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June 29, 2012

Algemeiner: Another Christian "Peacemaking" Statement

Holy Sepulchre Cross.jpg

The Algemeiner has published a piece by CAMERA analyst Dexter Van Zile about a "peacemaking" document issued by Kairos USA. An excerpt:

Another group of Christian peacemakers has issued yet another statement about the Arab-Israeli conflict. The authors of this document state their goal is to “respond faithfully and boldly to the situation in Israel and Palestine.? Apparently in the lexicon of the folks who wrote this document – a group that calls itself “Kairos USA? – “situation? is another word for “conflict? or “war? and “responding faithfully and boldly? means focusing the eye of Christian judgment on Israel and its alleged sins like the Eye of Sauron looking for the holder of the One Ring on the slopes of Mount Doom.

Unlike Sauron, the folks who wrote this document found what they are looking for – a scapegoat upon which they foist all the blame for Palestinian suffering. This can be seen in the visual rhetoric offered by the group’s website, which shows pictures of the security barrier and juxtaposes them with pastoral images of the Holy Land. The implication is obvious – Israeli security measures are a blot on the Holy Land.

Just to give you a sense of how distorted the text is, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs accurately reports that the 8,000-word document does not include the word Hamas.

To read the whole thing, go here.

Posted by dvz at 04:49 PM |  Comments (2)

June 27, 2012

Where's the Coverage? Another Double Standard for Israel on Refugees


There are an estimated 45,000-60,000 people currently living in Israel illegally, mostly from Eritrea and South Sudan. Some of them would be considered refugees by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR):

The 1951 Refugee Convention establishing UNHCR spells out that a refugee is someone who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."

Many others would not be considered refugees, but instead migrants:

Migrants, especially economic migrants, choose to move in order to improve the future prospects of themselves and their families. Refugees have to move if they are to save their lives or preserve their freedom.

Only refugees have protected status under international law and the preferred outcome for them is to be repatriated. According to the UNHCR Handbook for Repatriation and Reintegration Activities, "The UN General Assembly (GA) has repeatedly affirmed UNHCR’s function of promoting/facilitating the voluntary repatriation of refugees."

So, when Israel undertakes a program to voluntarily repatriate several hundred South Sudanese refugees, there should be no hue and cry, right? Wrong.

A Washington Post blog on the subject used words like "deportation" and "expulsion". And, of course, Isabel Kershner couldn’t resist a Holocaust reference in her New York Times article:

But the government clampdown is also ripping at Israel’s soul. For some, the connotations of roundups and the prospect of mass detentions cut too close to the bone.

"I feel I am in a movie in Germany, circa 1933 or 1936," said Orly Feldheim, 46, a daughter of Holocaust survivors, as she doled out food last week to a long line of immigrants...

Of course, the usual suspects in the anti-Israel community could not help but pile on. Moira Levy, who claims to be a South African journalist, wrote a letter to the Cape Times declaring she will cut herself off from being a Jew because of Israel’s "violent racial repression." In response, Desmond Tutu wrote a letter to Levy pleading:

Please do not blame your faith for the policies of the people who have political power in the State of Israel.

When members of our family behaved wrongly, we did not turn our backs on them, but tried to convince them to steer a fairer course.

What would that "fairer course" be here? Would it be the course taken in the case of Liberian refugees being repatriated from Gambia? Angolan refugees being repatriated from Namibia? Angolan refugees being repatriated from Zambia? Congolese refugees being repatriated from Burundi? Ivorian refugees being repatriated from Liberia? What about the refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo being repatriated from the Republic of Congo?

Are these "fairer"? Not really. In all of the above cases the world community through the UNHCR, funded in large part by the United States, picks up the tab. But in Israel's case, the people of Israel are paying -- adults reportedly received $1,300 each and children $650 each. In the "fairer" non-Israeli cases, repatriated refugees received much less, only a few hundred dollars each. Fairer?

However, the main thing that differentiates the repatriation of refugees from other countries from the repatriation of refugees from Israel is that there's no outrage about it. There's no uproar and there's certainly very little media attention. Furthermore, regarding the fact that economic migrants have no legal status, have you heard about that in the press? Have you read that repatriation of refugees -- including from Israel -- is legal, fair, and even encouraged by the world community? No? Where's the fairness? Where's the journalistic integrity? Where's the coverage?

Posted by SC at 04:30 PM |  Comments (1)

The Washington Post, Times Edit ‘When Vladimir met Bibi’


Sometimes the devil isn’t only in the details, but mostly in the details editors cut. Compare Washington Times and Washington Post treatment of the same June 26 Associated Press dispatch covering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Israel and meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Washington Times published the Associated Press article under the headline “Netanyahu, Putin put focus on Iran’s nukes? as a stand-alone primary world news story. The Times’ foreign desk illustrated the piece with a three-column, color photograph of the two leaders. The Putin-Netanyahu discussions reportedly focused on Iran’s nuclear program and escalating violence in Syria.

The Washington Post’s world news section condensed the same AP story to a four-paragraph “Digest? item that briefly highlighted contrasting policy positions of the two countries, primarily Israeli-Russian differences over efforts to curb Iranian uranium enrichment.

The following day, The Times covered Putin’s supportive meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and visit to Christian sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem in a four-paragraph brief illustrated by a two-column black-and-white photo (“Putin visits West Bank, tours Christian shrine,? June 27). The Post ignored the Palestinian portion of Putin’s trip in that day’s print edition, but did publish “Israel begins West Bank outpost evictions; Some homes were built illegally on Palestinian land, high court ruled?) as a stand-alone news, article, illustrated with two color photos, one three columns wide, the other two.

The Post’s article mentioned that “militant settlers [emphasis added] who have violently resisted other evictions were not in evidence at Beit El on Tuesday, although vandals torched a mosque in a Palestinian village this month [an incident covered prominently by the newspaper at the time].?

The Times coverage of Putin’s meeting with Netanyahu referred to the Jewish state’s fears of Iranian-funded “anti-Israeli militants.? In same edition, The Times carried an AP article headlined “U.S. expanding military aid, intelligence in Africa.? It described al-Qaeda and similar organizations as “terror groups? and noted that the United States is working to help African countries counter “terrorist activities?.

So, Jewish settlers who violently resist eviction by Israeli police and troops are, in The Washington Post’s own words, “militants.?

For The Washington Times, editing and publishing AP, Iranian-backed, anti-Israel Islamic extremists like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (who specialize in attacking non-combatants to advance their religious-ideological agenda) are “militants.? Yet, for The Times and AP, al-Qaeda and other groups that also target non-combatants (including Americans) are “terrorists.?

Foreign news coverage, especially given the often small space even major dailies can allot to it, often amounts to a roll of the dice for readers. That was the case on June 26 and 27 for Washington Post subscribers, when it came to Putin in Israel, and for Washington Times readers on the latest “terrorist/militant? confusion. -Erin Dwyer, Washington Research Intern

Posted by ER at 03:16 PM |  Comments (0)

This is Who Kenneth Waltz Thinks Should Have a Nuclear Bomb

Iranian vp.JPG
Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza-Rahimi

Foreign Affairs, a leading journal covering foreign policy, has published a piece in its July-August issue by Columbia University Professor Kenneth Waltz advising us not to worry about an Iranian nuclear bomb. In fact, Waltz says "a nuclear-armed Iran would probably be the best possible result of the standoff and the one most likely to restore stability to the Middle East." Dismissing American and Israeli concerns as "typical of major powers, which have historically gotten riled up whenever another country begins to develop a nuclear weapon," Waltz argues that the Iranian leadership is rational.

Within that context, comments made by Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza-Rahimi at a UN sponsored conference commemorating the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking deserve consideration. This is what he had to say according to Press TV, Iran's main international news service:

"The Zionists play a key role in the production and distribution of narcotics across the globe, because destroying human societies and exploiting their virtues are among the objectives of the Zionists..." Rahimi said... Numerous studies have attested to the fact that the Zionists regard themselves as the master race and they view the other races as their slaves that must be used for achieving the Zionist objectives, he said.
While the Zionists utilize the narcotics to devastate other societies, they safeguard their own society against such drugs, he pointed out.
The Iranian vice president expressed Tehran’s preparedness to sponsor an international investigation into the role of the Zionist entities in the production and distribution of narcotics across the world.

FARS news agency, which billls itself as Iran's leading independent news agency also reported on his speech. Here is how it covered the speech:

Addressing a ceremony on the occasion of the International Day of Drug Abuse here in Tehran on Tuesday, Rahimi stated that prevalence of narcotics and drug-addition throughout the world finds its roots in the wrong teachings of the Zionists' religious book, Talmud.
The Talmud (Hebrew: "instruction, learning") is a central text of mainstream Judaism in the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history. "The book teaches them how to destroy non-Jews so as to protect an embryo in the womb of a Jewish mother," Rahimi stated. The Iranian vice-president said that the Zionists' direct involvement in the prevalence of illicit drugs is while "you cannot find a single addict among the Zionists."

Apparently Professor Waltz is confident that men who think the way Rahimi does will act responsibly once they have access to a nuclear bomb.

Posted by SS at 10:39 AM |  Comments (1)

The NYT and the Heritage Fit to Print

Archeological site of Tel Betar (from Tel Aviv University)

Leave it to the New York Times to cover the "heritage" of the West Bank village of Battir, named after the ancient Jewish site of Beitar, while ignoring its historical significance in Judaism.

Today's International Herald Tribune headline for the article is "Defending the soil, and heritage," but let's be clear -- the IHT/NYT interest in Battir/Beitar's heritage is highly selective. The article begins:

In this scenic Palestinian village in the West Bank hills near Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem, a week is said to last eight days, not seven. That is because Battir’s eight extended families take daily turns watering their crops from the natural springs that feed their ancient agricultural terraces, a practice they say has worked for centuries.

The water flows through a Roman-era irrigation system down into a deep valley where a railway track — a section of the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway built in Ottoman times — roughly marks the 1949 armistice line between the West Bank and Israel. The area is dotted with tombs and ruins upon ruins of bygone civilizations.

The Times sees fits to discuss the Palestinian history of Battir, and to identify the Roman presence, but the Jewish presence is relegated to the unnamed "bygone civilizations." Blogger Yisrael Medad provides this information about Beitar's Jewish significance:

Tel Betar (Khirbet el-Yahud) is situated southwest of Jerusalem near the Arab village of Bittir, its northern side flanking the Rephaim Valley...Khirbet el-Yahud is unanimously identified with Betar, the last stronghold of the Second Revolt against the Romans, where its leader, Bar-Kochba, found his death in 135 CE. The ancient name was (p)reserved in the name of the Arab village Bittir, and the Arab name of the site - Khirbet el-Yahud, that is "The ruin of the Jews", keeps the memory of the Second Revolt. The identification is supported by the results of the surveys and the excavations. The Roman siege of Betar in 135 CE, the conquest of the settlement and the slaughter of the besieged, including Bar-Kochba, which put an end to the Second Revolt, is mentioned in both Jewish and Roman Sources - The Talmud and the Midrash, and Eusebius (3rd-4th centuries CE) in his book on the history of the church.

Moreover, according to Medad, the villagers' claim that the natural springs "feed their ancient agriculatural terraces," is an egregious overstatement. He points to a Tufts University study of the Battir springs, which finds:

Battir has 12,000 Dunums [dunam is 1,000 square metres (10,764 sq ft)] of arable land. 4,000 Dunums are cultivated. Of the cultivated land, 50 Dunham are near the spring and cultivated with the water of the spring. From the remaining 8,000 Dunham of arable land that are not cultivated, 5,000 Dunham are not cultivated due to lack of water. The majority of the agriculture land relies solely on rain...

"In other words," observes Medad, "the system irrigates .0125% of the total. Just over 1%."

While the agricultural terraces are in trouble, says Medad, it's not because of the planned security barrier through the valley where the spring flows, as the villagers' argument goes. According to the Tufts study:

Battir, like most of the villages in West Bank, has no sewerage network. Most families therefore depend on boreholes (cesspits) for their black wastewater. These boreholes [see below] are the main contamination source of the spring water as many of them are not pumped and none of them are sealed against leaks. According to the same survey, 80% of households have separated pipes systems for black and grey water3. While the black?wastewater is directed to the boreholes the gray water is used for irrigation in the proximity of the house without any treatment. More than 50% of households never pump out their borehole. Only about a quarter of the households pump out their boreholes in a monthly basis, the rest pump out their boreholes on a time range from 2 months to 5 years. The pumped out solid waste is conducted by a truck owned and operated by the municipality. This truck pumps?out only or mostly the solid waste. In most cases the solid waste is taken to a treatment facility at some cost. Yet, many cases were reported about the drivers disposing the solid waste in the Wadi (dry streambed) near Battir.

(Hat tip also to Elli Fischer)

Posted by TS at 05:04 AM |  Comments (0)

June 25, 2012

"BBC apologises over Itamar massacres coverage"

BBC Director-General Mark Thompson was quizzed by MP Louse Mensch

The UK's Jewish Chronicle reports:

The BBC “got it wrong? by not giving prominence to the massacre of the Fogel family by Palestinians in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, the outgoing director-general has admitted.

Mark Thompson was quizzed by Conservative MP Louise Mensch, who made various complaints to the BBC about the coverage, at a Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing on Tuesday. Mrs Mensch said the BBC’s decision not to include the story as part of its rolling news coverage generated “the most reaction I have ever had in all my time in politics.?

Read the entire article here.

Posted by at 10:41 AM |  Comments (2)

AFP: Whence the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty?

While some are raising concerns about the future of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty now that the Muslim Brotherhood candidate has won Egypt's presidential race, AFP has a different issue with the historic bilateral agreement. Today AFP refers to "1980, the year after Cairo signed its peace agreement with Tel Aviv." (Emphasis added.)

AFP would hardly be the first to relocate Israel's capital from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, but the misinformation is all the more jarring in light of then-President Anwar Sadat's unprecedented trip to Jerusalem in 1978, paving the way to the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement.

Perhaps AFP would do well to review its own archives from that time, including this AFP photograph of Sadat addressing the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in the capital city, Jerusalem:

Sadat Knesset.jpg

AFP's own caption reads:

Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat (L) addresses the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in Jerusalem 20 November 1977 during his historic visit to Israel, as Israeli Premier Yitzhak Begin (C) listens to him. Thirty years ago, the Egyptian leader became the first Arab leader to visit the Jewish state. AFP PHOTO/FILES

Anwar Sadat's obituary in the New York Times states:

Eleven days before Mr. Sadat made his trip to Jerusalem, he said in Cairo that he was willing to go to ''the ends of the earth,'' and even to the Israeli Parliament, in the cause of peace. The Israeli Government made known that he was welcome in Jerusalem, and after complex negotiations he flew there, although a state of war still existed between the two nations.

His eyes were moist and his lips taut with suppressed emotion as he arrived, but his Arabic was firm and resonant when, hours later, he told the hushed Israeli Parliament, ''If you want to live with us in this part of the world, in sincerity I tell you that we welcome you among us with all security and safety.

In 1978, the leader of the Egyptian nation, which at the time was in a state of war with Israel, could bring himself to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but in 2012, AFP cannot?

Posted by TS at 05:39 AM |  Comments (2)

June 24, 2012

Ha'aretz, Lost in Translation, XV

In today's installment of Ha'aretz Lost in Translation, the English edition remakes an injured Hamas man into "an injured man."

The Hebrew and English editions both ran the same photo of a Hamas man injured yesterday in an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip, but only the Hebrew version indicates that he was a Hamas member. For some reason, the editors of Ha'aretz's English edition apparently believe that the fact that the injured man is a Hamas member, and not a civilian, is not relevant to their English-speaking, foreign readers.

Here's the Hebrew caption:

?יש ביטחון פלסטיני שנפצע בתקיפת חיל ה?וויר בעזה

Meaning (CAMERA's translation):

A member of the Palestinian security forces injured in an air force strike in Gaza

While the Hebrew edition does not explicitly state he is a Hamas member, Israeli readers understand that "security forces" in Gaza are Hamas.

haaretz gaza 24-6-12 smaller.jpg

Here's the whitewashed English caption:

Inset: Rescue personnel carrying an injured man to safety in Gaza City. (AP)

injured Hamas man photo caption ap small.jpg

The original AP caption was very clear about the man's Hamas affiliation, stating:

A wounded member of the Hamas security forces is carried to a car following an Israeli air strike on a Hamas security building in Gaza City, early Saturday, June 23, 2012. A Gaza health official reported that at least one militant was killed and more than a dozen wounded during Israeli air strikes Saturday on the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military says the airstrikes target Palestinian militants who have fired over 150 rockets at residential areas in southern Israel this week.(AP Photo/Yasser Qudih)

This wouldn't be the first time that Ha'aretz's English edition gave a Hamas man a civilian makeover.

Posted by TS at 06:30 AM |  Comments (1)

June 21, 2012

Kenneth Waltz Thinks Iranian Acquisition of Nukes is a Good Thing

Dr. Strangelove with caption.JPG
President to the Russian Ambassador: Now then Dimitri. You know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the bomb. The bomb, Dimitri. The hydrogen bomb. Well now what happened is, one of our base commanders, he had a sort of, well he went a little funny in the head. You know. Just a little... funny. And uh, he went and did a silly thing. ... (listens) ... Well, I'll tell you what he did, he ordered his planes... to attack your country. (Excerpt from Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)

USA Today published an Op-Ed on Monday, June 18 by Kenneth Waltz arguing that "a nuclear-armed Iran would probably be the best possible result of the standoff and the one most likely to restore stability to the Middle East."

Some excerpts present Waltz's logic. He offers three possibilities for how the current Iranian nuclear crisis could end:
1) Diplomacy and sanctions convince Iran to give up pursuit of nuclear weapons.
2) Iran doesn't test a weapon, but develops the capacity to build one.
3) Iran builds a weapon and tests it.

Waltz likes option 3 and he tells us why.

First, Waltz dismisses U.S. and Israeli concerns about Iranian nuclear weapons as "typical of major powers, which have historically gotten riled up whenever another country begins to develop a nuclear weapon."

Second, he claims Israel's regional monopoly on nuclear weapons "has long fueled regional instability... It is Israel's nuclear arsenal, not Iran's desire for one, that has contributed most to the crisis." Waltz is mistaken, Israel's alleged nuclear capacity has not spurred its long-time adversaries, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to develop nuclear weapons. But the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons has.

Third, Waltz asserts, "the danger of a nuclear Iran has been grossly exaggerated due to fundamental misunderstandings of how states generally behave in the international system." Thanks. Feeling better? Waltz's analysis may hinge on the observation that the huge arsenals possessed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union dissuaded both powers from using their weapons against the other. Waltz apparently believes the same rational behavior can be expected from Iran.

A few commentators have already weighed in. Gary Schmitt, former staff director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, wonders "Maybe we could even begin handing out nukes on the street corner. By Waltz’s logic, it’s likely to reduce crime as well."

Ira Stoll at Commentary focuses in on Waltz's smug reliance on "probably" and "likely" when figuring the odds that Iran will act rationally and not launch a nuclear attack on Tel Aviv or New York. What if Waltz is wrong? What if the Iranians really mean it when they say they want to erase Israel from the map?

That is no big deal for Waltz, like betting on the wrong horse. But it is a serious problem for the residents of Tel Aviv. What odds can they tolerate?

While it may be tempting to parody Waltz's lack of concern over Iranian nuclear weapons, it is sobering to recognize that Waltz is a professor at Columbia University and that Foreign Affairs, a serious publication, has published an expanded version of the USA Today Op-Ed in its July-August 2012 issue.

As an analyst of the Iranian nuclear crisis, Waltz reveals himself to be a fantasist. He concludes with the assertion that "citizens worldwide should take comfort from the fact that where nuclear capabilities have emerged, so, too, has stability. When it comes to nuclear weapons, now as ever, more could be better."

Dr. Strangelove couldn't have said it better.

Posted by SS at 04:03 PM |  Comments (6)

June 20, 2012

Where’s the Coverage? Google Chairman Recommends Investment in Israel


Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, speaking at a technology conference in Tel Aviv, announced "We love Israel."

According to Israel 21c:

Schmidt praised Israeli engineers, the country’s higher education system and the training acquired in the army.

"There are no disadvantages to investing in Israel -- just advantages," he was quoted by Yedioth Aharonoth as saying.

"Israel has the most important high-tech center in the world after the US," he told the Hebrew daily.

Given Google’s success and influence in high technology, one might think this would get some play in the broader media. Think again. While the Israeli press and some Jewish media covered this aspect of Schmidt’s speech, the mainstream media gave it scant attention. How can one know this? Google it.

In a separate meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the pair exchanged gifts. Schmidt gave Netanyahu a reproduction of the Scroll of Isaiah found in the Dead Sea Scrolls referencing the joint venture between Google and the Israel Museum to digitize the Dead Sea Scrolls and provide free online access to them. Netanyahu gave Schmidt a doodle he drew:

Bibi google-doodle.jpg

The Algemeiner reported:

On his Facebook page, Mr. Netanyahu explained the drawing as "the Israeli flag, a person sitting under a sun umbrella and the crystals that Professor Dan Shechtman, who won the Nobel Prize this year discovered".

Netanyahu is the first head of state in the world to produce a Google doodle. Want to know how little play this got in the mainstream press? Google it.

Google is heavily invested in Israel, intends to invest more, is working closely with Israeli cultural and educational institutions and is happy to talk to about it. Is the media listening? Goo-- Don't bother. While the media love to cover fringe elements that urge divestment from Israel, here we have an influential leader of global industry recommending investment in Israel and... Where’s the coverage?

Posted by SC at 07:11 PM |  Comments (2)

Foreign Policy's Distorting Palestinian Filter


Foreign Policy magazine online June 19 highlighted the vandalization and torching of a West Bank mosque, linking to a New York Times dispatch about recent violence by extremist settlers. The story was listed
second among Middle East-related items, between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s discussion of policy regarding Syria and Iran’s latest defiance in negotiations with the United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia, France and Germany in which it rejected efforts to curb its production of enriched uranium.

Absent from Foreign Policy’s Middle East links was the killing on the same day of an Israeli worker assigned to border fence construction. Three gunmen infiltrated Israel through Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and shot the Israeli in an attack 20 miles south of the Gaza Strip. The detonation of large quantities of explosives they carried left two assailants dead. The third fled, reportedly to rejoin others on the Egyptian side of the border in the increasingly dangerous Sinai.

Foreign Policy’s decision to give priority to the West Bank mosque in a news cycle that contained Israel-related news of greater significance implies an editorial preference. That preference, conscious or otherwise, was to portray Palestinian victimization—even without injury or loss of life—as more newsworthy than the declining security conditions in Sinai and the attendant, sometimes fatal consequences they impose on individual Israelis and the country in general.

Conversely, Foreign Policy’s big brother, The Washington Post (both publications are owned by The Washington Post Co.) published news about the cross-border raid and killing, and Israel's construction of a Sinai border fence, as a stand-alone article that emphasized Israeli concern about growing lawlessness in the
peninsula. (The Post’s online version contains several additional paragraphs of background on Sinai violence, including Friday’s rocket attacks on Israel, not in the print edition).

To retain its reputation as an authoritative source on international news, Foreign Policy needs to keep Israeli and Palestinian-related developments in perspective. The news is not always all about Palestinian Arabs.

By Erin Dwyer, CAMERA Washington research intern.

Posted by ER at 11:27 AM |  Comments (0)

June 19, 2012

Differences in the Coverage of the Shooting Incident involving an Israeli Trucker and Three Palestinians


Coverage of the recent shooting of three Palestinians by an Israeli truck driver who claims self-defense reveals differences in the wording of the headlines and the contextual facts that were included. The political biases of news organizations covering the incident are discernible in some instances by which statements offered by Israeli and Palestinian authorities they chose to include and how these statements were framed.

Many news organizations carried an Associated Press dispatch. But the report was altered in some cases by the news organizations carrying it.

The most frequently appearing version of the piece was headlined either: "Israeli driver kills 2 Palestinians, wounds 1" or "Israeli truck driver kills 2 Palestinians, wounds a third in West Bank shooting"

The lede sentence laid out the basic facts:

An Israeli tow truck driver shot dead two Palestinians and wounded one Sunday during what police said was an attempted car robbery in the West Bank.

The article provided useful context to assess the statements made by authorities:

The Palestinian men have criminal records, according to Palestinian police.
Though the Israeli driver has been identified by police as coming from the south of the country - and not a West Bank settlement - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the shooting was the work of a Jewish settler and implied it was intentional.

The Guardian, known for its fervently pro-Palestinian stance, released a version of the AP report with a crucial difference. Its version of the AP report stated:

Though the Israeli driver's identity has not yet been verified, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the shooting was the work of a Jewish settler and implied it was intentional. "Those (settlers) ... commit their crimes under the protection of the government and Israeli military," Abbas said.

By asserting that the Israeli driver's identity is unverified, the Guardian implicitly attaches more credibility to Abbas's demonization of the settlers, which resonates in much of the Guardian's coverage.

Reuters' headline provides the motive for the Israeli shooter: "Israeli kills 2 Palestinians, says they attacked him."The lede establishes similar facts but in a more logical manner from the perspective of the Israeli trucker than does the AP article:

An Israeli tow truck driver shot and killed two Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on Sunday and told Israeli police he opened fire after they attacked him and tried to steal his vehicle.

AFP ran the headline: "Two Palestinians shot dead by Israeli lorry driver: police." The lede stated that "Two Palestinians were shot dead by an Israeli truck driver after they tried to steal his vehicle in the south Hebron Hills on Sunday morning, Israeli police said." In contrast to the AP report that provided the useful context of past criminality on the part of the Palestinians involved, the AFP story stated: "A Palestinian police source also denied the two had been involved in any criminal activity when they were shot."

The BBC, known for its pro-Palestinian sympathies, headlined the story: "Palestinian 'attackers' killed by Israeli truck driver." Notice the use of scarequotes around attackers. The lede established:

Two Palestinians have been shot dead in the West Bank by an Israeli truck driver, who said they attacked and tried to rob him, Israeli police say.

The article did not provide the contextual information about the attackers included in the AP article. Instead it stated:

Palestinian Maan news agency quoted Yatta municipality chief Zahran Abu Qbetta as saying the men who were killed were on their way to work at the time of the shooting.

The Israeli media uniformly accorded credibility to the version of events reported by Israeli police.

The Jerusalem Post's headline read: "Israeli shoots dead 2 would be Palestinian carjackers." The article established that the driver was a resident of Ashkelon, not a settler and that he had been attacked and hurt prior to shooting the Palestinians.

Haaretz's headline read: "Israeli man kills two Palestinian assailants after attacked in West Bank incident." The article that followed handled the story in a similar manner to the Post.

The Christian Broadcast Network, sympathetic towards Israel, headlined the article: "Two Arabs Killed in Carjacking Attempt."

On the other side of the spectrum an internet site calling itself Occupied Palestine - 'Blogging 4 Human Rights and Liberation of Palestine' headlined their report: "Terrorist Settlers kill 2 Palestinians." The body of the report was of a similar tone and incorrectly reported that one of the Palestinians who was shot was 79 years old.

The Arabic news organization Al Ahram headlined the piece: "Israeli driver kills two Palestinians in occupied W. Bank." It's lede sentence stated:

Two unarmed Palestinians are shot and killed by Israeli tow-truck driver in occupied West Bank

The Qatar News Agency was somewhat more balanced. Its headline read: "Two Palestinians Killed by Israeli in Hebron." Its lede stated,

Two Palestinians were shot and another injured after an Israeli civilian shot them here Sunday. The shooting took place after an alleged attack by the Palestinians.

Posted by SS at 12:12 PM |  Comments (0)

June 13, 2012

Where’s the Coverage? Amnesty International Breaks its Own Rules


A recent search of Google News for "Amnesty International" turned up:

About 2,820 results (0.32 seconds)

Since this organization is an element in so much news coverage, Amnesty International certainly warrants some scrutiny. Watchdog organization NGO Monitor examined AI and released a report entitled "Breaking Its Own Rules: Amnesty’s Researcher Bias and Government Funding."

The AI statute clearly expresses "impartiality and independence" as "core values" and states that:

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL ... systematically and impartially researches the facts of individual cases and patterns of human rights abuses.

Despite this commitment to "impartiality," NGO Monitor found that:

Amnesty hired anti-Israel activist Deborah Hyams as a researcher in the "Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territories and Palestinian Authority" section.

Hyams has an extensive background in radical anti-Israel activism:

•In 2001, Hyams volunteered as a "human shield" in Beit Jala (near Bethlehem), to deter Israeli military responses to recurrent gunfire and mortars targeting Jewish civilians in Jerusalem.

•Hyams employs demonizing language regarding Israel: In 2008, she was signatory to a letter claiming Israel is "a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land." Hyams also statedin 2002 that "[some] of Israel’s actions, all the way back to 1948, could be called 'ethnic cleansing'."

•In a 2002 Washington Jewish Week article, "Hyams said that while she does not condone suicide bombings, she personally believes they 'are in response to the occupation.'" In another instance she defended violence stating "occupation is violence...and the consequence of this action must result in violence [against Israelis]."

•Hyams has worked for some of the most radical political advocacy NGOs in the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the Alternative Information Center (AIC), Jews for Justice in Palestine and Israel (JPPI), Rachel Corrie Foundation, and Ma’an Network. Any of these affiliations should have been a red flag for Amnesty.

Was any of this information about Amnesty International bias covered by the elite media? By the popular press? By anybody other than Jewish or Israeli news outlets? You guessed it, NO.

Not only was this demonstrated anti-Israel bias ignored, editors and producers continue to cite AI thousands upon thousands of times as a credible source. Where’s the judgment? Where’s the journalistic integrity? And, when it comes to the persistent anti-Israel partiality exhibited by Amnesty, where’s the coverage?

Posted by SC at 08:43 PM |  Comments (5)

"Someone is Lying About the Houla Massacre"

Dead bodies believed to be from the Houla massacre in Syria. Photo: wiki commons.

CAMERA's Christian Media Analyst, Dexter Van Zile, published in the The Algemeiner.

Van Zile states:

Westerners trying to figure out what exactly happened at Houla, the scene of a massacre in Syria that resulted in the deaths of more than 100 people, many of them children, can be forgiven if they feel a bit like prisoners chained to the wall in Plato’s Cave trying to figure out what is going on in the world outside.


It may be a while before the world can come to a definitive conclusion over who did what to whom in Houla.

But one thing is sure.

Somebody – a whole lot of somebodies, actually – is lying to us.

Read the article here.

Posted by at 03:13 PM |  Comments (0)

June 12, 2012

"How media condition people to be anti-Israel"


Writer Steve Apfel's observations on the media's role in promoting anti-Israel propaganda:

A popular and effective media device is to throw Israeli deeds into the pot with Palestinian deeds. What comes out of the pot is a tasty porridge named “cycle of violence.?

Apfel continues:

The melting pot offers two benefits. One, acts of Palestinian barbarism can be softened or hidden altogether; and two, Israelis can be paired with this barbarism to impart the idea of both sides in the slime pot together.

Read the entire article here.

Posted by at 10:25 AM |  Comments (2)

June 11, 2012

The New York Times States the Obvious

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his wife, Asma, in Paris in December 2010. (Miguel Medina/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

The New York Times has come to the conclusion that Bashar Al Assad is a murderer and that his cronies are no longer welcome in polite society.

The Times made that clear in a June 10 article about the growing inability of Assad's PR machine to distract people from the atrocities it has perpetrated against its own citizens. The NYT even went so far as to name (and obliquely shame) the folks who have helped burnish the image of Assad and his wife Asma in the press. In particular, they described how Barbara Walters offered to "provide recommendations for Sheherazad Jaafari, the president’s press aide and the daughter of the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations, who was applying for a job at CNN and admission to Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs."

Bill Carter and Amy Chozick even mentioned the Vogue article about Asma that described her as a "rose in the desert."

The expulsion of Syrian diplomats from a number of Western countries after the Houla massacre, (which may have in fact been perpetrated by rebels and not the Assad regime) is one thing. But having your flack taken of the rolls of polite society by The New York Times no less ... well that's got to hurt.

Blog written by DVZ.
Hat tip NW.

Posted by at 11:53 AM |  Comments (1)

"Haaretz, Lost in Translation"

Haaretz-300x199 (1).jpg
Haaretz newspaper. Photo:

CAMERA's Israel Office Director, Tamar Sternthal, published in The Algemeiner:

Last month, the Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz sought to expand its influence among its extensive English-reading readership with the launch of a freshly redesigned Web site. Publisher Amos Schocken promised that its new digital subscriptions “will enable us to provide you with accurate and comprehensive news coverage, analyses and commentary on Israel, the Middle East.? But here’s a news flash: Erroneous information viewed on an iPad “app,? or on a Web site with a smart new design, is still erroneous.

And, unfortunately, it is the English edition of Ha’aretz, read around the world by all those who love and hate Israel, that is particularly prone to misinformation about Israel and its neighbors.

Read the entire article here.

Posted by at 09:41 AM |  Comments (0)

June 05, 2012

Where’s the Coverage? Palestinian Leaders Allegedly Pocket Hundreds of Millions in Aid Money


A month ago, on May 8, 2012, Reuters published an interview with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad:

Given the task of building institutions in readiness for statehood, Fayyad said his job was being imperiled by a lack of resources, with Arab nations failing to hand over promised aid.

"There is an issue of survivability of the Palestinian Authority given the acute financial crisis we are going through," he said, adding his government needed a "few hundred million dollars" to keep afloat.

Despite the fact that their Arab brothers are withholding their share of aid money, the Palestinian Authority has received billions of dollars in aid from the United States and the European Union. So why is the PA on the verge of collapse? Where has that money gone? According to former PA official Mohammed Rashid, it has been embezzled by PA leaders with President Mahmoud Abbas worth an estimated $100 million.

As Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh wrote last month, Rashid is himself accused of stealing funds and the PA announced an arrest warrant against him:

The announcement came a day after Rashid appeared on a Saudi-owned TV station and threatened to expose corruption scandals in the Palestinian Authority leadership.

Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, including President Mahmoud Abbas, are deeply concerned that Rashid's revelations could seriously embarrass them and expose their role in the embezzlement of public funds.

PA leaders are not the only culprits. They claim Hamas steals from the Palestinian people as well. In a video posted by MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, PA Minister for Religious Endowment Mahmoud Habbash described the situation in Gaza on Palestinian Authority TV on March 23, 2012:

There is a fuel crisis because, to put it simply, Hamas hoards the fuel for its own vehicles, and for the convoys and modern cars driven by its so-called "warriors" in plain view of the people.

There is an electricity crisis because, to put it very simply, Hamas charges the people for electricity, but does not pay the suppliers. It pockets the money and distributes it to its "army" of employees, with whom it has swamped the electricity company. These are unnecessary and useless employees.


Hamas stole 800 million dollars from the poor, through front companies for investments. They founded a bank for fraud and deception in Gaza.

In April, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton overruled House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who tried to put a hold on nearly $150 million in U.S. aid to the Palestinians until some accounting was given as to where the money goes:

"The U.S. has given $3 billion in aid to the Palestinians in the last five years alone, and what do we have to show for it?" Ros-Lehtinen said on Wednesday in a statement to National Journal. "Now the administration is sending even more. Where is the accountability for U.S. taxpayer dollars?"

The Congress wants to know where the money goes. No doubt taxpayers would like to know where the money goes. But, is the media interested? Not so much.

Searches turned up a few mentions of the Rashid investigation but nothing about pervasive corruption in the Palestinian leadership. Billions of dollars apparently stolen from the people it is meant to benefit and from the American taxpayers and yet… Where’s the coverage?

Posted by SC at 04:30 PM |  Comments (4)

June 03, 2012

Shareholders Demand Accountability on '60 Minutes' Christians Report

60 minutes.jpg

Algemeiner reports:

Four board members of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) attended the CBS May 24 shareholder meeting in New York, arguing that the television network had used distortions, omissions and factual errors on “60 Minutes? to present the Jewish state as an oppressor of Christians in the region.

In the controversial April 22 “60 Minutes? segment, reporter Bob Simon ignored a documented history of Muslim violence toward the Palestinian population in the West Bank, instead making it seem that Israel was entirely the culprit, critics of the program have said. Simon referred to Israel’s security fence as completely surrounding Bethlehem, “turning the ‘little town’ where Christ was born into what its residents call ‘an open air prison.’? In reality, the fence only arcs along the north, where it borders Israeli neighborhoods and does not surround Bethlehem; residents can move freely in and out along the entire south of the city.

Simon also claimed that the Christian population in the region has declined to less than two percent. As a percentage of the regional population compared to Muslims, Christians have, indeed, declined, but CBS failed to make clear that the Christian population inside Israel has grown substantially. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, 34,000 mostly Arab Christians lived in Israel in 1949, and by 2009 that number rose to 122,000.

Far from oppressing Christians, Israel provides a safe haven for them, according to Carol Greenwald, a CAMERA board member who spoke at the CBS meeting. The “60 Minutes? segment “apparently sought to undermine Christian support of Israel in the U.S,? she told JointMedia News Service. The statement describing the “little town where Christ was born? as an “open air prison? was truly incendiary, Greenwald said.

CAMERA owns shares of CBS stock. At the meeting, Greenwald and other CAMERA representatives sought to confirm that CBS News has an official policy of correcting errors on air. Since part of the meeting’s agenda was the election of directors, Greenwald got up and said that as a shareholder, she needed to know the position of each director on that policy issue. Les Moonves, the network’s president, interjected that he knew the CAMERA board members had a problem with “60 Minutes,? but pointed out that it is an award-winning program. Greenwald added that she was not addressing “60 Minutes,? but raising a question about the network’s adherence to a key ethical standard. Greenwald was then told she would receive an answer in writing. . . .

Posted by TS at 05:58 AM |  Comments (2)

The Week in Flubbed Photos, Captions

The last few days have produced several sloppy and erroneous photo captions and incorrect photo selections. First, from the New York Times, or what some consider the "Paper of Record," there's this:

nyt har homa settlement.jpg

While the caption refers to the buildings as "a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem," the reality is that the pictured homes are in Jerusalem. Specifically, they are the neighborhood of Har Homa, which is in the part of Jerusalem located over the Green Line and annexed to the capital city after 1967. As a result, Palestinians consider it a settlement, while Israelis consider it a Jerusalem neighborhood. Whether you call Har Homa a settlement or neighborhood, the fact remains that it lies in, not near, Jerusalem. (See, for instance, this B'Tselem map.) Recently, the New York Times' Isabel Kershner correctly referred to "Har Homa, a Jewish development across the 1967 lines in southeast Jerusalem" (April 5, 2012)

The original AFP caption correctly identifies the homes as Har Homa, but tendentiously sides with the Palestinian terminology (and is vague as to Har Homa's location with respect to Jerusalem):

Palestinian shepherd Abu Shadad herds sheep near Jerusalem as the Jewish settlement known to Israelis as Har Homa and to Palestinians as Jabal Abu Ghneim is seen in the background April 25, 2012. Har Homa is a terraced suburb of neat, white-stoned apartments housing 13,000 Israelis that overlooks the biblical town of Bethlehem. Of all the obstacles blocking the way to peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, the status of Jerusalem is arguably the most intractable.

Moving on to what some call the "New York Times of Israel," Ha'aretz's English edition had a couple of photo caption flubs in recent days. Friday, there was this important story about the smuggling of Russian-made SA-24 shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles into the Gaza Strip, which was accompanied by this photograph:

SA 24 June 1 2012.jpg

Does that look like a shoulder-launched missile to you? Here is a photograph (from Army Recognition) of the real SA-24 missile, which is shoulder-launched:


And, finally, in today's Ha'aretz there this stand alone photograph:

Tekoa June 3 12.jpg

Except that this photo was not taken on Friday. It was taken on Wednesday, May 30, as the original AFP photograph indicates, which raises the question: why does a photograph of a minor skirmish deserve space four days later? This wouldn't be the first time that Ha'aretz mislabeled a photograph of Israeli forces making an arrest as more recent than it actually was, thereby falsely boosting its news relevance. (And, according to Ynet, this activist was arrested after he attacked several soldiers, information which would have been helpful for readers' understanding of the events.)

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