August 25, 2014
"Holocaust in Gaza" Hyperbole
According to Yahoo News, "The political chief of Hamas has called on President Barack Obama to intervene with the Israeli government ... to stop a 'holocaust' against the Palestinians."
Meshal's alarming statement might go unrecognized as the moral perversion that it is if one only read the The New York Times, with its flow of news dispatches and Op-Eds devoted to the situation in Gaza. Even the slaughter in Iraq and Syria and numerous seething conflicts from Ukraine to Africa do not slow the deluge of articles and opinion pieces conveying the message that Israel is guilty of reckless destruction and probably war crimes in its response to Hamas's rocket fire.
In such an environment emerged the outrageous paid advertisement appearing in The New York Times National edition on Aug. 23, 2014, bearing the signatures of some 300 individuals wrapping themselves in the mantle of "Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors of the Nazi genocide" and accusing Israel of committing a "massacre" and of ongoing "occupation" and "colonization of historic Palestine."
Leave aside for the time being this grotesque abuse of the historical consciousness of the genocide of the Jewish people in order to promote a new campaign to isolate and demonize Jews and set the stage for a repeat of past horrors. It is also instructive to look at the raw numbers of real campaigns of massacre and genocide and contrast them to the situation in Gaza (and the West Bank) in order to comprehend the deceit, the anti-historical mendacity of those who would use the language of mass murder and victimization to promote a new blood libel against the Jewish state and people.
Here are some numbers to digest:
From June 22, 1941 until May 8, 1945, about five and a half million Jews perished as a result of the German-inspired genocide against the Jews. That calculates to 3,890 Jewish children, women and men put to death every single day for 1414 days. This slaughter was in turn a hot spot within a conflagration driven by German supremacism that took 35 million lives in Europe alone, amounting to nearly 25,000 war-related deaths every single day for 1414 days.
Now if this comparison seems too jarring for New York Times' cultivated readers - let's not forget the Times never gave the Holocaust of European Jewry the sort of front page coverage it gives to Gaza - let's turn the dial down two orders of magnitude and look at the most violent conflict currently raging in the Middle East. In Syria and Iraq over the past three and a half years, at least 250,000 children, women and men have perished in civil conflicts, amounting to nearly 200 human beings per day for 1260 days. Low by World War II standards, but still an alarming number.
Now let's look at the conflict between Israel and Hamas that provokes relentless criticism of Israel in The New York Times and compelled hundreds of alleged Holocaust survivors and their descendants (as if being a descendant of a Holocaust survivor bestows some sort of unique moral authority) to sign a letter decrying Israel's alleged "massacre" and accuse its Jewish citizens of calling for "genocide" and imitating "neo-nazis." All the while, these same signators ignore, or even deny, actual documented incitement to commit genocide against the Jews voiced by supporters of Hamas.
In almost 50 days of escalated hostility between Israel and Hamas, just over 2000 Gazans have died. That amounts to about 40 per day in circumstances where terrorists insinuate themselves among Gazan civilians to launch rockets at Israeli cities, intentionally drawing Israeli return fire on to civilians.
Some will argue that the conflict deserves such attention because of its persistence over time and resistance to any resolution. So addressing that argument in a numerical fashion, in the 14 years since the beginning of the Second Intifada about 8,000 Palestinian fatalities have occurred due to conflict with Israel. That calculates to about one and a half Palestinian fatalities per day. The total number of Palestinian fatalities in 14 years equals about 2 days of the Jewish toll during the Holocaust period and about one morning's worth of the death toll for Europe as a whole during World War II.
The Palestinian death toll is not remotely comparable to any "genocides," large-scale "massacres" of entire populations or campaigns of "ethnic cleansing" that have occurred in numerous places around the world over the last century. But that doesn't stop anti-Israel activists, academics and self-proclaimed anti-Zionist Holocaust survivors and their acolytes from using those terms and news services like The New York Times and the BBC from giving them the exposure they crave.
For a numerical comparison, the scale of violence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be most comparable to the persistent low-intensity violence seen among urban minority populations of stable western societies.
Characterized by brief escalations of violence interrupting extended periods of relative quiet enforced by vigilant Israeli security, the conflict between Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups has produced an overall violent death rate of the combined West Bank and Gazan populations over the last 14 years of under 20 violent deaths per 100,000 population per year; a figure lower than the violent death rates in many American cities during the 1980s and 1990s and in some cities to this day.
In fact, the violent death rates in Gaza and the West Bank are considerably lower than rates experienced over the years in urban African-American communities in major American cities like Washington DC, Detroit, New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago and during the 1980s and 1990s in New York City, which recorded violent death rates as high as 50-100 per 100,000 population per year. Another way of putting this: African-American residents of many major American cities experience about a 3 to 5 times higher risk of dying from random urban violence than a Palestinian in the West Bank or Gaza from Israeli military responses to terrorism.
When was the last time someone - who was taken seriously - invoked incendiary terms like "genocide" "massacre" or "ethnic cleansing" to describe the level of violence visited upon African-Americans in urban America ?
August 22, 2014
Amira Hass's Flawed Analysis of Gazan Civilian Casualties
On Aug. 22, 2014, Haaretz published an analysis piece by Amira Hass, "How many Palestinian civilians is a single militant worth?" claiming that 76.8% of the 2090 documented fatalities in the recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas were civilians. Hass discusses the controversy over the proportions of the fatalities in the Gaza Strip that are civilians and militants. Israel claims that Hamas is concealing the true number of combatants in order to generate international outrage at Israel. But Hass counters that this strategy "contradicts the deep Palestinian and Hamas ethos of pride over those who were killed fighting the Zionist enemy."
She then delves into the crux of the controversy, that a disproportionate number of the fatalities, admitted to by the Palestinians themselves, are male and young males at that. Hass writes,
Some journalists have challenged UN and Palestinian categorizations, asserting that the number of young men killed in Gaza was relatively high compared to their size within the population. The conclusion is that most of the men killed – and they are the right age to be engaged in militant activity – were indeed militants.
According to Hass,
This conclusion is faulty in not being aware that public space in Palestinian society in general and in Gaza in particular is appropriated mainly by men. The men go to the mosque early in the morning and the evening; only men go to funerals; men sit outside their homes on hot days and watch World Cup games, and men are the ones who run out to retrieve the wounded and dead immediately after an attack or go to get water during an attack. So, it is natural that the number of men killed would be higher relative to the population, and not only because this is the right age to join in the fighting.
Hass's argument is fractured and falls apart under scrutiny.
1) She asserts that the high proportion of males is due to their higher propensity for public spaces, but she offers no evidence that the Israelis preferentially target public spaces where crowds of men might routinely assemble. Without offering evidence that the Israelis indiscriminately target public spaces - independent of situations in which the presence of combatants have been confirmed - her assertion has no value. In fact, there is evidence pointing to the opposite conclusion. In light of the more than 5000 targeted missiles and thousands of artillery shells fired by the Israelis and only 2,000 Gazan fatalities that resulted, the evidence strongly indicates that the Israelis make every effort to avoid firing into public spaces occupied by random people. If Israeli air strikes and artillery shelling were routinely striking public spaces in a wanton manner simply to inflict casualties, the fatality count would be much higher.
2) While she offers an explanation - unsubstantiated as it is - why there are many more male fatalities than female, her explanation fails to address the age pattern of the fatalities. There is a spike starting at the age of 17 and peaking in the early to mid 20s which then rapidly diminishes. This pattern is more credibly explained by combatants than it is by Hass's observations that males attend mosques, funerals and hang out watching the World Cup.
3) She also ignores a crucial issue, that of distinguishing combatants in an urban environment where combatants do not categorically don uniforms. Under such circumstances, a so-called non-uniformed "civilian" who comes to the aid of a wounded combatant or serves as a look out or approaches soldiers despite warnings assumes a questionable status.
4) And finally, there is the issue of civilians serving as human shields. This is a separate issue from the discussion of disproportionate young males among the fatalities, but is crucial to the overall discussion of Gazan civilian fatalities.
In conclusion, Hass's attempt to discredit Israeli claims that combatants contribute a far higher portion of the fatalities than the Palestinian groups admit is not at all convincing.
UN Claims 191,369 Killed in Syrian Civil War
The United Nations published its updated figures on the number of deaths caused by the three-and-a-half year Syrian civil war: 191,369. The release of the updated statistics was a relatively low-key affair. It did not prompt calls for mass demonstrations throughout Europe and the United States in sympathy for the beleaguered Syrian people; nor did it generate expressions of heightened outrage or demands for tribunals and investigations from international human rights groups or UN organizations. Such actions are strictly reserved for the situation in Gaza, where over the same time frame over 2,000 have died as a result of recurring hostilities between Israel and Hamas.
According to the Associated Press, the UN's top human rights official, Navi Pillay, "criticized the world's 'paralysis' over the fighting in Syria, which 'has dropped off the international radar' in the face of so many other armed conflicts around the world." That would be the same Navi Pillay who recently criticized the United States for failing to assist Hamas in obtaining the same missile defense system as that developed by the Israelis.
August 21, 2014
Has New York Magazine Learned Its Lesson Not to Rely on Biased Reporters?
On July 25, New York Magazine published an article by Katie Zavadski casting doubt on Israeli assertions that Hamas was responsible for the kidnapping and murders of three Israeli teens, Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach, in June, 2014. Now that Hamas has publicly come out and admitted they did it, Zavadski has had to backtrack, repeating the statement issued by Hamas itself on Aug. 21, 2014,
"The popular will was exercised throughout our occupied land, and culminated in the heroic operation by the Qassam Brigades in imprisoning the three settlers in Hebron," al-Arouri said at a conference in Istanbul. "This was an operation from your brothers in Qassam undertaken to aid their brothers on hunger strike in (Israeli) prisons."
Zavadski placed the responsibility for her initial misinformed piece on the sources she relied upon, Sheera Frankel of Buzzfeed and Jon Donnison of the BBC, writing on Aug. 21,
The circumstances of the incident, which sparked Israel's Operation Protective Edge, have been subject to much debate. Israel immediately blamed the militant group, which controls the Gaza strip, but Qatar-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal denied that the group's involvement. Veteran correspondents Jon Donnison and Sheera Frenkel both reported that Israeli intelligence had no concrete links between Hamas and the kidnappers, who are said to belong to a clan that frequently operates outside of Hamas control. Yet later, Israeli officials said they had concrete evidence of the link between the group and the kidnapping.
It is to Zavadski's credit that she posted the Hamas admission and did not try to brush over her initial article. She had already begun to walk back her July 25 piece in an update on Aug. 7, 2014 discussing proof offered by Israel. Zavadski has written some of the more insightful pieces for the New York Magazine on the conflict. Her article on why so many of the casualties in Gaza are children offered the important point that those under 18 represent nearly half the population and that if Israel was firing indiscriminately they would account for half the casualties, which they clearly don't.
However, there is still the lingering issue of why she relied upon Frankel and Donnison in the first place, as both have displayed a consistent anti-Israel bias that undermines their credibility as reporters. This speaks to a media culture that is all too willing to ascribe credibility to journalists who inject their anti-Israel bias into their reports.
Frankel's Buzzfeed tweets are frequently misleading and based on unsubstantiated sources.
Donnison's anti-Israel bias was exposed in March 2013 when he rushed to accuse Israel of killing the baby son of Omar Mashrawi, a Palestinian BBC staffer. After the UN Human Rights Council - itself a serial basher of Israel - investigated and concluded that Israel was not responsible for the baby's death, Donnison refused to retract his accusation against Israel.
The New York Magazine article on July 25 cast doubt on Israel's claim that Hamas was behind the kidnappings and pinned the blame for the escalation of violence on Israel implying that Israel used the incident as a pretext to escalate hostilities with Hamas. This was the line pushed by Frankel.
Now that she has egg on her face for relying on the two biased journalists, will Zavadski continue to rely on Frankel and Donnison? Or will she buck the pressure to slant stories against Israel and get her information from reliable correspondents who don't inject their anti-Israel agenda into their reports.
August 20, 2014
That Porous 'Siege' of the Gaza Strip
The word “siege” is often used by news media referring to Israel's partial blockade of the Gaza Strip. The description has become commonplace despite its tendency to echo misleading Palestinian allegations. For example:
A Daily Star (Beirut) article was titled “Lifting siege vs. disarmament clouds Gaza talks” (Aug. 13, 2014 ). The Economist misused the word by writing that “[t]o stop the fighting Hamas must promise not to fire its rockets into Israel. But in return Israel should agree to honour an agreement dating to 2012 to lift the siege that has immiserated Gaza’s inhabitants since 2007 in an effort to enfeeble Hamas (“Israel and Gaza: Stop the rockets, but lift the siege,” July 26, 2014).
But in terms of the transit of goods into and a large number of people out of the Strip, there is no siege.
In his blog, "Haifa Diary," Stuart Palmer explained what's wrong with journalists' parroting the Palestinian "Gaza siege" mantra: “Not only do food, medicine, fuel and aid enter freely at all times, but in peacetime, commodities and consumer goods of every type are transferred daily from Israel to Gaza through the land crossing.
"The types and amounts of consumer goods are determined by Palestinian merchants and depend primarily on market forces in Gaza. For the more affluent, Gaza offers a variety of consumer opportunities, from a modestly-sized mall to upscale restaurants. Even during the latest hostilities in Gaza, an international journalist reported on shopping at one of Gaza's supermarkets, which offered (“The Myth of an Israeli Siege on Gaza”, “Haifa Diary”, Aug. 12, 2014) "all kinds of goods".
Hardly a siege. There is a partial blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt following the takeover by Hamas of the Gaza Strip in 2006 and its violent ouster of Palestinian "unity government" partner Fatah in 2007,. The blockade is a response to, not a cause of terrorist attacks by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Muslim fundamentalist groups in the Gaza Strip.
The maritime blockade is legal under international law. As Palmer explains:
“In 2011, a special panel convened by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon examined the maritime blockade. The U.N. panel found both the naval blockade and its enforcement, including in international waters, to be legal. This panel of experts emphasized that all assistance to Gaza should be transferred only through the designated land crossings.
"The panel also found that Israel had legitimate security concerns regarding violence by Hamas and that weapons trafficking to Gaza permitted Israel to enforce a naval blockade. Repeated attempts to smuggle dangerous weapons via the sea--including powerful long-range rockets from Iran--attest to the fact that the maritime blockade is an essential security measure.”
In response to continued terrorist infiltration attempts including construction of an elaborate tunnel network, the launching of thousands of mortars and rockets by Hamas and other groups into Israel and pervasive anti-Israel, antisemitic incitement, an Israel siege might make sense. Instead, large volumes of humanitarian aid and consumer goods enter Gaza and tens of thousands of Gazans are admitted to Israel for medical treatment annually.
“While Israel faces a serious threat from terrorists in Gaza, it still allows the supervised movement of people into Israel," the Haifa Diary pointed out. "In the first five months of 2014, approximately 60,000 individuals entered Israel from the Gaza Strip. Many of these were patients and their escorts who received medical treatment in Israel and elsewhere, while large numbers of Gazan businessmen and merchants also visited Israel.”
Meanwhile, diarist Palmer adds, "Gaza's existing resources are systematically abused by Hamas for its own nefarious goals. Enormous amounts of money are used for procuring and producing weapons, training and funding terrorists, building terror infrastructures and for the enrichment of Hamas' leaders. Almost unimaginable quantities of cement were diverted from the construction of housing, schools and hospitals to building an underground city of terror tunnels and bunkers for Hamas members.”
Such is the Israeli “siege” of the Gaza Strip. Under it the territory's Hamas rulers have survived up to now, with cash first from Iran, then Qatar, to arm and training thousands of gunmen. They've acquired technology and material from Iran and Syria for an arsenal (before Operation Protective Edge) of 10,000 or more rockets and missiles. Imported too were building materials for numerous fortifications and tunnels. Simultaneously, jihadis infiltrated from Gaza into Egypt.
In World War II, the Warsaw Ghetto was under siege. So was Stalingrad. The Gaza Strip is subject to something much less. For accuracy's sake--that is, for journalistic precision--call it a partial blockade. Hamas and other Palestinian apologists have reason to repeat the "siege" cliché; reporters have a duty to be skeptical. -- Ziv Kaufman
Washington Post Ventures from Gaza to Cover Israel
News coverage of Operation Protective Edge mainly focused on casualties in the Gaza Strip, missiles launched at Israel and tunnels built by Hamas. There was comparatively little attention to the lives and hardships of Israelis, especially those who resided close to Gaza. So The Washington Post’s feature “I want to come back but, I’m afraid” (Aug. 14, 2014) was a noteworthy gesture toward balance.
The article commented that “[f[or the past month, ‘frontline communities’ such as Nahal Oz and a neighboring kibbutz, Kfar Aza, resembled ghost towns. Most residents fled what had become a combat zone, with Israeli artillery whooshing above them and Gaza rockets flying the other way, sometimes landing on rooftops or in gardens and schoolhouses.”
After Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2006, the southern Israeli town of Sderot and nearby kibbutzim have endured a rain of mortars and rockets that was under-reported by news media. Despite Israel’s complete withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Palestinian complaints of “Israeli occupation” and Israel’s “siege” (a partial blockade aimed at limiting importation of material useful to Hamas and other terrorist groups) tended to draw the bulk of news reporting.
Without better balanced coverage, audiences don’t learn what life has been like on the Israeli side of the armistice line or the reasons for military operations conducted by Israel. (CAMERA has noted previous examples of more comprehensive coverage such as “Exhibit A: USA Today’s Well-Balanced Gaza Reporting”, July 15, 2014).
The Post ’s feature helped make real to readers the experiences of Israelis near Gaza. “People are so tired of living as refugees in their own country,” said Noam Stahl, 47, a plastics consultant and resident of Kfar Aza who was born and raised in the kibbutz.
The Post showed how Palestinian terror attacks affected the residents of Israel’s south wherever they were in their own country:
“Residents patiently answer questions about why they don’t move somewhere safer, as if it were so obvious it needs no explanation. Where in Israel is safe?
“‘In Tel Aviv, five years ago, people were afraid if they got on a bus it would explode,’ Stahl said. ‘Jerusalem was the same. At Kiryat Shmona in the north, for 15 years they had Katyusha rockets come at them from Lebanon. If I decide it’s no longer safe to live here, if I take my family and move elsewhere in Israel, who can guarantee we won’t be the target of a terrorist attack in our new home?’”
Stahl depicts Israel’s situation as it is. Israel bashers sometimes falsely describe the Gaza Strip as an “open air prison”. Such loaded language would not accurately describe Israel but the Jewish State is surrounded by countries and terrorist groups who have been seeking its destruction and since its inception in 1948. Perhaps more media attention to this enduring hostility and its effects on Israelis, less uncritical attention to Palestinian grievances and claims of Israeli oppression would help readers understand the conflict.
The Post’s “I want to comeback, but I’m afraid,” accurately described the situation for many residents of southern Israel . In doing so it informed readers of another side to the Arab-Israeli conflict—better, the Arab-Islamic conflict with Israel—too little discussed: the impact on Israelis. Other media outlets should take note. -- Ziv Kaufman
August 19, 2014
Where's the Coverage? ALS Patients Live Longer in Israel than Anywhere in the World
You may have seen a number of your Facebook friends posting videos of themselves being doused with buckets of ice water. You probably have heard of the “Ice Bucket Challenge.” This is an incredibly successful campaign by the ALS Association to raise awareness and donations for the fight against the disease commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Numerous celebrities, musicians, athletes and public figures have participated including LeBron James, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber, Gwen Stefani, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Christie and others. The campaign has garnered millions of Twitter mentions, over a million videos posted on Facebook along with tens of millions of “likes,” and news coverage. Plenty of news coverage. A Google news search of “ice bucket challenge” turned up almost 24 million hits.
But the news stories miss one fact: ALS patients in Israel live longer than anywhere else in the world. Two to four times as many patients survive past the 10-year mark. Israel Hayom reports:
A study encompassing data collected from Israel for the first time found that the survival rate among Israelis suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is two to four times that of patients in other countries.
In global terms, between 5 and 10 percent of ALS sufferers survive more than 10 years after being diagnosed. But in Israel, 20 percent of ALS patients survive longer.
If it doesn’t fit with the media’s negative depiction of Israel, it doesn’t get press attention. If it can’t be twisted to defame Israel, it won’t make it to the front page of the New York Times. When it comes to the fact that Israel is at the forefront of medical research and treatment… Where’s the coverage?
Hypocrisy Is Thy Name, Condemning Israel Thy Game
Victor Davis Hanson, historian with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, has again hit the nail right on in comparing the Gaza Strip versus Cyprus ("Occupation hypocrisy: Gaza vs. Cyprus," Washington Times, Aug. 13, 2014).
Hanson points out how the West yawns in uninterest about Turkey’s brutal occupation of the northern portion of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus since 1974 – while it’s continuously agitated over Israel’s self-defense measures against deadly threats like that from Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists in Gaza:
Turkish troops still control nearly 40 percent of the island — the most fertile and formerly the richest portion. Some 200,000 Greek refugees never returned home after being expelled from their homes and farms in Northern Cyprus ... Thousands of settlers were shipped in by the Turkish government to occupy former Greek villages and to change Cypriot demography. ... Why, then, is the world not outraged at an occupied Cyprus the way it is at, say, Israel?
Greeks in Cyprus and mainland Greece together number less than 13 million people. That is far less than the roughly 300 million Arabic speakers, many from homelands that export oil, who support the Palestinians.
No European journalist fears that Greek terrorists will track him down should he write something critical of the Greek Cypriot cause. Greek Cypriots would not bully a journalist in their midst for broadcasting a critical report the way Hamas surely would to any candid reporter in Gaza.
We see such hypocrisy when the West stays silent while Muslims butcher each other by the thousands in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Syria. Only when a Westernized country like Israel inflicts far less injury [in response to thousands of terrorist mortar and rocket attacks and infiltration tunnels] to Muslims does the West become irate.
Israel is inordinately condemned for what it supposedly does because its friends are few, its population is tiny, and its adversaries beyond Gaza numerous, dangerous and often powerful.
And, of course, because it is Jewish.
In other words, as Hanson notes, aggression and its continuing consequences on the part of Turkey, a large Muslim country with a geographic and demographic foothold in Europe, barely rates comment from Western countries. This is so — even when the object of Turkish aggression is a European state, Greece. But Israel's invasion against Islamic terrorists in the Gaza Strip provokes criticism from the United States, a "war crimes" investigation by the United Nations, a threat to withhold future arms shipments by the United Kingdom and a general wave of hatred including mob attacks on French synagogues and beatings of individual Jews in several European countries.
If hypocrisy were a coin, its two sides would be anti-Zionism and antisemitism.
Middle Class Terrorists and Sixteen-Year-Old Soldiers
The rising tide of extremism in the Middle East has brought to the surface some realities that are too often obscured by formulaic media coverage of the region's conflicts.
An article in the Algemeiner, Islamic State Fighter: Hezbollah and the Jews Are Next, describes who are drawn to join Islamists groups from relatively stable societies in the West. It may surprise those conditioned by the usual bromides emphasizing conditions of poverty and few economic opportunities.
According to the report, Prof. Meir Litvak of the Department of Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University,
“most of them are not poor; no economic crisis pushed them into despair. Not at all. These youngsters are middle class...They’re attracted to whatever is the most ‘anti’ to whatever is in front of them,” he said. “And radical Islamic fundamentalism represents it – [opposition] to the ‘totally rotten and corrupt America'...These young people are highly alienated from their environment.”
The professor's observations are consistent with previous studies profiling suicide bombers, that found on average they had more years of education and often came from relatively comfortable economic circumstances.
An article, appearing in the Christian Science Monitor on Aug. 18, 2014, discloses that Hezbollah has sent adolescents as young as 16 years old into battle. The article documents the funeral of a 16- year-old fighter killed in Syria last month.
As Hezbollah resorts to using children, it would be no surprise if Hamas also had no compunction about doing the same. It has after all utilized women, children and intellectually handicapped individuals as suicide bombers. In light of the much publicized body counts of children provided by the Gazan Health Ministry and repeated without qualification by western media as innocent victims of indiscriminate Israeli military operations, such information should encourage some scrutiny as to whether these counts include some underage combatants.
August 15, 2014
About That "N"
By now it’s pretty clear that Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State (IS), which has taken over much of central and northern Iraq is guilty of genocide. The man is a killer as are his followers. Thousands of Assyrian Christians have been murdered and driven from their homes, as have many members of another religious group, the Yazidis, who have been driven to the mountains to avoid further destruction.
Numerous reports indicate that hundreds of Yazidis have been killed, some buried alive and the women who have survived these massacres have been sold into sexual slavery.
Shiite and Sunni Muslims have also been murdered in large numbers by IS.
Rev. Dr. Mark Durie, an Anglican Priest from Australia and expert on jihad, dhimmitude and Islamic doctrine regarding non-Muslims, summarizes the state of affairs as follows:
August 13, 2014
USA Today Headline Bias on Attack, Cease-Fire
Palestinians break cease fire. Palestinians hit Israel with 5 rockets. Israel then strikes back by hitting terror sites. Egypt and Palestinians announce that both Israel and the Palestinians agree to renewed cease-fire.
8/14 update: USA Today's print headline came much closer to capturing the story: "Israel, Gaza fighting as negotiations continue; Rockets launched, 'terror sites' targeted." The skewed online headline has not been changed.
Where's the Coverage? Palestinian Activist: "Hamas Paved the Road for the Death of our People"
Bassem Eid is director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, a veteran Palestinian Arab human rights activist. Recently he wrote a column, “Hamas needs the Palestinians’ deaths in order to claim victory,” stating:
For more than 26 years, I have dedicated my life to defending human rights. I have seen wars, terror, and abuse. Yet this past month – from the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish boys, thru the kidnapping and murder of Mohammed abu Khdeir, and to the war in Gaza – has been the most politically and emotionally difficult month of my life.
And yet, as a Palestinian, I must acknowledge: I am responsible for some of what has happened. As a Palestinian, I cannot deny my responsibility for the death of my own people.
The majority of Palestinians has opposed firing rockets into Israel. The Palestinians have understood that these rockets will achieve nothing. Palestinians have called on Hamas to stop firing on Israel and to try to negotiate with the Israeli occupation. But Hamas has never considered Palestinian needs – only its own political interests. And so they have continued to fire rockets at Israel, knowing full-well what the result would be: Hamas paved the road for the death of our people. We knew that Hamas was digging the tunnels that would lead to our destruction.
But Hamas leaders are more interested in their victories than in the lives of their victims. Indeed, Hamas needs these deaths in order to claim victory. Death of its own people empowers Hamas, enabling it to accrue more money and more arms.
Hamas has never been interested in liberating the Palestinian people from the occupation. And Israel could never destroy the infrastructure set up by Hamas. Only we, the Palestinian people, could dismantle it.
What could we have done? The residents of the Gaza Strip had the responsibility to rebel against Hamas rule. Yes, Hamas' control is deadly and people have been afraid to express their dissatisfaction with its rule and mismanagement. And yet, we abdicated our own responsibility to ourselves.
We knew this. And we let it happen.
The lesson is that we must rid ourselves of Hamas and completely demilitarize Gaza. Then we will open up the border crossings. I say this as a loyal Palestinian and because I care for my own people.
Naturally, this is a voice that you have not heard in the mainstream media. This is a narrative that you have not read in the popular press. The analysis is infinitely reasonable. The writer is thoroughly credible. And yet… Where’s the coverage?
Meet the Latest UN Arbiters of War Crimes in Gaza
The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) -- not known for their fairness and objectivity toward Israel-- has appointed a new panel of judges to decide whether or not human rights abuses, war crimes or violations of international law have taken place by either side in the Gaza confrontations. Of course, the last time the notoriously biased HRC did something like this , the resulting investigation and report were so biased and unreliable that the lead investigator, Richard Goldstone, ultimately reconsidered and recanted.
So who are the new arbiters appointed by the HRC?
William Schabas, a Canadian international law expert, was chosen to lead the panel. Schabas is well known for his anti-Israel comments and has decided, well in advance of any investigation that Israel's leader is to blame. Here is a video of Mr. Schabas, publicized by UN Watch, which is demanding that Schabas recuse himself or be fired because of his pre-existing bias.
Then there is Doudou Diene, who served as United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance between 2002—2008. His 2007 report on Islamophobia was deemed "seriously flawed" by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU).
The third member of the panel, Amal Alamuddin,,a British lawyer who has achieved celebrity as George Clooney's fiancée, has declined to participate.
Spoerl Captures Insanity of Hamas Coverage in New Hampshire Union Leader
Joseph Spoerl, Ph.D., a professor of philosophy at St. Anselm’s College in New Hampshire, highlights a huge problem in the coverage enjoyed by Hamas during the ongoing conflict in Gaza. In a piece published today in the New Hampshire Union Leader, Spoerl puts forth the following scenario:
Imagine that [during World War II American and British reporters had sent back a steady stream of news stories and photos highlighting the plight of German civilians: photos of ruined homes and apartment blocks, wailing women and children, overwhelmed hospitals and so forth. Suppose, further, that these reporters never mentioned anything about the ugly ideology of Hitler and the Nazis, their genocidal hatred for Jews, their plans for world conquest, their persecution of political opponents, etc.
We would all agree that reporters acting in this way would be guilty of a serious breach of journalistic ethics. They would be actively misleading their audience by telling only a small portion of the truth.
Spoerl observes that such a scenario is taking place today as reporters highlight the suffering of the residents of the Gaza Strip without addressing the agenda of the fascist organization that controls the territory. “As absurd as it sounds, the imaginary scenario sketched out here has been unfolding before our very eyes in the Gaza strip over the past month.”
He concludes his piece as follows:
Carter Shills Again for Hamas
Former President Jimmy Carter continues to promote Hamas (the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement) as a legitimate political actor. In an article co-written with former Irish president Mary Robinson in Foreign Policy, Carter urged Western states to recognize Hamas as a diplomatic partner.
"Only by recognizing its legitimacy as a political actor—one that represents a substantial portion of the Palestinian people—can the West begin to provide the right incentives for Hamas to lay down its weapons" ("Carter wants West to recognize Hamas”, (USA Today, Aug. 6, 2014).
This is nothing new for the one-term former president. After Israel’s December 2008–January 2009 Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Carter took to the editorial pages of The Washington Post to claim falsely that Israel was starving Gazans, Hamas’ smuggling tunnels were “defensive” in nature and that Hamas was attempting to maneuver politically in good faith (“Carter Shills for Hamas, January 10, 2009).
Now Carter and Robinson—the latter also was U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights and an organizer of the U.N.’s notorious 2001 Durban Conference against Racism that featured an explosion of anti-Semitism—want the world to recognize as legitimate an Islamist organization with genocidal goals. Hamas’ charter calls both for the destruction of Israel and war against the Jewish people.
Aaron David Miller, a former senior U.S. Arab-Israeli negotiator and now a resident scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. itemized the likely consequences of heeding Carter and Robinson: “[F]ollowing Carter’s advice to recognize Hamas would alienate Israel, undermine Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a more moderate figure who governs the West Bank, and anger the Egyptians” (“Carter wants West to recognize Hamas”, USA Today, Aug. 6, 2014).
A Wall Street Journal editorial also took a more realistic view of Hamas’ motives and aims: “Hamas may also believe it can repeatedly go to war against a militarily superior foe because Israel has never exacted a fatal price. Hamas’s aggression serves its political purposes, while Palestinian casualties serve its propaganda purposes.
“Those goals are furthered when Western governments call for mutual restraint, as if both sides are equally responsible for the violence. ‘We're continuing to convey the need to de-escalate on both sides,’ State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said … a plea that has no effect on Hamas but pressures Israel to pull its punches” (“The Next Gaza War,” The Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2014).
President Barack Obama, in contrast to Carter, said, “I have no sympathy for Hamas. I have great sympathy for ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza.” Obama also was quoted as saying “I have consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself, and that includes doing what it needs to do to prevent rockets from landing on population centers and, more recently as we learned, preventing tunnels from being dug under their territory that can be used to launch terrorist attacks.” (“Obama: ‘I Have No Sympathy for Hamas’,” Huffington Post, Aug. 6, 2014).
Ex-president Bill Clinton recently condemned Hamas’ tactics and asked “[h]ow could they put rockets in a school to follow a deliberate strategy to force the deaths of their own civilians so as to make Israel look bad in the world?” (“Bill Clinton Slams Hamas For Using International Money To Dig Tunnels; And Store Rockets in Schools,” The Yeshiva World, Aug. 3, 2014).
Carter’s attempt to legitimize the terror group is consistent with his history of attempting to undermine Israel, epitomized by his 2006 work, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, which was rebutted by CAMERA’s 2007 monograph Bearing False Witness: Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.
An editorial in The Washington Times summed up Carter’s animosity toward the Jewish state:
"Mr. Carter’s enmity toward Israel is consistent and long-standing. He has held a grudge against the friends of the Jews since Ronald Reagan, winning a record percentage of the Jewish vote, defeated him decisively in 1980… Once turned out of office, Mr. Carter made nursing the grudge a full-time job. He collected slurs against the Jewish state and put them in a toxic book in 2007 called ‘Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.’ Even the title was meant to insult Israel” ("The pariah president”, The Washington Times, Aug. 11, 2014).
The real question about Jimmy Carter’s Middle East views is not why he’s blindly hostile toward Israel, but rather at this late date, why some news media imagine them worth covering. -- Ziv Kaufman
Somebody Better Tell Steve Kirschbaum He’s Not Speaking on Behalf of USW 8751
John Shinn, regional director for the United Steel Workers District Four, may need to admonish the leadership of one of his locals, USW 8751, (which represents school bus drivers in the city of Boston), about how they portray themselves at anti-Zionist, antisemitic (and Anti-American) rallies like those that took place in Boston during the month of July, culminating in a celebration of Al Quds Day on July 25, 2014.
Yesterday, Snapshots posted a statement from Shinn stating that two leaders from the USW Local 8751 who attended an Al Quds rally in Boston did so in their personal capacity and were not representing the local or the international to which they belong. He stated that “any members of USW Local 8751 who participated in that event were doing so solely on their own behalf and in no capacity representing our union or its international leadership.
Shinn better tell that to Steve Kirschbaum
BBC's Gaza Appeal Contradicts Its Own Head Statistician
The BBC web site's Arts and Entertainment section has posted information to publicize its broadcasted appeal for funds for Gaza.
The web page includes an information box claiming that 1875 Gazans have been killed since July 8 and that "85%+" are civilians.
Not even the Hamas-controlled groups reporting casualties in Gaza claim that 85%+ are civilians. Furthermore, this claim is undermined by even a perfunctory analysis of the casualties. Incredibly, it is even repudiated by the BBC's own head statistician on Aug. 8 who wrote,
The point is that it is hard to say with certainty at this stage how many of the dead in Gaza are civilians and how many were fighters.
BBC justifies the Gaza appeal on the grounds that the situation in Gaza meets three requirements
"The disaster must be on such a scale and of such urgency as to call for swift international humanitarian assistance; the DEC agencies must be in a position to provide effective and swift humanitarian assistance at a scale to justify a national appeal; and, there has to be reasonable grounds for concluding that a public appeal would be successful," it said.
Curiously, there are several other humanitarian disasters of greater magnitude occurring in the Middle East region that meet these conditions far more comprehensively; the attempted genocide of Iraqi religious minorities by Islamists with an ideology that shares elements with Hamas and a grinding civil war in Syria. Both of these conflicts have claimed well over 100,000 lives and the perpetrators do not conceal their intent.
Yet, the BBC decided that the situation in Gaza most deserved an Emergency Appeal.
That despite the fact that the Palestinians and Gazans, in particular, will have an inside track on garnering world attention and on benefitting from the continued largesse of the United Nations and international donors as it has for well over 20 years.
No such luck for the Yezidis, the Kurds, the Assyrians or the Chaldeans. Among the donor base responsive to the BBC appeal these people just don't matter much.
August 12, 2014
Former Foreign Correspondent Critiques Gaza Coverage
In a Washington Times commentary (“Hamas rules,” Aug. 6, 2014) Clifford D. May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, urges journalists to report more accurately from the Gaza Strip—or acknowledge the obstacles to doing so. He notes the limitations many reporters face in covering the region controlled by Hamas:
“Hamas restricts what journalists in Gaza may film, photograph and even write about. Hamas threatens and intimidates journalists who do not follow what might be called Hamas rules—rules designed to shape media coverage and influence perceptions around the world.
The problem, writes May—a former New York Times foreign correspondent—is that many in the news media fail to disclose to their audiences Hamas’ oppressive nature. This basic omission may leave readers, listeners and viewers to assume that coverage from the Gaza Strip is as reliable as that from countries that uphold press freedom, like the United States or Israel. May suggests journalists at least report on their personal experiences once they have left the Strip and returned home.
“Let me say this as clearly as I know how: The journalists covering Gaza are brave. I’m not saying they should be braver — much less reckless. I do think they should be honest with their readers and viewers about the conditions under which they are operating; namely, conditions of coercion, manipulation, restriction and censorship.”
He also notes that “on any day, any foreign reporter could be abducted, handcuffed and hooded, while their captors reviewed their dispatches. If not satisfied with what they see, that could be all she wrote — literally.”
If that’s the case then shouldn’t there be a discussion within the media about the overall accuracy of reporting from Gaza? Shouldn’t Hamas tactics of influence be something audiences are reminded of periodically? Reports from Gaza—or any society dominated by a single, anti-democratic party—may include not only the unintentional errors and distortions that can creep into news accounts anywhere but also propaganda presented as news, slanted or false information reporters are prohibited from checking adequately, let alone exposing.
May spotlights, among other examples of press intimidation in the Gaza Strip, the threat to John Reed of The Financial Times, “after he tweeted about rockets being fired” from near Shifa hospital and the warning to a television reporter who said he had seen rockets fired into Israel from near his hotel: “In WWII, spies got shot.”
On the other hand, May refers to NBC reporter Ayman Mohyeldi, first pulled out of the Strip after apparently one-sided, anti-Israel coverage, then sent back. Mohyeldi tweeted that he was “returning to #Gaza to report. Proud of NBC’s continued commitment to cover the #Palestinian side of the story.”
“How,” May asks, “to interpret that except as an admission that he covers only one side of the story? Can you imagine a reporter saying he was proud his media outlet was committed to covering ‘the Israeli side of the story’?”
May also spotlights what he calls hypocrisy and a double standard by some journalists:
“Finally, a few words on more subtle forms of journalistic bias: Early in the current round of fighting, reporters for The New York Times asked an Israeli military spokesman ‘about the repercussions of carrying out’ operations against Hamas ‘during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan’. If it occurred to these reporters to ask Hamas spokesmen about the ‘repercussions’ of firing missiles at Jerusalem during Ramadan, I missed it.”
Many journalists apparently believe that by their presence in the Gaza Strip they are providing—and audiences may assume they are getting—accurate coverage, balanced and in context. Reality is more complicated, the news picture more straightforward. The Gaza Strip is ruled by a terrorist organization; reporters are intimidated and comprehensive coverage is compromised. The press owes it to its audience to say so. -- Ziv Kaufman
August 11, 2014
Defending Hamas, Jodi Rudoren Suggests Foreign Press Association Spreads "Nonsense"
A New York Times reporter is apparently unhappy with with the Foreign Press Association's criticism of Hamas.
In response to today's FPA statement that slams "the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists," Jodi Rudoren, the New York Times bureau chief in Jerusalem, tweeted:
@joshmitnick Every reporter I've met who was in Gaza during war says this Israeli/now FPA narrative of Hamas harassment is nonsense— Jodi Rudoren (@rudoren) August 11, 2014
It is unclear which and how many reporters Rudoren has met. Presumably she didn't have a chance to meet with Radjaa Abu Dagga, a French-Palestinian reporter who documented Hamas's harassment in an article for Liberation.
Blogger Elder of Ziyon managed to translate an excerpt from the article before Abu Dagga, apparently unconvinced that his treatment at the hands of Hamas was "nonsense," asked Liberation to pull his article.
Correspondent Radjaa Abu Dagga for years divided his time between Paris, where his wife and son live, and Gaza, where his parents live and where he works. On 18 June, when he wanted to cross the Rafah border, an officer banned his way and took his passport like all Palestinians trying to cross into Egypt that day.
After four blocked attempts to leave Gaza without explanation over weeks, the Palestinian journalist was summoned by the security services of Hamas on Sunday. "I received a call from a private number. They summoned me to Al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza City center," explains Radjaa. He carried with him his two phones, his press card and a small camera.
A few meters from the emergency room where the injured from bombings are constantly flowing, in the outpatient department, he was received in "a small section of the hospital used as administration" by a band of young fighters. They were all well dressed, which surprised Radjaa, "in civilian clothing with a gun under one's shirt and some had walkie-talkies." He was ordered to empty his pockets, removing his shoes and his belt then was taken to a hospital room "which served that day as the command office of three people."
A man begins his interrogation: "Who are you? Who do you call? What are you doing?" "I was very surprised by the procedure," admits Radjaa, who showed him his press card in response. Questions came. They asked if he speaks Hebrew, he has relations with Ramallah. Young Hamas supporters insistently ask the question: "Are you a correspondent for Israel?" Radjaa repeated that only works for French media and a chain of Algerian radio.
It was then that the three men delivered this message: "This is yours to choose. We are an executive administration. We will carry the message of Qassams. You have to stay at home and give us your papers. " Stunned to be covered by the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, Radjaa tried to defend himself and especially to understand why such a decision was taken against him. In vain. "It is impossible to communicate with these people," laments the journalist.
He is not the first to undergo this kind of pressure and combatants in front of him did not hide. "They are enraged against the presidency and accused me of collaborating with Mahmoud Abbas," he says. Reporters Without Borders confirms that this is not an isolated case. The organization has indeed been alerted by the threats of Hamas against Palestinian and foreign journalists for their professional activities.
Norwegian journalist Paul Jørgensen yesterday appeared to corroborate Abu Dagga's account. According to Google's translation from the original Norwegian, Jørgensen discusses "strict orders" from Hamas not to document the terror group's violence, and points out that several reporters have been kicked out of Gaza for reporting in a way that displeases the group.
It is hard to believe Rudoren was unfamiliar with Abu Dagga's (widely discussed) article. She certainly knows of it now, as several people brought it, and Jørgensen's comments, to her attention on Twitter. Nonetheless, the Times reporter has yet to clarify for her Twitter followers that the FPA's statement might not be "nonsense" after all.
August 08, 2014
The BBC -World's Largest Media Organization - Finally Questions Gaza Casualties
The BBC is the world's largest media organization. It devotes enormous resources to reporting news from the around the world. Now we know it even has an in-house statistics department. Yet, it is weeks late in reporting what CAMERA and numerous other organizations have documented about the disproportionate number of young adult males - in the age bands frequently encountered as combatants - among the so-called civilian fatalities in Gaza.
It is a sad commentary on the BBC, that organizations possessing just a tiny fraction of the BBC's vast resources, organizations that in many cases aren't even news organizations and often lack correspondents, figured out weeks ago that the casualty statistics presented by Gazan authorities and their affiliates are misleading and should not be relied upon.
The BBC on August 7, released a report by its head statistician acknowledging the excess representation of young males among the fatalities and underrepresentation of women and children. Even so the report still uses overly cautious language, for example, stating,
There has been some research suggesting that men in general are more likely to die in conflict than women, although no typical ratio is given...
And what organization does the BBC credit with raising questions about the demographics of the casualties? The New York Times, of course, which has been equally tardy in reporting on the question of the proportion of civilian casualties versus combatants.
CAMERA was first to point out the disproportionate number of fatalities among young males of prime combat age more than three weeks ago. Numerous media sources followed suit with their own coverage of this observation. Yet the BBC only seems to have noticed after the Times published its late-in-the-game article a day ago.
A question to ponder with respect to both the BBC's and the Times' sluggishness in discussing the implication of a disproportionate number of young combat-age fatalities: did these two media giants intentionally delay reporting on this topic during the period of heaviest coverage of the conflict in order to allow Hamas and its supporters plenty of time to implant the perception that Israel's response was disproportionate and indiscriminate?