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January 31, 2008

More Revisionism by Robert Malley


Robert Malley might be best known for promoting the revisionist view that shifted blame from Yasir Arafat after the Palestinian leader rejected compromise at the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in 2000. Judging by a column Malley wrote this month for the Boston Globe, he still may have an interest in revising history.

True, Malley was technically correct when noting in the Jan. 20 Op-Ed that "in the past few weeks, Palestinian militant groups have fired rockets and mortars into Israel."

And yet, he was so far from conveying the full truth. Israelis living in Sderot and other towns near the Gaza Strip have endured incessant attacks not only for a "few weeks," not for a few months, but rather for years. Since 2001, and especially after Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, thousands of rockets and mortars fired from the Strip have traumatized and killed Israelis.

Malley questions why Israel has ramped up sanctions and counter-terror operations to pressure Hamas; perhaps a better question would be how that country has managed to act with such restraint until now. How many weeks, months or years would Americans tolerate rocket attacks on the United States before firmly responding?

Posted by at 03:05 PM |  Comments (2)

Victor Davis Hanson Issues Hypocrisy Alert

Victor Davis Hanson has written an excellent essay reminding us of the world's double standards and hypocrisy regarding Israel. Click here to read his January 29, 2008 essay: "A Modest Proposal for Middle East Peace."

Posted by LG at 02:09 PM |  Comments (0)

January 30, 2008

Steaks Flying over Gaza

food rockets gaza.jpgAccording to an interesting piece in yesterday's Spiegel Online about Kassam rockets manufactured in Gaza and fired at Israel, "The raw materials for one large rocket cost up to €500."

I can't help but imagine, on those days when 40 rockets at 500 Euros a piece are fired out of Gaza, that in fact $30,000 worth of pitas, beef, and vegetables are being launched out of the territory instead of being on the plates of hungry Gazans. And that's before you factor in the cost to Gaza of Israel's attempts to stop those rockets.

It brings to mind Golda Meir's quote about peace not being possible before those in the region love their kids more than they hate Jews.

Posted by at 02:42 PM |  Comments (3)

UNHRC Endorses Anti-Israel Charter

The Jerusalem Post ( 'UNHRC endorsed anti-Semitic charter', Jan. 29, 2008)
reports that UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental agency that monitors the United Nations, "has urged UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour to clarify a recent endorsement of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, which it said 'contains several provisions that promote classically anti-Semitic themes.' " These provisions vilify, denigrate and demonize Zionism, the movement for Jewish self-determination and statehood, by equating it with racism, describing it as a threat to world peace and as an enemy of human rights and human dignity, and urging its elimination (an implicit call for the destruction of Israel).

Citing these provisions, UN Watch condemns the Arab charter as blatantly anti-Semitic, and adds that "nothing can justify any endorsement of a text with such hateful language."

One could add that the charter is also at odds with a United Nations decision nearly two decades ago to repudiate the false, hateful and venomous equation of Zionism with racism.

To read UN Watch's full letter to Arbour, click here.

- Stephen Silver

Posted by LG at 02:40 PM |  Comments (0)

Holy Wrong

Leila Khaled, described by the LA Times as "a longtime PFLP activist," highjacked TWA Flight 840 in 1969 and El Al Flight 219 in 1970

The Los Angeles Times ran a correction today:

Habash obituary: The obituary of George Habash, the founder of Arab nationalism, in Sunday's California section referred to Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock as Islam's holiest shrine. In fact, Islam's holiest site is considered to be the Kaaba, which is near the center of the great mosque in Mecca.

Unfortunately, the 1,236-word obit never once uses the "t" word that would best sum up Habash's life -- "terrorist." Likewise, his colleague, the notorious Leila Khaled, is referred to only as "a longtime PFLP activist."

Posted by TS at 04:21 AM |  Comments (0)

January 29, 2008

NY Times Flatters Abbas

This in from the Jerusalem bureau chief of what is widely considered America's top newspaper:

But it will be very difficult now for Mr. Mubarak to reseal the border completely. More likely, he will work something out with Mr. Abbas and Israel to allow a regulated border crossing. But even that will resound as a Hamas victory, because both Egypt and Israel will have been forced to a concession that they could have negotiated freely with Mr. Abbas any time in the last six months.

Anyone home? Just over six months ago, Hamas routed Abbas' forces from the Gaza Strip. So any negotiations about Gaza involving Abbas would be farcical.

(Hat tip: Richard B.)

Posted by TS at 03:57 AM |  Comments (0)

January 28, 2008

To BBC, Israeli Cities are "Settlements"

In the BBC mindset, terrorists rocketing civilians in the southern Israeli city of Sderot are simply "militants targeting settlements." That is how BBC explains the situation.

A Jan. 28th article on BBC's Web site, "Fresh efforts to seal Gaza border" explained Israel's blockade on Gaza as follows:

Israel began tightening its blockade of the Gaza Strip after an increase in rocket attacks by militants targeting its settlements near the border.

Israel withdrew its military and civilian settlements from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Sderot--the prime target of Palestinian rocket and mortar fire--is a city in the western Negev, well within Israel's pre-1967 borders. Yet it is still a "settlement" to BBC journalists who consistently label Israeli settlements "illegal under international law". Does this mean that BBC now considers all of Israel to be "illegal under international law"?

Posted by rh at 03:17 PM |  Comments (15)

Gaza's New Strongman

Gaza_flour muffin man2.jpe gaza flour sarraj.jpe

There's going to be a new strongman in Gaza. That's right. In the name of national unity, Hamas and Fatah have come together and agreed to bring in a third party -- a giant gingerbread man modelled after the Muffin Man's oversized creation in "Shrek II" (himself a close cousin of the towering Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in "Ghost Busters.")

At least that's the theory of some political scientists, speculating why Gazans require half a ton of flour per person, per day. Experts have been puzzling over Gaza's unusually high demand for the baking necessity ever since Harvard University's Sara Roy and co-author Eyad al-Sarraj published in Saturday's Boston Globe the alarming tidbit that Gaza's 1.5 million residents require 680,000 tons of flour daily.

Of course, the Israeli occupiers are once again thwarting this golden opportunity for a peaceful resolution to the conflict by blocking the Muffin Man's passage from Drury Lane and by cutting the strip's supply to just 90 tons a day -- a reduction of 99 percent.

(A special thanks to Martin Kramer for bringing this possible realignment to our attention.)

Posted by TS at 01:53 PM |  Comments (3)

January 27, 2008

Sarid's Silly Satire

Yossi_Sarid Gaza.jpe

In a satirical piece meant to mock the notion that Hamas is manipulating and staging a humanitarian crisis, Yossi Sarid argues in Ha'aretz:

In a place of permanent disaster it is difficult to cause a temporary one; it is difficult to bring about a dramatic change in the situation just as it difficult to change its definition: disaster.

How does Sarid define the "disaster"?

The Gaza Strip, as we know, is the most crowded place in the world: 1.5 million people on 300 square miles. Almost all of them have been living for decades in refugee camps, which are more suited for mice and sewer rats than humans.

First, Sarid may not know it, and Ha'aretz simply may not care, but Gaza (with 8,666 people per square mile) is not the most densely populated place in the world. Numerous places, include Monaco (41,608), Singapore (17,751), Gibraltar (11,990), Hong Kong (17,833), and especially Macau (71,466), surpass the Gaza Strip in that respect.

And do "almost all" of the 1.5 million Gazans live in refugee camps? Not according to UNRWA, the UN organization which administers the camps. According to UNRWA, as of December 2006, there are 478,272 registered refugees in camps.

As for why Palestinians still live in refugee camps, Sarid can look to the PLO and UN.

Furthermore, Sarid should be congratulated on his imagination when he writes that the conditions are "suited for mice and sewer rats than humans." Perhaps he missed the New York Times story that day which reported:

Ahlan Ashour, 38, came with his wife to visit the Egyptian family, the Barhoums, who had put them up for 24 days during an earlier period when the Rafah crossing was shut. Mr. Ashour’s wife, Mohsin Elloulu, said she was struck by how much poorer the Egyptians of Rafah are. “At least our streets are paved,? she said of Gaza. The current lack of electricity and supplies is terrible, she said. “But materially, we’re so much more advanced in Gaza.? A driver here, she said, makes less than $1.50 a day, and in normal times in Gaza, $27. “But nothing is normal now,? she said.

Sarid continues in his faulty satire:

When there is no demand and no money to purchase things, it's better that there is no supply and nothing to buy.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the AP reported:

Rami Abdou, an economic analyst, estimated that Gazans spent $130 million in less than two days, a princely sum for the poverty-stricken territory.

"Gazans are withdrawing their savings and are borrowing from each other" to spend in Egypt, he said.

In short, Sarid satire flops as it's built on a number of false premises.

Posted by TS at 04:27 AM |  Comments (0)

Fertiliser to Be Seen, But Not Photographed

Gaza crossing.jpe
Gazans returning to the strip from Egypt carry a variety of goods -- food, foam mattresses and fertiliser used to make explosives -- among them. Don't expect to see photos of the latter/AP photo by Nasser Nasser

It's not only in the artificially darkened Hamas headquarters where Hamas is controlling the images. Even in the chaos of the Gaza-Egypt border, Hamas men decide what the Western world will and will not see. Thus Tim Butcher of the Telegraph reports:

Fertiliser, broken down into half bags for lugging through the many tunnels that arms smugglers normally use for delivery into Gaza, was to be seen as it was manhandled overland.

It was white, oily, crystalline and a dab on the tongue left a sharp, burning sensation.

In most countries fertiliser has a perfectly innocent function but in Gaza militants use it to make explosive.

"Hey, hey, hey," shouted a man as I took a photograph of a pile of fertiliser half bags.

His aggressive tone jarred with the mood the crowd as he grabbed my camera lens firmly.

Posted by TS at 03:33 AM |  Comments (0)

Pallywood on a Gaza Beach


The Second Draft announced the release of its new movie "Gaza Beach Tragedy":

On 6/9/06, explosion on a Gaza beach killed a family. Palestinians and MSM blamed Israel, showing Huda Ghalia grieving wildly. What happened? A grotesque exploitation of grief.

Posted by TS at 02:07 AM |  Comments (0)

January 25, 2008

It's official, Arun Gandhi's Resignation Accepted

Arun Gandhi's resignation has been accepted by the University of Rochester. A newspaper in India reports that Gandhi

... sent his resignation by email to Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester, which hosts the prestigious institute, in upstate New York. Seligman asked him to sort out the matter in person with the institute's board.

"I resigned to relieve pressure on the university and the institute. I met the institute's board Thursday on my return and they went by my decision," Gandhi told IANS.

He said the storm was mainly in the Jew-dominated Rochester community.

A few days ago we saw another journalist in India write of "America’s omnipotent Jewish community." Now another journalist uses the phrase "Jew-dominated Rochester community."

Earth to Sally Quinn and Jon Meacham:

One expression of contempt for Jews triggers another, and another, and another. Take a look at the comments on the site you "moderate." They are not very moderate. In fact, many of them are vile, intemperate and hateful. And they are all published under your names, and under the logos of Newsweek and The Washington Post.

And by the way, Gandhi also reportedly told the paper "In six months, this storm will blow over and I can get back to the institute, if necessary."

Posted by dvz at 03:09 PM |  Comments (0)

Gaza Breach Provides An Illuminating Moment in the Middle East Conflict

egyptian riot police 2.bmp
Egyptian riot police square off with Palestinians

The recent breach of the Egyptian border by thousands of Gazans highlights some facts about Gaza all too frequently misrepresented or ignored. Ever since Hamas won control of the Palestinian Authority, much of the news media has held Israel solely culpable for the economic hardship in Gaza. Although much of the news coverage continues to focus on the impact of tightening Israeli economic measures, the breaching of the wall at Rafah reveals a facet of the situation that rarely receives attention, namely that Egypt also maintains a border with Gaza and has chosen to keep it sealed.

As Dion Nissenbaum of McClatchy Newspapers noted,

Since Hamas seized control last summer, the Egyptian government has kept its side of the border with Gaza largely sealed, with authorities resorting to deadly force on occasion to stop people from crossing.

Even the Guardian, known for hewing to the Palestinian line, commented in its news blog that Egypt's "role in the economic isolation of Gaza has received little attention until today."

Several newspapers carried comments by Israeli deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai suggesting that it was time for Egypt to assume responsibility for Gaza. James Hider emphasized this tact in his piece appearing in the London Times on January 25.

Some, however, persist with their standard refrain that only Israel is to blame for the current situation. Oxfam, the British based humanitarian organization published a report on its web site on January 25th, castigating Israel for its blockade while mentioning the breach in the Egyptian border only in the context of condemning Israel's "inhumane and illegal siege."

Recent events have raised a number of questions that warrant more discussion.
- Why is Israel responsible for supplying Gaza, officially a hostile entity, with its basic needs, when Egypt could be doing the same?
- Why is the Egyptian government so concerned with maintaining a closed border with Gaza? Is it to satisfy Israeli and American demands as some contend, or does it fear in its own right the extremist, violent elements that rule in Gaza?
- Why are the NGOs responsible for providing humanitarian relief to the Palestinians, like Oxfam, who produce volumes of reports condemning Israel for its stringent policies towards Gaza, so reticent to condemn Egyptian policy towards their fellow Arab brethren?

Posted by SS at 10:27 AM |  Comments (2)

Post's 'Breach in Gaza' on target

Once more, a Washington Post editorial covers Israeli-Palestinian developments more thoroughly and directly — and takes much less space to do so — than the paper’s own news reporting. The commentary, “Breach in Gaza; As thousands stream across the border to Egypt, Hamas blockades the peace process? (January 24), makes several pertinent observations. Among them:

* Palestinian Arabs in the Gaza Strip are not “starving,? notwithstanding Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s assertion to that effect;

* Israelis in the nearby town of Sderot “have been relentless terrorized [emphasis added]? by rocket fire from the Strip;

* The U.N. Security Council and its so-called Human Rights Council’s obsession with Israel is an “ongoing farce?; and

* The exaggerated, mostly Hamas-generated humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip has been “exploited? by the terrorist organization.

Recent, extensive coverage by Post Foreign Service correspondent Ellen Knickmeyer has been mixed. “Israel Blocks Supplies; Steps Up Gaza Airstrikes; Actions a Response to Continuing Rocket Fire? (January 19) was relatively balanced and in context. But dispatches about the Gaza “crisis? often have been superficial, not scrutinizing Arab claims, echoing the vocabulary of Palestinian polemics, and not being as direct or clear as “Breach in Gaza.?

Newspapers, including The Post, often insist that news and editorial pages function separately, though one rarely reads a paper in which they chronically conflict. But sometimes, as in this case, editorials outstrip news coverage. — E.R.

Posted by ER at 09:33 AM |  Comments (0)

January 24, 2008

Christian Silence Monitor -- Jan. 24, 2008

While Christian leaders in Jerusalem and their supporters in the U.S. have called on Israel to end the "seige" of Gaza, they have been predictably silent about violence and aggression against Israel. For example, where are the howls of outrage over Hassan Nasrallah's barbaric comments about Hezbollah's possession of Israeli body parts.

Reuters covered the outrage, which took place Saturday, Jan. 19, 2007.

"Oh Zionists your army is lying to you ... your army has left the body parts of your soldiers in our villages and fields," the black-turbaned leader said in a live speech transmitted to the crowd on a huge screen.

"Our mujahideen used to fight these Zionists, killing them and collecting their body parts. I am not talking about regular body parts. I tell the Israelis, we have the heads of your soldiers, we have hands, we have legs."

Nearly 1,200 people in Lebanon, mainly civilians, and 157 Israelis, mostly soldiers, died during the 34-day war.

"There is even a near-complete body, a half or three-quarters of a body, from head, to chest to the torso," said Nasrallah, who earlier walked among the Ashura procession. He last appeared in May at the opening of a book fair in Beirut.

What do the Heads of Christian Churches in Jerusalem have to say about this gruesome rhetoric?


Surely, the churches in the U.S. that have relentlessly condemned Israel for the past few years have something to say.

You must be joking. Go check a few of their websites devoted to the Middle East and their news services here, here, and here.

The National Council of Churches? Nothing. The World Council of Churches? Nothing. Churches for Middle Eeast Peace. Sabeel? Nothing. Nothing. Friends of Sabeel North America? Nothing.

At the time of this posting -- mid-afternoon EST Thursday, Jan. 24 -- five days after Nasrallah made these abhorrent remarks, the mainline community in the U.S. and its "ecumenical partners" have issued nary a word of criticism.

What exactly must Israel's adversaries do to warrant strong moral condemnation from these churches and the institutions they support? Palestinian rocket attacks don't seem to have much of an impact the refined mainline sensibilities -- until of course, Israel responds.

To be sure, these churches and para-church institutions are not obligated to respond to every act of violence or display of hostility against Israel, but given their repeated and persistent condemnations of Israel, one has to wonder exactly why these churches remain so persistently silent about outrageous misdeeds of Israel's adversaries.

The Israelis put a shovel to dirt at the foot of the Temple Mount and CMEP writes a letter. Hezbollah's leader boasts of possessing Israeli body parts and the organization says nothing. Hamas and Fatah duke it out in the streets of the Gaza Strip, and these churches say nothing.

These churches and the "peace" institutions they support have worked assidously to portray Israel as an aggressor nation while systematically suppressing, downplaying or omitting from their proclamations any information that would contradict this portrayal and demonstrate that Israel does in fact, face real threats that will not go away in the face of Israeli concessions and peace offers. Any information that would undermine faith in the "land-for-peace" prescription proffered by mainline churches is conveniently ignored, as if making this information available to church members and to the general society would contravene some more "truthful" and more "hopeful" narrative that will lead to "peace."

But ignoring or downplaying these facts undermines the pursuit of justice. And isn't it about "peace" AND "justice? Or is it about unilaterally disarming Israel while its adversaries lie in wait?

Posted by dvz at 02:33 PM |  Comments (2)

Gaza's Economy "Advanced" Under Israeli Rule

egyptian rafah.jpg
Egyptian Rafah

Those who claim that Israel's administration of the West Bank and Gaza harmed the economy in those areas might consider the observations of Gaza resident Ahlan Ashour, who was quoted in the New York Times after crossing from the Palestinian controlled section of Rafah in the Gaza Strip into the Egyptian controlled part of town.

Ahlan Ashour, 38, came with his wife to visit the Egyptian family, the Barhoums, who had put them up for 24 days during an earlier period when the Rafah crossing was shut. Mr. Ashour’s wife, Mohsin Elloulu, said she was struck by how much poorer the Egyptians of Rafah are. “At least our streets are paved,? she said of Gaza. The current lack of electricity and supplies is terrible, she said. “But materially, we’re so much more advanced in Gaza.? A driver here, she said, makes less than $1.50 a day, and in normal times in Gaza, $27. “But nothing is normal now,? she said.

The Gaza half was administered by Israel for the better part of the past 25 years, while the part of town across the border has since 1982 been under Egyptian sovereignty.

Posted by at 02:25 PM |  Comments (0)

January 22, 2008

WaPo Apology Not Enough to Put the Cat Back in the Bag

The contempt for Jews and Israel expressed by Arun Gandhi in his Jan. 7 post at "On Faith," a website published by the Washington Post, has made its way to another news outlet, this one in Calcutta, demonstrating the limits of apologies in the electronic era.

The article appeared in the Jan. 22 issue of The Telegraph, a newspaper published in Calcutta, India under the byline of K.P. Nayar. According to Nayar, Arun Ghandi's disgrace is not his fault, but the fault of those pesky, "omnipotent" Jews. Nayar writes:

America’s omnipotent Jewish community has forced Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Gandhi, to resign from the institute he founded in the US 17 years ago to spread the message of the Father of the Nation.

His resignation offer follows remarks the grandson made about the Jewish identity and the Holocaust in an online discussion on faith and religion on the website of The Washington Post.

The fact is that while Arun Ghandi's remarks on Jewish identity and the Holocaust were offensive, there was a lot more to Ghandi's diatribe than Nayar let on. In particular, Ghandi's assertion that "Jews and Israel" were the "biggest players" in a "culture of violence" was what really drove the controversy. This assertion is, on its face, an empirical falsehood.

Israel is the target of regular attacks on its civilians justified by notions of "total war" -- the idea that there is no distinction between soldiers and civilians. Hamas and Hezbollah attack civilians while hiding behind civilians. Israel, on the other hand, works to avoid civilian casualties.

Bernard Harrison, author of The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism: Jews, Israel, and Liberal Opinion, writes:

The principle that every Israeli, including women and children, is a legitimate target has been repeatedly and expressly proclaimed and acted upon by the Palestinians and rejectionist Arab states both before and after the founding of Israel as a state. To kill civilians has been the whole point of innumerable actions both by Al-Fateh and by such "Islamists" fascists groups as Hamas, Hizbollah, or Islamic Jihad. On the other hand, while actions undertaken by the Israeli armed forces have resulted in the deaths of Arab civilians, the object of these actions has not been to bring about those deaths. Further, although some civilian deaths are inevitable in a war conducted at such close quarters over heavily populated land, Israel has done, on the whole, everything in its power to keep such deaths to a minimum.

Despite all this, Arun Gandhi portrays Israel as the biggest players in the culture of violence. And or some reason, Nayar omits this issue from his story. Arun Gandhi's falsehood was obscured by Nayar's selective reporting.

Nayar also traffics in some pretty obvious stereotyping when he writes that "hundreds of messages assailing Arun and The Washington Post were posted on the website, most of them clearly by Jews." What is his proof that most of these posts were "clearly by Jews"? The suggestion is that in order to disagree with Ghandi's assertions, one must be almost invariably be a Jew.

K.P. Nayar's bit of nastiness came out three weeks after Arun Gandhi's original post. As Arun Ghandi's rant -- published by the Washington Post no less -- has fueled Judeophobia in another venue, thousands of miles away, one has to ask again, do On Faith's moderators, Sally Quinn and Jon Meacham "get it"?

Both Quinn and Meacham seemed to have moved on from the controversy. Quinn has interviewed Christopher Hitchens about his atheism and Meacham has appeared on the Daily Show.

Jews and Israelis, however, still have to contend with the spread of Judeophobic contempt triggered by Arun Gandhi's original article, unchecked by Meacham and Quinn's apology and plea for forbearance.

Posted by dvz at 03:41 PM |  Comments (1)

January 21, 2008

LA Times Distorts Hamas' Fabricated "Crisis"

The Los Angeles Times has once again published anti-Israel propaganda in the guise of serious reporting about the Middle East. "Gaza dark amid Israeli blockade," (Jan 21) blames Israel for the shutdown of Gaza's only electric power plant, "plunging most of this city into darkness and threatening such vital services as hospitals, bakeries, water supply and sewage."

Not until the 12th paragraph does it report Israel's contention that the shutdown is a PR-inspired crisis of Hamas's own making:

The Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement alleging that power was still flowing to Gaza's rocket-making facilities. It questioned the severity of the fuel shortage and suggested that "propaganda considerations" were behind Hamas' decision to shut down the plant.

But this is insufficient. Compare this with the New York Times' article "Fuel Shortage Shuts Gaza Power Plant, Leaving City Dark" (Jan. 21), which noted the following:

Israeli officials disputed Mr. Meliha’s assertions, saying that Israel still supplies Gaza with about 70 percent of its electricity requirements, while another 5 percent comes from Egypt. "That is all going on as usual," said Shlomo Dror, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry. "Sure, the Palestinians can say they have no electricity and take down their turbines, but there is no crisis," he insisted, adding that it is up to the Palestinians how they allocate whatever electricity they have within the Gaza Strip.

The New York Times also put the shutdown in context, noting that:

Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak, ordered a temporary halt on all imports into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip late last week. The measure, along with stepped-up military operations in Gaza, was meant to persuade Palestinian militants there to stop firing rockets at Israel. ... Five rockets had been launched from Gaza by nightfall on Sunday, two of which landed in and around the Israeli border town of Sderot, an army spokeswoman said. There was a marked decrease in rocket fire over the weekend, compared with the roughly 130 rockets that the army said had been launched from Gaza during four days last week.

This follows on the L.A. Times publishing an anti-Semitic cartoon and publishing a factually flawed anti-Israel screed by Walt and Mearsheimer on January 6, 2008.

- Stephen Silver

Posted by LG at 05:57 PM |  Comments (0)

January 19, 2008

Australian Provides Context on "Plucky" Israel

"The Australian" has published a remarkable piece by Greg Sheridan called "Deep inside the plucky country" (Jan. 19), on his impressions of Israel. Sheridan's piece offers a breathtaking survey of the tiny nation, noting Israel's great beauty and its remarkable diversity in people, culture, geography and even flora.

It also puts today's key political issues in historical context, noting, for instance, that the 1967 war began when "Israel was attacked by a coalition of its Arab neighbours," and that in the two places where Israel has unilaterally withdrawn from disputed territory, "the result has been disastrous," with "rocket attacks from southern Lebanon ... and now every day Qassam rockets are fired from Gaza at nearby Israeli civilian towns, especially Sderot."

Authored by Stephen A. Silver

Posted by LG at 05:03 PM |  Comments (0)

January 18, 2008

Arun Submits Resignation, Judea Weighs In, Sally and Jon Say Sorry

Arun Ghandi, who suggested Israel is a "snake pit" and wrote that Israel and Jews are the "biggest players" in a "culture of violence" has offered to resign from his position as president of the Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence based at the University of Rochester. The Rochester Democrat & Journal reported the resignation on Jan. 17.

His offer to resign became public the day before Judea Pearl, condemned the Washington Post for allowing Ghandi to "portray the Jewish people as possessing an inherent disposition toward violence, unleashed and given license by the Holocaust." Pearl also wrote that "the article your editors have allowed to be posted is a painful insult to everything Daniel stood for, to everything America stands for, and to every decent person [...]"

Jon Meacham and Sally Quinn, moderators of "On Faith" where Ghandi's original post was displayed, have apologized for the original article and for the entire episode.

On Jan. 11, 2008, Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester condemned Arun Ghandi's original post and said Ghandis subsequent apology was not enough. He wrote "I believe that his subsequent apology inadequately explains his stated views, which seem fundamentally inconsistent with the core values of the University of Rochester."

There's just one question:

Will his resignation be accepted?

Posted by dvz at 01:00 PM |  Comments (0)

January 13, 2008

Walt/Mearsheimer 'Blowback' in LA Times, II

The Los Angeles Times has run a second "Blowback" online (but not in print) rebuttal of the inflammatory Walt-Measheimer Op-Ed . The excellent piece by Congressman Artur Davis and Eric Cantor is here. They write:

Mearsheimer and Walt accuse all of us who support Israel in its struggle to live in peace and security of being Israel's "false friends." The accusation is remarkably disingenuous since it implies that Walt and Mearsheimer are Israel's true friends. These so-called true friends put the entirety of the blame for the failure of the peace process on the Israelis.

What kind of true friends write volumes on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and gloss over the thousands of rockets Palestinian terror groups in Gaza launch into Israel? What kind of friend refuses to acknowledge the vicious propaganda machine in the West Bank and Gaza that stokes anti-Semitism and glorifies suicide bombers? Friends do not ask friends to dig their own graves.

(Hat tip: Lou A.)

Posted by TS at 05:35 AM |  Comments (1)

The BBC, Terrorists and Paintball

BBC paintball terrorists.jpe
The BBC is accused of withholding information that Mohammed Hamid, featured in a BBC program, was associated with the 7/11 bombers

Hat tip to the Daily Alert for bringing to our attention the BBC's latest controversy which has landed the network in court. The Times reported last month:

The BBC funded a paintballing trip for men later accused of Islamic terrorism and failed to pass on information about the 21/7 bombers to police, a court was told yesterday.

Mohammed Hamid, who is charged with overseeing a two-year radicalisation programme to prepare London-based Muslim youths for jihad, was described as a “cockney comic? by a BBC producer.

The BBC paid for Mr Hamid and fellow defendants Muhammad al-Figari and Mousa Brown to go on a paintballing trip at the Delta Force centre in Tonbridge, Kent, in February 2005. The men, accused of terrorism training, were filmed for a BBC programme called Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic, screened in June 2005. . . .

Nasreen Suleaman, a researcher on the programme, told the court that Mr Hamid, 50, contacted her after the July 2005 attack and told her of his association with the bombers. But she said that she felt no obligation to contact the police with this information. Ms Suleaman said that she informed senior BBC managers but was not told to contact the police. . . .

Duncan Penny, for the prosecution, asked Ms Suleaman if she had told Mr Hamid to go to the police or contacted the police herself. Mr Penny asked: “Here was a man who told you that he knew those individuals who, as I understand it, were still at large for what on the face of it was the attempted bombings of the transport network a fortnight after it happened, and he was telling you he had some knowledge of them? There was a worldwide manhunt going on, wasn’t there??

Posted by TS at 04:51 AM |  Comments (0)

Ms. Magazine Rejects Ad Showcasing Israeli Women

ms rejects Israeli women ad.gif

The New York Sun reports:

Jewish leaders are reeling after what they say was a decision by Ms. magazine to refuse to accept a full-page advertisement featuring three prominent Israeli women. The advertisement, submitted to the feminist publication by the American Jewish Congress, featured photographs of three women who hold leadership positions in Israel, including the president of the Israeli Supreme Court, Dorit Beinisch; Israel's foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, and speaker of the Knesset, Dalia Itzik. Underneath the photographs, the advertisement included the text, "This is Israel." . . .

"On its face, it's a very troubling story," the associate national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Kenneth Jacobson, said. "Here's a magazine devoted both to free expression and to women's rights, and an ad is submitted to it which represents free expressions and women's rights… and the response to it, apparently, is that it's too controversial."

Posted by TS at 04:15 AM |  Comments (1)

January 10, 2008

The Forward's Levy Annapolis Analysis: Rebuttals Are Unwanted



Daniel Levy

The Forward, a New York-based Jewish newspaper, apparently considers it unnecessary for its readers to see dissenting opinion concerning a particularly questionable column on the recent Annapolis - Middle East talks. "Grasp the Promise of Annapolis" by Daniel Levy, former Israeli government official and Oslo negotiator, appeared in the November 30 issue of the weekly, English-language version of the newspaper.

Subsequently, the Forward declined, for the stated reason of space limitation, to print CAMERA's letter-to-the-editor criticizing the Levy piece, nor did there seem to be any other letter or commentary dealing with it.

Among the problematical aspects of the article, Mr. Levy stated the often repeated falsehood that Israel exists on 78% of the original territory of mandatory Palestine. The truth is that Israel's percentage is only 22%. Perhaps the use of the falsehood is meant to obscure the stark reality of Israel's tiny size (approximately the size of New Jersey) - only 260 miles long, 60 miles wide at its widest point and only 10 miles at its narrowest, most vulnerable point near Tel Aviv.

The CAMERA letter:

Analyzing Annapolis

Daniel Levy, former Israeli government official and Oslo negotiator, urges Israel and its American supporters to jump at what he considers a great chance for peace with the Arabs ("Grasp the Promise of Annapolis," November 30). He writes, "The historic success of 1947 was a territorial division whereby 55% of mandatory Palestine would become a national home for the Jewish people, while 45% would be an Arab-Palestinian state. The prospect held out by the Arab initiative and the Annapolis summit is of Arab, Palestinian and world recognition and support for an Israel on 78% of that original territory."

What 78% is Levy talking about? Israel's current and envisioned portion of the original territory of mandatory Palestine is only 22%, not 78%, since the 1917 Balfour Declaration's "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people" was modified in 1921 by Britain, which took 78% of the original territory to create the Kingdom of Transjordan (today's nation of Jordan). The erroneous use of the 78% figure is perhaps meant to obscure the stark reality of Israel's tiny land size (approximately the size of New Jersey) - only 260 miles long, 60 miles wide at its widest point and only 10 miles at its narrowest, most vulnerable point near Tel Aviv.

And what historic success of 1947 is Levy speaking of? If the Arabs had accepted - instead of rejecting - the 1947 U.N. partition plan, the state of Palestine would be about to celebrate its 60th anniversary, side by side with Israel. Moreover, there would not have been a single Palestinian refugee. Instead, in violation of the U.N. Charter and Resolution 181, the Palestinians and then the Arab armies attacked Israel.

While this reality is denied by Levy, it was recognized poignantly by the world-famous Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua, who wrote:

When my Palestinian friends demand the right of return I tell them that I would be prepared to bring all the Palestinian refugees back to their homes in Israel on condition that they first bring back to life the 6,000 Israeli dead who were killed during the aggressive war of 1948, when Israel was pleading for its life after the UN partition plan and seeking peaceful coexistence. (Ha'aretz, April 2, 2000)

Yehoshua, a prominent member of the left-leaning "peace camp" in Israel, has not forgotten the history that Levy seems never to have learned.

Posted by MK at 09:17 PM |  Comments (4)

All That is Wrong with Talks Coverage

One sentence by Richard Boudreaux yesterday in the Los Angeles Times encapsulates all that is wrong with media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian talks. He writes:

Because the sides have yet to tackle the core issues, Bush is more likely during his visit to be drawn into peripheral feuds over Jewish settlements and Palestinian militant activity, obstacles that sour the climate for talks.

Earlier in the article, Boudreaux defined those "core issues" as:

the borders of a Palestinian state, the status of Palestinian refugees who fled homes in Israel, and conflicting claims over Jerusalem -- issues the two sides last addressed seven years ago.

"Palestinian militant activity" is merely an "obstacle that sours the climate for talks"? For Israel, Palestinian terrorism, an expression of Arab rejectionism of the Jewish state's existence, is the core issue, whether or not the media cares to report it.

Posted by TS at 04:14 AM |  Comments (0)

Walt/Mearsheimer 'Blowback' in LA Times

The LA Times posted an online (but not print) rebuttal by Mitchell Bard of Sunday's inflammatory, inaccurate Op-Ed by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. Bard argues:

The real reasons for the U.S.-Israel relationship are far more complex and beneficial to the United States than Mearsheimer and Walt imagine.

Posted by TS at 04:08 AM |  Comments (0)

January 08, 2008

Washington Post Gets This One Right

CAMERA regularly criticizes Washington Post news reporting of the Arab-Israeli conflict — not from desire but necessity, since Post coverage routinely projects events through a filter of alleged Palestinian victimization by Israel. Washington Post-Watch ( items “Washington Post Stumbles in Gaza? (January 4) and “Washington Post’s News Avoidance Syndrome Continues? (Dec. 21, 2007) highlight the problem.

So when a Post article gets it right, journalistically, treating the news objectively and accurately, in context and with balance, that too should be noted. The dispatch headlined “4 Die as Israelis Raid Refugee Camp; Gaza Rocket Fire Cited by Officials? (January 7) by Post Foreign Service correspondent Jonathan Finer, exemplifies straight-forward news coverage.

The Post points out, among other things, that “gunmen ... walked briskly from building to building on streets teeming with civilians, including dozens of children, throughout the fighting.? That is, that Palestinian terrorists do base themselves, illegally, among Palestinian Arab civilians.

The paper quotes a Palestinian official as stating that three civilians were among the four dead but that “other reports indicated that two civilians were killed.? Meanwhile, it reports as well that “Palestinian fighters have relentlessly fired Qassam rockets from Gaza, which is controlled by the radical Hamas movement, into Israeli towns.?

In its second half, the article covers a report critical of Israeli West Bank military courts by Yesh Din, a self-described human rights group. Also included is the army’s response, which “questioned the report’s accuracy and understanding of legal procedures? and “pointed to protections provided to defendants, including the right to choose a lawyer and oversight by a civilian appellate court.?

Finer’s 16-paragraph story covered three developments — the Israeli raid, circumstances surrounding President Bush’s scheduled visit, and the Yesh Din report. Though “Palestinian fighters? was substituted for Arab terrorists, and more details throughout would have been helpful, in the space available, The Post did a balanced, timely job.

Posted by ER at 02:58 PM |  Comments (0)

On the Importance of Corrections

regret the error.jpg

In an interesting interview on Poynter Online, Craig Silverman of Regret the Error discusses news errors and the importance of correcting them.

Some of the highlights:

Want to see a journalist wince? Publish a sentence that begins this way: "In yesterday's edition, it was inaccurately reported..."

Want to make a journalist squirm? Post these two words above an online story: "Correction appended."

In a media environment where stories are often published in a paper, placed online and then loaded into various databases, the issue of uncorrected errors becomes even more urgent. The errors of today become the errors of tomorrow when they are accessed online or from a database at a later date. As much as we are creating the historical record, we're also polluting it with errors. Errors can then be blogged, cited in research, used in press releases ... they go farther, faster than ever before. In many cases, they exist forever. So we have a responsibility to do everything we can to prevent and correct them. It's part of our job as journalists. Stories don't end once they're published; we are responsible for correcting and updating them.

The other piece, of course, is the effect that errors have on the public's perception of the press. Put simply, errors erode credibility. The public notices mistakes, and they notice when we don't correct them. A survey of newspaper readers by the ASNE found that over 60 percent of readers said they felt better when they saw corrections. They don't expect perfection; they expect us to work hard to prevent errors and to correct any that occur. When we don't do that, they punish us by tuning out.

The first thing to do is create an organizational culture that values error prevention and accepts that corrections are an important part of journalism. Get rid of the stigma of error that causes people to want to hide their mistakes and not learn from them. Then take that culture and make it real through training, effective technology and good processes.

It all starts with an attitude -- a passion for accuracy and a recognition of the importance of corrections.

They are a core part of our contract with the public -- that we will be accountable by publicly correcting our errors -- and yet there is, for the most part, a lack of commitment to the meaningful act of correction. That means creating a culture where reporters and editors are encouraged to own up to mistakes and get corrections issued. It means making it easy for the public to report errors, and thanking them for doing so. And it means presenting corrections in clear language and with a placement that ensures people will actually see them. A correction that is vague or hidden is a hollow act that only serves to absolve a news organization rather then actually correct the record and inform the public.

Newspapers are the most faithful media when it comes to corrections. But the effectiveness varies from one publication to the next. Some newspapers are serious about placing corrections online, while others don't bother. Some have a toll-free number for the public to report errors. Others make readers jump through hoops to find the right person.

Posted by at 10:43 AM |  Comments (1)

January 03, 2008

Washington Post Editor Dubs Harassed Jewish Students "Radical"

In his most recent column in the Jewish Advocate (Jan. 4, "Cover up at the Post"), David Project president Charles Jacobs notes that an editor at the Washington Post decided to brand as "radicals" the Jewish students who felt compelled to speak out about harassment and intimidation by Columbia University professors:

[Joseph] Massad ... is famous for being accused in the David Project's film, "Columbia Unbecoming," as a harasser of pro-Israel students inside his classroom. One student testified that he told her, "If you deny Israeli atrocities, get out of my class." Columbia's own investigation reprimanded him for that.

... [The Washington Post] discredited the students by reporting that "the school was rocked by accusations from a group of radical Jewish students of intimidation by Middle East language professors." But these students were anything but "radical." The only thing "radical" about them was that they decided they had had enough of Massad's bullying.

I wrote a letter to the editor explaining that "as anyone who viewed the film would know, the students were .. soft-spoken, articulate centrists and progressives who wanted to protect their own free speech in classrooms where only Arabist viewpoints were taught, valued or permitted."

(It turned out that a Post editor inserted the word "radical" in the story -- without telling the writer.")

The Post didn't run Jacobs's letter, but it did decide to run the following correction:

"A Dec. 16 A-section article on divisions at Columbia University incorrectly characterized as radical a group of Jewish students who had alleged intimidation by Middle East language professors."

Posted by at 04:55 PM |  Comments (1)

Cognitive Dissonance Strikes at LA Times

Israel controls Gaza borders.jpe
On Jan. 2, Egypt violated an agreement with Israel by allowing thousands of Palestinians returning from Mecca to cross Egypt's border with Gaza/Reuters photo by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Cognitive dissonance strikes again. The Los Angeles Times' Richard Boudreaux today begins his report entitled "Egypt allows pilgrims' return to Gaza":

Over Israel's objection, Egypt allowed hundreds of stranded Palestinian pilgrims en route home from Mecca to return to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday without permitting Israeli authorities to screen them for smuggled cash or weapons.

The decision ended a five-day standoff and drew a sharp protest from Israeli officials. The pilgrims, who had completed the Muslim hajj ritual in Saudi Arabia, got stuck in Egypt last weekend when the Cairo government said they would have to pass through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing.

Egypt relented, allowing passage through the Rafah terminal on its border with Gaza, after pilgrims rioted in border camps set up for them and threatened a hunger strike.

Oops. According to Boudreaux's Oct. 26 report, Israel "still controls Gaza's borders." If Boudreaux's own reporting on Oct. 2 about Egypt's decision to allow 80 Palestinians to cross into Gaza could not convince him otherwise, can this week's Israeli-protested passage of 2,152 pilgrims do the trick?

The proof of the pudding is in the correction. Tell the Readers Representative, Jamie Gold, ([email protected]) that we're still waiting.

Posted by TS at 04:34 PM |  Comments (0)