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July 31, 2005

How Op-Eds Are Edited (Or Not) in the New York Times

The editor of the New York Times Op-Ed page, David Shipley, has written an op-ed of his own, setting forth the guidelines presumably followed in editing a commentary article:

Here are the clear-cut things the editor will do:

• Correct grammatical and typographical errors.

• Make sure that the article conforms to The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage. Courtesy titles, for example, will miraculously appear if they weren't there before; expletives will be deleted; some words will be capitalized, others lowercased.

• See to it that the article fits our allotted space. With staff columnists, advertisements and illustrations, there's a limit to the number of words we can squeeze onto the page.

• Fact-check the article. While it is the author's responsibility to ensure that everything written for us is accurate, we still check facts - names, dates, places, quotations.

We also check assertions. If news articles - from The Times and other publications - are at odds with a point or an example in an essay, we need to resolve whatever discrepancy exists.

Strange. There was certainly no such oversight several months ago when the Times published an op-ed on October 4, 2004 by PLO legal advisor Michael Tarazi. The commentary, entitled “Two Peoples, One State,” which called for the dissolution of the Jewish state was filled with false assertions and errors which the Times refused to correct. For a discussion of these errors and the attitude of the editors, read "The Worst of Times" by CAMERA Director Andrea Levin.

tarazi
The Times allowed Tarazi to fill his op-ed with false assertions

Perhaps Mr. Shipley has had a change of heart. Let us hope so.

Posted by RH at 04:57 PM |  Comments (0)

Hamas Indoctrinates Youngsters at Summer Camp

Matthew Stannard of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Hamas summer camps for youngsters where the fun includes paramilitary training:

At one beach camp, attended by approximately 100 kids, an instructor wore a heavy flannel shirt under which a webbed belt could be seen strapped to his stomach. Asked by a reporter what it was, he answered, with a broad smile, “Boom!”

The instructor led a group of young teenagers through marching drills on the sand -- facing movements, close quarter drill. With a smile at the reporter, he put a megaphone to his lips.

"What are you?" he called.

"Monsters!" the kids replied.

"What are you?!"

"MONSTERS!"

As the instructor, Sa'eb Dormush, stepped aside for an interview, a youth in the group shouted out "moqawama!" -- resistance.

"That is the first word they learn when they are born," Dormush said with a laugh. "This is the next generation."


And the camp sing-alongs are all about killing Zionists:

Across camp, a group of younger children -- most between 10 and 12 -- sat in a circle in the sand singing one of the "intifada songs" they learn at camp. One boy sang verses in a rolling soprano as the others joined in on the one-word chorus.

"We don't want to sleep.

HA-A-MAS!
We want revenge.


HA-A-MAS!
Raise it up.


HA-A-MAS!
Rifle fire.


HA-A-MAS!
If it will take a thousand martyrs.


HA-A-MAS!
Kill Zionists.


HA-A-MAS!
Wherever they are.


HA-A-MAS!
In the name of God.


HA-A-MAS!"

Just another example of the Palestinian incitement that prevents any meaningful peace negotiations and resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Hat tip: LGF)

Posted by RH at 01:34 PM |  Comments (1)

July 30, 2005

LA Times: Makdisi Compares Suicide Bombers to American and British Soldiers

Months after CAMERA took the Los Angeles Times to task for publishing falsehoods in a commentary by UCLA's Saree Makdisi, the newspaper is now running another commentary by the English professor-cum-propagandist. Now Makdisi is "explaining" how suicide bombing is no worse than the military actions of American and British soldiers:

Few have noticed that suicide bombing is merely a tactic used by those who lack other means of delivering explosives. Fewer still seem to notice that what happened in London is what occurs every time a U.S. or British warplane unloads its bombs on an Iraqi village.

The LA Times allows Makdisi to use the commentary space as a diatribe against the U.S. and British governments, attacking Israel along the way:

Our governments dismiss out of hand any connection between the London bombings and the war in Iraq. Such attacks, they say, predate 2003. But Iraq was first invaded in 1991, not 2003. Then a decade of sanctions against that country killed a million Iraqis, including 500,000 children. Over the same period, unwavering support for Israel has resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent Palestinians and the total paralysis of an entire people. Tens of thousands have been slaughtered by U.S. and British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001.

As long as the LA Times continues to protect, justify and allow the Makdisis of the world to use its space as a platform for hateful propaganda, the newspaper will continue to bring journalistic shame upon itself.

Posted by RH at 10:13 PM |  Comments (0)

July 29, 2005

Strong Words

These strong words by Guardian Columnist Jonathan Freedland might be a breath of fresh air for those accustomed to prevalent opinion in the UK:

... Unless, of course, Israel is a uniquely special case. That is a hard argument to make. No official figure exists because, shamefully, they have never been counted, but more than 100,000 Iraqis are said to have been killed during and since the 2003 invasion. Russia's war on Chechnya has cost up to 200,000 civilian lives, one in five of the entire population. Since the intifada began five years ago, 3,600 Palestinians have been killed. No one is making excuses for that; every one of those lives lost is a catastrophe. But in a world full of brutalities and mass slaughter, by what logic is Israel reviled as the uniquely heinous culprit, the one state whose civilians are fair game?

Qaradawi's argument is that there is no such thing as an Israeli civilian. Israeli women can be called to national service; Israeli children will grow up to be soldiers. The sheikh has ruled that even the unborn Israeli child in the womb is a legitimate target for death, because one day he will wear a uniform.

This ceases to be a political stance; this becomes the demonisation of a people. Only one nation on the planet has no civilians; only one nation must recognise that its children can legitimately be torn apart by nail bombs on buses. Not the Russians for what they have done in Chechnya, nor the Arab Sudanese in Darfur, nor the Americans and British in Iraq, but the Israelis. They are uniquely guilty and therefore less than human, denied the protections afforded to all other human beings.

So when Livingstone offers this as some kind of defence - that Qaradawi is against 9/11 and 7/7, but in favour of "martyrdom operations" against Israeli civilians - I am not comforted. I am fearful of the dark place he has entered.

Posted by GI at 10:11 AM |  Comments (1)

July 28, 2005

Major News Media Silent on Arrest of Terrorist Hidden by Palestinian Authority

According to the Israel Defense Forces Web site, Tammer Hassin Sa'id Gaer, 24, a resident of Ilar village near Tulkarm, was arrested on Monday, July 25, by the IDF. An official IDF statement asserts that "the Islamic Jihad terror infrastructure which he belonged to was responsible for the 'Stage' terror attack last February and the terror attack in the Netanya Mall earlier this month."

On February 25, 2005, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside of the popular Stage nightclub on the Tel Aviv promenade, killing 5 people and wounding 50. After the July 12, 2005 bombing at the Hasharon Mall in Netanya that killed 5 people and wounded 90, Gaer reportedly was staying in the Palestinian Authority's Special Forces Building in Tulkarm, and was active in the military under PLO protection. Gaer was caught by the IDF after he was detected staying with one of his assistants, Mohammed Fathi Mohammed Badda, a member of the Palestinian Security Forces.

Many major U.S.newspapers, including The Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and USA Today ignored Gaer's arrest, considering it not even worthy of a brief. Yet this capture of an Islamic Jihad organizer believed implicated in the murders of more than a dozen people, who apparently had been protected by and enlisted
in the Palestinian Authority's own forces, came one day after the U.S. military liaison told a congressional committee that the Palestinian forces were not ready to fill the vacuum to be left after Israel disengages from the Gaza Strip. Lt. Gen William Ward said the PA forces were top-heavy with officers, poorly trained, badly motivated,and generally unfit to carry out their responsibilities.

The example of Tammer Hassain Sa'id Gaer supports Ward's description; it deserved to be reported.

Posted by CameraBlogger at 05:01 PM |  Comments (0)

July 27, 2005

Al Dura Canard Recycled by Independent

Although the source of the gunfire which killed Mohammad Al Dura in the early days of the Palestinian uprising is very much disputed, and though many independent investigators have concluded it would be impossible for the bullets to have come from the Israeli army position, the Independent (U.K.) apparently has no problem reporting the Palestinian claim that Israeli troops killed the boy as fact.

Reporter Shiv Malik wrote on July 24:

[Leeds Metropolitan University student Abdul is] angry at the Government's foreign policy. 'When Mohammed al-Dura got shot, that was a real wake-up call,' he says. Al-Dura was the 12-year-old Palestinian boy killed by Israeli soldiers as he cowered in the arms of his father.

The Independent is likely reinforcing anti-Israeli hatred by reinforcing the Dura misconception; but it could be worse.

We could be talking about the Guardian, which until recently knowingly employed a member of the anti-Semitic Hizb ut Tahrir as a trainee journalist. See more on Melanie Phillips's Diary.

Posted by GI at 03:59 PM |  Comments (1)

Deep Analysis on Shallow Coverage

"The [Israeli] media have usually been preoccupied with the petty, marginal, and sensationalist aspects of the [disengagement] initiative, systematically failing to examine the important issues it raises or to ask the difficult questions," writes Tamar Guttman, in a report published by the Israel Democracy Institute entitled "Discourse on Disengagement: Sensationalism in the Mainstream Press."

What are the major problems, as Guttman sees them?

1) Agitation: The media sensationalizes extremist comments by right-wing leaders:

In their passionate quest for yet another "shocking" statement and "appalling" quote, the journalists exaggerate and misrepresent reality.

For example, Channel Two and Ha'aretz repeatedly identify extreme right-winger Yosef Dayan as a rabbi, though he is not. Channel Two also sensationalized a report on a "training camp" run by the Kach movement for children in Gush Katif. But Ben Caspit of Ma'arive wrote that "the entire event was staged . . . it was all timed and designed to create good footage (with the knowledge of the media, according to security sources), while residents themselves disassociate themselves from the whole story. . . "

2) Compensation:

Media coverage of the disengagement plan’s financial aspects was equally biased and histrionic, particularly on the subject of compensation for evacuated settlers. . . . The settlers are depicted as a bunch of opportunistic gold-diggers ready to sell their principles for a hefty sum. . . it is important to examine the facts: according to the disengagement authority, as of the beginning of October, only one hundred of the 1,700 families facing evacuation had responded and expressed initial interest in voluntary resettlement in return for the downpayment.

3) Apocalypse Now:

As in the case of the period of tension preceding the last Gulf War, once again the media is fanning the flames of tension and nervous anticipation among the general public through catastrophic and pessimistic forecasts. As everyone knows, fear sells. Faced with the desire to secure high ratings, the media have painted the first stages of the disengagement plan in ominous and threatening colors. Emotive expressions such as "civil war," "preparations for rebellion," "refusing orders," and "intensified terror" are featured prominently at every opportunity in large headlines on the lead pages. . . Calmer messages, such as the opinion of various public figures and security sources that most of the settlers will not use violence in opposing evacuation, are relegated to the inner pages or the end of newscasts.

With reports like these, it's no wonder that Israeli journalists flunk the Israeli media.

Posted by TS at 01:24 PM |  Comments (0)

July 25, 2005

IHT Equalizes Murderers and Their Victims

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Question: How can editors ruin a perfectly solid news story?
Answer: By slapping on a bad headline.

Today's prime example is an article printed in the International Herald Tribune, which is published by the New York Times. The article, by Times Jerusalem bureau chief Steven Erlanger, opens with the accurate report:

Palestinian gunmen sprayed a civilian Israeli convoy with automatic fire early Sunday morning, killing a husband and wife and wounding four other Israelis, three of them seriously. The attack took place on the main road connecting Israel's Gaza settlements with Israel.

Israeli Army and security guards fired back, killing one gunman immediately and another after a pursuit. Two soldiers were also lightly wounded.

But the Tribune headline writer completely fails at his job, which is to accurately convey the crux of the story in just a few words. His headline:

2 Israelis are killed and then 2 Palestinians

There is no distinction between killer and victim, no indication of who attacked whom, no hint that the Palestinians died in the course of attacking innocent civilians. In contrast, the New York Times headline writer, whose headline accompanied the exact same Erlanger report, hit the nail on the head, proving that it can be done:

Palestinians kill 2 Israeli Civilians on Road From Gaza

Posted by TS at 02:35 AM |  Comments (3)

July 23, 2005

Color War Stats

"Today, less than a month before the planned evacuation, public opinion polls show that two-thirds of Israelis support the Gaza withdrawal," boasts Uri Avnery, head of the fringe left Gush Shalom organization, in an Op-Ed yesterday in the International Herald Tribune ("Israel's war of the colors").

Polls? In other words more than one? And do any polls turn up difference results?

A quick survey shows that Avnery cited the one poll that suited his needs, and ignored all this rest.

Thus, a June 29 poll carried out by Dahaf and printed in Yediot Achronot on July 1 showed that 62 percent of Israelis support the disengagement and 31 percent oppose it. So, Avnery is vindicated, right?

Not so fast. Unfortunately for him, a number of other polls have a much lower figure for disengagement support, at just over 50 percent.

1) A June 29 Shvakim Panorama poll found that 53.4 percent support the disengagement plan and 40.2 percent are opposed.

2) A June 28 Telesker poll published July 1 in Ma'ariv founnd 54 percent favor disengagement and 34 oppose it.

3) The June Peace Index of the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University found that 54 percent of Israelis support the plan, and 41 percent are opposed.

4) A July 20 poll by Maagar Mochot (Brain Base) for Israel Radio's "Another Matter" found that 52 percent support the disengagement and 30 percent are opposed.

There's nothing like reporting the facts selectively to make your political point.

On a separate but related matter, Avnery makes the absurd statement that:

While almost all of the orange faction fly their ribbons proudly from the antennas atop their cars, many of the blues hang theirs lower, from the side mirror or door handle, where they are less conspicuous.

Posted by TS at 03:47 PM |  Comments (0)

July 21, 2005

Bandar's Legacy

Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan, announced yesterday he will be stepping down.

Much of the media coverage of the ambassador's resignation and career overlooks one of the more intesteresting anecdotes involving the prince — his acknowledgment that Arafat should have accepted Bill Clinton's offer of Palestinian statehood in December, 2000.

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AP did recall the incident in a July 20 story:

When President Clinton was holding the 2000 Camp David summit between the Israelis and Palestinians, Bandar met with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and urged him to accept a Clinton-backed peace deal, according to then-U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross.

Bandar's view on the peace offer was detailed in Dennis Ross' book, The Missing Peace:

It was a chilly December evening as we sat in front of Bandar's fireplace, and he said something I will never forget: "If Arafat does not accept what is available now, it won't be a tragedy, it will be a crime." [pg. 748]

Bandar later told The New Yorker's Elsa Walsh: "It broke my heart that Arafat did not take that offer."

Posted by GI at 10:12 AM |  Comments (0)

July 20, 2005

Canadian Justice Minister: Israel is Singled Out

Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler spoke to the Jerusalem Post about the tendency to single out and apply different standards to Israel. He possibly was speaking of the international community, but he could just as well have been referring to media coverage:

"The Canadian government has spoken out on the equality of human rights and the rule of law. [We say that] Israel, like any other country, must be held accountable for any violation of international humanitarian law. But the problem is not that Israel should be held accountable for the law – the problem is that Israel, at times, is being singled out and denied equality before the law," he said.

"The problem is not [saying] that human rights standards should be applied to Israel; they should be. The problem is that these standards must be applied equally to everyone else. The rights of Israel among the nations deserve equal respect."

Posted by GI at 03:58 PM |  Comments (0)

Fatah to Palestinian reporters: No stories that "don't benefit the struggle of the Palestinian people"

An eruption of inter-Palestinian violence in Gaza, between the Palestinian Authority and its main rival, Hamas, is off-limits, it seems, for Palestinian journalists. Fearing civil war, the PA has cautioned against shining a light on the clashes.

The syndicate warned that anyone who violates its instructions would have to bear the personal and legal consequences of his or her deeds.

Referring specifically to local photographers, the syndicate urged them to place the national interests of the Palestinians above all other considerations.

"Refraining from covering these sad events will end the current conflict," it pointed out.

Posted by CameraBlog at 03:56 PM |  Comments (1)

July 19, 2005

New York Times Editorial: Sharon is Bad. Abbas is Good.

You've got to hand it to the New York Times editorial board. They are steadfast in their convictions. Regardless of what happens in the Middle East, regardless of the risks Israel takes, regardless of the Palestinian mortars and rockets that continue to kill Israelis, Times editorials continue to try to convince readers that the situation in the Middle East is simple: Israel is bad, and the Palestinians are good.

Friday's editorial reads:

Sadly, most of the blame for the current paralysis lies with Mr. Sharon, the same man who courageously pushed the Gaza withdrawal idea through a reluctant Israeli political system.

Mr. Sharon appears to have become so fixated on making the withdrawal appear palatable to the Israeli right that he has lost sight of the larger strategic calculus of building peace. He wants to advertise the pullback as a unilateral Israeli measure, undertaken for Israel's own reasons, and not as part of any larger negotiated deal with the Palestinians, or still worse, as a response to Palestinian terrorism.

He has become so determined to show that the Palestinians will not be reaping any rewards from Israel's withdrawal that he has shunned taking simple steps that could significantly improve the quality of Palestinian life in Gaza, like paying to clean up the rubble of the settler homes Israel intends to destroy, facilitating the reopening of Gaza's airport and finding ways to make border security less humiliating and time-consuming for Palestinians.

In fact, Sharon does not want "to advertise the pullback as a unilateral Israeli measure." While it was initially planned and described during Arafat's reign as a unilateral withdrawal, Israel made the decision after Arafat's death to try to coordinate the pullback with the Palestinians, and it so was decided to stop referring to it as a "unilateral" disengagement.

As reported in China's Xinhua News Service a few days before Friday's editorial:

A senior Palestinian official assured on Monday that progress has been achieved with Israel in coordination on planned Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip next month.

Palestinian Planning Minister Ghassan al-Khatib told reporters in Ramallah that Israel had recently started positively responding to the Palestinian demands to renew coordination on the Israeli disengagement plan.

Israel has until recently considered the plan unilateral, refusing any kind of security and political coordination with the Palestinian side, said al-Khatib.

And by the AP a few weeks earlier:

Israel originally planned its withdrawal from Gaza and part of the West Bank as a unilateral move, but in recent months changed its policy and has been seeking coordination with the Palestinian Authority to prevent a takeover of Gaza by the militant Hamas.

As far as criticizing Israel for not paying for the clean up of settler homes, why doesn't the Times consider that Israel, whose economy has been hit hard by 4 years of Palestinian violence, is already struggling to get financial aid for the withdrawal and might not be able to afford to pay for the clean-up? Why doesn't the Times, instead of criticizing Israel, suggest that Europe or the World Bank help pay for the clean-up?

Israel is also criticized for not "facilitating the reopening of Gaza's airport and finding ways to make border security less humiliating." What about Israeli minister Ehud Olmert's comments at the World Economic Forum in May that if the Palestinians would "stop terror" Israel would be amenable to reopening the Gaza airport? What about Israel's legitimate security concerns? Over 100 Palestinian rockets and mortars have been fired at Israeli towns in the past week alone, with fatal consequences. Does the Times consider that an important issue to be dealt with before Israel can relax border security? Apparently not. Palestinian rockets and mortar attacks are not so much as mentioned in the editorial.

For more, see this post on the Times editorial "template" at Mediacrity, and this CAMERA article on the newspaper's "knee jerk editorial bias."

Posted by GI at 04:51 PM |  Comments (0)

July 18, 2005

Blair on Roots of Terror

A recent entry on CAMERA's Web site addressed the misreporting by AP and Ha'aretz of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's interview with BBC radio. AP and Ha'aretz wrongly claimed that Blair discussed the "easing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians" as a means of addressing the "roots" of terror. AP later corrected their error.

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Interestingly, Blair suggested in a subsequent (July 16) speech to the Labour Party national conference that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not drive global terrorism:

If it is the plight of the Palestinians that drives them, why, every time it looks as if Israel and Palestine are making progress, does the same ideology perpetrate an outrage that turns hope back into despair?

Blair laid out other interesting points to make the case that the "evil ideology" of terrorists is not a "response to a particular policy." (Note that, unlike much of the media, Blair acknowledged the role of incitement in driving terrorism.)

He said:

What we are confronting here is an evil ideology. ...

This ideology and the violence that is inherent in it did not start a few years ago in response to a particular policy. Over the past 12 years, Al-Qaeda and its associates have attacked 26 countries, killed thousands of people, many of them Muslims. ...

They aren't unsophisticated in their propaganda. They recruit however and whoever they can and with success.

Neither is it true that they have no demands. They do. It is just that no sane person would negotiate on them.

They demand the elimination of Israel; the withdrawal of all Westerners from Muslim countries, irrespective of the wishes of people and government; the establishment of effectively Taleban states and Sharia law in the Arab world en route to one caliphate of all Muslim nations. ...

From the mid 1990s onwards, statements from Al-Qaeda, gave very clear expression to this ideology: "Every Muslim, the minute he can start differentiating, carries hatred towards the Americans, Jews and Christians. This is part of our ideology. The creation of Israel is a crime and it has to be erased.

"You should know that targeting Americans and Jews and killing them anywhere you find them on the earth is one of the greatest duties and one of the best acts of piety you can offer to God Almighty. Just as great is their hatred for so-called apostate governments in Muslim countries. This is why mainstream Muslims are also regarded as legitimate targets".

At last year's (Labour) party conference, I talked about this ideology in these terms.

Its roots are not superficial, but deep, in the madrassas of Pakistan, in the extreme forms of Wahabi doctrine in Saudi Arabia, in the former training camps of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan; in the cauldron of Chechnya; in parts of the politics of most countries of the Middle East and many in Asia; in the extremist minority that now in every European city preach hatred of the West and our way of life.

This is what we are up against. It cannot be beaten except by confronting it, symptoms and causes, head-on. Without compromise and without delusion.

The extremist propaganda is cleverly aimed at their target audience. It plays on our tolerance and good nature.

It exploits the tendency to guilt of the developed world, as if it is our behaviour that should change, that if we only tried to work out and act on their grievances, we could lift this evil, that if we changed our behaviour, they would change theirs. This is a misunderstanding of a catastrophic order.

Their cause is not founded on an injustice. It is founded on a belief, one whose fanaticism is such it can't be moderated. It can't be remedied. It has to be stood up to. ...

Posted by GI at 11:12 AM |  Comments (0)

July 17, 2005

CAMERA Hits the Hebrew Press

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The Israeli weekly Makor Rishon this week ran a feature on CAMERA's new Israel office and its director, Tamar Sternthal. The article focuses on CAMERA's recent work vis-a-vis the influential Israeli daily Ha'aretz.

Hebrew readers, click here to see the Makor Rishon article.

David Landau, editor of Ha'aretz, is quoted in the article, and his response is worth translating:

David Landau, editor of Ha'aretz, says that his relationship to CAMERA's complaints are different than his relationship to the complaints of others. "I confirm that we relate to CAMERA as if they have a personal vendetta against us. I have experience of many years with them. We encourage readers to write to us, and we publicize every day or two days corrections of errors according to need, but everything depends on the clean hands of the writer."

In other words, Landau unabashedly admits that Ha'aretz takes a "shoot the messenger" approach with respect to CAMERA's factual complaints. At Ha'aretz, factual accuracy takes a backseat to refusing to correct complaints so long as CAMERA is involved.

Posted by TS at 08:03 AM |  Comments (0)

July 12, 2005

Updated: Lou Dobbs Segment: Saddam's "Errant Missiles" Hit Israel

(See July 14 update at end of entry.)

The July 11 segment of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight touched on Israel's request for American aid to help pay for the Gaza withdrawal and related expenses.

At the end of the program, viewers were asked to respond to a poll question: "Should U.S. taxpayers be footing the bill for Israel's pullout from Gaza, yes or no?"

This is a legitimate question to ask, and there are no doubt diverse views on the subject among American taxpayers.

It is not surprising, though, that (as of the evening of July 12) most viewers responded "no" to the poll question. From the array of speakers on the program seemed to come only one point of view — one critical of aid to Israel.

Lou Dobbs prefaces the segment with a series of lead-ins which leave little doubt about his own attitudes:

...why is a nation of only 6.5 million people receiving more U.S. aid than any other country in the entire world? And why is that country asking for even more U.S. cash? Two billion dollars, in fact, even though it's one of the world's richest countries.

... Still ahead here ... the United States already gives Israel more foreign aid than any country in the world. Now Israel wants even more. Another $2 billion, in fact. We'll take a look at the economics and the politics of all of that money.

... Just ahead here, how much is enough? Israel asks the United States for billions more in economic aid. That's on top of the almost $3 billion we provide each year for a nation of 6.5 million people.

None of the other speakers — CNN correspondent Lisa Sylvester, Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union, and Phil Wilcox of the Foundation for Middle East Peace — answer Dobb's questions from a pro-aid point of view:

SYLVESTER: What is out there is a reported $2.2 billion price tag that Israel wants American taxpayers to cover. This is on top of the commitment the United States made last week to help the G8 fund a $3 billion aid package to the Palestinians. A lot of promises as the United States faces a record budget deficit.

PETE SEPP, NATIONAL TAXPAYERS UNION: Foreign aid is not a gigantic share of the federal budget, but when we're talking about deficits in the hundreds of billions of dollars, this kind of money still adds up.

SYLVESTER: Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, receiving more than $2.5 billion in annual assistance. Former ambassador to Israel Phil Wilcox questions if filling this aid request will even advance U.S. interests, because there's no sign that Israel intends to pull out of the West Bank, a necessary step on the roadmap to peace.

PHIL WILCOX, PRESIDENT, FOUNDATION FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE: The current picture does not offer that promise. And I think, therefore, Americans would probably be reluctant to increase the already very major assistance we give to Israel, unless we had a greater assurance that this was going to lead to a real peace.

Why were no speakers in favor of U.S. aid to Israel given the opportunity to make their case? This would have balanced out those who seem ambivalent or opposed to such aid, and allowed viewers to weigh the pros and cons and decide for themselves.

(Such viewpoints can be found here. Or here, here, here, here, here and here.

Much more disturbing than the suggestion that Israel should not receive aid — whether or not one agrees with this viewpoint, it is a legitimate expression of opinion — is the blatent revisionism of recent history in this closing comment by Sylvester:

The resettlement aid, if this is approved, would be the largest supplemental assistance to Israel since 1992, when Congress approved $3 billion to pay for damage from errant missiles during the first Gulf War

Errant missiles?! Anyone who remembers the 39 scud missiles launched by Iraq into Israel during the Gulf War realizes the absurdity of that statement. The missiles were not "errant." They were aimed at Israeli cities, and hit their targets. (Would Sylvester dare to suggest that the World Trade Center Towers in New York City were felled by "errant airplanes?)

Sylvester and Dobbs are welcome to their own opinions. They should not be allowed, however, to rewrite history.

Update: The reference to $3 billion in supplemental assistance for Gulf War missile damage is also incorrect. Congress actually approved in 1991 $650 million in "emergency supplemental assistance for Israel for additional costs incurred as a result of the Persian Gulf conflict"

Posted by GI at 04:08 PM |  Comments (4)

July 07, 2005

Terror Strikes London; BBC Forgets Editorial Guidelines

At least 33 people have been killed by simultaneous bombings which struck 3 subway lines and a double decker bus in London. The "Secret Organization group of al Qaeda Organization in Europe" claimed responsibility for the attacks.

We extend our sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families.

BBC.com's morning article on the attacks is headlined "London Rocked by Terror Attacks." The news organization has not similarly described attacks on Israeli buses and nightclubs as "terror." In fact, BBC has methodically avoided using this word when reporting on these attacks, probably as an extention of its editorial guidelines, which state:

The word "terrorist" itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should try to avoid the term, without attribution. We should let other people characterise while we report the facts as we know them.

If BBC purports to be objective, then it must apply its guidelines consistently, whether terrorists operate within its borders or outside.

BBC on London Terror Attacks

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BBC on Israel Terror Attacks

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(Hat tip: CAMERA members, Snapshots readers, and Mediacrity blog)

Posted by GI at 11:33 AM |  Comments (0)

July 06, 2005

Nick TV Stumbles in Explaining the Middle East to Children

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Linda Ellerbee in 2003

On July 3, 2005, Nickelodeon TV broadcast a Linda Ellerbee production, entitled Give Peace A Chance? calling for open dialogue between the region’s children as a way to achieve peace. The 24-minute documentary included interviews with Palestinian and Israeli children, as well as comments from Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian spokeswoman, and Yossi Beilin, a far-left politician who is known for his sharp criticism of Israel's policies and whose views garner scant support among Israelis.

Ellerbee's history lesson included: “War broke out” in 1948 between Arabs and Jews (more accurate version: “the Arab nations attacked Israel”); “Settlements are on what the international community considers Palestinian land” (in fact, ownership of the land is disputed). Ellerbee also implied a false moral equivalency between Palestinian attacks on Israelis and Israeli military defensive actions: “There has been pain and violence on both sides.”

In the last segment, Ellerbee visits the Peres Center for Peace where Palestinian and Israeli children play soccer together. The soccer program organizer tells Ellerbee about the Palestinian child who had intended to become a suicide bomber but changed his mind after playing there and having realized the Israelis “are not so bad.”

However, Ellerbee’s bomber lesson earns a failing grade for omitting the main reason for child suicide/homicide bombers: The pervasive Palestinian societal and media indoctrination of young children to become so-called “martyrs.”

Posted by MK at 02:54 PM |  Comments (0)

CAMERA Prompts AFP Correction

Earlier entries referred to a major error by Agence France Presse. AFP blamed "Jewish hardliners" for attempting to burn down the Al Aksa mosque, when in fact the perpetrator was not Jewish.

We are happy to report that AFP has corrected the error.

Posted by GI at 11:08 AM |  Comments (0)

July 05, 2005

Are Right-Wing Journalists "Militants"?

A few days ago, Snapshots' DP faulted the Chicago Tribune for labeling protestors who block roads as "militants." (See "Are Protestors 'Militants'?") Today, reporters from the Israeli daily Ha'aretz have broadened that by now meaningless label to include. . . (drumroll please). . . journalists.

Not just any journalists, of course, and, heaven forbid, certainly not Ha'aretz journalists. Just right-wing journalists.

In a news report today, reporters Lily Galili and Jonathan Lis describe the arrest of Vitaly Wovnovoy, suspected of being the web master of a right-wing Web site which reportedly published instructions on blocking roads.

Galili and Lis report:

This isn't the first time the Wovnovoys have made the headlines as a militant family. In the past, Anatov [Vitaly's wife] was the one who made the news, as a well-known journalist and writer among the Russian-speaking right-wing circles in Israel. She was a leading activist in Moshe Feiglin's camp in the Likud and was named as a candidate on his behalf in the last Knesset elections. After the ballot, when Ariel Sharon decided to focus his efforts on the immigrant community, Anatov became a member of the Likud Russian-language newspaper's editorial staff.

Some six months ago, the couple again hit the headlines when their son became the first soldier to be ejected from an officers' course after stating in a discussion with his commanders that he intended to refuse to take part in the evacuation of settlements. The parents then embarked on an ideological campaign in their son's name.

So, according to Ha'aretz's calculation, being a journalist in right-wing circles and backing a decision to NOT take part in a military mission makes you a "militant."

This doesn't really come as any surprise, since Ha'aretz has already let slip that it considers those who oppose the disengagement plan—more than a third of the Israeli population—"extremists."

Posted by TS at 07:36 AM |  Comments (0)

July 01, 2005

AFP vs. WAFA

See Update

Is there any difference between AFP, a global wire service, and WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency know for its absurd fabrications and propaganda?

One would hope so. But until AFP corrects its false claim that "Jewish hardliners" tried to burn down Al Aksa mosque, the difference isn't nearly as pronounced as it should be. Five days have so far passed with no correction.

From WAFA:

The participants considered August 21st every year as a day for Islamic solidarity with Jerusalem and Palestine, for on the morning of August 21, 1969, an Australian Jew extremist, Michael Rohan sit fire to the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, burning Saladin's pulpit and destroying approximately one third of the total area.

From AFP:

OIC was given its current name when it was first established at a meeting of Islamic leaders convened in Morocco following an attempt by Jewish hardliners to burn down Islam's third holiest site...

The arsonist was actually a Protestant fundamentalist.

Posted by GI at 12:44 PM |  Comments (0)