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Wednesday, June 30 2010

June 30 Links

> US PR Firm Paid to Demonize Israel
> Russian Spies Used Forged Passports: Where's the Outrage?
> Legal Scholars Weigh in on Gaza Blockade, Flotilla Deaths (via Elder of Ziyon)
> Why Deport a Friend of Middle East Peace?

AFP's Caption Carnage Cavalcade

Our recent critiques of MSM fauxtography are raising awareness. A reader alerted us to this bungled caption from AFP (screengrab from DayLife).



Palestinians dug a tunnel under the Gaza fence to kidnap Shalit from the Israeli side of the border.

Mishandled captions are bad enough, but when the error comes from a wire service, it's even worse. Thousands of newspapers around the world get AFP photos.

Even if AFP issues a correction, it won't get the same attention as the original mistake.

Friedman + Fayyad - Bibi = ?

Salam_fayyad Tom Friedman looks at "Fayyadism," using the success of the Palestine Securities Exchange as a hook.

My only quibble: it would've been nice to note Benjamin Netanyahu's unacknowledged role in the West Bank's economic revival.

The MSM's loathe to admit it, but Bibi and Salaam Fayyad have very similar approaches to building the West Bank economy. I suggest reading Friedman in light of Fayyad and Netanyahu's remarkably similar commentaries from December, 2008.

See also on Just Journalism's findings on media coverage of Fayyad's nation-building efforts.


Tuesday, June 29 2010

Daily Telegraph's Fauxto Finish

Success! The Daily Telegraph removed the old photo we we caught it recycling from the Gaza War.

Telegraph Caught Recycling Gaza War Photo to Distort Today's Reality

Why does the Daily Telegraph choose to reuse an image from the 2009 Gaza conflict to inaccurately portray the present day?

See HonestReporting's latest communique: Telegraph Caught Recycling Gaza War Photo to Distort Today's Reality

Fauxtography Waiting to Happen

Baz Ratner of Reuters has some cool photos (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6) from an Israeli Air Force graduation exercise.

I wouldn't be surprised if one of these images (most likely no. 6, and certainly not this other photo) gets used out of context to illustrate an Israeli attack -- with absolutely no mention of where this originated from.


An Israeli Air Force AH-1 Cobra helicopter fires a missile during an exhibition session as part of a ceremony for newly graduated Israeli Air Force pilots at Hatzerim air base, southern Israel June 28, 2010. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Far-fetched? Nah. Just yesterday, we caught the Daily Telegraph recycling an old photo of suffering Gazans.

Advancing the Liberal Cause for Israel

I want whatever Bret Stephens and Richard Cohen had for breakfast.


Monday, June 28 2010

Do Newspapers 'Support' Terror?

The Supreme Court says you can't help terror organizations in any way. So why do many newspapers give them a soapbox? Yarden Frankl and I discuss what a recent court ruling might mean for the media.

We were expanding on this blog post.

Daily Telegraph Can't Find New Photos of Suffering Gazans?

Why is the Daily Telegraph recycling photos of suffering Gazans? Take a good look at the image used in this update.


This photo was originally taken in January, 2009, during Operation Cast Lead.


Is the Telegraph recycling photos because Gaza isn't really suffering as much as they'd like you to believe?


Sunday, June 27 2010

A PR Fiasco In the Making?

Women_soldiers The IDF is training female cadets to take over the women's flotilla boat. The Sunday Times writes:

It hopes the all-women boarding party will minimise bad publicity.

Witnesses at the commandos’ Mediterranean base near Haifa in northern Israel reported that hardened members of the “shayetet” (the flotilla), who are more familiar with secret cross-border missions, appeared bemused by their young charges. Young women could be seen being taught to handle speedboats, prepare for emergencies at sea and clamber on to larger ships.

“The commandos are confused,” said one source. “These frogmen are trained to carry out sensitive military missions. Last month they were sent to deal with the Turkish civilians. Now they’re asking them to deal with ladies, and all of it live on television.”

I don't have a problem with female soldiers. But if Israel's placing PR ahead of operational concerns, this could only become a bigger fiasco -- and the potential headaches are already big enough.

AP Wings Hamas

Israel to expel Jerusalem-area Hamasniks by revoking their residency status. I don't like this AP snippet, because it treats Hamas a political organization, not a terror organization:

Israel has stripped thousands of Palestinians of their residency rights in east Jerusalem since capturing and annexing the area in the 1967 Mideast War. However, human rights activists said Israel has never before stripped Palestinians of Jerusalem residency because of their political affiliation.

Mohammed Abu Tir, Mohammed Totah and Ahmed Atoun are all members of the Palestinian Legislative Council affiliated with Hamas; Khaled Abu Arafa served as Hamas' Minister of Jerusalem Affairs. But I don't buy into proffered distinctions between the Islamic organization's armed and political "wings."

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin himself debunked the idea, as quoted by Reuters:

“We cannot separate the wing from the body. If we do so, the body will not be able to fly. Hamas is one body.”

Would Hezbollah Sabotage Gaza Flotilla?

Naji_al_Ali Daily Telegraph reporter Con Coughlin:

Incredible though it might seem, my Lebanese sources tell me that senior Hizbollah officials have even discussed the notion of using explosives they captured from Israel during the 2006 war to blow up one of the ships while it is en route to Gaza, and blame the incident on Israeli recklessness.

Far-fetched though this may seem, with tensions between Iran and Israel approaching crisis point over Iran’s refusal to abandon its uranium enrichment programme I can easily understand why Tehran might be encouraging Hizbollah to indulge in some drastic action that will divert attention away from Iran. In the unseen dirty war between Israel and Iran, in which Iranian nuclear scientists regularly go missing, and unexplained “accidents” occur at Iran’s nuclear facilities, I suppose anything is possible, even something as mad as Hizbollah blowing up an aid ship destined for its Hamas allies in Gaza.


It's deja vu all over again.


Friday, June 25 2010

Lebanon Censures Al-Manar Fauxtography
The Beirut Publications Court charged Al-Manar TV for airing doctored photos. The photos in question -- aired during a 2007 interview with Michel Aoun -- depicted Lebanese Forces party members pointing weapons at Lebanese Army personnel. According to Beirut's Daily Star:
The court judged the pictures as “capable of sparking political tension and endangering Lebanon’s peace.” It condemned the way the interview was led, especially when the fragile situation of the country in 2007 was taken into consideration. The court imposed a symbolic fine . . .

Thursday, June 24 2010

UK Media Forgets Israel For A Day

Wow. No new stories about Israel today at the BBC, Times of London, The Independent, The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Sky News, Financial Times or The Economist web sites.

England advanced in the World Cup, history was made at Wimbledon, and the McChrystal fallout converged at once to push Israel out of the news for a day.

Wait till the next flotilla arrives . . .

UPDATE June 24: A reader points out I overlooked this BBC update:

UN chief says East Jerusalem demolition plan 'illegal'

It's still pretty remarkable. Journos were either watching the England-Slovenia match, or fighting for the last spots on the now uncertain Lebanese flotilla.

Traffic Reports, Israel Style

Hwy443In Baltimore, I had Detour Dave's traffic reports. In Israel, I have instead the US State Dept keeping tabs on Route 443:

U.S. Government personnel and family members are permitted both official and personal travel on Route 443 between Modi'in and Jerusalem without prior notification, during daylight hours only. All other personal travel in the West Bank, unless specifically authorized for mission-approved purposes, is prohibited.

Israel's security services have already forbidden Prime Minister Netanyahu from traveling on Route 443 due to elevated threat levels since the winding road was re-opened to Palestinians in May.

YNet News finds stone-throwing an on-going problem, but I'm sure Rachel Shabi has no worries using the road at night.

(Hat tip: Israel Matzav via Arutz-Sheva)

Far-Our Flotilla Feminism

Palestinian journaist Khaled Abu Toameh weighs in on the women's flotilla:

By seeking to help Hamas, the women who are planning to sail to the Gaza Strip are in fact encouraging the fundamentalist movement to continue oppressing Palestinian women living there.

Wouldn't it have been better and more helpful had the same group of female activists launched a campaign to promote women's rights under Hamas? Or to protest against the severe restrictions imposed by Hamas on all women, including the right to stroll along the beach alone or to wear a swim suit? . . .

Moreover, it is ironic (and sad) that some of the women who are behind the new flotilla adventure come from Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Kuwait - countries that not only have killed Palestinians, but also continue to oppress them and impose severe restrictions on them.

Phyllis Chesler, where are you?

UPDATE June 24: Check out Ahmed Moor's encounter with Lebanese racism against Palestinians.

The Arab world is rife with hypocrisy when it comes to the Palestinian issue. Arab leaders frequently and rightly cite the chronic human rights violations in which Israel engages, but fail to address the marginalisation of Palestinians within their own societies. Historically, Lebanese citizens have declared that naturalising Palestinians will act as a disincentive to their eventual repatriation and the exercise of their inviolable right of return. But this is a specious and cynical misrepresentation of the issue.


Wednesday, June 23 2010

Op-Ed Soapbox for Terror Is Illegal Too

SoapboxThe Supreme Court ruling barring "peaceful aid" to foreign terror organizations has implications for the op-ed pages of newspapers too.

Soccer Dad points out that providing Hamas a propaganda platform on the op-ed pages is also peaceful aid that facilitates their terror agenda.

That's something to think about next time Ismail Haniyeh, Mousa Abu Marzook and Muhammed Hussein Fadlallah express themselves in the bully pulpit of the LA Times, Washington Post, NY Times, LA Times (again), Washington Post (again), Washington Post/Newsweek or even the Trinity United Church newsletter.

In fact, a few years ago, Shurat HaDin director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner told HonestReporting:

Legally speaking, it would seem that there is not much difference between outlaw regimes like Iran and Syria, which illegally provide material support and resources to terrorist organizations, and liberal media outlets which provide millions of dollars in free advertising and access to groups like Hamas when they publish their leaders' dangerous messages. The NY Times and Washington Post are every bit the supporters of the terrorist organizations that Tehran and Damascus are when they facilitate the publication of Hamas' messages.

Behind Bars: Photo Bias Breaks Out of Gaza

See HonestReporting's latest media critiques:

• Are Gazan children really behind bars or does the imagery fail to give the bigger picture? Behind Bars: Photo Bias Breaks Out of Gaza

• After 4 years in Hamas captivity, make sure that the mainstream media doesn't forget the tragic plight of the kidnapped Israeli soldier. Will the Media Remember Gilad Shalit?

Jimmy Carter Sweating Over Lawfare

Carter_haniyeh The Supreme Court upheld a ban on providing "peaceful aid" to designated foreign terror organizations.

And Jimmy Carter's worried:

Carter, whose advocacy has entailed contact with groups designated by the U.S. government as “foreign terrorist organizations” (FTOs) – notably Hamas and Hezbollah – said he was disappointed by the court decision . . .

Arguing that there can be no peace in the region without those groups’ participation, Carter has reached out to Hamas and Hezbollah, rejecting criticism that doing so could be viewed as legitimizing their violent activities. Since the 1980s both groups have killed hundreds of people in suicide bombings and other terror attacks, most of them Israelis and Americans.

The very act of formally meeting a former US president confers a degree of legitimacy on terror groups like Hamas.

(Via Gateway Pundit)

An Intelligence Assessment of the Lebanese Flotilla

Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (Malam) assessed the two Lebanese ships making up the next Gaza flotilla. Three of Malam's key findings say a lot about Hezbollah's involvement, the "activists" on board, and the Lebanese government's irresponsibility.

• Responsible for dispatching the ships are low-ranking Lebanese activists who have no particular standing in Lebanon’s internal politics. Some of them belong to the March 8 Alliance, which supports Hezbollah and Syria. The two groups behind the operation are Journalists without Bounds and the Free Palestine Movement, two fairly minor organizations. In our assessment, purchasing the ships and organizing the flotilla were carried out with Syrian and Hezbollah involvement and support. Neither of them wants to expose its true identity.

Iman Tawil Sa’ad – Of Egyptian extraction, married to a Lebanese who heads the Lebanese Nasserist organization, a leftist organization whose power anti-Semitism is in Sidon. In an interview with Al-Jazeera TV she said, “We’re going (to Gaza) and honestly we have three options . . . Either martyrdom, imprisonment or victory. Allah willing, we will be victorious and reach Gaza.”


• The Lebanese government does not want a confrontation over the issue of the ships and is attempting to pass the problem along to Cyprus (UNIFIL forces warned the government that providing authorization for the ships would be a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1710). The Lebanese government, using various excuse, rejected the ships’ request to anchor in the port of Tripoli (in the north of Lebanon). Only on June 21 did Ghazi al-Aridi, Lebanese minister of transportation, authorize the sailing of the two ships from Tripoli to Cyprus (Al-Nahar, June 21, 2010). He said that the continuation of the voyage now depended on whether or not Cyprus decided to let the ships sail (Al-Nishra, June 20 2010).

Read Malam's full report.

HonestReporting's Mission Participants Speak Out

Yarden Frankl and I talked with participants in HonestReporting's recent mission to Israel.

We're already taking reservations for our upcoming November mission.


Tuesday, June 22 2010

Will the MSM Remember Gilad Shalit?

Shalit With the world pre-occupied by Israel's moves to ease the blockade and by other flotillas, I'm worried the MSM will overlook the fourth anniversary of Gilad Shalit this Friday.

Of the Gaza staff-eds in today's papers, neither the NY Times, SF Chronicle, nor The Guardian mentioned Shalit at all; the Irish Times and an otherwise nice piece in the Globe & Mail only mentioned the 27-year-old staff sergeant in passing.

At least the LA Times showed some concern:

Hamas should follow suit by releasing Shalit, now 24, who has been held virtually incommunicado since being captured four years ago this week.


Monday, June 21 2010

Nietzsche and Fisk Collide

Robert Fisk's latest column about "Israeli propaganda" is so far off the deep end, that Nietzsche comes to mind:

When you stare into Fisk, the Fisk stares back at you.

It's Time to Blame Israel For Easing the Boycott

Now that Israel's starting to ease up on the blockade, guess who's to blame for the collapse of the smuggling industry:


A Palestinian boy holds a box of smuggled cigarettes near the entrance of an inactive tunnel which links Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip border town of Rafah on June 21, 2010 after Israel announced it would allow into the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory everything that cannot be used by Gaza's Hamas rulers to build weapons or fortifications, dealing a potentially fatal blow to the tunnel trade that has largely sustained the coastal enclave. (Getty Images)

The tunnel looks inactive because of supply and demand, not because of the nasty Israelis. Adding insult to injury, this must be the longest run-on sentence I've ever seen in a photo-caption.

Related reading: Tunnel Vision


Sunday, June 20 2010

Tunnel Vision

If this isn't tunnel vision, I don't know what is:

“I don’t want the siege to end,” he shouts. “I support a family of 11. How will we manage to live if the siege ends and they closed the tunnels?”

Unidentified Gaza tunnel digger quoted by The Media Line.

Scenes From the World's Biggest Concentration Camp

Credit where credit is due to AP and AFP for spotlighting Gaza's food "crisis."







Captions at links 1 2 3 4 5 and 6 respectively.

Related reading: Tunnel Operators Fire Rockets and Gaza's Humanitarian Crisis. And give this podcast a listen if you haven't already.

Hezbollah's Implausible Deniability

How am I supposed to understand these conflicting headlines?

Hezbollah denies ties to Gaza-bound women aid ship

Hizbullah 'bans' Lebanese singer from all-woman Gaza mission

Hezbollah can either deny the flotilla, or deny the singer . . .

Crossing the Line From Anti-Zionism to Anti-Semitism

David Nesenoff got op-ed space in the Washington Post to share some thoughts about the Helen Thomas comments he caught on film:

She didn't say that the blockade was unjust, or that aid was not getting to Gaza, or that there was a massacre on the high seas, or that East Jerusalem is occupied, or that the settlements are immoral . . . and get out and go back to West Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat. No. This was not the two-state solution. This was get the hell out and go back to the places of the final solution, Poland and Germany. The Jew has no connection with the land of Israel.

I'm struck by how similar this is to my reaction, explaining why the senior White House correspondent's comments weren't just anti-Israel, but anti-Semitic as well. Bottom line: it's anti-Semitic to single out the Jews as being unworthy of having national aspirations.

Read Nesenoff's commentary and my earlier blog post.


Friday, June 18 2010

Quote of the Day


"We do not cherry-pick our consciences."

Elton John, taking a swipe at musicians like Elvis Costello and The Pixies, who recently cancelled performances in Israel.


Thursday, June 17 2010

June 17 Links

Flotilla Battle Continues: In Law Schools
No Saddam-Sized Sanctions on Iran
Support Israel: If It Goes Down, We All Go Down

Hezbollah, Iran "Aid" Ships: Is a Bloodbath Planned?
Prepare for Moral Confusion
Lebanese Paper Brands Boy's Essay 'Israeli Propaganda'

How Mortifying the Mortality Rate?

After falsely implying that Israel was responsible for the deaths of Gaza babies, the CBC corrects an infant mortality rate error. But other questions remain.

See HonestReporting Canada's latest communique: CBC National Corrects Gaza Infant Mortality Rate Error


Wednesday, June 16 2010

SUCCESS! - Yahoo Reunites Jerusalem

See HonestReporting's latest communiques:

What's Really Happening in Gaza?

In our latest podcast, Yarden Frankl and I discuss Gaza's "humanitarian crisis." Why is Hamas letting the flotilla's cargo rot on the pier?

Hamas Loses Satellite, Not Legitimacy

The Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV will lose most of its viewers when a French satellite provider drops service on Thursday. In explaining the significance, AP hits the nail on the head:

The Hamas station - best known for its children's programs glorifying violence against Israel - is the centerpiece of a growing media operation of Gaza's Islamic militant Hamas rulers. Losing the satellite provider will hamper the group's attempts to spread its message and raise funds abroad.

Heh: Hamas is enjoying more than enough legitimacy without Eutelsat.

Is There Life After Depth?

News20 HonestReporting's social media editor, Alex Margolin, contributes occasional posts on social media issues. He oversees HonestReporting on Facebook.

In a thoughtful personal essay published in The Guardian on Monday, the paper’s new Jerusalem correspondent, Harriet Sherwood, looks at the challenges foreign reporters face, particularly in light of new media.

Sherwood, a 16-year veteran of traditional media, notes that many of The Guardian’s foreign correspondents have embraced the immediacy technology offers to find new ways to tell stories. But as their lenses widened to include new media, the depth of their reporting seemed to suffer, she suggests.

Foreign correspondents – expensive assets – should be encouraged to spend a large proportion of their time in the field, finding things out, talking to people, reporting what they see . . .

But correspondents also now found the emphasis on competitive news coverage inevitably meant less time to invest in original and distinctive reporting. If you're filing several times a day and possibly through several media, there is simply less scope to find things out.

Sherwood’s comments echo one of the larger debates taking place in media today – whether the imperative for speed is “dumbing down” news and information. In a more extreme version of the debate, respected writers such as Nicholas Carr argue that the Internet is actually changing our brains and making concentration more difficult.

But while long-form journalism may be suffering from the shift from print to digital, there is reason to be optimistic about the future of journalism. While the Internet forces reporters to file reports quickly, it also demands constant updating. As reporters continue to “find things out” – over days or even weeks – they can update and improve their articles in a way that was never possible in print.

This new ability allows reporters to give readers the facts as they emerge, either through official sources or through the sort of activities Sherwood recommends for foreign correspondents – talking to people, reporting what they see.

While Sherwood laments that the new media may be blocking “original and distinct” reporting, it may be that what’s truly original is only starting to take shape on the news pages of newspapers’ Internet sites. A new sort of depth of coverage may be starting to emerge – a trans-media approach that informs the public using a variety of voices and dynamic media.

Sherwood herself notes the limits of field work while covering her first major story on her new beat – the Gaza flotilla.

I did indeed get "out there" – to the Israeli cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, and to Gaza – during those first few days.

But there were times when I felt my colleagues in London knew better what was happening than I did. That's inevitable: they were monitoring a wide range of news sources, while my laptop stayed slung over my shoulder most of the time.

It takes courage and intellectual honestly for a reporter to admit that others know the story better than those on the ground. Here’s hoping those qualities continue to define Sherwood’s reporting on Jerusalem throughout her tenure.

Previously in Alex's series: The New Checks and Balances


Tuesday, June 15 2010

Why Is Reporters Without Borders Organizing a Gaza Aid Ship?

More "aid" boats en-route to Gaza. The closest one is a Lebanese ship called Naji el Ali. Guess who helped organize it. Says YNet News:

The vessel was organized by two groups: Free Palestine, and Reporters without Borders.
Why the heck is Reporters Without Borders organizing an "aid ship" to Gaza?
Israel Bashers Bash the Beeb

See HonestReporting UK's latest communiques:

Boston Globe's Unusual Correction

Here's an unusual admission. The Boston Globe acknowledges that it erred in sending part-time reporter Michael Corcoran to cover ambassador Michael Oren's commencement speech at Brandeis University.

A May 24 story about a protest against an Israeli ambassador’s commencement speech at Brandeis University was written by a part-time correspondent who failed to disclose that he had previously editorialized in personal Internet posts against Israeli policy toward Palestinians. Globe editors learned of those posts while conducting an internal review of the Brandeis coverage. The correspondent’s failure to disclose a conflict violated Globe policy, and he should not have been assigned to cover the event. The story failed to include coverage of the substance of the remarks made by Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, and made no mention of an electronic petition supporting his appearance.

You can see Corcoran's original coverage of the commencement.

But looking into the personal blog posts that concerned the Globe isn't as simple. Corcoran's blog is now invitation only. And Solomonia points out that Corcoran purged his Twitter feed too.

Now why would Corcoran go to all that trouble?

Aside from Corcoran's failure to disclose his own conflict of interest, I have to wonder about the Globe.

How could a story about a commencement address that included no quotes from the speech itself get a green light from news editors, copy editors and proof readers?

German TV Exposes Fascists and Islamists Aboard Mavi Marmara

German TV blows the lid on left-wing activists having no problems rubbing elbows with Turkey's fascist, antisemitic BBP Party aboard the Mavi Marmara or the Islamist pseudo-charity organization

Keep up with the English subtitles and you'll be rewarded with great content exposing some incredible willful blindness.

(Hat tip: Z-Word)

Debunkng a Mayor's Diatribe

A Quebec mayor's spurious op-ed comparing Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto deserves condemnation.

See HonestReporting Canada's latest communique: Debunkng a Mayor's Diatribe


Monday, June 14 2010

Neda Soltan and the Gaza Flotilla Converge -- Or Don't

Neda_soltan David Burchell compares Big Media's interest in the Gaza flotilla with its interest in Iran's human rights record:

Fearless Western journalists, we are told, boarded the Gaza flotilla at hazard to their lives, the better to pen florid descriptions of the predations of the Israeli "hyenas"; sentences that could presumably have been written with equal vigour and no less accuracy from the comfort of their computer terminals.

Yet presently there is not one solitary Western journalist, willing to risk the wrath of the Iranian security forces to file a report from Tehran in the open air. And so the job is left to the Iranians themselves: to the anxious young students whose wavering phone cameras record those fleeting snippets of history, floating like sea-wrack across the YouTube ocean in 15 or 20-second fragments.

Indeed, flotilla journalist/activists like Paul McGeough -- author of the aforementioned hyena analogy -- know that antagonizing Israel carries little risk. Even arrest, the worst case scenario, comes with due process and consular access.

Antagonizing Hamas or Iran is a heavier concern. The press corps was shockingly unmoved by the plight of UK journo Paul Martin, who was detained by Hamas for a month. The message: don't ask dangerous questions. It's just as well McGeough didn't reach Gaza. He wouldn't have had the guts to ask anything embarrassing.

Meanwhile, denunciations of Israel distract the world from Iran's woeful human rights record. David Harris and Trudy Rubin weigh in on that.

The Guardian's Israel Obsession

CiF Watch analyzed flotilla articles in The Guardian's Comment is Free section. Spoiler alert: CiF broke many quills and spilled lots of ink to slam Israel.

Accompanying the never ending supply of news stories, the Guardian published a total of 37 articles, editorials and cartoons between May 31, 2010 and June 9, 2010, the vast majority of which were anti-Israel in their stance.

Here's CiF Watch's accompanying pie chart:


There's no modicum of balance. This is further evidence that Comment is Free is just a place for Israel-bashers to reinforce their views.

Read the whole post.


Sunday, June 13 2010

ESPN Columnist: Time to Boycott Israeli Sports

Israel_olympic_team On his way to South Africa to cover the World Cup, ESPN columnist Kevin Blackistone calls for a sports boycott of -- guess who -- Israel.

Maybe a sports boycott of Israel, where sports are beloved the same as in South Africa, could help foster a round of truly meaningful peace talks between Israel and Palestinians. Maybe such a collective effort could exercise the same leverage on Israel that it did for nearly 30 years with South Africa . . .

A sports boycott would certainly intensify the world's spotlight on Israel's approach to dealing with its occupied territories, just like it did South Africa's defunct government's dealings with its occupied peoples.

Why single out Israel? Countries with far worse records on human rights are doing quite well in the world of organized sports. Consider this:

If Blackistone and the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement have their way, this would put a crimp in Udi Sommers' proposal for Israel and the Palestinians to jointly host the 2020 Olympic Games in Jerusalem.

(Hat tip: Israel Matzav)

Tunnel Operators Fire Rockets and Gaza's Humanitarian Crisis

Gaza_tunnels Wanting to see Gaza's humanitarian situation first-hand, John Lyons of The Australian makes a startling discovery:

The tunnel operators have a vested interest in maintaining the blockade; they stand to lose tens of millions of dollars should it end. A European official who knows Gaza as well as anyone tells me what he says is one of the great unwritten stories about Gaza: that it is the tunnel operators firing the rockets . . . .

There's a strong logic to the argument of the European that the tunnel operators, many of whom have their licences only because they have paid Hamas, would be the biggest losers should the embargo be lifted.

And a pattern of behaviour certainly fits with the theory; almost every time Israel begins talking about a period of calm with Gaza or every time Israel comes under pressure to lift the blockade, rockets are fired.

Meanwhile, the LA Times also checks out Gaza. And guess what? Aid workers on the ground are hedging on the nature of Gaza's "crisis."

Although it's true that there is no hunger and there are no epidemics, the situation in Gaza defies usual categorization, aid officials say.

"Look, it's not like sub-Saharan Africa," said Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which assists Palestinian refugees. "We are not talking about a natural disaster or famine caused by failed rains. But Gaza is a political crisis with grave human consequences." . . . .

"It's not the kind of disaster that you might see in other places," said Mahmud Daher, head of WHO's Gaza office. "But it's always on the edge of a crisis. And without the help of the international community, it would be a crisis." . . .

The stores are stocked with food, electronics, furniture and clothin, much of it smuggled from Egypt through illegal tunnels. Cafes offer espresso and croissants. A shipment of 2010 Hyundai sedans recently arrived. Now that school is out for the summer, families are flocking to the beach to eat ice cream and barbecue.

Gaza's situation is difficult, and I certainly wouldn't want to live there. But with Big Media repeatedly using the words Gaza crisis, it's time to question whether "crisis" is being abused for the sake of sensationalized headlines.

Recently, Israel's Government Press Office recommended Roots, a posh Gaza restaurant, for reporters heading to Gaza. Although the GPO apologized, Lyons and Sanders smelled a real story and followed up.

Tunnel operators firing rockets is a real scoop. I wonder what else the MSM might find out about Gaza with a little digging.

The New Checks and Balances

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

Do bloggers and citizen journalists have the chops to replace traditional news reporters? The perennial question marking the shift from old to new media returned with a fury last week.

Ask veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who was brought down by a self-styled reporter with a camera. Despite 50 years in the field, Thomas suddenly “retired” under pressure after a video of her telling Jews to “go home” to Poland and Germany received enormous exposure on the Internet.

Or maybe ask the editors at Reuters, who were caught editing knives out of the hands of “peace activists” in photos from the flotilla to Gaza. The scoop on the controversial edits first appeared on Charles Johnson’s blog, Little Green Footballs.

These two stories – exposes of icons of traditional media broken by members of the new media – were the biggest Israel-related news items last week. The quick and nimble “amateurs” of the digital age outhustled their “professional” colleagues to capture the biggest headlines. Along the way, they revealed several advantages of the Internet, particularly over the print media.

First, Internet news sites can publish short burst of information and update as the facts emerge. Second, digital content is designed to be shared across the Internet. If a story catches fire – goes viral – it can be seen by millions of people before the newspapers even hear about it.

So how do traditional reporters compete? By embracing their role as the gatekeepers of “official” information. Traditional reporters don’t get scoops by bringing a camera to a White House event, as Rabbi David Nesenoff did with the Helen Thomas video; they cover the event itself and speak to the officials behind it. They are the channel through which leaders of government and industry reveal their policies. As such, they carry the weight of authority.

But with the increasingly scrappy bloggers and citizen journalists fighting for news scoops, a new set of checks and balances is emerging in the news industry. Traditional media provides the voice of the establishment and the new media serves as the voice of the people. And judging by last week’s performance, traditional media has more to worry about than its dropping circulation figures. Its very institutions are increasingly under attack.

Previously in Alex's series: The Making of an Icon


Thursday, June 10 2010

Yahud Weather Apps: It Gets Worse

After addressing the problem of the Yahoo weather app dividing Jersusalem, a reader alerted us to another problem we hadn't noticed: an Arabized spelling of Haifa -- a city well inside the Green Line.

Now, the contorted weather updates are subtlely supporting maximalist Palestinian claims on all the Holy Land -- from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.


Related reading: Yahoo's Foreign Policy

Reuters' Double Exposure

See HonestReporting's latest communiques:

Days after being caught cropping photos for political effect, Reuters releases a photo bank of Hamas propaganda images from Gaza: Reuters' Double Exposure

Yahoo uses iPhone weather application to make a political statement: Yahoo Divides Jerusalem

Ofcom Investigates Press TV Complicity in Journo's Imprisonment

Bahari Maziar Bahari, the Newsweek journalist imprisoned while Iran's post-election unrest, accuses Press TV of complicity in his imprisonment. And Ofcom's, the UK press complaints watchdog, is investigating. Roy Greenslade explains:

The regulator has launched a formal investigation into the complaint by Maziar Bahari, the Newsweek journalist who spent 118 days in a Tehran jail after being arrested while covering the protests over the disputed presidential election last June.

I understand that Ofcom is now awaiting a response from Press TV to a series of questions about its screening of an excerpt from an interview with Bahari that occurred while he was in jail.

The Independent quotes from an interview with Bahari -- to be aired on Channel 4 tonight -- elaborating on how Press TV tried to extract a "confession."

'I was somewhat surprised because I thought Press TV would at least pretend to have some credibility and wouldn't come and interview a prisoner in an interrogation room when I was under duress.'

Mr Bahari says he was tortured and then forced to make his confession on television, under threat of execution. He describes how he sat inside a room in the prison, before three cameras, and responded to questions suggested by a government interrogator, who stood behind a red curtain. He says he kept his blindfold on his knee, in full view, so it should have been clear that he was under duress.

Press TV then broadcast the confession, as though it was a legitimate interview, and Mr Bahari a willing guest; the presenter even suggested Mr Bahari might have participated in the protests.

Last year, Press TV coverage claimed Detained Newsweek Reporter Talks.


Wednesday, June 9 2010

June 9 Links

Consequences of Media Failure: Demopaths Setting the Global Agenda
Washington Will Always Need Israel As an Ally
Propaganda war latest: Tehran 3 Israel 0
Why Iran's Revolutionary Guard Wants to Escort New Gaza Flotilla
Helen Thomas's Views Unsettled the White House Press
Hezbollah sues Der Spiegel

5 Reasons The Guardian Has No Israel Coverage Today

Guardian-logo After days of overboard coverage and commentary in The Guardian, I found no Israel news there today. Nothing.

5 Reasons The Guardian Has No Israel Coverage Today

5. The paper exceeded Google regulations on the use of the words "Israel" and "occupation," causing problematic SEO fluctuations for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.

4. Actually, there was no news in the Mideast worth reporting.

3. Seth Freedman's take on the flotilla crashed the paper's computer network.

2. After telling a London rally she'd vomit if she saw Mark Regev's name again, Lauren Booth trashed the newsroom after seeing this headline:

Mark Regev, Israel's master of public relations

1. Chris McGreal's auto-reply says they're all sailing to Gaza on some Turkish boats.


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