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Sunday, January 31 2010

Israel's First Response to Goldstone


Israel released a document (pdf format) it sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in response to the Goldstone report.

The 46-page paper primarily defends the integrity of Israel's due process and civilian oversight of the IDF's investigations into 150 separate incidents and reports.

The paper also dismisses four of the Goldstone report's 36 specific allegations.

  1. The destruction of the Namar water wells: The wells were located within a closed Hamas compound in the Jabaliyah refugee. The IDF did not know of the presence of wells there.
  2. Damage to a sewage treatment plant: There was no record of Israel targeting the site. Investigators couldn't rule out the possibility that the IDF caused some of the damage, nor could they rule out the possibility that a sewage basin was deliberately damaged by Hamas to hamper IDF movement.
  3. Damage to the Bader flour mill: Israeli forces came under intense fire from the flour mill. It was hit by a tank shell, not by an aerial strike as Goldstone claimed. No phone call warning was made to the flour mill as it was not a pre-planned target.
  4. Destruction of the Abu Askar family home: The Jabaliya home was used to store weapons and ammunition, including Grad rockets. Rockets aimed at Israeli towns were frequently launched in the vicinity of the house.

See the full report for more details.

The IDF is also preparing a separate, comprehensive point-by-point rebuttal of the Goldstone Report's allegations.


Thursday, January 28 2010

Power Struggle Means Lights Out For Gaza


The latest Hamas-Fatah squabbling gives new meaning to Gaza's power struggles. Cuts in EU aid for Israeli fuel used in Gaza's power plant leave Palestinian leaders bickering over how to make up the shortfall.

I don't expect the crisis to be resolved before the power plant shuts down some time today, which would leave the strip without juice for 48 hours. This AP report pretty much sums up what you need to know:

The current crisis emerged when the European Union, one of the biggest donors to the Palestinian Authority, decided to scale back aid, including payment of fuel for the power plant. The EU spent 268 million euros on fuel for the plant over three and a half years, EU officials said.

The decision, made in consultation with the Palestinian Authority, meant the West Bank government had to find another way of paying for the fuel. The plant provides electricity to about 25% of Gaza. The rest gets power from Egypt and Israel.

The PA wants Hamas to contribute since it collects money from residents for electricity, said Ghassan Khatib, a spokesman for the Abbas government . . .

Hamas demanded that the EU continue to foot the bill.

So the EU is cutting aid with prior knowledge of Hamas and the PA; you can bet Israel will be blamed for the mess anyway.


Wednesday, January 27 2010

Israel Prepares to Rebut Goldstone

As Israel prepares to publish its official response to the UN's Goldstone Report, we highlight some more recent analyses and commentaries.

See HonestReporting's latest communique: Israel Prepares to Rebut Goldstone

January 27 Links

All Process, No Peace
Gaza Power Plant to Shut Down?
Hamas-Dominated Parliament Expires
Iran's Secret Nuclear Dossier

Montreal Radio Blames Israel for Abu Ghraib

A Montreal radio program lends credence to bizarre claims of Israeli ties to abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

See HonestReporting Canada's latest communique: Montreal Radio Blames Israel for Abu Ghraib


Tuesday, January 26 2010

By the Numbers: Israel's Haitian Relief Efforts

Idf_fieldhospital_haiti Israel's relief mission to Haiti is winding down its work and returning on Thursday. Much of the medical equipment will be left behind as a last goodwill gesture.

314: Surgeries performed.

16: Babies delivered.

1,102: Haitians treated.

400,000: Estimated number of Haitians needing relocation.

30: Estimated number of Israeli families inquiring about adopting Haitian orphans

4: Haitian survivors rescued from rubble by Israeli teams.

15: Patients currently remaining in the field hospital.

132: Haitian survivors rescued from rubble by all foreign teams.

112,250: Official UN death count.

0: Organs harvested.

Many: Lessons learned from the experience.

Sources: YNet News, Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, IDF Spokesperson Blog


Monday, January 25 2010

Protesting Anti-Semitism is 'Hardline?'

Scotland's Sunday Herald gives a platform to the fringe voice of an anti-Zionist Holocaust survivor while labeling Jewish opposition as "hardline."

See HonestReporting UK's latest media critique: Protesting Anti-Semitism is "Hardline?"


Sunday, January 24 2010

Holocaust Survivors on the MSM Fringe


Scotland’s Sunday Herald covers a Holocaust survivor on a controversial speaking tour. Dr. Hajo Meyer says Israel’s acting like the Nazis.

His comments sparked a furious reaction from hardline Jewish lobby groups, with Dr Meyer branded an “anti-Semite” and accused of abusing his position as a Holocaust survivor . . . .

Dr Meyer also insisted the definition of “anti-Semitic” had now changed, saying: “Formerly an anti-Semite was somebody who hated Jews because they were Jews and had a Jewish soul. But nowadays an anti-Semite is somebody who is hated by Jews.”

"Hardline Jewish groups?" Dr. Meyer's the fringe element here.

He's no more mainstream than Hedy Epstein, another Holocaust survivor recently in the news for joining a convoy to Gaza, or the Neturei Karta, which spent Shabbat in Gaza earlier this month.

Reality Check

Check out the first edition of the AJC's new internet TV show, Reality Check.


Friday, January 22 2010

Journos Admit Hamas Fired From Media Buildings

Via IsraelMatzav, journalist Paula Slier visited Gaza for the first time since Operation Cast Lead. She came away with a particularly startling admission from fellow reporters who were in the strip during the war:

Colleagues in our sister organisation, Russia Al Yaum, said Hamas fighters had been hiding in the basement of the media building and they couldn't go on air and admit it as otherwise they would have become targets. So, in this respect at least, when the Israeli army justified its attacks on media houses, they were telling the truth when they said fire was coming from them!

This confirms a point I recently argued in defense of Israel's wartime press restrictions. Many journalists were not "neutral observers," but "participants" (sometimes willing participants, sometimes not).

If you haven't seen it already, here's a video of an Al-Arabiya reporter discovering that a rocket was fired from her own media building.

By the way, the Gaza war was the primary reason Reporters Without Borders (better known as RSF) dropped Israel 47 places from last year in its annual Press Freedom Index. Not that the RSF's high-profile ranking would dare to call Hamas onto the carpet for endangering reporters . . .


Thursday, January 21 2010

'Fairly Definitive Proof of Media Bias'


After comparing the sentence construction in references to Israeli and Egyptian roles in Gaza's closure, Jeffrey Goldberg slams Reuters coverage from the strip.

And by further overlooking Israel's disengagement, the buckets of foreign aid Palestinians squandered afterwards, the rocket attacks Israeli families endured, and Hamas' human shields, Goldberg calls this dispatch "Fairly definitive proof of media bias."

Read the whole post.

2 Lessons From Haiti

Lesson 1: Haiti and Gaza Are Not the Same

Many of you also probably received the "disproportionate response" e-mails making the rounds concerning Israel's aid to Haiti. I think the above article proves that directly linking Israeli aid to Haiti with the Palestinian conflict is unsophisticated public diplomacy and likely to backfire. The two issues – Haiti and the Palestinians – should not be mixed up. Israeli aid to Haiti is a powerful enough story to stand on its own.

Lesson 2: The Disaster Pool

Too many parachute journalists in Haiti are redundant, even unintentionally contributing to immediate problems. A possible solution: a disaster pool, similar to the pooled coverage and shared resources now working reasonably well for White House reporters.

Running With a Rant: A Case Study

Iran's Press TV picked up on a YouTube video accusing the IDF disaster relief team in Haiti of harvesting organs.

YNet News contacted the man who appears in the video, identified only as T. West of Seattle. He told YNet:

Regarding the recycled claims of harvesting organs in order to sell them, the man said, "This is not the official policy of the Israeli military, but a few individuals did this." To back up his claim, the man drew upon the recent arrest of Jews in the United States on suspicions that they were involved in an organ trafficking racket.

I don't agree with YNet's decision to publish a story about a fringe guy's online rantings. The story only gives T. West a degree of respectability and undeserved additional clicks. That's

That said, however, there's a big difference between the way YNet and Press TV presented the story.

YNet handled the story as an issue of anti-Semitism, while Press TV presented T. West simply to stoke organ harvesting libels. It's not news -- T. West presents no evidence -- but it's the kind of story that appeals to Press TV's audience, which is the real reason the Iranians ran with this rant.


Wednesday, January 20 2010

Ghajar Grocery a 'Multi-National Enterprise'

Voice of America visited Ghajar, the town that straddles the Israeli-Lebanese border. Read the story or watch the video.

The international border better known as the Blue Line runs straight through Mohsen al-Ahmed's grocery store with soft drinks on the Israeli side and cleaning supplies on the Lebanese side.

This delicate statement is as close as you'll get to hearing any villager state outright that they want to remain under Israeli rule. The shopkeeper says:

"It is true that I am an Arab and Lebanon is an Arab country," he said. "But handing my village over would be like having to grow up all over again, in a country that I do not know anything about. All we know is the security and economic situation there. I am concerned."

Related reading: The Village Claimed By 3 Countries

BBC: Denying Jewish Jerusalem


See HonestReporting’s latest media critiques:

• The BBC's flagship documentary distorts Jewish history and rights to Jerusalem while promoting a one-sided and biased agenda. BBC: Denying Jewish Jerusalem

• Some of the positive stories emerging from Israel's remarkable aid effort. Israel: Bringing Hope Amidst Haiti's Rubble

The Twinned Terrors


The London School of Economics' student union voted to twin itself with the Islamic University of Gaza.

It's a match made in hell. LSE is the ivory minaret tower where Reza Pankhurst, a senior member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, teaches. Pankhurst is linked to a 2003 suicide bombing attempt in Tel Aviv, and has also spent several years in Egyptian prisons.

And the Islamic U. of Gaza?

It was created by Hamas founder Sheikh Yassin. As Richard Cravatts, pointed out, IUG is where Hamas produces its future leaders, where research labs "refine the lethality and range of the Qassam rockets," where Nizar Rayyan "lectured" and recruited suicide bombers, and where the PA seized weapons in a 2007 raid.

Press Freedom, Lebanese Style

This from Memri:

Lebanon's general security apparatus on January 17 prevented the distribution of the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa in the country.

That day's edition of the newspaper included an article titled "The Terrorist Alliance of Satans – From Beirut to Yemen and Gaza," in which the paper's editor, Ahmad Al-Jarallah, attacked Hizbullah and Hamas.

In the article, Al-Jarallah called Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah "a remotely controlled tool guided by Iranian interests."

The Lebanese got carried away after Reporters Without Borders rated their country's press freedom way ahead of Israel.

Global National Issues On-Air Clarification

Canada's most watched national newscast, Global National, erroneously claimed that Israel jointly built and financed Egypt's $1-billion anti-tunnel barrier. See HonestReporting Canada's latest communique: Global National Issues On-Air Clarification.


Tuesday, January 19 2010

January 19 Links

Why Has Israel's Press Freedom Ranking Taken a Crash Dive?
Palestinians Host First East Jerusalem Meet Since 2001
Negotiations? No Thanks

Israel's Disproportionate Response (to Haiti)
Israel’s Winter Athletes Come to U.S. Seeking Ice and Medals
Great Newspaper Commercial

Tzipi Livni Offers to Be Arrested as Test Case

Lawfare took an interesting turn. Tzipi Livni told Christiane Amanpour she's willing to be arrested as a test case to speak up for Israeli soldiers. It's around the 6:30 point in this video posted today.

I was impressed with the way Livni fielded Amanpour's other questions about the Gaza war and the Goldstone report. Do you think any Hamasniks would be willing to take the same legal risk?

For more info, see Understanding the Goldstone Report.

UPDATE: I'm told that readers in some locations can't view the YouTube video. Try this CNN link.

AP Bungles a 'No Comment'


After the Jewish Chronicle was hacked this week, an AP reporter asked JC editor Stephen Pollard if he thought the attack had anything to do with strained Israeli-Turkish relations.

Pollard said flatly enough he didn't want to speculate because he had no evidence to make that association.

Somehow, AP wrote:

Pollard said that the attack might be related to the diplomatic feud that erupted between Israel and Turkey last week, but added: "I don't want to speculate."

It's pretty pathetic when a journo puts words in someone else's mouth. Makes me wonder about the other "no comments" the wire service reports.


Monday, January 18 2010

Haiti, The IDF and the MSM


From the LA Times blog, Babylon & Beyond:

The international press is also using the IDF network, as most other communications are down.

It's only when the MSM literally works against the IDF in wartime that the army cracks down. 

Which is why Reporters Without Borders ranked Israel at 150 for "extra-territorial" actions -- mostly for imposing press restrictions on Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. (The RSF ranked Israel's domestic press freedom at 93. You can see the RSF's full Press Freedom Index.) 

I support Israel's press restrictions during the war, and I explained why a few weeks ago. In a nutshell:

In the final analysis of 2009, many in the press weren't simply "neutral observers." Both in cases where the MSM was used and in cases where the the MSM itself sought to influence events, big media became "participants." If this is a dynamic of asymmetric warfare, we have to ask if press coverage is now "warfare by other means."

So the IDF's helping journos in the stricken Caribbean island, and Hugo Chavez says the West is using aid as a pretext for the occupation of Haiti. Would he say the MSM's complicit?


Sunday, January 17 2010

Huff Post: A Pattern of Anti-Semitism


A FrontPageMag special report looks at anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias at the Huffington Post. Among the report's findings:

  • The HuffPost has been pre-moderating all user comments on its news stories
  • The worst violations of the comments policies come from a group of radical leftists who “live” on the site 8-10 hours a day.
  • Although many of the radical leftists congregating at the HuffPost express varying degrees of anti-Israel propaganda, the most virulent anti-Semitic hatred, libels and conspiracy theories come from a minority subset of these users.
  • HuffPost routinely censors and bans users who speak out against the resident radical leftists, even though these users don’t violate the site’s comments policies.

Read the whole report.

Perhaps David Harris, who frequently speaks up for Israel on the HuffPost, figured out how to take on the site's resident radicals.

After a piece on Israeli aviation security generated nasty comments, Harris followed up with a new post directly engaging his comment page critics.


Thursday, January 14 2010

Hamas Placing IEDs in Densely Populated Areas

Gaza residents are enraged with Hamas because the terror group their democratically elected leaders have been placing powerful IEDs in densely populated areas "far from the border with Israel." Memri adds:

It was reported that this is infuriating the residents and sparking clashes between them and Hamas members.

We know Hamas has stored weapons in mosques, hospitals, residential buildings, even media buildings.

Will any enterprising reporters look into this new war crime, or will the MSM blame the inevitable collateral damage on Israel?


Wednesday, January 13 2010

People Support the Things They Help Build


HonestReporting's social media editor, Alex Margolin, is contributing occasional posts on social media issues. He oversees HonestReporting on Facebook.

The AP made news this week by hiring a social networks editor to look for news leads on social media channels. Apparently, the AP has recognized that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, among other sites, cannot be ignored when it comes to gathering news. There is simply too much vital information moving through these networks.

The AP follows the New York Times, which hired its own social media editor in May. But finding news amid “the conversation” on social media is just the start. CNN and the Huffington Post have taken the concept even further, allowing readers to post their own content directly to the news sites. That’s right – readers can post original videos to CNN’s IReporter section, mostly without filters.

So as newspapers direct more of their resources to the Internet, other mainstream outlets are likely to make room for greater reader engagement. The reason is simple: people support the things they help build. When a reader sees his own article or video on a site, he has a stake in the site’s success. When he is able to share his perspective with others, he has a reason to encourage people to visit.

This sort of engagement has another important element. Thanks to Web 2.0 technologies, people can gather around a common purpose in ways that weren’t possible in an earlier era. HonestReporting saw this first hand with our successful Facebook group on behalf of Golan residents.

As the group grew in size, it became a center of community activity around the Golan. People contributed photos and videos of the Golan, held a series of discussions related to the region, and posted their own views and experiences. Even if Facebook had not changed its policies toward Golan residents, the group would have remained a vibrant meeting place for people with an interest in the Golan.

The people who helped build the group and turn it into a community had more than a passing interest in the issue. They have a personal claim to the group's success.

Thanks to social media, people can express themselves like never before. And their voices are being heard, not just by the millions of social media users but, increasingly, but the mainstream media as well.


Tuesday, January 12 2010

CiF Moderators: Better Late Than Never

At The Guardian’s Comment is Free section, William Bapthorpe posted a comment calling for the murder of Jews. The incendiary comment was taken down after it was flagged by CiF Watch.

Bapthorpe was commenting on a column by Nicholas Blincoe.


I know that CiF comments are post-moderated, which means comments remain online until 1) someone complains and then 2) a moderator acts on that complaint. CiF's system worked.

But the laundry list of CiF Watch's indictments is extensive. It's no surprise Bapthorpe and his ilk feel so at home making Comment is Free into a free-for-all.


Monday, January 11 2010

Building Up Palestine

In an interview with South African radio, Mideast analyst Tom Gross says the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace aren’t as bad as many journalists, NGOs, and diplomats claim.

The interview expanded on Gross's recent Wall St. Journal commentary about the West Bank's quiet economic and political progress.

How Goldstone Became Useful to Skewer Israel


Before Judge Richard Goldstone became the UN's lead investigator into so-called Israeli war crimes, The Guardian actually treated the judge's record and ambition with incredible disdain. Hillel Neuer writes:

That said, it is remarkable to observe how Goldstone is being lionized by certain circles solely because that is seen as useful to skewer Israel . . . .

Interestingly, however, when there was no incentive to skewer Israel, the same Guardian of London once accused Richard Goldstone of running a “much vaunted judicial commission of inquiry” that “failed dismally,” and that was a “rubbish bin” used by the South African government; of Goldstone’s “disturbing” practice by which he acted with “overt political ’sensitivity’,” including his being “at pains to involve the politically distinguished in the conduct of his inquiry”; and of harboring such ambition to succeed Boutros-Boutros Ghali’s post as UN Secretary-General, that Goldstone’s legal colleagues gave him the nickname of “Richard-Richard.”

Read the whole thing.

Canadian Muslim Paper Condemned For Blood Libel

A Canadian Muslim newspaper publishes disgraceful accusations claiming Israel was trying to harvest the organs of 25,000 Ukranian children. See HonestReporting Canada's latest communique: Canadian Muslim Paper Condemned For Blood Libel.


Sunday, January 10 2010

Gaza News You Might Have Missed

Hamas "hijacked" George Galloway's delegation of international activists. Haaretz's Amira Hass reports from Gaza:

Also "for security reasons," apparently, on Thursday morning, the activists discovered a cordon of stern-faced, tough Hamas security men blocking them from leaving the hotel (which is owned by Hamas). The security officials accompanied the activists as they visited homes and organizations.

During the march itself, when Gazans watching from the sidelines tried to speak with the visitors, the stern-faced security men blocked them. "They didn't want us to speak to ordinary people," one woman concluded . . . .

In meetings without the security men, several activists got the impression that non-Hamas residents live in fear, and are afraid to speak or identify themselves by name. "Now I understand that the call for 'Freedom for Gaza' has another meaning," one young man told me.

If this is how Palestinian supporters are treated, imagine the lengths Hamas goes to when it comes to keeping tabs on what Gazans tell journalists -- or people like Judge Goldstone.

Mullahs Dread the Dura Effect

Al_dura_tunisian_stampThe Iranian mullahs clearly fear Neda Soltan's status as the new Mohammed al-Dura. Rather than entrust a hatchet job claiming that the viral video of Soltan's death was a fake, they gave the job to the state-run, English language Press TV.

Neda indeed became an icon in the West, and the Iranians know a thing or two about memorializing people killed in staged videos. 

This is not to equate the two. France 2's footage of Dura was discredited when the network could no longer cover up its raw footage.

Backstory and links at the LA Times.

January 10 Links

Egypt Does PR Right
“Egyptian officials speak the terse and confident language of sovereignty.”

West Bank Conditions Not Ripe For New Intifada
Nobody wants to sacrifice economic gains.

Abbas: Qatari Media Bias Towards Hamas
Arab press associates Abbas with Gaza closure.

Why No “Viva Somalia?”
"Unlike the Somalis, the Palestinians have been fortunate in having Zionists for their enemies."

Can Hamas Be Stopped From Seizing West Bank?
Israeli withdrawal from West Bank would be PA’s death knell.


Thursday, January 7 2010

Relative Calm Watch

10 mortars hit southern Israel today; Air Force drops leaflets on Gaza for first time in months.

Is this what people mean by "relative calm?" 

The Not-So-Apartheid Road


AP corrected its recent coverage of the Supreme Court's ruling on Highway 443. Reporter Amy Teibel wrote:

Israel's Supreme Court ordered the military on Tuesday to allow Palestinians to travel on the part of a major highway that runs through the West Bank, handing Palestinians their biggest victory yet against Israel's practice of reserving some roads for Jews.

The correction notes:

These roads are open to all Israeli citizens, including Arabs, as well as foreigners and tourists, while banning virtually all Palestinians.

Meanwhile, the National Post raises an important, overlooked point:

There will undoubtedly be many commentators who jump to the conclusion that this court decision proves Israel is wrong in the way it treats Palestinians. But consider this: The case was brought by an Israeli human rights group — the Association for Civil Rights in Israel — paid for by donations from Israelis, argued in an Israeli court and decided by Israeli judges. And, as institutions in a democratic government, the decision will now be adhered to by the Israeli cabinet and military.

Considering that Jews may be shot merely for walking down a Palestinian street — and there are no Palestinian human rights groups or courts to which they can appeal — Israeli efforts to treat Palestinians with respect, despite the many hundreds of attempted terrorist attacks launched each year from the West Bank and Gaza, are exemplary.

Meanwhile, credit is due to LA Times correspondent Edmund Sanders for best overall coverage of Highway 443.


Wednesday, January 6 2010

Tortuous Coverage of Palestinian Prisons

Yesterday, AP published an encouraging story that torture in the PA's West Bank prisons has dramatically declined.

Today, Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh contacted Hamas figures in the West Bank who told him the PA continues torturing prisoners.

I'm not losing sleep over Hamas terrorists and supporters being tortured by the PA. But I am inclined to believe Hamas on this one. One particular JPost snippet was the tipping point:

Earlier this week, the PA organized a tour for reporters to one of its prisons in Nablus, where Hamas inmates said that the torture had ended.

When it comes to Palestinian prison tours for journalists, it pays to be very, very skeptical.

Here's but one reason why: In 2008, the PA wanted to put to rest rumors that a pair of terrorists escaped from a Hebron prison after killing two Israeli hikers. So an Israeli TV crew interviewed Ali Dandanes and Amar Taha behind bars at the PA's invitation.

But YNet News reported the next day that the pair had been furloughed, then asked to return for the interview, when the PA could no longer ignore the escape rumors.

Related reading: Reuters Jailhouse Crock


Tuesday, January 5 2010

BBC, HRW and Kol Israel Linked to Zionist Conspiracy?

Kol_israel The Iranian government issued a list of 60 international organizations it considers "subversive."

Radio Liberty has a partial list of the groups, which Iranian citizens are now banned from having contact with. It includes George Soros' Open Society Institute, Human Rights Watch, MEMRI, Voice of America and the BBC. YNet News notes that Kol Israel is also on this list.

I can't wait to see the conspiracy theories coming from this.

'It Wasn’t Particularly Exciting Visually'

Errol Morris of the NY Times follows up with part 2 of his interview with AP’s Ben Curtis about Lebanon war photography. This particular comment makes me wonder a little about how photographers think. Curtis describes the neighborhood where he photographed the Mickey Mouse doll:

ERROL MORRIS: And this is, again, the same area as the Mickey Mouse?

BEN CURTIS: Yes. I couldn’t say it’s the same street, but it’s the same area. We’d been in a building where we had come across some weapons and, what do you call them, those green khaki pouches that you’d wear around your waist that soldiers would wear? We’d come across some of those piled up next to a door with nobody around. And we took a couple of pictures of them, but it wasn’t particularly exciting visually. We were going street to street around this whole area in between the apartment blocks and the flattened apartment buildings, looking to see what we could find. We left this one building, and then we walked down a street in between two apartment blocks, and I came across this Mickey Mouse lying on the ground. I spent a minute, only about a minute or 45 seconds photographing it. I did about, I don’t know, 10 or so exposures of it, and then carried on, touring the area . . . .

Information about Hezbollah weapons stashed in a dark and dusty corner of a residential apartment building where kids play with Mickey Mouse dolls should've been a great scoop, even if the image itself wasn't sexy enough or Curtis.

I wonder if he gave this tidbit of info to any reporters or editors he worked with.

See also Part 1.

Hamas TV Poisons Kids' Minds Against Israel and PA

I grew up on cartoons like Bugs Bunny, Superfriends and the Flintstones. Bugs sometimes had an edge, but it was all innocent fun.

This Palestinian cartoon flagged by Memri is very disturbing. If it were "only" satire for adult audiences, it would be bad enough, but Hamas aired this cartoon for Gaza's children.

Hamas doesn't portray the PA any better. After years of PA television demonizing the Jews, the chickens have come home to roost.


Monday, January 4 2010

The Lebanon War's Toy Story

Errol Morris of the NY Times Opinionator blog discusses with AP photographer Ben Curtis about toys appearing in photos from the Second Lebanon War. The interview was prompted by Slublog's 2006 post, The Passion of the Toys.


A child’s toy lies amidst broken glass from the shattered windows of an apartment block near those that were demolished by Israeli air strikes in Tyre, Southern Lebanon, Monday, August 7th, 2006.

It's worth reading because it gives a sense of the dynamic between photographers on the scene and their editors back home, what happens when a war zone is saturated with cameramen, and how photographers choose shots like this.

ERROL MORRIS: The good example, of course, is the Mickey Mouse photograph, because it is not a photograph that has been manipulated in Photoshop. And yet people find it problematic, regardless. People look at the photograph and think, “They’re trying to blame this on Israel, saying the country killed innocent children.” And then comes the follow-up thought: “How dare they! They’re anti-Semitic,” and so on and so forth. And my own two cents of opinion on posing is that often we say a picture is posed if the photograph suggests a view that we don’t like, regardless of what the intention of the photographer might have been and regardless of whether it has or has not been manipulated.

BEN CURTIS: Photoshop manipulation is one thing; caption manipulation is another thing. But there’s also a question of editing in terms of picture selection and, obviously, the pictures you select out of all the pictures you’ve shot, one can argue that that is also one area where the news is shaped. It’s what the media decides to report on. And when you’re covering a story, there’s quite often a number of different elements of that story, and you may choose certain elements to send pictures of and certain elements not to.

Curtis goes on to explain this particular Mickey Mouse photo:

When you’re covering destruction, you’re always going to focus in on details, rather than general views of destroyed buildings. You see similar pictures during a conflict like Lebanon; you see similar pictures over and over. When you come across an interesting detail in a scene . . . . But I didn’t say in my caption that children were in that apartment when it was bombed, that children were killed. I don’t know that, so I don’t say it. But if you look at my picture without the toy, you don’t know what those buildings are. It could be an office block. It could be anything. So, the inclusion of the Mickey Mouse in the picture adds an element of humanity to it. You get a feel of what was going on, what type of area it is, and that gives you a bit of a context to the fact that there have been recent air strikes in that area.

Read the whole thing.


Sunday, January 3 2010

10 Significant Articles From the 'Noughties' Decade

Certain articles, blog posts, cartoons and videos from the past decade continue to stick out in mind. I haven't forgotten them, because they say a lot about the media and the kinds of issues HonestReporting dealt with during the "noughties."

Ranking their importance is useless; each had its own kind significance for better or for worse, so I'm listing the content in chronological order. This is totally subjective, so post the items that stand out in your mind in the comments section. I'd like to see everyone's take.

1) Retraction Required
Reuters-logo After 9/11, Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz obtained a copy of a now-famous Reuters memo. News chief Stephen Jukes told his staff not to use the word "terror."

We all know," he wrote, "that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter and that Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word terrorist . . ."

The moral ambiguity Jukes expressed was endemic of a wider problem in the mainstream media, so I'm glad Kurtz put Jukes and his his views on the record. As Kurtz's original article is in the Post's paid archives, I'm linking instead to John O'Sullivan's acerbic reaction at the National Review.

2) My Beating By Refugees is a Symbol of the Hatred and Fury of This Filthy War
Robert_fisk_bloodied2After narrowly escaping a lynching by Afghan refugees, veteran journalist Robert Fisk took Stephen Jukes' moral confusion to even greater heights. The lesson Fisk draws from the incident is so outlandish I had to re-read his account a few times because I didn't want to believe I correctly understood him the first time:

And I'll say it again. If I was an Afghan refugee in Kila Abdullah, I would have done just what they did. I would have attacked Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find.

Amazing. In Fisk's world view, Afghans, Iraqis and Palestinians are so victimized by Israel and the West that they can literally get away with murder -- including Fisk's.

3) Three Bullets and a Dead Child
Mohammed_dura When you look at content that literally cost lives, the Mohammed Dura video ranks up there. France 2's footage inflamed the entire Arab world and provided a ready pretext for further Islamic terror.

Before Esther Schapira produced Three Bullets and a Dead Child for German TV, few people questioned the film; she was the first Western journalist to give a voice to skeptics who believed Israel didn't kill the boy. For more on the controversy, watch Al Dura - What Really Happened?

4) How Two Lives Met In Death
Newsweek Newsweek drew a disgusting moral equivalence between suicide bomber Ayat al-Akhras and victim Rachel Levy.

A split second later, a powerful explosion tore through the supermarket, gutting shelves and sending bodies flying. When the smoke cleared and the screaming stopped, the two teenage girls and the guard lay dead, three more victims of the madness of martyrdom.

The cover was painful, but most Americans didn't understand why.

Years later, HonestReporting director Joe Hyams was speaking in the US and asked his audience to imagine a national magazine cover equating Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho with one of his student victims. Sadly, it took a separate massacre to get the point across.

5) Even Journalists Have to Admit They're Wrong Sometimes
Jenin2002 Phil Reeves of The Independent comes to terms with his flawed coverage of the battle of Jenin. The veteran journalist lamented that the baseless charges of a "massacre" let Israel off the hook for other "atrocities" when he wrote:

Only a few brave Israelis on the left – notably, Uri Avnery – continued to challenge the legitimacy and purpose of the army's conduct in the West Bank irrespective of the fact that the massacre allegations were false.

It is to this issue – as the killing of nine Palestinian children in an Israeli air strike proved so horribly last week – still remains unresolved. It – and not false charges of massacres – is what the international community should be address its attentions.

To his credit, at least Reeves was the only journalist I'm aware of to express any kind of regret for his reporting. Other UK reporters, such as Janine Di Giovanni, Suzanne Goldenberg and David Blair never took responsibility for their work.

6) Ariel Sharon Eats Babies

By far the most provocative cartoon in all my years at HonestReporting. The cartoon, which is based on Goya's painting, Saturn Devouring His Children, was named political cartoon of the year.


7) I Was a Naive Fool to Be a Human Shield for Saddam
Daniel Pepper is shocked by the reaction of ordinary Iraqis when he tells them why he came.

Saddam_hussein Of course I had read reports that Iraqis hated Saddam Hussein, but this was the real thing. Someone had explained it to me face to face. I told a few journalists who I knew. They said that this sort of thing often happened - spontaneous, emotional, and secretive outbursts imploring visitors to free them from Saddam's tyrannical Iraq . . . .

We just sat, listening, our mouths open wide. Jake, one of the others, just kept saying, "Oh my God" as the driver described the horrors of the regime. Jake was so shocked at how naive he had been. We all were. It hadn't occurred to anyone that the Iraqis might actually be pro-war.

Once he had the info himself, Pepper figured out what the right thing to do and quickly left Iraq, unlike CNN's Eason Jordan (below).

8) The News We Kept to Ourselves
Cnn_logo CNN executive Eason Jordan admits the network sat on stories to preserve access to government officials and save lives:

Then there were the events that were not unreported but that nonetheless still haunt me. A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police occupying her country in 1990 for ''crimes,'' one of which included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive, they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family's home.

I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely.

CNN and Saddam Hussein benefited from the games they played with each other. CNN got great ratings and Saddam's sins were whitewashed; it's a shame the network didn't have the guts to pull out and say, "We have no freedom to operate in Iraq, we won't be complicit in covering up the bloodshed."

9) Photo Op
I've seen plenty of photos of Palestinians by the security fence. But with a different angle, AP photographer Eric Marti captured the story behind the story. I spent a good chunk of a day fruitlessly foraging for the "spontaneous" photos the shutterbugs below took.


10) Reuters Doctoring Photos From Beirut?

Little Green Footballs blew the lid on "fauxtography" during the Second War in Lebanon. Here's the post that started it all.


Post your comments and list the articles you think deserve mention, for better or for worse.


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