A UK judge issued an arrest warrant for Queen Esther, who is due to arrive in London for a speaking tour of British universities.
Tayab Ali, the solicitor who obtained the warrant, told Backspin editor Pesach Benson, "Mordechai and Esther had every right to resist the oppression of Haman's Amalekite regime, but Jewish defensive measures were disproportionate and war crimes did occur."
A spokesman for Queen Esther condemned the warrant, and reiterated her refusal to meet with a UN commission investigating civil unrest after the collapse of Haman's center-right cabinet.
Media reports, human rights groups, and Amalekite non-governmental organizations say 125,000 people -- mostly Amalekite civilians -- died in fights with the Jews. Jewish groups dispute this, putting the death toll at 75,000 -- all of whom were combatants.
The Knesset approved a bill changing the name of the Jewish state from Israel to iSrael, effective immediately.
"We learned from the iPad, iPhone and iTouch that the lower case "i" is great branding," said Avital Leibovich of the iDF Spokesman's dept. "It conveys a high tech image we can tap into since it's also the first letter of our country's name."
She, along with a representative from the iEmbassy in London, blogger Aussie Dave of iSraellyCool, and Jeffrey Halper of iCAHD, were invited by iBA radio to discuss the effects of the name change.
Not everyone was happy with the move though. "We'll have to change all our stationary," griped one AiPAC official speaking on condition of anonymity.
You have to admire Jeremy Flashman. According to the Jewish Chronicle, the 45-year-old father of three would rather go to prison than pay the mandatory TV license fee. Why?
The telecoms engineer, from Woodford Green in Essex, has become so angered by the BBC and the way it reports Israel that he has refused to pay his television licence.
So when an enforcement officer arrived at his door, Mr Flashman did not hesitate: "I told him I have a television, and I admitted watching it without a licence. He said I would receive a summons within 21 days.
"I will never pay them another penny. This is my protest against the BBC and the way it goes about reporting what happens in Israel. It's because I'm Jewish and Israel is at the heart of being Jewish."
Mr Flashman claimed that the BBC was breaking its own charter by allowing what he claimed were biased reports to be broadcast.
It's easy to understand Flashman's anger. The Beeb spent £200,000 of public money to cover up the Balen report on publicly-funded anti-Israel bias. Flashman's license fee revolt will be worth watching.
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the Hamas commander assassinated in Dubai, used the same tradecraft -- fraudulent passports and disguises -- as his killers during secret missions to procure arms for the group, a confidant said on Thursday . . .
"He had many passports of different nationalities -- all Arab," he added. "Recently he underwent surgery to reshape his nose. It became narrower." . . .
Dubai police have not commented officially on the passport Mahbouh used to enter the emirate. Mabhouh's brother said the Hamas commander arrived in Dubai on a Palestinian passport that listed his family name as Hassan.
With Dubai police not talking about Mabhouh's abuse of passports, it's up to enterprising journalists to dig up that part of the story.
Earlier this week, the Winnipeg Free Press reported that Mabhouh entered Dubai with a phony Iraqi passport issued by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
The Australian Broadcasting Corp. News is under government scrutiny for its coverage of Israel.
This is noteworthy partly because the examples cited by Senator Eric Abetz were initially repeated on air plenty of times. But more eye-opening were the publicly funded news service's flat-footed efforts to correct the record.
The following is from a hearing whose transcripts are online here (pdf format).
1. The ABC widely reported the false UN claim that Israel shelled an UNWRA school at Jabalya - a claim that the UN retracted a month later (on 4/2/2009). By my count, the ABC mentioned it on at least 28 occasions, including on Radio National AM, PM and the 7.30 Report.
2. The ABC reported the UN’s retraction on just 2 occasions - 1 brief News Online report and 1 The World Today segment. Mark Scott’s excuse for the disparity in coverage was that the Victorian bushfires dominated the news at the time of the UN retraction. However, the Victorian bushfire commenced 3 days after the UN retraction; within 3 days of the UN’s making its false allegation, the ABC had reported it on 22 (out of the 28) occasions. Mark Scott’s Victorian bushfires excuse is false as well as being contemptible.
3. The ABC repeated this false allegation on Radio National AM on 6/5/2009, at a time when it knew or should have known that it was false (since the UN had retracted it 3 months prior). The ABC ‘corrected’ this broadcast by appending an Editor’s note - 16 days later! - to the transcript of the broadcast located on the ABC’s web site. Of course, few if any of the ABC’s listeners would have become aware that this ABC allegation of Israeli war crimes was false.
At least the ABC admits that far more people saw the erroneous coverage than the correction:
Senator ABETZ—Would you accept that the story got out to a larger end audience than the retraction or clarification?
Mr Scott—I think that is likely, Senator, yes.
Its a fact of life that corrections don't get the same audience as the original stories (Jayson Blair's an exception to that rule). But even by MSM standards, the ABC's response is pretty sad.
Corrie, a 23-year-old US citizen, came to Gaza with the International Solidarity Movement as a human shield against IDF operations against smuggling tunnels. She died in March, 2003, accidentally run over by an army bulldozer.
Her death's a tragedy. She was clearly worth more to the Palestinian cause as a living activist than as a blond-haired "martyr."
Rachel Corrie went to Gaza to be a human shield. That Rachel unfortunately died as the very human shield she set out to be moots her parents' lawsuit. If I were Palestinian, I'd even argue that it cheapens her memory.
One point I'd like to see this lawsuit clarify: Did Rachel Corrie really know what she was doing? If it turns out she didn't, the Corrie family should consider seeking legal action against the ISM.
This time, Mabhouh came to Dubai to organize another Iranian arms shipment to Gaza via Sudan. Mabhouh came to Dubai from Damascus carrying an Iraqi passport and with a false name. It was issued by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
The problem: You're new to Twitterville and you don't know where to begin networking with other people who share your interest in Israel and the Mideast.
The solution: Follow the following "tweople;" more importantly, however, is to check out who follows them, as well as who they're following. It means investing some time -- intuitively clicking on certain people to find out more -- but the due diligence is worth it.
As you check out Twitter's Israel scene, be sure to follow MediaBackspin, HonestReporting, our colleagues at HonestReporting Canada and look at who we're networking with. This list is in no particular order -- it's just my part in helping newcomers to Twitter put the "social" in "social media."
The Iranians who filmed the death of Neda Soltan and then used the internet to get it out received a prestigious George Polk Award for videography. It's the first time the award was given to an anonymously produced work:
“We don't know who took it or who uploaded it, but we know it has news value,” said John Darnton, curator of the George Polk Awards. “This award celebrates the fact that, in today's world, a brave bystander with a cell-phone camera can use video-sharing and social networking sites to deliver news.”
The NY Times tracked down some of the brave people who helped get the video out. The chain includes Iranians in and out of the country using email, Facebook and YouTube before Soltan's death went viral.
The videos making the biggest impact on the world are no longer produced by the mainstream media, but by ordinary people armed with -- in this case -- a cell phone and an internet connection.
I can't imagine that the Mossad would steal Israeli identities to kill Mabhouh in Dubai even while an Israeli delegation made a historic visit under tremendous scrutiny. Despite the certainty of the Daily Mail headlines, you have to read on towards the bottom to find the important small print:
While Hamas has repeatedly accused Mossad of masterminding the assassination, rumours are swirling around the Middle East that the operation may have been carried out by a rival Palestinian group.
One other theory yesterday was that the attack was carried out by Mr al-Mabhouh's enemies within the Palestinian movement. Dubai police have arrested two Palestinians whom they claim are linked to the case.
The world's a better place without Mabhouh. Whether or not this is traced back to the Mossad, Palestinian rivals, or someone else, my sympathy goes to the victims of this identity theft.
And then I saw where I believe Sullivan picked up on Hari. On the side of the page was this box. Check out item 3 on the list.
Amazing. The half-life of Hari's tripe is longer than Iran's uranium production, and The Independent's readers were already giving this radioactive commentary a life of its own. Sullivan just enriched it even more.
UPDATE Feb. 16: Sullivan posted a part 2 item, but for whatever reason, removed it. All that remains is Sullivan's tweet. When I posted this last night, it should have occured to me that Hari's column was boosted to its popular status because of the traffic from Sullivan's blog. That's the more likely case.
But my original question remains. Why is Sullivan writing this now?
Martin's situation doesn't begin to compare to the kidnap of BBC journalist Alan Johnston in 2007.
Johnston was kidnapped and held by a murky group calling itself the Army of Islam, giving Hamas a degree of plausible deniability. Martin was arrested by Hamas police on orders from a Hamas judge.
Johnston was a well-known reporter working for one of the world's largest news services. The BBC rallied public support for Johnston and maintained pressure on the Islamists. Martin is less-known co-owner of a company that supplies video footage to news organizations. The company, World News & Features, will have little leverage with Hamas.
Johnston was abducted when Hamas was still consolidating its hold over Gaza. Martin was arrested by a de facto government that will make no move compromising it's "authority" over Gaza.
Obtaining a quick release for Martin without appearing to recognize Hamas will be tricky. Can the UK Foreign Office pull that off?
Of course, Martin's situation has to be seen in the context of issues of press freedom in Gaza and the West Bank I blogged last week. In those cases, the problems were limited to Palestinian journos. Martin's arrest is a clear signal that foreign correspondents are losing room to maneuver too.
You gotta like the latest photo opportunity stunt to keep Bilin in the news. Protestors dressed up like characters from Avatar.
A Demonstrator dressed as a figure of the movie 'Avatar', shouts slogans against Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah, Friday, Feb. 12, 2010. Israel says the barrier is needed for security, but Palestinians consider it a land grab. Opponents of Israel's contentious separation barrier in the West Bank scored a long-awaited victory Thursday when the government began rerouting the enclosure to eat up less of a Palestinian village that has become a symbol of anti-wall protests and the site of frequent clashes. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
About 300 “journalists” who participated in the election had nothing to do with journalism, he said. “Some of them were members of the Palestinian security forces, while most of the journalists who were registered as members of the syndicate’s generals assembly were actually employees of the Palestinian Authority or political activists,” he added.
Another scandalous flaw blemishing the new Union is the so-called quota system which means that the union seats are divided among PLO factions in accordance with an anachronistic system dating back to the early 1980s.
Pursuant to this system, Fatah receives the lion’s share of the seats, followed by the PFLP and its former ideological sister, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), followed by a myriad of small factions, most of which have few followers and supporters on the ground.
Hamas and the Islamic Jihad are totally unrepresented in the new body and the same applies to dozens, if not hundreds, of independent journalists.
This raises an awful lot of questions. Here are five off the top of my head.
Are any of these 300 on the payroll of news services we should know about?
Is this ammo for Israeli restrictions on Palestinian journalists?
How independent are these reporters when they're so clearly beholden to groups like Fatah, Hamas, the PFLP, etc.?
UPDATE Feb. 11: The Media Line raises a related issue which I'll phrase as question number 6. Is it any wonder that Fahmi Shabaneh, who recently blew the whistle on PA corruption, turned to the Israeli media?
'I'm Unconvinced By Every Term I Draw On In My Reporting'
The problem: You and your Hamas colleagues are de facto rulers of Gaza after seizing the strip in a bloody coup more than two years ago.
But you feel delegitimized by news services which continue to describe Hamas as "the deposed government" because Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the national unity government and appointed Salam Fayyad to replace Ismail Haniyeh as Prime Minister.
The solution: Formally ban media references to the Hamas as Gaza's "deposed government."
Well, Hamas did just that, leaving Palestinian journalists stuck in the middle. Fares Akram of Xinhua describes the situation in a remarkably frank dispatch:
Fed up with the description, the deposed Hamas Information Ministry last month issued a statement aimed at "defining the accurate idioms and explaining the confusion in some of the terms in use."
"Saying the deposed government when referring to the Palestinian government in Gaza is a political usage, biased, illegal and distorting the truth," the Hamas statement said.
The statement offered journalists descriptions when talking about Hamas government. "We emphasize that you use alternative descriptions that are some sort of fair, like the Palestinian government in Gaza, the Palestinian government of Ismail Haneya or the government in Gaza."
According to Raed Lafi, some of the journalists are bound by terms their news agencies or newspapers guideline. "I'm unconvinced by every term I draw on in my reporting," he said.
Hamas and its apologists base much of its legitimacy on elections for a Parliament that recently expired. Abbas enjoys an open-ended presidency thanks to approval of the democratic bastion that is the PLO Central Council. In other words, Palestinian democracy is a mess.
Pondering who -- if anyone -- has a mandate to represent the Palestinian people in Israeli peace talks can only lead to uncomfortable questions that are better swept under the rug. Best is to let the Palestinian journalists in Gaza grapple with the question on their own, right?
The Camera Doesn't Lie, But What About the Caption?
An Israeli and Palestinian scuffled during a riot -- right in front of AP and Reuters photographers. But as Elder of Ziyon points out, the captions are vastly different. The Israeli in black has the Palestinian in a headlock.
An undercover Israeli police officer (R) scuffles with a Palestinian youth suspected of throwing stones while trying to detain him during clashes in the Shuafat refugee camp in the West Bank near Jerusalem February 9, 2010. Clashes erupted between Palestinian stone-throwers and Israeli police that entered the refugee camp, a Reuters witness said on Tuesday. (REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
A Palestinian rioter tries to grab a weapon from a plain-clothes Israeli police officer, right, during clashes in Shuafat refugee camp in east Jerusalem, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010. Palestinians scuffled with Israeli security forces, after an arrest operation triggered clashes in the camp the day before. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
The captions at Daylife didn't include the names of the photographers. I added their names from Yahoo links 1 and 2.
Strictly speaking, the two captions don't contradict each other. But credit Bernat Armangue with going the extra mile to more carefully describe the context.
Elder of Ziyon also posted some other images from Shuafat showing why rock throwing isn't so harmless.
At the Times of London, Robin Yassin-Kassab reviews a Palestinian book called “Mornings In Jenin.” Kassab writes:
By now we care very much about the key characters, and through them we experience “that year without end” that stretches through some of the bloodier signposts of Palestinian history — the naksa or disaster of 1967, the Lebanese refugee camp massacres, the 2002 Jenin massacre.
Although the UN admitted that no massacre took place in Jenin during the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield, Kassab’s casual reference shows how accepted the libel has become. It's a great example of Joseph Goebbels' theory of "The Big Lie."
"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."
NY Times and Conflict of Interest Appearances, Part 2
When I first blogged the NY Times and Conflict of Interest Appearances over the issue of Ethan Bronner's son serving in the IDF, I pointed out that Western journalists having personal relationships with Palestinian stringers and activists create their own conflicts of interest too.
I was thinking along the lines of ABC anchor Peter Jennings and his well-known "relationship" with Palestinian spokesperson Hanan Ashrawi.
But as Tom Gross points out, conflicting interests applies to other extracurricular activities:
To single out Bronner smacks of discrimination. And if the Times does now decide to reassign him, it should certainly also find someone to replace its current Gaza correspondent, Taghreed El-Khodary, who sounded like a virtual Hamas propagandist when she spoke at a media conference I attended last November, as I pointed out here.
The problem ain't limited to the Gray Lady. In 2007, Israel allowed a Hamas member employed by the BBC -- subsequently identified as Fayad Abu Shamala -- to enter Gaza to secure BBC reporter AlanJohnston's freedom. I didn't see the mainstream media ask if perhaps the Beeb should reassign Shamala.
Shamala's own conflict of interest is well-known. Speaking at a Hamas rally on May 6, 2001, the BBC reporter declared:
"Journalists and media organizations [are] waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people."
I'm not commenting on whether Bronner should be replaced. If the MSM is suddenly into cleaning up conflicts of interest, let's just be consistent.
Keller wrote that he doesn't intend to replace Bronner.
I'm not going to comment on whether or not Bronner should be replaced over this. I just want to see the MSM be consistent here. All the western journos in personal relationships with Palestinian stringers and activists -- whether it's marriage, living together, or having an affair -- create conflicts of interest too.
UPDATE Feb. 8: YNet News fills in some more info about Bronner.
A number of important Gaza/Goldstone related articles came up today. It's easier to address them together in one blog post.
1.Asa Kasher takes an excellent, in-depth look at the moral issues of the Gaza war. He has a knack for taking broad issues of war ethics and coherently organizing them -- without losing important details.
Kasher first came to my radar with this article in Azure on international law and Operation Cast Lead.
2.Jonathan Dahohah Halevi analyzes the Hamas response to the Goldstone report. In a nutshell, In a nutshell, the Hamas position that the entire Holy Land -- from the Jordan to the Mediterranean -- is the basis for legitimizing thousands of rockets at Israeli communities over the years.
Donald Macintyre reported that the IDF "rewrote the rules of war for Gaza" based on one anonymous officer in a Yediot story -- which for reasons unclear, was never published. The Indy then opines that Israel should learn from the Kahan commission that investigated the Sabra and Shatilla massacre. Shepherd writes
However, it has long been a staple of anti-Israeli demonisation to attach full and direct blame for what took place to the Israeli military giving the impression that it was Israel that either did the killing or coordinated it.
This is precisely the game that the Independent is playing. As its editorial team knows all too well, only the smallest minority of readers will know the full details of what took place at Shabra and Shatila. The rest of the readership is left with the clear impression that Israel conducted a terrible massacre in 1982 just as it conducted a terrible massacre during Operation Cast Lead last year.
4. The Jewish Chronicle got itself a nice scoop: Tzipi Livni plans to visit the UK in several weeks "to test the process for the issuing of arrest warrants for alleged war crimes." Sounds like a media circus waiting to happen.
The BBC breaks out the violins for Gaza fishermen, who are restricted from sailing too far from the Gaza coast.
But their biggest threat isn't the Israeli navy. It's the terrorists who sent explosive barrels floating onto Israeli shores this week. YNet News writes:
The source stressed that even without Israel's involvement, the explosive barrels could have put Gaza fishermen in danger, had they exploded next to them.
"The terror activists who sent the explosive charges into the sea knew in advance that they could also be hurt. Today of all days, when talking about the Goldstone Report and morality, we must look at what the other side is doing," he said.
I just finished reading NPR's quarterly report (pdf format) on it's Mideast coverage (via Romenesko). It's an impressive self-examination, and I hope John Felton's comments and criticisms are taken on board.
I also hope the BBC takes note.
The do-no-wrong Beeb gets a helluva lot more public money than NPR could ever dream of, which is why it smugly spent half a million pounds of TV licence money on lawyers to cover up the Balen report -- Malcolm Balen's radioactive assessment of the Beeb's Mideast coverage.
Balen's findings, given highly restricted circulation at the end of 2004, were frightening.
Although they were kept secret, elements leaked out, including Balen's conclusion that the BBC's Middle East coverage had been biased against Israel.
The enormity of this can hardly be overstated. Apart from the corporation's legal obligation to be impartial, it had struggled for years to counter allegations that its reporting favoured the Palestinians. The claims meshed with attacks on the BBC for being Left-leaning and undermining its own legitimacy by harbouring a secret liberal agenda. Bosses at the corporation ordered Balen's report to be locked away.