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Media Backspin
« September 2005 | Main | November 2005 »

Monday, October 31 2005

Whose truce?

AP botched coverage of Israel's fight against Islamic Jihad and the deteriorating peace process with a lead paragraph containing outright misinformation:

Israeli troops killed three Palestinian militants, including the suspected mastermind of a suicide attack, in a West Bank raid just hours after the two sides had reached a tentative new truce deal.

"The two sides?" Sounds like Israel violated an agreement with Islamic Jihad. But Israel isn’t party to any truce—the cease fire is a strictly inter-Palestinian affair tenuously cobbled together by Mahmoud Abbas, as the NY Times makes clear:

"We are not partner to any agreement between various terror groups and the Palestinian Authority," said Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel. "We deal only with the Palestinian Authority."

Sunday, October 30 2005

Sectarian tension ignored again

BethlehemThe Jerusalem Post reports that Christian-Muslim tensions in Bethlehem continue:

Yet off the record, many Christians in Bethlehem who were interviewed during the past week expressed deep concern over increased attacks by Muslims on members of their community. Moreover, most of them said that they were seriously considering moving to the US, Canada and Latin America, where many of their relatives already live….

Some Christians point a finger at the foreign media and diplomatic missions in Israel, accusing them of ignoring their predicament for "political" reasons. "Although most of the foreign journalists and diplomats are Christians, they don't seem to pay enough attention to what's happening to the Christians in Bethlehem," says Bishara, a Christian tourist guide. "They're obviously afraid of damaging their relations with the Palestinian Authority."

Palestinian culpability for the flight of Christians is a trend we’ve noted before here and here, though media coverage blames Israel. A closer look finds the PA denying religious rights to Christians.


Thursday, October 27 2005

NY Times on Abbas' response to terror

NY Times coverage of the Hadera bombing raised an important point we haven't seen acknowledged in other media reports:

Mr. Abbas himself criticized the bombing on practical, not moral grounds, saying that it "harms the Palestinian interests and could widen the cycle of violence, chaos, extremism and bloodshed." He has said previously that all responses to Israeli violations of the cease-fire must be considered collectively by the Palestinians.

But in a speech to the Palestinian parliament on Wednesday, he refrained from condemning Islamic Jihad. Even when Islamic Jihad has taken credit for terrorist attacks, like the suicide bombings in Tel Aviv Feb. 25 and Netanya on July 12, Mr. Abbas has not criticized the group by name.

Meanwhile, Mediacrity wonders if Times editors will delete the criticism of Abbas from the web site.


Wednesday, October 26 2005

Guerin's goodbye

GuerinTotally Jewish reports that BBC’s Orla Guerin (pictured) is leaving the Mideast in December. Her new post? South Africa.
(Hat tip: It’s Almost Supernatural).

Error at The Financial Times

The Financial Times recently reported:

Israel has evacuated about 8,000 Jewish settlers from Gaza and the northern West Bank, but still controls all movement of Palestinian people and goods.
Actually, Palestinians can travel freely throughout Gaza (and within many areas of the West Bank).

Hadera bombing spin cycle

HaderaA suicide bombing in Hadera killed four Israelis and injured dozens more. Islamic Jihad said the attack was revenge for the death of Loai Assadi, a Jihad commander recently killed by the IDF. But Haaretz explains why the “tit-for-tat” and “cycle of violence” spin we expect to see in upcoming reports doesn’t apply.

Military sources, however, were quick to point out that a bomb attack of this magnitude took longer than three days to plan.
Anti-semitic poem in UK children's schoolbook

A poem that praises the murder of Jews by the Nazis has been included in a book of children’s poetry to be distributed amongst schools in the UK, reports the European Jewish Press. Details:

Continue reading "Anti-semitic poem in UK children's schoolbook "


Sunday, October 23 2005

Dead Jews Aren't News

An article by Tom Gross in the UK Spectator:

Rachel Thaler, aged 16, was blown up at a pizzeria in an Israeli shopping mall. She died after an 11-day struggle for life following a suicide bomb attack on a crowd of teenagers on 16 February 2002.

Even though Thaler was a British citizen, born in London, where her grandparents still live, her death has never been mentioned in a British newspaper.

Rachel Corrie, on the other hand, an American radical who died in 2003 while acting as a human shield during an Israeli anti-terror operation in Gaza, has been widely featured in the British press. According to the Guardian website, she has been written about or referred to on 57 separate occasions in the Guardian alone, including three articles the Saturday before last.

Continue reading "Dead Jews Aren't News"


Friday, October 21 2005

'Road Apartheid' Debunked

The latest HonestReporting communique has just been released: 'Road Apartheid' Debunked

To receive HR communiques in your inbox, simply sign up in the box above.

Please use the comments on this post to discuss this topic.


Thursday, October 20 2005

The Scotsman gets carried away

The Scotsman reports:

On the ground, the condition of Palestinian civilians seems to be deteriorating further.... Israel is moving ahead with plans to make permanent a ban on Palestinian use of main roads in the West Bank.
This is untrue. In response to the recent drive-by shooting terrorist attack which killed three Israeli young people, the IDF temporarily restricted Palestinian traffic. As Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres stated, "There has been no decision on the separation of roads."


Sunday, October 16 2005

New additions to lexicon

Nytimes_1The NY Times’ Steve Erlanger introduces two new Arabic words to the lexicon of Mideast coverage. Now joining hudna and tahdia are fawda and fitna. What do they mean?

Among Palestinians themselves, there is a sense that the fawda, or chaos, is only increasing, and they see signs that the long-simmering conflict between Fatah and Islamist movements like Hamas will break out into a fitna, or civil war.

Saturday, October 15 2005

Time sanitizes Farrakhan

Mediacrity catches Time Magazine allowing Louis Farrakhan to whitewash his long record of anti-Semitic statements.


Wednesday, October 12 2005

BBC Series elicits UK protest

JPost has an article on the BBC2 series we blogged about earlier: "UK Jews charge 'bias' in BBC peace series"


Tuesday, October 11 2005

Hamas's activities during the period of "calm"

Media outlets often claim, without verification, that Palestinian terrorist groups are observing a 'ceasefire'. Below is an outline, from the Israeli Government, of some of the terrorist-related activities Hamas has engaged in during this supposed period of 'calm'.

Hamas terrorist activities during the "Tahdia" (declared calm)

Despite the so-called calm of the 'Tahdia', agreed to among the Palestinian factions in February of this year, the Hamas organization has not slackened its efforts to perpetrate various terrorist attacks. However, it has not claimed responsibility for these attacks so that it could continue to apply violent pressure on Israel to make further withdrawals, while reducing the risk of Israeli counter-terrorist operations against it and avoiding the need to pay a political price on the Palestinian street for its controversial attacks.

Since the disengagement from Gaza, Hamas has made a special effort to perpetrate attacks in Judea and Samaria, especially in those areas where the security fence is incomplete. The PA security forces have yet to take any action against Hamas despite public statements to the contrary.

Continue reading "Hamas's activities during the period of "calm""

More on BBC2 program

Last night BBC2 aired the first part of its three-part series 'Israel and the Arabs: Elusive Peace'. Comments are going strong on our earlier post; here are two other statements from HR subscribers:

Continue reading "More on BBC2 program"


Monday, October 10 2005

Israeli media no longer banned

AirfrancelogoThe Jerusalem Post reports that Air France no longer bans Israeli media from computers in the airline’s lounges. Passengers trying to read the Post, Maariv, Yediot Aharonot and Debka were denied access, due to "aggressiveness of its content or views espousing terrorism, revisionism, or discrimination." Air France blamed the problem on an external supplier; passengers were able to access the Israeli sites the same day the airline was informed of the issue.

Correcting BBC's Oslo description

BBC2 TV is beginning a three-part series entitled 'Israel and the Arabs: Elusive Peace'. UK media monitors (including at least three HR subscribers) saw the following description of Part 1 on the BBC website:

The story of how Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak persuaded President Clinton to devote his last 18 months in office to helping make peace with Yasser Arafat. But Barak got cold feet twice. Then Ariel Sharon took a walk around Jerusalem's holiest mosques, and peace making was over.

The activists wrote to the BBC, explaining that blaming Barak and Sharon for Oslo's demise is inaccurate and tendentious (at best). BBC apparently agreed, changing the wording to:

The story of how Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak persuaded President Clinton to devote his last 18 months in office to helping make peace with Yasser Arafat. But after tense negotiations the deal was never made.

Nearly all parties agree that the 'deal was never made' due to Arafat's intransigence. Will BBC acknowledge that? This show airs tonight -- if you get BBC2 (we don't), please leave a comment here regarding the show's fairness and accuracy, or write to


Sunday, October 9 2005

Examining the Australian media

AustraliaThe JCPA published a report by Tzvi Fleischer examining Australian media coverage of Israel. Fleischer notes the 'narrative frames' issue that distorts coverage (ie. 'cycle of violence'), and some recurring myths repeated by the Australian media, including:

* Jewish power, especially financial power, closes off debate about the Middle East in Australia.
* Israel is a demonically evil or Nazi state and the source of most of the world's problems.
* U.S. policy is the result of Jewish neoconservatives.
* Anti-Semitism results from Jewish activities and behavior, especially support for Israel.

(Hat tip: Daily Alert)

Palestinian sources didn't say....

Shaath_1The BBC reports that PA negotiator Nabil Shaath (pictured) is backing down from recent silly claims.

We're still not reassured about the veracity of Palestinian sources.

Norman Geras, meanwhile, questions why The Guardian's 'shock and mock' approach to religiousity doesn't apply to Muslims -- only Christians and Jews.

UPDATE: SF Chronicle reader rep Dick Rogers criticizes how his paper fumbled fact-checking Shaath's allegations and overlooked White House denials.

Big Lies

FrontPage Magazine has uploaded a 32-page essay entitled 'Big Lies: Demolishing the Myths of the Propaganda War Against Israel' (.pdf), by David Meir-Levy from the Center for the Study of Popular Culture.

Let Hamas run

Analyst Elliot Chodoff takes a contrarian view on the Hamas in PA elections issue:

The Israeli government is investing a great deal of effort in an attempt to prevent the Palestinian Islamic terrorist organization Hamas from taking part in the upcoming elections for the Palestinian Authority. While we can appreciate the government's aversion to the idea of facing a PA run by Hamas (and frankly we would rather see them disappear as well), it would be better to let them run for a number of reasons.

Continue reading "Let Hamas run"


Friday, October 7 2005

Palestinian sources say...

We've long questioned the reliability of Palestinian sources quoted in news stories. Now the White House has joined us.

In a BBC documentary due for broadcast this week, Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath says God told George Bush to fight wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to make peace in the Mideast. Shaath knows this because, he claims, Dubya himself told Shaath.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan denies Shaath's claim.

CSM whitewashes terrorists

A recent Christian Science Monitor piece manages to whitewash Hamas, Hizballah, and the Muslim Brotherhood all in one stroke:

The organization's [Hamas's] seesawing between democracy and violence resemble the identity crisis that other Islamic militant organizations have undergone. From Hizbullah in Lebanon to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, several groups with militant backgrounds have, in recent years, managed to steer themselves from combat to campaigns.
It is unfortunate that these groups have not actually disarmed, been dismantled, or rejected their hate-filled ideology. Hizballah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah stated in May: "All of the north of occupied Palestine, its settlements, airports, seaports, fields, factories and farms is under the feet and hands of the Islamic resistance." Does that sound like they have moved from "combat to campaigns"?

For more on Hizballah, see this pamphlet.


Thursday, October 6 2005

PA funded terror

In yesterday's Financial Times, a report about an anticipated European Union aid increase to Palestinians left out some of the facts:

Brussels ["capital" of the EU] has been criticised in the past for insufficiently monitoring the PA's use of its funds, which some Israeli politicians allege have been used for terrorism.
The Palestinian Authority's misuse of funds is well-documented, including in this IMF report which found hundreds of millions of dollars unaccounted for or misappropriated. Moreover, these funds have been used for terror as documented by the BBC.

Panel to scrutinize BBC coverage

ThomasThe BBC’s board of governors published details about a review of its Mideast coverage. The five-person panel, chaired by Sir Quentin Thomas (pictured), “will also invite written submissions, call witnesses - which may include BBC staff - and consider licence-fee payers' complaints.”

The laundry list of complaints against the BBC is quite long: these instances of odious coverage are just a fraction of what the UK taxpayers are funding: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. No wonder Israel boycotted the BBC in 2003.


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