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Media Backspin
« January 2007 | Main | March 2007 »

Wednesday, February 28 2007

The Times: A Non-Story With No Context

Why has the Times focused on a non-event? See HonestReporting UK's latest critique: The Times: A Non-Story With No Context.

MSM Inflating Fringe Groups

Today's bungled coverage appeared in the Times of London:

Ultra-Orthodox Jews have joined Muslims in a demonstration against Israeli excavations near the al-Aqsa Mosque compound. They carried banners, some written in Arabic, that read: “Jerusalem belongs to the Palestinians” and “Jews are forbidden to insult Islamic religious sites”.

The Times notes this was based on Reuters and AFP, but we haven't found any reports today (at least not yet) referring to any Jewish protests against the dig.

Except for one.

You have to see YNet News to find out the Jewish protesters (a mere six) were from Neturei Karta, an exceedingly small, fringe element in the Jewish community already ostracized for attending Iran's Holocaust conference. Is the MSM giving Neturei Karta the same treatment as the oft-quoted fringe leader Raed Salah?

UPDATE March 1: Looks like the Times based their report on a pair of photos.


Anti-Zionist Ultra-Orthodox Jews hold banners during a demonstration against the Israeli excavations near the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, in Jerusalem February 27, 20007. The Arabic banner reads 'Jews are forbidden to insult Islamic religious sites' REUTERS/Mahfouz Abu Turk (JERUSALEM)
Mughrabi Gate Meets the Blogosphere

Laptop_1Looking at the skewed coverage of the Mughrabi Gate dig, Jerusalem Post columnist Michael Freund concludes that bloggers were a better source of info than the MSM, and that hasbara efforts should give greater weight to the blogosphere:

But one item already unearthed by this dig should have us all deeply concerned, and that is the mainstream media's disgraceful habit of parroting Arab propaganda.

It was just a few weeks ago that a shocking array of prominent media outlets, in their coverage of this non-event, went about spreading one irresponsible and malicious lie after another about the Mughrabi Gate dig, tarnishing Israel's image and inflaming public opinion against the Jewish state....

AT THE height of the Mughrabi Gate crisis earlier this month it was the blogosphere which played a critical role in getting out the truth, just as it did during last summer's Lebanon war....

SURE, mainstream entities such as CNN, the BBC and The New York Times will continue to dominate the news business for years to come. But the battle for public opinion is far from being a lost cause. Israel just needs to start thinking a little more creatively about how to wage the battle. By working with our allies in the blogosphere, Israel can begin to turn the tide in its favor and chip away at the falsehoods being spread by the press. If we can't beat the media, let's circumvent it. Reaching out to bloggers seems like a good place to start.

We visited the excavations ourselves. And without any official credentials, we got the real dirt.


Tuesday, February 27 2007

Like Gospel

ApartheidA report by the UN's John Dugard (no stranger to HonestReporting) bashes "Israeli apartheid." Karima Brown an editor at South Africa's Business Day quotes Dugard like gospel; Anne Bayefsky slams the accusations.

UPDATE Feb. 27: South African blogger It's Almost Supernatural raises several very important points about why the apartheid analogy doesn't apply to Israel.

Hospital Admissions

The NY Times quotes Palestinian medical workers making this accusation:

Palestinian medical workers said Israeli troops had stationed themselves outside the city’s three main hospitals and were checking ambulances when they arrive to see if they contained suspected militants.

Now why would the IDF do that?

Nilesat Pulls Plug On Insurgent TV

UnpluggedNilesat finally cut the cord on Iraqi insurgent television. Until recently, it was beaming Al-Zawraa TV to wider Arab audiences despite US objections. AP writes:

"The transmission frequency of the channel interferes with the other channels broadcast by NileSat," Amin Basyouni, NileSat's chairman, told The Associated Press. "We have no authority over what these channels show. We believe in freedom of expression."

Al-Zawraa's owner, Mishan al-Jabouri, was skeptical and said he would sue.

The satellite company is government controlled and praise for Egypt's freedom of expression ring hollow. More likely, Al-Zawraa's usefulness ended in the face of US pressure.


Monday, February 26 2007

Israeli Apartheid Week: The Fallout

A week of Israel-bashing ends, but the fallout just begins. See HonestReporting Campus' inaugural communique: Israeli Apartheid Week: The Fallout.

New HonestReporting Desk Tool

Read about and download HonestReporting's latest hi-tech "action alert" tool. For download instructions, click below.


Hebron Headlines

Life In Israel wonders why Yifat Alkobi's harassment of Hebron Palestinians caught on video generated international headlines, while the Sunday murder of Erez Levanon in Hebron gets scant coverage.

UPDATE Feb. 27: The Jerusalem Post reports that two Palestinian teens confessed to murdering Levanon.


Sunday, February 25 2007

"Silencing Dissent"

We appreciate George Bisharat's free publicity. In today's Sacramento Bee, he accuses us (and our colleagues at CAMERA) of "silencing dissent."

Monitoring media to ensure accuracy is a public service. Yet as besieged journalists have concluded, the goal of this campaign is not truth, but pro-Israeli advocacy and silencing dissent.

Of course, we can't be too successful. The day we smother the last voice of criticism is the day we'll be looking for new jobs too.

Who Does Salah Represent?

SalahVered Livine slams the way the Israeli media rushes to quote Raed Salah (pictured) and his fiery criticisms of the Mughrabi Gate excavations. Her comments could apply to the Western news services too. She writes in YNet News:

However, Sheikh Salah is not the Arab community’s mouthpiece in Israel; he represents one branch in one movement that itself does not boast one unified voice.

Yet despite this, in recent weeks the sheikh seemed like the only spokesperson on behalf of Arabs in Israel. Without looking into the question of the government’s conduct in the matter of the Mugrabi Gate construction, an average newspaper reader and television viewer could have easily believed that 1,200,000 people were standing behind Salah and were only an order away from an all-out strike at the country. In practice, no mass demonstrations took place and the majority of the Israeli Arab community did not follow his harsh calls….

If there is a rise in Raed Salah’s popularity among Arabs in Israel and abroad, he should also be thanking the Israeli media (and leadership) for their conduct.


Thursday, February 22 2007

Israeli Images

Backspin's on leave till Sunday. In the meantime, enjoy these undated Israeli images from around the web:


The Negev

Tel Aviv

Mt. Carmel


Wednesday, February 21 2007

Giving New Hope... To Whom?

This NY Times staff-ed admits Hamas is the biggest obstacle to peace, but still expects Israeli concessions to the PA:

Israel could have reinforced Mr. Abbas’s position and increased the chances for progress with a series of low-risk steps: committing to serious negotiations, freezing the expansion of settlements and easing restrictions on civilians’ movements in the West Bank. Those steps would have given new hope to Palestinian moderates and thereby increased the political pressure on Hamas to abandon terrorism.

Imagine the Times demanding the Palestinians to recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce terror and honor previous agreements to "reinforce" and “give hope” to mainstream Israelis who already accept a two-state solution. Naaaaaah.

Mecca Accords Freezes Out Christians

CrescentFather Raymond J. De Souza accuses PA leaders of freezing Palestinian Christians out of the recent unity talks. The reason? The talks were held in Mecca, which is barred to non-Muslims. See the National Post, where Father De Souza points out:

Media reports were remarkably silent on the question of holding the Palestinian summit in a city where Palestinian Christians -- a small minority, but historically active in Palestinian leadership -- are barred by law. Perhaps a waiver was given to allow non-Muslims to temporarily enter, perhaps not. Perhaps the Christians were hustled through the airport on diplomatic passports; perhaps they were whisked through in disguise. Perhaps they converted before the summit; or perhaps they were just left at home. In two weeks of heavy media coverage, I have not seen the issue addressed.

Perhaps it is now simply accepted that the Palestinian question is to be understood as an exclusively Islamic question. In the last year, I have written twice in these pages about the Islamification of Palestinian politics, as the cause has been transformed from a nationalist project to a religious one. The Mecca summit would seem to confirm that this is now quasiofficial policy.

Father De Souza may have an unlikely ally.

(Hat tip: Headlines & Deadlines)


Tuesday, February 20 2007

Pattern Non-Recognition

Flags_1Paul Scheindreit, a columnist at the Halifax Chronicle-Herald cuts to the heart of Hamas' refusal to recognize Israel:

Why on Earth would Israel, or the so-called quartet of the U.S., Russia, EU and UN which is behind the infamous "road map" to peace, ever agree to fund an organization sworn to Israel’s destruction? Never mind other conditions. Any peace agreement, any pretence of future peaceful coexistence, must be based, in part, on both parties acknowledging that the other has a basic right to be there. To believe that matters should just carry on as before, when this is a major sticking point, is to ignore how basic a principle is at stake here. No doubt, there are many who would wish to paper over this fundamental disagreement in the interests of short-term "stability." That solves nothing, merely pushing the inevitable day of reckoning further away.

Some critics protest that before one recognizes Israel, one must define what "Israel" is, by its final borders, etc. Sophistry. The nation of Israel is recognized by the United Nations and countries around the world. Not all may agree on the details of borders and other unresolved issues, but all implicitly acknowledge that Israel has a right to exist. To argue otherwise is to attempt to escape the question.

John Whitbeck is presumably sticking to his guns.

(Hat tip: email from HonestReporting-Canada)

The Economist's Politicized Cities Guide

Why does the Economist single out Tel Aviv for negative treatment? See HonestReporting's latest communique: The Economist's Politicized Cities Guide.

PLO Peace Parternship Peddled

Saeb Erekat’s still peddling the PLO as a negotiating partner in place of the Palestinian Authority. To their credit, the NY Times doesn't buy the argument:

He added that Mr. Abbas, as the legal representative of the Palestinians as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, “recognizes Israel, and that’s what really matters.”…

It is one thing for Israel to begin talks with Mr. Abbas while it is boycotting the unity government he helped to negotiate. But it is another for Israel to make meaningful progress toward concluding such negotiations and reaching a peace deal with a government that refuses to recognize it or renounce violence against it.

Here’s why Eerekat’s wrong.

The Elephant In The Room

The Guardian's Steve Bell hits the nail on the head:


Syrian Media Blurs The Line

Someone forward Joe Lanzmann's column to Bashar Assad. The Syrian media's blurring the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. The Jerusalem Post writes:

"The Syrian regime makes no distinction between anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement," Col. Reuven Erlich (res.) told The Jerusalem Post.

"The Syrians have been campaigning extensively against the excavations at the Mughrabi ramp to serve a greater purpose of promoting an anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist agenda before the world's eyes....

According to Erlich, the Syrian campaign promotes violence toward Jews all around the world. If there is no distinction made between Jews and Israelis, Jews will continually be blamed for things Israelis do.


Monday, February 19 2007

Good Fences, Good Neighbors Part 2

FencesaudiSince blogging Gwynne Dyer's column about security fences around the world, readers alerted us to some interesting details about those projects. Makes us wonder about the fuss over Israel's security fence.

* Some 3,000 Yemeni tribesman are preparing to resist construction of a Saudi barrier. The Yemen Times explains why:

The sheik claims that Saudi Arabia has already built a security fence 4 to 7 km beyond the neutral zone inside Yemen....

Didn't the Saudis criticize the Israeli security for not sticking to the Green Line?

The Saudis are also building a 550 mile fence along the Saudi-Iraqi border.

* In six years, India has walled off 1,300 miles of the barrier's planned 2,500 mile length along the Bangladeshi border. The Times of London writes:

While the world’s attention has been focused on the Israeli security barrier sealing off the West Bank, India has been building a far longer fence to keep out Islamic militants, thwart cross-border smuggling and stop human trafficking.

At the time Israel's cabinet first approved construction plans, India's barrier was already in the building stage.

* Thailand and Malaysia agreed to triple the length of the barrier along their border.

* Pakistan is fencing off sections of its border with Afghanistan to keep out the Taliban. Sound familiar?

All these countries joined the UN General Assembly's condemnation of Israel's security fence in 2003. We're not holding our breaths waiting for critical coverage of these border projects.

UPDATE MAY 2, 2007: See Reuters for more "wall to wall" coverage.

Gunman's Family: PA Advised Us To Lie

EmpirestatebldgBack in 1997, Ali Hassan Abu Kamal chose the observation deck of the Empire State Building to go on a shooting rampage. He killed one person and wounded six others before killing himself. In his pocket was a rambling note denouncing US support for Israel.

At the time the Kamal family insisted the shooting wasn’t politically motivated. Now, almost ten years later, relatives admit that the shooting was politically motivated, that the Palestinian Authority shockingly told them to lie about that fact and even advised the family how to cover it up. The NY Daily News writes:

But in a stunning admission, Kamal's 48-year-old daughter Linda told the Daily News that her dad wanted to punish the U.S. for supporting Israel - and revealed her mom's 1997 account was a cover story crafted by the Palestinian Authority.

"A Palestinian Authority official advised us to say the attack was not for political reasons because that would harm the peace agreement with Israel," she told The News on Friday. "We didn't know that he was martyred for patriotic motivations, so we repeated what we were told to do."

Makes us wonder about the credibility of other statements coming from Palestinian Authority officials.

Today's Poison Pen

The Independent’s Peter Schrank proffers his poison pen take on today’s Mideast summit:


What's the value of negotiating statehood with people who seek Israel's destruction?

Feud For Thought

Newsweek examines Gaza’s feuding clans that may make or break the Palestinian cease-fire. The various families—not necessarily loyal to Fatah or Hamas—are licking their wounds and nursing their grudges. Reuters credits clan leaders with preventing the civil war from spreading to the West Bank. But they contribute to the chaos in a different way:

"An unarmed security officer can't arrest a drug smuggler, because he can't protect himself," the official said. Police were also increasingly wary that any arrest they make could provoke a revenge attack from one of the clans.

In the absence of any real Palestinian leadership, should Israel deal directly with clan leaders instead?


Sunday, February 18 2007

Power Games

Must read: See Pajamas Media for Khaled Abu Toameh's special report on Gaza's civil war.

Virtual Hasbara

LaptopLast week, OMedia attended a conference in Tel Aviv where representatives of the army spokesman’s office, the foreign ministry, and the media met to discuss the future of Israeli information and hasbara on the internet. Speakers were remarkably candid and not always in agreement with each other. Among the questions raised:

* Is Israel doing enough to creatively use the internet with blogs, forums, video, RSS feeds, etc.?

* Should Israel create more databases for journalists and academics who would otherwise turn to Palestinian and UN sources?

* How much detail is necessary and how much is overkill?

* Are Israeli sites available in enough foreign languages?

* Should the MFA, IDF and intelligence services join forces online to present Israel's story to the world?

* What lessons can be learned from the way the Palestinians use the web?

The gathering was organized by the Netvision Institute for Internet Research at Tel Aviv University. Read OMedia's whole article and post your comments below.

(Hat tip: Elder of Ziyon)

UPDATE Feb. 19: Bahraini blogger Mohammed Al Maskati praises the Israeli government's handling of Mughrabi Gate controversy:

On the other side, I must admit the way the Israeli government handled the issue was absolutely superb and transparent. 24/7 Webcams were put in place to live broadcast to the world all reconstruction/ digging/excavation action on the disputed construction land (Source) the Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish mayor on Monday ordered a review of construction outside a holy site (Source)
92 Seconds

An excellent video produced by the Israel Antiquities Authority only needs 92 seconds to address the myths and facts of the Mughrabi Gate excavations.

Requiem For Foreign Correspondents

SuitcaseThe Washington Post's Pamela Constable laments the demise of foreign correspondents:

In an effort to cut costs, newspapers are replacing bureaus -- which require staffs and cars and family housing -- with mobile, trouble-shooting individual correspondents. The erstwhile bureau chief in New Delhi or Cairo, chatting with diplomats over rum punches on the veranda, is now an eager kid with a laptop and an Arabic phrase book in her backpack. Freelancers can help cover more remote or incremental stories, and newswire agencies can cover breaking news in global hot spots -- but neither is enough....

Even at their best, newspapers are also a limited medium. I have always been acutely aware that no matter how deeply I burrowed into a society or how many people I interviewed, I was only peeling back the most superficial layers of complex, murky worlds in which people routinely lied, every incident had a contradictory version, and no 1,500-word article could possibly do justice to the truth.

Yet newspapers can also fill an important niche between television and academe, offering an accessible way for busy people to learn about distant events and an outlet for writing that captures the essence of a time and place without polemics or pedantry. They can put events in context, explain human behavior and belief, evoke a way of life. Foreign correspondents can burrow into a society, cultivate strangers' trust, follow meandering trails and dig beneath layers of diplomatic spin and government propaganda.

A shrinking pool of news services and reliance on parachute journalism doesn't necessarily mean good news.

NY Times' Greenhouse Effect

GreenhouseBelieve it or not, some Palestinians are making some modest progress rebuilding Gaza despite the civil war. But from this NY Times report, you wouldn't know that the Palestinians, with their own hands, looted greenhouses left behind by Israel.

The Israeli departure raised the prospect of land-hungry Palestinians flooding into the former settlements. But while many Palestinians are impatient for new housing, security guards have kept out would-be squatters in most, but not all, cases. The settlements also came with greenhouses that offered the prospect of thousands of agricultural jobs. Yet the greenhouses sit idle.

The Palestinians invested millions of dollars to repair the greenhouses shortly after the Israelis left, and had an excellent crop in the winter of 2005 and 2006. But they were unable to export their produce to Europe, the main market, because Israel kept Gaza’s main crossing for goods closed for weeks at a time, citing security concerns.

According to the Times, blame Israel for Gaza's poverty.

Anti-Semitism vs. Legit Criticism

How does one draw the line between legitimate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism? Joe Lanzmann takes a stab at the issue with a tongue-in-cheek quiz published in the National Post.

(Hat tip: Headlines & Deadlines)


Saturday, February 17 2007

Good Fences, Good Neighbors

Gwynne Dyer wonders about the global trend to wall off countries. Dyer notes security barriers being put up by the governments of Thailand, India, Morocco, China, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the US.

Most of these countries, of course, have opposed Israel's security fence. Now what did Robert Frost say about good fences?


Friday, February 16 2007

Whither the Boycott?

The Jerusalem Post reports that Saudi Prince Al-Walid bin Talal is looking to invest in Tel Aviv. Forbes ranked him as the eighth wealthiest person in the world with an estimated fortune worth $20 billion. The prince apparently wants to build an eight-story beachfront hotel:

But too much publicity could doom the project.

The world's wealthiest Arab investing in Israel would certainly make a joke of the Arab boycott.


Thursday, February 15 2007

Live From Mughrabi Gate...

Indiana Jones it ain't, but the Israeli Antiquities Authority's three webcams at the controversial Mughrabi Gate dig went online today. Click below to watch.


AFP writes:

The cameras will broadcast live footage on Internet of the archaeological excavations while work is underway from 6:30 am (0430 GMT) to 2:30 pm (1230 GMT) and will remain on in off hours as well, she told AFP.

Also, The Independent describes a Byzantine-era mosaic unearthed at the site.

UPDATE 6:21 p.m.: The sun's down in Jerusalem, but two of the three cameras show daylight.

UPDATE Feb. 16, 6:00 a.m.: It's the spotlights that caused the confusion in the previous update.

What Women Want

Diamonds_flowersLinda Quiquivix, a student at U. of North Carolina is looking for a new boyfriend. No Zionists need apply. Here's why:

I don't see how people who don't agree politically can date. This became clear last summer when Israel killed 16 children in Qana, the U.S. refused to call for a cease-fire, and the boyfriend acted as if these were war games where Israel had a right to defend itself. So every time Israel did something abominable I'd increasingly begin to hold him personally responsible.

Looks like the diamonds and flowers didn't win her heart.

(Hat tip: James Taranto)

Grasping At Straws

This Christian Science Monitor staff-ed buys into Hamas’ acceptance of the Mecca Accords:

Besides setting a new power-sharing arrangement, the deal for the first time commits the anti-Zionist Hamas to "respect" previous agreements with Israel. That welcome but limited shift in policy demands a positive response from Israel and the United States.

But even Hamas admits that the Mecca agreement doesn't recognize Israel. What straws is the Monitor grasping at?


Wednesday, February 14 2007

Guardian's Hamas Propaganda

The Guardian allows Hamas's supreme leader op-ed space. See HonestReporting-UK's latest communique: Guardian's Hamas Propaganda.

"Digital Martyrdom"

Digital_martyrdomA Tel Aviv area exhibition spotlights how video games are becoming Arab propaganda tools. The Daily Telegraph writes:

The sophistication of these games varies greatly, from little Flash programmes in which the simple aim is to punch an enemy's face, right up to sophisticated adventure scenarios in which players have to gather information from various shady sources in the Middle East.

But the war games steal the show, not just because they offer unbridled virtual bloodshed and juicy sound effects but also because they demonstrate the chilling potential of games as a propaganda tool….

In one themed room, visitors are faced with two interpretations of the intifada. A Syrian game called The Stone Throwers offers a sort of digital martyrdom, as the player takes the role of a lone Palestinian resistance fighter armed only with rocks against waves of Israeli soldiers.

Why not instead teach kids peace?


Tuesday, February 13 2007

Still The Ideal Target

Islamic Jihad is threatening to attack American interests if anything happens to Ramadan Shallah, the terror group's leader. AP writes:

Another Islamic Jihad official later said the group would target American interests — but not Americans.

"The regular American citizen is not a target for us, because I am sure he is not pleased about American foreign policy," said the official, Khader Habib.

This is the same terror organization that called Daniel Wultz "the ideal target" even as the Jewish-American teen lay in a coma before succumbing to injuries in a Tel Aviv suicide bombing last year. Islamic Jihad has also described Americans as "the typical enemy of the believers."

Meshaal Markets Mecca

Meshaal_3Looking for legitimacy and trying to peddle the Mecca Accords to the West, Hamas and Khalid Meshaal struck gold with op-ed space in The Guardian.

The Guardian notes Meshaal's address, so send your comments to

No Respect

The NY Times notes the anniversary of the destruction of a certain golden-domed mosque. Sunni insurgents could learn something from Israel about respecting holy sites.

Muslim Brotherhood’s Fast Times

MbFast times for the Muslim Brotherhood? You betcha. Consider the following:

* Hamas, the Brotherhood’s Palestinian offshoot, was the clear winner of the Mecca Accords. And the deal is being peddled to the world by no less than Mahmoud Abbas and secular PA envoys.

* In Europe, Islamic banking with the Brotherhood is on the rise.

* The Brotherhood recently established a “media office” in the UK.

* Egypt is cracking down on the Brother like never before.

* In Damascus, a Syrian-German got off with a relatively 12-year prison sentence for membership in the Brotherhood. Membership is capital offense.

* Jordan’s Brotherhood, the Islamic Action Front, bucked Sunni trends and supported Hezbollah during last year’s Lebanon War, and are closely watching the unfolding crisis in Beirut. According to Robert Satloff, the Front was further emboldened by the Mecca Accords.

The Brotherhood is also active in the US as well. The Muslim American Society has been accused of being a front for the Brotherhood. And for further background, see the Chicago Tribune.


Monday, February 12 2007

"Beat Your Head Against the Wall"

BeckGlenn Beck (pictured) discussed media bias against Israel with the New York Jewish Week. True to form, the radio personality didn't mince words:

Beck thinks the media spin on the Mideast situation is “horribly out of whack” and biased against Israel. The only solution, which he says applies to the U.S. as well as Israel, is to “to do the right thing, be good and just continue to beat your head against the wall until the truth prevails.”
City Hall Steps In

Construction of the Mughrabi Gate walkway has been postponed. Haaretz explains why:

Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski announced late Sunday night that he has decided to postpone construction of the walkway at the Mugrabi Ascent until zoning authorities complete plans for the area.

Lupolianski and Western Wall rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich drafted the decision Sunday following conversations with Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, municipal planning authorities, Muslim community leaders and other representatives of the Arab population of East Jerusalem, in order to allow the general public to review plans for the bridge and submit opposition.

Lupolianski announced that the measure reflects a desire for transparency and to foster a sense of cooperation with residents in the construction process. He also wanted to avoid the feeling among the public that the work constitutes some sort of an Israeli ambush.

In practice, the decision means that approval of the plan will be postponed until a hearing of all the letters of opposition filed by city residents. The salvage excavation being conducted by the Antiquities Authority is expected to continue at this stage, parallel to the public discussion of the zoning plan.


Sunday, February 11 2007

Temple Mount Truths

Why is the media taking Arab propaganda at face value encouraging incitement to violence? See HonestReporting's latest communique: Temple Mount Truths.

Mughrabi Gate: The Real Dirt

This afternoon, we went to the Mughrabi Gate to see for ourselves the controversial excavations.


To the left is the Western Wall Plaza, with the Dome of the Rock in the background. In the center is the temporary wooden bridge structure. On the slope next to it is the where the previous ramp was located and where the current excavations are taking place.


In the background is the grey dome of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Israeli construction is taking place some 60 meters outside of the Temple Mount compound,


On Friday morning, Palestinians on the Temple Mount above threw stones on Jews worshipping at the Western Wall. In the background is the temporary wooden bridge. The scaffolding under the bridge is covered by white strips, probably for aesthetic purposes.


Mughrabi Gate itself. Tourists visiting the Temple Mount can enter only through this gate and only after going through a strict security check. This resulted in long waits in the hot sun for visitors. The new ramp will be more tourist friendly. The original ramp was badly damaged by an earthquake and snowstorms in 2004.


The Israeli Antiquities Authority is excavating the site before the ramp is built. This routine often delays Israeli construction projects, but such digging is known to turn up important finds.


The media waits for violence to erupt.

Dissing the Dead

An honorable mention in World Press Photo's contest validates our Worst Director Award to Salem Daher, a.k.a, Abdel Qadar, a.k.a, "The Green Helmet," of Qana fame. Daher can't be seen in this specific image, but it spotlights a disrespect for the dead by the photographers and the rescue workers.


Jeroen Oerlemans, The Netherlands, Panos Pictures.

Paramedics show the dead body of a baby to the press after Israeli bombing of Qana, Lebanon, 30 July

Thumbs up to Oerlemans and the judges for recognizing the story behind the story.

For more info on Daher, ZAPP filmed the Green Helmet in action. Wikipedia clarifies confusion over the names.

14 Reasons Why Hamas Is Laughing

Analyzing the Mecca Accords, the Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh lists 14 reasons why Hamas is laughing over the outcome:

A careful reading of the understandings between the two parties shows that Fatah has moved closer to Hamas, and not vice-versa.

Saturday, February 10 2007

Military Positions... Where?

In the middle of a Washington Times report about Palestinians being treated in Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical Center, reporter Joshua Mitnick writes something astonishing:

Fatah officers such as Abdallah Shelieh, meanwhile, have been avoiding Gaza City's main facility, Shifah Hospital, for fear of Hamas security forces who have set up military positions on the roof and in their own wing of the hospital.

Military positions inside a hospital? Imagine the headlines if Israel were to do such a thing.

The fact that Barzilai's staff treats Palestinians without regard for their political affiliation may not be noteworthy enough for MSM, though the reaction of the patients certainly is:

But when the father of a wounded security officer from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction tells a reporter that he wants "to say thank you to all of the people of Israel," it seems that the center's work is changing at least some hearts and minds.
Focus On Media Bias

Check out the latest edition of Israel Highway. The publication for high school students focuses this week on media bias.


Thursday, February 8 2007

Three Days Of Fury

Palestinian_1The Palestinian Maan News Agency picked up on a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) detailing the casualties of the Palestinian civil war:

According to information from the Palestinian health ministry, quoted by OCHA, at least 33 people were killed, four of them children, and 242 injured, during three days of clashes (1-3 February) "between Palestinian security forces and armed Fatah militants on one side, and armed Hamas militants and the Executive Support Forces (ESF) on the other".

According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), half of those injured were civilian bystanders.

OCHA says that these latest casualty figures bring the total killed due to internal Palestinian violence in 2007 to 86, including 11 children, and the number of injured to 486. This figure compares to 146 dead in 2006 and 11 in 2005.

To put the furious violence into perspective: In three days, Palestinians killed 33 of their own. In all of 2006, Palestinian terror attacks claimed the lives of 23 Israelis and foreigners.

(Hat tip: Daily Alert)

Blurring the Blue Line

Skynews_1We were surprised to see a report on Sky News concerning an exchange of fire between Lebanese army and IDF forces along the Blue Line. Sky writes, "According to Israel's army radio, Lebanese army troops fired on Israeli forces as they scoured a border area for explosives." Sky then directly quotes a Lebanese army spokesman who claimed:

"An Israeli bulldozer crossed into south Lebanon."

However, Sky ignored a UNIFIL spokesman who contradicted the Lebanese allegations:

Liam McDowell, a spokesman for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, or UNIFIL, said the exchange was initiated by the Lebanese army and that the Israeli bulldozer had crossed the border fence, but not the Blue Line, to clear mines.

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