After a Katyusha hit Kiryat Shemona yesterday, the Lebanese army found and dismantled four more rockets. It prompted this fuzzy headline in The Scotsman:
Lebanese Rebels Fire Rocket at Israel
How can the paper's headline writers describe the suspects as "rebels" without pause? There are no "rebels" in Lebanon firing rockets at Israel. In that light, "rebel" might be a more polite way of calling the rocket team "resistance fighters."
Elder of Ziyon ran the the Goldstone report's conclusions and recommendations section through Wordle. It generated a "word cloud" of that section's 250 most used words. The more a word is used, the larger it appears in the cloud.
Note that "Hamas -- a keyword you'd expect to be significant in such a report's conclusions and recommendations --doesn't appear in this cloud. (Click on the cloud to view it in full size.)
The Hamas de-facto administration and its leaders are never accused of responsibility for terrorism and firing rockets. Rather, nebulous “Palestinian armed groups” are responsible. The theme is repeated in the report’s few references to Palestinian terrorism . . . .
The issue of Hamas’ invisible responsibility for war crimes, like many other claims made by the report, shows that it is a masterpiece of deception and manipulation whose only intention is to frame Israel for war crimes and exonerate Hamas.
UPDATE Oct. 28: Elder just found "Hamas after all, posting the following comment:
"Hamas" is there, just very very tiny. Look on the right hand side above the word "attacks." (I had to increase the number of words from the default 150 to 250 to find it.)
After Maariv published a powerful letter to Judge Richard Goldstone by Dr. David Tzengen, Israel Matzav translated the letter in English.
After posting the translation, Israel Matzav received a full English version of Dr. Tzengen's letter including portions omitted by Maariv. Below is a copy of the full letter as posted by Israel Matzav.
Dr. Tzengen served in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield and was intimately involved in debunking false Palestinian claims of a massacre in the refugee camp. Once again, he fights to clear Israel's name.
Dear Judge Goldstone,
My name is Dr. David Zangen, I am a consultant in Pediatric Endocrinology and diabetes at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem. Over 50% of my patient population is Palestinian from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. I speak Arabic and initiated the first training program for Palestinian physicians in the field of Pediatric Endocrinology. The trained physicians were fully respected and were included as first authors on our studies that are published in world leading professional journals.
But, at the same time I happened to be the chief medical officer of my brigade during the Defensive Shield Operation in Jenin 2002.
Amnesty International released a report accusing Israel of illegally denying water to the Palestinians. Once again, the non-governmental organization is enjoying a halo effect where journalists report the accusations without question.
Yet the report is raising troubling questions about Amnesty:
Officials at the Israeli Water Authority told the Jerusalem Post they were never given an opportunity to present information to Amnesty researchers, nor respond to the Palestinian allegations. They also say the report's figures are deeply flawed.
NGO-Monitor claims Amnesty's report was timed to boost a campaign to boycott Israel. Indeed, a US speaking tour kicks off next week with Omar Barghouti addressing the Loyola Law School in LA on the topic -- surprise, surprise -- "Palestine: Thirsting for Justice.Israel’s Control of Water as a Tool of Apartheid and a Means of Ethnic Cleansing."
In addition to the widespread publicity afforded by AP, Reuters, and the BBC, Amnesty and the boycott movement scored a bonus with the Times of London, thanks to this over-the-top headline:
Myth: Ariel Sharon’s 2000 walkabout caused the last intifada, as suggested by today's Times of London.
Fact: The trip was a pretext for a violent uprising planned in advance. The Palestinian Authority's Communications Minister, Imad Al-Faluji confirmed as much. Memri translated Faluji's comments, made while visting the Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon:
Whoever thinks that the Intifada broke out because of the despised Sharon's visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is wrong, even if this visit was the straw that broke the back of the Palestinian people. This Intifada was planned in advance, ever since President Arafat's return from the Camp David negotiations, where he turned the table upside down on President Clinton.
Myth: It’s not at all clear that the Temple was located on the site of Temple Mount. As the Daily Telegraph writes, the site is where “the two Jewish temples of antiquity are believed to have been built.”
Fact: The Temple Mount is where Solomon and Herod respectively built the first and second temples. Josephus recounts that the Romans left the Western Wall (a retaining wall at the bottom of the Temple Mount) intact so future generations would be able to see how formidably protected the second temple was.
Erasing Jewish ties to the Temple Mount is politically motivated historical revisionism. An outraged Daniel Levin recently pointed out:
The Supreme Court of Israel has declared that the Waqf Authority violated antiquities laws on 35 occasions by removing more than twenty thousands of tons of archaeologically rich soil, and dumping them in the adjacent Kidron Valley. Because of the touchy international jurisdiction of the Mount, neither UNESCO officials nor Israeli archaeologists can enforce archaeological supervision. The Waqf carefully regulates the entrance of non-Muslims like Manchu priests guarding the forbidden city. Christians and Jews may enter only four hours daily, and no non-Muslim prayer is permitted on the sacred site . . . .
Sadly, the media response to this pandemic of physical revisionism on the Temple Mount has been silence. The UN World Heritage Sites Committee has not pressured the Waqf to permit supervision of its construction of subterranean mosques beneath the Temple Mount.
It's not a matter of belief that two temples stood on the Temple Mount.
Goldstone was just the beginning. Newsreal reports that a special rapporteur was appointed to investigate homelessness and foreclosures in the US.
Raquel Rolnik, a Brazilian urban planner and the UN’s choice for the task, will be investigating issues of concern to the UN vis-à-vis the United States, including public housing, homelessness and foreclosures. As part of her fact-finding mission, she will visit New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Washington, a South Dakota Indian reservation, and Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She will then compile a report on her findings, which will be submitted to the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council in March.
You'd think the slaughter in Darfur or Iranian repression would be a higher priority for a council billing itself as protecting human rights. When it comes to the disgracefully politicized UNHRC, Israel's the proverbial canary in the mine shaft.
The Independent takes an amazing look at the tragedy of Palestinian refugees. This piece slams Arab governments, the UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority for doing far more harm than good:
The bottom line:
Instead, failed peace plans and shifting political priorities have resulted in a second Palestinian "Nakba", or catastrophe – this one at hands of the Arab governments.
On the UNRWA:
The inclusion of the descendants of Palestinian refugees as refugees in UNRWA's mandate has no parallel in international humanitarian law and is responsible for the growth of the official numbers of Palestinian refugees in foreign countries from 711,000 to 4.6 million during decades when the number of ageing refugees from the 1948 Israeli war of independence in was in fact declining.
On the return of refugees:
Even under the best of circumstances, an influx of refugees would further destabilise a Palestinian economy that is kept afloat by the world's highest per capita receipts of foreign aid.
On the status of the refugees in host countries:
While Saudi Arabia may not wish to host Israeli tourists, it can easily afford to integrate the estimated 240,000 Palestinian refugees who already live in the kingdom – just as Egypt, which has received close to $60bn in US aid, and has a population of 81 million, can grant legal rights to an estimated 70,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants. One can only imagine the outrage that the world community would rightly visit upon Israel if Israeli Arabs were subject to the vile discriminatory laws applied to Palestinians living in Arab countries.
On the PA:
Still, the record of Arafat's Palestinian Authority in its territories during the 1990s attests to the truth of Ben Ami's observation, which applies both to Arafat's Fatah and to Hamas. Despite $10bn in foreign aid, not one refugee camp in the West Bank or Gaza has been replaced by modern housing.
This report also takes a hard look at the status of refugees in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
In short,Lebanese camps have become hotbeds of radical jihad, Syria is more interested in manipulating the refugees to increase its regional leverage, and Jordanian officials fear the consequences of integrating many of their refugees.
When the right-wing party, Sweden Democrats, published this commentary in Aftonbladet criticizing radical Islam as a threat to the country, the government quickly moved to distance itself from the article.
No less than Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt weighed in, as quoted in the Stockholm News:
Prime minister and leader of the Moderate Party, Fredrik Reinfeldt says that the article shows that the Sweden Democrats only have one issue.
“It’s the core of their ideology. They only have one political issue, to divide people into groups. Every attempt from power holders to distinguish the right religion, the right nationality or the right sexual orientation has always ended in horror”, Fredrik Reinfeldt told news agency TT during an informal press conference at Gothenburg University earlier today.
Putting aside the politics of the Sweden Democrats and the fact that this may be a domestic political issue for Sweden, it still sheds some light about their real attitudes towards tolerance and free speech.
Now that Prime Minister Reinfeldt has demonstrated Sweden's real views on free speech, I challenge the government to similarly distance itself from Donald Bostrom's blood libel against Israel and the Jewish people.
If I'm ever stuck in an elevator with Richard Goldstone, here are three questions I'd ask:
What did you mean when you told The Forward that "if this was a court of law, nothing would have been proven?"
Do you really believe that the Arab and third world regimes now supporting you in the UN will allow this process to become a precedent to use against Sudanese crimes in Darfur?
By calling on Israel and Hamas to launch investigations, do you really believe that their systems of justice and due process can be equated? If yes, can you cite any credible Hamas investigations? If no, why bother calling on both sides to launch investigations?
What would you ask Goldstone, if given the opportunity?
Blurring the Line Between Journalism, Blogging and Activism
The differences between journalism, blogging and online activism continues to blur. Case in point: Egypt, where foreign critics of the government are increasingly denied entry into the country. The Media Line explains:
One of the problems facing both Randall and Bjorklund was the manner in which the Egyptian blogosphere and activist circles promoted their detentions. Both the Swede and the American were quickly labeled as activists and bloggers. For Bjorklund, at least, this was not far from the truth, even though he promotes himself as a journalist, not a blogger.
In Randall’s situation, the unfounded accusation quickly became problematic, and has likely resulted in his continued banning from Egypt.
“The government can now look at the articles written about him [Randall] and say ‘look, we are right, he is a blogger, he is an activist, the Los Angeles Times and other publications say so.’ It is not good because of all the people the government has done this to, Randall is the least likely candidate. The problem is the bloggers and activists in the country,” a former foreign ministry official told The Media Line, on condition of anonymity.
Israel faces a similar problem of clouded distinctions with people such as Ewa Jasiewicz (an activist who acts like a journalist) and Lauren Booth (a journalist using her work for activism). (It's not my intent to equate the work of Travis Randall and Per Bjorklund with Jasiewicz and Booth.)
I'm not sure where to draw the line. But if journalists with any sense of decency would police themselves -- i.e., call Jasiewicz, Booth, and others on the carpet -- it would spare Israeli officials like Danny Seaman from playing the heavy every now and then.
Reporters Without Borders is still stewed over Israeli press restrictions during the Gaza war. Their press freedom index dropped Israel 47 places down to 93.
That's way behind Lebanon, which ranked in at 61, despite the plethora of burly Hezbollah media minders and the pervasive fear journalists have of being the next Samir Qassir.
I'm no fan of press restrictions, but allowing reporters to roam freely around the Strip would've resulted in a bigger P.R. nightmare for Israel -- and Hamas managed to pull some mediadoozies despite the closure.
If 93rd place on some NGO's list is the price Israel has to pay to re-establish deterrence and get some peace and quiet for the families of Sderot and western Negev, I can live with that.
UPDATE October 22: According to Robert Fisk, we're witnessing the end of an era for free Lebanese journalism.
Robert Bernstein, who serves as chairman emeritus for Human Rights Watch, joined the group's critics in a very public way: today's NY Times op-ed page.
Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Leaders of Human Rights Watch know that Hamas and Hezbollah chose to wage war from densely populated areas, deliberately transforming neighborhoods into battlefields. They know that more and better arms are flowing into both Gaza and Lebanon and are poised to strike again. And they know that this militancy continues to deprive Palestinians of any chance for the peaceful and productive life they deserve. Yet Israel, the repeated victim of aggression, faces the brunt of Human Rights Watch’s criticism.
The organization is expressly concerned mainly with how wars are fought, not with motivations. To be sure, even victims of aggression are bound by the laws of war and must do their utmost to minimize civilian casualties. Nevertheless, there is a difference between wrongs committed in self-defense and those perpetrated intentionally.
HRW pushed heavily for a UN inquiry into the Gaza war, and Richard Goldstone was on the group's board when tapped to lead the investigation. So many key HRW figures have been so embarrassing that a break in the ranks was inevitable. To wit:
Joe Stork, a Marxist who authored some of HRW's reports on Israel, thought the Munich massacre was great for Palestinian morale.
HRW suspended military analyst Marc Garlasco when the extent of his passion for Nazi memorabilia became too awkward.
Sarah Leah Whitson raised money for HRW in Saudi Arabia by emphasizing the group's demonization of Israel.
Suffice to say, Goldstone is the straw that broke Bernstein's back.
Iranian Hacker: We Work in Cooperation with the Regime
Memri flagged an Iranian hacker's startling admission:
Behrouz Kamalian, head of a 15-member Iranian hacker group called "Ashyaneh," stated that the group works in cooperation with most of the government and military organizations in Iran, and that during the Israeli attack on Gaza and on 'Qods Day' (September 18, 2009), the group hacked 1,500 Israeli websites, as well as hundreds of Danish websites in retaliation for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
Linking hackers to official state actors is next to impossible because identifying the attackers is hard enough. The admission that a government is involved behind the scenes -- either sponsoring, coordinating or ordering the attacks -- is simply startling.
Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood: Connecting the Dots
My antennae are still twitching over a report in The Guardian about Hamas efforts to impose religious law, and Gazan efforts to resist. This was a rare occasion where a Western reporter connected the dots between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Reporter Rory McCarthy writes:
The Hamas campaign was not inevitable. Hamas is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a broader Islamist movement present in most Arab and Islamic countries, which generally believes in winning over supporters by encouragement and debate one mind at a time, rather than by imposing decrees from above.
You can't understand Hamas without also understanding the Brotherhood. Consider the following:
Several key positions in Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood are held by Hamas personalities, not Jordanians.
The Brotherhood even has a branch in Israel called The Islamic Movement. Its leader, Sheikh Raed Salah, was recently arrested for inciting Palestinians in Jerusalem. The arrest, according was a message to Hamas not to further inflame tensions.
The FBI has been asked to investigate whether George Galloway's recent visit to U. California-Irvine illegally raised money for Hamas. It's worth asking whether the Muslim student groups hosting Galloway have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which has a US branch.
President Obama didn't help his popularity in Israel when Brotherhood members received invitations to his Cairo speech.
The Hamas charter clearly identifies itself as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. So if you wonder why I'm skeptical when people talk about Hamas moderating itself, it's because global movements like the Brotherhood don't drop their ideology very easily.
I'm impressed that The Guardian noted how Hamas ordered shopkeepers to get rid of mannequins displaying lingerie, how women are banned from riding motorbikes, and the resistance female lawyers raised when they were told to wear full lenth gowns and a hijab in court.
Is this misogynist government an example of what we'll see if the Brotherhood seizes power in the 16 countries where it already has official branches?
I’m seeing a lot of scorn in the papers for the Goldstone report and its fallout.
And for good reason. Richard Goldstone already admitted that his so-called "investigation" "useful road map" hasn't proven anything about Israel. He said as much to The Forward:
For all that gathered information, though, he said, “We had to do the best we could with the material we had. If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.”
Not only that, Goldstone's disappointed with the UNHRC vote. AFP explains why:
Even Goldstone himself, who was in Bern for a conference Thursday, criticised the UN Council resolution for targetting only Israel and failing to include Hamas.
The UN resolution is peppered with references to "recent Israeli violations of human rights in occupied east Jerusalem" but failed to mention Hamas.
"This draft resolution saddens me as it includes only allegations against Israel. There is not a single phrase condemning Hamas as we have done in the report. I hope that the council can modify the text," he said in remarks published in Swiss newspaper Le Temps.
Why the surprise? Goldstone only devoted two pages (out of 575) to criticism of Hamas. (Hat tip to Israel Matzav via My Right Word for the Le Temps link.)
A big thumbs up to UN Watch for bringing UK’s Col. Richard Kemp to address the UNHRC. The video’s worth watching.
If you're wondering about the quality of Israel's judges and jurors, Robin Shepherd compares how the democracies and the dictatorships making up the UNHRC voted. The bottom line?
I just have one question at this stage: what were Britain and France doing in the bathroom with Angola, Kyrgyzstan and Madagascar while some of the worst dictatorships in the world were passing a resolution against Israel’s human rights record?
HonestReporting Canada is conducting media bias workshops teaching individuals how to identify media bias against Israel.
Drawing from compelling examples of bias from the domestic Canadian and international media, HR Canada teaches how to successfully combat media bias by leveraging the media through proper complaints processes, mobilizing grassroots action, activism, and advocacy work, and effective letter writing
More than 250 workshops across Canada have already addressed issues such as:
Media Bias and the Middle East: Is news coverage of the Middle East really biased? If so, in whose favour? An exploration of the "bias" claim from several perspectives - including the journalists'.
Media Literacy 101: Identifying and Countering Unfair Coverage: An activist's guide to countering media bias against Israel: What is it, how can I identify it, and what can I do about it?
An Activist's Guide To Media Relations: A "how-to" primer on influencing the news media and impacting Canadians' perceptions of Israel and the Middle East: Monitoring the media, writing letters, calling editors and organizing campaigns.
For more info or to organize a workshop in English or French, please contact HR Canada directly at (416) 915-9157, or at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you're looking for an example of how the Arab world treats Palestinian refugees like dirt, look no further than Nahr El-Bared, which the Lebanese army destroyed in destroyed in 2007.
Politically motivated legal action (i.e., lawfare) brought the camp's reconstruction to a halt. The LA Times explains:
On Thursday, the country's highest administrative court is expected to rule on an official request from Christian leader Gen. Michel Aoun's party, the Free Patriotic Movement, to stop reconstruction in order to survey archaeological remains discovered beneath the camp.
But Aoun's critics say his efforts to stop reconstruction are politically motivated, an appeal to his Christian base which fears that the reconstruction would promote the assimilation of Palestinians, skewing the Muslim-Christian balance in this fiercely sectarian country. Others see the attempt to stop reconstruction as a nod to the Lebanese Army, which enjoyed unprecedented support during the Nahr el Bared campaign and is widely seen as having "paid a high price" with 170 soldiers killed.
It's not a perfect parallel to the post-Goldstone report lawfare Israel faces. But as an outsider looking at Aoun's legal maneuver, I'm left wondering why the Lebanese aren't more sympathetic to their Palestinian brothers.
For that matter, the PA could also help refugees leave their camps by settling at least some in Rawabi, a West Bank city under development. Lenny David notes that the project -- marketed to high-tech Palestinian yuppies -- hasn't earmarked any housing for refugees in camps like Nahr El-Bared.
Plans call for 30,000 housing units in Rawabi. That equals one house for each of the 30,000 Nahr El-Bared refugees left homeless by the Lebanese legal limbo.
UPDATE Oct. 13: A blistering commentary in today's NY Daily News slams Arab regimes for dispossessing the Palestinian refugees.
Egyptian Media 'Standard Bearers for Anti-Israel Sentiment'
The Egyptian Journalists' Union is formally investigating Hala Mustafa, an Al-Ahram editor who met with Israeli ambassador Shalom Cohen a few weeks ago.
Today's AP, which explains the witch-hunt as a simmering backlash against Israel's war in Gaza and Farouk Hosni's failed UNESCO bid, politely dances around the issue of Egyptian media's anti-Semitism, by writing:
Egyptian media often act as the standard bearers for anti-Israeli sentiment in the country . . .
That's an understatement. Mustafa's getting no backing from her higher-ups at Al-Ahram. The board already reacted by clamping down on interactions with Israel:
In response, Al-Ahram's board decided not only to investigate Mustafa's actions but announced on Saturday that its journalists were banned from meeting with and interviewing Israelis, could not attend events or conferences at which Israelis were participating or undertake research in collaboration with Israeli academics and journalists. The board also issued a blanket ban on Israeli citizens being admitted to Al-Ahram premises.
For the Nobel Peace Prize winners list, we used data from Nobelprize.org. However, there was a technical issue during the data transfer from the site, which meant that many of the names of the joint winners of the Nobel Peace Prize were accidentally omitted, although the country of origin of the winners was not. This has now been corrected.
In other words, blame fact checkers and/or tech geeks.
I'm open to accepting that explanation from some newspapers. Troubleshooting computer problems and their unforseen results offers amples proof that to err is human. Fact-checking can reduce the most eagle-eyed pro to bleariness.
But I'm not yet willing to be so kind to this paper. When it comes to Israel, The Guardian has a history of axe-grinding. (For example here, here, here, here, here, and here . . . need I go on?) There's a real problem at The Guardian, and their explanations wear thin.
While the US meets with the Iranians who want to reduce my neighbhorhood to glow-in-the-dark ash, I'm spending the week in an unsealed, anything-but-reinforced sukkah I built with my five-year-old son.
The hut's as high-tech as any extension cord, 60 watt lightbulb and electric timer can be on a dusty Jerusalem driveway.
One favorite sukkah activity is when the light's off and the kids asleep. Glass of wine in hand, I sit in the cool, quiet, night air and gaze up through the roof at the stars above. There's hardly a thought of arrogant messianic Persian autocrats, Western apologists, or fickle international opinion.
I'll be back and blogging with a vengeance after Sukkot, which for me is Sunday, October 11. A happy holiday to our readers.