toronto Star reporter Mitch Potter that Israel should allow Yasser Arafat to be buried on the Temple Mount:

"We want our dead to have the respect and dignity they had in life."

For a sense of how the mufti understands dignity in life, see Memri for Sabri's praise of “martyrdom operations” and other comments from his sermons.

Recommended Reading

* The Daily Telegraph reports on growing Palestinian calls for an investigation into Arafat’s finances:

As confusion over Mr Arafat's condition grew, a Palestinian legislator last night called for his financial adviser, Mohammed Rashid, who controls a multi-billion dollar network of Palestine Liberation Organisation accounts, to be investigated.

Over the past 40 years, Mr Arafat's PLO has built up a global empire of investments, worth an estimated $4.2 billion to $6.5 billion. (£2.3-£3.5 billion). Meanwhile the Palestinian Authority, which administers the territories, is virtually bankrupt.

* This BBC report nicely sums up the Palestinian leadership’s jockeying for power.

*Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz a story on a reporter dealing with rumors of Arafat’s death. There’s a lesson here about accepting info too quickly and relying on dubious sources. (Hat tip: Romanesko)

* The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has a new report on groups like HonestReporting that monitor coverage of the Mideast conflict. The conclusion is that 'pro-Israeli media watching causes journalists to report more objectively, influences policymakers, and makes the media more accountable... The actions of the Jewish media watchers constitute an important democratic process.'

* The Committee to Protect Journalists has a very interesting report about the media’s reliance on fixers in Iraq. The criticisms here could just as easily apply to the Mideast conflict:

"What we're seeing now are fixers as surrogates," says Orville Schell, dean of the Berkeley School of Journalism. In Iraq, "they are the Seeing Eye Dogs, or rangers, for the men and women who can't safely go out and do the reporting themselves."

According to Schell, it is not only the dangers posed to correspondents by anti-Western sentiment that have increased reliance on fixers. "The role of the fixer has grown with parachute journalism," he says, and notes that since the end of the Cold War, media outlets and journalism schools have failed to cultivate regional expertise. "When I was in China, most correspondents there were Chinese studies graduates. To some extent, universities have bred a generation of journalists who need prosthetic devices to cover certain areas," Schell argues.

(Hat tip: Romanesko)

HR-led protest to BBC

The Guardian reports a ton of complaints sent to the BBC over reporter Barbara Plett's tears for Arafat, mentioning HonestReporting as the source of the protest:

The BBC believes the email campaign sparked by Plett's comments was instigated by American Jewish website

Honestreporting carries a message under the title "Weeping for Yasser" that urges users to email Malcolm Balen, the BBC's senior editorial adviser on the Middle East, to complain about Plett's report.

"Plett's revelation of an emotional bond with Yasser Arafat is a clear acknowledgement of her partisan stand in the conflict... What does it say about the BBC that they employ news reporters who are emotionally or ideologically attached to one side of the conflict?" the website said.

The UK's Daily Mail also carried an item on the HR protest to BBC over the weekend.


Thursday, November 4 2004

Coming to an end

Arafatdarkandlight Columnists describing an ugly legacy:


The ra'is, as he is commonly spoken of among Palestinians, may basically have been a gangster with politics, but he was also one of the 20th century's great political illusionists. He conjured a persona, a cause, and indeed a people virtually ex nihilo, then rallied much of the world to his side. Now that he is dead, or nearly so -- news reports vary as of this writing -- it will be interesting to see what becomes of his legacy.


Arafat realized early that Arab dictators would pay to keep the Palestinian issue alive because it gave them an all-purpose diversion from the disaster they were wreaking on their own societies. He became custodian of the Palestinian grievance for everyone from Egypt's Nasser to the Saudi royal family, from Libya's Khadafi to Saddam Hussein. Taking on Israel put Arafat in the big leagues. He became a hero to the Soviet bloc and, later, to European "progressives" who never really have seen the need for a Jewish state.


As Yasser Arafat reviews his life from his Paris hospital bed, what do you think he thinks? Does he regard himself as a success or not?... Arafat's number one reason for confidence: his command of the world press. Israel may win battle after battle on the ground, but it is losing the battle for global public opinion outside the United States. From the silence concealing Arafat's own personal corruption to the suppression of unwanted images like those of Palestinians celebrating on 9/11, Arafat has cajoled and intimidated much of the world media into covering the Middle East as he wishes it covered...

Thirty years of Palestinian terrorism have dulled the world's moral outrage. At Nuremberg, the victorious Allies hanged German generals for atrocities against civilian populations. But atrocities against civilians are the only kind of war Arafat knows.

INSPIRER OF 9/11 -- Chicago Sun-Times:

He might have been president of a real nation -- in the mid-1990s the Palestinian Authority was printing up postage stamps with Arafat's picture on them, to be used in the state that seemed so tantalizingly within reach. Arafat tossed it away. The man who created modern terror ended up unable to let it go. Arafat was responsible for the 1972 massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, and too many individual evil acts to begin to list. The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were no doubt inspired by his efforts.

As terrible a toll as Arafat extracted from those he saw as enemies, the crime he committed against his own people is also monstrous. It was a crime that can be measured in millions of dollars siphoned away by his corrupt Palestinian Authority while his people suffered grinding poverty. A crime that can be measured in years lost that could have been used productively building a Palestinian state. A crime measured in thousands of lives lost and even more ruined.

TWO-FACED OBSTACLE TO PEACE -- Uri Dromi, who served as Yitzhak Rabin's spokesman:

A few days after the signing ceremony of the Cairo Accords in May 1994 handing over Gaza and Jericho to the Palestinians, Arafat gave a speech in Johannesburg at a local mosque. Believing he was among friends only, he talked about the agreement he had just signed: "This agreement, I am not considering it more than the agreement which had been signed between our prophet Muhammad and Qureish."

For those not versed in Islamic history, the agreement, also known as the al-Khudaibiya agreement, was a 10-year peace treaty between Mohammad and the tribe of Qureish. After two years, when Mohammad had improved his military position, he tore up the agreement and slaughtered the Qureishites.

Now that Arafat seems to be on the way out, the big question is whether he has been the sole obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, or whether he simply has been representing a phenomenon common to all Palestinian leaders.

Can we at last sit down with people who, instead of double-talking, will for once keep their word? Personally, I'm not holding my breath.

DISASTROUS LEADER -- Lalita Panicker, in The Times of India:

He may recover and come back to Ramallah, but Arafat will never again control the destiny of the Palestinians as he has done so far. And this is cause for celebration for the Palestinians. His record after returning to the West Bank and Gaza has been disastrous. Dressed in ridiculous battle fatigues, he has demonstrated that he can only work in a combat situation. He neither wants nor can he deliver peace.

Arafat's lasting and most pernicious legacy is that he has contributed to completely changing the Palestinian psyche. The Palestinians were once the most secular, tolerant, and educated people in the Arab world. Today, Palestinian classrooms have become the hotbeds of recruitment for jihad. As a result, an entire younger generation has grown up on a diet of hate and fanaticism.

Continue reading "Coming to an end"

Educating to kill and be killed

David Frankfurter posted a photograph of a suicide bomber that appears in a recent issue of the Hamas children's newspaper -- the picture is post-bombing (and graphic).

Stefan Sharkansky comments: 'It is one of the most appalling photographs (with an equally appalling caption) that you're ever likely to see. See for yourself how the psychotic death cult that is Hamas poisons children's minds.'

We're still asking: Where are the western media stories about such incitement of Palestinian children to kill, and to seek their own death?

UPDATE: This is as far as media outlets are willing to go -- articles on big NGOs that criticize recruiting children for terror. Still nothing on the incitement that leads those kids in that direction.


HR Links

HR Social Media

Featured Blogs

Featured Links

Media Backspin