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Media Backspin
« August 2005 | Main | October 2005 »

Friday, September 30 2005

Schorr wrong this time

In today's Christian Science Monitor, Daniel Schorr, senior news analyst for National Public Radio, equates Israeli and Palestinian "opposition":

On both sides, Israeli and Palestinian, there appears to be a struggle for legitimacy. On each side there are hard-liners seeking to wrest control of policy and return to confrontational positions. That this drama is being played out, at least for now, by ballot rather than bullet may itself be a hopeful sign. But, as we have often seen, that could change in a minute.
Is Schorr trying to compare Israeli PM Sharon's chief challenger Benjamin Netanyahu to PA President Abbas's opposition - Hamas?

Comments to CSM: click here

Red spades & black hearts

Richard Landes, who recently launched 'The Second Draft', draws upon a psychology experiment to make a brilliant point on coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- expectations, group-think, and established 'scripts' dictate much of the coverage.

(Hat tip: D. Gerstman)


Thursday, September 29 2005

Confirmed: Hamas to blame for deadly blast

Via BBC: The PA released a forensic report proving that Friday's deadly blast at the Jabalya camp in Gaza was caused by Hamas' mishandling of weapons -- not Israel.

Hamas used this explosion as a pretext to fire 40 missiles upon the Israeli town of Sderot, and the media lent some justification to that pretext.

NY Times' editorial attention

David Gerstman finds the NY Times' editorial obsession with criticizing Israel -- while ignoring the most egregious Palestinian failures and terrorist violence -- to be 'utterly perverse'.


Wednesday, September 28 2005

Reuters bypasses road map

Reuters_3Reuters seems to believe that --within the framework of the road map -- the Palestinians can go straight to final status talks without cracking down on terror:

Palestinians are keen to launch negotiations based on a U.S.-devised "road map" peace plan. Israel rejects such talks before Palestinians disarm militants.

Memo to Reuters: According to the road map, the Palestinian Authority must dismantle the terror infrastructure first.


Tuesday, September 27 2005

AP's 'Circle Dance'

The latest HonestReporting communique has just been published: AP's 'Circle Dance'

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

UPDATE 9/28: HonestReporting has ascertained that a scene of celebration did in fact take place following this IDF exercise. CAMERA has a fine review of the series of events, and raises an important additional point - the lack of parallel attention from AP on the much more troubling Palestinian celebrations of outright murder.

Also, in apparent response to this HR communique, CNN updated its report to indicate that the PA doesn't hold Israel accountable for the Jabaliya blast: 'The Palestinian Authority announced that the blast was an accident, and was not Israel's responsibility.'

CNN misses crucial point

In today's CNN:

Hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militants have escalated since an explosion at a Hamas rally on Friday in Gaza that killed at least 19 people. Militants blamed the blast on Israel, which denied the claim.
Even days later now, CNN fails to mention that the PA concurred with Israel's assessment that Hamas itself was to blame.

Just the facts, please

In yesterday's Christian Science Monitor, Friday's deadly explosion at a Hamas parade was described as follows:

...hostilities spilled over again on Friday after a bomb killed 18 people at rally held in Gaza by the militant group Hamas. The PA, Hamas, and Israel all traded blame over the bombing, which was followed by a series of Hamas rocket attacks - 35 in all - on towns in southern Israel on Saturday, wounding five.

Actually, the PA and Israel were in agreement: the people were killed by Hamas weapons (unintentionally). It took CSM more than another 350 words to explain:

...most Israeli and PA sources viewed Friday's bombing as Hamas's fault - the Palestinian interior minister called it an internal "accident," indicating that someone was working on building a bomb...

Given the importance of this point, why didn't CSM just give us the facts in the first place?

Al-Qaida launches news show

The Washington Post reports that Al-Qaida has started up its own news show:

The anchorman, who said the report would appear once a week, presented news about the Gaza Strip and Iraq and expressed happiness about recent hurricanes in the United States. A copy of the Koran, the Muslim holy book, was placed by his right hand and a rifle affixed to a tripod was pointed at the camera.

View the broadcast on Memri.


Monday, September 26 2005

Al-Qaida-linked reporter convicted

Alouni_2The BBC reports that a Madrid court convicted Al-Jazeera reporter Tayssir Alouni (pictured) for acting as an Al-Qaida financial courier, sentencing him to seven years imprisonment. Alouni was one of 18 people found guilty for links to the terror organization. Al-Jazeera plans to appeal Alouni’s sentence.

How far will they go?

Observers across the world were shocked by the recent Palestinian destruction of Gaza synagogues ― and its treatment in the media.

Click here to view a short online video on this topic:


Sunday, September 25 2005

HRC reviews CBC Hamas film

HonestReporting Canada has a review of the new documentary from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: 'Hamas: Behind the Mask'

Who 'dashed hopes'?

Israel leaves Gaza. Hamas, from Gaza, fires dozens of rockets on Israeli civilians. Israel responds against Hamas leaders. Associated Press:

The new [Israeli] offensive dubbed “Operation First Rain” dashed hopes that Israel’s recently completed Gaza withdrawal would help restart peace talks and left a seven-month-old cease-fire teetering on the brink of collapse.

Ahem, whose offensive 'dashed hopes' of positive change?!

Meryl Yourish also finds AP claiming Hamas is 'respecting the ceasefire.'

Comments to AP:


Thursday, September 22 2005

Abbas's bad memory

In a recent Newsweek article, PA President Mahmoud Abbas was asked about the next step in the peace process. He replied with a litany of complaints against Israel, including this:

We talked about prisoners, and they didn't release any.
It seems Mr. Abbas has a short memory:
December 2004 - 159 prisoners released
February 2005 - 500 prisoners released
June 2005 - 398 prisoners released


Wednesday, September 21 2005

European media grapples with terror

A paper prepared by the European Commission called on the media to set up a code of conduct to help avoid becoming a propaganda tool for terrorists. The Guardian reports both good news and bad news from the Commission. First the good news:

The paper - Violent Radicalisation and Terrorism Recruitment - warns that the media are taking an over-simplified view of the world, which plays into terrorist hands.

Now the bad news:

One striking proposal is a call for people to refrain from talking about Islamic terrorism. In an attempt to ensure that the vast majority of peaceful Muslims are not portrayed as terrorist sympathisers, the paper says: "The commission believes there is no such thing as 'Islamic terrorism'…
Reuters' theory of relativity

Reuters_2Hamas official Mohammad Ghazal said his organization would consider negotiating with Israel under far-fetched conditions:

He said any Hamas talks with Israel would still depend on its withdrawal from the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem to allow an independent state as well as a "right of return" for Palestinian refugees who fled in 1948 and their descendants.

If Israel agreed to those preconditions, there’d be nothing left to negotiate, yet Wafa Amr of Reuters spins Ghazal as a “relative moderate.”

Another kidnapping attempt

AP cameraman Nicky De Blois gives a first-person account of an attempt by Palestinian gunmen to abduct him in Gaza City.


- Palestinians try to kidnap NY Times reporter
- PA vs. James Bennet
- Stockholm syndrome redux
- Stockholm syndrome redux, pt. 2

Hamas in PA elections

Solomonia has thoughts on a recent Boston Globe op-ed that supports Hamas participation in upcoming PA elections:

if the Palestinian Arabs want to elect a genocidal group to power, maybe we should let them... [But] there is no indication that Hamas getting what it wants will moderate them. In fact, the evidence is entirely the opposite. Sharon and the so-called "Jewish terrorists" were all democrats at heart. They fought for a democratic state. Hamas's goals are entirely different.


- 'Can Terrorists be Legislators?'
- Hamas' eligibility for PA elections, pt. 1
- Hamas' eligibility for PA elections, pt. 2


Tuesday, September 20 2005

Unanswered questions

MousaarafatThe National Post is disturbed by the unanswered questions surrounding the death of security advisor Mousa Arafat (pictured):

How did gunmen manage to shoot dead Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' military advisor, Major-General Mousa Arafat, two weeks ago, and then, for good measure, run over his body twice with a car? And why has the PA taken very little interest in an audacious assault that has had every tongue in this enclave wagging?...

Left unsaid was that an operation on this scale, and without any proper response by government forces, looks very much as if it was a government-backed or a government-sanctioned assassination….

His reputation for torture, blackmail, arms and alcohol smuggling was legendary. But how can the Palestinian Authority hope to gain Israel's trust, attract foreign investment and become a state if it appears to condone the law of the jungle.

Will any investigative reports take a further look into the matter? Don't hold your breath waiting.


Monday, September 19 2005

Can Terrorists Be Legislators?

The latest HonestReporting communique has just been released: 'Can Terrorists Be Legislators?'

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

A spurious comparison

BinladenThe LA Times gave op-ed space to one Allen Zerkin, who compares Al-Qaida to the early Zionist organizations that fought for Israeli independence:

As to whether we should deal with them, there is a legitimate concern, but it's a Catch-22: If aggrieved parties are ignored by an authoritarian government, they often eventually resort to violence, and then if the government is loath to engage them for fear of legitimizing their tactics, the grievances remain and the violence continues. (Think of the American colonists and George III or the early Zionists and the British.)

The comparison is completely spurious. Groups like the Irgun only attacked a) British targets that were b) not civilian, and c) only in Israel (never in the the British Isles). Al-Qaida is waging a world-wide campaign, including attacks –- to name just a few -- against New York’s World Trade Center, the London Underground and Spanish rail system, synagogues in Turkey and Tunisia, resorts in Bali, Kenya, and Taba, even a theater in Qatar. All were civilian targets.

We addressed previous attempts to compare Arab terror to the American Revolution here.

Today's recommended reading

* NBC News caught up with Jihad Ja’ara, one of the fugitives exiled after the Church of the Nativity stand-off. Ja’ara denies planning terror attacks from Ireland, but a colleague in an Israeli prison says otherwise.

* A Jakarta Post staff-ed favors warming ties between Israel and Indonesia.

If Indonesia truly wants to play a significant role in the Middle East process to further help the Palestinian cause -- which it can do given its geostrategic and political positioning -- opening some form of relationship with the state of Israel is a prerequisite.

* The Columbia Journalism Review takes a critical look at the Israeli media’s own coverage of the Gaza disengagement.

* Daniel Kurtzer, now leaving his post as US ambassador to Israel, looks back on his tenure with the NY Times.

BBC's lame response to Guerin critique

Orlaguerin_1A Sept. 13 HonestReporting communique critiqued BBC's Orla Guerin's televised report from Gaza, while Palestinians were rampaging through former Jewish settlements. Said Guerin:

Palestinians came streaming to the settlements that caused them so much pain, to sightsee and to loot. Israel stole thirty-eight years from them; today, many were ready to take back anything they could. [view video]

BBC responded to the many HR subscribers who expressed concern for Guerin's language:

Thank you for your e-mail regarding a report on our News Website from our Middle East Correspondent, Orla Guerin, on the Palestinian return to the Gaza settlements.

Orla Guerin was in no way trying to "justify" the actions of Palestinian mobs in this report. Her reference to the Palestinians' sense of having time stolen from them was an attempt to give context to their actions - not to justify them.

As I am sure you are aware, the UN believes that settlements -- to which Orla Guerin was referring to in this report when she used the word "stole" -- have no legal validity and obstruct the peace process (e.g. Security Council Resolution 446, 22 March 1979). Many governments also hold that Israeli settlements contravene the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that 'The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.'

The British Foreign Office gives this statement on its website:

"Our policy on settlements is clear: settlements are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. Continuing illegal Israeli settlement activity threatens the prospects for a two-state solution and is an obstacle to peace."

In United Nations Security Council Resolution 465 (1980), the Security Council demanded that Israel "dismantle the existing settlements and in particular to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction or planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem."

Accordingly, we do not agree with the assertion that this report sought to "rationalize the Palestinian mob violence". The use of the word "stole" was a reference to Israel's occupation of this land for the previous thirty-eight years following the 1967 war.


BBC Information

First of all, Palestinians didn't 'return' to the Gaza settlements -- there was nothing there before Jewish settlements sprung up in the barren desert in the '70s and '80s. The land of Gush Katif was known as 'cursed ground' by local Arabs, who were convinced nothing could grow in that arid and mineral-poor region.

Next, the status of the settlements is properly defined as disputed -- it's well-known that there are plenty of diplomatic opinions that point in the opposite direction from those quoted by the ostensibly 'impartial' BBC. (Many, for example, do not believe the Fourth Geneva Convention applies in the West Bank and Gaza, and/or recognize that the Geneva Convention prohibits the forcible transfer of people of one state to the territory of another state that it has occupied as a result of a war, but was never intended to include the situation of voluntary settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.)

But perhaps most importantly, even if one were to accept the argument that the Gaza settlements were illegal under intenational law, in what way did these small patches of land 'steal the lives' of local Palestinians for 'thirty eight years'? That statement of Guerin's goes far beyond 'context' for the actions of the Palestinians that day -- it's a tendentious statement that, once again, aligns the BBC reporter with one side of the Mideast conflict.

And that's just not professional journalism.

Comments to BBC: click here


Sunday, September 18 2005

Post-withdrawal blame syndrome

In describing the chaos in Gaza, Harvey Morris of The Financial Times of London manages to get in an unfair jab at Israel:

Kidnapping has now replaced Israeli military raids as the main peril facing foreigners.
Even during the most violent parts of the recent past, the Israel Defense Forces, in working to stop terrorists attempting to take innocent lives, used great restraint to avoid civilian and bystander casualties, often at the expense of sacrificing their own safety.

"Bloated and biased BBC"

Today's Scotland on Sunday takes the BBC to task in an article entitled "Bloated and biased BBC":

During recent decades the BBC has drifted into political bias to a degree that makes its licence-supported status as a "public-service broadcaster" a mockery. Alongside some excellent programming exists a mind-set almost always slanted leftwards. It needs much more pluralism in its output if it is to survive.

The BBC should take care: it has made too many enemies. Both main political parties now regard it as bloated and in need of radical reform.

Well said.

Hamas' eligibility for PA elections, pt. 2

Hamaselections[Part 1: Hamas' eligibility for PA elections]

This is becoming a bigger issue, as Sharon just came out publicly against Hamas participation in January's PA elections, stating that Israel would disrupt PA elections with roadblocks, etc., should Hamas run as planned.

Media coverage (such as this NY Times article) continues to mislead on this matter by not recognizing the fact that Hamas is ineligible for elected office in the PA under the Oslo Accords -- the foundational document for the Palestinian Authority.

Oslo Interim Agreement Article III of Annex II (signed 25 September 1995) states:

The nomination of any candidates, parties or coalitions will be refused, and such nomination or registration once made will be canceled, if such candidates, parties or coalitions: 1. commit or advocate racism, or 2. pursue the implementation of their aims by unlawful or non-democratic means.

That's the legal problem with Hamas holding public office. Silvan Shalom recently stated the more practical problem:

There is no place - nor can there ever be - in a democratic society for political parties which bear arms, for political parties engaged in terrorism and intimidation. No democratic regime can survive if it lets terrorism and politics proceed side by side.

Meanwhile, media outlets are presenting the issue as mere 'Israeli opposition'.

Comments to NY Times:
(must include name, address, phone for publication in NY Times)


Thursday, September 15 2005

Getty Images Awards Photo Bias

The latest HonestReporting communique has just been published: 'Getty Images Awards Photo Bias'

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Please use the comments below for discussion of this topic.

HR elicits correction from Knight Ridder

Tuesday's HonestReporting communique included a critique of a Knight Ridder dispatch that included this quotation from a Palestinian:

"I want to destroy everything here as they did the Al Aqsa mosque," said Mahmoud Malahi. "It's a symbol of occupation. Destroying it is a symbol of Islam."

Knight Ridder has issued a 'clarification' and requested its papers run a formal correction:

A Sept. 12 story on the Gaza Strip included a quote from a Palestinian demonstrator that wrongly equated the destruction of a former synagogue at Netzarim in the Gaza Strip to Israeli actions regarding the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The story should have clarified that the Israelis have not destroyed or vandalized the mosque.
[The Montreal Gazette has run this correction.]

But Knight Ridder's Dion Nissenbaum, who authored the first erroneous article, includes another whopper of a Palestinian statement in a more recent article:

Israeli leaders denounced the [synagogue] attacks as barbaric, but Palestinian officials said Israel should have demolished the buildings as planned if it had wanted the former synagogues to receive special treatment.

'Special treatment' for demolished synagogues?! Now there's a mission the PA police could accomplish!


Wednesday, September 14 2005

Parenthetically speaking

Abbas_1In his first televised address after the Gaza evacuation, Mahmoud Abbas told the Palestinian people yesterday, “Today Gaza, tomorrow the West Bank and Jerusalem.” Two news services inserted parenthetical qualifiers that Abbas never directly implied:

* Reuters:

"Today Gaza, tomorrow the West Bank and (Arab East) Jerusalem," he said, referring to the Palestinian demand for a state in all those territories captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

* CNN:

"Today Gaza, tomorrow the West Bank and (East) Jerusalem," he said, referring to the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

For comparison, see the BBC, which quoted Abbas straight, allowing readers to form their own opinions. Given the sensitivity of Jerusalem’s status, we have to question Reuters' and CNN's handling of the quote.

'The Second Draft' launches

SeconddraftA new website devoted to analyzing the problems that plague modern journalism was launched today: 'The Second Draft'

The first investigation tackled by the group, headed by Prof. Richard Landes of Boston University, is 'Pallywood' and the Muhammad Al Dura affair -- they've placed online a good deal of the raw footage taken that day at the Netzarim junction by the France 2 team, and presented three methods of analysis:

1) CSI (Crime Scene Investigation): For those who want to take the time to examine the evidence themselves, and come to their own conclusions.

2) Edited: For those who want to see the original material, but have it edited to bring the most relevant footage together.

3) Packaged: For those who want a quick introduction to the material that The Second Draft has put together.

The general project has this goal:

Journalism likes to call itself the “first draft of history,” and in this age when media plays an increasingly powerful role in shaping public opinion, it can not only write the first draft, but play an active part in that history. It seems appropriate then, especially in cases where the media’s coverage has had a particularly sharp influence on the course of historical events, that historians examine this first draft and ascertain just how accurate it may have been. We hope to make an ongoing series of such incidents available to the public, and to encourage our media to produce reliably accurate and relevant material for the free citizens of a global civil society.

HonestReporting wishes The Second Draft all the best in their new and important venture, and hopes their work will contribute to greater quality media coverage of Israel and the Mideast.


Tuesday, September 13 2005

Blaming Israel for Arab barbarity

Does the 'blame Israel' meme know no bounds? In today's Baltimore Sun (req. reg.), G. Jefferson Price III blames Israel for Palestinians' wanton destruction of Gaza synagogues. Israel 'lost its senses', the looting and desecration was 'inevitable', and a ploy from Israeli rightists. Then Price III plays Jewish theologian:

The synagogues were cleared of all religious texts and relics. The structures themselves did not have any of the archaeological connection to Jewish history that exists in places like Jerusalem's Temple Mount or Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs. Their history was the occupation.

One good response to claims such as this -- that Palestinians cannot be held accountable for even the most barbaric acts as destroying a place of worship -- came today from the pen of Omri Ceren.

What looting?

RecycleThe Toronto Star described Palestinian looters of Gaza settlements as mere 'recyclers':

The all-day harvest was described by many as looting. And indeed, some went to great extremes to secure their booty, like the man in Neve Dekalim who used an arc welder to chop a street light into cartable and saleable scrap metal.

But this was as much intense recycling as anything, a redemption of landfill-bound leftovers by a population where the proportion living below the poverty line approaches 70 per cent.

Synagogue Desecrations

The latest HonestReporting communique has just been published: 'Synagogue Desecrations'

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Please use the comments below for discussion of this topic.

9/11 through Israeli eyes

Cartoonist Bill Day of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal found a poignant Israeli comparison for America's 9/11 anniversary.


Monday, September 12 2005

While the synagogues burn...

BurningndWhile Palestinian mobs set synogogues on fire, a recent Knight Ridder story entitled ''Palestinians besiege buildings hours after Israelis leave Gaza' included this quote at the top of the article:

"I want to destroy everything here as they did the Al Aqsa mosque," said Mahmoud Malahi.... "I want to destroy everything here. It's a symbol of occupation. Destroying it is a symbol of Islam."

Never has Israel intentionally, or even (to the best of our knowledge) unintentionally caused harm to Muslim places of worship. The Al Aqsa mosque is doing quite well atop the Temple Mount, as Israel guarantees freedom of religion and makes holy places accessible to peoples of all faiths.

Why did the Knight Ridder reporter and editor allow this utterly false statement to go unchallenged?

UPDATE 9/13: The Knight Ridder story linked above has been replaced with another, but the original is still available here.

UPDATE: A similar quote appeared in an Associated Press dispatch:

"They (Israelis) destroyed our homes and our mosques. Today it is our turn to destroy theirs," said a man in Neve Dekalim who gave his name only as Abu Ahmed.

Abbas' Italian job

CremonesiMahmoud Abbas used a recently kidnapped reporter, Lorenzo Cremonesi (pictured), to tell the world that he needs more time to assert control over the Gaza Strip. YNet reports:

“Now that the Israeli withdrawal has finished we can better address the problem. I hold that by the elections on January 25 the situation can be brought substantially under control,” Abbas told Corriere della Sera.

The interview was granted to Corriere journalist Lorenzo Cremonesi, who was abducted by armed men on Saturday near the Kfar Darom settlement in Gaza, and freed a few hours later. The abduction was an indication of increasing lawlessness surrounding the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which was completed Monday.

Reuters notes that Cremonesi was kidnapped by people ostensibly loyal to Abbas. Whether he likes it or not, Cremonesi has clearly become a symbol of the anarchy Abbas is claiming he needs time to fight.

Gaza still 'occupied'?!

Now that Israel has completely left Gaza, and the onus of living in peace falls on the PA, PA leaders are claiming to journalists that Gaza is 'still occupied' -- from today's NY Times:

"Any suggestion coming from Israel that the status of Gaza will change is ludicrous," said Nasser al-Kidwa, the Palestinian foreign minister. "They are controlling the borders, the air, the water, and we need approval for the crossing points and everything else. So Gaza still remains part of the occupied Palestinian territory."

In a JCPA Brief, Dore Gold does a fine job of debunking that claim. See also scholar Ruth Lapidoth's opinion on the matter.

CNN distorts Gaza land status

From CNN today:

The Israeli flag has been lowered over Gaza, symbolizing the end of 38 years of Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory two weeks ahead of schedule.

How, exactly, was Gaza 'Palestinian territory' for the past 38 years?

Palestinian Arabs never had sovereignty in Gaza ― before Israeli control in 1967, Egyptians ruled Gaza, and before them, the British and Ottoman Empire.

Comments to CNN: click here


Sunday, September 11 2005

Today's bungled headline

TheageToday’s bungled headline award goes Melbourne’s daily, The Age:

Israel to end West Bank occupation

You have to read the report to find out that the Israeli cabinet voted to complete the Gaza evacuation.

Anti-semitic site owner scams Katrina donors

Remember that anti-Semitic site 'Jew Watch', which had held the top Google spot for searches of 'Jew'? Well, its proprietor has landed in some recent legal trouble:

Missouri attorney general Jay Nixon sued a St. Louis man Wednesday, alleging the man is a self-proclaimed white separatist who is deceptively seeking donations in the name of hurricane relief.

The lawsuit filed in St. Louis seeks to freeze the assets of Frank Weltner and keep him from seeking the donations.

Nixon is asking the court to shut down the Web site He says it serves as a collection point for at least ten sites operated by Weltner with hurricane relief-related themes. He says Weltner also operates a site widely regarded as an anti-Semitic site.

Wikipedia on Frank Weltner.

Still blaming Israel for 9/11

911On the anniversary of 9/11, Memri found that the Arab media still finds ways to blame Israel for the tragedy. View related video clips here.


Friday, September 9 2005

The meaning behind Grossman's story

In today's The Jerusalem Post, columnist Caroline Glick takes a look back at the story on the photo that started it all.

They say that one picture is worth a thousand words. No doubt this is true. But what is the guarantee that those words are truthful?

On September 30, 2000, The New York Times ran a photograph that, no doubt, for the photo editor, told the entire tale of the then two-day-old Palestinian terror war against Israel.

Continue reading "The meaning behind Grossman's story"


Thursday, September 8 2005

Getty Images prize reveals anti-Israel bias

In December 2004, HonestReporting noted that a prestigious World Press Photo award had been granted to photographer Kai Wiedenhöfer (at right) for a series of photos portraying Israel's security fence in the worst possible light. (Wiedenhofer's photos were -- and continue to be -- inaccurately captioned on the WPPH site. While some of his photos were taken of the southern Gaza border with Egypt, the caption implies they are all from the West Bank.)

Now, equally prestigious Getty Images has presented Wiedenhofer a $20,000 grant for his series 'Sharon's Wall: Holy Land, Divided Land'. Wiedenhofer was one of 3 winners chosen from over 160 submissions. The Getty Images press release makes no bones about that organization's, and Wiedenhofer's, stance on the matter:

The remaining part of the Berlin Wall which stands today serves as a constant reminder of the political conflict that separated Germany for more than 25 years. A message scribed in graffiti on the wall reads, “Wall of shame stands now in Israel.” The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a focal point of the crisis between the West and Islam. The Israeli government’s solution to this unrest is to build a wall that is much bigger than the one in Berlin...

With the benefit of the Getty Images grant, Wiedenhöefer will document the construction of the wall, along with the related repercussions which could intensify the tensions between the two peoples. Having worked in the region extensively for more than a decade, his experience and intimate knowledge will enable him to depict that walls cannot be a solution to political problems, as we have seen in German history.


1) Getty Images is a leading source of (ostensibly impartial) news photography for all international news outlets. This press release clearly indicates their partisan stance against Israel on this key matter.

2) Neither Getty Images nor their prize winner acknowledges the fact that Israel's separation fence has dramatically lowered the number of terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians in the central and northern regions of Israel. Instead, Getty Images puts forth an entirely inappropriate comparison to the Berlin Wall, and rehashes that old chestnut 'walls cannot be a solution to political problems' as if it were empirical fact.

A reminder that more than 97% of the planned separation barrier is a chain-link fence, and not a 'wall' at all. And regarding the Berlin Wall comparison, the MFA makes the appropriate distinction:

The Berlin Wall was designed by the Communist regime of East Germany to solidify and perpetuate the division of the city by keeping the German citizens of "East Berlin" - who sought only freedom and contacts with their German brethren in "West Berlin" - locked in. The Berlin Wall was built during the height of the Cold War by a totalitarian regime in its struggle against the democracy that thrived in the western sections of the city and in the Federal Republic of Germany.

In stark contrast, Israel is building the anti-terrorist fence for only one purpose - to keep Palestinian terrorists, who wish to murder and maim Israeli citizens, out. Israel, a democratic society, is building the fence to protect its citizens from deadly attack, not from peaceful contacts with the other side. It is Palestinian terrorism - backed by an authoritarian regime and supported by the most dangerous terrorist organizations and terrorist-sponsoring states in the Middle East - that is the threat and the proponent of conflict in the region. Terrorism has forced Israel to take the defensive step of building an anti-terrorist fence.

HR editors have contacted Getty Images on this matter and await their reply, which will be posted here.


Wednesday, September 7 2005

Al-Dura unravelled, again

In Commentary, Nidra Poller provides the latest critical analysis of the Mohammed Al-Dura incident:

[Al Dura's] story, perhaps the single most powerful force behind the Palestinian cult of child sacrifice over the last years, has been dramatized in spots on Palestinian television urging others to follow in his path, retold in a recruitment video for al Qaeda, and immortalized in epic verse by the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

But is it true?

Poller analyzed hours of film from the scene that day, and found a great deal of dramatic acting going on:

The Reuters, AP, and France-2 outtakes that I viewed show two totally different and easily identifiable types of activity at Netzarim junction: real, intifada-style attacks, and crudely falsified battle scenes... In the "reality" zone, excited children and angry young men hurl rocks and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli outpost while shababs ("youths") standing on the roof of the Twins throw burning tires down onto the caged lookout; this goes on seemingly for hours, without provoking the slightest military reaction from Israeli soldiers.

At the same time, in the "theatrical" zone, Palestinian stringers sporting prestigious logos on their vests and cameras are seen filming battle scenes staged behind the abandoned factory, well out of range of Israeli gunfire. The "wounded" sail through the air like modern dancers and then suddenly collapse. Cameramen jockey with hysterical youths who pounce on the "casualties," pushing and shoving, howling Allahu akhbar!, clumsily grabbing the "injured," pushing away the rare ambulance attendant in a pale green polyester jacket in order to shove, twist, haul, and dump the "victims" into UN and Red Crescent ambulances that pull up on a second’s notice and career back down the road again, sirens screaming. In one shot we recognize Talal Abu Rahmeh in his France-2 vest, filming a staged casualty scene.

Melanie Philips writes:

the evidence assembled in this article strongly suggests that France 2 is guilty of one of the most monstrous pieces of deception of modern times whose effects in terms of fomenting hatred, violence and mass murder have been incalculable.

More on the Al Dura incident here, here and here.

Tuvia Grossman, then and now

The Jerusalem Post notes the aliyah of Tuvia Grossman, who became an unwitting symbol of media bias in 2002. After being beaten by a gang of Palestinians near an eastern Jerusalem gas station, an AP photo caption described the American student as a Palestinian beaten by the Israeli soldier on the Temple Mount. The caption outraged Israelis, galvanizing efforts to fight media bias.

Grossman, now 25, arrives in Israel today with Nefesh B’Nefesh. He recently completed his law degree and will work as a legal intern in Tel Aviv. Read more about the Grossman family’s fight with the media and the continued Arab abuse of HonestReporting's 'photo that started it all'.

Tuvia then:


And Tuvia now:



Tuesday, September 6 2005

Legal action against terror

AlarianAt the trial of Professor Sami Al-Arian (pictured), an FBI agent testified that a significant amount of money ostensibly collected for needy Palestinians was actually pocketed by Islamic Jihad. The Tampa Tribune explains:

FBI agent Michael Wysocki, a certified public accountant, said he took lists of needy children whom the Muslim Woman Society claimed to support during the early 1990s, then tried to find bank records to prove payments actually were sent abroad.

Although some payments matched up, the vast majority did not.

The Muslim Woman Society was part of the Islamic Concern Project, a charity created by former University of South Florida Professor Sami Al-Arian. Prosecutors say Al-Arian used the charity, also known as the Islamic Committee for Palestine, as a front for the Islamic Jihad.

In other legal action, the NY Times reports that Palestinian legislator Husam Khader pleaded guilty to helping finance Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror. Khader is a member of Fatah.

Supporting hurricane relief

KatrinaThe Jerusalem Post has a comprehensive list of links for anyone who wants to donate money or supplies, volunteer their time, find missing relatives, report that they’re safe, or arrange housing.


Monday, September 5 2005

Reuters finds 'terror' in Israel

Reuters has a very strict policy to avoid unattributed use of the term 'terrorism' in coverage of the Mideast conflict. Unless, that is, we're talking Jewish terror:

Sharon orders terror aid for Arabs targeted by Jews

Compare this to another Reuters dispatch from today, which includes this line:

Government lawyers argued the 25 houses of worship should be razed to prevent possible desecration by Palestinian militants.

The lawyers certainly didn't use the term 'militants' in their argument, but rather 'terrorists' (michablim) -- the same term used by Sharon.

So why does Reuters apply this double standard in translation?

Comments to Reuters:

Muslim mob descends on Christian village

Why does this story receive no play in today's foreign press (which serves a largely Christian readership)?

At least 14 houses belonging to Christian residents of Taybeh, a West Bank village northeast of Ramallah, were torched by Muslims from neighboring Dir Jarir on Sunday, to avenge what they termed the dishonor of a Muslim woman. According to Taybeh residents, several dozen young men from Dir Jarir descended on their village before dawn, torched the homes and destroyed a great deal of other property.

"The young men, who were holding Molotov cocktails, threw them at the houses, which began to go up in flames, one after another," said Buthaina Sha'aban, a Taybeh resident and the sister of the town's mayor. "They vandalized parked cars and beat village residents who went out into the streets. Entire families were thrown into the street after their homes were torched. Not much remains of their property."

Something tells us this would make headlines if Jews had been responsible...

More on Muslim intimidation and violence against Christians in Israel & the West Bank.

UPDATE: AP picked up on the Taybeh violence.

UPDATE: More on anti-Christian violence in the West Bank in an article from The Telegraph.

Israeli Katrina support, unreported

CNN's roundup of international aid to Katrina victims didn't bother mentioning the outpouring of Israeli aid efforts.

Neither did AP's roundup. Interestingly, Reuters' overview did note Israel.

Comments to CNN: click here
Comments to AP:

This is becoming a pattern -- similar omissions marred coverage of the international tsunami relief efforts earlier this year.

UPDATE: CNN has begun mentioning Israeli aid. (Hat tip: Brad B.)


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