January 23, 2015
There Were No Palestine Borders, And No Palestine, in 1967
A story in today's New York Times print edition, "Obama Not Planning to Meet With Israeli Premier," written primarily by the newspaper's Washington bureau, included erroneous and anachronistic language about Israel's "1967 borders with Palestine."
In 1967, of course, there was no country, territory, or entity called Palestine.
And the boundary between Israel and the territory in question, what had been the Jordanian-occupied West Bank, was explicitly not regarded as a border. As the 1949 armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan made clear, "The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto."
This phrasing helps underscore why CAMERA has long called for newspapers to correct inaccurate references to "1967 borders" (even without explicit references to a pre-1967 entity called "Palestine") and why we've often gotten corrections on the topic. The implication — not often spelled out, though it is in this particular piece — is that there was between 1948 and 1967 a sovereign country between the Green Line and the Jordan River, one that had internationally recognized borders, and one that is therefor the legal sovereign of all land east of the Green Line, whether that be the Jewish Quarter, the consensus settlements of the Etzion block, or beyond.
Readers of this blog might immediately recognize that this isn't at all true; but the average New York Times reader may not, so the newspaper's references to 1967 "borders" is likely to lead to substantive geopolitical misunderstanding on the part of its audience.
The New York Times has thanked CAMERA for making it aware of the erroneous language, but has not yet published a correction. We'll hope to update this space soon with information about a correction.
Iran's Geopolitical Pincer
For centuries, military commanders have employed the tactic called a pincer to encircle an opposing force, box it in and then annihilate it with a coordinated attack from all directions. Such a tactic also applies more broadly as a geopolitical manuever to encircle entire nation-states. When one views a map of the changing strategic landscape in the Middle East, it is evident that Iran is conducting a vast geopolitical pincer movement westward. Enclosed within this vast pincer are Saudi Arabia and the State of Israel.
Although Iranian intentions toward Israel (as well as Saudi Arabia) are well known, major news purveyors like The New York Times continue to focus on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, as evidenced by the disproportionate number of articles on Israel and the Palestinians at the expense of in-depth coverage of more expansive conflicts in the region.
Despite the immutable nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the course of many years, major news media continue to amplify relatively minor incidents, routine demonstrations and property vandalism in the West Bank and publish flurries of articles whenever housing construction permits are issued by Israeli authorities in disputed parcels of land surrounding Jerusalem. This hyperfocus on Israel and the West Bank means less resources are available to draw attention to events that threaten to reshape the entire region with potentially catastrophic consequences. An example of a conflict that has not received the attention it deserves is the extension of Iranian influence in Yemen, culminating in the overthrow of the pro-Western government.
Periodically, the CAMERA blog has posted items discussing the importance of events in Yemen. Yemen is the most impoverished Arab state, even though it borders the wealthiest Arab state, Saudi Arabia. It has long been a hotbed of terrorism, spawning what is currently the most dangerous branch [internationally] of Al Qaeda. Its government was a key partner in the war against terrorists. With the fall of the Yemeni government to an Iranian-backed Shiite militia, two major blows have been struck against the West. Al Qaeda will have a freer reign to promote terrorism. But, an even greater risk is the continuing evolution of Iran's reach in the region.
Some commentators are trying to draw attention to Iranian moves. Charles Krauthammer's column in the Washington Post, "Iran's Emerging Empire" discusses what is taking shape in the region, from Lebanon, to Syria and Iraq to Yemen.
In order to completely encircle Israel, Iran still must overcome large geographic obstacles - Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. But new permutations are conceivable. Saudi Arabia, ruled by a perpetual gerontocracy, may not prove as durable as it currently appears, especially if the United States decides to pursue a policy of disengaging from the region. Although Turkey is a regional Sunni competitor to Shiite Iran, under its current leadership, which has shown a penchant for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic outbursts, it may be open to some form of collaboration with the Iranians against Israel.
It would be helpful to American audiences if the media that focuses so much attention on Israel and the Palestinians would devote more resources and space on their pages to what Krauthammer refers to as the emerging Iranian Empire.
January 22, 2015
Memo to Martin Marty and Scott Appleby: You Got Played
Last week, in a piece about Christiane Amanpour’s misuse of the word “activist” when describing the Charlie Hebdo murderers, Snapshots highlighted how a book published in 1997, Islamic Activism and U.S. Foreign Policy, downplayed the radical Islamist agenda and the violent agenda of a group called Jama’at-i-Islami, a Pakistani organization founded by Islamist radical Sayyed Mawdudi in 1941.
The book, written by Scott W. Hibbard and David Little, portrayed Jama’at-i-Islami as a grassroots organization that relies on “constitutional and legal means for achieving its goals.” The book portrayed the organization’s founder, Sayyed Mawdudi as a man whose ideas were “revolutionary” but whose methods were “evolutionary.”
In the same entry, Snapshots reported that in fact, Jama’at-i-Islami was responsible for terrible massacres during Pakistan’s civil war and that Mawdudi was in fact, a radical who “called on his followers to fight (and kill) in an effort to impose their understanding of God’s will on their fellow citizens. Mawdudi's followers used his writings to justify their violence.”
Hibbard and Little deserve criticism for downplaying the violence of Jama’at-i-Islami and the radicalism of its founder Sayyed Mawdudi, but they are not the only folks who sanitize the violent agenda of Jamaat-i-Islami and its founder Mawdudi.
Hibbard and Little’s mistake is that they relied on an essay that appeared in an influential book, Fundamentalisms Observed for their information about Mawdudi and Jama'at-i-Islami.
This book, published by the University of Chicago Press in 1991 was the first text issued by “The Fundamentalism Project,” a six-volume study produced with great fanfare under the aegis of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. (The Fundamentalism Project has its own entry in Wikipedia.)
The book, edited by Martin Marty from the University of Chicago and Scott Appleby from Notre Dame, received lot of play and praise when it was first published. Writing in The Christian Century, the house organ for mainline Protestantism (where incidentally, Marty served as senior editor for many years), Robert Wuthnow declared that the text provided a “valuable overview of some of the most important religious developments of our time.”
Another commentator declared that the book’s “individual contributions are of exemplary quality” that provide “sometimes brilliantly distilled synopses of their respective subjects.”
Such praise cannot, however, describe the book’s treatment of the previously mentioned Jama’at-i-Islami and its founder, Sayyed Mawdudi.
In '48 War, the Jews "Didn't Want These People to Leave the Village"
Israeli-Arab town of Jisr az-Zarqa
Alexander Galloway, a former UNRWA director in Jordan, famously said that the Arab world was not interested in solving the Palestinian refugee problem, but instead preferred to "keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel."
Today, ironically, it is UNRWA, the United Nations body responsible for Palestinian refugees, that's often charged with perpetuating the refugee status of Palestinians. And if the refugee problem is still used as a weapon against Israel, it is largely as a key component of the simplistic, hostile narrative that holds Israel as uniformly guilty and the Palestinian as fundamentally victims.
An example of this narrative: The claim in a The New York TImes Op-Ed a few years back that, in 1948, "a people had been expelled from their land in a comprehensive ethnic cleansing operation."
But from those not enlisted in the war-of-words against Israel — from those who speak casually, as citizens and not as warriors — that narrative is often undermined. In today's Chicago Tribune (and in the LA Times last week) there is a story about the Arab-Israeli coastal town of Jisr az-Zarqa. One older resident is quoted talking about that allegedly "comprehensive ethnic cleansing operation":
In 1948, amid fighting between Arabs and Jews surrounding the creation of Israel, there was no fighting in Jisr.
Arabs living in nearby villages fled, but "we didn't even think about it, never even thought about leaving our lands," said Gamil Jarban, 72, a retired fisherman, who said his father built the first house in Jisr. He said the people of Jisr were left alone because they were peaceful.
"Even when the Jews came here, they didn't want these people to leave the village," he said.
To those most dedicated to talking points drawn up by Palestinian rejectionists, Jarban's frank remembrance might be viewed as a betrayal. But even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas can't be angry. He's been known to contradict his own narrative now and again.
January 21, 2015
Where's the Coverage? Satellite Shows Iran's Long Range Nuke-Capable Missile
The Times of Israel reports:
Iran has built a 27-meter-long missile, capable of delivering a warhead “far beyond Europe,” and placed it on a launch pad at a site close to Tehran, an Israeli television report said Wednesday, showing what it said were the first satellite images of the missile ever seen in the West.
It stressed that the missile could be used to launch spacecraft or satellites, but also to carry warheads.
Given that Iran is in negotiations with the “P5+1” (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council –the U.S., France, Great Britain, China and Russia– plus Germany) aimed at keeping the Islamic Republic from obtaining a nuclear weapon, a missile capable of carrying such a weapon is a big deal. Yet, none of the major news outlets have covered it.
Given that President Obama in his State of the Union address threatened to veto proposed bi-partisan legislation that would impose sanctions on Iran should the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 fail to come to a successful conclusion by June of this year, a clear weapons program is a newsworthy political development as well. But, the mainstream media is silent.
Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has said, “Iran is clearly taking steps that can only be interpreted as provocative. Yet the Administration appears willing to excuse-away any connection between these developments and signs of Iran’s bad faith in negotiations.” Menendez went on:
The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran. And it feeds to the Iranian narrative of victimization, when they are the ones with original sin: An illicit nuclear weapons program going back over the course of 20 years that they are unwilling to come clean on.
Certainly Iran’s production and implementation of a missile system capable of carrying a nuclear warhead is a development worthy of reporting. It is a national security story. And when a senior Senator takes a President from his own party to task, it is a major political story as well. And yet… Where’s the coverage?
For NY Times' Overseas Readers, Paris Kosher Market Attack Just a "Claim"
Maybe Jews were killed at a Kosher Market. Maybe they were weren't. All we know that someone claims it happened.
At least that's how The New York Times' International edition put it.
The domestic edition, on the other hand, got it right. "Earlier, surrounded by a huge security detail, Mr. de Blasio had gone to a kosher market in eastern Paris to place a wreath where a third terrorist had killed four hostages in a siege that galvanized France’s Jewish community."
January 20, 2015
New York Times: Miss Lebanon, Israel's Latest Arab Victim
"Strengthen the coverage of Palestinians. They are more than just victims, and their beliefs and governance deserve coverage and scrutiny," advised Margaret Sullivan, public editor at The New York Times, in a recent column on the paper's coverage of Israel and the Palestinians.
She might just as well have been writing about the paper's treatment of any Arabs in conflict with Israel, not just Palestinians. Her observation would certainly apply to the paper's coverage of Miss Lebanon, Saly Greige, who recently distanced herself from a photograph in which she appeared with Doron Matalon, Miss Israel.
"Miss Israel’s Selfie Puts Another Miss in a Bind" is The New York Times headline, casting the Lebanese beauty as the hapless, helpless victim of Miss Israel, the real player in this drama, responsible for sowing discord by daring to inject herself into (her own) selfie with Ms. Greige, too delicate to be seen with her.
Indeed, Miss Greige herself addresses her failed attempts not to fall victim to the bombastic Miss Matalon: “Since the first day of my arrival to participate to Miss Universe, I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel,” she noted on her Facebook page in defense of her appearance in the offending image. "I was having a photo with Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia and myself, suddenly Miss Israel jumped in, took a selfie, and put it on her social media.”
While it is Lebanese anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment which place Miss Lebanon in a "bind," The Times fingers the young Israeli woman as responsible for the situation in which a Lebanese woman refuses to be photographed with an Israeli. A 2011 Pew opinion poll found that only 3 percent of Lebanese hold positive views of Jews, and, according to an Anti-Defamation League survey, 78 percent of Lebanese hold anti-Semitic views.
Blaming the Israeli for discord, and exonerating the Arab side, isn't confined to just the beauty queen drama.
Of the military conflict between Israel and Lebanon, Anne Barnard writes:
Officially, a state of war has persisted between Israel and Lebanon since 1948. The creation of Israel, and the ensuing war, flooded Lebanon with Palestinian refugees. Israel invaded Lebanon several times, and ultimately occupied parts of the south until 2000. It fought a war with Hezbollah in 2006.
Barnard notes that Israel's creation "flooded Lebanon with Palestinian refugees" and that "Israel invaded Lebanon," but she ignores that Lebanon was among several Arab armies which attacked the nascent Jewish state in 1948. Had Palestinian Arabs and neighboring Arab states, including Lebanon, not attacked the new Jewish state, would there have been a flood of refugees to Lebanon? The journalist likewise includes not a word about the Palestine Liberation Organization's creation of a state within a state in southern Lebanon, where it established a base from which it attacked Israeli civilians for decades. Nor does she note any Hezbollah violence against Israelis and Jews, both in Israel and abroad.
January 18, 2015
As Four Jews Buried, MSNBC's Ayman Mohyeldin Redirects Back to Palestinians
As the four Jews slaughtered as they went about their pre-Shabbat kosher shopping in Paris were laid to rest in Jerusalem Tuesday, and questions about the future of European Jewry were hanging in the air, MSNBC's Ayman Mohyeldin avers that the real "context" of Jewish immigration to Israel is the denial of rights to Palestinians. (See eight minutes into the broadcast.)
In a Jan. 13 broadcast about the funeral which included a discussion of the future of French Jewry, host Abby Hunstman asks: "Israel is also experiencing a rise in the return of Jews from all over Europe because of the broad rise of anti-Semitism across the EU. You’re in Israel. How is the migration being handled there?"
To which Mohyeldin responds:
Immigration from Europe particularly to Israel has always been a sensitive one given the history of Europe and what has happened there with the Jewish population. The Israeli government really affords a lot of resources to try to make that possible, to make it as easy as possible. The World Jewish Agency certainly plays a very important role in that. The issue of immigration to Israel always is a sensitive one here. The Israeli government says every Jew around the world is allowed and welcome to Israel, their ancestral homeland as they call it. But at the same time denies similar rights obviously to Palestinians born within Israel. And it is always seen from that perspective in this context. There is this tension when it comes to the issue of migration. But in terms of resources provided by the government the Israeli government really spares no effort to try to help individuals and families try to get on their feet once they arrive here in a performance that’s called “ali” and that’s the journey of coming here to Israel, to return here to Israel as the Jewish population calls it. (Emphasis added.)
In other words, according to Mohyeldin, when considering the flight of Europe's Jews in face of rising anti-Semitism, one must not lose perspective of the "context" of this sad story: Palestinians are the ultimate, perpetual victims.
(The skewed perspective that Mohyeldin advocates does not include the fact that many countries, including Norway, Germany and Ireland, have immigration policies aimed to maintain their ethnic-cultural characters.)
January 15, 2015
Words Matter Because Lives Matter
CNN's Christiane Amanpour has been roundly criticized for her use of the word “activist” when describing the two brothers who, on January 7, 2015 murdered 12 people, 10 of them staffers at Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper in Paris that published pictures of Mohammed.
Amanpour’s use of the word “activists” in reference to the two Islamist murderers was wrong, but maybe there is something that actually can be said in her defense. Maybe it was an honest mistake on her part.
Prior to using the word herself, Amanpour read from an interview with Charlie Hebdo editor Stefane Charbonnier (aka Charb) in the French newspaper Le Monde in which he said, “When activists need a pretext to justify their violence, they always find it.” Charb made this statement after his paper was firebombed in 2012.
After reading Charb’s statement on the fly, on live television, Amanpour then said, “And on this day, these activists found their targets and their targets were journalists. This was a clear attack on the freedom of expression, on press, and on satire.”
Maybe it’s a mistake to give Amanpour (who once compared an Evangelical Protestant to the Taliban) the benefit of the doubt over her misuse over the word “activists.”
She is a seasoned journalist and should have known better than to use the word “activists” to describe the murderers who ended 12 peoples’ lives on Jan 7.
But it is live television, and Amanpour had just quoted Charb, who used the word “activists” himself. Maybe the word was at the top of her mind and she just unthinkingly repeated it.
And then there’s this: If Amanpour is at fault for using the word “activists” then so was Charlie Hebdo editor Stefané Charbonnier. The people who firebombed his newspaper were “terrorists” and “arsonists,” not “activists.”
Whether Amanpour made an honest mistake or not, the outrage she elicited is reasonable because terminology matters, especially in a time such as this. Intellectuals in the West have been downplaying the horror of Islamist ideology and the violence it generates for a long time, and it’s usually done in the name of peace.
Examples of this tendency abound.
More on The New York Times and Haredi Photoshop
Yesterday we discussed Jodi Rudoren's article about a Haredi Jewish newspaper that photoshopped, awkwardly and with potential to offend, images of women from a photo of world leaders in Paris. Our blog post focused mostly on how Rudoren's piece fit into a well-established pattern at the New York Times of obsessing over Israeli-Jewish flaws, real and imagined, in a way glaringly disproportionate to how the newspaper deals with most other groups (even Americans).
Last night, Rudoren posted an update on her Facebook page, which reaches only a small fraction of her New York Times readership. The update included noteworthy information that contradicts some of the allegations in the original story, and also prompted a discussion in which some interesting points were raised, including by professors of journalism.
First, the noteworthy added information: The Times published the piece before it was able to get comment from anyone at the Israeli newspaper—and readers lost out. Although Rudoren's article charged the Israeli paper with "denying the fact that in the wider world, beyond the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, women do stand on the world stage and shape events" and with "tr[ying] to make it appear as though no women had been there to begin with," that newspaper's editor later told The Times that, in fact, his front-page story about the Paris march "listed Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany among those who led it." Is that, to Western sensibilities, exculpatory? Maybe not. Is it relevant to the discussion? Definitely. But missing from The New York Times story.
Now to some of the comments left on Rudoren's Facebook page:
Journalist and journalism professor David Greenberg raised the question of whether the behavior scrutinized in Rudoren's article is any different than policy about not showing images of Mohammed imposed by New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet:
Jodi, The editor's argument is that running a woman's image would offend his audience's religious beliefs. Isn't this the exact same argument as Dean Baquet's for not running Muhammad's image? (I'm not asking you to defend his policy!)
To which another Facebook user replied:
Yes, David. It is the same idea except that he is not doing it because it would offend his non-readers, he is doing it to avoid offending his readers so that they will buy the newspaper. And his readers are not telling the NYTimes or anyone else that they may not publish the photos. So it really isn't the same thing at all.
Rudoren argued that the difference between her employer and the religious newspaper is that The Times chooses not to publish images of Mohammed, while the newspaper she wrote about published the photo but surreptitiously edited it. Greenberg agreed, but added that "both editors are wrongly catering to religious sensitivities at the expense of important news."
Another professor of journalism, Ira Rifkin, raised doubts about the newsworthiness of Rudoren's piece:
Move along, move along. Nothing NEW going on here. Why is this even a story -- again? Removing women from photos in Haredi publications is so common place that it should have ceased to be news long ago. This is what it's readership wants and expects. Just because it seems sexist and dishonest to non-Haredi readers does not make it a story worth repeating time and again.
A CAMERA researcher asked Rudoren about her views on the the story and her update:
Two questions I hope you might be able to answer, Jodi.
First, do you think your Facebook post, which of course doesn't have nearly the same circulation as your initial article, is good enough?
Here's what I mean: In a piece that refers to the photoshopping largely in terms of prompting "snickers" and "satire," of being a "sin," of causing "embarass[ment]" (twice), and of amounting to "religious extremism" that's analogous even to murder, was your one cryptic quote by a haredi woman at the end enough? If you couldn't immediately get in touch with anyone at HaMevaser, should you have waited a day?
Because honestly, the information you share above — that their the front page story in fact noted that Angela Merkel led the march — seems to be not only an important counterpoint to Sommer's charge that the newspaper is " denying…women…stand on the world stage" and your charge that they "tried to make it appear as though no women had been there to begin with," but an essential counterpoint.
Second, can you help me understand why (and correct me if I'm wrong) your newspaper didn't cover Ikea's removal of all women from the Saudi version of its catalog? Ikea, a huge, hip multi-billion-dollar organization, is no less important than this small newspaper serving a small population, is it? Do you accept the "Jews are news" axiom as a legitimate excuse to disproportionately focus on Jews—most often, (Israeli) Jews behaving strangely or (Israeli) Jews behaving badly—relative to Ikea or Saudis or Jordanians or Palestinians? Or is it an axiom that describes a problem, one that should be fixed?
Saudi Arabia Builds Another "Apartheid Wall" to Keep Out Terrorists
The Washington Times reports that Saudi Arabia has decided to build a 600 mile security barrier in response to concerns that ISIS and other terrorists may try to seize control of Mecca and Medina. The Saudis already have in place a 1000 mile security barrier to keep out terrorists from Yemen.
The article compares the Saudi fence-building fervor to China's Great Wall that was constructed to keep out marauders beyond China's northern border. But the design of the system of security fences and monitoring posts suggests the Saudis have taken their cue from another Middle Eastern nation's attempt to stop terrorists from infiltrating. Israel devised a similar design to stem the epidemic of suicide bombers infiltrating into Israel from the West Bank during the Second Intifada. The Saudis apparently took note of the barrier's role in virtually ending suicide bombings in Israel.
Unlike the furor that erupted over Israel's decision to construct its security barrier, to date no demonstrations against the Saudi's "apartheid wall" have transpired on American or European university campuses.
January 14, 2015
Where's the Coverage? Only Woman Murdered at Charlie Hebdo Was "Definitely Killed Because She Was Jewish"
If you have seen any of the news reports of the terrorist attacks in Paris, you have witnessed the media bending over backwards not to call the attacks antisemitic, though even the president of France labeled the attack on the Hyper Cacher kosher market as “a terrible antisemitic attack.”
What you have seen even less coverage of is the fact that the murderous attack at the Charlie Hebdo magazine was also antisemitic. The online Jewish magazine Tablet writes:
Of the dozen killed at Charlie Hebdo by [Hyper Cacher murderer Amedi] Koulibali’s collaborators, the Kouachi brothers, there were 11 men and one woman. Her name was Elsa Cayat. Other women on the premises, also held at gunpoint, were permitted to go on living. One of the murderers told Sigolène Vinson, a Charlie freelancer who had gone to the morning meeting: “I’m not going to kill you because you’re a woman. We don’t kill women, but you must convert to Islam, read the Quran and cover yourself.” Then he cried out: “Allah hu Akbar.”
Now here’s the thing. The killers must have known that Elsa Cayat was Jewish. There is no likelier explanation for the chilling fact that of the women on the scene, Cayat was the one singled out for murder. Cayat’s cousin, Sophie Bramly, told CNN’s Erin Burnett that the killers’ selectivity, in this regard, has not come in for much comment by French media. Nor, outside the CNN report, has the point been much noted in the Anglo-American media. But there it is. In the eyes of the killers, male cartoonists were enemies of Allah. Women who were not otherwise cursed were deemed salvageable. After all, Allah is merciful. But a Jewish woman is unsalvageable. As in 1976, when non-Israeli Jewish passengers were assigned to the Israeli group and kept hostage by Palestinian hijackers when other nationals were released; as in 1985, when Leon Klinghoffer and other Jews were sequestered for special treatment on the Achille Lauro—in 2015, Elsa Cayat forfeited her right to live by virtue of being a Jew.
You may have learned from the coverage that the Kouachi brothers knew exactly who they were looking for, that they called out the names of their victims and methodically executed them. But very few media outlets have reported on Elsa Cayat. If you did not see this brief interview on CNN, you may not know that the only woman killed was killed because she was Jewish. This is a major aspect of the story. This proves that the gruesome terror attacks in Paris were not just an assault on freedom of expression, not just an assault on freedom of the press, not just an assault on liberal democratic values. The terror attacks were all of those and more.
They were also attacks on Jews because – and this is the element that must be stressed – the Jews are the canary in the coal mine. When the forces of evil come for the Jews, the rest of society should pay attention because the rest of society is next.
The terrorists who “don’t kill women” killed one woman. A Jewish woman. Where’s the coverage?
Ultra-Orthodox Have Certain Habits, And So Does The New York Times
When a Palestinian television program two weeks ago told viewers that “the Jews are, by nature, a corrupt people who sow corruption everywhere,” The New York Times said nothing. When the Mayor of Ankara, Turkey’s capital city, claimed Israel was behind the Charlie Hebdo terror attack, the newspaper was likewise unmoved.
When Ikea, a huge, hip Western company, photoshopped women out of the Saudi version of its catalog, it wasn’t considered newsworthy enough for the Times print edition. But when a minor newspaper serving Israel’s small minority of Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews altered a photo of world leaders marching in Paris to remove three women from the shot, The New York Times made it a page-A4 story about “snickers” and Israeli embarrassment.
It is of course understandable that a newspaper might expose the world customs that, to the modern Western reader, would appear strange or unreasonable. But The New York Times has shown itself to have an Israel problem. And the fact that these conservative Israeli Jews are considered a significant story but not, for example, similar behavior by Ikea, let alone the dozens of Palestinian “honor killings” over the past two years, fits the pattern all too well.
Israeli Jews are subject to a different, harsher, discriminatory standard. An opinion editor at the newspaper recently admitted as much. Maybe news editors should come clean and similarly admit their own bias?
Where Was MSNBC's Interception of Intercept's Jeremy Scahill?
According to Freedom House, Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a free press, but according to Jeremy Scahill, a journalist interviewed yesterday on MSNBC, the Jewish state is among the worst "enemies of a free press."
Of the world leaders marching at the front of the Paris rally yesterday, Scahill, a co-founder of Intercept, said on "The Ed Show":
Yeah, I mean, well, first of all on the one hand I think it`s moving to everybody to see so many people pour to the streets. And to have this discussion about freedom of the press, and to defend journalists even when they are saying something or drawing something that we find hateful or offensive or demeaning to our faith, those are all important principles. But when I watched it, I looked at all those leaders and the world leaders that were in the front row there, by the way, they weren`t on the side street, they weren`t exactly leading this march of millions of people.
Many of them are enemies of a free press. There are several dictators from Africa there who are enemies of a free press. The leader of Ireland has outlawed blasphemy. You now, Benjamin Netanyahu who`s government has killed scores of Palestinian journalists, apparently targeting some of them at times. So I think that we have to weigh the hypocrisy that`s almost always on display when world leaders are at the forefront of what`s supposed to be a sort of, you know, people`s response with the actual facts.
The notion that Israel has killed Palestinian journalists, even specifically targeted them, because of their offensive or even anti-Israel work, is completely unfounded. The large majority of those said to be Palestinian journalists killed by Israel were killed in the course of violent conflict between Israel and Hamas, both in the summer of 2014 and in November 2012.
Many of them were later identified as members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or other terror groups. They include Abdulla Murtaja of Hamas, Islamic Jihad leader Ramez Harb, Mahmoud Al-Kumi and Hussam Salama of Hamas, and Ezzat Salama Duheir of Islamic Jihad.
Neither host Ed Schultz nor Steve Clemons of The Atlantic, the segment's other guest, challenged Scahill's assertion that Israel is an enemy of free speech. (Anyone who reads Israel's Haaretz on any given day knows how off the mark he is). But Clemons did take on Scahill's similarly unfounded allegation that Islam, and Mohammed, had been uniquely lampooned by Charlie Hebdo.
This takes on much greater significance in terms of the public debate, and I think a lot of Muslims that I talked to, including almost every single Muslim I know that condemns this attack, they say, this is happening to the Prophet Muhammad and people are OK with printing this, but they wonder if anti-semantic cartoon would be printed in the same manner in solidarity.
Now there`s not an exact comparison there, but there is a sense that because it`s the Prophet Muhammad, that it`s more acceptable than any other religiously offensive image, and that`s -- I think the point worth debating.
Clemons commendably responds:
I like to just simply, remind people that both, you know Jesus Christ and other Jewish leaders have all been lampooned on the front of Charlie Hebdo as well, I mean, you know, we`ve been talking a lot about the fact that it`s going after everyone, but if you go back in the history of the images in Charlie Hebdo, there`s plenty to grab in terms of equal opportunity taboos in a variety of religions that magazine has taken on.
And so, I agree with Jeremy that it will be interesting to see what comes out next, but the notion that, you know, we have one publication targeting this week, you know, Muhammad and with all that represents, I think, if you go back to this -- that`s what made the magazine so interesting...
UPDATED: Seek and You Shall Find: Bias in Europe
Update follows letter.
Responding to a New York Times call to European Muslims, to share their experiences, and specifically incidents of anti-Muslim bias, Dr. John Cohn, CAMERA's 2003 Letter-Writer of the Year, wrote to Margaret Sullivan, the paper's public editor:
Dear Ms. Sullivan,
While on the Times website I came across the following pages, with the caption, "Share your experiences as a Muslim in Europe, The New York Times would like to hear from Europeans, particularly Muslims, about their experiences." The link took me to a page with preloaded questions, such as:
What types of anti-Muslim bias, if any, have you experienced or witnessed in your daily life?
If you are Muslim, how comfortable are you practicing Islam in Europe?
In the aftermath of the attacks, how might your life change, if at all?
This led me to wonder if the Times had similarly solicited information from Christians in Saudi Arabia, Syria, or Iraq, or gays, women or Christians in Gaza. Has it?
There are, of course, no Jews to query in those places, but you could ask Israeli Christians how they are doing in the only Middle Eastern country with a growing Christian population compared to their co-religionists in neighboring Arab states... Likewise, at this time of trouble, I would think you would be soliciting the concerns of all Europeans, Christians, Muslims, Jews, agnostics and atheists.
Similarly, I was struck that your paper asked, "What types of anti-Muslim bias, if any, have you experienced or witnessed". I think the lawyers call that a leading question.
In the memory of some Times readers, 6 million Jews were murdered by Europeans. And it was the synagogues of Paris, not the mosques that closed last weekend from fear of violence. I will not defend anti-Muslim bigotry, nor do I want to suggest some universal Islamic responsibility for acts of violence claimed by the perpetrators to be in the name of Islam, but who has the most to fear?
Or does that not lead to the story your reporters have already decided to write?
John R. Cohn
Update: The newspaper subsequently changed the questionnaire to include all Europeans and their experiences, as opposed to seeking out Muslims and examples of anti-Muslim bigotry specifically.
Jan. 18 Correction: The writer's letter originally erred in stating that there are no Jews in Iran.
January 13, 2015
Abbas Plays Along With Erdogan's Ottoman Fantasies
Turkish Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won election to another term in August, 2014. Buoyed by his continued domestic popularity, he recently hosted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in an ostentatious ceremony exhibiting pageantry that recalled the extinguished Ottoman Empire.
The Arab media is somewhat perplexed by Erdogan's idiosyncracies. In reporting on the event, Al Arabiya quoted one commentator as describing the scene with Abbas as a "circus." The article further noted that Erdogan just completed a 1,150 room presidential palace. That is a residence fit for a modern-day Sultan.
The Arabs are not entirely comfortable with Erdogan's theatrics over past Turkish military glories. Ottoman rule in the Middle East lasted for centuries, preceding European domination. But the history of Turkish-Arab relations was not so congenial.
The Ottoman Turks were the last in a series of nomadic invaders originating from what is today western and northern China. The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet documented the sixteen "Turkish" empires. Proudly included in the list was Timur (the lame), known in the west as Tamerlane, who like ISIS today, had no problem slaughtering Muslims who were not to his liking. According to legend, he had a mountain built out of 90,000 skulls of the inhabitants of Baghdad he had ordered slaughtered.
Not explicitly mentioned were the Mongols, a non-Turkic people, who nevertheless incorporated many Turkish soldiers into their armies as they swept across Asia in the 13th century, leaving a trail of devastation where centers of Islamic culture once stood.
It was these waves of Asiatic invaders, not the Christian Crusaders, that sealed the fate of the Arab-dominated Caliphate and irreversibly transformed the Islamic world. The Turks seized Constantinople, the seat of the once dominant Christian state in the Middle East and made it their capital. They adopted Islam and the Turkish Sultan assumed the role of Caliph.
Abbas's visit appears intended to curry favor and legitimacy from the Turkish President as part of the on-going jockeying for regional support between his more secular Fatah party and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip.
Hamas finds itself increasingly isolated from its traditional Arab sponsors. The Egyptian government is locked in a bitter conflict with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas's organizational parent. The Gaza Strip has served as a base for supporting terrorist operations against the Egyptian government. With Hamas increasingly reliant on Shiite and non-Arab Iran, Sunni Turkey is an important and desirable ally. Under these circumstances, Erdogan has emerged as a principal sponsor of Hamas.
Erdogan has pursued an aggressive policy to reassert Turkey's once dominant presence in the region. This has included a repudiation of the once friendly relations between secular-ruled Turkey and Israel. His outreach to Hamas puts him in sharp conflict with Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It also demonstrates his ambition to become a power-broker among the Palestinian factions. Further complicating the picture, Turkey is a member of NATO.
What will be next for the grandiose Erdogan? In his zeal to revive the erstwhile Ottoman Empire from its ashes, will he reinstitute the Corps of Janissaries, the Sultan's infamous slave-soldiers whose ranks were replenished by kidnapped Christian boys from the Balkans?
Blame the writers, Bossypants, blame the writers
Without meaning to, Tina Fey, who recently hosted the Golden Globes, may have misinformed her audience about the professional achievements of Amal Clooney (ne Alamuddin).
In a funny take down of Amal's husband, actor George Clooney (who was receiving a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes ceremony) Fey listed some of the achievements of his wife Amal, which truth be told, are probably a bit more demanding (but less lucrative), than George's. "So tonight, her husband is getting a lifetime achievement award."
During her joke, Fey reported that Amal "was selected for a three-person UN commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza strip."
She was offered a seat on the panel, but turned it down.
January 12, 2015
Reuters Disparages Benjamin Netanyahu's Show of Support for Parisian Jews as "Gauche"
Without even the courtesy of a grace period for the burial in Israel of the Jewish victims, Reuters has wasted no time producing a hit piece against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The authors set up their attack on Netanyahu by quoting "the particularlly stern" Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the head of the European Jewish Association, who dismisses Netanyahu's call for Jews to emigrate to Israel, saying, "Anyone familiar with the European reality knows that a call to Aliyah is not the solution for anti-Semitic terror."
The article then calculates that "Only a few French Jews move to Israel each year -- last year 7,000 out of the 550,000-strong community. That number is expected to rise to more than 10,000 in 2015, in part because of last week's attacks."
So, according to Reuters, 1 out of every 80 French Jews departing France for Israel in just a single year somehow qualifies as "only a few."
The next paragraph injects more blatant politicking, stating, "Helping more of the Jewish diaspora migrate to Israel remains a central policy of the right-wing government, which faces elections in March."
Although the authors of the piece apparently don't know this, encouraging immigration to Israel is not a "right-wing" policy, it is an essential component of Zionism shared across the mainstream political spectrum.
The article's authors, Luke Jackson and Tom Henegan, conclude their piece, published just days after the murder of six French Jews, by disparaging Netanyahu's "behavior" as "gauche." The behavior they apparently refer to includes his participation in the march against terrorism and his impassioned speech at the main synagogue in Paris.
Yes, how gauche it must appear to these reporters and their editor, Giles Elgood, with their heightened sensitivity to etiquette and politesse, for the leader of the Jewish state to demonstrate in-person his support for French Jews who have been targeted by the terrorists because they are Jews.
How gauche indeed.
On Death Threats, Haaretz Cartoons and Charlie Hebdo
Ronen Shoval, a candidate with the right-wing Habayit Yehudi party, is calling for an investigation of Haaretz on suspicion for "defeatist propaganda" for running a cartoon paying tribute to the murdered Charlie Hebdo journalists.
Or at least that's what the Haaretz print edition would have readers believe today. The page three article ("Haaretz death threats appear on rightest politican's Facebook") reads:
Facebook users have called for the murder of members of Haaretz's editorial board, responding to a call by a right-leaning politician who wants an investigation into Haaretz's editors on suspicion of "defeatest propaganda" under Statute 103 of Israel's penal code.
Ronen Shoval, who is running in right-wing party Habayit Yaheyudi's primary, called for the investigation on Facebook over the weekend. This came after Haaretz had run a cartoon in which its graphic designers paid tribute to the cartoonists killed in the terror attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in France.
But Shoval is not calling for an investigation of Haaretz because a Haaretz graphic artist paid tribute to the murdered Charlie Hebdo attackers. Nor are those issuing death threats doing so on the basis of Haaretz's solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo victims. Shoval's objection is to a Haaretz cartoon which likened the murdered Charlie journalists to 13 Gazans said to be journalists killed in fighting over the summer.
The online edition includes the cartoon in question at the bottom of the article.
But the print edition did not at all describe the controversial cartoon, likely leaving readers completely puzzled about why a tribute to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre would provoke cries of incitement as well as death threats in right-wing circles.
BBC's Tim Willcox in Paris: A New Low
Cross post from BBC Watch, a CAMERA affiliate
BBC News coverage of the rally in Paris on January 11th included the clip below in which Tim Willcox interrupts an interviewee talking about the recent antisemitic attacks in France to inform her – forty-eight hours after four Jewish hostages had been murdered in a terror attack on a kosher supermarket – that:
Many critics of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands as well.
He then goes on to lecture her:
But you understand; everything is seen from different perspectives.
The EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism includes the following:
Readers no doubt recall that just two months ago, Willcox made use of the age-old stereotype of ‘rich Jews’ and failed to challenge the ‘Jewish lobby’ trope in a programme he was hosting.
-- Hadar Sela