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June 30, 2005

What Drives Suicide Terror?

It is popular among some columnists and others in the media to suggest that suicide bombers who kill Israeli civilians are driven by "desperation." This idea famously made its way to the political echelon when British Parliamentarian Jenny Tonge said:

... I do understand why people out there become suicide bombers. It is out of desperation. I dare say if I was in their situation with my children and my grandchildren and I saw no hope for the future at all - which I'm not, of course, but if I did - I might just think about it myself.

This idea has been refuted many times, most recently — believe it or not — on NPR's Morning Edition. On the June 27th program, Robert Pape, a political scientist at the University of Chicago and director of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism; Scott Altran, a terrorism scholar at the University of Michigan; and NPR's Mike Shuster discussed suicide terror:

Mr. PAPE: The purpose of suicide terrorism is not to die but to kill, to kill the maximum number of people in the target country...

SHUSTER: ... The Chicago Project's database also reveals that most suicide terrorists, including 71 who died in al-Qaeda attacks between 1995 and 2003, are not depressed or mentally ill, nor do they come from impoverished circumstances, as is commonly assumed. In fact, they are often some of society's best educated. Scott Atran agrees. He is a terrorism scholar at the University of Michigan.

Mr. SCOTT ATRAN: Most of the people who do this are fairly well off, fairly educated, from middle-class families, some from upper-class families. They're idealists. They believe what they're doing is for the sake and the good of their people.

This underscores a point frequently noted by CAMERA and overlooked by the media: The root of Palestinian terrorism is hate education.

And that hate education unfortunately has not stopped.

Posted by GI at 09:33 PM |  Comments (0)

Unabashed Moral Equivalency

A recent post pointed out the Chicago Tribune's use of the word "militant" to describe both peaceful demonstrators and murderous gunmen. This freewheeling usage of "militant" erodes the word's meaning, but worse, it corrodes our understanding of the difference between murderers and protesters in the Middle East conflict.

Now, the Associated Press' Gavin Rabinowitz strikes another blow at this difference. Writing today about an Israeli operation to remove Jewish anti-disengagement activists sqatting in an abandoned hotel, Rabinovitz stated:

The showdown was an early test of Israel's ability to rein in its own militants after pressuring the Palestinians to do the same.

With this rhetoric, Rabinowitz unabashedly pushes the idea that there is an equivalence between Israeli protesters — whom he describes as "settlers repeatedly arrested for harassing Palestinians and soldiers" — and Palestinian members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, et al who have murdered hundreds of Israeli civilians with bombs, rockets, mortars, and gunfire.

Because there is a very real difference between "harassers" and murderers, there must be a difference in the words used to describe the two categories of people.

Posted by GI at 08:05 PM |  Comments (2)

Old Canards in New Articles

New entries on CAMERA's main Web site today discuss recent media recycling of familiar errors.

AFP has falsely claimed that "Jewish hardliners" tried to burn down the Al Aksa mosque in 1969. Generally, this modern day blood libel is trumpeted by fringe critics of Israel, not by mainstream sources ostensibly interested in accuracy. (See update)

Ha'aretz, for the second time in recent months, has rehashed the false claim that the Gaza Strip is "the most densely populated place in the world ..."

Will the two outlets publish corrections?

Posted by GI at 04:45 PM |  Comments (0)

June 29, 2005

Snapshots Comments

For a short time, we will be opening our blog to reader comments. We look forward to hearing from you.

Posted by RH at 05:56 PM |  Comments (0)

June 28, 2005

Are Protestors "Militants"?


Both protesters and terrorists are "militants" to the Chicago Tribune

CAMERA has repeatedly criticized the media for calling terrorists who murder Israeli civilians "militants." Now, some in the media are using identical wording — militants — to describe both Israeli protestors demonstrating against their government's policy and Palestinians who murder women and children. Joel Greenberg in the June 28 Chicago Tribune writes that:

Militant opponents of the pullout have threatened to block roads this week and to bring Israel to a standstill when the army closes off the Gaza settlements in preparation for the evacuation.

The week before, Greenberg used the term militant to describe a Palestinian who ambushed and killed an Israeli motorist.

The two-hour meeting was overshadowed by a recent surge in attacks by Palestinian militants ...

Sharon said the Palestinian Authority has failed to crack down on militants. A day before the summit, gunmen in the West Bank killed a Jewish settler.

The word becomes devoid of any meaning when protestors and murderers are both labeled "militants."

Furthermore, Greenberg employs a double standard within this June 28 story by describing only anti-disengagement protestors as "militants" — three separate times. Yet he apparently feels the word is not appropriate to describe the radical International Solidarity Movement, which he simply describes as a "pro-Palestinian" group.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time the media has morally equated peaceful demonstrators with violent terrorists.

Posted by CameraBlog at 11:15 PM |  Comments (1)

AP Forgetful on UNRWA

AP's Edith M. Lederer reported today on the appointment of a new commissioner-general for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

Of the 518 words about the changing of the guard at UNRWA, not one mentions the controversy surrounding the organization and its former chief, Peter Hansen.

This might not come as a complete surprise, considering the AP has covered up for Hansen in the past. Still, the discord over UNRWA is no secret to the media. Even the AP has in the past noted that "Israel has long accused UNRWA of anti-Israel bias."

Such context is relevant to Lederer's story, and wouldn't be so difficult to provide. The AP, for example, could look to the Washington Times for guidance, as that newspaper's coverage of the UNRWA appointment conveyed the important background information with one sentence:

Mr. Hansen, the departing director, was accused by the Israeli government of condoning the hiring of Islamic militants for U.N.-funded jobs, permitting schools to preach intolerance for the Jewish state and allowing UNRWA ambulances to be used to transport fighters and weapons across checkpoints.

(AP story currently unavailable online)

Former UNRWA cheif Peter Hansen

Posted by GI at 09:50 PM |  Comments (0)

June 27, 2005

Radical Findings

Haifa U2.jpg

Who is more likely to engage in violent actions to topple the government? West Bank settlers or Israelis living within the Green Line?

As reported on today, a new Haifa University study finds that "3.3 percent of Jews living inside the Green Line would be willing to take part in violent actions to topple the government. But no settler answered the last part in the affirmative."

The article states:

As opposed to the popular image of West Bank residents as "extremists," the survey shows that the more radical the protest action gets, the lower the percentage of West Bank residents willing to take part as opposed to Green Line colleagues. For instance, 9.7 percent of Green Line residents said they would be willing to take over government offices, buildings or factories to protest government policy, as opposed to just 6.5 percent of residents of the territories.

The study also found that 20 percent of Israeli Jews would be willing to block roads to protest the disengagement.

Posted by TS at 07:32 AM |  Comments (0)

Settler Labels

Consider the following two headlines which appeared yesterday in two major English-language newspapers:

Settler teen killed in W. Bank ambush

Israeli, 17, killed in Palestinian drive-by shooting

Can you guess where they ran? Here's a hint: One is from the International Herald Tribune (published by the New York Times), and one is from the Israeli daily Ha'aretz. Still don't know which is which?

The "settler teen" headline ran in Ha'aretz, while the Tribune referred to the victim as "Israeli, 17."

Ha'aretz writer Yair Sheleg has an interesting column today about use of the "settler" label in general. He opens by noting the now-defunct weekly Koteret Rashit once ran articles by David Grossman accompanied by subheads labeling religious Jewish communities over the Green Line as "settlements" and its inhabitants as "settlers." In contrast, secular communities over the Green Line were labeled "communities," and its inhabitants were "residents." Sheleg postulates:

There is no doubt that this was an inadvertent distinction, but that is precisely why it offers strong testimony behind labeling some sectors of Israel's citizens as "settlers." This labeling derives less from their geographical location and political views than from their religious orientation. The tagging is not, of course, merely semantic. It reflects hostility focused on the knitted skull-cap wearing settlers of the territories, who are perceived not only as having an alternative political view, but as being a threat to the hegemony of the Western-secular worldview and as being capable of undermining it.

Posted by TS at 04:22 AM |  Comments (0)

June 26, 2005

The Headline Says It All


"The moderates keep mum" is the headline of Ha'aretz's Week's End feature Friday, about the attitude of religious kibbutzniks towards the disengagement plan.

In the mind of Ha'aretz writer Daniel Ben Simon, who are the "moderates"? The subhead says it all:

The religious kibbutz movement is torn between opponents of the disengagement and its supporters. At the once-moderate kibbutz Ein Tsurim, many oppose the pullout--and its supporters are keeping a low profile.

If the "moderates" are "keep[ing] mum," and disengagement "supporters" are "keeping a low profile," ergo disengagement supporters are the moderates.

So, what does that make a substantial block of the Israeli public--at least a third--which opposes the disengagement plan? Extremists?

Daniel Ben Simon further delegitimizes and isolates the substantial portion of the Israeli public which opposes Sharon's plan when he writes:

A few months ago the two worldviews [on the kibbutz] clashed. This happened when tens of thousands of settlers linked themselves into a human chain from Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

But it wasn't just settlers which formed the human chain. As Joseph Berger of the New York Times reported on July 26, 2004:

The demonstrators included many of the almost 240,000 settlers of the West Bank and Gaza, and also secular and Orthodox Israelis from around the country.

Posted by TS at 03:55 AM |  Comments (1)

June 25, 2005

More on AFP's PR

An earlier post gainsaid a severly skewed AFP story claiming the Israeli media "concluded" Sharon undermined Abbas at the recent summit.

As a reminder, AFP declared:

The Israeli press concluded that the former general had undermined the moderate Abbas.

Here's another example of "the Israeli press" reaching an altogether different conclusion. From a June 22 analysis in Ha'aretz:

None of the participants in yesterday's meeting between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas were surprised at anything that was said there. Not the wrangling over terror, nor the coordination of the disengagement, nor the Palestinian requests that were denied by Israel. Everything had been decided in preparatory meetings between Dov Weissglas and Saeb Erekat. Even the Palestinian disappointment expressed after the meeting was expected

Posted by GI at 11:07 AM |  Comments (0)

June 24, 2005

Olmert on Summit

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert commented on the recent Sharon/Abbas summit:

...Tuesday's summit was much more serious and fruitful than it appeared. Sharon was very flexible and forthcoming. Abu Mazen's agenda, of course, required him to convince everyone that Sharon wasn't yielding on anything.

But the truth is that Sharon proposed relinquishing control of two more cities [Bethlehem and Kalkilya] to the PA. He also said he would seriously review the release of additional prisoners. And he's prepared to go ahead with the removal of more road blocks.

The Palestinian reaction made Sharon appear much more unyielding than he really was. So, no one needs to be carried away by the rhetoric.

Olmert's comments further underscore the problems with AFP's recent "news story," which already in the headline accused Sharon of "brushing off" Abbas — and, as noted in a recent blog entry, went downhill from there.

Posted by GI at 02:08 PM |  Comments (0)

A Rarely Heard Perspective: Palestinian Physician Praises Israelis

Palestinian physician Izzeldin Abuelaish from the Gaza strip speaks out against fellow Gazan Wafa al-Bis, the would-be suicide bomber who had planned to blow up Soroka Hospital.

As a Palestinian doctor who has worked at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba for eight years, I was outraged at the cynical and potentially deadly suicide bombing attempt by Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss.

Dr. Abuelaish describes his good relations with his Israeli colleagues and the kindness and care with which they treat their Palestinian patients.

I have nothing but praise for the doctors, nurses and other medical staff at Soroka Hospital. They show compassion, sympathy and kindness. I was therefore extremely shocked and upset to hear that Wafa Biss, from the Jabalya refugee camp, was wired with explosives to blow herself up at Soroka, a place where she had been treated with kindness and mercy...

...Israeli hospitals extend humanitarian treatment to Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and West Bank. These efforts continued when all other cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis came to a halt during the most recent intifada...

Soroka is a hospital that has opened its doors to treat Palestinians without discrimination, offering the best care available. I want to tell my friends and colleagues at Soroka that all the Gaza residents I have spoken to have expressed their condemnation of this this evil and brainless act...

Were we only to hear more of this rarely heard appreciation of Israelis and condemnation of Palestinian terrorists...

Posted by RH at 12:36 PM |  Comments (0)

June 23, 2005

The BBC's Elephant in the Underwear


In a June 21 article about would-be bomber Wafa al-Bis, the BBC presents her plea of innocence—that the explosives (10 kg.) were placed on Bis without her knowledge. The article states:

Ms Bis said on Israeli TV she wanted to be a suicide bomber but then later told foreign journalists the explosives were planted on her without her knowledge.

The article later repeats Bis' claim of ignorance:

In a separate interview with foreign correspondents, she said the explosives had been planted on her without her knowledge while she was being treated at a Gaza Hospital.

The BBC neglects to mention the size and location of the bomb. As reported in Ha'aretz:

The woman, 21, was stopped at the Erez border crossing in the north of the Gaza Strip with close to 10 kilograms of explosives in her underwear.

The woman's claim is not credible, but the BBC does not provide the basic facts needed to judge the claim.

(Hat tip: Michael Segal)

Posted by TS at 08:16 AM |  Comments (0)

June 22, 2005

AFP Spins Jerusalem Summit

Ostensibly a news report, a July 22 Agence France Presse story out of Ramallah dispenses more opinion than fact. The article gets of to a poor start:

Abbas seeks international help after Sharon brush-off

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas tried to rally international support after coming away with no tangible results from a humiliating summit with Israel's Ariel Sharon, who lectured him at length over militant violence.

Already in the title and opening paragraph, readers are bombarded with anti-Sharon opinion.

The summit was closed to the press, so the AFP reporter (there is no byline) could not know for a fact that Sharon "lectured Abbas at length" — yet this is reported as fact. Nor did the reporter have any firsthand observations on which to base his/her opinion that the summit was "humiliating" for Abbas. Similarly, the headline writer, like the reporter, has nothing but post-summit Palestinian spin on which to base the opinion that Sharon "brushed off" Abbas.

The denunciation continues, with the journalist claiming "The Palestinians ... found Sharon in no mood for concessions." Sharon is described has having a "hardline attitude," while Abbas is dubbed a "moderate."

Then this:

The Israeli press concluded that the former general had undermined the moderate Abbas.

"He pounded on the table, reprimanded, explained matters to Abu Mazen like a division commander talking to a young company commander at the conclusion of a failed battalion exercise," said the Maariv daily.

With one quote from Maariv, the AFP reporter paints the entire Israeli press as castigating Sharon. But the quote doesn't show Sharon "undermining" Abbas, but rather criticizing him, harshly maybe, for his "failed ... exercise" — his failure to stop anti-Israel terror.

The AFP reporter's bizarre interpretation notwithstanding, he/she apparently wasn't interested in other comments from the Israeli press. For example, from a Jerusalem Post analysis:

While both leaders walked away disappointed, it was Abbas's failures that stood out ...

Sharon . . . is willing to go a long way to help Abbas ...

Sharon dangled both a carrot and a stick in front of him on Tuesday.

He promised to give Abbas many of the things he asked for, including an airport, one of the necessary lifelines for a viable economy.

Posted by GI at 11:35 PM

June 21, 2005

2 AP Stories Report Half-Truth (And Ignore Other Half)


A Palestinian woman was stopped by Israeli security forces yesterday, apparently on her way to blow herself up in an Israeli hospital.

But you wouldn't know that if your local paper relied on misleading stories on the subject by Josef Federman or Steven Gutkin of the Associated Press.

Federman wrote: "Also Monday, Israeli troops stopped a Palestinian woman with 22 pounds of explosives hidden on her body after she unsuccessfully tried to blow herself up at a crossing from Gaza into Israel."

Gutkin wrote: "And Israel's army said it arrested a Palestinian woman who tried to blow herself up at a Gaza crossing."

It is true that she tried to blow herself up at the crossing. But that is only half of the story — the less noteworthy half. The woman, Wafa al-Biss, was on her way to detonate her explosives at an Israeli hospital. Only after her plan was foiled by Israeli security forces, who realized she was smuggling a bomb through the crossing, did she try to prematurely detonate her bomb at the crossing.

Unlike these AP reporters, much of the media relayed the full story.

The L.A. Times' Laura King noted:

Soldiers at the scene said that once Bass realized she had been spotted, she tried unsuccessfully to detonate the explosives. Israeli authorities said she later confessed that she had been told by the Palestinian militants who dispatched her to set off the bomb at a hospital.

Matthew Fisher wrote in the Ottawa Citizen (and other newspapers):

Wafa Samir Ibrahim Bass told Israeli authorities she was a member of the al-Asqa Martyrs' Brigade, a breakaway faction of Fatah, the Palestinian political movement. Her intended target was said to be a medical clinic in the southern Israeli city of Beer'sheva.

Agence France Presse relayed that

In a highly embarrassing incident for Abbas, a 21-year-old Gaza woman was arrested Monday allegedly on her way to bomb a hospital

CNN's Guy Raz said

This bomb wasn't meant to be safely detonated by an Israeli explosives team. The intended destination: a hospital. A 21-year-old would-be suicide bomber from Gaza planned to set off the explosive inside an Israeli medical center where she was scheduled to receive treatment by Israeli doctors

and the Web site reported that

On Monday, Israeli troops said they arrested a woman who apparently planned to carry out a suicide bombing at an Israeli hospital.

Finally, the AP's own Lara Sukhtian noted (in one dispatch on the subject, but not in another):

Israeli security said she had been treated at an Israeli hospital after the accident, a humanitarian gesture Israel makes because its medical facilities are better than those in Gaza. She was to make another trip to an Israeli hospital on Monday for further treatment - but planned to blow herself up there instead, the Israelis said.

Posted by GI at 12:00 PM

June 20, 2005

Media Coverage of Pro-Israel Parades Focuses on Protesters

The media coverage of parades celebrating Israel’s 57th birthday have tended to disproportionately focus on the small numbers of protestors — including those representing Neturei Karta, a marginal organization of anti-Zionist Jews that has promoted the "Zionism is racism" U.N. resolution and has collaborated with Yasir Arafat’s administration. These articles rarely make clear the affiliation and the marginal nature of these protesters. Photographs of the parade have also tended to highlight the few protesters at the parades. For example:

This AP photo ran in the Boston Metro.

The net effect is to depict support for Israel as a controversial cause.

Posted by MK at 05:52 PM

The Media's Selective Criticisms

Imagine if hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were killed during and after the Gaza withdrawal.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a Senior Researcher at the Foreign Policy Centre, describes this hypothetical situation to contrast the media's (and the world's) "inaction and complicity" regarding grave abuses in Srebrenica and across Africa with its zealous criticism of Israeli security measures.

She writes in the June 20 Independent:

Imagine this scene. As diehard settlers in Gaza are made to hand over Palestinian lands in August, we see an explosion of violence which leads eventually to the deaths of 200,000 Palestinians. Europe sits by and wrings its hands. The Israeli government makes promises which it has no intention of keeping because it tacitly backs the settlers. Arabs slothfully try to arrange some vague Middle East conferences. Muslim activists argue the massacres are not easy to interpret, that the situation is mired in complexity. The killings carry on.

Couldn't ever happen of course. The world would not tolerate such bloodshed; there would rightly be an international outcry. Plays and books would be written on the horrors; sombre, heartbreaking reports would appear on our screens. Israel would never be forgiven.

Soon it is the 10th anniversary of the gruesome slaughter of Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica by Serb nationalists in a area where the UN was meant to be keeping them safe. ...The victims were sacrificed and Europe let it happen.

This horror did more to turn young Muslims away from the West than any other. They took up arms and joined militant organisations. ...

So where are the greatest number of Muslims being killed today? In Sudan, a country predominantly Muslim and run by an Islamicist government. This is the place where 200,000 plus really have been killed... .

We are doing nothing at all to stop this tyranny. Just as we failed to do when Rwanda was bleeding to death. Just as we avert our eyes from the Congo where millions of black people have perished and more are added each day. They are only Africans, used to barbarisms. Not our problem. When a pathetic few refugees from Darfur flee to Britain, we violate their rights officially, as if the refugee convention is last week's newspaper. Human rights bodies in the UK report that we are sending back asylum-seekers, to Sudan, where torture is so commonplace they joke about it.

Posted by GI at 10:46 AM

Zubeidi, Terrorist-cum-Cop


Zubeidi's scarred face is the result of a work accident. Photo by Reuters. has just reported that Zakariya Zubeidi, the head of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin, is joining Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' security forces. Ynet reports:

Zakariya Zubeidi, the senior commander of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the town of Jenin who has masterminded dozens of deadly anti-Israeli attacks, told Ynet that as a policeman, he will still not work to stop terrorists, as demanded by Israel and the United States and dictated by a U.S.-backed peace “road map�?.

"I’m not going to stop any Palestinian activist,�? he said. “It’s obvious for Palestinians that there are no arrests on political backgrounds. We will deal with maintaining law and order and the security of the Palestinian people.�?

What's Zubeidi's idea of "maintaining law and order"? If his past exploits are any indication, the severe beating of Haidar Irsheid, the former governor of Jenin, is worthy of consideration.

According to a July 25, 2003 Jerusalem Post article, Zubeidi

and some 20 of his followers staged what is being described as a successful coup in the city. Armed with M-16s, Kalashnikovs and pistols, they dragged the Palestinian Authority’s governor for the Jenin district, Haidar Irsheid, from his home to the main square in the center of Jenin.

When some passersby and shopkeepers pleaded with them to have mercy on the 51-year-old Irsheid, who was still in his night clothes, the armed men responded by punching the governor in the face and beating him with rifle butts.

"This man is a spy for Israel," declared one of the masked Fatah gunmen. "He has stolen the money of the people. He must be punished."

The hammering lasted for about 15 minutes, after which the governor, bleeding from the head and crying, was bundled into a car and driven off to the narrow alleyways of the nearby refugee camp. His ordeal ended only five hours later, when Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat phoned Zubaidi and "ordered" him to release Irsheid.

(Hat tip: IMRA)

Posted by TS at 05:47 AM

June 19, 2005

Reform Judaism Rapps Libraries

Andrea Rapp, a synagogue librarian, describes the bias and outright falsehoods in numerous books about Israel intended for children. Her article in Reform Judaism Magazine provides specifics about problems in The Six-Day War by Matthew Broyles, A Historical Atlas of Israel by Amy Romano, Virginia Bracett's Menachem Begin, Cory Gunderson's The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Tracey Boraas' Israel, and more.

Rapp cites CAMERA's work in correcting anti-Israel bias in library books--(see CAMERA's Adopt A Library Project)--as well as that of Librarians for Fairness.

For more on the problem of bias in libraries, see CAMERA's article on the tendentious Library Journal.

Boraas book.jpg
Tracey Boraas' Israel wrongly states that 2000 Camp David talks collapsed because "both Israel and the Palestinian Authority insisted on control of East Jerusalem." In fact, the Israelis agreed to cede control of the Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.

Posted by TS at 04:08 AM

June 15, 2005

New York Times Relies on Unreliable Source

In Interrogating Ourselves , Joseph Lelyveld (New York Times magazine, June 12, page 36) relied on the Israeli organization, B’Tselem, for information about prisoner interrogation methods used by Israel:

The combination of all these methods over prolonged periods produced a regime sometimes known as shabeh. The respected Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem contended that the combination was nothing less than torture. In 1998, in a relatively quiet period, more than two years before the start of the second intifada, B'Tselem estimated that at least 850 Palestinians and possibly more than 1,200 were being tortured annually. According to its figures, this was about 85 percent of all Palestinians in interrogation.

Later in the article, Lelyveld seemed to admit that the Israelis weren’t quite so bad:

Bassem Eid of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, which focuses on abuses in the territories under the Palestinian Authority, agreed. He said in an interview in Jericho that no one in his right mind would prefer a Palestinian jail to an Israeli one. During the first intifada, he noted, 20 Palestinians died in Israeli prisons; during the second, none did. Over the whole period, there were more deaths in detention in the jails of the Palestinian Authority than in Israeli jails.

The Times might be well advised to be wary of an organization, B’Tselem, that is so unreliable that it routinely classifies terrorists as civilians. To cite just one example - classified as a "Palestinian civilian killed by Israeli security forces" is Abd a-Salam Sadeq Hasouna from Nablus in the West Bank (see B’Tselem’s Web site). This so-called "civilian" was killed as he tried to flee Israeli forces after he used an assault rifle to murder six Israelis and wound thirty attending a wedding in Hadera, Israel (Jan. 17, 2002).

CAMERA has frequently challenged the reliability of B’Tselem’s information. Two articles are of particular interest - B'Tselem, Los Angeles Times Redefine "Civilian" (July 7, 2003) and UPDATED: “Terrorism�? as Defined by the New York Times (Sept. 15, 2003).

Posted by MK at 01:45 PM

Refugee Report Card

refugee survey.bmp

The annual report for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants has just been released, and it includes an interesting new section. According to the Associated Press,

For the first time, the report includes letter grading of countries' performances, highlighting how well -- or poorly -- refugee-hosting countries honor their rights.

Given the media's intense preoccupation with the fate of Palestinian refugees, including in the West Bank and Gaza, the Committee's results are striking. The AP article notes:

For example, Chad, the Congo Republic, Ecuador, Iraq, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza and the United States get A's for honoring refugees' right to earn a livelihood. Algeria, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Russia and Tanzania receive F's in the same category.

Posted by TS at 06:00 AM

June 14, 2005

CNN's "Ravings"

An article in the Jerusalem Post comments on how a former Jerusalem bureau chief skewed CNN coverage against Israel:

Much of the blame for the Jerusalem bureau's Israeli government-alleged pro-Palestinian bias has been put on Robert Wiener, who became the bureau chief in the late 1980s.

An ex-CNN source charged to the Post that Wiener changed the sign under the office clock from "Jerusalem" to "Palestine," and so "ranted and raved" against Israel as to end up "influencing the coverage."

cnn weiner.jpg
Former Jerusalem bureau chief Robert Wiener

Posted by GI at 02:03 PM

Professor assigns blame for suicide bombings to U.S. and Israel

Boston University’s NPR station, WBUR, aired a 15-minute conversation about suicide bombing - on the Here&Now broadcast of June 8 - between host Robin Young and author Robert Pape (“Dying To Win: The Strategic logic of Suicide terrorism�?).

Professor Pape (Univ. of Chicago) explained that the reason for suicide bombings is mainly “the desire to drive out foreign occupiers.�? The main examples cited were the U.S./Iraq and Israel/West-Bank/Gaza.

No mention was made of the reasons for the presence of Israeli troops in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Likewise, no coherent context was provided for U.S. policy in the Middle East. Moreover, there was no dissenting voice on hand.

Posted by MK at 11:21 AM

June 13, 2005

Ideology Trumps Fact in Philly Inquirer

Whether or not one supports Israel's disengagement plan, a fact is a fact... right?

Not in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Reporter Michael Matza crafted this absurdly self-contradictory paragraph in yesterday's paper:

Although a majority of Israelis back the plan, the long, antagonistic run-up to its implementation has eroded support in recent weeks. A poll this week showed support dipping below 50 percent for the first time.

It's not clear why this breakdown in logic occured. Is it because Matza supports the disengagement plan? Maybe. Maybe not. But one thing is clear: "majority" means "a number more than half of the total." "Below 50 percent" means less than half the total.

Posted by GI at 11:02 AM

June 09, 2005

Blogosphere Keeps MSM Accountable

Victor Navasky

In the latest example of the blogosphere holding the MSM accountable to the public, blogger David M questions the Columbia Journalism Review, which calls itself "the watchdog of the press." David M exposed the fact that for over a year this supposedly non-partisan media monitoring journal was receiving editorial advice and direction from Victor Navasky—without divulging this connection on its masthead or website.. Navasky is the editor and publisher of The Nation—a publication known for its strong ideological bias.

According to the CJR website:

The Columbia Journalism Review is recognized throughout the world as America's premier media monitor—a watchdog of the press in all its forms, from newspapers and magazines to radio, television, and cable to the wire services and the Web. Founded in 1961 under the auspices of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, CJR examines not only day-to-day press performance but also the many forces—political, economic, technological, social, legal, and more—that affect that performance for better or worse....

Presumably, that means CJR encourages transparency in the media. Yet clearly it seems to be the blogosphere that watches the MSM and its watchdogs, including CJR. For over a week after David M's exposure, CJR remained mum about its own editorial advisor. And while Power Line, Mediacrity and other bloggers pounced on the story, most of the mainstream media ignored it. (Notable exceptions were Editor & Publisher, the New York Sun and Fox News' Brit Humes.) Mediacrity today notes that Columbia Journalism Review's website has finally acknowledged Victor Navasky as its advisor, no doubt as a result of the blog-initiated pressure.

CAMERA has long indicated that media self-scrutiny about coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is sorely lacking.

With few exceptions, the journalistic take on the outcry has been self-justification, disparagement of critics and nearly non-existent substantive inquiry about issues raised.

No wonder!

Posted by RH at 12:58 PM

"Danger in Ignorance"

An op-ed in the Jerusalem Post draws attention to problems in the American media, and highlights the importance of holding news organizations to task. (The column also provides a good historical overview of the situation in Israel.)

The attack on Israel's legitimacy is widening because US Jews, like most other Americans, get much of their information about the Middle East conflict from an ideologically slanted media – The New York Times, CNN and National Public Radio, to name a few. And the pro-Israel community lacks enough knowledge to overcome the bias.

Posted by GI at 11:52 AM

Ma'ariv: Ha'aretz Columnist Threatened Chief of Staff

When the Rehovot Magistrate's Court rejected a libel suit filed by Ramle Mayor Yoel Lavi against Ha'aretz, the Israeli newspaper publicized its exoneration in an article Tuesday.

Ha'aretz has been mum, though, in face of another recent accusation of serious journalistic misconduct. According to a recent Hebrew report in the Israeli daily Ma'ariv, Ha'aretz commentator Amir Oren threatened the outgoing Chief of Staff Ya'alon that he would move him "from the good guys list to the bad guys list" if he made a particular appointment that Oren did not approve of.

The Ma'ariv article states:

The incident happened in a conversation that took place between Ya'alon and Oren in the middle of 2004, in the context of Ya'alon's plan to appoint Elazar Stern to the position of the IDF's personnel branch. Ya'alon was stunned by threat, ended the conversation with Oren, and instructed IDF captains that they were not permitted to meet officially with Oren.

"I filed a complaint to the right person, but whoever it was decided not to do anything with this," Ya'alon said in an interview over the weekend. It became known to Ma'ariv that Ya'alon discussed the matter with the past editor of Ha'aretz, Hanoch Marmari, and with the current editor, David Landau. Neither adopted any stance against the journalist who made the threat. . .

Ha'aretz editor David Landau said in response: "If this journalist did indeed make these statements, this is not appropriate. I assume that it was said in a manner of jest. I do not think that an intelligent person would assume that this threat was said seriously. I am confident and sure that this affair between the Chief of Staff and the journalist did not have any ramifications or influence on the work of the journalist, and what was printed in the newspaper. The outgoing Chief of Staff did not turn to me until very close to the end of his tenure."

Posted by TS at 03:24 AM

Ha'aretz News Reporter Just Can't Help Himself

The Israel Press Council's Rules of Professional Ethics of Journalism states, "A newspaper and a journalist shall distinguish in the publication between news items and opinion." Ha'aretz news writer David Ratner either isn't aware of this basic journalistic guideline, or simply doesn't care.

In a NEWS story yesterday about residents of the West Bank settlement of Homesh protesting the visit of Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Ratner editorialized:

The media later reported that Mofaz was cursed during his visit, which was chaotic. However, in a country where real curses related to the profession of the mother of the object of the curse, the settlers are tame--they call someone "wicked" and hope the children aren't listening. They shout "Stalin" and "Auschwitz" and scare themselves.

It really is a wonder--and a scary one at that--that American news outlets consider Ha'aretz a reliable news source.

Posted by TS at 02:52 AM

'Ostentatious Display of Accountability'


Byron Calame, who replaced Daniel Okrent as the New York Times' public editor, published his first column, introducing himself and laying out what new measures he will take.

Calame, who spent 40 years at the Wall Street Journal, promises "new approaches to transparency," such as "publishing stimulating and thoughful e-mail messages and letters from readers--with responses from the editors and reporters involved." The incoming public editor revels in his new role, which he describes as

the "ostentatious display of accountability" advocated by Joann Byrd, a former ombudsman at The Washington Post and a member of the special Times committee that recommended creating the public editor post in the wake of Jayson Blair's deceitful reporting. Very importantly for me, I discovered during my exploration of the job with The Times that Okrent's published criticism had sometimes caused editors to take actions they might not have taken if the comments had just gone to them in a memo from the public editor.

CAMERA agrees that sunshine is the best disinfectant.

Posted by TS at 02:33 AM

June 08, 2005

Jewish Group Blasts SF Chronicle

A letter by the Northern California director of the American Jewish Committee director blasts the San Francisco Chronicle's treatment of a pro-Israel rally:

Editor -- If the 400,000 Jews in Northern California need yet one more reason to ridicule The Chronicle, the bizarre photo treatment of the Jewish community's Israel in the Gardens celebration is a flagrant case study ("Independence Day fete for Israel draws protesters," June 6).

Tens of thousands of Bay Area Jewish families and their friends spent a sun-filled day in Yerba Buena Gardens to enjoy music, dancing, food and art.

They gathered to herald Israel's historic struggle for survival against incalculable odds.

They probed their hopes for peace. They saluted community leaders. They cheered the accomplishments of scientists, artists, doctors and farmers.

The Chronicle's headline, photos, fractured caption and spotlight on the diatribes of the protesting dozens could not have been more transparently calculated. It worked.

Even the most indulgent now see clearly just how insignificantly a once first-rank newspaper values our Jewish citizens and readers.


Northern California director
American Jewish Committee
San Francisco

Posted by GI at 05:00 PM

New York Times: Advocacy Journalism for New Israel Fund?

An article in today's New York Times reads like a promo for the New Israel Fund, an advocacy organization that has been criticized for supporting anti-Israel groups and individuals. The article discusses the decision by National Public Radio stations KQED and WNYC to reject underwriting by the New Israel Fund, describing the organization in the same type of laudatory terms the NIF uses to describe itself.

The New Israel Fund, an international foundation based here that raises money to support religious tolerance and civil liberties in Israel...


The New Israel Fund is a 26-year-old organization that in the last year issued grants of about $20 million for social justice and cultural pluralism programs. Over the years it has provided $130 million to more than 700 nonprofit groups in Israel involved in such projects as the elimination of discrimination against Israeli Arabs, the promotion of the peaceful co-existence of Jews and Arabs, and the sponsorship of programs for women's rights and those of marginalized communities like, for example, Ethiopian and Sephardic Jews.

(Hat tip: Mediacrity)

NGO-Monitor describes NIF in somewhat less admiring terms, questioning NIF's funding of groups and individuals committed to the dismantlement of Israel as a Jewish state.

Posted by RH at 03:44 PM

Strange Edit by the Boston Globe

An LA Times article ("Suicide Attacks Rising Rapidly," Carol J. Williams, June 2, 2005)about a rising number of suicide bombings by Iraqis subsequently ran in the Boston Globe (Insurgents' Weapon of Choice; Suicide Bombing," June 3, 2005). The Globe, however, made a rather curious edit—creating a lengthier more awkward sentence in the process.

The original LA Times version:

...The frequency of suicide bombings here is unprecedented, exceeding that of Palestinian attacks against Israel and of other militant insurgencies, such as the Chechen rebellion in Russia...

The Boston Globe version:

The frequency of suicide bombings here is unprecedented, exceeding the practice through years of the Palestinian uprising against Israel and other militant insurgencies such as the Chechen rebellion in Russia.

It leaves one wondering why the Globe is so resistant to calling Palestinian attacks just that. Why whitewash Palestinian violence as a "practice" carried out in an "uprising"?

Posted by MK at 02:00 PM

June 07, 2005

AP Continues to Minimize Palestinian Violence

On June 5, an AP story noted:

Jerusalem has been the scene of several Palestinian suicide bombings during four years of violence, and police are always concerned about large gatherings in the city as potential targets for attackers.

According to Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there have been 21 fatal suicide bombings in Jerusalem since September 2000.

The word "several" is generally defined as "more than two or three but not many."

True, the word "many" is subjective. It's hard to believe, though, that anyone in their right minds would say 21 suicide bombings in a city is "not many".

Considering the AP's history of minimizing violence against Israel, it's hard not to look at their word choice here as a continuation of this anti-Israel pattern.

(Also part of this pattern is the AP's recent descriptions of Islamic Jihad as a group simply "blamed" for attacks against Israel. AP is aware of the fact that Islamic Jihad is more than "blamed" for these attacks; they have admitted responsibility for them.)

One of many Jerusalem suicide bombings.

Posted by GI at 11:07 AM

June 06, 2005

Beilin's Longings

An earlier Snapshots entry today notes a major error in Yossi Beilin's June 5 Ha'aretz column.

Aside from that factual error, there is also grave error of omission in the column. In all Beilin's descriptions of (a romanticized version of) June 1967 Israel, he only briefly hints at one important point: "Those six days, on the eve of my 19th birthday, were the most heroic days of my life. Those were days when existential fears gave way to victory albums," Beilin wrote of the 1967 war.

That is, the Israel to which Beilin longs to return was a country plagued with existential fears, even fears of a new Holocaust. And these fears were not merely a product of paranoia.

As noted by Michael Freund in the Jerusalem Post, the word reaching Israelis from neighboring states during Beilin's supposed "quietest and most beautiful decade" was hardly something a sober Israeli would long to recreate:

On May 20, 1967, Hafez Assad, who was then serving as Syria's defense minister, said, "Our forces are now entirely ready to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation." On May 26, Egyptian president Nasser declared in a speech to his nation, "Our basic aim will be to destroy Israel." At a press conference the following day, PLO founder Ahmad Shukeiry said, "D-Day is approaching. The Arabs have waited 19 years for this and will not flinch from the war of liberation." On May 30, Cairo Radio was even more explicit: "Israel has two choices, both of which are drenched with Israel's blood: Either it will be strangled by the Arab military and economic siege, or it will be killed by the bullets of the Arab armies surrounding it from the south, from the north and from the east."

It should also be noted that after the 1967 war, Israel offered to return much of the land they gained, but the neighboring countries, standing by their "basic aim" to destroy Israel, responded with the three "no"s — no recognition, no negotiation and no peace — issued in August 1967 at an Arab summit in Khartoum.

Posted by GI at 09:38 AM

Beilin's 100% Margin of Error

Y Beilin.bmp

Advocating a policy of territorial withdrawal, Yossi Beilin writes in Ha'aretz yesterday:

All I am trying to do is to enable my grandchildren to live in this land as I lived during the quietest and most beautiful decade of its life--1957-1967.

Indeed, the op-ed's headline is "The best decade of our lives."

Pining for that idyllic period, Beilin, a former member of Knesset and one of the architects of the "Geneva Accords," reminisces:

...during this entire period, only 20 people were killed by hostile operations.

Beilin's margin of error is approximately 100 percent on that figure. At least 40 Israelis were killed by hostile actions during this period.

The following incident's are listed on the Web site of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
* Feb. 18, 1957: Two civilians were killed by terrorist landmines, next to Nir Yitzhak, on the southern border of the Gaza Strip.
* March 8, 1957: A shepherd from Kibbutz Beit Guvrin was killed by terrorists in a field near the kibbutz.
* April 16, 1957: Terrorists infiltrated from Jordan, and killed two guards at Kibbutz Mesilot
* May 20, 1957: A terrorist opened fire on a truck in the Arava region, killing a worker.
* May 29, 1957: A tractor driver was killed and two others wounded, when the vehicle struck a landmine, next to Kibbutz Kisufim.
* Aug. 23, 1957: Two guards of the Israeli Mekorot water company were killed near Kibbutz Beit Guvrin.
* Dec. 21, 1957: A member of Kibbutz Gadot was killed in the Kibbutz fields.
* Feb. 11, 1958: Terrorists killed a resident of Moshav Yanov who was on his way to Kfar Yona, in the Sharon area.
* April 5, 1958: Terrorists lying in ambush shot and killed two fishermen near Aqaba
* April 22, 1958: Jordanian soldiers shot and killed two fisherman near Aqaba
* May 26, 1958: Four Israeli police officers were killed in a Jordanian attack on Mt. Scopus
* Dec. 3, 1958: A shepherd was killed at Kibbutz Gonen.
* Jan. 23, 1959: A shepherd from Kibbutz Lehavot Habashan was killed.
* Feb. 1, 1959: Three civilians were killed by a terrorist landmine near Moshav Zavdiel.
* April 15, 1959: A guard was killed at Kibbutz Ramat Rahel.
* April 27, 1959: Two hikers were shot at close range and killed near Masada.
* Sept. 6, 1959: Bedouin terrorists killed a paratroop reconnaissance officer near Nitzana.
* Sept. 8, 1959: Bedouins opened fire on an army bivouac in the Negev, killing an IDF officer, Captain Yair Peled.
* Oct. 3, 1959: A shepherd from Kibbutz Hetziba was killed near Kibbutz Yad Hana.
* April 26, 1960: Terrorists killed a resident of Ashkelon south of the city.
* May 11, 1965: Jordanian Legionnaires fired on the neighborhood of Musrara in Jerusalem, killing two civilians.
* May 16, 1966: Two Israelis were killed when their jeep hit a terrorist landmine, north of the Sea of Galilee and south of Almagor. Tracks led to Syria.
* July 13, 1966: Two soldiers and a civilian were killed near Almagor, when their truck struck a terrorist landmine.

In addition, according to Martin Gilbert's Atlas of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, four border policemen were killed by a Syrian mine on Oct. 9, 1966.

Snapshots readers can send feedback to [email protected].

Posted by TS at 04:40 AM

June 04, 2005

Le Monde Staff Guilty of Anti-Jewish Defamation

From the Guardian:

A French appeal court has found the editor-in-chief of Le Monde and the authors of an opinion piece in the paper guilty of "racial defamation" against Israel and the Jewish people.

In a ruling greeted with applause by Jewish groups and some alarm by media lawyers, the court ordered Jean-Marie Colombani and the three writers to pay a symbolic one euro in damages to the France-Israel Association and to Lawyers Without Borders.

The two groups had alleged that the June 2002 article, headed Israel-Palestine: the Cancer, contained comments that "targeted a whole nation, or a religious group in its quasi-globality", and constituted racial defamation.

The offence was exacerbated, the groups said, by a "semantic slip" from the phrase "the Jews of Israel" to "Jews in general"; in other words, it referred to "the Jews" when it meant "certain Israelis".

France, which has the largest Jewish and Muslim communities in western Europe, has seen tensions rise in recent years in parallel with the increase in violence in the Middle East. The French media are routinely accused of pro-Palestinian bias.

Posted by GI at 12:40 PM

June 03, 2005

Palestinian Leaders Admit They Used Sharon Visit to Temple Mt. as Pretext for Violence

Among several errors and omissions,"Love and Terror" (an article in the June issue of O, The Oprah Magazine) wrongly blames Ariel Sharon for starting the second Intifadah in September 2000.

This position has been publicly repudiated by Palestinian leaders. Imad Faluji (PA Communications Minister at the time), for example, addressing a rally at the Ein Hilwe refugee camp in South Lebanon, stated that the intifada had been in the planning for months:

Whoever thinks that the intifada broke out because of the despised Sharon's visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, is wrong, even if this visit was the straw that broke the back of the Palestinian people. This intifada was planned in advance, ever since President Arafat's return from the Camp David negotiations, where he turned the table upside down on President Clinton... [Arafat] rejected the American terms and he did it in the heart of the U.S. (MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 194 - PA, March 9, 2001).

A similar assertion was made by Marwan Barghouti (a senior Palestinian leader at the time), who told an interviewer that:

The explosion would have happened anyway. It was necessary in order to protect Palestinian rights. But Sharon provided a good excuse. He is a hated man.
(New Yorker, Jan. 29, 2001).

Please check the CAMERA website for a more detailed analysis of the O Magazine article. An abridged version of the Oprah Magazine article can be found here.

Posted by LG at 06:12 PM

"Honor" Killings May Give Insight into Terrorism

Is there a connection between the oppression of women in many Muslim societies and Islamist terrorism? The following review of the compelling book Burned Alive, a Victim of the Law of Men examines this question.

Honor crimes may give insight into terrorism


Burned Alive

By Souad.

Warner, 225 pp., $24.

From almost the moment it happened, the question hung in the air like smoke from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. Who could do such a thing?

We soon knew who orchestrated the carnage on Sept. 11, 2001. We saw the faces of the men who carried out the attacks. The foreign syllables rolled off our tongues as if we'd known them all their lives: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida. But what was in their hearts? What allowed them to turn planes to missiles and murder thousands?

The question remains a hole in American intelligence. Hot rhetoric - "They hate freedom, therefore they hate us" - doesn't explain the easy violence of Sept. 11 or the bombings as frequent as sunrise in Iraq. Neither do new hardcovers by White House and CIA insiders riding best-seller lists.

A better answer might be found in a new, unpolished but haunting memoir that, on its surface, has nothing to do with international terrorism. "Burned Alive," subtitled "A Victim of the Law of Men," offers real insight into the culture and psyche of bin Laden, his supporters and followers without ever mentioning his name.

The Palestinian-born author, Souad (writing under a pseudonym to protect herself from vengeful relatives), is one of the few survivors of Jamirat el Sharaf, a crime of "honor" in which families kill their girls and women in countries throughout Asia and the Middle East.

Before she fell in love with Faiez, an older, elegant neighbor with a car and a job in the city, Souad's life was joyless drudgery. She and her unfortunate sisters lived to serve their violent father and pampered brother, Assad. They didn't attend school; only Assad learned to read and write.

Her existence was so unremarkable that she didn't even know how old she was. The birth of a boy was a celebration in Souad's West Bank village; a newborn girl was a curse.

For Souad, a slap or kick was common if the water for her father's tea took too long to heat. More serious infractions - picking a tomato before it was ripe or falling asleep while milking the cow - drew his cane across her back or licks from his belt.

Sometimes, he dragged her across the floor by the hair, a favorite method of discipline among men in her clan. Souad argues that such treatment was the norm for women of her village. She also maintains that the pathology that passed for filial ties in her household wasn't unique; she didn't have an especially sadistic father or a Medea for a mother. Everyone, she writes, acted that way.

Chastity and blind obedience were keys to survival. Even the appearance of sexual impropriety was enough to start the town gossips clucking. Inside Souad's insular, tribal community in the occupied territories, words were sharper than sticks, deadlier than stones.

"Did she go out alone? Or was she seen speaking to a man?" Souad wondered, years after watching her brother strangle to death one of her sisters with a black telephone cord. There was no funeral, no burial. She simply disappeared. "Was she denounced by a neighbor? It doesn't take much at all before a girl is seen by everyone as a charmuta [whore] who has brought shame to the family and who must now die to wash clean the honor not only of her parents and her brother but of the entire village!"

Souad never learned what sin her sister had committed because girls shared no confidences. "They're too afraid of speaking, even among sisters," she writes. Revolt was unthinkable.

"If your father points to a corner of the room and tells you to stay in that corner for the rest of your life, you won't move from there until you die. If your father places an olive on a plate and tells you that today that's all you'll have to eat, you eat only that olive. It is very difficult to get out of this skin of consenting slave. You're born into it as a female."

Although she knew that to lose her virginity before marriage carried a death sentence, Souad agreed to forbidden trysts with her beloved in the sun-bleached fields where she tended her father's sheep. But when she told her handsome boyfriend that she'd missed a period, he abandoned her. In desperation, she bashed her belly with a rock, hoping to abort her deadly secret. Nothing worked. Soon, even her drab, loose-fitting dress couldn't hide the growing bulge.

Her parents held a family meeting and coolly selected an assassin, then left the house so the murderer could be alone with his victim.

She was doing laundry in the courtyard when her bother-in-law Hussein arrived.

"Hi. How goes it?" he said, chewing on a blade of grass, smiling. "I'm going to take care of you." For a second, Souad thought he would spare her. She lowered her head, ashamed to look at him, her forehead pressed against her knees. Then she felt a cold liquid running over her head. Suddenly, she was on fire.

"It is like a movie that has been speeded up, images racing past. I start to run in the garden, barefoot. I slap my hair, I scream. I feel my dress billow out behind me. Was my dress on fire too? . . . I smell the odor of grilled meat."

Somehow, she clambered over the garden wall and landed in the street. Two women tried to put her out, beating the flames with their scarves. They dragged her to the village fountain, immersing her in its cool water.

The fire fused her chin to her chest. But despite horrific burns and doctors who neglected to give her proper care, Souad stubbornly refused to die, even giving birth to a son alone in a dark hospital room. Word of her miraculous survival reached Jacqueline, a Western aid worker with a Swiss foundation devoted to rescuing victims of honor crimes and other religious and cultural customs that target women.

Jacqueline charmed hospital staff, convincing them to at least disinfect Souad's wounds. Later, she visited Souad's parents, who were in mourning because their daughter was still alive. She persuaded them to allow her to take Souad, and the girl's tiny son, to Europe.

More than 20 years later, a French publisher read an article in Elle magazine about a shy Palestinian woman who buttoned her collar all the way to the top, even in the summertime. She was speaking out, showing audiences her ruined skin. After three years of cajoling, Souad, now married with two daughters, finally agreed to tell her story to a worldwide audience.

Although writer Marie-Therese Cuny helped Souad write the book, the prose is far from smooth. "Burned Alive" isn't peddling style; it is designed to enrage and inform, and it does so with relentless energy.

Often hard to read, as painful and raw as Souad's charred flesh, the book has more than a few chilling parallels to "The Handmaid's Tale," Margaret Atwood's imagined world where women are little more than slaves and breeders, beaten and executed for the slightest infraction. But Souad's burns and just-as-disfiguring psychological scars aren't fiction. Although there are no reliable statistics about the number of honor killings committed each year, hundreds of women in Iran and Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey, Iraq and Saudi Arabia are murdered by the men in their lives as courts and police look the other way.

Souad's harrowing life and near-death teaches that a society that encourages men to oppress, terrorize and kill its daughters and sisters and wives, martyr them on the altar of male ego, is capable of any cruelty.

When a videotape of Sept. 11 hijackers passing through security at Dulles airport was released weeks ago, talking heads marveled at their cool. How could they board the flights so carelessly, as if going on a routine business trip?

Their nonchalance should have come as no surprise. It was as easy as dousing a pregnant girl, her head bent to her chest as if in prayer, with gasoline.

Simakis is a writer for The Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine. To reach Andrea Simakis: [email protected]

Copyright 2004 Plain Dealer Publishing Co.
Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

August 15, 2004 Sunday

Posted by LG at 04:21 PM

The Other Side of the Barrier

The June 13, 2005 edition of Fortune magazine highlights something about Israel's security barrier that is often overlooked by the media: It's effectiveness.

Economic growth couldn't have returned if the government hadn't found a way to block the suicide bombers who carried out dozens of attacks in 2002 and 2003. Thanks mostly to the controversial security barrier now snaking its way through the West Bank-a forbidding amalgam of concrete, barbed wire and deep ditches that has been condemned by the World Court and the European Union-deaths from bombings dropped from 54 last year to just 11 so far in 2005. "We are one of the few countries dealing successfully with the threat of suicide bombers," says Shlomo Maital, a Canadian-born economist and professor at Israel's Technion Institute of Management. The barrier has enraged Palestinians trapped on the other side, while reinforcing the Jewish state's pariah status in much of the world. But the sense of security ordinary Israelis now feel has enabled normal life to resume and made both tourists and foreign investors willing to come here again. "People feel better psychologically," says Gloger.

(Contrary to the above, though, it should be noted that the barrier does not so much "snake its way through the West Bank." Along much of its route, the barrier follows the green line, the cease-fire line marking the West Bank frontier.)


Posted by GI at 04:05 PM

June 02, 2005

Israeli Druse Chastises Anti-Israel Bigots in UK

As reported in the May 25th Jerusalem Post, in reaction to the boycott (now rescinded) of Haifa University by the Association of University Teachers in England,

Amir Khnifess, an Israeli Druse currently studying at the London School of Economics, is circulating a statement to the British media stressing: "There is no official policy of racism or discrimination at Israeli universities"...calling [Haifa University] a model for coexistence, and that "its tolerant atmosphere will produce promising leaders."

Khnifess says that he is wary of pursuing his plans to pursue a Ph.D. at Oxford University next year..."Why should I have to state what my political views are? Entry into higher education in Israel is not conditional on race, religion or politics. I am amazed that it should be in Britain."


Posted by LG at 03:00 PM

Contiguity King Strikes Again

In CAMERA's April 19 article, "The Contiguity 'Double Standard" we noted that Laura King, Jerusalem bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, led the pack in falsely stating that Israeli construction between Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem will split the West Bank in two.

She had written in her March 22, 2005 article:

The building project, [Palestinians] say, will not only cut East Jerusalem off from Palestinians communities in the West Bank, but will place a wide wedge of Jewish homes between the northern and southern West Bank . . . That would be a blow to Palestinian hopes for controlling contiguous territory to form a nation.

While some media outlets, such as USA Today have corrected or improved their language on this issue, King's has worsened. In March, she positioned the issue as a Palestinian allegation, which it is, however unfounded. Even if Israel were to entirely fill in the area between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim, Palestinian-controlled areas would be connected by land east of Ma'aleh Adumim that is at its narrowest point approximately 15 kilometers wide.

Today, she upgrades that allegation to fact.

Today's article falsely states:

The Palestinians, in turn, have complained about Israel's expansion of Jewish settlements, particularly a plan that appears aimed at linking the West Bank's largest settlement, Maale Adumim, with Jerusalem. That proposal, in effect, would nearly divide the West Bank in two.

CAMERA has contacted editors and waits to hear whether the paper will correct, as USA Today so commendably did on April 17:

Israel's planned expansion of the Maale Adumim settlement near Jerusalem would separate Palestinian-populated areas. It would not split the West Bank in two, as a story Tuesday incorrectly stated.

See CAMERA's "Contiguity Double Standard."

Posted by TS at 07:10 AM

June 01, 2005

Unsatisfactory Syntax Standards at AP

Word choice in a news story can subtly (or not so subtly) convey personal or organizational attitudes.

Though such verbal shading can be practiced consciously or unconsciously, journalists owe it to the public to vigilantly avoid conveying their biases through word choice.

Courtesy of AP, we have an excellent example of how to color a story with opinion using poorly chosen adjectives:

A small but growing number of Israelis, troubled by their country's harsh policies in trying to put down Palestinian unrest are refusing to serve in the West Bank and Gaza, and others are seeking exemptions from army service.

Note that the writer describes Israel's response to terrorism as "harsh," a loaded word which according to the American Heritage Dictionary means "Severe, cruel, or exacting"; yet the terrorism itself — including the arbitrary launching of rockets into cities, and suicide bombings which even the one-sided Human Rights Watch considers a "crime against humanity" — is described as mere "unrest." (According to the American Heritage Dictionary, "An uneasy or troubled condition.")

barrierbarbs.jpg   israel_bus_bomb_060303.jpg
"Harsh Reaction"   "Palestinian Unrest"

Posted by GI at 11:39 AM