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Media Backspin
« August 2009 | Main | October 2009 »

Wednesday, September 30 2009

Israel: As Fanatical as Iran?

Independent columnist believes that Israel is as "fanatic and aggressive" as Iran. See HonestReporting's latest communique: Israel: As Fanatical as Iran?

B'Tselem Slams Goldstone, MSM Looks Other Way

It's an iron rule that Israeli human rights groups reprimanding Israel get considerable MSM coverage. But now that B'tselem criticized the Goldstone report (and the UN Human Rights Council), let's see if their rebuke gets equally wide media play.

Don't hold your breath. The halo effect of human rights groups is only so strong.


Tuesday, September 29 2009

Passing the Torch of Leadership

Simply amazing. This Washington Times staff-ed says President Obama has abdicated leadership of the free world to Israel.

(Hat tip: @davidhazony)

The Camel in Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's Room


Now that a secret nuclear facility near the Iranian city of Qom was exposed, Bibi's stock is rising in Israel and around the world.

Except with columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. The Independent columnist would rather equate Iranian nukes with Israel's nuclear program than admit that, perhaps Israel was right about Ahmadinejad's intentions.

On Thursday the US, China, Britain, France, Russia and Germany meet in Geneva and, by that time, Iran will be expected to submit to international scrutiny. As a supporter of the now crushed and broken reformers in Iran, I back the ultimatum to the fanatic and bellicose Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But what about that camel in the room? The one we all see but can't point out? What about the only power in the Middle East, also fanatic and aggressive, which has a vast stockpile of weapons enough to obliterate the region? Listen people, we need to talk about Israel. And soon. Like now.

What the heck alarms Alibhai-Brown?

  • Israel has no issues with the people of Iran.
  • Israel doesn't deny the existence of Iran or the country's legitimacy.
  • Israel isn't threatening to "wipe out" Iran.

I suspect her urgency stems from a different fear. It's a fear that the West will stiffen its stance on Iran without exacting a price from Israel, i.e., trading settlements for Iran, and/or forcing Israel to open its own nuclear program to international scrutiny.

Think about it. Whether we're talking about settlements for Iran or Israel signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Israel would rolled back without any real Palestinian or Arab concessions -- after all, Iran's paying the price.

But with Ahmadinejad's bald-faced lies exposed to the world, Alibhai-Brown has to face the real camel in her room: an opportunity to knock Israel down a peg is based on a bad Iranian check that even the West isn't going to cash.

Israeli Mercenaries Target Zelaya

Ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, now holed up in the Brazilian embassy there, told the Miami Herald that Israeli mercenaries are targeting him with high frequency radiation and toxic gasses.

Heh. Central America's still a soft target now that Donald Bostrom outed Jewish body snatching in the West Bank.


Sunday, September 27 2009

Israel TV Laughs at Goldstone

On a lighter note, Israel's Latma TV "news" interviews "Judge Goldstone," laughing at him and everything his report represents. Via Tom Gross.


Thursday, September 24 2009

Guerrilla Lawfare Begins


The Goldstone report fallout continues: Luis Moreno-Ocampa, the Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in the Hague is already considering a war crimes investigation of one IDF reserve officer, Lt. Col. David Benjamin.

Newsweek writes:

Israel did not sign the treaty that created the ICC and thus is outside Moreno-Ocampo's jurisdiction, but thanks to a bit of legal sleight of hand, the prosecutor told NEWSWEEK he believes he has all the authority he needs to launch an inquiry: Benjamin holds dual citizenship in both Israel and South Africa, and the latter has signed the ICC's charter, bringing Benjamin into the court's orbit.

See Haaretz for more info on the case.

"Lawfare," as Anne Herzberg once described it, is "the frivolous exploitation of Western courts to harass Israeli officials." The growing movement for universal jurisdiction fuels the phenomenon.

And it's threat is now no longer limited to Israel. Moreno-Ocampo, who Time once called The Don Quixote of Darfur, is also looking into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. A few days before the Goldstone report was released, the Wall St. Journal reported:

The prosecutor said forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- which include U.S. servicemen -- could potentially become the target of an ICC prosecution, as the alleged crimes would have been committed in Afghanistan, which has joined the war-crimes court.

Ambassador Michael Oren articulately pointed out in today's Boston Globe that the Goldstone report not only ties the hands of Israeli soldiers fighing Palestinian terror, but every other country fighting terror around the world -- because of the possibility of these kinds politicized investigations and legal maneuvers.

See HonestReporting's reaction to the Goldstone report, which includes an updated list of further resources from around the web and blogosphere.

September 24 Links

What the NY Times Doesn't Understand About Ahmadinejad
Obama is No Fonzie
Biased Goldstone Report Could Apply to Afghanistan
Where Tutu (And Gandhi) Went Wrong On Israel and the Jews
How to Help Palestinians Leave Their Camps
Bloggers May Get Israeli Media Credentials
Research for Hire: A Revenue Model for the News?


Wednesday, September 23 2009

New Statesman: Propaganda for Terrorists

Ken Livingstone interviews Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. See HonestReporting UK's latest communique: New Statesman: Propaganda for Terrorists.

Headline of the Day

I love this.

Book Burner Snubbed as UNESCO Elects Woman Boss


Tuesday, September 22 2009

'Najad in New York

UPDATE Sept. 24: The video's back up.

UPDATE Sept. 22: Hmmmm. YouTube took the video down. Now why would anyone want to censor this?

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he's proud that his Holocaust denial angers people, and now he's coming to NY to deliver another so-called "message of peace" to the UN.

The American Jewish Committee and StandWithUs are helping organize protests. Also check out this video by Z-Word's Ben Cohen.

Demonization From Down Under

Australia's 60 Minutes deliberately sets out to portray all Israeli settlers as extremists. See HonestReporting's latest communique: Demonization From Down Under.

My Open Letter to Bashar Assad

To: His Excellency, President Bashar Assad
From: Pesach Benson, HonestReporting
Subject: Thank You, President Assad

Dear President Assad,

Thank you, your excellency, for overreacting to HonestReporting's successful campaign to allow Golan Facebookers to register as Israeli.

Facebook quietly made some reasonable changes, but media interest only took off when your regime decided to boycott Facebook over the issue. HonestReporting has now been quoted in newspapers like the Daily Telegraph,the LA Times and even CNN, which featured this video.


Although your excellency's regime has actually blocked Facebook since 2007 because Syrians might interact with Israelis, I nevertheless see that your wife remains the public face of your government on the international social media platform.

I therefore invite the honorable Madame Asma al Assad to join the conversation at our group, Facebook, Golan Residents Live in Israel, not Syria, as well as HonestReporting's Facebook page, and interact with members of any nationality or religion the first lady deigns appropriate.

Moreover, if your excellency sees fit, Syrians on Twitter may wish to follow @MediaBackspin and @HonestReporting. I and my colleague, Alex Margolin, who tweet from those accounts respectively, are dual Israeli-American citizens.

Pesach Benson
Editor, MediaBackspin

Question of the Day

New Orleans Times-Picayune cartoonist Steve Kelley asks the million dollar question:



Monday, September 21 2009

'A Propaganda Coup'


It was an unexpected surprise to see that a UK government minister slammed the New Statesman for publishing Ken Livingstone's "exclusive" fawning Q&A with Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal.

Foreign office minister Ivan Lewis says the New Statesman essentially gave Mashaal a "propaganda coup to the leader of a terrorist organization."

Swedish government officials could learn a lot from their British counterparts. When Aftonbladet published a far shoddier piece of discredited journalism -- accusing Israel of stealing Palestinian organs -- Israel asked the Swedish government to condemn the report.

Instead, the Swedes dug in their heels on the principle of free speech. In the process, they retracted their own ambassador to Israel's relatively mild criticism of Donald Bostrom's report, removing Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier's comments from the Swedish foreign ministry web site.

When you get right down to it, with both papers, free speech isn't really the core issue. Had Bostrom and Livingstone's writings been posted on private blogs, neither article would have received any meaningful attention. There are enough two-bit conspiracy theories and Hamas apologists competing for online traffic.

But respectable news services have a responsibility to publish news, not propaganda. And it's not just for reasons of ethical journalism (though there's plenty to say about that too). Aftonbladet, and now the New Statesman, are now on a slippery slope of peddling trash that badly stains their own images of being credible sources for news and commentary.

At least in the UK, government officials can call a spade a spade.


Thursday, September 17 2009

Goldstone's Tilted Sense of Justice


In today's NY Times op-ed section, Richard Goldstone defends his flawed report. I want to focus on one particular snippet:

Unfortunately, both Israel and Hamas have dismal records of investigating their own forces. I am unaware of any case where a Hamas fighter was punished for deliberately shooting a rocket into a civilian area in Israel — on the contrary, Hamas leaders repeatedly praise such acts. While Israel has begun investigations into alleged violations by its forces in the Gaza conflict, they are unlikely to be serious and objective.

The equivalence Goldstone draws between the Israeli judicial system and Hamas-style justice is one sick joke. What legal "recourse" does Gilad Shalit have to challenge his "detention" within the so-called legal system of Gaza?

This is Journalism?

Former London Ken Livingstone interviews Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal. And the New Statesman thinks the mutual admiration is journalism.

It's just another soapbox for terror.


Wednesday, September 16 2009

The Goldstone Report: Rewarding Palestinian Terror
As Israel stands accused of "war crimes," HonestReporting's primer examines the failings of the Goldstone Report. See HonestReporting's latest Special Report: The Goldstone Report: Rewarding Palestinian Terror

Tuesday, September 15 2009

Nazi Fetishist Suspended by HRW
Human Rights Watch's weapons "expert" suspended following outcry over bizarre "hobby". Read HonestReporting's latest communique: Nazi Fetishist Suspended by HRW
Goldstone Report's Online

The UN posted the Goldstone Report online -- 575 pages of pure pdf joy.

Big thanks to Carl in Jerusalem for sharing this link.

Syria's Facebook War

Haaretz reports that Syria is protesting Facebook's decision to allow members in the Golan to select Israel as their country of residence. The Facebook change came as a result of a group launched by HonestReporting: Facebook, Golan Residents Live in Israel, not Syria.

Damascus will also deny its citizens access to Facebook as part of the protest, the newspaper reported.

I see that the Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad's Facebook page is still up.

HRW Suspends Garlasco


Human Rights Watch suspended its military analyst, Marc Garlasco. The NY Times writes:

On Monday night, the group shifted course and suspended him with pay, “pending an investigation,” said Carroll Bogert, the group’s associate director.

“We have questions about whether we have learned everything we need to know,” she said.

It's about time. HRW's has taken a beating ever since Mere Rhetoric exposed that Garlasco is an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia, to the point of writing a 400+ page book on the topic and posting hundreds of comments on web forums under the name Flak88.

HRW's mess couldn't come at a worse time for the UN and Richard Goldstone. In the coming days, the South African judge is due to release his report on IDF conduct during the Gaza war. Human Rights Watch pushed very hard for the UN investigation, and Goldstone was a member of HRW's board of directors. NGO-Monitor summed up the conflict of interest:

Human Rights Watch played a central role in the formation of the Mission, and in promoting the anti-Israel bias. The appointment of Goldstone, who was a member of HRW’s board and made numerous statements in support of HRW’s campaigns on Israel, reinforced this link. A number of HRW “research reports” were published during this period in order to provide more ammunition to Goldstone and his colleagues.

Stay tuned . . .


Monday, September 14 2009

Gaza Police Fatalities: By the Numbers

Should Palestinian policemen killed during Operation Cast Lead be defined as civilian casualties or combatants? The JCPA researched Gaza's cops.

343 Overall Palestinian security forces killed during the Gaza war.

286 Palestinian security forces killed during the war who were identified as terror organization members.

27 Palestinian security forces killed during the war who were undergoing infantry training.

89 Overall Palestinians killed in a December 27, 2008 air strike on an officer training course at the Gaza police HQ.

60 Palestinian policemen killed in the above attack who were members also members of Hamas.

0 Palestinians killed or wounded in incidents of "friendly fire" during the Gaza war, according to Palestinian claims.

See also Elder of Ziyon's research and The New Republic, which interviewed Palestinian and Israeli researchers on the wide divergence of civilian casualties.

4 Thoughts on the J-Blogger Conference


Hats off to Nefesh b'Nefesh for for organizing yesterday's Jewish blogger conference. Here are four thoughts on the gathering:

Blogger Unity:
There's a well-meaning desire for greater unity among Jewish bloggers. But there was little consensus on what this unity would look like, or if the concept is even worth pursuing. After all, every blog is already filling a niche (or should be).

I would like to see bloggers expand their network of readers and natural allies. New bloggers need to develop their voice and establish their unique expertise.

As we all flex our creative muscles, unity will come from the ground up. We'll hopefully see more collaborative efforts and cross-promotion among bloggers.

Israel: In his keynote address, Ron Dermer, an advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu, said hasbara efforts will place more emphasis on Jewish rights. Although Israel has demonstrated its commitment to peace with various concessions over the years, Israeli p.r. hasn't stressed Jewish rights to a similar degree.

So when the world bristles at Israel's desire to be specifically recognized as a Jewish state, it's a sneak peek of other things hitting the fan in the coming weeks and months.

Iran: As Israel Matzav pointed out, the mullahs are networking with China and Venezuela to protect the regime from the unpleasant effects of any international sanctions. Missiles capable of hitting Europe debunk the idea that Iranian nukes are "only" Israel's problem.

The world simply still hasn't woken up to the idea that Iran is a global threat. Bloggers have to take action.

Empowerment: This year's convention placed an awful lot of well-deserved emphasis on social media, including presentations about Facebook and Twitter for beginners, which you can find at those links.

So if you have an internet connection, you can share new examples of Israeli creativity and ingenuity, debunk lies, and network with people you wouldn't otherwise have access to. You can follow up on your curiosity and expand your horizons. And you can -- in real time -- both inform and be informed.

All you have to do is do it.


Sunday, September 13 2009

HRW's Iron Cross Up

Human Rights Watch's Garlasco situation is taking a turn towards the absurd. Now, Harry's Place exposes what appears to be HRW sock puppetry on blogs critical of their colleague:

I would like to know if staffers at Human Rights Watch created a fake ‘activist’ with a Middle Eastern sounding name to forward its statements, to support arguments made by HRW officials, and to smear critics. I can’t tell you any more than this: but I think that someone at Human Rights Watch ought to investigate.

Were Human Rights Watch to be found to have engaged in such immoral and unethical behaviour, it would call into question their suitability as a monitor of global human rights abuses. The type of sockpuppetry that I suspect may have taken place at Human Rights Watch amounts to the propagation of a fiction.

Not everyone associated with HRW is amused with Garlasco's Nazi memorabilia collection, which Garlasco defends. Collecting World War 2 medals and uniforms isn't illegal, but Helena Cobban is notanbly rankled. The journalist, who is associated with HRW, writes:

But to have him doing work on human rights in the daytime, while carrying on with this intensively pursued hobby in the evening? That is bizarre, and disturbing.

Even more so when you realize that a lot of the work he has done has involved dealing with Israeli officials and citizens, and analyzing the IDF's operations . . . .

Now, as y'all no doubt know, I'm on the Middle East advisory committee of Human Rights Watch. And I've been very disturbed indeed by the attacks the young, aggressively rightwing Israeli organization NGO Monitor has launched against the work HRW has done on the IDF's combat behavior.

But right now, I'm looking at this page on NGO Monitor's website, and agreeing with much of what they have there on this topic.

At the CST blog, Mark Gardner best articulates why Garlasco's hobby remains problematic for HRW:

But, if Garlasco wants to immunise his daughter (and all our children) from Nazism, then fetishising Nazi medals for public consumption is a stupid way of going about it. You do not fight Nazism by helping to promote the marketplace for Nazi medals and trinkets and accoutrements. You do not fight Nazism by presenting its soldiers as brave, handsome, fresh faced youths – and you most certainly do not fight Nazism by normalising the wearing of Nazi-themed sweatshirts as Marc Garlasco does in this picture:


Does he wear this sweatshirt in front of his daughters? Does he wish more people would walk about wearing such items? Does he – or his HRW colleagues – think that it is appropriate for a man with his role to do so? Does he wear it when he meets Israeli Army officials?

Worst of all, however, is not Garlasco’s behaviour in all of this. Worst of all, is the reaction of Human Rights Watch. None of the concerns that I have outlined above seem to matter to HRW. Their defence is all embracing, and their condemnation of his critics lacks the remotest empathy with why Jews, or any other people, might express concern at Garlasco’s behaviour in view of his role as one their leading (anti) Israel experts.

Instead of engaging with the issues, HRW resort to the public equivalent of giving Jews the finger.

Read Gardner's full post.


Thursday, September 10 2009

News Or Commentary?

Why, oh why, did The Scotsman publish this commentary by reporter Ben Lynfield in their news section?

Editors Crimson Faced by Ad Mixup


Yesterday, the Harvard Crimson published a Holocaust denier's advertisement challenging readers to “provide, with proof, the name of one person killed in a gas chamber at Auschwitz.” The Crimson says the ad was published inadvertently.

Today, a staff-ed featured the paper's mea culpa, which I think was notable for this statement:

The reason that an advertisement promoting Holocaust denial was inappropriate is not merely that it offended many on campus but rather that it contradicted our values in serving a diverse and welcoming university community. After all, content that some find offensive is often acceptable, and the angry reader is an inevitable element in the production and consumption of journalism. As a newspaper devoted to the highest standards of journalistic integrity, The Crimson does not often shy away from offending readers who take umbrage at its content. But Tuesday’s advertisement was a different story. It was more than just “offensive” to some readers—it was wrong.

Instead of simply offending, Holocaust denial has much graver effects. It promotes hate and could actually jeopardize the psychological and emotional well being of others in the Harvard community.

Do you think Aftonbladet's arrogant editors will actually learn something about responsible journalism from The Crimson? Naaah.


Wednesday, September 9 2009

Success: Facebook Recognizes Israeli Golan Residents

HR's campaign forces a change of policy. See HonestReporting's latest communique: Success: Facebook Recognizes Israeli Golan Residents

What's Going On At HRW?

Mere Rhetoric generated a lot of buzz with his revelation that Human Rights Watch researcher Marc Garlasco is an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia, having written a 400 page book on the subject, and more.

I'm not going to criticize Garlasco personally -- Nazi collectibles aren't illegal. But I can't help but be struck by the incongruity: Garlasco works for a human rights organization with a history of skewed criticisms of Israel. It recently came to light that Garlasco's colleague at HRW, Joe Stork, is a radical Marxist who has his own axe to grind with the Jewish state. What kind of organization is this?

The bad publicity forced HRW to respond with a letter you can see at Elder of Ziyon. The organization wants to preserve its halo effect at all costs.


Tuesday, September 8 2009

It's Only an Outrage When Israel Does This

While Mads Gilbert, Richard Goldstone, The Elders, and Donald Bostrom continue fishing for alleged Israeli atrocities, the Yemen Post describes new brutality you're not likely to read about in your local papers or human rights press releases:

Local sources from Dwaib village told the Yemen Post that Houthi followers raided the village and shot the women and children to death allegedly for helping the Yemeni army.

They further accused Houthi followers of looting houses in the village, and kidnapping children and forcing them to join forefront fire lines.

Executing women and children? Kidnapping kids and sending them to the front lines? The villagers of Dwaib have yet to realize what Oxfam learned the hard way: world outrage is only sparked when Israel stands accused. And the more ridiculously unfounded the accusations are, the greater the chorus against criticism.


Monday, September 7 2009

Success: Golan Facebookers Ain't Syrian

Little more than a week ago, HonestReporting launched the Facebook group, Facebook, Golan Residents Live in Israel, not Syria.

This was in response to Facebook settings that only allowed Golan residents to choose Syria as their home country. But our members got Facebook's attention: last night, we discovered that Facebook changed the settings. The heights are no longer exclusively "Syrian" now. Facebookers in communities like Ramat Magshimim, Geshur, and Had Nes aren't forced to "select" Syria in the dropdown box.

Screen grab before, with Syria as the only option:


Screen grab after, now includes Israel


Credit Facebook for simply making the change without getting dragged into an acrimonious and embarrassing political debate. And credit our 2,490 members for getting involved and getting results.

Be sure to join the ongoing discussion at HonestReporting's Facebook page.

Al-Jazeera Gets Red Card from ITV


ITV and Al-Jazeera are teaming up to broadcast UEFA Champions League matches this year, and Maccabi Haifa's success is already stoking tensions between the broadcasters.

The Daily Mail explains how the bad sports at Al-Jazeera sought to downplay Israeli success:

The Arab station, who have BBC's Gary Lineker presenting their widespread coverage of the competition on a new sports channel and ITV Sport doing the programme production, laid down editorial guidelines about the prominence given to Israeli team Maccabi Haifa during the qualifying stages.

This led to ITV's high command confronting their Arab bosses with allegations that the time allocated to Maccabi Haifa had been decided on racial grounds, which were not acceptable.

In turn, Al Jazeera were furious employees should even question their motives on such a powder-keg issue and told ITV it was none of their business to interfere.

The controversy nearly escalated into the termination of the ITV production deal, but has now been resolved.

The team's most recent Champion League match was a 3-0 victory over Salzburg. But in the battle of the broadcasters, it's ITV 1, Al-Jazeera 0.


Sunday, September 6 2009

September 6 Links

"The WW2 Expert" David Irving Interview in El Mundo
Are Inaccurate Media Reports Hurting US-Israel Relationship?
Hamas Fights Over Gaza’s Islamist Identity
Palestinians Delve into Political Satire
Nordic Doctor Revives Gaza Casualty Debate
NetBase Thinks You Can Get Rid Of Jews With Alcohol And Salt
Exterminate the Parasites: A Radical Plan to Save Old Media


Thursday, September 3 2009

3 Reasons Why El Mundo's 'Freedom of Press' Argument Fails


Saturday's edition of El Mundo will feature an interview with David Irving, touting the Holocaust denier as an "expert" on World War 2.

And according to the Jerusalem Post, the Spanish daily's using the same excuse as Aftonbladet editors: freedom of press.

Freedom of the press doesn't wash.

  1. How could El Mundo's editor's dismiss the fact that Irving's reputation as an "expert" was completely shredded by a British judge who called him an "anti-Semitic and racist" Holocaust denier and a "pro-Nazi polemicist" at the end of his libel trial against Deborah Lipstadt?
  2. Presenting "different narratives" that have no basis in reality is the stuff of Stalinist style historical revisionism, not what you'd expect of "history's first draft."
  3. Saying that "people can decide on their own" is not a valid defense for newspapers, whose job is to report "just the facts." How are readers to make "informed judgements" based on misinformation?

I once looked forward to Irving fading into obscurity -- Deborah Lipstadt expressed such confidence in a now ironic BBC interview. But that hope was based on the assumption that people treat Irving's so-called "research" with the disdain it deserves. But I didn't account for the insanity of El Mundo.

The Art of Raising Questions, Part 2

A YNet News investigation raises questions that Russia hijacked The Arctic Star.  Like Time magazine, -- which suggested that Israel intercepted the ship -- YNet News restrained itself from hyping up its coverage with other incidents on the high seas.

Had the two papers wanted to "sex up" their stories, they might have, for example, tied in the fact the Russian and Iranian navies are raising their profile to protect what passes for "legitimate shipping" from Israeli "pirates."

But expanding the story that way would require implausible, unverified claims -- the likes of which you nowadays find in a certain Swedish paper.

Related reading: The Art of Raising Questions


Wednesday, September 2 2009

Enderlin Given France's Highest Honor


Charles Enderlin -- who gave birth to the concept of Pallywood with his narration of the Mohammed al-Dura  video -- was decorated with the Légion d'honneur, France's highest award.

But the way the veteran journalist received the award was less than honorable because of the old wounds now reopened among French Jews. Tom Gross writes:

The news has caused outrage among Jews in France who say Enderlin has helped stir up the new wave of anti-Semitism which has led to a number of brutal assaults and murders of French Jews in recent years. Enderlin is the longtime correspondent in Israel for the state-controlled France 2 TV. It was in recognition of this that he was given the award.

Curiously, the award was presented under the auspices of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and not, as would be more appropriate for a journalist, the Ministry of Culture.

French subscribers to this email list also tell me that it is unheard for the award to be made in the middle of August, when many people are on vacation, and to be presented at a foreign consulate rather than in Paris. They suspect this was done deliberately in an effort to avoid protest. No prior announcement was made that Enderlin was to receive the award, which was also unusual.

A French court discredited the al-Dura video.

Imagine the outrage if Dan Rather was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Storm Clouds Over Paris are gathering again.


Tuesday, September 1 2009

Iranian Journo 'Validates' Medical Impossibility?

Kusar Aslam, who works for Kayhan, an Iranian paper regarded as the mouthpiece of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "validates" the Swedish blood libel. But Dr. Andrea Meyerhoff, an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University calls Donald Bostrom's story "medically impossible."

YNet News picked up on Aslam's claims:

Aslam, who claims she was stationed in Gaza and the West Bank for 22 years said, "My personal experience verifies the report published by (Donald) Boström," referring to the Aftonbladet reporter who published the original article.

According to Aslam, some of the Palestinians were still alive when they were "kidnapped" by IDF soldiers.

"I personally witnessed Israeli soldiers and army vehicles snatching Palestinian bodies from emergency rooms," the Iranian reporter said. "In other instances I saw soldiers follow Palestinians to cemeteries with the intent of stealing bodies before they were buried."

  Meyerhoff writes in The Local:

According to his account, Israeli soldiers shot the young guy in the chest, then in each leg, then once ‘in the stomach.’

I take this last to mean the abdomen, since it isn’t possible to see the individual organ called the stomach from the outside of the body.

A gunshot wound to the chest or abdomen is a serious injury because it can damage internal organs- either by interruption of the blood supply, which causes hemorrhage, or because it causes infection via perforation of the intestine and/or the introduction of a foreign body. A guy shot in both legs can’t go far. Why, if the goal is to steal organs worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, would soldiers shoot an individual in both the chest and abdomen and risk damage to the valuable organs in these body cavities? Such organs are not usable for transplant.

The quality of the argument does not merit too much more ink. The writer of the Aftonbladet article made his most important contribution to our understanding of his work when he acknowledged that he’d not verified any of the claims he made.

Another doctor, Mazen Arafah, of Hebron told the Jerusalem Post that Bostrom's story didn't add up, saying organs removed from corpses might have some educational value in a medical school, but are useless for transplant.

Does Aslam really expect us to believe that she's validating a medical impossibility?

The Art of Raising Questions


Some European officials suggest Israel was responsible for the recent disappearance of The Arctic Star, which was recently found in the English Channel. There's no proof, but the incident raises a lot of questions.

I'm struck by the way Time handled the story -- raising questions about Israel and Russia -- in a responsible way. It pointed out what's known, acknowledged what isn't, and quoted people on the record.

All this without a splashy double-page spread tying in unverified claims (now denied) related to one incident 17 years ago.

Memo to Donald Bostrom, Jan Helin and Aftonbladet apologists: There are responsible ways for a journalist to raise questions in the absence of evidence.

Swedish Blood Libel: The Aftermath

A roundup of commentary on Aftonbladet's organ harvesting outrage. See HonestReporting's latest communique: Swedish Blood Libel: The Aftermath

Back to School at Ben Gurion U.


As students get ready to begin the fall semester, Ben Gurion U. president Rivka Carmi got op-ed space in the LA Times to slam Neve Gordon and his call to boycott Israel:

Academic freedom exists to ensure that there is an unfettered and free discussion of ideas relating to research and teaching and to provide a forum for the debate of complicated ideas that may challenge accepted norms. Gordon, however, used his pulpit as a university faculty member to advocate a personal opinion, which is really demagoguery cloaked in academic theory . . . .

Like it or not, Gordon cannot be readily dismissed. The law in Israel is very clear, and the university is a law-abiding institution.

At the same time, by calling on other entities, including academic institutions, to boycott Israel -- and effectively, to boycott his own university -- Gordon has forfeited his ability to work effectively within the academic setting, with his colleagues in Israel and around the world. After his very public, personal soul-searching in his Op-Ed article, leading to his extreme description of Israel as an "apartheid" state, how can he, in good faith, create the collaborative atmosphere necessary for true academic research and teaching?

Carmi told YNet News that demands that Gordon resign are legitimate, adding that the BGU cannot and will not fire him.

Highlighting how Gordon's views are fringe, even by Israeli standards, Uri Avnery explained why boycotting Israel wouldn't have the same effect as the world's boycott of South Africa:

The South African struggle was between a large majority and a small minority. Among a general population of almost 50 million, the Whites amounted to less than 10 percent. That means that more than 90 percent of the country’s inhabitants supported the boycott, in spite of the argument that it hurt them, too.

In Israel, the situation is the very opposite. The Jews amount to more than 80 percent of Israel’s citizens, and constitute a majority of some 60 percent throughout the country between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. 99.9 percent of the Jews oppose a boycott on Israel.

They will not feel “the whole world is with us”, but rather that “the whole world is against us”. In South Africa, the worldwide boycott helped in strengthening the majority and steeling it for the struggle. The impact of a boycott on Israel would be the exact opposite.

Neve_gordon2And Gordon? He's sticking to his guns, telling The Media Line:

"There’s also a contradiction in my call because in a sense I’m calling on people to boycott myself or my country," he said. "But we all live with different contradictions and this is a contradiction that I’m willing to take on.’

"We have to remember that the call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions is a non-violent strategy to end an apartheid situation, opposed to the violence that is used daily in the occupied territories."

"There is a double standard in a sense that other countries are abusing human rights just as much as Israel if not more so," he added. "But go boycott China, how will that affect China? It will not. Here in Israel there is something very pragmatic about it. I think it can help Israel and save Israel from itself.

Gordon and his op-ed will surely be the buzz of campus.


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