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December 22, 2005

Ha'aretz Pays 24,000 NIS for False Report . . . and Gets Off Easy

A false report by Akiva Eldar cost his publisher a small chunk of change. Ha'aretz preferred to pay up rather than fully apologize

Makor Rishon has reported that Ha'aretz has been forced to pay 24,000 NIS for a false 2003 report by senior columnist Akiva Eldar which defamed Aryeh King, a member of the Moledet party and a central figure in efforts to develop Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.

Ha'aretz agreed to pay the 24,000 NIS sum suggested by the Jerusalem regional court--three times the amount originally required by the Magistrate court--rather than face a precedent ruling that would require them to print a retraction wherever the slander appeared, including in the English edition and on the Web site.

A Jerusalem Magistrate court had earlier ordered Ha'aretz to pay King 8,000 NIS, on the basis that Ha'aretz had quickly issued an apology in the Hebrew paper.

King filed an appeal, noting that the apology never appeared in the English edition, on the Internet site, or in any other media outlet which cited the Eldar article.

Unfortunately for Ha'aretz, truth "for all practical purposes" does not hold up in the court of law.

In his column, Eldar had falsely claimed:

The son-in-law of [Irwin] Moskowitz, Aryeh King, manager of the Kedumim building company which is building the [Jewish] neighborhood [on the Mount of Olives], is the head of a Moledet cell at Hebrew University.

Eldar also said:

King told the local newspaper Jerusalem on Feb. 21 that he intends to populate 40 houses, with or without the city's permitting.

As Makor Rishon reported:

King never married one of Moskowitz's daugthers, did not manage the Kedumim building company, and didn't even serve as the head of Moledet at Hebrew University. He also didn't say in his interview with the Jerusalem newspaper that he intended to populate the houses without permitting.

This is not the first time that a Ha'aretz writer has been fined for a false report.

(Hat tip: Matty R.)

Posted by TS at 07:16 AM |  Comments (0)

December 21, 2005

Why the New York Times Refrains From Calling Hamas and Hizballah "Terrorist" Groups

As we've noted, Jerusalem bureau chief Steven Erlanger repeatedly refuses to call Hamas a "terrorist" group. He refers to their violent campaign of suicide bombings as "military resistance to Israel". The closest he comes to alluding to their terrorist activities is saying that they are "considered to be a terrorist group" by Israel, the U.S. and the E.U.

It is hard to understand how the newspaper of record can display such moral obtuseness in whitewashing terrorist organizations. But Mediacrity has an explanation.

The reason is that they do "other things." Really. I'm serious.

Seems this reader asked the Times foreign desk about a story by Steve Erlanger that referred to Hamas as a "miltary" organization. There were a couple of responses, both making basically the same point. Here's one:

Military doesn't just refer to armed services, according to my dictionary, but also "armed or fit for war." We refer to Hamas as "considered a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and the European Union" since they also have many other roles among the Palestinians. The careful language is a signal of just how complicated the situation is, and just how carefully readers of all opinions read our coverage.

I'm saving the worst for last -- this reply from deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner:

we don't generally designate groups as terrorist. we use the word sparingly because it is loaded and because hamas, like hezbollah, does many things, including run clinics and schools (and now towns like qalqilya) as well as carry out terrorist attacks. if hamas were devoted to nothing other than terror, that might be a different thing.

So instead of calling Hamas and Hezbollah what they plainly are -- terrorists -- the Times waters that down by making that oft-proven fact an "opinion" of third parties. Note also this bogus claim of "complexity" being used as a fig leaf to whitewash Hamas' true nature. What's so "complicated" about groups that murder civilians?...

...By the same token, Al Qaeda would fall out of the Times terrorist rankings if it set up a nice hot-lunch program for the kids in Baluchistan...

CAMERA confirmed with editors that the above quotes do indeed reflect the New York Times approach to terrorist organizations. The public should be aware.

Posted by rh at 07:01 PM |  Comments (1)

Muslim Holocaust Denial

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

In an editorial today, the Los Angeles Times commendably warns the world to regard the Iranian threat with the attention that it deserves. It states:

"They have created a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets," Ahmadinejad said in a speech in the Iranian city of Zahedan that was carried live on state television. Denunciations from the U.S. and numerous other Western nations quickly followed. But Muslim nations need to join the chorus.

News media in many Arab nations reported Ahmadinejad's statement, but without the condemnation it demands. Muslims may object to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and its treatment of Palestinians, but the Arab world knows that 6 million Jews were killed during World War II. And they know Israel is here to stay.

To claim, however, that the Arab world knows that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust seems a little naive, given the common statements coming out of the Arab and Muslim world which say otherwise.

As a Hisham Abd Al-Rauf, a columnist for the Egyptian government-sponsored Al-Masaa newspaper, wrote last week:

. . . these massacres, which Israel alleges that the Nazis perpetrated against the Jews, never happened. The famous execution chambers were no more than rooms for disinfecting clothes. . .

It has also been proven that Hitler was not against the Jews. . .

The widespread acceptance and promotion of Holocaust denial in the Arab world is a largely unexplored topic in the news pages of the Los Angeles Times.

Posted by TS at 04:44 AM |  Comments (0)

December 20, 2005

AP's Road Map Double Standard Part of a Pattern

Snapshots has pointed out several examples of Associated Press stories displaying a double standand when reporting on the international Road Map peace plan. (See, for example, here, here and here.)

In a detailed new study of AP news coverage, CAMERA has found that these examples are part of a broader pattern by the news service of pointing out Israeli obligations while overlooking Palestinian obligations.

See the study here.

Posted by at 03:55 PM |  Comments (0)

Segev Promotes BBC's Biased Documentary

Tom Segev

In Ha'aretz Magazine (Dec. 16), Tom Segev condescendingly sneers:

It's amazing how short the Israeli memory is. That's why it would be useful if one of the television networks would show the series "Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs," which was broadcast recently by the BBC -- although maybe we should wait for this until Barak tries to return to power. He is portrayed in this three-part series as a total failure. . . .

That Barak is painted as a failure is the documentary's failure, not its asset.

As CAMERA's Alex Safian notes in his detailed review of "Elusive Peace":

Virtually every scene, every camera angle, every interview, is arranged to promote as much as possible the Palestinian point of view, and to humanize the Palestinian side at the expense of the Israeli side. For example, any Palestinian who speaks any English at all is interviewed in English, while every Israeli but one is interviewed in Hebrew with English subtitles.

Segev continues:

But as opposed to the version that Barak repeatedly offers to anyone willing to listen -- it was not Arafat who missed an opportunity, he did as well.

Indeed, the BBC omitted any statements from those deeply involved in the negotiations, such as President Clinton or negotiator Dennis Ross, indicating that Barak went to great lengths to reach an agreement.

Check out Safian's review for the full details.

Posted by TS at 04:25 AM |  Comments (0)

Suspect Headline

A Los Angeles Times headline on Thursday reads:

4 Suspected Militants Die in Gaza Attack

The third paragraph of the article by Ken Ellingwood states:

The four slain men were identified by the Popular Resistance Committees as members. The group has claimed responsibility for recent rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip to Israel.

If the PRC identifies the four as members, why are the men only "suspected" militants?

(Hat tip: Mark)

Posted by TS at 02:53 AM |  Comments (0)

December 19, 2005

Blaming Israel for Gaza Woes, Margaret Coker Ignores Palestinian Opinon

In a Dec. 18 story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reporter Margaret Coker discussed the situation of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip following Israel's pullout. But, judging by a poll released one day earlier, Coker's article misses the pulse of the Gaza public.

Her article, entitled "Palestinians see little to give hope," strongly suggests the supposed lack of hope is due to Israeli measures:

In August, the Israeli government evacuated Jewish settlers and soldiers from Gaza, a move greeted with fanfare both by Palestinians and the international community for the potential to change daily life in the territory.

But Jarjoun says that despite hopes to the contrary, the forecast for Gaza hasn't brightened.

"Gaza isn't different. We still struggle each day," said Jarjoun, an agricultural worker who lives in his family's house near the rubble of what until August was the Morag settlement. "We don't see Israelis, but they control our future just like always." ...

Israel controls Gaza's outlets to the world, except for the Rafah pedestrian border crossing with Egypt, which Israel allowed open two weeks ago ...

Gaza's economic success still relies on the Israelis. ...

In the past, the Israelis have closed [the Karni crossing into Israel] for days without notice because of security concerns. A Palestinian suicide bomber once smuggled himself out of Gaza through the crossing.

Closures mean that truckloads of produce rot or spoil long before reaching market. ...

"Usually, businessmen can work out a deal amongst themselves, but this case of exports is political. There is nothing we can say to force the other side's compliance," said Yousef Abu Sultan, the senior finance and investment analyst for the Palestinian Economic Development Corp. "If the Israelis don't let it through, then we'll have no choice but to dump the harvest into the sea and say goodbye to millions of dollars."

Ironically, Coker's article, which argues that Gaza Palestinians lack hope and blame their situation on Israel, comes one day after publication of a Palestinian poll showing otherwise. Most Gaza residents are hopeful, the poll shows, and most of them blame the Palestinian Authority—not Israel—for the chaos and lawlessness that surely harms the Palestinian economy.

According to the poll, 73 percent of Gaza residents feel "optimistic" or "very optimistic" toward the future. And 57 percent blame the Palestinian Authority's "poor performance" for chaos and lawlessness, vs. only 7 percent who blame Israel.

Posted by at 01:51 PM |  Comments (0)

Terrorist Group "After All"

Turn to page four of the International Herald Tribune today, and you won't miss the striking contrast. One article, by the Associated Press, is upfront about Hamas' goals and actions. The other, by the New York Times' Steven Erlanger, obscures them.

The Associated Press article, about European Union threats to cut aid to Palestinians if Hamas wins elections next month, clearly identifies Hamas in the second paragraph:

... Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and remains committed to Israel's destruction ...

Erlanger, on the other hand, provides a more, well, delicate, description of Hamas. For instance, in the 23rd and final paragraph of his story about the political ascendency of Hamas, he adopts this euphemistic, or even poetic, way of describing the group's goal to wipe Israel off the map:

In any case, a successful Hamas would have to adapt to a new role of responsibility, while accepting the previous commitment of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority to a negotiated, two-state solution with Israel, even if it insists that Israel will be gone in the fullness of time.

And here's how Erlanger handles those hundreds of Israelis blown to smitherings in suicide bombings, as mentioned by the AP:

. . . Hamas, with its reputation for piety, its social-welfare network and its military wing, which carried out numerous attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians (paragraph 5).

Notice there is no mention of suicide bombings, which most readers take to means as terrorism, just vague "attacks," directed first at soldiers, and then at civilians (all the better to bolster that "militant" tag.)

It's not that Erlanger doesn't have space to work in all these minor details in more upfront language. He does include other snipets about Hamas:

... Hamas -- created in 1987 as the fighting arm of the religious Muslim Brotherhood (paragraph 8).

Hamas, which believes that politics and armed resistance must go hand in hand, may never give up its "right to resist" or its weapons... (paragraph 23).

Armed resistance? Would that be the blowing up of dancing teenagers, children in strollers, and entire families? Appallingly, it seems that the Hamas code words for terrorism are also becoming a regular part of the Times' lexicon.

The New York Times version of Erlanger's story, which is slightly longer, buries this tidbit in the 19th paragraph. (It didn't appear at all in the IHT):

Hamas, after all, has carried out many attacks against Israel, and it has been designated a terrorist group by Israel, Europe and the United States.

For more on the Times' whitewashing of Hamas, see Mediacrity's recent post.

Posted by TS at 07:14 AM |  Comments (0)

December 16, 2005

Letter in New London Day: Destruction of the United States by the Jews

CAMERA recently reported on an anti-Jewish column published in a university newspaper. The dismay caused by that column may have been tempered by the fact that it was a student newspaper, with student editors, who decided to run the column. Maybe in their inexperience, the editors simply didn't know better. (The editors subsequently pulled the column and apologized for their lack of judgement. The columnist also expressed regret.)

However, editors at the New London Day, who recently chose to publish a revolting letter to the editor, have no such excuse. As professional, experienced journalists, they should have known better than to print an anti-Semitic letter whose theme is eerily reminiscent of Nazi propaganda.

Here is the letter:

Under pressure from Israel and the U.S. Jewish community, the United States went to war in Iraq. Now Sen. Joseph Lieberman and the Jewish community want the United States to stay in Iraq to continue the protection of Israel.

We've heard that the destruction of the United States will come from within. Now we know by whom. Members of the U.S. Congress and the House would not dare to say anything about the involvement of Israel.

The suggestion that "the U.S. Jewish community" will cause the "destruction of the United States ... from within" is not thematically new. The infamous Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels often worked to convince Germans, albeit using slightly more virulent language, that the Jewish community presented a grave danger to the Germany or Europe.

For example, he once wrote:

One must understand the Jewish question in order to understand the present state of the war.... One will search in vain for the answer to this riddle if he fails to consider the Jewish problem.... If one shines a light on the background ... one quickly discovers the cause of the whole spiritual and intellectual confusion, the ferment of decomposition of states and peoples: international Jewry.


Before National Socialism, Germany was in the midst of such deadly danger. Had our people not come to its senses at the last possible moment, our country would have been ripe for Bolshevism, the most devilish infection the Jews can bring upon a people.

Does freedom of speech compel the New London Day to publish anti-Jewish incitement? No—see here.

Posted by at 10:20 AM |  Comments (0)

December 14, 2005

Misinformation About Palestinian Death

Chicago's City News Service is closing down at the end of this month, but the organization's famous mantra, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out," is still a good lesson for journalists—certainly when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Case in point: After the death of Palestinian Mohammed Fara yesterday, the Associated Press reported that

Relatives and hospital officials said Mohammed Fara of the village of Abbasan was killed by Israeli tank fire when he was working in his marble factory some 600 metres from the Gaza-Israel border fence.

It seems these relatives and hospital officials, however, were not telling the truth.

As AP later discovered:

A Palestinian security official familiar with the investigation said Fara was drilling through a metal fuel tank that accidentally exploded. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The Israeli army said it had been informed by the Palestinians that the man had been handling a gas canister that exploded.

Such falsification has implications on news reporting, and also on the credibility of organziations like Btselem which rely heavily on anecdotal testimony.

(For more on misinformation, click Misinformation from Sources on CAMERA's Middle East Issues page.)

Posted by at 02:12 PM |  Comments (0)

December 10, 2005

AP Whitewashes Iranian President’s Holocaust Denial

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s suggestion that the Holocaust never happened was widely reported by the news media. Almost all outlets quoting Ahmadinejad noted that he said at a Dec. 8 press conference:

Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces and they insist on it to the extent that if anyone proves something contrary to that they condemn that person and throw them in jail. Although we don't accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, our question for the Europeans is: 'Is the killing of innocent Jewish people by Hitler the reason for their support to the occupiers of Jerusalem?'

If the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe - like in Germany, Austria or other countries - to the Zionists...

The Washington Post, Reuters, the Guardian, the Independent, the Times of London, the New York Times and others, many of them quoting the official Iranian news agency, IRNA, relayed Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denying quote.

The Associated Press, however, despite dispatching multiple reports on Ahmadinejad’s speech and the subsequent international outcry, never reported that Ahmadinejad said he “[does not] accept this claim? about Hitler’s genocide.

In reports by AP’s Salah Nasrawi, the passage simply disappeared:

"Some European countries insist on saying that during World War II, Hitler burned millions of Jews and put them in concentration camps," Ahmadinejad said. "Any historian, commentator or scientist who doubts that is taken to prison or gets condemned."

"Let's assume what the Europeans say is true ... Let's give some land to the Zionists in Europe or in Germany or Austria," he said. "They faced injustice in Europe, so why do the repercussions fall on the Palestinians?"

Other unsigned AP dispatches summarized the offensive comments as follows:

Saying that "some European countries insist on saying that during World War II, Hitler burnt millions of Jews," Ahmadinejad suggested "let's give some land to the Zionists in Europe or in Germany or Austria so they can have their government there."

Becuase the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, and countless others relied on AP’s story about Ahmadinejad’s comments, hundreds of thousands of readers (or more) did not get the full story.

Posted by at 12:31 AM |  Comments (0)

December 08, 2005

Erekat Caught Again Telling a Fib

This "NewsHour" segment contained two errors, one by Ray Suarez, and the other thanks to Erekat

Several days ago, we noted that the BBC had incorrectly reported that Palestinians "took back control of the Rafah border crossing." After CAMERA contacted editors, the caption was corrected within a day.

Ray Suarez, of PBS' "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," has made the same error. He begins his Nov. 27 report:

For the first time in nearly four decades, Palestinians took control of the border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, this one at the Rafah checkpoint.

As has been previously explained, never before in history have Palestinians controlled the Gaza-Egypt border. Forty years ago, it was the Egyptians--not the Palestinians--in control.

Even Saeb Erekat, who is interviewed by Suarez despite the fact that he perpetually fabricates, acknowledges in the broadcast:

Number one is that for the first time in our history we have a control over who comes and who goes through an international border.

Erekat reverts to form, though, when he repeats the discredited claim that the Gaza Strip is "the most populated place on earth."

Posted by TS at 05:55 AM |  Comments (0)

December 07, 2005

Night and Day

In the wake of reports last week that on Sunday settlers from Elon Moreh destroyed olive trees belonging to the Palestinian village of Salem, Ha'aretz ran an editorial on Wednesday called "Who will deal with the tree destroyers?" It stated:

In the villlage of Salem alone, some 180 olive trees were torched in May, while 250 trees were choppped down in July and another 200 in October. On Monday [sic], village residents discovered a group of Israelis, whom they recognized as residents of an outpost near Elon Moreh, using an electric saw to cut down dozens more olive trees.

Three paragraphs later, the editorial stated:

Israelis who chop down 200 olive trees in broad daylight, with no interference, and then pack up their tools and go back to their illegal houses in an illegal outpost.

This is what Ha'aretz's own news reporters, Arnon Regular and Eli Ashkenazi, had to say about last Sunday's incident:

Palestinians on Sunday said that settlers cut down more than 200 olive trees in the West Bank village of Salem, near Nablus. The Palestinians told the police that the settlers arrived during the night and cut down the trees using chainsaws.

Ha'aretz has every right to highlight and condemn destructive and illegal behavior, but facts appearing in editorials should at least be consistent with the paper's own news reports.

Posted by TS at 02:32 AM |  Comments (0)

December 06, 2005

UK Activists Prompt Quiet BBC Change

In the wake of emails from British activists, BBC editors changed wording in a Web article which suggested that the Palestinian terrorist attack in Netanya was in response to an Israeli rocket attack on Gaza earlier in the day.

The original BBC article, posted yesterday, stated:

The bombing came after Israel launched a rocket attack on Gaza, in response to Palestinian missile attacks. . . .

In an updated version later yesterday, that sentence is replaced by the following:

Heightened tensions in recent days have been marked by Israeli air strikes and Palestinian militant rocket attacks.

The mainstream media has frequently identifed Palestinian suicide bombings as "responses" to an Israeli action which immediately preceded it, but as Israeli authorities have repeatedly said, it can take weeks to prepare a suicide bombing attack.

Hat tip: Terry M.

Posted by TS at 07:31 AM |  Comments (1)

December 05, 2005

AP Headline Blamed Israeli for Suicide Bombing

An Associated Press headline dispatched earlier today that described today's suicide bomber in Netanya as an "Israeli" has been changed, but not before it was picked up and published by a variety of online news sites including CBS, ABC, Salon, the Guardian, and Forbes.

The erroneous headline announced: "Israeli Suicide Bomber Kills Five at Mall." The terrorist, who killed 5 Israelis, was actually a Palestinian sent by Islamic Jihad.

The Associated Press acknowledged that they had mistakenly dispatched the false headline. Updated headlines correctly refer to the perpetrator as an "Islamic Jihad suicide bomber."

But this wasn't the first time the Associated Press referred incorrectly to an "Israeli suicide bomber." On Nov. 28, 2005, the wire service dispatched a story entitled, "Brother, sister of failed Israeli suicide bomber cleared of criminal charge in UK." The article went on to note that the bomber was in fact "a Briton," not an Israeli.

Google News shows some of the media outlets that picked up the erroneous AP headline.

Posted by at 03:44 PM |  Comments (3)

December 02, 2005

Orla Guerin Exposes Anti-Jewish Hatred—But Does She Pay Attention?

BBC's Orla Guerin has witnessed the anti-Jewish hatred held by some Palestinians—but it doesn't seem to register.

In a Dec. 1 broadcast, she recalled the words of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy:

"From a long time back my feelings towards Jews are feelings of hatred," he said.

"What I want to do most is kill Jews. It's in my blood. Ever since I was a child I have dreamed of this."

One might think that after hearing such bigotry, Guerin would conclude indoctrinated hatred is one of the central causes of Palestinian terrorism.

Apparently not. Later in the broadcast, she argued that "This fight is not about religion, or ideology, or race." It is simply about real estate, Guerin claims, and about a Palestinian state. (She apparently has forgotten about the real estate and the Palestinian state offered by Israel but rejected by Arafat shortly before he provoked the second intifada.)

Despite reporting on the expressions of anti-Jewish hatred, her harsh words appear to be reserved for Israel alone—specifically, the country's measures to protect itself:

Just after the Israeli checkpoint, there is a new scar on the landscape, a towering wall snaking along the edge of town.

This is Israel's West Bank barrier, supposed to block suicide bombers, but making a virtual prisoner of the entire town.

But she is wrong about this "scar." It does not make a "virtual prisoner" of all of Bethlehem. It simply prevents unfettered access of Palestinians into Israel (thus reducing deadly terrorism). As a map of the barrier route reveals, it does not affect movement of people between Bethlehem and the remainder of the West Bank:

Security barrier in the Bethlehem area. Route marked in red and orange.bethlehem barrier.JPG

Posted by at 11:00 AM |  Comments (1)