December 01, 2015
Analyst: Palestinian Leadership Behind 'Spontaneous' Attacks
The Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas are responsible for supporting and directing current attacks against Israelis, civilian and soldier alike, according to a recent article by Middle East analyst Jonathan Halevi (Nov. 29, 2015, “The ‘Spontaneous Intifada’ Is Orchestrated by the Palestinian Leadership”).
Halevi, a former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Lt. Colonel and currently a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, argues that Palestinian Arab attacks since September, using knives, vehicles and guns, are not “spontaneous.” The analyst says that despite Palestinian leadership attempts to portray the violence as “a kind of popular, spontaneous struggle,” it is in fact orchestrated, noting: “It is a Palestinian strategy that has been seen before.”
Halevi says both West Bank Palestinian leadership including the PA, the Fatah movement that dominates the authority, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and Gaza Strip and Palestinian leadership, under Hamas, are responsible. This sponsorship, he argues, has clear goals.
The PA wants to “use it as a tool to achieve its political objectives, which include compelling Israel to withdraw from Judea, Samaria, and east Jerusalem under international pressure.”
The former IDF Lt. Col. notes that Hamas Political Bureau member Mousa Abu Marzook described the anti-Jewish violence as an “effective instrument for achieving political objectives.”
Marzook argued that the first intifada (uprising) in December 1987 led to the Oslo accords and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. The second intifada, occurring from 2000 until 2005, preceded Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and Israel’s construction of a security fence, the latter of which to Marzook, “symbolizes the end of the Zionist endeavor.”
The goals of the latest intifada, according to the Hamas leader are forcing Israel to withdrawal from Judea, Samaria, the release of Palestinian Arab prisoners and lifting the Israel blockade of Gaza—currently in place to prevent the smuggling of weapons and terrorist supplies.
Marzook’s remarks were made at the General Arab Conference to Support the intifada, held in Beirut on Nov. 20, 2015. Officials from the PA and Fatah attended along with Hamas leaders like Marzook.
Halevi notes that these officials adopted resolutions at the conference calling for an “all-out war” against Israel until the Jewish state is destroyed.
Resolutions at the conference called for an end to rivalries between Hamas and Fatah and for pursuing a joint strategy based on the intifada—with the shared goal being to “liberate all the occupied land [Israel].” The committee’s resolutions also call for the implementation of the PLO Central Committee’s March 2015 resolution, which advocated ending security cooperation with Israel.
Security cooperation between Israel and the PA is the result of the 1990s Oslo peace process that created the PA and allowed the PLO, previously designated a terror group by the U.S. and others, to relocate from Tunisia and establish limited self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Halevi says that the closing declaration of the Beirut conference makes clear the current outbreak of violence, “seeks to make it less costly for the IDF to withdraw from Jerusalem and the territories than to keep fighting both the intifada itself and international opinion…the Palestinians were already benefiting from the tension between Israel and the United States and Europe, which weaken Israel.”
Is the Media Hesitant to Expose the Extent of Iran's Presence in Syria?
The Western media has devoted extensive coverage to several facets of the war in Syria, in particular, the refugee problem and the growing military involvement of Russia. But media focus lags on the extent of Iranian involvement. Iran has backed the Syrian regime since the civil war broke out. But initially the Islamic Republic acted through proxies, like Hezbollah or exerted influence on the Syrian government behind the scenes.
Non-mainstream media sources, especially those affiliated with the opposition to the Syrian regime, identify numerous Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) commanders directing the war against insurgents. More recently, they allege the presence and involvement in combat operations of growing numbers of Iranian troops.
One source is the Iranian News Update (INU) which states that its
News and information is provided in cooperation with the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the parliament in exile of the Iranian Resistance, and the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK)
INU claims over a hundred members of the IRGC have been killed in Syria during October and November 2015 and further contends that over 3000 "IRGC forces and agents" have died in Syria since the civil war began. It is likely that this number includes Hezbollah forces, which an Israeli source recently estimated had suffered 1263 fatalities in Syria. Among the fatalities are a long list of senior officers, including more than a dozen who held the rank equivalent of Brigadier General.
If the INU figures are reliable, they attest to the increasingly central role assumed by Iranian and Iranian proxy forces in defending the Syrian regime. It is also consistent with the reported upon trend of disaffection among the decimated Syrian Alawite contingent in the Syrian army. At the outset of the civil war, the Syrian regime counted upon the Alawites, who are 10-12 percent of the Syrian population, but contribute the leadership and the most loyal units in the Syrian armed forces.
There are reasons the Western mainstream media may be inclined to devote less attention to the Iranian role in the civil war. Much of the media has been supportive of the Iranian nuclear agreement proposed by the United States. This agreement includes provisions that would provide Iran with as much as 150 billion dollars and the promise of ending economic sanctions. Escalating Iranian involvement would cast provisions of the agreement in a negative light and vindicate critics of the agreement who warned that funds freed up by the West would be used to support Iranian expansion and aggression in the Middle East.
Role Reversal at Reuters
Throughout the wave of Palestinian terrorism that began two months ago, the mainstream media has frequently turned truth on its head by reversing the roles of perpetrator and victim, of assailant and defender. Reuters joins the crowd with a recent headline about a Palestinian from Ramallah who attempted to kill IDF soldiers at a bus stop before being halted by a fatal bullet.
The headline: "Palestinian Dies in Ramming Attack" provides no clue that the Palestinian was the perpetrator of the "ramming" attack, and instead turns him into the victim. Other more objective sources reported that the perpetrator, Fadi Hasib -- whose brother had, just days ago, used the same ram and stab tactic - - had plowed into a group of Israeli soldiers waiting for a bus, hurling one over the guard rail and wounding two. The perpetrator then exited his car presumably to stab the soldiers, much like his brother had tried to do. But as he ran toward his victims, he was shot and killed by a volunteer officer.
And that is how the wire service Reuters joins those in the mainstream media who skew the news.
November 30, 2015
Iran Increases Cyberattacks Against the United States; Where's the Coverage?
Iran is again increasing cyberattacks against the United States, although many major news media outlets have not covered the aggression.
The New York Times reported (“Iranian Hackers Attack State Dept. via Social Media Accounts,” Nov. 24, 2015) American officials and private security groups “say they see a surge in sophisticated computer espionage by Iran, culminating in a series of cyberattacks against State Department officials over the past month.”
According to the paper, Iran has been identifying specific State Department employees who focus on Iran and the Middle East and hacking into their email and social media accounts. One anonymous senior U.S. official called the attacks “subtle” noting the Islamic Republic’s savvy use of social media, such as Facebook, to target young U.S. officials.
The attacks, the Times notes, are “nothing new,” having begun in the latter years of the Bush administration and proceeded since then to target U.S. agencies, banks and citizens and Saudi and Qatari energy entities, among others.
The New York Times reported Iranian cyber-attacks transitioned in 2014 from attempting to disrupt, degrade and destroy targets to “spear phishing” for espionage.
“Beginning May 2014, researchers found evidence that Iranian hackers were targeting Iranian dissidents, and later policy makers, senior military personnel and defense contractors in the United States, England and Israel, according to a report by iSight Partners, a computer intelligence firm in Dallas.”
The attacks increased, reaching more than 1,500 attempts at the time of their apex in May 2015. Just prior to talks between the U.S. and Iran over the latter’s alleged illegal nuclear program, Iranian cyber-attacks began “probing critical infrastructure networks in what appeared to be reconnaissance for cyberattacks meant to cause physical damage,” the Times noted. However, as negotiations between the United States and Iran began, attacks against the United States noticeably dropped off, although attacks against Israel did not.
In August, two weeks after the Iran deal was reached, Iranian cyberattacks resumed. Researchers from Check Point, an Israeli cybersecurity company, were able to hack into the Iranian hackers’ target list. It “included 1,600 individuals, from scholars, scientists, chief executives and ministry officials to education institutes, journalists and human rights activists across the globe.”
This renewed flurry of Iranian cyberattacks was predicted in an April 2015 report by American Enterprise Institute scholars Frederick Kagan and Tommy Stiansen (The growing cyberthreat from Iran: The initial report of Project Pistachio Harvest). This study noted that since the beginning of 2014 to March 2015, Iranian cyberattacks had increased by 128 percent.
AEI stated “Iranian companies, including some under international sanctions and some affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and global terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, are hosting websites, mail servers, and other IT systems in the United States, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. Simply by registering and paying a fee, Iranian security services and ordinary citizens can gain access to advanced computer systems and software that the West has been trying to prevent them from getting at all.”
The report further noted “hundreds of thousands of domains registered to Iranian people or companies” are “a result of Western failures to enforce IT sanctions and regulations governing technology transfers”—and are sometimes used to conduct cyberattacks against the U.S. and its allies.
News coverage and commentary about renewed Iranian cyberattacks has been sparse.
The Washington Post, in an November 18 online-only column by guest bloggers Dina Esfandiary and Ariane Tabatabai, predicted that attacks will increase (“Iran’s cyberattacks are likely to increase. Here’s why”). The Wall Street Journal (“U.S. Detects Flurry of Iranian Hacking,” November 4) and The New York Times, alone apparently of major print outlets, reported the Iranian hacking increase.
Publications that had reported on the Iran nuclear deal—and endorsed it editorially, such as The Baltimore Sun and Los Angeles Times, among others, did not cover the Iranian attacks.
USA Today didn’t report the renewed attacks, despite having run a prescient op-ed by Ilan Berman of D.C.-based think tank American Foreign Policy Council in 2014 that called for paying close attention to the Islamic Republic’s cyber activities (“Sony hack gives cover to Iran; With eyes on North Korea, growing threat from Tehran gets overlooked,” December 30).
A little coverage in three major outlets; where was the rest of it?
November 29, 2015
Another Palestinian Attack, Another NY Times Whitewash
Dec. 1 Update Appended to Bottom of Post: Editors Improve Headline
For the second time in one week, a New York Times headline casts Palestinian attackers as victims. On Friday, two Palestinians who rammed vehicles into groups of Israeli soldiers in two separate incidents, injuring eight, were killed by troops on the scene. The grossly distorted The New York Times headline for the Associated Press news brief on these attacks was: "West Bank: Palestinians Killed After Hit-and-Run Attacks."
Readers who glance only at headlines and don't bother with the accompanying item would reasonably conclude that Palestinians were the victims of the hit and-run attacks, as opposed to the perpetrators.
The original AP headline for an earlier version of the brief was much more accurate than The Times' headline. It at least referred to an attack on Israelis: "Palestinian killed after West Bank attack on Israeli troops." A later version of the AP story explicitly identified the Palestinians as the attackers: "2 Palestinians killed after attacking troops." (Source: Lexis-Nexis.)
In other words, Times editors discarded AP's relatively sound, if not 100 percent perfect, headlines, and actively replaced them with a headline which obfuscated Palestinian responsibility for violence.
In related news, New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren has announced that after finishing four years in the position, she will be returning to New York to serve as deputy at the paper's foreign desk.
The Times of Israel article on Rudoren's departure reports:
As with The New York Times in general, Rudoren has faced some criticism from pro-Israel activists for her coverage of the region. Pro-Israel media watchdog CAMERA includes dozens of entries on Rudoren’s alleged anti-Israel bias on its website.
About Rudoren's arrival at the foreign desk, Times foreign editor Joe Kahn tweeted last week:
With Rudoren at the foreign desk, can we expect to see more or less Times headlines falsely depicting Palestinian assailants as victims? Time will tell.
(Note: As bureau chief, Rudoren was not responsible for headlines. As a deputy at the foreign desk, she presumably would have some responsibility for headlines.)
Dec. 1 Update: Editors Improve Headline
Following communication from CAMERA's Israel office, along with the publication of this post, editors have improved the headline. As of this writing, the amended headline is "West Bank: Palestinians Killed After Attacks on Troops."
The improved headline is not perfect. It does not state that the Palestinians who were killed were the perpetrators of the attacks on the troops, though readers may (or may not) infer that information. Also, it does not identify the targeted troops as Israeli. (As mentioned above, AP's original headline, in contrast, was "Palestinian killed after West Bank attack on Israeli troops.") Again, from the new Times headline, readers may understand that the troops were Israeli, or maybe they won't. And the headline still leads with the killing of the Palestinian (attackers), as opposed to the fact that Palestinians attacked Israelis. Nevertheless, compared to the original headline in which the killed Palestinians appeared to be the victims of the hit-and-run attacks, the change is welcome.
November 25, 2015
San Francisco Chronicle Headline: Palestinians Attackers Are the Victim
"Palestinians shot in assault" is the headline yesterday for the news brief about two Palestinian terror attacks, one fatal, in which assailants were shot dead. In the fatal attack Monday, a Palestinian stabbed to death Israeli Ziv Mizrachi at a gas station on Highway 443, and wounded another soldier. Security forces subsequently killed the Palestinian attacker. Another Palestinian assailant, a teenaged girl, was shot dead after she stabbed a 70-year-old Palestinian, whom she apparently mistook for a Jew, and continued to threaten a member of the security forces.
The San Francisco Chronicle earns itself in the dubious "Bad Writing" Hall of Shame. Stay tuned for news of a correction.
November 24, 2015
Leaders Encourage Palestinian Children to Murder Jews, Use Sing-Alongs
A high-ranking Palestinian official, Tawfiq Tirawi, praised his 2-year-old son on official PA TV on Oct. 27, 2015 for the toddler’s expressed desire to murder Jews.
According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), an organization that monitors Arab communications media from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem, Tirawi expressed “fatherly pride” about his son’s singing a song that romanticizes anti-Jewish violence. Tirawi proudly recounted his song singing, “Daddy, buy me a machine gun and a rifle, so that I will defeat Israel and the Zionists” and “escort the Martyr to his wedding” (referring to the Islamic belief that those killed while waging holy war marry 72 virgins in Paradise).
Tirawi is a member of the Fatah Central Committee and former head of the General Intelligence Service. In the latter post, he oversaw Palestinian Authority (PA) intelligence efforts in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).
Due to his senior positions with the Fatah movement and the PA—both of which are frequently referred to as “moderate” by some media and policymakers—Tirawi has frequently been quoted by Western press. In a July 22, 2013 news brief which appeared in the Boston Globe, Tirawi was the Palestinian official cited in “Officials skeptical on Mideast peace,” who claimed that talks with Israel wouldn’t produce progress because “Israelis are not going to stop building in the settlements.”
Tirawi has been accused previously by the Israeli government of funding and supporting terrorist attacks against Israel while simultaneously responsible as a PA official for security cooperation between the PA and Israeli authorities. According to The Washington Times, he has previously admitted to a London-based Saudi-owned newspaper of ordering Palestinian Arabs assassinated for the “crime” of selling West Bank real estate to Jews in 1996 (“Israel ties end of siege to Palestinian’s arrest,” Sept. 26, 2002). However at the time Tirawi denied involvement in the murders, saying Israelis “want to harm the Palestinians’ reputation with these lies” (“Palestinian Officers Deny Taking Part in Slayings,” Los Angeles Times, June 3, 1997).
In its report on Tirawi’s comments, PMW notes the Palestinian children’s song in question has been used in the past. In 2006, PA state-run media broadcast a young girl singing it and in 2010, a young boy sang a variation of the song on a Hamas TV children’s show.
Tirawi’s proud recitation of his son’s singing is one of several recent examples of incitement to anti-Jewish violence broadcast on official PA media. On November 6, a young girl recited a poem on PA TV describing Israel as “Satan with a tail.” Upon completion of her recitation of the antisemitic poem, “Visa” by Hesham El-Gakh, the host of the children’s program told the young girl, “I really like this poem.”
“Visa” begins with the line, “When I was young I was taught that Arabness is my honor…and that our lands extend from one end to the other, and that our wars were for the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
The PA’s long standing use of state media to incite anti-Jewish violence and to indoctrinate children to hate violates conditions set by the U.S. and others, since the Oslo process—the very process that led to the creation of the PA and the establishment of limited Palestinian self-rule in the mid-1990s. Since then, the U.S. government alone has committed over $4 billion in Palestinian aid. While U.S. assistance is prohibited from going directly to the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), funds spent on other requirements enables the PA to use other revenue to fund its broadcasts.
“Independent” Palestinian news agencies—those that are allowed by authorities to operate provided they echo official lines, have also recently incited violence. As PMW notes, on November 18, the Wattan news agency “celebrated” the first-year anniversary of the Har Nof synagogue massacre, in which six Israeli were murdered, calling it a “heroic operation.”
In describing lessons that he learned in life, Holocaust survivor and acclaimed writer Elie Wiesel has written, “There are no sufficient literary, psychological, or historical answers to human tragedy, only moral ones.” If recent examples from Palestinian media offer any indication, Wiesel’s words are unlikely to be reflected by PA media any time soon.
November 23, 2015
What NBC Copy Editors Should Have Sent Back
In light of NBC's unnecessarily vague article today about a violent attack (by someone, targeting someone), it seems NBC could use some copy-editing help.
The lede said nothing about who attacked whom; the ethnicity of one victim was noted while the other was mysteriously absent; and the piece conveniently left out key information from an Associated Press article that notes, "87 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire. Of them, 55 are said by Israel to be attackers and the rest were killed in clashes with Israeli troops."
Here's our attempt to move things toward an informative and precise article.
(You can click on the image below for a bigger copy.)
CAMERA Corrects on 'Understanding Palestinians'
The following unpublished letter to the editor was sent to correct a misleading letter in the Richmond Times Dispatch:
"Where Edward Yadlowsky’s letter “No peace until we understand Palestinians” does not invoke falsehoods, it misleads by omission and uses a questionable quote.
The purported quote by Israeli leader David Ben-Gurion, “Why should the Arabs make peace?…We have taken their country…” comes from a conversation Nahum Goldmann claimed to have had with Ben-Gurion. However, Yadlowsky omits that Goldmann was a political enemy of Ben-Gurion and only claimed, after the latter’s death and without written evidence, that Ben-Gurion made such a statement.
Yadlowsky alleges that recent terror attacks by Palestinian Arabs against Israeli Jews—many of which have targeted civilians, including the elderly and children—are the result of “anger and hatred engendered in the Arab population by the 1948 partition of Mandatory Palestine creating Israel.” However, this ignores numerous terror attacks by Arabs against Jews prior to 1948. Among other instances of organized violence, Arabs in Mandate Palestine—often led by future Hitler collaborator Haj Amin al-Husseini—engaged in attacks in 1920, 1929 in which 133 Jewish men, women and children were killed and 339 wounded and again in 1936-1939. In the latter instance, terror attacks resulted in British officials appeasing Arabs by closing Palestine, created by the League of Nations to assist in re-establishment of the Jewish national home, to European Jews trying to flee Hitler.
Yadlowsky claims that “no Palestinian state exists because Israel has constructed illegal settlements.” This is false. It ignores British creation in the 1920’s of Jordan, a country with a Palestinian Arab majority, on three-fourths of the original Palestine Mandate. It also omits any mention of Arab rejection of the 1947 U.N. partition plan, which called for an Arab and Jewish state in the mandate. And it is silent on U.S. and Israeli offers for a “two-state solution” in exchange for peace in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba and 2008 after the Annapolis conference. All were rejected by Palestinian leaders, as was U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposed framework to restart negotiations in 2014.
Continuing his tendentious claims, Yadlowsky asserts that “Palestinians have accepted Israel’s right to exist and desire a state side-by-side with Israel.” However a recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research shows that that 58 percent of West Bank Palestinians and 65 percent of Gazans polled said that even if a “two-state solution” is negotiated the “struggle is not over and resistance [terrorism] should continue until all of historic Palestine [Israel] is liberated.” According to the poll, clear majorities of Palestinians polled support the use of violence over peaceful negotiations to achieve this end and believe that Jews have no rights to the land of Israel.
In this rejectionism, they have the support of their leadership. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on September 16, 2015 “We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem.” Echoing claims regularly made by his state-run media, Abbas said on October 28 that all of Israel is “occupation.”
He made these claims—which went unprotested—at the U.N.—the same organization Yadlowsky suggests can be responsible for achieving peace.
CAMERA—Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America"
NY Times Headline Bias Again on Display
Eylon A. Levy flagged this egregiously skewed New York Times headline yesterday, tweeting:
Here's a news flash for those who rely on Timesheadlines to keep current: Palestinians carried out three separate terror attacks against Israelis yesterday, stabbings and a car ramming, killing 21-year-old Hadar Buchris in the third attack. The "three Palestinians killed," as The Times headline puts it, were the three assailants. The grossly distorted Times headline gives no indication that the three Palestinian were the perpetrators, not victims, of attacks.
Later yesterday the headline was substantially improved:
This is not the first time in recent months that a Times headline falsely depicted Palestinian attackers as victims.
Last April, when two Palestinians attacked policeman with knifes, the headline was:
And, a year ago, when a Palestinian stabbed Israeli soldier Almog Shiloni to death in a Tel Aviv train station, Times headline writers replaced the original straightforward, accurate headline ("Palestinian Stabs Israeli Soldier at Tel Aviv Train Station") with an obtuse headline which whitewashed Palestinian responsibility ("Palestinians Are Suspected As Two Israelis Die in Knife Attacks").
November 22, 2015
Reuters: Palestinians 'Died on the Scene' of Attacks
In recent weeks, Reuters has demonstrated great ingenuity in downplaying Palestinian violence, including stabbing, shooting and ramming attacks against Israelis. First, there was the "knife man" killed by Israelis, then there were Palestinians "confronting" Israelis, followed later by Palestinians killed in "street violence."
Most recently, Reuters portrays Palestinian murderers and attempted murderers as innocent bystanders:
Police say 49 of the 80 Palestinians killed in recent weeks died at the scene of attacks on Israelis and most of the rest died in violent protests in the occupied West Bank and near the Gaza border. (Emphasis added.)
Palestinians "died at the scene of attacks on Israelis," as if they were innocent bystanders caught in the wrong place in the wrong time, as opposed to the perpetrators of the said attacks.
Reuters gains itself another entry into the growing list of "bad writing."
November 20, 2015
Who Killed Five Yesterday? CNN Won't Say "Palestinian attacker."
In two articles about terror attacks that killed an American teen and several others yesterday, CNN assiduously avoided telling readers the identity of the attacker.
This seems to be a selective problem at CNN. The network had no trouble mentioning that “Jewish extremists” were thought to be responsible for a deadly arson in Duma recently. And after a gang of teens beat up a Palestinian in Jerusalem several years ago, CNN mentioned Jewishness no less than six times in one article.
But when Palestinian terrorists killed five people yesterday in Tel Aviv and the West Bank, CNN.com seemingly decided its reporting, and its readers, don’t need such detail. Having initially ignored the two fatal attacks, the news organization finally covered the story. But it pinned the West Bank attack on an “unidentified gunman.” And about the Tel Aviv attack, it mentioned only that “two people” — meaning two Jews — “were killed,” with the passive voice covering up the Palestinian identity of the attacker.
If the Jewish identity of attackers was relevant in those earlier reports — it was relevant, and was one of the basic five Ws of the story — then the Palestinian identity of yesterday’s attackers are equally relevant.
See also: "CNN Dances Around Palestinian Violence, Refuses to Identify Culprits," Oct. 14, 2015
'Huge Differences' Go Unmentioned in Reporting on Syrian Refugees
Recent coverage by major news media outlets comparing Syrian refugees seeking entry into the United States to Jewish refugees attempting to flee Nazi Germany has failed to highlight key differences between the two situations.
Washington Post “World View” columnist Ishaan Tharoor claims there are similarities between Syrians fleeing both dictator Bashar al Assad and ISIS, a Sunni Muslim terror group and German Jewish refugees who attempted to flee Hitler’s Germany in the 1930’s (“Just say no to refugees? We’ve been here before,” Nov. 18, 2015).
Tharoor, whose analyses regarding Jews and Israel are too often superficial (see “Washington Post Blogger Mystified by Iran Deal and Much More,” July 30, 2015, CAMERA), here correctly states that Jews seeking entry into the United States faced “skepticism or unveiled bigotry.” “Popular sentiment in Western Europe and the United States,” the blogger says, “was largely indifferent to the plight of German Jews.”
Tharoor says that this “mood” is “worth remembering” when talking about the current debate over letting Syrian refugees into the United States, who are, similar to the Jews of 1930s Europe, fleeing a region engulfed in turmoil. Going beyond drawing a comparison, the blogger says: “Today’s 3-year-old Syrian orphan, it seems is 1939’s German Jewish child.”
Although the Post blogger is correct that there is a prejudice today against admitting large numbers of Syrian refugees, the vast majority of whom do not pose any greater security threat than any other refugees, and that there was similar reaction against Jewish immigrants in the 1930s and 1940s—the comparison is also disingenuous.
Conceding that “there are huge historical and contextual differences between then and now,” Tharoor fails to elaborate on these for his readers.
But as the National Review’s Ian Tuttle notes (“There are serious, unbigoted reasons to be wary of a flood of Syrian refugees,” Nov. 18, 2015), Jews are an ethnic group, whereas Syrians are a national one. Tuttle, observing that comparing Syrian Muslims to German Jews is a more accurate “apples-to-apples comparison,” notes another important difference:
“There was no international conspiracy of German Jews in the 1930s attempting to carry out daily attacks on civilians on several continents. No self-identifying Jews in the early 20th century were randomly massacring European citizens in magazine offices and concert halls, and there was no ‘Jewish State’ establishing sovereignty over tens of thousands of square miles of territory, and publicly slaughtering anyone who opposed its advance.”
Tuttle notes that “the vast majority of Syrian Muslims are not party to these strains of radicalism and violence” yet “it would be dangerous to suggest that they don’t exist.” Referring to a recent Arab Opinion Index poll of 900 Syrian refugees showing that one in eight hold some positive view of ISIS [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or simply Islamic State], Tuttle writes: “A non-trivial minority of refugees who support a murderous, metastatic caliphate is a reason for serious concern. No 13 percent of Jews looked favorably upon the Nazi party.”
In addition to omitting the very different security concerns, Tharoor fails to mention other important history. Jewish refugees in the 1930’s had no place to go; they had no state of their own. Unmentioned by the Post blogger, Mandate Palestine—which had been set aside after World War I for Jewish settlement—was closed to virtually all new Jewish immigrants by the British after the 1936-1939 Arab revolt, led by future Hitler collaborator Haj Amin al Husseini. By contrast, numerous countries have admitted Syrian refugees—many of whom Tuttle notes are actually from other Middle Eastern countries such as Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt.
Jews fleeing Europe in the 1930s, where they were a minority, were long-standing victims of European antisemitism and anti-Jewish violence. By contrast, many Syrian refugees are Muslims fleeing Muslim-dominated lands, the victims of a group with a radical Salafi Islam ideology and/or the Syrian dictator Assad who has often appeased and funded Islamic terror groups.
Tharoor is not the only journalist to make the questionable comparison between Syrian refugees and German Jews in the 1930s.
His Post colleague Dana Milbank writes, “This growing cry to turn away people fleeing for their lives brings to mind the SS St. Louis, the ship of Jewish refugees turned away from Florida in 1939” (“Republicans turning their backs on tolerance,” Nov. 17, 2015).
Except, as noted above, it doesn’t, not in the way Milbank assumes. Instead of describing key differences in their stretched comparisons, both Milbank and Tharoor imply that opposition to refugees is solely partisan in nature. Yet, Democratic politicians such as U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and New Hampshire Gubernatorial candidate Maggie Hassan have expressed opposition. On Nov. 19, 47 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives joined 242 Republicans in voting for a bill that supports greater security screening of refugees.
Another Washington Post columnist, Petula Dvorak (“Rescued from the Nazis, these Jews believe in helping Muslim refugees,” November 20) falsely conflates the different refugee circumstances. Although she does note “concerns that terrorists might hide among the refugees,” she fails to explicitly detail how this differs from security concerns over Jewish immigrants in the 1930’s.
A New York Times article (“They are us,” November 19) and USA Today editorial (“Rejecting Syrian refugees shames USA and aids ISIL,” Nov. 18) also repeat the comparisons made by Post reporters, while similarly failing to note important differences.
Writing about a politically sensitive topic, like Syrian refugees, can be difficult. But potentially misleading comparisons to previous situations does not help reader understanding—in fact, it may hinder it.
November 19, 2015
Palestinian Leader Admits He Rejected Statehood, Peace in 2008
Palestinian Authority (PA) President and Fatah movement head Mahmoud Abbas finally admitted in an interview with Israel’s Channel 10 on Nov. 17, 2015 that he had rejected an Israeli offer of Palestinian statehood and peace in 2008.
As the Times of Israel notes, the 2008 Israeli proposal had been previously reported but had not yet been acknowledged by Abbas (“Abbas admits he rejected 2008 peace offer from Olmert,” Nov. 19 2015).
The PA president admitted that then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented him with a map that illustrated prospective borders of a future Palestinian state, with Israel giving up 93 percent of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and portions of eastern Jerusalem, in addition to all of the Gaza Strip. In the video-taped interview Abbas was asked by Channel 10 reporter Raviv Drucker about the Israeli proposal which included a swap for most of the nearly seven percent of the West Bank Israel planned to return.
“In the map that Olmert presented you,” Drucker asked, “Israel would annex 6.3 percent [of the West Bank] and compensate the Palestinians with 5.8 percent [taken from pre-1967 Israel]. What did you propose in return?”
Failing to answer the journalist’s question as to whether the PA made a counteroffer, Abbas stated that he rejected the Israeli offer “out of hand.” Perhaps Abbas did not answer directly because no evidence of his having made a counteroffer exists.
The 2008 Israeli proposal also included an offer of free passage between the Gaza Strip, ruled by Hamas, a U.S.-listed terror group, and the West Bank without any security checks. In the event that Fatah retook the Gaza Strip from Hamas, the offer would have recognized all of the Strip as belonging to the PA as well. In addition, the offer would have included Israel relinquishing control of Jerusalem’s Old City.
In the interview, Drucker again pressed Abbas on why he rejected a proposal for a Palestinian state. Abbas seemingly implied that it was due to Olmert only showing him the map reflecting possible borders for a state, but not letting him keep it.
However, as Olmert details, Abbas was offered to keep the map provided that he affixed his initials to it. According to former U.S. deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams, who participated in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during the time in question, Olmert likely did not want to give Abbas a copy of a map that wasn’t agreed upon—fearing the Palestinian side would use it to extract further concessions, without agreeing to Israeli demands to recognize the Jewish state and desist from supporting terrorist attacks against it (Elliott Abrams, Tested by Zion, Cambridge University Press, 2013).
The day after meeting with Olmert, Abbas called off talks, saying that he had to attend a meeting in Jordan. Subsequently, he never responded to Israel’s offer. In a Nov. 28, 2009 interview with The Australian, Olmert noted that Abbas “promised to return with his advisers the next day,” and after going to Jordan said, “let’s make it next week.” But “I never saw him [Abbas] again.”
As CAMERA has noted, Olmert later wrote an Op-Ed in The Washington Post where he said, “I cannot understand why the Palestinian leadership did not accept the far-reaching and unprecedented proposal I offered them” (“When Peace Almost Broke Out: A Washington Post Mirage,” Aug. 9, 2013).
This was not the first instance in which Palestinian leaders rejected an offer for statehood and peace with Israel while failing to make a counteroffer. Other relatively recent examples include an U.S. and Israeli offers in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposed framework to restart negotiations in 2014.
The Channel 10 interview (in Hebrew) can be found here.
CAMERA Analyst Speaks at BBC March
On Sunday, November 15, 2015 college students from the Boston area gathered in Cambridge to protest the slanted and biased coverage of the BBC. After a brief rally, just over 100 protesters marched to the British Consulate in Cambridge to protest the BBC's deceptive reporting.
The text of Van Zile's talk is available below.
November 16, 2015
Where's the Coverage? Official PA Media Blames Israel for Paris Terror
An Op-Ed published in the official Palestinian Authority (PA) daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 15, 2015, blames the Israeli intelligence service Mossad for the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people and injured hundreds more as well as the bombings in Beirut that preceded them by a day. As translated by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), the Op-Ed claims:
The wise and correct thing is to look for who benefits. In short: They need to search the last place reached by the octopus arms of the Mossad... It is clear that its ‘Mossad’ will burn Beirut and Paris in order to achieve [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s goals. He, who challenged the master of the White House, hides in his soul enough evil to burn the world.
It must be noted that the PA press is not a free media operation, printing a wide variety of opinion and viewpoints. It is an official arm of the Palestinian regime, disseminating the narrative of Palestinian leadership. Indeed, PA Security Forces spokesman Adnan Al-Damiri posted a similar claim on his Facebook page:
From Beirut to Paris, terror and explosions, two beautiful and advanced cities, two cities that arouse admiration with their positions regarding Palestine... What is this hatred which attacks beauty and principles, and declares terror against them? ... Does the terror in Beirut and Paris wear masks like those who were in the Al-Ahli hospital in Hebron yesterday [Nov. 12, 2015]?
When Al-Damiri aks if the Beirut and Paris terrorists “wear masks like those who were in the Al-Ahli hospital in Hebron”, he is referring to a raid where Israeli agents in disguise arrested a terror suspect. The allegation is clear: the Beirut and Paris terrorists were also Israelis in disguise.
The Islamic State terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks and French and other European and international investigations corroborate this. Naturally, this has not stopped the Palestinian conspiracy theory machine which perpetually operates in overdrive. Prior to blaming Israel for the Beirut and Paris terror attacks, another Op-Ed in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 11, 2015, blamed Israel and the West for downing the Russian airliner over Sinai:
The explosion of the Russian plane 23 minutes after its takeoff from Sharm el-Sheikh airport in the end of October, was not an ISIS operation but a terror operation orchestrated by international and regional security services…. If the rational estimations point to [the presence of] fingerprints of Western and Israeli security services, that leaves much room for questions...
PMW has long documented the conspiracy theories promoted by Palestinian leadership. However, the media refuse to acknowledge the shameful shifting of blame from the actual perpetrators of terrorism to their favored targets, Israelis and Jews. Here is a blatant and eminently newsworthy item completely ignored by the popular press. Not only should the world be made aware that the PA blames Israel for these deviant attacks, the world should be outraged. And yet… Where’s the coverage?
November 15, 2015
Wall Street Journal Terror Timeline Erases Attacks in Israel
The Wall Street Journal's "Timeline: Terror Attacks Linked to Islamists Since 9/11" lists Islamist terror across the Middle East and around the world, from Tunisia and Egypt, to Pakistan, Indonesia, Kenya, Paris, Mumbai, London, Russia, Brussels, Madrid, Indonesia, and New York.
It is not an exhaustive and comprehensive list, but it is a full, diverse list which very conspicuously omits a country which perhaps more than any other (certainly in relation to its population) has been targeted by Islamist terrorism since the 9/11 attacks. Israel has suffered hundreds of casualties in the last 16 years from Islamist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria. It also faces a growing threat from Islamic State's Egypt affiliate, Sinai province, among others.
But The Wall Street Journal does not deem even one instance of Islamist terror directed against Israelis since 9/11 worthy of inclusion in its timeline.
It does not mention the March 2002 attack on Jews celebrating the Passover seder in Netanya's Park Hotel, in which Hamas murdered 30, including elderly people.
Nor does it include Islamic Jihad's June 2002 attack on an Egged bus traveling from Tel Aviv to Tiberias in which 17 Israelis were murdered.
Nor does The Journal include the July 2012 bombing attack, reportedly carried out by Hezbollah, targeting a bus of Israeli tourists in Burgas. Seven were killed, including five Israelis.
Nor does it have one word to say about any of the dozens of lethal attacks carried out by Islamists against Israelis in recent years.
The Wall Street Journal's most recent entry in the terror timeline is the Nov. 12, 2015 suicide bombings in Beirut. About this attack, The Journalwrites:
A double suicide bombing in a Beirut suburb kills around 43 people, in an attack that bore the hallmarks of Sunni militants linked to al Qaeda and other extremist groups.
The blurb does not mention that the targeted neighborhood was a stronghold of Hezbollah, itself an Islamist organization. The Journal's inclusion of the Beirut attack against Hezbollah is all the more striking in light of the fact that editors completely ignored all attacks carried out by Hezbollah and other Islamist groups targeting Israel.
Nov. 16 Correction: This post was amended to remove reference to the August 2001 bombing of the Sbarro pizza shop, in which Hamas killed 15, as it took place before the 9/11 attacks. The amended posts adds the March 2002 Park Hotel bombing, in which Hamas was responsible for the murder of 30 during a Passover seder.
November 11, 2015
Washington Post Fails to Examine Anti-FBI Protests
Recent Washington Post coverage about Muslim American objections to FBI anti-extremism programs failed to highlight the background of some groups involved. Two of the organizations mentioned, the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, have histories that raise questions about bias and suitability to discerning Post readers.
On Nov. 5, 2015 the following letter was sent to Post reporter Michelle Boorstein to inform her of the background of these sources:
"Dear Ms. Boorstein,
Your interesting article “Muslims decry FBI’s anti-extremism site for youths, saying it will spur bias” (November 4) featured quotes from two sources whose background you might be unaware of.
MPAC was founded by and is currently led by Salam al-Marayti. According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, an extremist monitoring organization, al-Marayati’s “record on defending terrorist groups and extremists is substantial.” Among other instances, this record has included calling terrorist attacks committed by Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terror group, “legitimate resistance” (“Profile: Salam al-Marayati,” The Investigative Project on Terrorism). Al-Marayati has attended fundraising dinners for Sami Al-Arian, a leader of the U.S.-listed terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Al-Marayati also has engaged in 9/11 conspiracy theories while playing to antisemitic stereotypes. He told a Los Angeles radio station on the day of the attack that “we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list.” The organization al-Marayati leads has exhibited similar, troubling tendencies.
Only two years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, MPAC advocated the removal of Hezbollah and Hamas from the federal governments listing of terror groups.
CAMERA has previously reported (“CAIR Scholarship Recipient Reports on CAIR in LA Times,” May 8, 2011) that Edina Lekovic, MPAC’s director of policy and programming, was previously a managing editor of Al-Talib: The Muslim Newsmagazine at UCLA. While Lekovic was at Al-Talib, the paper published a column saying “When we hear someone refer to the great Mujahid [holy warrior]…Osama bin Laden, as a ‘terrorist,’ we should defend our brother and refer to him as a freedom fighter.”
Another source quoted in your article, Faiza Patel of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University has made similarly troubling statements. CAMERA has reported (“The New York Times Doesn’t CAIR to Report,” Feb. 6, 2012) that Patel “denounced the NYPD’s operation that resulted in the arrest of accused lone-wolf jihadist Jose Pimental.” Patel publically lamented surveillance tactics which led to the arrest of Pimental, who pled guilty in February 2014 to criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree as an act of terrorism.
Patel’s employer, the Brennan Center, received an award in 2009 from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)—an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2009 Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development retrial. As CAMERA’s Special Report, “The Council on American Islamic Relations: Civil Rights or Extremism?” notes, this has been the largest U.S. terrorism-funding case to date. Evidence presented at that trial and in our report illustrates close ties between CAIR and other pro-Islamist groups, such as MPAC. Our special report can be found here.
We trust you will find this information useful in future coverage of related topics.
CAMERA-Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America"
Ignoring Precedent, NPR Station Refuses to Correct Max Blumenthal Errors
In September, an NPR member station in Chicago invited Max Blumenthal to pontificate about Israel. And as has come to be expected from the anti-Israel extremist, he bombarded the credulous audience with a torrent of falsehoods.
NPR listeners, of course, deserve and expect no less than accuracy. So it was left to producers at WBEZ, the station, and Worldview, the program, to clear the record.
Blumenthal claimed “almost every building” in the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun had been “destroyed.” Listeners deserve to know that this is false — according to multiple UN studies, an overwhelming majority even of affected buildings — that is, ignoring undamaged structures — were not destroyed.
Blumenthal severely misquoted the Israeli military, the Associated Press, and the advocacy group Btselem about casualty statistics. Regarding the military, Blumenthal told the audience it said the exact opposite of what it actually said. Listeners deserve to know the truth.
Blumenthal also upended the truth about Palestinian rockets, claiming that the further they fly, the smaller their warhead. Listeners should be told that, in fact, the opposite is true.
He put words in a Hamas leader’s mouth to make the silly case that the terrorist group doesn’t target civilians. When excitedly describing the prowess of Hamas fighters, he roughly quadrupled the number of Israeli soldiers killed during a particular operation. And on, and on.
By the end of the segment, listeners were substantially less informed than they were 20 minutes earlier.
But WBEZ officials say they will not let their audience know about the false facts they were fed, suggesting that inaccurate statements by guests do not require corrections. In fact, there is a long NPR precedent of correcting guest errors.
We've now informed WBEZ of this precedent. Will it correct? Or will it be the case that Chicago-area NPR listeners are stuck with a lower caliber of ethical, accurate journalism?
A partial list of NPR corrections to guest errors:
All Things Considered
Oct. 5, 2015
Our guest incorrectly says Catholics who are separated and divorced do not have access to the sacraments. In fact, it is only separated and divorced Catholics who have civilly remarried who are excluded from some sacraments, like Communion.
July 6, 2015
In the audio of this story, as in a previous Web version, our guest incorrectly says that the Navajo Generating Station consumes about 22,000 tons of coal each year. In fact, it consumes about 22,000 tons of coal each day.
All Things Considered
Aug. 30, 2015
In the audio of this story, as in a previous Web version, our guest incorrectly says that participants in the studies had "less than a millisecond to respond." In fact, they had less than a second.
Weekend Edition Saturday
May 8, 2015
In this conversation, our guest says that pitcher Yordano Ventura of the Kansas City Royals hit the White Sox's Adam Eaton with a pitch. In fact, Eaton was not hit with the pitch. But he and Ventura exchanged words and a brawl ensued. We also say that Ventura had been throwing at opposing players' heads. While he has hit some players and has angered others with inside pitches, it was not correct to say that Ventura was targeting their heads.
March 2, 2015
In this story, our guest incorrectly refers to the film Maps To the Stars as Maps Of the Stars. A previous headline also contained the same error.
All Things Considered
Jan. 2, 2015
We mistakenly refer to Vice President Biden as President Biden, and then our guest makes the same mistake. Additionally, the original transcript incorrectly inserted the title vice where it had not been used.
Pop Culture Happy Hour
Master And Commander
Dec. 30, 2014
One of our panel members said during the franchise discussion that the Master And Commander film came from the Horatio Hornblower books. As has been pointed out to us, it actually came from the Aubrey/Maturin stories of Patrick O'Brian.
Tell Me More
Sept. 25, 2013
In the audio of this story, our guest refers to Medicare plans offered by private companies as Medicare Exchange. She meant to say Medicare Advantage.
Talk of the Nation
June 25, 2013
In the audio of this story, a guest included the Black Panthers among groups that often bombed U.S. targets in the '60s and '70s. While a handful of people with links to the Black Panther Party were accused of bombings, it was not an activity generally associated with the group.
Talk of the Nation
June 17, 2013
Our guest incorrectly stated that actress and dancer Vera-Ellen sang "We Will Meet Again." Actually, singer-songwriter Vera Lynn recorded the song. He also said the film The Big Parade was released in 1926. The correct year is 1925.
Phila. Inquirer Headlines Go Easy on Attackers
The following letter to the editor was sent to The Philadelphia inquirer, but went unpublished:
Recent Inquirer headlines “U.S. Educator Dies in Israel” (October 28) and “Israelis Kill 3 Palestinians” (October 27) have the potential to mislead readers by not accurately reflecting the news articles beneath.
The article itself makes clear that American-born Israeli educator Richard Lakin did not just “die” in Israel; he was murdered by Palestinian terrorists. Lakin’s son told The New York Times his 73-year old father was the victim of Palestinian “incitement and hate.” Yet, the headline could lead readers to mistakenly infer that Lakin just happen to pass away.
Similarly, Israelis did not just happen to “kill 3 Palestinians” without justification as readers might infer from the headline. Again, as the article beneath the headline notes, three Palestinian Arab terrorists were killed by Israeli security forces after attacking Israelis, both civilian and soldiers, with knives. The headline fails to convey essential facts regarding both the chronology and causation leading to the death of the terrorists.
Space restrictions can make headline writing challenging. However, precise terminology and chronology must be used to prevent readers from drawing false inferences. We trust that in the future Inquirer headlines on contentious issues such as these will accurately represent the stories they summarize.
CAMERA--Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America"