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Media Backspin
« April 2009 | Main | June 2009 »

Sunday, May 31 2009

'In the West Bank, We Have A Good Reality'

AbbasWashington Post columnist Jackson Diehl interviewed Mahmoud Abbas:

Instead, he says, he will remain passive. "I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements," he said. "Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life."

Does this sound like a Palestinian who really needs bolstering with Israeli concessions and American aid?

When Palestinians Kill Palestinians

Leave it to the BBC to use a passive voice when Palestinians kill other Palestinians in the West Bank. They just can't acknowledge their internal blood-letting.


The Beeb's headline style is unfortunately consistent, a problematic pattern HonestReporting noted in a one-year study which found:

In 63% of the stories about Israeli operations, Israel or the IDF were named directly. Typical headlines were: "Israelis kill militants in Gaza" (The "militants" had been firing rockets into Israel), "Children killed in Israeli strike" (the children were playing next to a rocket launcher), and "Israeli strike kills four in Gaza."

On the other hand, of the seven stories concerning Palestinian attacks, none were written in the same style. The headlines took the responsibility for the attacks away from those who instigated them. Rockets, explosions,and clashes became the culprits in typical headlines such as: "Rocket injures dozens in Israel," "Gaza explosion kills two children" (compare with headline above), "Two killed in clash in Gaza Strip," and "West Bank clash leaves three dead."

In the skewed world of BBC headline writers, Palestinians never kill other Palestinians.

Adbusters' Spurious Gaza/Warsaw Ghetto Comparison

Magazine goes too far in likening the situation of Palestinians in Gaza to that of Jews during the Warsaw Ghetto in World War II. See HonestReporting Canada's latest communique: Adbusters' Spurious Gaza/Warsaw Ghetto Comparison


Thursday, May 28 2009

Egyptian Paper Exposes Gaza's Junior Jihad

Hamas_boyMemri flagged a rarity in the annals of Arab journalism. An Egyptian newspaper investigated Gaza women and children in the ranks of Palestinian terror organizations.

According to Al-Masri Al-Yawm, "some Palestinian factions had begun training women to produce and handle weapons, and were preparing to establish a women's military unit."

"Iman said that men are training their mothers, wives, and daughters . . .

Last year, BBC Arabic aired a debate on the question: Are Israeli Children Legitimate Military Targets?. Kamal Al-Hilbawi said on air:

I believe that every Israeli civilian is a future soldier. . . even if he is a child.

It was a sick question to legitimize as "debatable" (the Beeb was roundly criticized). But if we apply Hilbawi's logic to the Gaza kiddy corps exposed by Al-Masri Al-Yawm, it becomes clear that Palestinian children handling Kalashnikovs here and now are more legitimate military targets than Israeli kids who might one day become soldiers (or peacemakers, for that matter) years later.

Further food for thought: Does this Junior Jihad phenomenon make moot Palestinian criticism of the IDF's collateral damage?


Wednesday, May 27 2009

May 27 Links

Who Will Speak for Israel?
Too many messengers and messages hamstring Israel's efforts to present its case to the world.

Abbas's Credibility Problem
Elections are overdue, his government and party are fractured, and Abbas has low popularity. Daled Amos also weighs in on the legitimacy of the PA government.

Did Hezbollah Kill Hariri?
Michael Totten wonders if the UN is whitewashing Syrian complicity for sake of diplomacy.

10 News Photos That Took Retouching Too Far
Looking back at great moments in fauxtography, via LGF.

NYT Creates ‘Social Media Editor’ Post
A first for the Gray Lady.


Tuesday, May 26 2009

The Naqba Against the Jews You Don't Hear About

While the MSM's focusing on the Palestinian "naqba," Tom Gross and Point of No Return remind us with  how Arab governments created a naqba against their Jews -- featuring pogroms, massacres, forced conversions, and expulsions.

See also Israel Matzav about the origins of the word "Naqba." It has nothing to do with the Jews.

Social Media in a Nutshell - Part 1

An introduction to social media. See HonestReporting's latest communique: Social Media in a Nutshell - Part 1

Death Penalty for Killers of 'Journalists'


AP reports that three former Fatah security men were convicted of killing two Palestinian journalists in Gaza in 2007. But the case isn't so cut and dry.

The defendants Shadi Madhoun, Read Magossi and Shadi Ahmad were convicted by a Hamas military court and sentenced to death.

They killed Suleiman Ashi and Mohammed Abdo who both worked for Felesteen, the newspaper which serves as Hamas's daily mouthpiece of Hamas. Ashi was the paper's economics editor and Abdo was a manager.

This raises a few questions.

Should anyone working for a terrorist newspaper be considered a journalist?

The Committee to Protect Journalists, for example, treats Ashi and Abdo as such. I don't agree. As the Washington Times once pointed out, "Any entity maintained by a terrorist group -- whether masquerading as a charity, a business or a media outlet -- is as culpable as the terrorist group itself." This isn't to say that their ties to Hamas mitigates the murder. But labelling them as journalists is dubious.

Will human rights groups and journalism organizations vociferously condemn the capital punishment?

Don't hold your breath. Any criticism, at best, will be muted.

The Media Line has more coverage of the death sentence.

Will the execution give Hamas P.R. points for bringing some law and order to Gaza?

I doubt it. Gazans know the execution has political undercurrents and journalists won't feel any safer.

If anything, the yet-unscheduled executions will intimidate even pro-Islamist "journalists" who have to pay license fees and have Hamas media credentials. The Gaza media is learning that resistance ain't tax free. The execution allows Hamas to flex its muscles.

Can Madhoun, Magossi and Ahmad be considered political prisoners?

They killed two men, so spinning them as anything but murderers is a stretch. To generate sympathy for the Fatah 3, you'd have to say killing the "journalists" was a legitimate act of resistance. Now there's a slippery slope for the NGOs and journalist organizations.


Monday, May 25 2009

Christian Cemetery Desecration Not So Isolated

I'm glad to see Western news services like Reuters and the Daily Mail are picking up on the desecration of two Palestinian Christian cemeteries in the West Bank village of Jiffna. I'm glad to see the journalists who pride themselves as "history's first draft" taking note of this hate act.

Unfortunately, it remains to be seen if the same journalists will give PA official Issa Kassissieh a free pass, after calling the desecration "an isolated act against Christian symbols."

As HonestReporting noted during the recent papal trip, the MSM has largely overlooked issue like:

The only thing "isolated" about the attack was its overt nature -- which Western correspondents couldn't ignore.

Six Signs You're On Twitter Too Much

OnlineaddictSeven months after joining Twitter, I'm starting to recognize the warning signs.

1. On slow days, you launch Twitter revolutions in countries you never heard of.

2. You're a bona fide connoisseur of words starting with the letters Tw, like tweople, twitiquette, twictionary, etc.

3. Family and friends are hopelessly alienated by your inflexible views on TinyURL vs.

4. The guardians of English grammar may treat you with contempt now, but you know the fools will one day acknowledge the inevitable: Hashmarks replacing capitalized proper nouns is common usage, such as #nba, #bibi, #twitter, #iran, #star trek, etc.

5. Your attention span's just fine -- for tweets no longer than 70 characters.

6. You absolutely must know if anyone who matters wished a "good morning Twitterville."

Have more warning signs? Post them in the comments section and see what other readers suggested. Follow me on Twitter @mediabackspin


Sunday, May 24 2009

AFP Activism


This from an AFP lead paragraph:

Two Palestinian activists have been killed on the edge of the Gaza Strip as they were preparing to carry out an attack, according to the army.

You have to read the read the report to find that these "activists" were found with AK-47 rifles, hand grenades, military vests and an explosive device they were trying to place along Gaza's security fence.

Behind the Scenes With the IDF 'Spox'

The Jerusalem Post looks at how the IDF Spokesperson Unit's new proactive approach to Western reporters, and social media.

Meanwhile, the Columbia Journalism Review examined the interplay between "the spox" and the Israeli media during the Gaza War.


Thursday, May 21 2009

10 Facts About the Struggle for Jerusalem

Temple_mount_western_wallDore Gold lays out 10 facts about Jerusalem worth keeping in mind.

  1. A Jewish majority resided in Jerusalem before the city's unification.
  2. The Arab population under Israeli rule grew more than in any other preceding period.
  3. Jordan was defined as the aggressor both in 1948 and in 1967.
  4. Following the Six-Day War, the UN voted in favor of Israel and against the Soviet Union and the Arabs.
  5. Resolution 181 and the internationalization of Jerusalem was never implemented.
  6. On the eve of the Six-Day War, the Green Line had no political status as an international boundary.
  7. UN Security Council Resolution 242 doesn't call for a total withdrawal, but for negotiations to set the final boundary.
  8. Resolution 242 doesn't mention Jerusalem.
  9. Even among Palestinians, "Temple Denial" is a new phenomenon.
  10. Full access to Jerusalem for all religions was preserved solely under Israeli rule.

He elaborates on all these points, so read the whole thing. Keep the info in mind as you read MSM coverage of Jerusalem-related issues.


Wednesday, May 20 2009

No Business Like Show Business, Part 2

Recognizing that people who pass out from tear gas can't hold keys aloft for photographers, AP corrected the caption for this photo. The photo explains that the man, overcome by tear gas, was lying down.


Its closer to the truth than the previous caption. But with the man holding the key perfectly still and centered for photographer Bernat Armangue, it still appears no less staged.

Terror No Obstacle to Peace?

The Independent mysteriously omits years of Palestinian terrorism. See HonestReporting's latest communique: Terror No Obstacle to Peace?


Tuesday, May 19 2009

IDF 'Abuses': A Case Study of MSM Coverage

The Columbia Journalism Review published a fascinating case study of how the Israeli and Western news services handled the debunked allegations of IDF abuses in Gaza.

Because the story was so radioactive from Israel’s point of view, examining its progress as it made its way into the international media can serve as a sort of case study—it shows in real time how America’s media differ from other countries’ in their portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And it helps illuminate the frequent charge that the American press is biased in Israel’s favor. Or against it, again, depending on your point of view.

The CJR traces how Danny Zamir's transcripts of the soldiers' unverified stories made their way first into Haaretz, Maariv and Israel's Channel 10, and from there, into the Western papers.

Read the whole thing.

Washington Post's Fantasy Editorial

Wash_postIf you replace references to the Tamil Tigers' leadership with Hamas and its leadership, this Washington Post staff-ed would be just as true. It would also be too politically incorrect to be published:

Moreover, there can be little doubt that the calamity that befell the Tigers as well as those trapped with them was caused by the group's own depravity. Mr. Prabhakaran, as much a cult leader as an insurgent commander, did much to establish suicide bombing as a tactic for extremists around the world. He orchestrated the assassination of a Sri Lankan president and an Indian prime minister; he enslaved and systematically brainwashed children. He refused to accept compromise proposals that would have granted the Tamils autonomy, and he triggered the government's final offensive by cutting off the water supply to eastern Sri Lanka. The Tigers were rightly branded a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and India.

Dream on . . .

UPDATE May 19: While we're on the subject of Sri Lanka and double standardd against Israel, Melanie Phillips says:

But what is undeniable is that that war against the Tamil Tigers has exposed the rank hypocrisy and double standards of a western world that demonises and delegitimises Israel, on the basis of a false accusation that it has disproportionately targeted civilians in a theatre of war . . . .

Sure, there are some protests. But where are the calls by academics or trade unions to boycott Sri Lanka? Where are the denunciations of Sri Lankan ‘atrocities’ by the bishops and archbishops of the Church of England? Where are the passionate and emotive TV documentaries about the plight of the Tamils, the one-sided grillings of the Sri Lankans on the Today programme, the front page splashes and multi-part newspaper features on the Sri Lankans’ supposed breaches of international law, the NGOs’ appeals for humanitarian aid for the beseiged Tamils, the attempts by human rights lawyers to prosecute Sri Lanka’s military for ‘war crimes’? No, all these things are reserved instead for Israel, which has demonstrably gone out of its way to avoid civilian casualties as far as humanly possible and yet upon whose imagined crimes against humanity the western intelligentsia – which has barely bestrirred itself over the Tamils -- obsessively dwells.


Monday, May 18 2009

No Business Like Show Business

Better than Broadway, Bilin is home of the West Bank's longest continuous run of manufactured dissent and grandstanding for the cameras.

So it's no surprise that the Associated Press would have you believe that this man holding a key aloft directly in front of a photographer Bernat Armangue simply "passed out" from tear gas at a Nakba demonstration this week.


One memorable 2006 clash even featured audience participation -- Reuters photographer Imad Muhammad Intisar Boghnat was arrested after he was caught on film directing rioters to throw large chunks of rock at Israeli vehicles.

(Hat tip: IsraellyCool)


Sunday, May 17 2009

Doctors Against Racism and Anti-Semitism

Thumbs up to anesthesiologists Rob Zadik and Michael Bloom for launching Doctors Against Racism & Anti-Semitism. The Canadian Jewish News explains how DARA evolved from their brainchild:

Where DARA steps in is in asking its members – doctors, dentists, medical students, academics – to use their skills, their contacts and their relationships to try to put out the fire of anti-Semitism in their own backyard.

Bloom and Zadik believe that in recent years, there has been a frightening upsurge in overt anti-Semitism worldwide, including in Canada, “where anti-Semitism is becoming fashionable in the form of anti-Zionism.”

What’s more, they believe that it is beginning to make inroads within their profession – at least if measured by instances in medical literature.

DARA's filling a need in a timely way. This year alone, we've seen issues with the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the British Medical Journal, The Lancet and the South African Medical Journal. And let's not forget Dr. Mads Gilbert. So read the whole CJN article about DARA.

Our colleagues at HonestReporting Canada have been working in collaboration with Zadik and Bloom. For more info, contact DARA care of HonestReporting Canada at

The Summit's Tangled Tea Leaves


Monday summits are perfect for the Sunday papers, but there's an unfortunate byproduct: too much material with conflicting spin. I may just boycott the meaningless speculation and wait till after Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama meet.

Here's some of the tangled tea leaf readings:

Fortunately, Haaretz and the Wall St. Journal provide more grounded advance looks.


Friday, May 15 2009

Al-Jazeera's Triangular Relationship

AljazeeraThe Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs just released an interesting paper on the relationship between Al-Jazeera, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani:

The director general of the network, Wadah Khanfar, was a member of the organization in Jordan, where he was arrested. Today he is one of the closest advisers of the emir. Sheikh Qaradawi is also a member of the inner circle of the emir and is known to work closely with Khanfar. Both support Hamas. Arab researchers have succeeded in uncovering a number of other Brothers working for the network, but it is surmised that there are many more. The general consensus is that Yusuf al-Qaradawi is the visible tip of the iceberg. In an article published in 2003 in the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Alawsat, Maamun Fendi, a well-known Egyptian liberal thinker today living in the United States, wrote that some 50 percent of the network's personnel belong to the Muslim Brothers. He added that their influence in Qatar was rising both in the network and among government circles . . . .

The channel does not encourage openness. It has its own agenda. It has become a weapon in the hands of an ambitious emir who may be driven by the Muslim Brothers and who is threatening the stability of the Middle East.

This sheds some light on Egypt's hostility to Al-Jazeera. The Mubarak regime's hostility towards the Muslim Brotherhood is well-known. Just today, there were more arrest raids.


Thursday, May 14 2009

Cycle of Violence 101

One Israeli student's take on Hamas rocket smuggling doesn't get any simpler than this.

Ignoring the Real Causes of Christian Exodus
Time reporter blames Israel and the West for Muslim intolerance. See HonestReporting's latest communique: Ignoring the Real Causes of Christian Exodus
Pope Benedict Crucified or Tangled?

I can't decide if this Times of London cartoon by Peter Brookes depicts the pope being crucified by Israel for supporting a Palestinian state, or simply entangled by Mideast politics. What do you think?


Wednesday, May 13 2009

May 13 Links

The Myth Of A Secular Palestine
So-called "Palestinian moderates" have no intention of establishing a secular democratic state, and never did.

Mideast Court Battles
In "lawfare," the misuse of legal concepts in public debate is "intended to give one-sided criticism of Israel the appearance of a judicious assessment of international law."

Re: Call Off the Drones
Pakistan's ratio of civilians to terrorists killed is 50:1, which is off the charts compared to Gaza. Strangely, big media doesn't consider this "disproportionate."

Hamas: Resistance Ain't Tax Free


According to the Jerusalem Post, Gaza, radio stations face closure if they don't pay protection money annual license fees of approximately $14,000 to Hamas. Here's the station owners' objectsions (which Hamas doesn't accept):

The minister rejected the radio stations' argument that they should not pay license fees and taxes "because we are part of the resistance against the Israeli occupation."

Most radio stations are owned or supported by the factions, so I guess the smaller "resistance stations" will bear the brunt.

The Post adds that NGOs are also being hit with the same license fees. Draw your own conclusions about where their donations are going.


Tuesday, May 12 2009

Fatah's 'Moderate' Label

Memri flagged a nasty column written by A) one of Salam Fayyad's advisors, which was B) published in the PA's daily paper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida. According to Memri, Omar Hilmi Al-'Awad wrote:

that Israel had surpassed the Fascist and Nazi deeds of the era of Mussolini and Hitler and that it was perpetrating a new kind of holocaust against the Palestinians.

This is the Fatah crowd the MSM describes as "moderate."

AP recently produced another great example of misleading media labels, when it described Mohsen Rezaei, an Iranian presidential candidate wanted by Interpol as a "conservative." Rezaei is linked to the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish center, which killed 85 people.


Monday, May 11 2009

Israel a 'Disaster' For Mideast Christians?


Reporter Andrew Lee Butters thinks Israel has been a disaster for Mideast Christians. At Time's Mideast Blog, Butters writes:

And while support for the modern revival of the ancient Biblical nation runs deep among many Christians in America and Europe, the creation of Israel has been a disaster for Christians in the Middle East. Many of the Palestinian refugees who fled or were forced from their homes in 1948 -- never to be allowed back -- were Christians. The flood of Palestinian refugees into Lebanon helped spark a civil war between Muslims and Christians there. And the ongoing occupation of the West Bank is strangling the life out of those Christian communities that are left. A UN report released a week ago said that the Palestinian West Bank town of Bethlehem – Christ's birthplace and a major stop on the Pope's visit – is now almost totally controlled by Israel.

And in a separate report,he raises another point that needs addressing:

That culture of tolerance is today under threat from the rise of religious extremism. But clash-of-civilizations pundits and Western leaders like the Pope often ignore how the West helped spark such intolerance, especially through its one-sided support of Israel.

Consider the following:

  • The biggest disaster for Mideast Christians isn't Israel's creation, but the repression of Christian minorities in staunchly religious states like Iran and Saudi Arabia, to the secular states like Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

  • The 1948 Arab flight from Israel wasn't a Christian phenomenon. Many people who left genuinely feared being caught in the cross fire, while a great many others believed Arab leaders who promised their dislocation would be temporary. It was no more a "Christian flight" than a "Muslim flight" (the majority of the refugees are presumably Muslim) or a "flight of the right-handed" (the majority of the refugees are presumably right-handed).

  • Christians enjoy more freedom of worship in Israel than in the PA or any other Mideast state.

  • The only thing "strangling the life out of the West Bank and Gaza Christian communities is Islamic fundamentalism which has hijacked the Palestinian cause, and corrupt indifference from Fatah.

  • As for the West's "one-sided support for Israel," rest assured that on the day after Israel agrees to any final peace agreement meeting Butters' approval, Muslim extremism and Arab sectarian violence will continue destabilizing the region.


Sunday, May 10 2009

Montreal Metro Issues Photo Gaffe Clarification

Quebec daily responds to photo foul-up. See HonestReporting Canada's latest communique: Montreal Metro Issues Photo Gaffe Clarification


Thursday, May 7 2009

Mother's Day, Hamas Style

It's strangely appropriate that National Geographic happened to release this feature about Mariam Farhat in time for Mother's Day. Farhat (a.k.a. Umm Nidal) sent three of her sons to die in suicide missions against Israel; Palestinians in turn elected Farhat to their parliament.

In Gaza, criticizing Farhat is like attacking mom and applie pie. Most disturbing about the video is that this woman isn't finished sacrificing her children to the Molech of martyrdom.

A Failure to Fact Check


In the Irish Times, Shane Fitzgerald explains how he planteda  fictitious quote on the Maurice Jarre's Wikipedia page as soon has he learned the French composer died. The student wanted to test how far his unsourced hoax would go.

The fallout says a lot about the influence of Wikipedia and the responsibility it has to somhow keep a credible open-source encyclopedia. Fitzgerald writes:

I knew that as soon as newspaper reporters around the world heard about Jarre’s death, the first thing they would do was go on to his Wikipedia page and gather information to quickly throw together a fitting obituary for the following day’s paper.

While I expected online blogs and maybe some smaller papers to use the quote, I did not think it would have a major impact. I was wrong. Quality newspapers in England, India, America and as far away as Australia had my words in their reports of Jarre’s death. I was shocked that highly respected newspapers would use material from Wikipedia without first sourcing and referencing it properly.

The issues about the media and quality reporting that this experiment raises requires a whole new article by itself – because the implications are far-reaching. If I could so easily falsify the news across the globe, even to this small extent, then it is unnerving to think about what other false information may be reported in the press.

One month later, the falsified quotes have been removed from Wikipedia and Fitzgerald only recently notified the various news services who were taken in by the deception. The best reaction was from Siobhain Butterworth, the readers' editor at The Guardian:

The moral of this story is not that journalists should avoid Wikipedia, but that they shouldn't use information they find there if it can't be traced back to a reliable primary source.

Maybe now you can better understand concerns about Wikipedia bias towards Israel which I blogged earlier this week.

Fisking the UN's Gaza War Report


Must read: Robbie Sabel fisks the latest UN report on the Gaza war.

  • ". . . the report should surely have explored why a military force needed to take action against an enemy in a built-up area at all."

  • "It might also have been instructive for investigators to examine how far the staff of Unwra, which is composed mainly of local Palestinians from Gaza, was working with Hamas . . ."

  • "The report goes on at length about Israel's use of smoke shells, hinting that there is something nefarious about their use. Yet it ignores the fact that every army in the world uses phosphorous smoke shells."

  • "Only one party in the conflict cooperated with the UN, and that was Israel – a point stressed clearly by Ban Ki-moon. Hamas is unlikely to cooperate with an investigation that would open [its tactics] to full scrutiny . . ."

  • ". . . despite the fact that this report, by its own admission, cannot, for example, identify whether or not Hamas was firing from near the Jabaliya school on 6 January, as Israel's own inquiries have found, it nevertheless managed to conclude that Israel was responsible for the deaths there, because Israeli troops fired the fatal shells. A just conclusion cannot be reached based on such unsubstantiated means of apportioning moral responsibility."

  • Israel's routine cooperation with the UN protected more than 1,800 facilities and allowed movement of 500 vehicles and numerous convoys. It was not only a moral imperative for Israel not to harm UN facilities, but in its interests for the international legitimacy of its military campaign not to be undermined. But Israel has been rewarded for its attempts to work with the UN by receiving almost all of the blame.

Read the whole thing.


Wednesday, May 6 2009

Montreal Metro Demonizes Israel's Independence Day

An inflammatory and misleading photo demonizes Israel. See HonestReporting Canada's latest communique: Montreal Metro Demonizes Israel's Independence Day

Guardian Columnist Justifies Terror
Jonathan Steele says states are entitled to support Palestinian terror. See HonestReporting's latest communique: Guardian Columnist Justifies Terror
May 6 Links

Fatah Bids to Counter Hamas Propaganda
Falastina to begin airing within weeks. Funding unclear as donors don’t think Palestinians need another TV station.

The Man Who May Be Israel’s Next Ambassador to the US
Cool story about Michael Oren during the Second War in Lebanon. (Via Powerline)

The 10 Worst Countries to Be A Blogger
I think this list compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists says a lot about how far blogging has come. Burma, Iran and Syria top the list.

Coming Soon to the Chicago Trib . . .
What do you get when you cross Huffington Post with Facebook? The new Chicago Tribune web site launching this summer.


Tuesday, May 5 2009

The Pragmatic Spin

In an interview primarily meant to send a message to President Barack Obama, Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal described his "peace plan" to the NY Times:

On the two-state solution sought by the Americans, he said: “We are with a state on the 1967 borders, based on a long-term truce. This includes East Jerusalem, the dismantling of settlements and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees.” Asked what “long-term” meant, he said 10 years.

In other words, Israel concedes on everything in exchange for a mere 10 years of quiet. It's no different than back in 2006, when the Times of London and AP -- among other Western news services -- labeled Ismail Haniyeh as "pragmatic" for making the exact same offer.

I can't wait to see who starts suggesting that Mashaal is a "pragmatic" supposedly "moderating his views."


Monday, May 4 2009

AP Labels


I've had enough with AP's labels. If Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman is an "ultranationalist," what does that make an Iranian presidential candidate wanted for his involvment in the bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center?

Here's AP on Lieberman:

The ultranationalist Lieberman's comments about Arabs and Mideast peace have raised international concerns about the new Israeli Cabinet's intentions.

And here's AP on Mohsen Rezaei:

An Iranian presidential candidate who is wanted by Interpol in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Argentina said Sunday he is willing to cooperate with the U.S. on regional security matters if elected.

Conservative candidate Mohsen Rezaei, speaking to reporters in Iran's capital . . .

Spinning the wanted international fugitive as "conservative" must appeal to some inexplicable story line that AP's buying into. But what silly storyline is that?

Is Wikipedia Biased Against Israel?

Wikipedia-logoHaaretz reports that Israeli internet researchers told a Wikipedia conference that the "open source" encyclopedia is biased against Israel.

Among the issues Eli HaCohen raised at a Tel Aviv Wikipedia conference:

  • Hamas isn't defined as a terrorist organization in the first paragraph describing the organization on the English site.
  • “Hacohen also documented his attempts to define Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as a Holocaust-denier. Each time he included his remarks on Wikipedia, users and editors removed the reference - despite Ahmadinejad's frequent and public Holocaust denials.”
  • “Wikipedia defines David Irving - a known Holocaust denier - as a historian, although his credentials are recognized by no one but himself.”
  • “The Wikipedia entry on January's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza describes it as an ‘intense bombardment’ by Israel on a civilian population.”
  • “Lod is not listed as a city in Israel in Wikipedia's Arabic-language version.”

Wikipedia’s weak response:

Also attending the conference, which discussed Wikipedia's role in academia, was Sue Gardner, the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia. Gardner told Haaretz that she is "quite comfortable" with the mistakes on the Web site. "I know that more or less the same mistakes can be found in the New York Times," she explained.

Since she mentions the NY Times, at least the paper has clearer sense of accountability. You know who wrote the article, you know who the editors are that approved it, and you don't have to worry about daily revisionism. Google searches on almost any topic typically give top ranking to related Wikipedia pages. People trust the site. The way Gardner dismisses Wikipedia's responsibility galls me.

Last year, HonestReporting exposed anti-Israel subversion on Wikipedia, particularly on issues of Jerusalem, the Camp David accords, Israel’s War of Independence, the Hebrews, not to mention Palestinian advocacy masquerading as Wiki projects.

There is a certain value to what's known as the wisdom of the crowd, but on some topics, like Israel, you have to wonder if an entry reflects other dynamics at play. Groupthink, crowd psychology and the bandwagon effect come to mind.

Hospital Shelled, Not Israel's Fault


There were reports in the MSM that Sri Lanka’s military shelled a hospital. The qualifiers in the following headline from the The Independent are mind boggling:

'75 die' as Sri Lanka forces are accused of shelling hospital

The death toll is in quote marks, and the thrust of the headline isn't the shelling, but rather the accusation. I don't know what to believe, and I get the sense The Independent isn't confident either. After all, The Indy was perfectly willing to go out on a limb in January when it accused the IDF of shelling a UN school in Gaza with this memorable headline:

Massacre of innocents as UN school is shelled

In fact, there was no massacre, and UNRWA's Gaza director, John Ging admitted as much to the Globe & Mail.

Do you think The Independent really learned a lesson from Gaza, or is this another example of selective outrage?


Sunday, May 3 2009

100 Most Influential Jewish Twitterers

The JTA compiled a list of the 100 Most Influential Jewish Twitterers. It's an excellent starting point for anyone new to Twitter and looking to network with others.

It says a lot about Jewish activity on social media that there are a lot of great twitterers who didn't make the list. Thumbs up to the JTA for drawing my attention to Twitterers I weren't familiar with. I just finished adding a bunch of people on the list to the people I follow.

You can follow me on Twitter here @MediaBackspin; do check out my followers and the people I'm following too. After all, networking is what puts "social" in social media.


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