April 19, 2015
Stone-Throwing, Lost in Haaretz Translation
"Haaretz, Lost in Translation," that enduring phenomenon of Haaretz's English translators deleting information about Arab violence or wrongdoing which had appeared in the Hebrew original, strikes again.
This time, Haaretz translators transform a Palestinian stone-thrower who was fatally shot as he was engaged in violence against Israeli troops into a non-violent marcher who was shot for no offense greater than feeling rage over his cousin's death.
The English version of Gideon Levy's article Friday reads ("In death as in life"):
Two days later, last Friday, with the whole family at his side, Jafar died. His funeral took place the same day, and was attended by thousands.
Afterward, hundreds of enraged young people started to march toward the IDF checkpoint at the edge of the town. Troops from the Golani infantry brigade lay in ambush for them in the skeleton of an old Israeli bus that was abandoned long ago in the town. The mourners were in the street, the remains of the bus stood on the slope below.
Ziyyad Awad was distraught at the death of his beloved friend and cousin; he had been with him until his final moments.
The soldiers shot at Ziyyad. He was hit in the stomach and died, the rounds apparently fired with a .22-caliber Ruger rifle. Three other people were wounded, two of them in their upper body. The Military Police launched an investigation.
The original Hebrew version of Levy's article Friday notes that the crowd of Palestinian mourners had been throwing stones. It states:
The relevant sentence, underlined in red, means (CAMERA's translation):
Thousands accompanied him on his final journey and at the end hundreds of enraged youth approached the checkpoint at the exit of the city, and threw stones.
For some reason, this violence on the part of the Palestinian crowd was does not appear in the English article.
About the circumstances of Ziyyad's death, Reuters had reported:
Israeli troops killed a Palestinian stone-thrower and wounded several others in the occupied West Bank on Friday after a militant's funeral turned violent, hospital officials and witnesses said.
An army spokeswoman confirmed soldiers opened fire during the incident at Beit Omar, near the Palestinian city of Hebron, saying they had feared for their lives as protesters threw rocks and petrol bombs and rolled burning car tyres at them. (Emphasis added.)
Likewise, Associated Press reported on April 10:
After the funeral, Palestinians threw rocks at soldiers manning a watchtower on a road near the town, according to witnesses.
Israel's military said Palestinians threw rocks and firebombs, and rolled burning tires toward soldiers. It said troops used tear gas at first, but fired low-caliber bullets at the legs of four men after the soldiers felt their lives were in danger.
Haaretz reported the same day:
According to the Israeli military, about 700 Palestinians clashed with security forces following a funeral on Friday for a man who died from medical complications shortly after his release from Israeli prison. The mourners threw stones and firebombs at the Israeli troops, who responded with gas canisters and later the bullets. According to the Golani Brigade unit on the scene, four Palestinians were wounded by the Ruger rifle bullets that were fired at their legs.
CAMERA has contacted editors of Haaretz's English edition and requested a clarification noting that Awad had been throwing rocks when he was shot, and that according to the army, the crowd had also been throwing fire bombs. Stay tuned for an update.
UPDATE, 7:04 am EST -- Haaretz Adds Stone-Throwing
Following communication from CAMERA's Israel office, Haaretz editors have added in the information that some of the mourners at Jafar Awad's funeral were throwing rocks. The amended text now states:
Afterward, hundreds of enraged young people started to march toward the IDF checkpoint at the edge of the town and began throwing stones.
In addition, the following note was appended to the end of Levy's article:
This article was amended on 19/4/2015 to add the fact that some mourners at Jafar Awad's funeral threw stones at IDF forces.
April 14, 2015
Ya'alon: Israel Does Not Want War with Iran
Writing in The Washington Post (“Current Iran framework will make war more likely,” April 9, 2015 online, “A risky deal with Iran,” April 10 in print), Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon refuted accusations his country would like to see the United States attack Iran on its behalf.
“The claim that the only alternative to the framework is war is false,” Ya’alon insisted. “It … stifles honest and open debate by suggesting that if you don’t agree, you must be a warmonger. It also feeds and reflects the calumny that Israel in particular is agitating for war.”
The Israeli defense minister pointed out that Iran’s Supreme Leader (a term that a few writers have said echoes Adolf Hitler’s self-designation as der fuehrer, the leader), Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his nuclear negotiators already were disagreeing with the White House over the framework’s terms.
As Ya’alon and others observed, this was hardly surprising given the nature of the regime and history of hiding its illegal nuclear program. Disagreement over the framework’s requirements almost as soon as they had been announced further highlighted the risk inherent in trusting Iran’s revolutionary Islamic Republic to keep its word.
Not only did Israel not want to drag the United States into a war, as some critics have alleged, the reverse is true. His country has a vested interest in avoiding war with the Iranian regime, Ya'alon wrote. Alluding to Iranian leaders’ oft-stated insistence Israel must be annihilated and Tehran’s supply of tens of thousands of rockets to its Hezbollah surrogate in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Ya’alon said Israel would “pay the highest price if force is used by anyone.”
Ya’alon, a retired three-star general (Israel’s highest military rank) and former chief of staff, wrote that he has seen war personally and been “forced to bury some of my closest friends.” For such reasons, he opposed a deal he said makes war more likely.
Israelis know, Ya’alon stressed, that “the United States is Israel’s greatest friend and strategic ally.” Rather than war with Iran, Israel seeks a better deal that actually achieves what negotiators set out to: rolling back Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, he said.
A better deal, according to Ya’alon, would link “lifting of restrictions on its nuclear program to an end of Iran’s aggression in the region, its terrorism across the globe and its threats to annihilate Israel.” He noted Iran’s aggressive arming, financing, and training of terrorist and proxy groups in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, throughout the Middle East and beyond. Not taking an expansionist Iran under its messianic theocracy at its word on nuclear negotiations but maintaining and increasing preexisting pressure, according to Ya’alon, would be the best bet to prevent conflict.
Indirect support for Ya’alon’s position preceded his Post Op-Ed. Surveying threats on the horizon, General David Petraeus, former director of the CIA and U.S. commander in Iraq during the “surge” of American troops there, stated in a recent interview “…when it comes to Iraq, I frankly worry less about Islamic State than I do about the Iranian-backed Shia militias.” Petraeus also expressed his mistrust of Iranian claims regarding the purportedly peaceful purposes of its nuclear program. Petraeus said that underlying such skepticism “isn’t just a U.S. or Israeli judgment,” but one shared by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Low-Hanging Fruit: Human Rights Watch and Palestinian Child Laborers
"Israel's a sort of low-hanging fruit" a Human Rights Watch (HRW) board member acknowledged in an illuminating 2010 interview, and the organization's latest report "Ripe For Abuse: Palestinian Child Labor in Israeli Agricultural Settlements in the West Bank" exemplifies HRW's skewed and distorted treatment of Israel.
Take, for example, the report's accompanying publicity video, which got picked up by the Sydney Morning Herald. In the video, HRW researcher Bill Van Esveld claims that Palestinian children "have no option to work on Palestinian farms. Most of them don't exist anymore."
But this claim is belied by the facts. The Palestinian date sector has enjoyed significant growth in recent years. According to a report published by Paltrade and the Ministry of National Economy, among others ("The State of Palestine National Export Strategy 2014-2018"):
Palestinian fresh fruit exports have grown at a rate of 52%, compared to global import growth of 21% over the same time period.
The main fruit exports from the State of Palestine are nuts, dates, grapes, strawberries and almonds. The bulk of export growth for the sector has been driven by a rise of exports of dates. Palestinian exports of dates have risen from US$324,000 in 2007 to US$1.2 million in 2010, reflecting an absolute growth of over 250%.
Indeed, Nakheel Palestine for Agricultural Investment, located in the Jordan Valley, "cultivates a total of six Date Palm farms in Jericho, on the Palestinian side of the Jordan Valley, with a total number of 20,000 trees stretched along an area of 3000 Dunums."
CAMERA has asked HRW to correct Van Esveld's erroneous assertions that Palestinian children have no choice but to work in Israeli settlements and that "most" Palestinian farms "don't exist anymore" and to explain why Palestinian children would choose to work in Israeli settlement farms when Palestinian farms are situated nearby.
In fact, our colleagues at UK Media Watch, a CAMERA affiliate, note that David Elhayani, head of the Jordan Valley regional council, denied HRW's allegations, insisting tha “there were no children among the 6,000 Palestinians" employed by the regional council And they further point out that the photo used on the cover of the HRW report to illustrate the alleged illegal use of child labor by Israeli settlement farms in the Jordan Valley is actually a Reuters photograph by Mohamad Torokman, taken in 2010, that illlustrates work at a Palestinian farm, and not an Israeli settlement.
April 15 Updates: "UK Media Watch prompts correction to Human Rights Watch photo illustrating child labor report" and "UK Media Watch prompts correction to misleading photo illustrating HRW child labor report"
April 13, 2015
Haaretz, Abbas, Israel and Yarmouk Refugees
"Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is trying to aid the besieged Palestinians by creating secure escape routes from the camp," a Haaretz editorial last week praised the Palestinian leader for supposedly trying to assist Palestinian refugees residing in the Syrian Yarmouk refugee camp ("Politics aside: Israel must help Yarmouk's Palestinian refugees"). Haaretz simultaneously called upon Israel:
Israel must do its part in this international effort. It should sit down with Abbas to evaluate ways and means of helping these refugees, some of whom are related, very closely in some cases, to Arabs in Israel.
Among other things, Israel could offer Abbas the possibility of absorbing some of the refugees into the Palestinian Authority, defray some of the costs involved and provide medical services to those who manage to come. Political considerations and disputes with the PA should be set aside at this time. This is a humanitarian task of the first order that Israel cannot shirk.
Haaretz contributor Oudeh Basharat today echoes the sentiment that Israel must make an effort to assist the Palestinians of Yarmouk ("Why Doesn't Israel Help Palestinians in Yarmouk?"):
Why doesn’t Israel coordinate with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli Arab leadership to absorb Yarmouk refugees in the PA-controlled territories and among Israeli Arabs, as was suggested in the Haaretz editorial on Thursday (“Help Yarmouk’s refugees,” April 9)?
Instead of running to the end of the world to show the beautiful face of Israel, extend a hand to your neighbor. Learn something from Jordan, a country that has no moral or political obligation to Syria yet has already absorbed more than a million refugees from there.
Newsflash to Haaretz: Over a year ago, it was the Palestinian leader, Abbas, who refused to put politics aside and agree to Israel's conditional acceptance of 150,000 Palestinians refugees from Syria into West Bank and Gaza so long as they gave up the "right of return" to Israel. As the Associated Press reported on Jan. 28, 2013:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he asked U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon last month to seek Israeli permission to bring Palestinians caught in Syria's civil war to their homeland. Last week, he said that Israel agreed to allow 150,000 Palestinians refugees from Syrian into the West Bank and Gaza as long as they relinquished the right of return to what is now Israel. Abbas said he refused.
AP's Mohammed Daraghmeh reported on Jan. 10, 2013:
Abbas said Ban was told Israel "agreed to the return of those refugees to Gaza and the West Bank, but on condition that each refugee ... sign a statement that he doesn't have the right of return (to Israel)."
"So we rejected that and said it's better they die in Syria than give up their right of return," Abbas told the group. Some of his comments were published Thursday by the Palestinian news website Sama.
Does Haaretz have any words to spare on Abbas' death wish for his own people, whose entrance into the West Bank and Gaza he has rejected? Or was all of its righteous indignation about the welfare of the Yarmouk refugees spent on exhorting Israel to put aside politics to try to help the refugees, meanwhile ignoring that Israel had tried to do just that? Far from "creating secure escape routes from the camp," Abbas has blocked them.
April 10, 2015
Why Hasbara is Necessary
The director of CAMERA's Washington office, Eric Rozenman, has written a prescient article, "The Theory and Practice of Hasbara," that was published by the Jewish Policy Center in inFocus magazine. Rozenman emphasizes the important role played by Hasbara not only in countering immediate misinformation but in reversing the pervasive influence of the Palestinian narrative that portrays "Zionists as imperialists, Jews as colonialists, and Palestinian Arabs as oppressed, indigenous people."
Rozenman recounts that in September 2000, when the Second Intifada broke out, the Israeli government's media arm was caught flatfooted. Nothing exemplified this more than the Mohammed al-Dura affair. This was the incident where a Palestinian boy was caught on video tape pinned against a wall with his father during a gunfight between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian terrorists and allegedly shot and killed by Israeli fire.
According to Rozenman,
Images of the "martyred" youngster, Mohammed al-Dura, traveled across the globe. They turned up as partial, implicit justification in an al-Qaeda montage of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York City's World Trade Center, in images of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl's beheading and in mass marches in European cities that featured "Down with Israel" and "Death to the Jews" banners.
Much later, after independent examinations cast doubt on the French television account and even whether al-Dura had been present during the firefight, an IDF re-enactment concluded that if any bullets struck the child and his father, they quite likely had been fired by Palestinian gunmen. This was far too late.
Since then, Israel has taken significant steps to improve its response to opposing propaganda. Rozenman describes the "nearly real-time checks instead of indefinite 'we'll get back to you' handling of press queries" and rapid web postings along with utilization of social media releases and battlefield video showing the IDF calling off attacks when civilians were present. In this way anti-Israel charges ranging from exaggerations to inventions were not allowed to "take on lives of their own" in the media.
Rozenman also addresses the broader question of why Hasbara is necessary. He asks and then answers, "so who is hasbara for?"
First, for supporters of the Jewish state. At a minimum, it's vital to prevent demoralization. Positively, it informs and encourages.
Second, for the undecided. Without a constant, sophisticated information effort—always factual and appropriately targeted—many originally in the "I don't know" category may succumb to delegitimization campaigns.
Only third come news and other communications media, from encyclopedia and textbook publishers through Hollywood to specialty outlets dealing with everything from religion to travel and fashion... [W]ithout it, Americans would end up with European-style media such as Britain's The Guardian and Independent, self-righteous in their hostility, eager enlistees in the anti-Israel psych war.
Rozenman adds that there is an often ignored fourth reason.
It is the past and the future. As George Orwell wrote in 1984 about the Party's compulsion to revise history, tossing inconvenient truths down the memory hole: "He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past."
Read the whole article.
April 05, 2015
Daily Beast’s List of Admonitions to Staff is Missing an Important Entry
The Daily Beast’s editor-in-chief, John Avlon, appeared as a guest on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal (April 2, 2015) from his New York office. Plainly in view on the wall behind Avlon is a list of admonitions (only two) to staff:
1. DON’T BE BORING.
2. DON’T BE STUPID.
The omission of an obvious third admonition for journalists, “DON’T BE INACCURATE” (and perhaps also a fourth, “DON’T BE BIASED BY OMISSION”) may reveal more than intended about the mind-set, even if subconscious, at a number of media outlets. The Web site has become a frequently-quoted source of news reporting and opinions. As CAMERA continually documents, many print, broadcast and Web sites frequently are short on both accuracy and providing even minimum context including, if not especially, about the Arab-Israel conflict.
The Daily Beast's pair of warnings, however, raises a question about the performance of C-SPAN's Washington Journal hosts: Given their chronic tolerance of, if not pandering to, mendacious anti-Israel and sometimes antisemitic callers – is this journalistic failure due to being "stupid,” too "boring" to challenge such callers, or willful acceptance of defamation of Israel and Jews?
April 02, 2015
Where's the Coverage? Iranian Defector: U.S. Negotiators Argue Iran’s Side
The United Kingdom’s The Telegraph has reported:
A close media aide to Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, has sought political asylum in Switzerland after travelling to Lausanne to cover the nuclear talks between Tehran and the West.
Amir Hossein Motaghi, who managed public relations for Mr Rouhani during his 2013 election campaign, was said by Iranian news agencies to have quit his job at the Iran Student Correspondents Association (ISCA).
In a subsequent television interview, Motaghi described the talks he’d been witnessing, saying, “The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal.”
Some blogs and niche publications have covered this, but major mainstream American news outlets have been silent on this enormous story. The U.S. negotiators are arguing Iran’s side to our allies instead of trying to get the toughest deal possible, a deal which would block all of Iran’s possible pathways to nuclear weapons, let alone nuclear weapons capability.
The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal. Again, the U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal.
Where’s the coverage?
March 27, 2015
Kelsey Grammer Inaccurate About King Herod
Appearing on Bill O'Reilly’s The O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel (March 23), actor Kelsey Grammer (pictured above) promoted a forthcoming National Geographic Channel television film, “Killing Jesus,” based on O’Reilly’s bestseller book of the same name.
Mr. Grammer, in addition to being an accomplished actor and known to be one who genuinely cares about people, is, along with Jon Voight, among the staunchest of Israel supporters in the entertainment industry (this writer is a fan of both Grammer and Voight).
Grammer, playing the role of King Herod in the film, remarked to O’Reilly that, “I am actually a Gentile playing a Jew which is always very controversial.” Instead, he would have been more accurate if he had remarked, “I am actually a Gentile playing a Gentile who played a Jew ...”
Why does this matter? Because as it is, Jews and the Jewish state receive a great deal of unfair, inaccurate bad press without viewers being misled (unintentionally or otherwise) about the New Testament villain, King Herod, the Roman client King of Judea (the territory often erroneously referred to as “first century Palestine”). Herod was not a Jew, at least certainly not in the normal sense.
According to the New Testament, Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod who ordered the murder of innocent children in Bethlehem. Matthew 2:16 (New King James Version): “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male [Jewish] children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.” The wise men (Magi), from the east had traveled to Jerusalem to determine the whereabouts of the one who was born “King of the Jews.” Herod, hearing of this – and hearing from priests and teachers that an eventual ruler was to be born in Bethlehem – instructed the Magi to go to Bethlehem, find the child and report back to him so that he, Herod, could worship the child (actually intending to kill him). But the Magi never returned to Herod.
Herod’s original claim to being a Jew (and he generally passed himself off as one presumably for political purposes – as part of his successful currying of favor with the Roman governing bureaucracy) was based on the fact that Herod’s grandfather, like many of his fellow Edomites (descendants of Esau, the firstborn son of Isaac and the twin brother of Jacob who was to become Israel), had been forcibly converted to Judaism.
Extra-biblical accounts, especially from first century CE Roman-Jewish historian Josephus, tell us of Herod’s colossal building projects throughout Judea – and also of his great cruelty to his Jewish subjects and his own family. It seems that he also experienced great pain and mental and physical disorder.
So, villainous King Herod was not generally considered a Jew by Jews of his time or, for that matter, of this time. Mr. Grammer, please take notice.
March 26, 2015
PLO Fabricator Gets Washington Post Soapbox
In George Orwell’s enduringly instructive dystopian novel, 1984, the Ministry of Truth—“war is peace,” “freedom is slavery,” “ignorance is strength”—functioned as the department of lies. The fictional ministry has an actual branch in the U.S. capital. It goes by the name of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Washington, D.C. delegation.
Attempting to refute the irrefutable, delegation head Maen Rashid Areikat took to The Washington Post letters to the editor section (“Palestinians seek peace and justice,” March 26, 2015) to falsify facts in columnist Charles Krauthammer’s indictment of Palestinian rejectionism (“No peace in our time,” March 20).
Krauthammer noted that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat rejected U.S.-Israeli offers of a West Bank and Gaza Strip state in exchange for peace in 2000 and 2001 and Mahmoud Abbas did so in 2008. Areikat claimed “there were no written offers,” as if spoken proposals would not have been worth pursuing.
In fact, what came to be known as “the Clinton parameters” regarding the deals Arafat spurned at Camp David in 2000 and Taba in 2001 are well known. Likewise, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert conveyed the outlines of a “two-state solution,” a map included, to Abbas in 2008—to which the latter replied, in effect, “I’ll get back to you” but as Olmert wrote in a Post Op-Ed six years ago never did (“Stop Focusing on the Settlements to Achieve Peace in the Middle East,” July 17, 2009).
Areikat asserted that the Palestinian side “explicitly accepted” a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem on just “22 percent of historical Palestine” but Israel refused. The land originally intended for the post-World War I League of Nations’ Palestine Mandate also included what is now Jordan and the Golan Heights, or more than 77 percent. Israel compromises roughly 17 percent of that territory, the West Bank and Gaza the remaining, unallocated nearly six percent. Palestinian leadership explicitly refused to agree to Israeli proposals of a West Bank and Gaza state, with its capital in eastern Jerusalem, if agreement required it to end the conflict with Israel, recognize it as a Jewish state and drop the so-called “right of return” for Palestinian Arab refugees and much-multiplied descendants.
Areikat claims that Palestinian leadership acts “responsibly” to assure rule of law in the areas it controls. That would be a surprise to democrats and other endangered species in the Gaza Strip, ruled by the terrorist Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement). It also would sound somewhat inaccurate to West Bank Arabs controlled by Abbas and Areikat’s PA, which beats and jails critics.
The PLO’s chief Washington representative objects to Krauthammer’s observation that his boss, Abbas, is in the 11th year of a four-year term. According to Areikat, Abbas “called for elections three weeks before” Krauthammer’s column appeared. That confirms Abbas has lacked a mandate for seven years. Calling for elections is easy, holding them—especially when one suspects, as Abbas might well, that he would lose to a challenger from Hamas or within his own Fatah movement—dangerous.
Areikat invokes Israel’s “occupation” and “war-mongering” by Israel and its supporters—Krauthammer presumably among them—to explain the absence of Israeli-Palestinian peace. This when A) Israel’s been out of the Gaza Strip since 2005, B) Hamas has used the Strip repeatedly as a base for terrorist bombardments of the Jewish state, C) the PA, in administering area “A” and co-administering area “B” of the West Bank with Israel has jurisdiction over more than 90 percent of the Arab population and D) what remains of Israel’s post-1967 Six-Day War occupation of the disputed territories is not a violation of international law but in fact obligatory under it until peace is negotiated according to U.N. Security Council resolutions 242 and 338.
Areikat, of course, can act as his own Ministry of Propaganda to gull the gullible in promotion of “the Palestinian narrative.” That’s more or less his job description as head of the PLO’s Washington delegation, as CAMERA has shown previously (for example, “Wall Street Journal Lets Palestinian Spokesman Deep-Six the Facts,” June 13, 2012). The real question is why did The Post, which has been known to fact-check letters critical of Palestinian words and deeds, feel compelled to accommodate him?
The Shiite-Sunni War Expands
While much of the American media focuses on the Israeli elections and the fraying of U.S.- Israeli relations, the proxy war between Sunni and Shiite Muslims passed another marker on the road to a full-blown regional confrontation. Saudi Arabia has pulled together a coalition of ten Sunni Muslim regimes, including Pakistan, a non-Arab state that possesses nuclear weapons, and on March 25 initiated military action against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. More than 100 Saudi aircraft reportedly conducted air strikes and Al Arabiya reports the Saudis have mobilized 150,000 troops.
Meanwhile, on March 24, a number of Middle East media sources reported the alleged comments by Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, that Iran has the ability to control events in Jordan as it does in Lebanon and Syria. Iranian media outlets quickly denied these reports as "pure lies."
Iranian influence over Iraqi Shiite militias leading the Iraqi state's offensive against ISIS forces in the Sunni stronghold of Tikrit is widely acknowledged. The United States and other Western countries are reportedly providing air support to the Iraqi government forces (including Shiite militias) against ISIS.
So far, Turkey and Israel remain on the sidelines. But that may change as Iran and its proxies push on.
March 23, 2015
Reuters Botches UN Human Rights Council Story
When the US representative indicated it would not take part in today's meeting United Nations Human Rights Council's semi-annual meeting on Palestine, or as UN Watch fairly describes it, Hate Israel Day, Reuters was quick to connect the dots, reporting:
The step is unprecedented at the 47-member state forum, where Washington has unfailingly defended Israel since US President Barack Obama became president in 2009.
The decision not to appear follows signals that the Obama administration is undertaking a "reassessment" of relations with the Jewish state.
The wire service, though, was a bit too quick to connect the dots. The move was not, in fact, unprecedented, nor did it portend anything bigger.
The American ambassador to the council, perhaps as a response to spin casting the US absence evidence of the threatened "reassessment," put out a statement indicating that "Our non-participation in this debate underscores our position that Item 7 lacks legitimacy, as it did last year when we also refrained from speaking." An Israeli foreign ministry source was quoted in Ynet indicating that the Jewish state requests its allies refrain from participating in the anti-Israel session.
Reuters later removed the word "unprecedented" from the language, and ultimately changed the text to note that the move was "part of a previous agreement not to speak."
"The decision not to talk since then was part of an agreement in October 2013 when Israel resumed participation in the U.N. Human Rights Council," the amended article now reads.
Reuters did not send the changes out as a "correction" even though the change was so significant that it completely reversed the premise of its initial story. In response to a question on a a Twitter discussion about the Reuters changes, one journalist suggested a correction would have been the appropriate way to go. We agree.
@GileadIni I hope so. If it had been my story, I would have pushed for a correction.— Matt Lee (@APDiploWriter) March 24, 2015
March 18, 2015
Where's the Coverage? Israeli Elections Overseen by… Israeli Arab
In all the coverage of the Israeli elections, in the run-ups and the misguided projections, and in the rending of garments in the aftermath, every statement, nuance and implication has been examined, turned over, re-examined and analyzed.
• the Palestinian Authority is greatly overdue for elections of any kind,
• Hamas’ idea of elections in Gaza is throwing political opponents off roofs,
• Lebanon is now dominated by the terrorist group Hezbollah,
• Syria’s rigged elections produced a victory of nearly 90% for Bashar Assad who has now butchered hundreds of thousands of his citizens,
• Iran’s religious leaders select their candidates,
• Egypt’s latest government took power in a military coup,
• Jordan, the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia are ruled by absolute monarchs,
• Iraq’s sectarian government has produced an environment where the savage Islamic State can flourish, oppressing, enslaving and murdering thousands,
...the fact that Israel holds orderly, free and fair elections allowing citizens of all races, ethnicities, religions and political persuasions to vote, is a wonder in and of itself. But rather than celebrate this Middle Eastern miracle, the media choose to harp on any perceived flaw in the process. And there are some, since every human endeavor is flawed, so that may be fair.
That said, what the press has paid precious little attention to is the fact that the person overseeing the recent election, the Chairman of the Central Election Committee, is Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran – an Israeli Arab.
It’s quite difficult to imagine a Baha’i overseeing free and fair Iranian elections, a Yazidi overseeing Iraqi elections, or a Christian overseeing Saudi elections. Yet, an Israeli Arab oversees the Israeli elections. And in the glut of coverage over the Israeli elections, of this important fact, one must ask… Where’s the coverage?
March 16, 2015
NY Times Errs on Jerusalem Arabs' Voting Rights
Diaa Hadid, The New York Times' new recruit to expand the paper's coverage of Palestinians, misleads in her article today on Israeli Arabs in the upcoming elections ("Arab Alliance Arises as Force in Israeli Elections"):
Unlike Arabs in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, Palestinian citizens of Israel have full voting rights.
Jerusalem Arabs are entitled to Israeli citizenship, which grants them full voting rights. In the last decade alone, over three thousand individuals have joined those Arabs who had already become citizens of Israel.
As The Boston Globe clarified on Feb. 4, 2003:
A Jan. 29 story on the World pages about the Israeli elections was unclear on the voting rights of Palestinians living in Jerusalem. Palestinians living there can seek Israeli citizenship and, if they obtain it, can vote in Israeli elections. If they do not become citizens, they can still vote in municipal elections.
CAMERA has contacted The Times, and a representative has responded that the error will be corrected.
An Israeli-Arab voter drops a ballot into a ballot box during voting in East Jerusalem, February 6, 2001. Most Israeli-Arabs are expected to abstain from voting in a protest against the 13 Israeli-Arabs who were killed during the recent 'Intifada' or uprising against Israel. Ariel Sharon appeared poised for a stunning political victory over Prime Minister Ehud Barak as voters began casting ballots Tuesday in an election seen as a referendum on Israel's relationship with the Palestinians. Photo by Reuters
Update, 7:17 a.m., EST: The New York Times has issued a stealth change to the wording of its online article. The article now states:
Unlike Arabs in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and most Arab residents of East Jerusalem, Palestinian citizens of Israel have full voting rights.
There is no correction appended to the article noting the change.
March 18 Update: New York Times Corrects on Jerusalem Arabs' Voting Rights
March 15, 2015
Watch CAMERA Panel on UK Media, European Antisemitism
With antisemitic violence on the rise in Europe, CAMERA convened a panel discussion in Jerusalem on March 1 entitled "Framing Israel: Framing Jews: Examining the effects of UK media coverage of Israel on European antisemitism." In light of recent polling which indicates that over 80 percent of British Jews believe that biased coverage of Israel incites antisemitism, the panelists explored how UK media coverage of Israel influences attitudes towards Jews in Europe and fuels extremism.
Speakers on the panel included Professor Robert S. Wistrich, Neuberger Chair of Modern European and Jewish History at the Hebrew University Jerusalem, Head of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism and author of A Lethal Obsession: Antisemitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad (2010); Lucille Cohen, former President of the Zionist Central Council and the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and representative to the Board of Deputies of British Jews; Adam Levick, managing editor of UK Media Watch (formerly CiF Watch), a CAMERA affiliate and Hadar Sela, managing editor of BBC Watch, a CAMERA affiliate.
Prof. Wistrich painted a gloomy picture for the future of the Jewish community in the UK and British society in general and warned of the prospect of a small minority of alienated young radicals undermining the stability of Jews in the UK.
Adam Levick presented examples of reports and cartoons in the British press which conveyed both overt and covert antisemitic content, with particular reference to the modern uses of the ancient antisemitic blood libel.
Hadar Sela examined what sort of standards the BBC, the world's biggest broadcaster and self-declared "standard-setter for international journalism," sets for the corporation's framing of events in Israel set.
Lucille Cohen described the reaction of the UK Jewish community to increasing antisemitism and the effects of anti-Israel bias in the media.
Moderated by Jerusalem journalist and Voice of Israel broadcaster Judy Lash-Balint, the event marked the launch of UK Media Watch, formerly CiF Watch.
March 11, 2015
Where's the Coverage? Israel the Best Country in the MidEast for Women
Sunday, March 8, was International Women’s Day, when, according to organizers, “thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements.”
So, it is a bit surprising, given the news media’s focus on the Middle East, that there was no coverage of the fact that, according to a World Economic Forum report, Israel ranks as the best country in the Middle East for women. A Google news search turned up nearly 8.4 million stories on International Women’s Day, but the press did not find this fact newsworthy.
The media did not mention that in educational attainment and health and survival, there is virtually no gender gap in Israel. They were silent on the fact that among technical and professional workers in Israel, women surpass men.
Meanwhile, how does Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party celebrate the achievement of women? By celebrating a female terrorist, Dalal Mughrabi, who led the Coastal Road massacre, an attack which killed 37 Israeli civilians, including 12 children, and wounded 70.
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reports that an image of Mughrabi with text glorifying her attack was posted by Fatah on its official Facebook page, even inflating the number of victims. PMW notes:
In 2010, the PA dedicated a square in Ramallah to Dalal Mughrabi, who led the attack, by naming it after her. That square was also chosen this year by Fatah for a public event taking place today, celebrating its killing of Israeli civilians:"We will mark the anniversary of the heroic coastal operation (i.e., the Coastal Road massacre), which was led by Martyr (Shahida) Dalal Mughrabi, and the deaths as Martyrs of Dalal and her heroic friends, at 3:30 p.m. across from Martyr Dalal Mughrabi Square in Ramallah." [Facebook, "Fatah - The Main Page," March 10, 2015]
Palestinian Media Watch has documented that the Palestinian Authority and Fatah present Dalal Mughrabi as a role model for Palestinians, and especially for Palestinian girls, naming at least three girls' schools after her. Last year, PA TV commemorated Mughrabi by visiting one of the schools. One student said: "My life's ambition is to reach the level that the Martyr fighter Dalal Mughrabi reached."
This celebration of murder also deserves media attention. And yet… Where’s the coverage?
Will WaPo's Liz Sly Admit Error in Light of Tablet Article?
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress about the threat of Iran’s nuclear program on March 3, 2015, Liz Sly, The Washington Post’s Bureau Chief in Beirut, conveyed some misinformation to her followers on Twitter.
Sly essentially told her followers that Netanyahu told a falsehood when he attributed an antisemitic quote to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. The quote, she indicated through a retweet and two tweets of her own, was a fabrication.
Her first foray into the controversy was a retweet of Nicolas Noe, who said the quote was fabricated in a (now corrected) article posted on his blog. In the article, Noe stated that Netanyahu used a quote from Nasrallah that was likely fabricated.
Here is the tweet Sly retweeted:
PM Netanyahu used a quote from Nasrallah that was likely fabricated http://t.co/HNwevLaEyq— Nicholas Noe (@NoeNicholas) March 3, 2015
March 10, 2015
CNN Errs on Israel Again
During the 10 a.m. CNN news hour on March 5, 2015 in a discussion starting at 10:52 a.m. about the CNN documentary “Finding Jesus,” guest Catholic priest Fr. Jim Martin, author of “Jesus, a pilgrimage," at 10:55 a.m. used the erroneous phrase “first century Palestine” in conversation with CNN’s Carol Costello. Typically for CNN, Costello was either unaware of or unwilling to correct the error.
The problem with the phrase “first century Palestine” is that it reinforces the false Palestinian narrative (and hence, resentment against Israel by the Palestinians and others) that the ancestors of today’s Palestinian Arabs, supposedly the Philistines, preceded the Jews in the land.
The ancient Philistines warred for many years with the Israelites from their 12th century BCE home territory in what is today known as the Gaza Strip (sound familiar?). The Philistines, long gone from world history, were not Arabs. They were most closely related to the Greeks originating from Asia Minor and other Greek areas. They arrived by sea to the coastal area of Gaza adjacent to Israel. They had no physical connection whatsoever with the Arab world. The Arabs now known as "Palestinians" took that name for themselves no earlier than the 1960s. Prior to the 1960s, if Arabs in Palestine defined themselves politically or nationally, generally it was as “southern Syrians.”
When and how did the land on which Jesus is said to have tread come to be known as Palestine? In the second century, the Jews fought against Roman rule for a second time. After the Romans defeated the rebellious Jews in the year 135 CE, they took away the Jewish name, Judea, and replaced it with “Palestina” (naming it for the ancient enemy of the Jews, the Philistines) to punish the Jews and to make an example of them to other peoples considering rebellion. Before that, the term "was not usually applied to Judaea, which in Roman times was still officially and commonly known by that name," as Bernard Lewis has explained ("Palestine: On the History and Geography of a Name," The International History Review, January 1, 1980). Since the name of the region was changed over a hundred years after Jesus lived there, it is obviously fallacious to refer to where Jesus lived as "first century Palestine."
As a member of the clergy, Fr. Martin must be aware of multiple verses in the New Testament that identify the place where Jesus lived as Judea. The Bible version commonly used by the American Catholic Church is the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE). Examples from this version show that “first century Palestine” is an erroneous phrase:
• Luke 1:5: “... King Herod of Judea ...”
• Luke 2:4: “Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem ...”
• Luke 3:1: “...Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea ...”
Furthermore, The name “Palestine” (or any of its variants) is nowhere to be found in the New Testament.
Petraeus: "We Cannot Allow Them to Be on the Brink of Having a Nuclear Weapon"
In a far-reaching interview with Ronen Bergman, correspondent for Ynet (the on-line version of the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahranoth), General David Petraeus expresses broad concern with where the Middle East is headed.
On the question of whether it is acceptable for Iran to be "a few turns of the screwdriver" away from having a nuclear bomb, Petraeus stated,
...based on everything we know and see about the Iranian government, we cannot allow them to be on the brink of having a nuclear weapon. For all intents and purposes, that is a distinction without a difference, including with respect to its implications for regional proliferation.
The architect of the "surge" in Iraq and former head of the CIA in the Obama administration, Petraeus agrees with the hard-line taken by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on what has to happen to the Iranian nuclear program. He asserts, "To my mind, a 'good deal' needs to bolt the door on the Iranians getting a nuclear weapon. In this respect, certainly large swaths of the program need to be dismantled or at least altered." However, he has one significant difference with Netanyahu in his assessment of the current proposed deal between the United States and Iran. According to Petraeus,
Despite the willingness of the Obama administration to meet the Iranians more than halfway, I think the prospects for a breakthrough are still less than 50-50...Ultimately, I have my doubts whether the Supreme Leader will ever agree to roll back components of the nuclear program – which is what any deal would require, even one assessed as favorable to the Iranians – and agree to accept that sanctions relief will be gradual and not immediate. But we shall see.
While lauding the "notable successes" the United States has had in the war against Al Qaeda, Petraeus remains worried about the overall situation in the Middle East. He notes,
At the same time, the adversary we face is resilient, adaptive, and determined. As core al-Qaeda has been degraded, we have seen the rise of affiliates in places like Yemen and Africa, and of offshoots like Islamic State – some of which have the potential to eclipse core al-Qaeda in their lethality.
Petraeus is not restrained in identifying the core problem.
Above all, we need to recognize that we are not just battling a monolithic organization – an entity that can be degraded and eventually destroyed – but also an ideology. It is this ideology of violent Islamist extremism that animates the followers of al-Qaeda and Islamic State, and that ultimately needs to be discredited and discarded in order for us to be successful in this conflict.
March 04, 2015
Politics Make Strange Bedfellows
Amidst the political storm surrounding Bibi's rousing address to the U.S. Congress yesterday, support for Prime Minister Netanyahu's remarks has come from unexpected circles.
In an Op-Ed entitled "President Obama, listen to Netanyahu on Iran," Al-Arabiya's English-language website editor, Faisal J. Abbas expressed support for Netanyahu's address to Congress:
In just a few words, Mr. Netanyahu managed to accurately summarize a clear and present danger, not just to Israel (which obviously is his concern), but to other U.S. allies in the region. What is absurd, however, is that despite this being perhaps the only thing that brings together Arabs and Israelis (as it threatens them all), the only stakeholder that seems not to realize the danger of the situation is President Obama, who is now infamous for being the latest pen-pal of the Supreme Leader of the World's biggest terrorist regime: Ayottallah Ali Khamenei (Although, the latter never seems to write back!)
Abbas is not the only Arab journalist applauding Netanyahu. A day earlier, Saudi columnist Ahmad Al-Faraj expressed similar sentiments in the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah. The column, translated by MEMRI, informed readers:
...President Obama and his administration are clearly furious. Not because Netanyahu is intervening in an important matter that Obama hopes will bring him personal glory, but because House Speaker [John Boehner] did not consult with Obama before inviting Netanyahu, and Obama considers this a breach of established protocol....the tension has never before reached this level, as reflected in statements by National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who said that Netanyahu's conduct was unacceptable and even destructive...
...Since Obama is the godfather of the prefabricated revolutions in the Arab world, and since he is the ally of political Islam, [which is] the caring mother of [all] the terrorist organizations, and since he is working to sign an agreement with Iran that will come at the expense of the U.S.'s longtime allies in the Gulf, I am very glad of Netanyahu's firm stance and [his decision] to speak against the nuclear agreement at the American Congress despite the Obama administration's anger and fury. I believe that Netanyahu's conduct will serve our interests, the people of the Gulf, much more than the foolish behavior of one of the worst American presidents.
AFP Rewrites Netanyahu's Speech
Days after the Gaza flooding fiasco, Agence France Presse trips up badly again in its Israel coverage.
This time, AFP flubs Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech yesterday in Congress. An article about continuing negotiations between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, filed today in Switzerland, begins ("Kerry, Iran FM in new nuclear talks"):
The US and Iran ignored a passionate plea from the Israeli prime minister to ditch their nuclear negotiations. . . .
Further down, the article reiterates:
In a dramatic speech to the US Congress on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the US administration to halt the talks . . . .
In fact, Netanyahu did not urge the sides to halt or ditch their talks. Rather, he urged the US to abandon this particular "bad deal" in favor of a "better deal."
In his speech, he indicated what this better deal, which he supports, would look like:
Now we're being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That's just not true. The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal: a better deal that doesn't leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure and such a short breakout time; a better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in place until Iran's aggression ends; a better deal that won't give Iran an easy path to the bomb; a better deal that Israel and its neighbors may not like, but with which we could live, literally. And no country has a greater stake -- no country has a greater stake than Israel in a good deal that peacefully removes this threat. . .
History has placed us at a fateful crossroads. We must now choose between two paths. One path leads to a bad deal that will at best curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions for a while, but it will inexorably lead to a nuclear-armed Iran whose unbridled aggression will inevitably lead to war. The second path, however difficult, could lead to a much better deal, that would prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, a nuclearized Middle East and the horrific consequences of both to all of humanity.
You don't have to read Robert Frost to know. You have to live to know that the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country, the security of the Middle East and the peace of the world, the peace we all desire.
Where exactly in his speech does AFP see him calling for an end to talks?
Furthermore, as reported today by AFP's own Jerusalem bureau, Netanyahu again today, upon arriving back in Israel, called for the P5+1 to negotiate a different deal which would condition the lifting of restrictions to the end of Iranian "aggression" ("Netanyahu rejects Obama criticism of Iran speech"):
"I also called on the P5+1 (world powers negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran) to insist on a deal that would link the lifting of those restrictions to Iran's ceasing its sponsorship of terrorism around the world, its aggression against its neighbours and its calls for Israel's destruction," he said on his return to Israel.
March 8 Update: After CAMERA contacted AFP on March 4 about the false claim that Netanyahu had called for an end to talks with Iran, subsequent articles dropped the erroneous wording. The later articles instead reported: