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Media Backspin
« November 2007 | Main | January 2008 »

Monday, December 31 2007

December 31 Links

Wanted: Ambassador to Cairo
Channel 2's Ehud Ya'ari is leading candidate for post.

Israel Wants US and EU to Snub Durban II
Update on efforts against another UN sponsored Israel bashing.

Comptroller to Compile Report on Past Efforts to Free Pollard
Report undertaken at Jonathan Pollard's request.

Egyptian Police Break Arm of AFP Man Covering Sarkozy Visit

Quashing Coverage

AP describes Hamas' latest suppression of the media:

Several Gaza journalists received anonymous overnight phone calls warning them not to cover upcoming events planned by the Fatah movement, fueling fears that the territory's Islamic Hamas rulers were trying to quash coverage of their rivals. . . .

The reporters asked that their names be withheld because they feared retribution from Hamas . . . .

Dueling Headlines

Hard to believe a B'tselem report could generate such polar opposite headlines:

Study: Number of Palestinians killed by IDF dropped 43% in '07

Third of Palestinians killed by Israel in 2007 were civilians: report

The Underreported Israel

Solar_parkBoston Globe columnists penned a few paragraphs on 2007's underreported stories. If you hold your nose for the first few words, H.D.S. Greenway is otherwise spot on.

We all know the Israel of wars, oppression, and precarious security, but what about Israel of the humming economy with 90 Israel-related companies on NASDAQ? What about Israeli films garnishing honors around the world: "Jellyfish" and "The Band's Visit" at Cannes, "Beaufort" in Berlin, "My Father My Lord" in Tribeca, "Sweet Mud" at Sundance, and "Aviva, My Love" in Shanghai?

What of Israeli solar power in California that has been saving 2 million barrels of oil annually for nearly 20 years? What of Arava Valley high-tech agriculture, with exports exceeding $100 million? Natafim, the drip irrigation system patented by Kibbutz Hatzerim, is now a multinational conglomerate selling millions of systems throughout the world. What of the Israel that is taking in Darfur refugees, and what of the first Israeli-initiated UN resolution, calling upon countries to share agricultural technology with developing countries, adopted overwhelmingly this month?

It's this other Israel that's underreported.


Sunday, December 30 2007

Today's Moral Equivalence

Courtesy Reuters (who else?) where one man's journalist is another man's airhead:

Two Israelis and two Palestinians killed in West Bank
Israel21c Revamps

Thumbs up to Israel21c on their revamped web site.

Pinpoint Assassinations In the Crosshairs

CrosshairsCollateral damage from Israeli targeted assassinations is at its lowest rate ever. Haaretz writes:

Reducing the number of civilian casualties in the attacks on Gaza was one of the first tasks Halutz's heir as IAF chief, Eliezer Shkedi, marked out for himself. The data improved commensurately. From a 1:1 ratio between killed terrorists and civilians in 2003 to a 1:28 ratio in late 2005. Several IAF mishaps in 2006 lowered the ratio to 1:10, but the current ratio is at its lowest ever  more than 1:30.

Read the whole thing.

Subliminal Images Push Peace

Whoda thought?

The State of the Two-State Solution

IsraelpalflagOver at Power Line, Dan Diker says the Palestinians have given up on a two-state solution and are in "cruise control" for the sake of receiving foreign money:

However, this author’s four meetings this week with three of the region’s top Arab affairs experts and a senior Palestinian official reveal that the Palestinian’s have already jettisoned the idea of reaching a compromise with Israel and have already hit cruise control if only to collect on promises of eight billion dollars in international commitments.

I sat in a Tel Aviv meeting on Wednesday with a senior advisor to Mahmaoud Abbas who told a few of us Israelis in no uncertain terms. “PA leader Abbas’s hands are tied." He will not agree to anything less than a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines including Jerusalem. That means no Palestinian flexibility on their demands for full sovereignty over Jerusalem’s historic Old City and especially the holy Temple Mount. The Palestinian official added that the Palestinians are also not conceding their demand for the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees to Israel. The only flexibility is the possibility of a two percent land swap. Why such apparent intransigence already? Negotiations have barely started.

This apparent zero sum Palestinian game may explain why three of Israel’s leading experts and fellow colleagues on the Arab East told me flat out in separate meetings this week their assessment that the Palestinians have already given up on the two state solution.

Related reading: A One-State Solution: Advocating Israel's Destruction

(Hat tip: Daled Amos)


Thursday, December 27 2007

December 27 Links

20 Questions For Al-Qaeda’s Number 2
See also Backspin readers’ questions and post your own.

A Fresh Look At Hezbollah

Citizen Journalism Dominates Online News in 2007
(Hat tip: Micropersuasion)

The New "Sixth W"
“What’s next” joins journalism’s traditional who, what, where when and why questions.

Uproar Over Haaretz Editor's Remarks

David_landauHaaretz editor David Landau (pictured) confirmed he urged Condi Rice that the US needs to "rape" Israel for the sake of Mideast peace. The NY Jewish Week writes:

When contacted this week, Landau said the description was “inaccurate” and “a perversion of what I said.” He said his views had been delivered with “much more sophistication.”

But he added: “I did say that in general, Israel wants to be raped — I did use that word — by the U.S., and I myself have long felt Israel needed more vigorous U.S. intervention in the affairs of the Middle East.” . . . .

But Landau said he had no regrets and that, on the contrary, he was pleased . . .

Isi Leibler responds:

Anyone familiar with Israel's diplomatic history will be aware that the worst fear of government after government was the prospect of the United States alone or in conjunction with another power, seeking to impose a settlement which would be to Israel's political detriment or compromise its vital security interests.

By any benchmark, Landau's behavior as an Israeli citizen would be deemed unacceptable.

But it is surely unconscionable that the editor of one of Israel's most influential newspapers, which also appears in an English and global internet version, could urge an American Secretary of State to "rape" his own government. If ever there was a crossing of every red line in terms of propriety, national integrity, and civic responsibility, this extraordinary intervention tops the bill. This is surely not behaviour befitting the editor of a major newspaper.

See further coverage in the NY Sun.


Wednesday, December 26 2007

Numbskulls at the WSJ

WsjAaron Klein fisks Kenneth Woodward.

UPDATE Dec. 27: So does Clifford May.

UPDATE Jan. 1: And David Billet.

December 26 Links

"Miracle" - Mortally Wounded Soldier Fully Recovers

40 Iranian Jews Immigrate to Israel in Secret Operation

Middle East Censors Seek to Limit Web Access

'Fatah al-Islam at work in Gaza'

Israeli Escapes Ramallah Lynch Mob

YNet News details Amir Ochanam's escape from a Ramallah lynch mob -- with unexpected help from a pair of Palestinian "guardian angels."

Israel Bombs Santa's Workshop

Church_nativity_security_3What bombing is Lamis Andoni referring to?

When Israeli forces besieged Bethlehem in 2002, Palestinian fighters, mostly Muslims, took refuge in the church.

The Western world knows by heart all the Christmas carols, but it did not pay much attention then to the plight of the town, its people or even the church, bombed by the Israeli army.

Israel never bombed the Church of the Nativity during the 2002 siege. Did Israel blow up Santa's workshop too?

Lousy Parenting: Blame Israel

According to the Daily Telegraph, Israel is now responsible for the lousy parenting of Palestinian mothers who have no problem dumping their own babies in the streets. Reporter Tim Butcher writes:

Babies have been abandoned to die on rubbish tips or in the street because the Israeli security wall that now hems in the West Bank city makes it difficult for distressed mothers to reach the Holy Family Children's Home.
Pallywood Xmas Special

Wire service photos demonstrate the distortions of the media. See the photos and more in HonestReporting's latest communique - Pallywood Xmas Special


Tuesday, December 25 2007

HonestReporting Linkage '07

Hyperlink_icon_2We added more links to the right column. This includes a gathering of links to official HonestReporting affiliates and initiatives in one spot.

And now that we've done that, we salute the growth of HR's affiliates. We're proud of the in-roads made in Canada, Brazil, Italy and the UK thanks to the hard work of a handful of dedicated people .

Interest in our Leadership Missions to Israel exceeded all expectations. The launch of an HonestReporting Videos page on YouTube, and steady growth of our Teach Kids Peace initiative helped make 2007 even more successful.

Last but not least, 2007 was Backspin's most successful too. The addition of social networking, RSS feeds and more videos brought the blog into the world of Web 2.0. The upgrade paid off with more traffic, comments, and posts being picked up by other blogs than in any other year.

We look forward to continued growth in 2008.

Fisking the Post

WashpostSee The Volokh Conspiracy for a good fisking of the Washington Post's recent coverage of Israeli Arabs.


Monday, December 24 2007

O Brittle Town, Part 2

In a pair of reports from Bethlehem, WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein details the media's "little lies," and how Muslims are hijacking the town.

Related reading: O Brittle Town . . .

The Grinch Strikes Back

Grinch2We knew a grinch would strike. And sure enough, one named Kenneth Woodward got a screed trashing Israel's treatment of Bethlehem and the Christian community published in the Wall St. Journal.

Here's what Woodward's commentary doesn't say:

• The security fence is saving Israeli lives.

• Israel is accommodating Bethlehem's holiday tourism by easing security restrictions and scaling back security ops in the area.

• Bethlehem is having it’s best tourist season since the intifada began.

• The town’s Muslim-Christian relations ain't so rosy.

Har Homa was never “Christian land."

A lump of coal for Mr. Woodward's stocking. . . .

Daily Mail Columnist Is Not a Wise Man

Andrew Alexander continues to misread the Mideast. Read more at HonestReporting UK's latest communique: Daily Mail Columnist Is Not a Wise Man

Harrowing Headlines

Combining two unrelated news items into one article runs the risks of harrowing headlines like this:

Israel Rejects Hamas Overture, and Presses Housing Construction

No Room At the Inn

The evil Israelis haven't crucified Bethlehem yet.

UPDATE Dec. 24: Or Nablus, for that matter.


Sunday, December 23 2007

Pre-Recorded Church Bells For Gaza's Cowed Christians

Church_bells_recordingThe BBC's Katya Adler sees how Gaza's Christians are faring this holiday season. Though the bulk of the article deals with Father Manawel Musallam's politically correct comments, the final paragraphs speak volumes:

As the crowded church was belting out hallelujahs, I stepped into the church courtyard for some fresh air.

The Muslim call to prayer was beginning to echo from the myriad of mosques all around.

I thought how this reflected the situation in Gaza in Christmas 2007 - that while the muezzin were on loudspeaker, the church bells here are played from a cassette tape.

A nervous young nun adjusted the volume - loud enough to peel through the church but not to penetrate its walls - it might risk offending Muslim Gazans passing by.

UPDATE Dec. 24: See related AP coverage.

Here We Grow Again

Backspin just joined the Friends of Giyus blog ring. The widget -- which appears at the bottom of the left column -- shows the entry from another, randomly selected blog in the ring.

We're also in the middle of constructing a blog roll of featured sites. It's in the right column under the Google News feed; at this moment, it's a work in a progress.

UPDATE Dec. 23: The blog roll didn't work out as expected. Stay tuned. . . .

Bad Santa, Bad AFP

You have to love the imagination that went into this Palestinian P.R. coup. Send Santas to throw stones at a security fence protest near Bethlehem, and let the MSM (in this case, AFP) do the rest:

'Father Christmas' beaten in West Bank demo: organisers

As well this photo:


An Israeli soldier tackles a Palestinian protester dressed as Santa Claus or Father Christmas during at a protest against Israel's separation barrier in the village of Umm Salamunah near the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem. Israeli guards beat five demonstrators during the protest on Friday, organisers said. (AFP/Musa al-Shaer)

If this gets any more surreal, we'll see Palestinians send Elvis impersonators and the Phillie Phanatic to the next street clashes. You think they wouldn't?

Related reading: Hamas Strong Arms Photo-Op

Sderot School Daze

Related viewing: Kindergarden Alert

Psychology of Underdogs and Israeli P.R.

Using the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and sports, researchers found that people tend to support underdogs. See the full report (pdf format).

Daled Amos summarizes and comments:

When Israel was portrayed as larger:

• 70% saw Palestinians as the underdog
• But only 53% were more supportive of the Palestinians
• There was a little more sympathy toward the Palestinians (3.77 vs. 3.73)

When Israel was portrayed as small on the map:

• 62.1% saw Israel as the underdog
• But 76.7% were more supportive of Israel
• There was more sympathy towards Israel (4.00 vs. 3.30)--especially compared to Palestinians when they were perceived as the underdog.

Apparently being the underdog isn't everything--terrorism and corruption does seem to take a toll. The study also concluded that opinions about Israel and the Palestinians were "malleable," which may mean that the damage done by Israel's lackluster attempt at Hasbarah may not be permanent.

O Brittle Town . . .

Dry Bones on Bethlehem:


Related reading: 15 Years Till Christians Disappear From PA

December 23 Links

Plausible Deniability Up In Smoke
Fatah cadre admits Arafat organized Black September terror group. Is Abbas sweating?

Destination: Durban II
Will the third world maneuver Uncle Sam into footing the bill for another Israel bash?


Friday, December 21 2007

Insulted Palestinians Turn on Graffiti Artist

Banksy_2Banksy, the graffiti artist known for his satirical murals on the security barrier in the Bethlehem area ran into a cultural barrier of his own. Angry Palestinians painted over one of his pictures:

But the irony behind a painting of an Israeli soldier checking a donkey's identity papers -- a jab at the Jewish state's strict security measures -- was lost on some locals, who found it offensive and painted over it.

"We're humans here, not donkeys. This is insulting. I'm glad it was painted over," said restaurant owner Nasri Canavati. Comparing someone to a donkey in Palestinian society is like calling them an idiot.

Banksy got off easy.


Thursday, December 20 2007

Hamas Radio: Live From the Temple Mount

RadiotowerHamas is broadcasting daily radio programming from the Temple Mount. WorldNetDaily writes:

But today, Hamas' Al Aqsa Radio broadcast services from the Temple Mount from 5 a.m. Jerusalem time until 8:20 a.m. During the program, a Hamas official announced the group's station would exclusively broadcast services from the Al Aqsa Mosque every day.

Hamas would not say how it coordinated today's broadcast, but Palestinian security sources said the stream was fully coordinated with the Waqf, the Islamic custodians of the Temple Mount.

In September, Islamic Jihad managed to broadcast from the Temple Mount too.


Wednesday, December 19 2007

Ask al-Zawahri

Zawahri_2Al-Qaida's no. 2 man Ayman al-Zawahri is eager to take media questions. AP writes:

The statement, first posted Sunday, invites "individuals, agencies and all media" to submit written questions for al-Zawahri by sending them to the Islamic Web forums where Al-Sahab traditionally posts its messages.

Al-Sahab asked the forums to send it the questions "by the letter, with no changes or substitutions, no matter whether they agree or disagree (with the question)."

It said it would take questions until Jan. 16 . . . .

Give the man credit for creativity. We'd like to know what questions you'd like to ask al-Zawahri if given the opportunity. Post your questions in the comments section.

Dishonest Reporter Award 2007

Dishonestreportingaward07Our seventh annual recognition of the most skewed and biased coverage of the Mideast conflict. See Dishonest Reporter Award 2007.


Tuesday, December 18 2007

Egyptian Police Helped Terrorists Enter Gaza

Israel caught 'em on video.

Pondering Paris

We're not talking about Keyword Queen Paris Hilton. Here are assorted observations on the donor conference that netted the PA a few billion dollars in foreign aid:

LA Times

Although the international community has pledged almost $9 billion to support the Palestinians since 1993 through similar pledge-fests, less than half the amount of money promised actually materialized, according to a Palestinian source who asked not to be named. The delinquents include members of the Arab League as well as Japan and Italy, the source said.

• The NY Times adds even more damningly:

Many countries do not fulfill pledges that they make at such conferences. Egypt and other Arab countries are known for pledging funds to the Palestinian Authority that they do not deliver.

The Independent questions the effectiveness of any plan that doesn’t include Gaza:

"What is the point of institution-building if there is no Palestinian unity?" said a European diplomat. "It's not Northern Ireland, whatever Tony Blair says. Building a Palestinian state without Gaza would be a colossal waste of money."

• Khaled Abu Toameh of the Jerusalem Post weighs in:

The only way to undermine Hamas is not by channeling billions of dollars to the PA leadership, but by offering the Palestinians a better alternative to the Islamist movement. In order for Fatah to regain the confidence of the Palestinian public, it needs to reform itself and pave the way for new faces.
Travel Advisories

Blair_in_holy_landBBC’s Tim Franks raises an interesting point about Tony Blair’s efforts to plug tourism in Bethlehem:

It seemed churlish to point out to Mr Blair that he travelled with the sort of gun-laden, earpiece-wearing retinue unavailable to most tourists.

But I did ask him how his assertions sat with the travel advice from the British and American governments - which is, in essence: do not go to the Occupied Territories unless you really have to.

Mr Blair was plain: "I think it is time to reconsider the (travel) advice," he told me.

What would it take for Blair to spend a night in Sderot?

Collateral Damage Not Israel's Fault

Gaza_strikeAt least the NY Times doesn’t blame Israel for collateral damage after the air force took out Islamic Jihad commander Majed al-Harazin:

Six passers-by, including three children, were wounded by shrapnel, according to Palestinian medics in Gaza. The car appeared to have been filled with explosives when it was hit by an Israeli rocket.

Monday, December 17 2007

No Qassams, No Terror, No Responsibility?

The Guardian and BBC ignore Palestinian responsibilities for economic hardships.See HonestReporting UK's latest communique: No Qassams, No Terror, No Responsibility?

Israeli Journalists Under Investigation

Israeli_policeIsraeli police are investigating Lisa Goldman who traveled to Lebanon on a foreign passport earlier this year.

We blogged her dispatches in July.

According to Goldman, the police are also investigating Ron Ben-Yishai and Tzur Shehaf. Ben-Yishai was the first journalist to reach Deir Ezzor, where Israeli struck a Syrian facility thought to be associated with nuclear weapons. Shehaf wrote about a trip to Lebanon for a Hebrew travel magazine.

UPDATE December 18: Treppenwitz and Israel Matzav weigh in. Who's right?

Whither the Terror?

A medal to anyone who spots a reference to Palestinian terror or Qassams in The Guardian's leader.

Mughrabi Gate Returns

Get ready for mudslinging. Excavations to resume.

Here's the real dirt.


Sunday, December 16 2007

December 16 Links

Qassam Wounds Infant in Kibbutz Zikim
Two-year-old boy and mother treated for shrapnel and shock.

Israel Tries to Buff Its Image
Toronto and Boston are North American test cities for new Israeli branding campaign.

Saudis' $1.4bn Support for Palestinians In Doubt
Still smarting over the collapse of the Mecca accords, Saudis tighten purse strings.

Ethnic Cleansing?

Nir_rosenIn a Washington Post commentary about Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, a self-styled wonk named Nir Rosen (pictured) describes the War of Independence as "ethnic cleansing."

The rights of the Palestinian refugees have been ignored for six decades by a world that has wished them away. But the Middle East will never know peace or stability until they are granted justice. In 1948-49, around the conflict that Israelis refer to as their War of Independence and that Palestinians call the Catastrophe, some 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed to make way for the creation of the Jewish state. In 1967, during the Six-Day War, 400,000 Palestinians were expelled by the Israeli military, according to Amnesty International.

Mitch Bard responds to the ethnic cleansing charge effectively enough. As for Rosen, the man's consistent in his views towards Israel.

Southern Jerusalem Back on the Frontline?

Will media coverage of Har Homa embolden Palestinian gunmen to renew gunfire on Jerusalem's southern neighborhoods?

Lenny Ben-David doesn't rule out the possibility:

During the first two years of the second intifada, more than 400 shooting attacks were unleashed on the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo and its 40,000 residents from the nearby Arab town of Beit Jala. Although the town was predominantly Christian, Beit Jala was infiltrated by Fatah's Tanzim gunmen who shot at Gilo, hoping for Israeli retaliation against the local residents. Gilo residents began to evacuate. Belatedly the Israeli government provided cement barriers and bullet-proof glass to protect the Jerusalem neighborhood's residents.

IGNORING the fact that the neighborhood consisted of major apartment complexes, schools and shopping centers, much of the world press condoned the attacks on the "Israeli settlement," as if it were some temporary military camp. The British press was quick to claim that Gilo was "illegal under international law." Reuters' correspondent Christine Hauser tried to show that it was the Arab town of Beit Jala under Israeli attack by describing the piles of brass bullet shells collected by the Palestinian locals, not realizing that spent casings are found at the source of the shooting, not the target. The media distortion was so great that in 2001 CNN issued a memorandum to its staff stating that "We refer to Gilo as a 'Jewish neighborhood on the outskirts of Jerusalem'... We don't refer to it as a settlement." . . . .

Somewhere in the Palestinian Authority's security forces, or Fatah's al-Aksa Brigade, or Hamas, or Islamic Jihad, military commanders are planning their attack on Har Homa, probably from neighboring Bethlehem. Snipers, mortars and Kassam rockets will be the order of battle.

Read the whole thing.

Al-Dura Video Keeps Unraveling

DuraThe discredited Mohammed al-Dura video continues to unravel. Nidra Poller explains the latest surprise:

Philippe Karsenty, who is appealing his 2006 defamation conviction—for declaring on his Media-Ratings site that the al Dura news report was a blatant fake—obtained medical records proving that Jamal’s wounds were treated by an Israeli surgeon in 1994. Now the surgeon, Yehuda David, has confirmed this information on a December 12 newscast on Israel’s Arutz 10 TV.

Watch the Arutz 10 report in Hebrew. The Metula News Agency translated it into French. We're not aware of an English translation yet.

For background reading, see HonestReporting's timeline of the al-Dura controversy.


Friday, December 14 2007

Hezbollah's Puppet Masters

Nasrallah_and_khameneiAccording to Arab media reports, Iran has diminished the authority of Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah:

Reportedly, Nasrallah is no longer in control of the organization's military wing, which is now headed by Nasrallah's deputy Sheikh Na'im Kassem.

The Iranian official Asharq Alawsat cites as the one who demoted Nasrallah is none other than Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. . . .

Western intelligence sources cited by Asharq reported that Teheran was furious over Nasrallah's conduct during the Second Lebanon War . . . .

Kassem is said to be Khamenei's personal representative in Lebanon. How will the Lebanese street react to this? And what does this mean for Israeli-Iranian tensions?

UPDATE: Dec. 15: Of course, Hezbollah denies this.

CBC's Terror Double Standard

One news network is less than consistent on the use of the "T-word." See HonestReporting Canada's latest communique: CBC's Terror Double Standard.


Thursday, December 13 2007

Same Old Blame Game

This was predictable enough: Damascus blames Israel for the car bombing that killed Lebanese General Francois al-Hajj.

The same regime blames Israel for bird flu.


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