May 24, 2016
‘Moderate’ Palestinian Movement Honors Japanese Terrorist
Fatah, the movement that dominates the Palestinian Authority (PA), has honored a terrorist named Kozo Okamoto for his part in a 1972 attack in Israel that killed 25 people, including 16 tourists from Puerto Rico, and injured 70 others.
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), a non-profit organization that monitors Arab media in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), the Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem, reported that Okamato was praised on Fatah’s Facebook page on May 18, 2016.
Okamoto and two fellow members of the Japanese Red Army, a terrorist movement that frequently partnered with Palestinian terror organizations, Yasuyuki Yasuda and Tsuyoshi Okudaira, perpetrated a terrorist attack at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport on May 30, 1972. All three Japanese Red Army members had been recruited by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
One survivor of the attack, Ros Sloboda, recalled the sound of shattering glass, then “people started dropping, there was blood everywhere.” The carnage, she told the BBC in May 2014, was “the stuff of nightmares, really (“Survivor Recounts 1972 PFLP-Red Army Terror Attack at Tel Aviv’s Lod Airport,” Algemeiner, May 21, 2014).”
Yasuda and Okudaira were killed carrying out the attack and Okamoto was captured and subsequently tried and convicted by an Israeli court. Despite a sentence of life imprisonment, Okamoto was released in 1985 as part of a prisoner exchange with Palestinian Arab terrorists for Israeli prisoners. Although still wanted by Japan for his crimes, Okamato has received sanctuary in Libya, Syria and most recently, Lebanon.
In its Facebook post—which included a picture of the bloody aftermath of Lod Airport massacre—Fatah wrote: “44 years since the airport operation (26 killed and 80 injured). A thousand greetings to the Japanese fighter and friend, Kozo Okamoto, the hero of the Lod airport operation, May 30, 1972.”
As CAMERA has noted, (see, for example “Those Intransigent ‘Moderates’ of Fatah,” May 6, 2014) Fatah is frequently referred to as “moderate” by a wide variety of news outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the U.K.-based Daily Telegraph, among others.
After PMW highlighted the group’s Facebook post, Fatah did not retreat from its praise of Okamoto. In a subsequent entry on the social media site, Fatah wrote:
“Responding to the Israeli media [PMW]…Blessings to the Japanese fighter, the comrade Kozo Okamoto, hero of the operation at the Lod airport. The Fatah movement is proud of all who have joined its ranks and the ranks of the Palestinian revolution for the freedom of the Palestinian people…” Fatah went on to describe the murderer as having “carried out one of the most famous self-sacrificing operations of the 20th century.”
As CAMERA has pointed out (“CAMERA Notes Palestinian Incitement in Washington Times,” Feb. 22, 2016), Fatah’s praise—and often support—for terrorist attacks is not new.
In his 2016 book Undeclared Wars with Israel: East Germany and the West German Far Left 1967-1989 (Cambridge University Press), University of Maryland professor Jeffrey Herf noted that on May 31 1972, the BBC monitoring service recorded a broadcast on Voice of Fatah radio in Arabic from Cairo extolling the Lod terrorist attack:
“The great, humane, revolutionary choice by a group of youths [the members of the Japanese Red Army] who were born thousands of miles from Palestine demonstrates the greatness of these youths, which is equal to the justness of the Palestine cause. It also indicates the position our cause occupies on the world level…”
Herf writes that after the news of the Lod massacre broke in Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, speaking to the Knesset, said “Woe to any revolution, local or global, which is built on blood and murder, conducted in the name of murder. Immediately after they heard of last night’s incident, both Cairo and Beirut hailed a great victory. Scores of people were killed and wounded. And their joy knows no bounds (Undeclared Wars with Israel, pg. 158-59).”
Fatah’s “joy” over violent murders, or what it called a “great, humane revolutionary choice,” remains unabated. And immoderate.
May 19, 2016
If Only Rhodes Had Waited, Like Phil Caputo
Earlier this month, Ben Rhodes a speechwriter at the National Security Council, admitted to creating an “echo chamber” to promote a controversial agreement with Iran over its nuclear program.
In the story published by the New York Times Sunday Magazine and written by David Samuels, Rhodes speaks about how he was apparently able to generate sympathetic media coverage (and internet buzz) over the deal with Iran, a country that many Americans regard with suspicion.
Rhodes stated that one reason why he was able to manipulate the discourse over the Iran deal was the incompetence and naiveté of American journalists. “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns,” Rhodes said. “They literally know nothing.”
Rhodes’ shocking admission and expression of contempt for American journalists prompted a lot of condemnations. Most of it was directed at Rhodes for the methods he used to promote the Iran deal, but there was another strain of criticism as well. This strain of criticism was directed at Rhodes for rubbing the con in the face of the people he fooled.
Maybe Rhodes should have waited a few decades before telling his story. If he had waited, his story would have elicited applause and laughter.
That’s how it worked out for legendary war correspondent and author Phil Caputo. In 2009, Caputo, a Pulitzer Prize winner, appeared on Moth Radio hour and told the audience that he had misled his readers while working as an international correspondent in Lebanon in the 1970s. Rather than being booed off the stage, Caputo was rewarded with laughter and applause.
Israelis Discover Cure for Leukemia - Does the Media Care?
With the millions of words the New York Times, New Yorker, BBC, et al. have splashed on their pages decrying every new foundation poured in some obscure Israeli settlement or bemoaning the hardship imposed on Palestinians forced to endure delays at security checkpoints, will the legions of journalists and pontificators find space to report on the most extraordinary, life-changing developments coming out of Israel?
Millions have suffered the devastating consequences of Leukemia, a blood marrow cancer that strikes both the young and the old. The disease knows no ethnic or religious boundaries. Until recently, Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia, the most common form, was a death sentence. Despite extensive chemotherapy regimens that left patients tortured by pain and nausea, most of the stricken eventually succumbed to the disease.
But over the past few years, a number of small Israeli medical research firms have devised new compounds and technologies that hold the promise of targeting Leukemic cells with the same incredible accuracy that Iron dome targets incoming Hamas missiles, leaving the rest of the patient's body intact and producing a permanent cure. These developments should they pan out, represent a revolution in medicine and in the battle against cancer.
Will the Times or the BBC take time off from their relentless criticism of Israel to provide their audiences with another perspective of Israel? Will David Remnick, editor of the highbrow New Yorker, which reliably treats its readers to periodic exposures of israel's flaws and alleged injustice toward Palestinians, assign a writer to produce an in-depth report of this story?
Don't bet on it. Providing the world with a cure to a dreaded disease is not the Israel these media organizations care to portray.
May 18, 2016
Bias at NYT Arts/Cultural Desk
A NYT article by James Glanz and Rami Nazzal seemed straightforward at first glance, discussing plans for the opening of a new Palestinian museum in Birzeit on Wednesday. The article appeared online on May 16 under the headline "Palestinian Museum Prepares to Open, Minus Exhibitions" and a day later, on the first page of the Arts & Culture section of the print edition, headlined "Palestinian Museum Is Set to Open, Empty of Art."
When they noted that the museum's opening ceremony was slated for "a few days after the 68th anniversary of what Palestinians call the Nakba, or catastrophe," the reporters appropriately made it clear that this was the Palestinians' terminology for "Israel's founding and the conflict that followed." But while they indicated that as a result, "hundreds of thousands" of Palestinians were "displaced," they did not explain the relevant circumstances, namely, that Arab leaders had invaded and declared war on the newly established State of Israel.
Worse, though, was that elsewhere, the authors themselves adopted the Palestinian narrative and presented it as fact in their own voices. They wrote:
In the West Bank, where Palestinians have for years struggled to build political and civic institutions while resisting Israel’s occupation of the territory, the fate of the exhibition may say as much about the realities of Palestinian society as any art collection could. [emphasis added]
Objective and knowledgeable readers may well recognize that "resisting Israel's occupation" is the justification invoked by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups for carrying out murderous attacks on civilian targets in Israel, but others may be misled by what amounts to the reporters' own stamp of approval on the biased language.
Al-Monitor Spins History
Al-Monitor ran a piece, (“How Palestinians plan to mark 50 years of occupation,” May 15, 2016) outlining “a major Palestinian and international political and public campaign” being planned for next year to mark five decades since the Six-Day War of 1967. The theme of the planned campaign will be “enough with the occupation.”
Author Uri Savir writes:
A senior PLO official in Ramallah told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that “50 years of military occupation spells to every single Palestinian that we, with whatever means we possess, have to end our humiliation and gain our independence. Strategically, June 2017 is an opportunity to place the Palestinian issue on the international agenda.”
The PLO official said that one cannot rule out a “50-year occupation intifada,” but that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas prefers to avoid it: “In 2017, the rules of the game will change. We have come to the end of our patience.”
Savir does not acknowledge that these comments amount to endorsements by Palestinian officials of the murder Jews and Israelis in terrorist projects. Savir, founder of the Peres Center for Peace and the NGO’s current honorary president, parrots incendiary PLO talking points and ignores the incitement of Palestinian violence which the PLO officials themselves unabashedly glorify.
Furthermore, he not only ignores the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank prior to 1967, he also fails to mention numerous offers of statehood made to the Palestinians by successive Israeli governments since. Instead, he chastises Israel:
“Enough with the occupation” should be the Israeli slogan instead. Occupation is the biggest strategic danger to Israel’s identity, to its security and its international relations. It is turning Israel into a binational, immoral state, and it carries severe ramifications for Israel’s democracy.
With pithy historical blindness, Savir places the weight of the conflict entirely on Israel’s shoulders, giving the Palestinians a free pass even as they admit to turning to terrorism. Al-Monitor, the 2014 recipient of the International Press Institute’s (IPI) Free Media Pioneer Award, eliminates any semblance of contextualize reporting, offering a biased perspective of the last half-century of events in Middle East.
--Rachel Frommer, CAMERA Intern
May 17, 2016
'Stabbing Intifada' Declines, Tribune Papers Tell Half the Story
The Tribune Newspapers—including The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun—asked, as a Times headline put it, “What’s behind the sharp decline in lone-wolf stabbing attacks in the West Bank?” (May 11, 2016). The same report appeared that day in The Tribune and a shorter version (“Palestinian stabbings decrease, officials say”) ran in the May 10 print Baltimore Sun.
Special correspondent Joshua Mitnick’s timely article included some useful background. It indirectly and anonymously quoted a Palestinian security commander saying, “Many of the attacks [against Israelis] seem to be carried out by youths who suffer from depression or economic hardship,” as well as those who “want revenge for relatives or friends injured in the violence.”
But the article omitted too much. For example:
*It portrayed the Palestinian “stabbing intifada” as “being carried by individuals without ties to militant groups.” But according to a detailed analysis by Adam Shay and Pinhas Inbari (“the Palestinian Authority-Fatah’s Incitement Strategy,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Feb. 29, 2016), “rather than plan and coordinate violent attacks, [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas uses the Palestinian public debate and the media as a mechanism for instigating waves of violence. The public debate also uses a dialogue based on cultural codes, which broadcast a specific, pre-defined meaning to the Palestinian listener.
“When President Abbas says that ‘they [the Jews] have no right to defile them [the al-Aqsa mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher]…we will not allow them, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem,’ he is in fact giving permission and legitimacy to intensify the struggle. Within the context of the struggle this is an authorization to move from stone-throwing to knifing and vehicular attacks, as was indeed the case.”
*The Tribune report misses what Shay and Inbari describe as Abbas’ strategy to circumvent Israel’s insistence on direct negotiations toward a “two-state solution” and Israeli-Palestinian peace. Abbas outlined this in January, 2015, eight months before the “stabbing intifada” erupted, declaring in reference to sporadic anti-Israel attacks already occurring: “The popular intifada will continue until the occupation is over and there will be no return to negotiations without full recognition of Palestinian rights. Movement towards a settlement will be achieved through international intervention.” Palestinian support of French efforts to convene an international conference in place of direct talks with Israel reflects that strategy.
*The Tribune Newspapers quote PA official and Fatah movement member Kadoura Fares as claiming of “the stabbing intifada” that “the Palestinian national movement didn’t lead this wave.” Perhaps not with a direct order, but by setting and maintaining the atmosphere, including repeated official praise of “martyrs, it helped spark and sustain that wave. See, for one example among many “USA Today Downplays Anti-Jewish Violence as Clashes,” CAMERA, March 7, 2016.
*“What’s behind the sharp decline in lone-wolf stabbing attacks” states, without attribution, “Palestinians want to form an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as their capital.” This formula tends to appear chronically in news media coverage, usually—as here—out of context. That Palestinian leaders rejected U.S.-Israeli proposals of a West Bank and Gaza “Palestine” with eastern Jerusalem as its capital in 2000 and 2001, replying with the bloodshed of the second intifada, and rebuffed a similar Israeli-only offer in 2008 virtually always goes unmentioned.
In fact, recent polling indicates that pluralities of Palestinian Arabs continue to oppose a “two-state solution,” still favor elimination of Israel as a Jewish state and support anti-Israeli violence over non-violence. See “Poll: Majority of Palestinians Favor a New Intifada,” CAMERA, Sept. 25, 2015
Yes, Israeli authorities have credited PA officials with trying recently to minimize support for “the stabbing intifada,” including among young people via social media. This Mitnick, formerly of The Wall Street Journal, now a Tribune Newspapers special correspondent, reports. But omitted is those same officials’ role in stimulating such attacks in the first place. Also missing is the persistence of Palestinian hostility to Israel and opposition to peace with it as a Jewish state, which fuels those crimes.
Washington Post Notes Israel’s Cyber Strength
The Washington Post’s “Cyber-city rises from the desert in Israel” (May 15, 2016) highlighted Israel’s growing power in the realm of cyber-security—a strength made possible, in part, through innovation and cooperation.
The Post reported that in the middle of the Negev Desert, in southern Israel, a “cyber-city is rising to cement Israel’s place as a major digital power.” Beersheba, population 200,000 and home to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, “will concentrate some of the country’s top talent from the military, academia and business in an area of just a few square miles.”
Beersheba houses a technology park that includes global companies such as PayPal, Lockheed Martin and Deutsche Telekom, among others. Unit 8200, a signals intelligence arm of the Israeli military (roughly analogous to the U.S. National Security Agency), will soon be located at the park. The Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, will also take up residence at the complex adjacent to Ben-Gurion University.
The school will work with these global companies and Israeli military and security agencies to complete a cyber emergency response team.
In 2014, Israel launched the response team, as part of the National Cyber Security Authority, to respond to crises. Growing cyber threats to Israel, including those emanating from Iran, have helped to provide an incentive. As The Post article detailed, constant attacks, virtual as well as physical, against the Jewish state, as well as “cross-pollination” from different sectors, have helped propel Israeli growth in cyber.
The Post quoted Nadav Zafrir, a former head of Unit 8200, on the combined potency provided of private and public entities:
“What you get out of that is the research capabilities that academia brings, the real-world knowledge that the [tech firms] bring, the hands-on experience that the military brings, alongside the entrepreneurial ability that the start-ups bring.” The Post seems to concur, concluding that “no other country is so purposefully integrating its private, scholarly, government and military cyber-expertise.”
These different organizations reflect Israel’s emphasis on cyber-security as well as its unique approach to the problems—and opportunities—posed by threats emanating online.
Eviatar Matania, the head of the National Cyber Bureau, told The Post that Israel “gains an advantage over other countries” through a high-tech and innovation-driven culture that emanates, in part, from cyber-security. According to Matania, the result is that Israel sees the cyber realm “not just as a threat to mitigate, but also as one of our economic engines.”
As CAMERA has noted ("Defense One: Israel is a Rising Cyber ‘Super Power,’” Feb. 2, 2016), Israel currently has more than 300 cybersecurity companies and accounts for 20 percent of the world’s private investment in cyber. An estimated $6 billion in cybersecurity technology is exported by the Jewish state.
It seems likely that Israel’s strength in cyber will continue to grow. By the end of 2017, The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are hoping to establish a cyber-command to “merge the missions of attack and defense.”
The elite cyber-units recruit at an early age. The Post noted that “the cream of the computer science and math crop are scouted by the elite military cyber-units when they are as young as 14.” Military cyber-officers mentor students at four Israeli high schools that offer advanced math and computer science curriculum. After serving Israel, cybersecurity specialists will have an opportunity to work for private companies, including those housed at Beersheba.
IDF Capt. Rotem Bashi, who heads a cyberdefense unit, told The Post, the “next war will be in cyberspace.” If so—as this Washington Post article detailed—Israel intends to be ready.
ICNA’s Selective Outrage on Bangladesh Violence
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a non-profit organization that claims to represent the interests of Muslims in America, has selectively condemned violence in Bangladesh. Although ICNA denounced the execution of Maluana Motiur Rahman Nizami, a Bangladeshi Islamist, the organization has been silent about Islamist attacks against secular writers and religious minorities in the country.
ICNA called the execution of Nizami “another shameful act of judicial killing which is part of the ongoing brutal persecution of political opponents by Sheikh Hasina’s [Hasina Wazed, the current prime minister of Bangladesh] government.”
The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), a Washington D.C.-based organization that monitors extremist groups, noted that Nizami “was a top leader of Bangladesh’s Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party and a former president of its student affiliate, Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba Pakistan. He was also a permanent member of the Muslim World League, a Saudi-funded organization created in 1962 for the global propagation of Wahhabi Islam.”
IPT noted that “ICNA’s strong condemnation of Nizami’s execution and those of other JI-tied Bangladeshi Islamists in the past stands in sharp contrast to the Islamist group’s notable silence following recent horrific terror attacks in Bangladesh that have included the hacking to death of a Bangladeshi academic, gay rights activist, Hindu tailor, and Sufi leader. Some of these attacks have been linked to the Islamic State and al-Qaida, raising the total number of terrorist slayings of secular bloggers and critics of radical Islam in Bangladesh to 20 since 2013.”
ICNA has shown a willingness to speak with many in the U.S. news media—who often treat the group as a credible source, failing to fully identify the Circle’s radical roots, associations and activities (see, for example “Baltimore Sun Gives Islamic Circle a Free Pass,” CAMERA, June 3, 2015).
As CAMERA has noted, the Islamic Circle is a subsidiary of the Islamic Society of North America, a Muslim Brotherhood spin-off. The Egyptian-based, Sunni Brotherhood seeks to spread sharia (Islamic law) globally. ICNA is part of a network of groups, including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) that stemmed from the Brotherhood’s North American initiatives.
In 2010, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) noted that a December 2009 ICNA conference featured calls to destroy Israel and distributed the writings of Anwar al-Awlaki—an American-born leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula who was later killed by a U.S. drone strike.
ICNA’s magazines have featured interviews with terrorist leaders in Pakistan and encouraged jihadi recruitment in Kashmir. In December 2009, five young members of a JI mosque in Virginia were arrested and convicted on terrorism charges after trying to join a Pakistani terrorist group.
In Dec. 6, 2010 report, IPT pointed out that a 2010 ICNA Member’s Hand Book spelled out that “the organizations ultimate goal is ‘the Establishment of Islam’ as the sole basis of global society and governance. It also encourages members to deceive people in its proselytizing campaign to help fulfill this goal.”
Nizami was a violent man. IPT reported that he was convicted in 2014 by a Bangladeshi war crimes tribunal for leading a “secret killing squad called Al-Badar Bahini, which was created by the JI under orders from Pakistani intelligence” during Bangladesh’s 1971 war.
The Islamic Circle’s selective outrage over violence in Bangladesh is newsworthy. Media failure to note it is worrisome.
AFP's Lopsided Account of Slain Palestinian Teen
When a media outlet reports on a fact sheet published by a big international NGO, what is its responsibility to readers? Do journalists have an obligation to flag shortcomings in NGO reports? AFP, apparently, thinks not.
In a widely published article, AFP summarized a UNICEF fact sheet claiming that "25 Palestinian children killed in 3 months." The UNICEF provides identifying details (date and location) in just two out of the 25 alleged cases. AFP faithfully relays UNICEF's flawed account of one of the two cases:
UNICEF cited the example on October 25 in Hebron in the West Bank of a 17-year-old girl who was "taken by IDF (Israel Defence Forces) soldiers for a search, shot with at least five bullets and killed".
"Israeli authorities said that she had attempted to stab a policeman, however an eyewitness stated that she was not presenting any threat at the time she was shot, and was shouting that she did not have a knife," it said.
Relying solely on the UNICEF report, AFP failed to fulfill its duty to independently fact-check. A quick search reveals that Amnesty International, which has no great love for Israel, noted this relevant information concerning the Oct. 25 Hebron incident:
In other words, there is a photograph that supports the Israeli account of events, a photograph that AFP ignored.
A photo of Ershied’s body shows a knife lying near the body, and the Israeli police spokesperson has stated that she attempted to stab a border policeman.
In recent months, following terror attacks, the publication - official or otherwise - of photographs showing the weapons used in the attack have been commonplace. Despite such evidence, Palestinians frequently insist that slain terrorists are innocent. In an attempt to explain the contrary photographic material, a bizarre conspiracy theory claiming Israeli forces plant knives on dead Palestinians thrives in Palestinian social media, and is even embraced by some Palestinian officials.
That UNICEF failed to note the photograph does not exonerate AFP from its responsibility to note the photograph of the knife. Whether or not AFP subscribes to outlandish anti-Israel conspiracy theories, it carries an obligation to its readers to fully present the facts, even when its NGO sources don't.
May 16, 2016
Iranian Military Admits Anti-Israel Missile Test
A top member of Iran’s military has admitted that the Islamic Republic test fired a ballistic missile inscribed with a call to destroy Israel.
USA Today reported that “Brig. Gen. Ali Abdolahi, the Iranian military’s deputy chief of staff, told Iran’s Tasnim news agency that Iran fired the test missile two weeks ago and that it was accurate to within 25 feet, which he described as zero error (“Iran defense chief denies long-range missile test,” May 10, 2016).”
Abdolahi’s admission of the tests in mid-April follows another ballistic missile test which took place in March and involved two types of missiles, Qadr-H and Qadr-E, both of which were launched from the East Alborz Mountains in northern Iran. The tests violated a U.N. Security Council resolution, according to a confidential report made in March by the council’s panel of experts on Iran (“Exclusive: Iran missile tests were ‘in defiance of’ U.N. resolution—U.S., allies,” Reuters, March 30, 2016).
USA Today reported that Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan denied that a missile test “of that distance” (1,250 miles) took place in mid-April. Dehqan also claimed that the United States and Saudi Arabia are conducting a “propaganda campaign to make the world believe Iran’s missiles are not for defensive purposes.”
Yet, evidence suggest that missiles being developed by Iran have an offensive purpose.
Reporting the tests in March, USA Today noted that, “two months ago, Iran test-fired two ballistic missiles, one of them with the phrase ‘Israel should be wiped off the Earth’ written on it in Hebrew. Iranian officials say the phrase was added by workers on the ground and was not a decision made by higher-level officials.”
CAMERA has noted (“The Iranian Missile Photo That CNN Missed,” March 21, 2016) that images of the missiles “emblazoned with the anti-Israel graffiti” were broadcasted on Iranian state-sponsored TV in March. Despite this, CNN erroneously reported at the time that Iranian media had not published photographs of the inscribed missiles and that CNN “could not independently confirm” whether the missiles were launched with the genocidal language displayed.
Similarly, in its report on the March missile tests, The Washington Post claimed that “Iran’s semiofficial Fars News Agency reported that the missiles tested Wednesday were stamped with a message in Hebrew: ‘Israel must be wiped out.’ However, there was no confirmation of the report, and no such markings were seen in state-issued photos and video (“Biden: Iran under close watch amid reports of missile tests,” March 9).”
On 'Nakba Day,' a Beersheva 'Refugee' & AFP Time Warp
May 16 Update, 8:52 a.m. EST: AFP Corrects Photo Caption on Palestinian Refugee
Much has been said about the United Nations' unique definition for Palestinian refugees, probably the only group of displaced people in the entire world whose descendants also receive refugee status.
Among this group of special refugees -- the descendants of those Palestinians who fled or were expelled in 1948 --is a smaller, more rare group of time-defying Palestinian refugees: though they were born after 1948, somehow, inexplicably, they were there in 1948.
Five years ago, for instance, on "Nakba Day," Haaretz interviewed 57-year-old Salman Fakherldeen, who miraculously remembered events from 1948, seven years before he was born.
This year, Agence France Presse photographer Said Khatib apparently located another example of this rare breed of a post-1948 refugee, "refugee Aisha, 53," formerly of Beersheva. The photo and caption follow:
The caption states:
Palestinian refugee Aisha, 53, who says is a former [sic] inhabitant of the town of Beersheva, waves a group of keys outside her home in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on May 15, 2016, on the 68th anniversary of the "Nakba".
"Nakba" means in Arabic "catastrophe" in reference to the birth of the state of Israel 68-years-ago in British-mandate Palestine, which led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who either fled or were driven out of their homes during the 1948 war over Israel's creation. They key symbolises the homes left by Palestinians in 1948.
Aisha, who is reportedly 53 years old, could not have fled or been driven out of her Beersheva home 68 years ago, as the caption strongly suggests. She possibly could have lived in Beersheva and decided to move to Gaza for marriage, for example, but then she is not a "refugee" forced out of her home in the 1948 war, as the caption clearly implies.
Was Aisha an inhabitant of Beersheva? If she was, why did AFP conflate her decision to move with the fate of Palestinian Arabs who left in 1948 and became refugees? If she opted to leave Beersheva, how exactly, is she a "refugee," as the caption identifies her?
CAMERA has contacted AFP to request a clarification. Stay tuned for an update.
May 13, 2016
Michigan Public Radio Considers It Controversial to Acknowledge Israel's Birthday
Deadline Detroit asks whether Michigan Public Radio was right to reject a donor's request to wish Israel a happy birthday?
According to the publication, Michigan Radio, an NPR affiliate, offered one of their donors the opportunity to have a message of her choice read on air, but when it turned out she wanted to wish Israel a Happy Birthday in honour of Yom Ha'atzmaut, Michigan Radio demurred, arguing that such a message
would compromise the station's commitment to impartiality and that it crosses over into advocacy, or could imply advocacy.
Donor Lisa Lis was upset and explained why:
Why would Public Radio need to be impartial about a legally recognized country other than the fact, many want her wiped from the face of the earth. Would it be a problem if it were the birthday of England, Norway or South Sudan?
Israel is a hot button country that the world has accepted as questionable and debatable and the major infraction Israel has committed is purely her existence. By the way, I truly look forward to expressing my same salutation when Palestine can celebrate her birthday.
Do you agree?
The Money Trail Behind Jewish Voice for Peace
Jewish Voice for Peace is a fanatical anti-Israel group and a leading proponent of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign to toxify Israel. As CAMERA has documented, the group disseminates the most vicious smears against the Jewish state, including blood libels. For example, in a guest editorial in the Detroit Free Press in 2008, Jewish Voice for Peace repeated a libelous charge that Israeli troops had committed a massacre in the village of Tantara during the 1948 war for Israeli independence. The individual who had fabricated the story, a graduate student under the tutelage of anti-Zionist professor Ilan Pappe, had admitted under oath in a libel suit brought against him that there was no evidence to support the charge of a massacre. Yet the guest editorial writers continued to promote the libelous smear.
Despite ample evidence of Jewish Voice for Peace's mendacity, there is an ongoing effort by Israel's detractors in both the media and academia to portray the cultish group as a legitimate participant in the discussion about Israel and the Palestinians.
On May 12, 2016, CAMERA received information about a course claiming to be affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Global Studies Department that utilized Jewish Voice for Peace as its main information source to teach high school students about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In the media, Jewish Voice for Peace is cited by journalists and commentators who share the same far left orientation. The New York Times' columnist Nicholas Kristof cited Jewish Voice for Peace in a column on Aug. 3, 2011 in which he discussed Jewish groups "seeking balance" in the United States' involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Kristof depicted the group in benign terms as one that "supports divestment campaigns against companies profiting from the occupation of Palestinian territories."
J Street, a group funded by radical billionaire currrency speculator George Soros and an obscure Asian businesswoman named Consolacion Esdicul, also has engaged with the group. While officially not endorsing Jewish Voice for Peace, J Street has welcomed its representatives to its conferences and co-sponsored various letters promoting the Iran deal and other activities with negative repercussions for Israel.
A recent report by the Israel-based NGO Monitor illuminates those who fund the anti-Israel agitation of Jewish Voice for Peace. They include familiar anti-Israel money sources as well as some surprising additions.
In the 2014-5 period, the largest visible donations were provided by:
Rockefeller Brothers Fund- ($140,000 in 2015)
Tides Foundation- ($49,477 in 2014)
Firedoll Foundation- ($25,000 in 2014)
Schwab Charitable Foundation- ($158,800 in 2014)
Jewish Communal Fund- ($25,100 in 2015)
Most other grants were below $30,000.
The Rockefeller Foundation, along with several other foundation donors found on the list contribute to a variety of anti-Israel pressure groups.
The single largest source was the Schwab Charitable Foundation, but it's important to note that this is a donor-advised fund. Using such a fund individuals make tax-deductible contributions into a special account, and only later direct money from that account to non-profit organizations. Contributions from a donor-advised fund are decided by the donor and not by the company managing the fund, in this case Schwab.
According to NGO Monitor, $448,000 went to Jewish Voice for Peace through such Schwab donor-advised funds between the years 2012-2014.
The NGO Monitor report provides documentation of a money trail that funds an emotion-driven public relations war against Israel. It also exposes the duplicity of those in the media, academia and even the Jewish community who portray Jewish Voice for Peace as a legitimate voice within the Jewish community.
Update: This post has been modified to clarify that contributions from a Schwab donor-advised fund are decided by the donor and not by Schwab.
May 12, 2016
A Shell Game: Washington Post Report on Anxious French Jews
“France is home to the largest Jewish community in Europe, and its most troubled. A wave of anti-Semitic violence in recent years has shaken Jews to the point where growing numbers no longer see a future here.”
So begins “Jews anxious about future in France,” by Washington Post correspondent James McAuley (May 10, 2016 print edition, May 9 online). Who is responsible for the “wave of anti-Semitic violence” and “sense of anxiety” pervading “a [Jewish] community that accounts for just 1 percent of the total French population”? The Post does not exactly say.
The newspaper does tell readers that community accounts for “nearly half of all victims of what French authorities call ‘Xenophobic’ violence.” Which “xenophobes”? In the 10th paragraph The Post finally says “Jews are struggling to consolidate safety and security in a France where radical Islamist violence has been rising.”
So, radical Muslims threaten French Jews with violence? The newspaper implies that, but stops short of saying so explicitly. Instead, it recalls:
“In 2006, there was the abduction and murder of a Jewish cell phone salesman by a gang of anti-Semitic youths. In 2012, a shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse. In 2015, a shooting at a kosher supermarket the day after the Charlie Hebdo attack. And In January of this year, the machete attack on a Jewish teacher as he walked on the street in Marseille.”
That “gang of anti-Semitic youths” who tortured Ilan Halimi to death over a period of days while taunting his family in telephone calls was Muslims. The terrorist who murdered a teacher and three children in Toulouse in 2012 was a Muslim. The shooter who killed four Jews at Paris’ Hyper-Cacher market in 2015 was a Muslim who claimed to have coordinated with the Charlie Hebdo murderers.
But The Post quickly moves on to other matters in the last 22 of the article’s 34 paragraphs. These are the argument among French Jews over whether they should abandon France for Israel or elsewhere, or stay. And, if they stay, should they work with the anti-immigrant—essentially anti-Muslim and originally antisemitic but now ostensibly pro-Jewish National Front Party—or against it?
Early in the dispatch, a man identified as an Israeli “human rights lawyer living in Paris,” is quoted as saying “in terms of security, I don’t believe Israel is a safe place for Jews. Or for anyone else.” The Post transmits that stenographically, without context.
In context, in terms of individual security, a U.N. office reports that the murder rate per 100,000 population in Israel in 2012 was 1.8; in France (2013) 1.2; Tunisia—where some French vacation—3.1 (2012); and in the United States, where more than five million Jews live and many French visit, 3.8 (2013). (Data from most recent years posted.)
Another article by McAuley (“World Views: France plans to set up ‘anti-jihadist centers’ to curb youth radicalization,” May 10 online, not yet in print) crept a little closer to cause—Islamic extremism or Islamist supremacism—in addition to effect—rising violence against French Jews and others. The short dispatch used the words “anti-jihadist” and “jihadism” in direct quotes from the French prime minister. It also referred to “militant” and “militants” and once to the Islamic State. It also noted that “many Muslims” find state secularism “alienating.”
But those whose radicalization government officials hoped to prevent turned out to be “young men,” “young people” or “French youths.” Young Catholics? Secular youths? Young French Jews?
When predominately Muslim suburbs of Paris and other French cities erupted in riots and arsons four years ago, reporting by the Tribune Newspapers (including The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun) suffered from descriptions of acts by “disaffected youths,” “rioting youths” and “gangs of youths.” Tribune Co. journalists, professionally expected to report who, what, when, where, why and how, erased the Muslim and/or North African-Arab identity of most of these “youths.” Washington Post coverage of violent threats to French Jews from radicalized Muslims suffers a similar erasure now.
Washington Post Editorial Notes Iranian ‘Moderates’ Mendacity on Holocaust
A Washington Post editorial “Iran’s ‘moderates’ and the Holocaust,” (May 10, 2016) noted that Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, offered an “unconvincing disavowal of the regime’s hate speech,” including Tehran’s sponsoring of a Holocaust “cartoon festival.”
Post editorialists pointed out that “at the heart of the Obama administration’s diplomatic engagement with Iran is the notion that the regime is divided among hard-liners who foment its terrorism and regional aggression and more moderate forces who are open to cooperation with the West.”
CAMERA has noted (see, for example “The Media and the Myth of the Moderate Mullahs,” March 2, 2016) the tendency of major U.S. print news outlets, including The Washington Post, to refer to “moderates” in the theocratic, authoritarian regime that rules the Islamic Republic of Iran—often overlooking evidence that contradicts that idea.
Zarif is frequently labeled a “moderate” and is, The Post editorial said, “‘an English-speaking favorite of many Western journalists and even more so, Secretary of State John Kerry.”
Yet, this label doesn’t match Zarif’s actions or those of the regime he serves.
The Post pointed out that during the 18-month imprisonment of their Tehran bureau chief, Jason Rezain, by Iran, Zarif suggested that the journalist had been taken “advantage” of by an “overzealous low-level operative” of the U.S. government.
The foreign minister’s mendacity also was on display when he was asked to explain why Iran is sponsoring an international cartoon contest with a Holocaust denial theme. A previous Holocaust cartoon contest was held in 2006 under Iran’s then-President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-2013) and a second in 2015. Ahmadinejad favored blunt anti-Western, anti-Israel rhetoric, unlike Zarif, was often referred to by press and policymakers as a “hard-liner.” But both men served Iran’s “Supreme Leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is rarely if ever characterized by the press as “moderate.”
The Post editorial noted that when Zarif was asked about the upcoming Holocaust cartoon contest by Robin Wright of The New Yorker magazine, his reaction “was a form of denialism: He claimed the Rouhani administration [Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s current President who is also frequently called a “moderate” by Western journalists] had nothing to do with the exhibition. The sponsor is a nongovernmental organization ‘that is not controlled by the Iranian government.’”
In his interview with Wright, Zarif tried to blur the lines, claiming that the event was comparable to the activity of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan, in the United States. Zarif obfuscated, asking Wright: “Is the government of the United States responsible for the fact that there are racially hateful organizations in the United States?”
Wright, a former correspondent for The Post and Los Angeles Times, among other outlets, also works for the United States Institute of Peace and frequently argues for greater U.S. engagement with Tehran. She did not challenge Zarif’s Klan-Holocaust cartoon contest comparison although she did question his claims that the Iranian government was not involved in the event. However, as The Post editorial noted, “a spokesman for the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance confirmed that the ministry supports the [Holocaust cartoon] exhibition….A festival official also reported that it was cooperating with the ministry.”
May 11, 2016
Where's the Coverage? Antisemitism Rampant in the PA
Blogger Elder of Ziyon (EoZ) describes this week’s Palestinian Book Fair in Ramallah, translating from the Arabic-language Feneeq News the statement of Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, “On behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas and myself, I thank all of you, the owners of publishing houses and intellectuals, visitors and guests of Palestine, who have turned this event into a cultural gathering, challenging the occupation and its repressive practices, and breaking the siege and isolation Israel wants us to be under.”
EoZ notes that, "There is not the slightest indication that Israel did anything to stop this fair.” In fact, this year’s fair is the 10th annual Palestinian Book Fair; with a decade of fairs having been held, the claim of Israeli attempts to squelch it is absurd on its face.
In addition to the insidious statements by top Palestinian officials, books on offer—many of which cannot be authenticated as no book list is made available to the public— contain antisemitic material. One confirmed example is Ramzy El-Menyawi’s “Chaos Theory—The American Scenario to Fragment the Middle East and the Zionist Theory Adapted by America,” of which EoZ writes:
In the introduction to the book Menyawi makes an analogy between the US army invading and fragmenting the Muslim world and matzah made from the bodies and blood of the people Jews murdered.
This sort of thinking such as the blood libel is not on the margins of Palestinian society - it is mainstream.
Indeed, Palestinian Authority antisemitism is rampant, as demonstrated by PMW’s report on "Palestinian Authority Antisemitism in 2015". In its overview, Palestinian Media Watch chronicled the hate-speech promoted in Palestinian media, children’s shows, news outlets, and educational programming. The regular stream of antisemitic language by officials of the PA government is also covered, like a Fatah spokesman referring to Jews as “sons of apes and pigs.”
Yet, the international media continues to ignore this very real problem of Palestinians indoctrinated by their leaders, teachers, books and media to hate Jews because they are Jewish. Where’s the coverage?
--Rachel Frommer, CAMERA Intern
At Haaretz, Is Style Guide Just a Suggestion?
About the word "settlement," Haaretz's English style guide states:
In these parts, a word with political connotations. Use it only for a Jewish locale in the West Bank (or former/evacuated settlements in Gaza).
Indeed, in the Israeli-Palestinian context, the word "settlement" refers to an Israeli community over the Green Line and that is how it is most often understood.
Nevertheless, in his Haaretz Op-Ed earlier this week, Moshe Arens uses the term to mean something else. His Op-Ed begins:
In Israel's doorstep -- within mortar range of Israeli settlements and rocket range of Ben-Gurion Aiport -- live two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Arens isn't referring here to a Jewish locale in the West Bank or an evacuated settlement in Gaza. He is talking about Jewish communities in southern Israel, close to the Gaza Strip.
CAMERA yesterday informed Haaretz English edition editors of the inconsistency with Haaretz's style guide. As of this writing, they have declined to amend the misleading language.
In 2014, Haaretz corrected after misleadingly identifying a Jewish community near the Gaza Strip as a "settlement." It's unclear why, in this case, they have declined to correct. Is the Haaretz style guide merely a suggestion? Do style guidelines, which promote consistency, accuracy and clarity, not apply to Haaretz Op-Eds?
May 10, 2016
WSJ Op-Ed: Israelis are Happy
Photo: Getty Images
In an Op-Ed published May 10, 2016, Avinoam Bar-Yosef details “The Improbable Happiness of Israelis”:
The World Happiness Report 2016 Update ranks Israel (Jews and Arabs) 11th of 158 countries evaluated for the United Nations. Israel also shines as No. 5 of the 36 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries on the OECD’s Life Satisfaction Index—ahead of the U.S., the U.K. and France.
And it isn’t just Jews. Go to any beach or shopping mall and—despite the frictions—you will see Jews and Arabs peacefully coexisting. They all can take pride in their country’s accomplishments, as when Israel faced a water crisis a decade ago and launched a desalination project that is now the envy of the world.
This despite the fact that, as Bar-Yosef notes, “Israelis live in a hostile and volatile neighborhood, engaged in an endless conflict with the Palestinians and under the threat of nuclear annihilation by Iran.” He does not even mention the constant assaults on Israel’s very right to exist, the movement to delegitimize the Jewish state in global fora, the media and at universities around the globe, or the outrageous attempts to deny the unique Jewish connection to the land of Israel and even to the Shoah.
So why are Israelis happy?
As Israel approaches its 68th Independence Day, perhaps Israelis understand that, notwithstanding these challenges—and perhaps in spite of them—they’re doing a bang-up job building a free and democratic society and contributing to the well-being of humanity. Not many countries can say that, least of all Israel's neighbors.
May 09, 2016
Politico Downplays Palestinian Terrorism
In a May 5th article in Politico's U.S. Edition, entitled "State Dept. assures Leahy on Israeli human rights scrutiny", author Nahal Toosi misleads readers as she downplays Palestinian terrorism, and transfers blame for the violence onto Israel She writes:
In recent months, Palestinians have staged numerous attacks, many with knives, against Israeli security forces, who have often responded with gunfire. The violence has put both sides on edge and has led to allegations of overreaction by the Israeli military.[emphasis added]
Does Toosi consider Eitan and Naama Henkin, the young couple murdered in front of their children on October 1st to be "security forces"? How about 22-year-old yeshiva student Aharon Banita-Bennet, who was stabbed to death on his way to the Western Wall with his wife and two young children, who were stabbed as well? Or 18-year-old Ezra Schwartz from Massachusetts who was shot to death on November 19 while doing volunteer work during his gap year in Israel? Or 21-year-old Hadras Buchris who was stabbed to death as she waited for a ride on November 22? Or 45-year-old Rabbi Reuven Eduardo) Birmajer who was stabbed to death on December 23 near Jaffa gate? Or Dafna Meir, the mother of six, who was stabbed to death inside her home on January 17? Or 29-year-old Taylor Force, an American tourist who was stabbed to death on March 8?
These are just a few of the civilians who lost their lives lost their lives after being targeted by Palestinian terrorists, not to mention the dozens who were wounded and nearly lost their lives in such attacks. Anyone acquainted with the events in Israel over the past 6 months is well aware that Palestinian terrorist attacks have not just been aimed at Israeli security forces but at innocent civilians, including women, children and elderly victims. These attacks, which include 147 stabbings, 87 shootings, 43 car rammings and 1 bus bombing, have killed 34 people, 28 of them civilians, including two foreign nationals and an off-duty policeman. Of the 447 who were wounded in these attacks, nearly 200 were civilians and included several Arab and foreign national civilians .
But by falsely suggesting that these Palestinian assailants were targeting Israeli security forces who responded excessively with "gunfire" , Toosi succeeds in twisting the events completely.
CAMERA contacted both the journalist and news editor at Politico who refused to correct the erroneous reference to Palestinian violence stating that they "believe the story can stand as is."
May 06, 2016
BBC's Jeremy Bowen Follows PLO Dictates
CAMERA has long criticized BBC's Jeremy Bowen for his biased reporting on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and in March 2009, the BBC's highest body upheld a complaint by CAMERA that Bowen violated the broadcasters' guidelines requiring impartiality and accuracy. (For a full analysis of that BBC ruling and the CAMERA complaint that led up to it, see here.) As CAMERA's BBC-Watch often documents, Bowen has not since ceased his biased reporting.
The latest example comes in a May 4 web article and a World Service radio broadcast that aired on May 6 about the violence in Jerusalem in the wake of a bus bombing carried out by a Palestinian terrorist last month. After creating a tale of equivalent mutual hatred and violence on each side, Bowen attempts to dispel the Israeli charge that Palestinian attacks are a result of relentless incitement by the Palestinian leadership. The BBC journalist imposes a blame-Israel narrative on his audience as he "explains" the "core of the conflict":
But hundreds of conversations with Palestinians over many years here have convinced me that the biggest factor that shapes their attitudes to Israel is not the incitement to hate but the occupation of the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, that started after Israel's victory in the 1967 Middle East war.
When Palestinians who agitate against Israel find an audience, it is because of the way that the occupation, which is inherently violent, has overshadowed and controlled Palestinian lives for almost 50 years.
Not only does Bowen echo the Palestinian narrative by describing disputed territories meant to be defined in bilateral negotiations as "Palestinian territories" but he servilely obeys the PLO's media advisory to journalists laying out what they should emphasize in their reporting, namely, that the conflict is totally and singularly about "the occupation."
As long as the BBC continues to allow the PLO to dictate the terms of how the Arab-Israeli conflict is reported, readers and listeners cannot expect to be accurately informed about what is really going on in that part of the world.