December 17, 2014
Hamas Still Hamas, Says Will Never Recognize or Relinquish "Even an Inch" of Israel
Remember when it was all the rage for some journalists to pretend Hamas recognizes Israel and wants a two-state solution, never mind what the Islamist group's own leaders repeatedly and consistently said to the contrary?
There was The New York Times, which told us that a Hamas leader, in the words of its headline, "Calls for Two-State Solution." (No, he didn't.)
And don't forget The Guardian, chroniclers of the "news" that Hamas "agrees to Israeli state." (Wrong again.)
Alas, it seems Hamas leaders were never close readers of those newspapers. The organization stubbornly has continued to be clear about its ideology, as it did again just a few days ago. Over to you, MEMRI:
Speaking at a December 12 rally in Khan Younes, Hamas political bureau member Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said: "Anyone who thinks that we will recognize the existence of the [Zionist] entity or the 1967 borders is deluded... Palestine stretches from the Egyptian border in the south to Lebanon in the north, and from Jordan in the east to the Mediterranean sea in the west, and we will never recognize anything less than this." He added: "If part of our land is liberated, we will establish our state in that part without relinquishing even an inch of the rest. Just as we liberated Gaza and established a genuine administration in it, [with] an army and security apparatuses that defend us, rather than the Israeli enemy [unlike those of the PA], we will do the same in the West Bank, as a prelude to attaining all of Palestine."
Oslo Promises That Never Were
Vincent Fean, Britiani's consul-general in Jerusalem from 2010 to 2014, writes in The New York Times this week ("Signs of recognition"): "At Oslo, the Palestinians were promised statehood."
In fact, this is sheer imagination on the part of the former British diplomat. In no way did the Oslo Accords promise Palestinian statehood. The Sept. 13, 1993 "Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements" does not mention the word "statehood." Article I states:
The aim of the Israel-Palestinian negotiations within the current Middle East peace process is, among other things, to establish a Palestinian interim Self-Government Authority, the elected Council (the "Council"), for the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, for a transitional period not exceeding five years, leading to a permanent settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
Likewise, the Sept. 28, 1995 "Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip" also does not mention -- never mind "promise" -- Palestinian statehood.
CAMERA has requested a correction. Stay tuned for an update.
December 16, 2014
AP Said Settlement Population Growth "Surged" (Oh, and "Slowed")
Former Associated Press reporter Matti Friedman points out a bizarre contradiction by the AP yesterday:
If I tried to point out every instance of press dishonesty I'd literally be doing nothing else. But I think this a good example. This story from the AP informs us in the first paragraph that the number of settlers has "surged" under Netanyahu. The problem is that reporters who actually cover the settlements (like Tovah Lazaroff of the Jerusalem Post) know the opposite is true -- though Netanyahu is certainly pro-settlement, population growth in the settlements has actually decreased since he came to power. And indeed, in the sixth paragraph, the AP reporters remember that actually growth among settlers has "slowed slightly" under Netanyahu. So which is it, guys? "Surged" or "slowed"? And does anyone actually take this stuff seriously anymore?
Indeed, the story as it appeared for some time yesterday opened with the announcement that "The population of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank has surged during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s years in office." That article's original headline relayed the storyline so many journalists are drawn to: "Netanyahu years see surge in West Bank settlements."
But indeed, AP explained deeper in the story that settlement growth during those years slowed from 31 to 23 percent.
(And yes, AP describes this as a "slight" drop in population growth. By contrast, the wire service once stated Mexican population growth slowed "dramatically" after it fell from 3.5 to 2.4 percent, though in percentage terms that drop is nearly the same as the decline in settlement population growth.)
The language was eventually changed, and the final version of the story asserts that "The population of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank has continued to surge" during Netanyahu's tenure.
December 15, 2014
NBC's Richard Engel Reveals His Obsession With Israel
An extraordinary exchange between Chuck Todd, host of Meet the Press and Richard Engel, chief foreign correspondent for NBC, occurred on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014. It went as follows:
CHUCK TODD [Host]: December visit here. What's creating more terrorists, Bush interrogation program or Obama's drone program?
RICHARD ENGEL [NBC correspondent]: Creating more terrorists?
CHUCK TODD: Yeah.
RICHARD ENGEL: It's very hard to know. People are radicalized--
CHUCK TODD: But there's worry that--
RICHARD ENGEL: --for a variety of reasons.
CHUCK TODD: --both do that.
RICHARD ENGEL: Yeah, that both can radicalize people. There's a whole history of why people are being radicalized. It goes back to U.S. support for Israel, what's considered to be a war against Islam. But the drone war is certainly part of it. The torture program is certainly part of it. I don't know if you could say one is more influential and creating more of a problem than the other.
CAMERA and other media monitors have described the obsession some in the media have with Israel. Here is an example where the host specifically asks Engel to compare the effect of the drone war and the "Bush interrogation" on generating terrorists. Israel is not part of the discussion. Yet Engel answers U.S. support for Israel. Injecting blame for Israel into the conversation suggests an obsession.
And what's Engel's evidence that American support for Israel generates terrorists? None.
In fact, radicalization in the Muslim world goes back further than Israel. Modern Islamic terrorism has many roots. It is telling that Engel does not cite American military involvement in the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, a complaint more central to Al Qaeda and its offshoots and more relevant to the question Todd asked him.
This is not the first time Engel has revealed his bias against Israel. In the war between Israel and Hamas during the summer of 2014, he had this to say about ceasefire negotiations:
Israel says it wants to trade quiet for quiet. But Israel isn't stopping its Gaza mission entirely. The army said it will continue to destroy Hamas tunnels along Gaza's perimeter. It gave no time limit for how long that might take.
What is Hamas getting in return? So far, nothing. No deal, no immediate lifting of the closure of the Gaza Strip. Just a reprieve from Israel's assault that has flattened entire Gaza neighborhoods and killed more than a thousand Palestinians, many of them civilians, many of them children. The war could easily escalate again. Hamas wants an agreement to end the fighting, not for Israel to unilaterally scale back the assault on its own terms.
Engel seems to be prodding Hamas to not agree to a ceasefire.
NBC's coverage of Israel has been problematic. Richard Engel's obsession with Israel serves as a reminder of the bias that permeates some elements of the media.
December 10, 2014
Farah Stockman Demonstrates the Double Standard
If someone asks for a two-word description of what's wrong with so much media coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict, there probably is no better answer than "double standard."
The double standard can often be subtle — for example, when many months pass between the evincing of one standard and the second, shifted standard. Who would have noticed this example?: The New York Times considered it to be front-page news when Israeli veterans met in 2009 and shared with each other rumors they had heard of atrocities during wartime. Front-page news, and the topic of repeated articles. But when twice in 2008 US soldiers actually confessed, in court and in signed documents, to the same type of atrocities, the news was buried deep inside the newspaper. And when American veterans informally met in 2008 to do just what the Israeli soldiers did, exchange atrocity stories, The Times didn't even bother to cover the meeting. Clearly a double standard, but not an easy one to notice.
Other times, though, the double standard is glaring. Such is the case with Boston Globe columnist Farah Stockman's recent two-part series about Jerusalem.
In article number one, Stockman derisively dismissed the idea that Palestinian incitement could be linked to Palestinian acts of violence. "Netanyahu blames the attacks on 'incitement' by Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, a claim so disingenuous it was contradicted by his own intelligence chief," she stated. Instead, the violence against Israelis is framed as being Israel's fault. (Stockman explained away the murder of four Jews praying in a synagogue as being "what separation sows.")
But in article number two, published less than two weeks later, it's a whole different story. In fact, a main theme of the piece is the idea that the "toxic atmosphere" created by the words of Jewish radicals is a cause of an attack by Jews on a Jewish-Arab school.
Why the different standard? Why is it that Stockman believes anobscenely toxic atmosphere has no effect on Palestinian society, but an atmosphere in which some hateful currents strands exist, but are roundly condemned, supposedly drives Israelis to arson? Are Palestinians immune to the racist rhetoric in schools, calls for violence on television, and celebration of terror by government leaders, all of which are unfortunately exist Palestinian society, but Israelis are propelled to act violently by extreme language that is much more rare?
The Arab-Israeli conflict cannot be understood, and cannot be effectively explained, when a shift in focus from one side to the other coincides with a shift in the lens, the cropping, the standards, the expectations, and the physics of the situation. It's simply unreasonable to laugh off concerns about Palestinian hate speech just before claiming that an Israeli arson is a "symptom" of Israeli rhetoric. It is the kind of double standard that impairs so much of the conversation about the conflict.
Where's the Coverage? Press Ignores Pro-Israel Voice
CAMERA’s Snapshots blog has highlighted the recent articles by former Associated Press reporter and editor Matti Friedman detailing the systemic bias against Israel by the mainstream media from an insider’s point of view. In August, we covered his piece in Tablet, “An Insider's Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth,” and recently we reported on his follow-up in The Atlantic, “What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel.”
In the most recent story, Friedman describes a directive within the Jerusalem bureau not to quote Professor Gerald Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor, an organization that exposes the manner in which non-governmental organizations (NGOs), often funded by European governments and others with an anti-Israel agenda, assail the legitimacy of Israel. A CAMERA article notes:
By placing a cone of silence around Gerald Steinberg and NGO Monitor, the AP is giving NGOs such as [Human Rights Watch] and Amnesty International – groups that have a huge influence on how people interpret the Arab-Israeli conflict – a pass. By censoring NGO Monitor, the Associated Press is protecting one side of the debate over human rights and war crimes in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In response to Friedman's charge, the Associated Press has issued a statement over the signature of Paul Colford, the organization's director of media relations. In reference to the allegation regarding NGO Monitor, Colford states “There was no ‘ban' on using Prof. Gerald Steinberg. He and his NGO Monitor group are cited in at least a half-dozen stories since the 2009 war.”
CAMERA exposes the weakness of this denial. If it were true, there would be articles that quote Professor Steinberg and cite NGO Monitor. But there are not. Not in most of the mainstream media.
The only recent stories citing Professor Steinberg are about the controversy itself and run in the Jewish, Israeli or niche press. The Hill just posted an article citing CAMERA and supporting Friedman’s assertion:
In a world where journalists take risks to interview brutal dictators, terrorists, mass murders, and any variety of psychopaths for a sensational story, the off-limits sign on a distinguished professor appears to make no sense.
Steinberg upset the ideologically critical relationship between the AP and its sources in non-governmental organizations (NGOs), groups that Steinberg revealed are more concerned with bashing Israel than advancing human rights.
Just the other day, in her New York Times front page article “Bill on Status as Jewish State Fuels an Israeli Identity Crisis,” Jodi Rudoren assailed Israel’s democracy (again), citing several NGOs and political scientists, but not including any reference to NGO Monitor nor quoting Professor Steinberg. The New York Times is not the AP. Presumably the entire media corps that covers Israel was not given the directive alleged by Friedman and supported by a colleague, Mark Lavie.
Or is a directive unnecessary? Is there an unspoken rule throughout the mainstream media? If you search Google News for articles about “Israel” you will find literally millions of stories and the only ones that include Professor Steinberg’s name are in blogs, Jewish or Israeli media. Can this be a coincidence?
Gerald Steinberg is Professor of Political Studies at Bar Ilan University. His fields of expertise include international relations, Middle East diplomacy and security, Israeli politics and arms control. Given the ongoing diplomatic and security upheavals in the Middle East, the nuclear arms control talks with Iran and Israel’s upcoming elections, one would think Professor Steinberg could have some important insights. Yet… where’s the coverage?
December 04, 2014
Where's the Coverage? Vast Majority of Jewish-Israeli Teens Face Antisemitism Online
A poll released by the Anti-Defamation League found that anti-Semitism and “anti-Israel expression” faced by Jewish-Israeli teenagers was on the rise from last year.
According to The Times of Israel, the survey found:
…that 51 percent of the participants reported encountering “attacks” on the Internet because of their nationality, compared to 36% last year. Eighty-three percent of the teens reported seeing anti-Semitism online in some form through “hate symbols, websites, and messages found on social media and in videos and music,” compared to 69% last year.
The survey also found that the teens encountered more anti-Semitism on social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Eighty-four percent reported seeing anti-Semitism in Facebook posts or tweets, compared to 70% last year.
Eighty-four percent of Israeli-Jewish teens reported encountering antisemitism on Facebook and Twitter! That is a stunning number. If 84 percent of any other ethnic group encountered racism on the internet, it would be on the front page of the New York Times and the lead story on every evening newscast. But – maybe because it’s faced by Jews and Israelis – the mainstream media are silent. Only the Israeli and Jewish press reported this story.
With this shocking level of hatred and bigotry, one has to ask, where’s the outrage? Where’s the indignation? Where’s the coverage?
December 03, 2014
Looming Clash Between Iran and Egypt?
As much of the world media's attention is focused on the conflict in Syria and Iraq or between Israel and the Palestinians, Iran continues to pursue its aggressive strategy of expanding its reach in the region and encircling Israel.
Over the last year, a Yemeni Shi'ite militia, known as the Houthis, have siezed the initiative and taken control of portions of Yemen, including its capital city, Sanaa. The Houthis are widely considered to be an Iranian proxy, reports and photographic images of the militia show them marching with placards suggesting alignment with Iran and Hezbollah. They now are pushing to establish control of the strait of Bab al-Mandeb on the Red Sea. Commanding this strait would give Iran control over the chokepoint between the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean.
Jacques Neriah, a retired Israeli colonel, wrote a piece in October describing who the Houthis are and the strategic implications of their takeover of Yemen. Neriah writes,
suspicions about Iranian influence on the Houthis have been borne out by recent developments. On January 23, 2013, the Yemeni Coast Guard intercepted the Jihan 1, a weapons ship carrying 40 tons of military supplies from Iran and bound for the Houthi rebels. At about the same time, Yemeni diplomatic sources accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guards of training Houthi rebels on Red Sea islands belonging to Eritrea.
On November 12, 2014, I24, an Israeli news site, featured an article by Emmanuel Navon describing the Iranian strategy:
Ali Akbar Velayati, a former Iranian foreign minister who now advises the Supreme Leader Ali Khameni, declared that his plan is for the Houtis to become to Yemen what Hezbollah is to Lebanon... Ali Riza Zakani, an Iranian member of parliament who is also close to Khamenei, added ... there are now four Arab capitals in Iran’s hands: Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sana’a... the Iranian ring around Saudi Arabia is taking shape... Iranian journalist Mohammed Sadeq Al-Husseini declared on the pro-Iranian Lebanese television station Mayadeen that Saudi Arabia is a tribe on the verge of extinction and that once Iran controls the Bab-el Mandeb strait, it will block Israel’s access to the Indian Ocean. Iran’s control of Bab-el Mandeb will also make it harder for Israel to intercept ships carrying weapons, which Iran dispatches to Gaza.
An article in Al-Monitor, an Arab news analysis web site, quotes Egyptian officials raising the possibility of Egyptian intervention into Yemen.
Egypt is fighting an Islamist insurgency movement in the Sinai peninsula. It does not want an Iranian proxy controlling access to the Red Sea and possessing ports to hold and facilitate transport of weapons to the insurgency.
In the 1960s, Egypt sent in tens of thousands of troops into Yemen's civil war. As many as 26,000 Egyptian soldiers lost their lives in a fierce war that saw the use of poison gas. The total human toll of that conflict is not precisely known but probably exceeded 100,000.
Israel for its part already has its hands full interdicting the flow of Iranian weapons from East Africa and through the Sinai to the Gaza Strip. Red Sea access controlled by Iranian proxies would hugely complicate these efforts.
The Houthi conquest of Yemen may represent the opening act in a more expansive war that could involve a number of important regional actors traditionally aligned with the United States.
December 02, 2014
Are Declining Oil Prices Iran's Achilles Heel?
Things have been going well for Iran recently. Its proxy forces have made gains throughout the Middle East region, from Yemen to Iraq. The Islamic Republic has managed to stave off any negotiated agreement with the P5+1 group (U.S., Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany) that would impose constraints on its efforts to build nuclear weapons. In the meantime, the relaxation in sanctions the P5+1 group offered as an incentive to the Iranian regime to enter into negotiations has allowed its economy to rebound.
But just when everything seemed to be going as planned for the mullahs, world oil demand dropped. This in turn required major oil producers, like Iran, to come to an agreement on whether to decrease production and retain the price of oil, or to maintain production and watch the price of oil decline.
Daniel Yergin, who has written extensively on the worldwide impact of oil, wrote in the Wall Street Journal
The OPEC members in big trouble are the “have-nots”—those with small financial reserves and high government budgets.
These "have-nots" include Venezuela, Russia and Iran.
The official reason given for OPEC's decision to maintain oil production and absorb the price decline is that it wants to maintain market share in the face of aggressive non-OPEC producers. But, Saudi Arabia, the dominant member of OPEC, is deeply concerned with the Iranian nuclear program. Its influence was clearly felt. Like its smaller oil-rich Arab Gulf state neighbors, Saudi Arabia can absorb the revenue decline from lower prices.
Iran will have a more difficult time. Especially if it insists on devoting billions to its nuclear project. Its government budget is heavily dependent on the revenue generated from high oil prices. Oil prices have declined by nearly 40 percent over the last six months.
The unexpected decline in worldwide oil demand may have put an end to Iran's winning streak. As Robert Burns wrote in 1786, "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men often go awry."
AFP Ignores Hezbollah's Attacks Against Civilians
In a rare look at Hezbollah incitement geared towards children, French wire service Agence France Presse ignores the terror group's attacks against civilians ("In Hezbollah children's magazine, not fairies but fighters"). Today's article about a Hezbollah "Mahdi" Magazine for children, which includes glorification of a suicide bomber and coloring pages of grenades and automatic weapons, states:
The group carries out numerous attacks against Israeli forces during their 22-year occupation of Lebanon, which ended in 2000 with a withdrawal that Hezbollah claimed as a victory.
In 2006, Hezbollah's abduction of two Israeli soldiers prompted a massive military response by the Jewish state, but it failed to deal a death blow to the militant group.
Despite AFP's selective reporting, Hezbollah's attacks have not only been limited to Israeli military targets. Among Hezbollah's many attacks against civilians was the March 17, 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, in which 29 were killed and more than 200 wounded; the July 18, 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center, in which 86 were killed and more than 200 were injured; and the firing of countless rockets against communities in northern Israel, including on Nov. 28, 1995, March 30, 1996, Aug. 19, 1997, Dec. 28, 1998, June 24, 1999, and April 9, 2002.
In addition, while AFP mentions Hezbollah's abduction of two Israeli soldiers in 2006, it ignores the fact that at the same time Hezbollah was kidnapping the soldiers, it was also bombarding Israel's northern towns with rocket fire.
Indeed, on the day of the attack, AFP itself reported (July 12, 2006):
The claim [that Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers] came after intense cross-border clashes that left at least four Israeli civilians wounded, according to Israeli military sources.
Hezbollah fighters fired dozens of Katyusha rockets and mortar rounds on the disputed Shebaa Farms border area, security sources said.
There was also a barrage of fire on northern Israel at the other end of the frontier close to the Mediterraenan [sic] coast, the sources added.
Additional Hezbollah activities ignored by AFP include attacks on American troops and hijackings of international flights. (See CAMERA's "Timeline of Hezbollah Violence.")
December 01, 2014
NY Times Again Whitewashes Palestinian Violence
Certain traditions die hard. Like camels in the Jordanian police force. And Times' whitewashing of Palestinian violence.
Hewing to a well-worn pattern, The New York Times again whitewashes Palestinian violence and responsibility for conflict. This time, though, there's a novel twist to the old, tired formula: the story doesn't involve Israel. In an interesting article about the traditional use of camels in Jordan's desert police force, Ben Hubbard writes (Nov. 29):
Jordan’s rulers have long seen those descendants of Palestinians, who tend to care less about the monarchy, as a demographic threat to their rule, according to Ora Szekely, an associate professor of political science at Clark University in Massachusetts, who studies Jordan.
This sentiment increased after Black September, the violent battle that began in 1970 between the Jordanian Army and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Thousands were killed, but the monarchy won and expelled the P.L.O. from the kingdom.
“This cemented the decision and convinced the monarchy that the only people they could trust were the East Bankers,” Dr. Szekely said, “and especially the Bedouin.”
What, exactly, convinced the monarchy that it couldn't trust Palestinians? Contrary to Hubbard's muddled reporting and the confusing statement by Dr. Szekely, the violence of Black September was not the cause of the late King Hussein's distrust of Palestinians; it was the result.
In addition, the source of King Hussein's lack of trust was not merely of a demographic nature. In August 1970, Yasser Arafat convened the Palestine National Council in Amman, which openly debated overthrowing King Hussein (Arafat's War, Efraim Karsh). Indeed, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine twice attempted to assassinate the King in early September 1970.
Marie Colvin wrote in The New York Times back in 1988:
Increasingly [after 1964], the P.L.O. created a state-within-a-state in Jordan: the Democratic Front broadcast lessons in Marxism over mosque loudspeakers; Habash's Popular Front plotted to overthrow King Hussein, then staged a spectacular series of hijackings, blowing up three passenger jets in the Jordanian desert.
The Jordanian Army finally moved in September 1970 - now known to Palestinians as Black September - killing thousands of Palestinian fighters and civilians. The P.L.O. withdrew, eventually to Lebanon.
Karsh wrote that in the late 1960s,
The Palestinians kidnapped Arab diplomats and unfriendly Jordanian journalists, attacked government buildings, and publicly insulted the Jordanian flag in front of Jordanian subjects. Incidents of thuggery and crime abounded, including sexual molestation and rape and acts of vandalism against bakeries that left some of the population without bread. Recalling a particularly chilling incident, Zeid Rifai, chief of the Jordanan royal court, graphically described how "the Fedayeen killed a soldier, beheaded him, and played soccer with his head in the area where he used to live."
Former AP Journalist Matti Friedman On the 'Israel Story'
Following up on his earlier seminal piece in Tablet on obsessive and distorted journalistic coverage of Israel and the Palestinians, former AP reporter and editor Matti Friedman writes yesterday in The Atlantic that the "pipeline of information from this place is not just rusty and leaking, which is the usual state of affairs in the media, but intentionally plugged." Excerpts from The Atlantic essay follow:
During the Gaza war this summer, it became clear that one of the most important aspects of the media-saturated conflict between Jews and Arabs is also the least covered: the press itself. The Western press has become less an observer of this conflict than an actor in it, a role with consequences for the millions of people trying to comprehend current events, including policymakers who depend on journalistic accounts to understand a region where they consistently seek, and fail, to productively intervene. . . .
Confusion over the role of the press explains one of the strangest aspects of coverage here—namely, that while international organizations are among the most powerful actors in the Israel story, they are almost never reported on. Are they bloated, ineffective, or corrupt? Are they helping, or hurting? We don’t know, because these groups are to be quoted, not covered. Journalists cross from places like the BBC to organizations like Oxfam and back. The current spokesman at the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza, for example, is a former BBC man. A Palestinian woman who participated in protests against Israel and tweeted furiously about Israel a few years ago served at the same time as a spokesperson for a UN office, and was close friends with a few reporters I know. And so forth. . .
[Following the 2008-09 Gaza war] a Jerusalem-based group called NGO Monitor was battling the international organizations condemning Israel after the Gaza conflict, and though the group was very much a pro-Israel outfit and by no means an objective observer, it could have offered some partisan counterpoint in our articles to charges by NGOs that Israel had committed “war crimes.” But the bureau’s explicit orders to reporters were to never quote the group or its director, an American-born professor named Gerald Steinberg. In my time as an AP writer moving through the local conflict, with its myriad lunatics, bigots, and killers, the only person I ever saw subjected to an interview ban was this professor. . . .
When Hamas’s leaders surveyed their assets before this summer’s round of fighting, they knew that among those assets was the international press. The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby—and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. (This happened.) Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff—and the AP wouldn’t report it. (This also happened.) Cameramen waiting outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City would film the arrival of civilian casualties and then, at a signal from an official, turn off their cameras when wounded and dead fighters came in, helping Hamas maintain the illusion that only civilians were dying. (This too happened; the information comes from multiple sources with firsthand knowledge of these incidents.)
November 25, 2014
Where's the Coverage? Israeli Arabs Prefer Israel to Palestinian Authority
The mainstream media relishes reporting on a proposed bill being debated in Israel that would identify the Jewish state as the nation-state of the Jewish people. News outlets are falling over themselves to quote the bill’s critics and Israel’s critics, regurgitating the tired accusations about Israel’s broken or failing or stained democracy and how anti-Arab and racist Israel must be.
But, they are utterly silent about a new poll released by Israel’s Channel 10 News and conducted by the Statnet Research Institute, headed by Israeli Arab statistician Yousef Makladeh. Israel Today reports:
Makladeh asked fellow Arabs plainly and clearly: "Under which authority do you prefer to live, Israel or the Palestinian Authority?"
A full 77 percent of respondents chose Israel.
The vast majority – over three quarters – of Israeli Arabs prefer to live under the “racist” “apartheid regime” of Israel rather than under the Palestinian Authority.
According to The Jerusalem Post:
Prof. Sammy Smooha, a sociologist from the University of Haifa, told the Post that the survey’s findings appear reasonable.
Smooha points out that his own annual opinion survey, the Index of Arab-Jewish Relations in Israel (based on a random representative sample of 700 face-to-face interviews of those 18 and up, taken in fall 2013), shows that 63.5% of Arabs said Israel is a good place to live.
It also found that only 20.9% of the Arabs are willing to move to a Palestinian state.
These facts seem to undermine the popular media narrative. Is that the reason we’re forced to ask… Where’s the coverage?
November 24, 2014
World Vision Issues Vague Statement About Violence in Jerusalem
World Vision, a $2 billion Christian charity that promotes child welfare in poor countries throughout the world, has recently issued a putatively “balanced” press release about the escalating violence in Jerusalem. The undated release (which does not appear to have any links to it on World Vision's media page) is not as hostile toward Israel as WV materials have been in the past, but it is problematic nonetheless. It reads in part as follows:
Less than a week ago, a village mosque north of Ramallah was burned down and believed to have been a settler attack on Palestinian Muslims. On Tuesday, five Israelis were killed, and several others wounded, by two Palestinians armed with a pistol, axes and knives at a synagogue in West Jerusalem during a time of prayer. World Vision condemns such acts of terror and religious violence, and shares the grief of those who mourn the passing of all who have died in the violence of recent weeks.
To people unfamiliar with the events of the past week, this passage above appears to be a responsible, even-handed response to violence in Jerusalem, but in reality, it serves to obscure what responsible commentators would confront head-on: The role the allegedly “moderate” Palestinian Authority has played in encouraging violence against Israel and Jews prior to the synagogue attack.
'Tiny Tunisia' Joined by U.A.E. -- Israel Still Big
“Tiny” Tunisia returned to the pages of The Washington Post, this time joined by the “tiny” United Arab Emirates. As for Israel, much smaller than either Tunisia or the U.A.E., its size apparently still lacks newsworthiness.
As CAMERA pointed out two years ago this month, The Post found it important to tell readers that at least eight countries geographically larger than Israel, including Tunisia, were “tiny,” without reminding them of the Jewish state’s comparative—and stragetically vulnerable—smallness of. Make that nine.
In a front-page article headlined “A Quiet, Potent Ally to U.S.; American generals call the UAE ‘Little Sparta’ for its ability and willingness to fight” (November 9), Post correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran writes “as a tiny nation on the Arabian Peninsula comprising seven sometimes-fractious emirates led by different royal families, the UAE could have opted to go the way of other small [emphases added] countries in its neighborhood by building a modest military focused on domestic security and instead turning to the regional powerhouse—Saudi Arabia—for protection from Iran and other external threats.”
Instead, its leaders have bought “the most advanced weapons the Emirates can obtain” and “chosen to use what it has acquired.”
The UAE’s land mass is 32,000 square miles, approximately four times bigger than Israel’s. Its population, estimated at close to five million (less than half are citizens) is smaller than Israel’s eight million plus.
As for Tunisia, in The Washington Post, it’s still tiny. In an Op-Ed headlned “Tunisia, a democratic anomaly” (October 27), the newspaper’s deputy editorial page editor, Jackson Diehl, wrote that “nowhere did the voting matter more, however, than in tiny [emphasis added] Tunisia—the North African state where the Arab revolutions began nearly four years ago, and the only place where civil war or a renewed dictatorship has not been the result.”
Two days later in The Post, Tunisia grew from tiny to “small.” Correspondent Kevin Sullivan’s news feature, “How Tunisia’s Arab Spring has fueled the Islamic State; New religious freedoms, then a crackdown, have stirred radicalism” (October 29) informed readers that “Tunisia, a small North African country of 11 million people, has become the largest source of foreign fighters joining the Islamic State and other extremist groups in Syria and Iraq…”
As we noted previously, Tunisia’s 63,170 square miles makes it eight times larger than Israel, with at least three million more people. Israel has the land area of New Jersey but is just four miles wide west of Jerusalem in the 1949 armistices lines and barely nine just north of Tel Aviv. Regardless, news media run the newsworthiness of Israel’s geographic “tinyness” and vulnerability in the Middle East through the distorting filter of “big Israel oppressing tiny Palestinians.” So long as they do, readers, viewers and listeners will lack the context necessary to understand the conflict.
NY Times Public Editor Tackles Israeli-Palestinian Coverage
Margaret Sullivan, public editor for The New York Times, yesterday tackled the thorny topic of the paper's coverage of Israel and the Palestinians ("The Conflict and The Coverage"). By way of background, Sullivan mentions CAMERA's three-story billboard facing the newsroom at the The Times.
The Times is biased, both sides charge. The Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren, somehow manages to be — as the critics would have it — both wildly anti-Israel and practically a tool of the Israeli government.
One organization, Camera, even pays for a billboard across the street from the Times building to accuse the paper of regularly attacking Israel. And pro-Palestinian websites like The Electronic Intifada have detailed the ways in which, as they see it, Times coverage fails to do justice to an outcast people. Many readers have castigated me for not jumping into the fray to represent their position. I have searched for a way to write something useful and productive amid all this emotion and criticism, and have — until now — put it off.
Sullivan lays out a number of recommendations, among them:
Diversify. Strengthen the coverage of Palestinians. They are more than just victims, and their beliefs and governance deserve coverage and scrutiny. Realistic examinations of what’s being taught in schools, and the way Hamas operates should be a part of this. What is the ideology of Hamas; what are its core beliefs and its operating principles? What is Palestinian daily life like? I haven’t seen much of this in The Times.
The above recommendation addresses one of CAMERA's primary concerns about Times coverage: that the paper consistently exonerates Palestinians of any culpability for the conflict and downplays their incitement.
Nevertheless, concerning Sullivan's focus particularly on Hamas incitement, CAMERA's Gilead Ini tweets:
Another noteworthy element of Sullivan's column is a comment she cites by international news editor Joseph Kahn:
I asked Joseph Kahn, the top editor for international news, about this context complaint.
“I hear that criticism a lot,” he said. But, he said, behind it are “people who are very well informed and primed to deconstruct our stories based on their knowledge.” The Times does not hear this complaint, he said, from readers who are merely trying to understand the situation.
In other words, according to Kahn, uninformed readers who are unaware of the facts do not object to Times coverage. This he finds reassuring?
November 21, 2014
Youtube User Combines Copyright Infringement and Anti-Israel Vandalism
This is getting weird. Really weird.
It’s one thing to take copyrighted material – in this case a detective series produced by the British Broadcasting Company – and post it on Youtube.
It’s another thing altogether to vandalize that video by pasting anti-Israel propaganda into the video so that you can foist your ideas on unsuspecting viewers.
But that is what one Youtube user, who goes by the moniker “Justice4All,” has done. He has posted a number of episodes of the British television show “Midsomer Murders” on Youtube and posted propaganda for the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.
How ironic. Not only is “Justice4all” a copyright thief, he (or she) is a vandal (and an anti-Israel kook to boot).
For those who are interested, Midsomer Murders show is produced, by the way, by ITV.
November 20, 2014
A Moment of Silence For the Terrorists
The Times of Israel and a few other publications report that the Jordanian Parliament observed a moment of silence for the perpetrators of the Jerusalem synagogue massacre. It will be interesting to see if this is confirmed in other news media. It will also be interesting to see if this event garners any mention in the mainstream media including The New York Times.
Jordan was the second Arab state to make peace with Israel and it is the state with which the Israeli leadership has the closest relationship. It also boasts a population that is virulently anti-Semitic. A recent ADL survey of global anti-Semitism ranked Jordan eighth in the world in the proportion of its population that holds anti-Semitic views, with 81 percent of the population falling into that category.
The visceral hostility of Jordan's population toward Israel and toward Jews in general is an issue that the media is loath to cover and that officials avoid. But avoiding problems doesn't make them go away.
Noah Browning's Shocking Moral Equation
A tweet posted by Reuters correspondent Noah Browning in the aftermath of the synagogue bloodbath revealed an appalling callousness to the loss of Jewish lives, as well as a shocking obtuseness in his understanding of events.
This was posted just hours after the savage butchery that left four Jewish worshipers and a young police officer dead and others blind, comatose or severely injured.
Perhaps Browning believed he was revealing an unconventional but clever insight by comparing a damaged Quran, whose burning he unquestioningly attributed to Jews, with a prayer book soaked in blood shed by Palestinian terrorists. But what his outrageous moral equation actually revealed was his own cold-hearted disdain both for Jewish lives and for journalistic integrity.
In fact, the circumstances of the fire at the mosque where the Quran was found were uncertain and debated. While Palestinians blamed the fire on a "Price Tag" arson attack by Jewish extremists, an investigative reporter raised questions about the cause of the fire when he discovered a burnt fuse box and nearby space heater at the site -- commonly evidence of an electrical fire.
Perhaps Reuters should reconsider entrusting its coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to a reporter with such lack of judgement and understanding.
Palestinians Butcher Israelis, Wall Street Journal Pivots to Blaming Israel
Joshua Mitnick and Nicholas Casey, correspondents for the Wall Street Journal, have long evidenced a bias favoring the Palestinians in their reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But in recent months this bias has spun out of control. In a deluge of articles on the upsurge in violence around Jerusalem starting in October, Mitnick and Casey have struck a monotonic chord that always points to Israeli actions and policies as the problem.
Even after the most recent case in which two Palestinians butchered four rabbis praying in a synagogue readers are not spared the usual spin. On November 20, page A10 of the Journal published two articles on the violence encompassing nearly the entire page. The top-of-the-page headline states, "Israel Destroys Home of Car-Attack Suspect."
The entire thrust of the article is to condemn Israel for "reviving an internationally condemned demolition policy." In mantra fashion, each paragraph begins with a harsh Israeli action or a criticism of Israeli action.
Paragraph two starts with "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened a harsh response..."
Paragraph three starts with a description of the action taken by Israeli soldiers against the family of one of the terrorists.
Paragraph four starts with "The demolition marked the return of one of israel's m ost controversial policies..."
Paragraph five starts with "The U.S. views home destruction as counterproductive..."
Paragraph six starts with "Palestinians and rights groups say home demolitions aren't a deterrent and only encourage families to seek revenge, fueling a vicious cycle."
Paragraph seven starts with a quote from a pro-Palestinian leftist group B'Tselem, "You cannot punish people for other people's actions."
Where is the discussion of the Palestinian actions; relentless official incitement to violence based on instilling in its youth a vengeance-driven sense of victimization; Muslim religious doctrine that fuels intolerance of Jews. The failure to attribute Palestinian responsibility to the current violence indicates a patronizing, soft-bigotry on the part of Mitnick and Casey toward the Palestinians.
The second article "Jerusalem's Jews and Arabs are Fearful after Massacre" provides more of the same one-sided coverage. It opens with the claim that "A heightened sense of fear and division gripped both Jews and Arabs of this city..." Except that in reality, there is not parity here. There have been two innocent Arab victims versus sixteen Israeli ones (fourteen Jews and two Druze) in Jerusalem and the West Bank since June when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered. The deadly violence and the murderous provocation is overwhelmingly on the Arab side and has been consistently for many years.
Mitnick and Casey then engage in revisionist history as they contend that the "current crisis has been in the making since Israel captured the city's eastern districts from Jordan in the 1967 war..." They have chosen a convenient starting point, as the chronology of Arab violence against Jews in Jerusalem in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s apparently doesn't count. Why not point to the ethnic cleansing of Jews from eastern Jerusalem in 1949 as the starting point?
Mitnick and Casey allege that it was the Israeli leader's neglect of Palestinian neighborhoods that is to blame. The incitement to hating Jews and the persistent urging by Palestinian leaders to engage in violence doesn't make it into their account. Nor does praise for the terrorists as "martyrs" from the most influential institutions in Palestinian society matter. In fact, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made a point of praising the attempted assassin of Jewish activist Yehuda Glick as a "martyr." Such topics reside in a black hole that neither Mitnick nor Casey has the inclination to grapple with. It might require them to push beyond the boundaries of their comfort zone in blaming Israeli authorities.
It would be bad enough if these unbalanced articles were presented in an editorial or opinion piece. But what makes Mitnick's and Casey's articles particularly detestable is that their one-sided account is offered under the guise of reporting the news.
The Wall Street Journal can do better.