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Media Backspin
« November 2008 | Main | January 2009 »

Wednesday, December 31 2008

Blogging Aid to Gaza

If the MSM were doing its job, there wouldn't be a need for anyone to blog aid to Gaza.

So the Israeli embassy in London launched Aid2Gaza.

Pious Frauds, Part 2

Following up on yesterday's post, New Zealand cartoonist Peter Bromhead weighs in. He must think the Qassams falling on Israel in the days leading up to the airstrike are expressions of "peace and goodwill."


Darryl Cagle rounded up Gaza-related toons.

7 Ways To Make Gaza War More Proportional

Victor Davis Hanson's seven brilliant proposals to make the fighting less "disproportionate."

1) Request that 50% of Israel's air-to-ground missiles be duds to ensure greater proportionality.

2) Allow Hamas another 1,000 free rocket launches to see if they can catch up with the body count.

3) Have Israeli soldiers congregate in border barracks so that Hamas's random rockets have a better chance of killing military personnel, to ensure it can claim at least a few military targets.

4) Redefine "holocaust" to refer to deaths of terrorists in numbers under 400 to give greater credence to Hamas's current claims.

5) In the interest of fairness, allow Hamas to establish both the date that war is supposed to begin and the date when it must end.

6) Send Israeli military advisers to Hamas to improve the accuracy of their missiles.

7) Take down the barriers to return to Hamas a fair chance of getting suicide bombers back inside Israel.

Post more suggestions in the comments section.

YouTube Removes IDF Videos

You_tube_logo Noah Pollak wonders why YouTube removed videos from the new IDF Channel.

I just checked and the videos can be watched -- after certifying you're 18 or older. I wonder how many jihad videos I can watch without that kind of warning . . .


Tuesday, December 30 2008

Pious Frauds

Ed Husain can’t believe the IDF launched air strikes on the seventh day.

How can the children of Holocaust survivors become such brutal killers? And during the Sabbath?

Amin Saikal's more perturbed by seasonal timing.

Israel could not have chosen a more inappropriate time to attack than the period between Christmas and New Year, when the world's attention is focused on messages of peace and goodwill, and when the US presidency is in a transitional mode.

The Hamas rockets ruin Israel's day of rest, and nobody confuses them with expressions of "peace and goodwill."

More importantly, since this Islamic fundamentalist organization had religious dispensation to fire rockets during the recent holy, peaceful month of Ramadan, a time supposedly for making peace with enemies, who are Husain and Saikal to demand Israel be more pious than Hamas?

Hamas Respect for Human Rights

According to Reuters, Palestinians in Gaza are starting to settle scores and kill collaborators.

Will these brutal extrajudicial executions be added to the casualty count attributed to Israel?

Why is Jeff Robbins the lone voice in the wilderness decrying the suffering Hamas causes Gaza?

Have the human rights NGOs gone hoarse from making so much noise about Israel?

Stay tuned . . .

An IDF YouTube Channel
Just discovered an IDF YouTube channel. I had no idea the Winograd report was web-savvy . . .
Citizen's Press Conference 2.0

Twitter_icon David Saranga, of Israel's New York consulate, takes to Twitter today to answer questions about the fighting in Gaza. This citizens press conference starts at 3:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time.

You'll need to join Twitter to participate. Submit questions in advance at More info from the consulate here.

Don't forget to join MediaBackspin's growing group of Twitter followers. I passed the 200 follower mark last night.

UPDATE: You'll find further discussion by searching on Twitter for #askisrael

A Blogger’s New Year Resolution

To re-read The Elements of Style and get my hands on an updated edition of the AP Stylebook.

Their simple rules of grammar and guidelines for consistency and usage are the unseen dark matter that keeps the universe of journalism from sucking itself into a black hole of maddening confusion.

If the blogosphere wants to compete with, work with, or simply be equals to the traditional media, bloggers must be better disciplined. Most of us don't have the safety net of senior editors, copy editors and proofreaders scrutinizing commas, subject-verb agreement, awkward adverbs, etc.

Consider the consequences of inconsistency if a blogger posting well thought-out comments on, for example, the irony of Kassams/Qassams launched from Bet Hanun/Beit Hanoun, killing a Bedouin/Beduin in Ashkelon/Ashqelon:

  • Readers won’t return to your site.
  • Anyone who can amplify your message in newspapers, blogs, social media, mailing lists, etc. will dismiss you.
  • You’ll undermine your own SEO.

Grammar always bored me. I sat at my desk, watching the clock tick away second-by-second till the bell rang.

But now, I'm a blogger by choice. What I write about matters to me and my readers -- which means it's time to brandish semi-colons and verbs like Batman using the tools in his Batbelt. I expect the discipline will draw out, not stifle, my voice.

Now's the time for bloggers to raise the bar with the "write stuff."


Monday, December 29 2008

Digging Up Arafat

Arafat Operation Cast Lead really touched a nerve at The Independent. Editors gave op-ed space to a terrorist -- and a dead one at that. What possessed the paper to reprint an edited extract of Yasser Arafat's 1974 UN speech?

The man went to the grave a discredited terrorist whose deeds never remotely matched his flowery words of peace. Among other things:

Looking back on Arafat's speech, you can only laugh at him (and now The Independent's editors) as you read the words:

Today I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter's gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. I repeat: do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.

Olive branch? Freedom fighter?


Israel at War: A Primer

Background and key issues behind Israel's campaign against Hamas in Gaza. See HonestReporting's latest communique: Israel at War: A Primer

Who Speaks For Gaza?

Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston presciently points out that nobody can legitimately claim to speak for the Palestinians of Gaza.

I'd like to see Western journalists and stringers more carefully think about the elites they choose to quote, get a wider range of man-on-the-street views, and be more up-front in their writing that Gazans are too scared to criticize Hamas.

The Fight's Preliminaries Unscreened

Dry Bones raises a very good point.


In six years of rocket attacks, I can't think of very many MSM reports spotlighting life under the rockets in Sderot and other Israeli communities. Yet when Israel responds to the terror, UK news sites were quick to feature vivid first-person Palestinian accounts.

Classes Cancelled

Why did Israel target Islamic University?

It was the extra-curricular activities.

UPDATE Dec. 31: More details at PajamasMedia. Labs funded by US Islamic groups were involved in producing rockets.


Sunday, December 28 2008

Thoughts On Israel's Air Strikes, Part 2

Following up on my earlier observations about the accuracy of the Israeli air strikes, Reuters quotes Ismail Haniyeh acknowledging 15 civilians killed in the past two days, from a death count the same wire report puts at 290.

Hamas estimated that at least 15 women and some children had been killed in the past two days. "Palestine has never seen an uglier massacre," Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said.

It's regretable that 15 women and children died, but Hamas owes the Palestinians an explanation for putting obvious combat targets like launchers, weapon stockpiles, arms factories and training centers in and around civilian areas.

Bottom line: 94.8 percent of the casualties, according to Hamas estimates, were combatants. How is that a massacre?

Related reading: How Does This Operation Rank in the History?

Hamas Blocks Gaza's Wounded From Treatment

Hamas ain't letting wounded Palestinians seek treatment in Gaza. Reuters quotes Egypt's foreign minister:

"We are waiting for the wounded Palestinians to cross. They are not being allowed to cross," he told reporters. Asked who was to blame, he said: "Ask the party in control on the ground in Gaza."

And I thought Hamas wanted Israel to open the borders . . . .

Thoughts On Israel's Air Strikes

For months, Israel gathered intelligence on Hamas assets in Gaza to get the most pinpoint accuracy. In the first wave, the air force dropped more than 100 tons of bombs on one of the most densely populated areas in the world -- and the attacks have been largely precise. AFP writes:

Medics said civilians had been hit, but the majority of the victims appeared to be members of Hamas, branded a terror group by Israel and the West.

Regretable as collateral damage is, civilian casualties appear to be minimal. This Times of London snippet sums up the situation:

One perfectly aimed missile demolished the Hamas-controlled Rafah police station. But the building next door was a school and several pupils were on the street outside when a huge explosion sent shards of shrapnel and concrete hurtling in all directions.

Bottom line: Hamas and its terror associates have to shoulder responsibility for placing launchers, training centers, etc. in and around civilian areas.


Saturday, December 27 2008

Gaza War: 4 Media Myths to Be Wary Of

Now that Israel's fighting back in Gaza, here are four media myths to be on the lookout for.

Myth 1) Israel's response to the rockets is disproportionate and excessive.

When measuring a response to an enemy in wartime, you don't just consider the amount of force needed to end the immediate threat. You weigh in the need to deter future attacks. Anything less sets you up for a war of attrition. Richard Cohen of the Washington Post summed this up best in 2006:

For Israel, a small country within reach, as we are finding out, of a missile launched from any enemy's back yard, proportionality is not only inapplicable, it is suicide. . . It is not good enough to take out this or that missile battery. It is necessary to reestablish deterrence: You slap me, I will punch out your lights.

Myth 2) Hamas merely wants to break the siege of Gaza.

Uh, rockets have been fired from Gaza since 2001. They were fired at Israel both before and after disengagement. They were fired during periods of time when the Palestinian Authority "controlled" Gaza, and they've been fired since Hamas took over. Just about any excuse has been a reasonable pretext to fire rockets at Israel.

Myth 3) This is just an escalation in a "cycle of violence."

If you really believe that the Israeli-Gaza fighting is simply a "cycle of violence," then you'll take this argument to its logical conclusion just as The Economist did in March:

In the preceding weeks exchanges of Palestinian rockets and Israeli missile attacks on Gaza, in which cause and effect had merged into a seamless continuum, had intensified.

"Cycles" and "seamless continuums" don't have clear beginnings and ends. Muddying the waters makes it harder for the outside observers to judge a constantly changing situation, which benefits the bad guys launching the rockets. The language encourages further terror.

Myth 4) The camera doesn't lie.

Yes it does. Palestinian photojournalists have Hamas press credentials just like the other stringers the Western papers rely on. Lenny David already raises the possibility of AP "fauxtography."


Thursday, December 25 2008

Boom -- Then Life Goes On

Whether he was in Ashkelon or Sderot on Wednesday, rockets seemed to follow Jerry Waxman, who has a compelling view of the Chanuka barrage.

I admire how Waxman kept his head together, took a step back, and managed to see a bigger picture we often forget.

All Politics Is Local

Today's Boston Globe staff-ed thinks talk of military action as Gaza spirals out of control is a product of domestic Israeli politics:

But the rockets are falling in the run-up to elections scheduled for Feb. 10. At such a time, most politicians find it particularly hard to resist the temptation of playing to popular passions.

Popular passions? That's easy for the Globe to say. Their newsroom isn't A) within a 30 km radius of Gaza, B) in any cities just wired this week into the code red alert system, C) coming off a rattling day of 80 rockets.

But one Israeli party is learning a lesson from a different Massachusetts institution, the legendary Tip O'Neill, who is associated with the maxim, "All politics is local."

Meretz, a party the Globe wouldn't consider "hawkish" by any stretch, and which has members living within Qassam range, seems to have caught up in the "popular passions" too. They're also calling for military action.

Outrage: Ahmadinejad's Channel 4 Christmas Message
Disgust as the Iranian president delivers an 'alternative message'. See HonestReporting UK's latest communique: Outrage: Ahmadinejad's Channel 4 Christmas Message
Dhimmi Christmas From Gaza

Maan News (via Elder of Zion) reports that Father Manuel Musallam cancelled Christmas services at Gaza's only Catholic church:

in protest of the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip and most recent "Israeli threats and escalations" there, according to the church's priest . . . .

"The Midnight Mass will be replaced with a silent gathering at the Holy Family School,” he said.

Take this with a big grain of salt. This is the same Father Musallam who was literally strong-armed into an uncomfortable Hamas photo-op a year ago.

As fundamentalist Islamic law grips Gaza tighter and tighter (see latest penal code amendments), Father Musallam and his flock know which way the winds are blowing and are learning to behave like the low-key dhimmis Hamas expects them to be.


Wednesday, December 24 2008

Channel 4's Yule Drool

Ahjd UK's Channel 4 decks the halls with boughs of folly by inviting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to give the annual "alternative Christmas message." The Guardian writes:

But the channel has shied away from scheduling the president's address against the Queen's Christmas speech at 3pm. Unlike most years, it is not airing its alternative Christmas message at the same time as the Queen, but is instead scheduling Ahmadinejad's message at 7.15pm.

Channel 4 has said that the Muslim president, who has a hostile relationship with many western countries, will deliver a spiritual address that will feature a message of seasonal goodwill.

It will be preceded by a short introduction designed to place his speech in context, the broadcaster added.

Alternative messages in recent years were given by the likes of 9/11 survivor Genelle Guzman, Afghan war veteran Sgt. Major Andrew Stockton, even Sharon Osbourne and Marge Simpson, None of them, nor Queen Elizabeth, ever advocated wiping Israel off the map.

NGOs Silent As Hamas Approves Executions

YNet News picked up on ann Arab media report that Hamas approved "whipping, dismembering and execution as standard punitive action into the Gaza penal code." How did Gaza's legally elected leadership pass this into law?

According to the report, the bill passed its second reading in the Gaza Parliament, by unanimous majority of three – the only three members of parliament who were present at the meeting.

Hamas' apologists in the human rights community have some 'splaining to do.

BBC's Christmas Odyssey
A seasonal road trip reveals a subtle bias. See HonestReporting's latest communique: BBC's Christmas Odyssey.
Al-Manar Satellite Provider Pleads Guilty

Javed Iqbal, a Staten Island businessman plead guilty to providing Hezbollah's Al-Manar with satellite TV services. The NY Times says that free speech wasn't an issue:

But Judge Richard M. Berman of United States District Court rejected that view last year, ruling that the prosecution was based not on the content of speech but on conduct — allegations that the men provided material support to a foreign terrorist group.

In court on Tuesday, Mr. Iqbal admitted that his company, HDTV Ltd., received money for providing television services to Al Manar — “the beacon” in Arabic — which the United States Treasury Department has designated a global terrorist entity.

Prosecutors have said Hezbollah operated Al Manar in Lebanon as a way to raise money and recruit volunteers for attacks.

“Are you aware of Al Manar’s relationship to Hezbollah?” Judge Berman asked.

“Yes,” Mr. Iqbal said

A prescient commentary in 2006 articulated why free speech ultimately wouldn't protect TV channels like Al-Manar. Iqbal will be sentenced in March. Co-defendant Saleh Elahwal still faces trial.


Tuesday, December 23 2008

Mass Indoctrination of Palestinian Kids

Brainwash Must read: Manfred Gerstenfeld interviews Dr. Daphna Burdman on both Fatah and Hamas efforts to indoctrinate children to hate Jews, to the point of violence. No single snippet does justice to this in-depth interview, and yet I try:

The mass indoctrination of children is based on a carefully planned campaign that draws on strongly held cultural beliefs and deep-seated psychological mechanisms. The incitement uses a multimodal methodology, preaching Palestinian nationalism, martyrology and, under Hamas, emphasizing worldwide hegemonic shar’ia. The campaign utilizes the media, schools, and the street as well as religious figures.

Indoctrination in the Palestinian areas is far broader than textbook and television sources, encompassing general societal elements including newsprint, parents, teachers, methods of teaching with encouragement and praise for adherence, and strong disapproval for less devoted students. Imams are extremely influential in successfully emphasizing the goals of jihad and martyrdom. Summer camps, and the naming of streets, playgrounds, and soccer teams for martyrs, help maintain the ambience throughout society.

Burdman, who is a psychiatrist, pathologist and a lieutenant colonel in the US Army, has more fascinating insights. Read the whole thing.


Monday, December 22 2008

Iran Busts BBC 'Spies'

Iranian officials claim BBC reporters are a front for UK espionage. "Details" at Press TV.

It's always the people you least suspect.

UPDATE Dec 24: Iran denies this.


Sunday, December 21 2008

Palestinians Rebranding Santa

Palestinian protesters are dressing up as Santa, scuffling with Israeli soldiers, all to create MSM photo-ops. This Christmas season's first example comes from AP.

A Palestinian protester dressed as Santa Claus holds a Palestinian flag as Israeli soldiers stand guard during a demonstration against the construction of Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank village of Maasarah near Bethlehem, Friday, Dec. 19, 2008. Israel says the barrier is necessary for security while Palestinians call it a land grab.

We spotted the same photo-opportunism last year. You know, Santa's not the only Christian symbol being misappropriated. Look who else they're rebranding.


Thursday, December 18 2008

A Cooling Off Period for Journalists?

The largest-ever number of ex-journalists are poised to enter Knesset. Here’s the money quote from Haaretz:

Not all journalists are thrilled with the trend. Former Davar editor Danny Bloch, for instance, believes there ought to be a cooling off period for journalists entering politics. Otherwise, he warned, readers will begin suspecting that journalists' coverage of political parties is influenced by their desire to secure a safe slot on a given party's slate.

Talk about conflict of interest: It's been documented that some veteran Israeli journalists, including the Labor Party's Shelly Yachimovich, formerly of Reshet Bet News, deliberately “slanted the news towards a withdrawal from Lebanon - because we had sons there."


Wednesday, December 17 2008

Xmas in Bethlehem: By the Numbers


19: Fully booked hotels.

1.3 million: Tourists visiting Bethlehem this year.

30,000: Visitors expected just for Christmas Eve.

5,000: Additional visitors expected for January's Orthodox rites.

12,000: New jobs created by tourism surge.

30 percent: Drop in local unemployment over past three years, attributing to improved security situation.

1,500: PA security men deployed for Christmas season.

2.8 million: Estimated number of tourists in Israel in 2008.

Sources: The Scotsman and AP. See additional reports of all-time highs in Israeli and Tel Aviv tourism.


Tuesday, December 16 2008

Sderot Rocks

27sderot-190 Laura Bialis celebrates one year since she moved to Sderot to make a movie about (whoda thought?) the town's music scene.

But in my year here, I have forged an unbreakable connection to this place. Maybe I’m just a small town person who’s been stuck in a big city most of my life, or maybe the artist in me felt constrained dealing with the film industry in LA. All I can report, is that I have learned more in this, my 35th year, than any other in my life.

Outside of New York City, Sderot is literally one of the most diverse places I have ever been . . .

When I first arrived, I was shocked by the amount of music, culture, and sheer talent that could emerge from one small city. It’s been difficult to choose who to focus the film on. People are writing, rehearsing, and performing here daily.

Read more about Bialis' gutsy move and Sderot's music scene. Further links at Daled Amos.

Another Reason to Call It 'Terror'

The MSM's verbal gymnastics that avoid using the word "terror" play havoc with the word count. Correspondent Oakland Ross of the Toronto Star is today's case in point:

But defenders of the barrier say it has dramatically reduced the incidence of violent, politically motivated attacks launched against Israel by West Bank Palestinians.

Why else would anyone use seven words when one will do?

What Medical Crisis? (Part 2)

Dr. Eyad Sarraj claims Gaza's in a medical crisis.

He doesn't mention that the number of Palestinians obtaining permits to seek treatment in Israel has risen significantly. And smugglers have no problem bringing foodlivestock or anything else in the regulated tunnels.

Just yesterday, I noted that prescription medication like Tramadol is so widely available, it's dirt-cheap. That's a simple matter of supply and demand.


Monday, December 15 2008

On the Road Again

Footsteps Reporters traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem every December are getting oh so trite. The latest been-there-done-that journalism comes from the BBC’s Aleem Maqbool, who retraces the footsteps of Joseph and Mary Stephen Farrell, Matthew Price and Rory McCarthy.

If this road trip follows previous scripts, Maqbool will critically highlight Israel’s security fence, checkpoints and barriers without acknowledging that those very measures keep him and other pilgrims safe from suicide bombers, drive by shootings, etc.

More original would be to contrast the freedom Nazareth’s Christians enjoy under Israeli rule with the repression Bethlehem’s shrinking Christian community endures under the PA.

And wouldn’t it be refreshing if – instead of quoting the first available Palestinian inconvenienced by security measures – Maqbool met Palestinian Christians like Abd Al-Nasser Al-Najjar or Hanna Saniora, who aren’t afraid to buck trends and speak out?

Iranian Propaganda TV Increases its Reach
Press TV sends a shocking response to an invited guest. See HonestReporting's latest communique: Iranian Propaganda TV Increases its Reach
Hell Freezes Over
Depleted of tear gas grenades, Greece turns to Israel for help.
'Watering the Evil Flower'

Media coverage of terror needs restraint. Israeli columnist Guy Bechor makes a persuasive case.

UPDATE Dec. 15: (Via Soccer Dad) As Margaret Thatcher said so eloquently: 

Democratic nations must try to find ways to starve the terrorist and the hijacker of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend.

What Medical Crisis?

Tramadol While headlines claim there's medical crisis in Gaza, one prescription medication is widely available in the strip. The Guardian writes:

Thousands of young men in Gaza are becoming addicted to a prescription painkiller used to alleviate the stress of living in the besieged Palestinian territory. Students, labourers and even professionals are buying large quantities of tramadol, a synthetic opioid painkiller similar to morphine, although milder, on the black market . . .

The drug is so widely available that one tablet costs as little as one shekel (17p), much cheaper than via the internet.

Does anyone else appreciate the irony?

UPDATE Dec. 15: Mere Rhetoric (via Solomonia) is furious.


Sunday, December 14 2008

Your License Fee Money At Work

UK_pounds According to the Jewish Chronicle, the BBC has spent "up to half a million pounds of licence payers’ money on lawyers" to keep the Balen Report covered up.

In 2004, the BBC asked Malcolm Balen to investigate its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Two years ago, London lawyer Steven Sugar sought a copy of Balen's report under the Freedom of Information Act. Sugar's initial success led to a wave of FOI requests, including one from HonestReporting.

Martin Rosenbaum, who blogs for the BBC on freedom of information issues, was perhaps the only Beeb employee to frankly acknowledge the conundrum on the record. In 2006, Rosenbaum wrote:

. . . I have decided the safest thing to do is just look puzzled. That seems to work so far.

The BBC is funded by a license fee and the public deserves to know what's contained in the report.

Question of the Day

Could the internet have prevented the Holocaust?

  1. ". . .the Internet has done little or nothing to alleviate the horrible fate of the victims in Darfur, or even Zimbabwe."
  2. "Imagine ten thousand blogs and websites, all exposing the excesses of the Nazis: breaking leaked information from Hitler’s circle, showing cellphone videos of the horrors of the SA purge or Kristallnacht, showing how Hitler’s poisonous vision in autobiography and speeches were now unfolding across Germany – and pointing to its obvious conclusion."
  3. "The Third Reich Web would have been, like the Nazis themselves, a dangerous institution."

I think the third option. The Nazis would've filled the social media with images of dead American soldiers, keeping the US media's focus on the body count, rather than the justice of the fight.

Scottish Church Magazine's Anti-Israel Attack
An anti-Israel extremist is given a platform for his radical agenda. See HonestReporting UK's latest communique: Scottish Church Magazine's Anti-Israel Attack
Conflicting Spin

The Independent describes Gaza's cheerless Eid Al Adha. But the Globe & Mail paints a more plentiful picture, thanks to the smuggling tunnels:

Today they are responsible for a much higher percentage and are a big reason why Gazans aren't starving.

In fact, coupled with a large surplus of fruit and vegetables intended for markets in Israel, the vast majority of people here aren't wanting for food.

Reports that as many as 50 per cent of children are suffering from malnutrition are exaggerations, says Khaled Abdel Shaafi, director the United Nations Development Program.

"This is not a humanitarian crisis," he said. "It's an economic crisis, a political crisis, but it's not a humanitarian crisis. People aren't starving." . . . .

Rafah, on the border with Egypt, always was regarded as the poorest of Gaza's towns. Not any more. Today, its dusty market is packed with products and with shoppers.

Palestinian Christians Invisibly Eradicated

Broken_cross Jonathan Spyer takes note of the invisible eradication of Christian communities in the Gaza Strip:

Hamas is officially committed to tolerance toward the Christian community, and spokesmen for the authorities have criticized the attacks. In practice, however, only superficial investigations have taken place, and arrests are rare. In the few cases where arrests have been made, the suspects were not charged and were quickly released. This was the case, for example, with two members of the Jaish al-Islam who were suspected of involvement in the YMCA bombing.

Fatah's no-better:

A recent article in the Palestinian Al-Ayyam newspaper drew attention to the long-simmering issue of "compulsory purchase" of land owned by Christians. This trend has been particularly noticeable in the Bethlehem, Ramallah and al-Bireh areas. Individuals with close links to the Palestinian Authority security forces, or to powerful clans, have adopted a variety of means to lay their hands on Christian-owned land. These have included false registration documents, squatters, and the involvement of senior PA security officers.

Post your comments below.
The Gray Lady: Terror is Terror

Nytimes_logo Mumbai (and dare I say HonestReporting?) prompted the NY Times' public editor to examine the Gray Lady's use of the word "terror." After talking to some of the the paper's current and former Israeli correspondents, Clark Hoyt writes:

The Mumbai terror attacks posed a familiar semantic issue for Times editors: what to call people who pursue political, religious, territorial, or unidentifiable goals through violence on civilians. Many readers want the newspaper, even on the news pages, to share their moral outrage — or their political views — by adopting the word terrorist, with all its connotations of opprobrium. What you call someone matters. If he is a terrorist, he is an enemy of all civilized people, and his cause is less worthy of consideration.

In the newsroom and at overseas bureaus, especially Jerusalem, there has been a lot of soul-searching about the terminology of terrorism. Editors and reporters have asked whether, to avoid the appearance of taking sides, the paper bends itself into a pretzel or risks appearing callous to abhorrent acts. They have wrestled with questions like why those responsible for the 9/11 attacks are called terrorists but the murderers of a little girl in her bed in a Jewish settlement are not. And whether, if the use of the word terrorist can be interpreted as a political act, not using it is one too . . . .

My own broad guideline: If it looks as if it was intended to sow terror and it shocks the conscience, whether it is planes flying into the World Trade Center, gunmen shooting up Mumbai, or a political killer in a little girl’s bedroom, I’d call it terrorism — by terrorists.

I wish the rest of the Times would share Hoyt's sentiments. Read the whole thing.


Thursday, December 11 2008

'Your Neighbors And Some Python Code'

Timothy O'Brien brilliantly explains how headline editors are being replaced by "your neighbors and some python code."

That's the real reason editors are tossing The Elements of Style and cramming books like Search Engine Optimization for Dummies.

900 Days

Gilad_shalit The day after the world celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with pomp and hot air, Israelis mark Gilad Shalit's 900th day in captivity.

At least the Red Cross noticed.


Wednesday, December 10 2008

Palestinians Vote With Their Feet

Pisgat_zeev The Washington Post finds that the Palestinians of eastern Jerusalem are moving to Jewish neighborhoods more used to the "settlement" label.

Many of the 250,000 Palestinians who are residents of East Jerusalem, but who are not Israeli citizens, are equally concerned about losing access to Israeli services such as medical care and social security if their neighborhoods became part of a Palestinian state. A growing number are moving into predominantly Jewish neighborhoods such as French Hill or Pisgat Zeev -- areas that Palestinian officials consider to be illegal Israeli settlements . . . .

Natshe said many of these families would prefer to move to predominantly Arab neighborhoods such as Beit Hanina, with 26,000 residents, or Shuafat, with 36,000, both of which are on the Israeli side of the barrier, except for a portion of Shuafat. But there is virtually no housing available in these areas. Prices have become so high that it is cheaper to rent or buy in neighboring Pisgat Zeev, where a three-bedroom apartment can be rented for about $1,000 a month. A similar apartment in Beit Hanina is at least $1,400.

And The Media Line recently reported that the grand mufti of the Palestinian Authority, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein gave a religious ruling permitting buying or renting in Jewish neighborhoods.

So if you still believe some media reports raising the specter of Israeli discrimination, consider the following:

  • The Palestinians wouldn't go through the stress of moving if the Israeli health, work, education and welfare benefits weren't significant.

  • Had the Palestinians exercised their right to vote in municipal elections, there would surely be more housing available in the Arab neighborhoods.

  • Palestinians moving to predominantly Jewish neighborhoods strengthens the argument that Jews and Arabs can live anywhere in Jerusalem. What does this say about other municipal housing and transportation initiatives?

Post your comments below.

Mired in Hypocrisy: The State of Human Rights

Today's the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I was relieved to find The Australian just as jaded as me in all the ways it looks at the state of human rights "mired in empty words and hypocrisy."


Carter This is what Jimmy Carter has come to: Hezbollah, the proxy of the very mullahs who defeated the ex-president in 1980, snubbed his request for talks.

Haaretz adds that "Carter is also scheduled to meet with Palestinian Hamas officials in Damascus."


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