September 28, 2005
19-Year-Old a "Man"? "Teen"? Depends on His Nationality.
Why is a 19-year old Bostonian accused of assault identified as a “man” while a 19-year old Palestinian killed by Israelis identified as a “teen”?
A September 23,2005 Boston Globe headline for an AP story on page A13 of the print edition read:
Palestinian Teen Killed as Israelis Evacuate Base
The AP story described the shooting by soldiers of Allah Khamtouni, 19, in an Israeli army base near Jenin on Sept. 22. Khamtouni and others entered the Dotan base thinking it had been abandoned but soldiers, fearing a suicide bombing, fired at Khamtouni's legs. He bent down as they fired and was fatally hit in the shoulder.
Contrast this with the headline on a Globe article published a day later in the print edition:
Man, 19, Charged in Knife Assault
He’s accused of injuring students from New Orleans
September 27, 2005
CAMERA Sets the Record Straight on AP
CAMERA staff investigated the report's claim, examining photographs of the drill and contacting those who were at the scene. Below is a clarification of the events:
Hamas held a paramilitary rally in Gaza on Friday evening where a truckload of rockets exploded, killing nearly 20 Palestinian bystanders and injuring hundreds more. The Palestinian Authority and witnesses blamed Hamas for the deaths, but Hamas tried to shift responsibility for the accident onto Israel, saying Israel had hit the truck in an airstrike. Reinforcing this falsehood, Hamas announced it would “retaliate” for the truck explosion and launched barrages of rockets into Israel, injuring several people. After repeated warnings, Israel responded with airstrikes and vowed to use all means to end such Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israeli targets. On Sunday, the IDF set up a position outside the Gaza Strip and carried out a test drill in an empty field to calibrate weapons and to determine coordinates for a possible future artillery attack. Following the success of their test, soldiers hugged each other, celebrated and reportedly quoted from a passage in Judges about Samson praying for the strength to carry out a last attack on those who had gouged out his eyes and imprisoned him in Gaza.
The Associated Press is technically correct about soldiers celebrating by dancing and quoting from the bible, although the reference to a "biblical revenge song" is a rather extreme and misleading interpretation—there is no such thing as a biblical revenge song.
While AP appears to be astonishingly quick to report about some soldiers celebrating a successful test in an empty field, the news agency has not been quite as rigorous in describing Palestinians celebrating the murders of Israeli civilians. Note, for example, the difference between the following Jerusalem Post description of Palestinian rejoicing at the August 31, 2004 double suicide bombing in Be’er Sheva with that of AP:
Jerusalem Post, Sept. 1, 2004
While hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets in major cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to celebrate the double suicide bombings in Beersheba, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat reiterated his call for sacrificing millions of martyrs to liberate Jerusalem. Women in Nablus ululated in joy as Arab satellite TV stations interrupted their normal programs to break the news of the bombings. Scores of gunmen opened fire into the air, shouting "Allahu Akbar!" or God is Great. Similar expressions of joy were reported in Tulkarm and Jenin.
Associated Press on same event, August 31, 2004:
Associated Press on same event, August 31, 2004:
In the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh in southern Lebanon, gunmen fired shots into the air to celebrate the attacks, a Palestinian official said.
AP minimizes widespread Palestinian celebrations of Israeli deaths while playing up the small congratulatory dance celebrating a successful military test in an empty field:
Palestinians celebrating twin suicide bombings, August 29, 2004
Israeli soldiers celebrating successful military test, September 23, 2005
On a different note, CAMERA has prompted another AP correction.
AFP: From 'Cycle of Violence' to 'Colonies'
From "cycle of violence" to "colonies," AFP's language today sounds like its from an Arab propaganda outfit as opposed to an (ostensibly) mainstream media outlet.
One report filed from Gaza City today, entitled "Palestinian factions agree to stop attacks from Gaza," states:
Two weeks since Israeli troops left the Gaza Strip, the cycle of violence began when Hamas blamed Israel for a deadly blast at a rally in northern Gaza and fired a salvo of rockets into the Jewish state.
Ah, the old anonymous, non-human "cycle of violence" is again at fault, a stand in for assigning blame where it really belongs. And, it's so much easier to pull the "cycle of violence" card, which is always used to cover up Palestinian belligerence, when you conveniently forget to inform readers that even the Palestinian Authority says that Hamas--not Israel--is responsible for the deadly blast. (The PA is ahead of the AFP on this one?!)
And then there was this in the article by Sylvia Lanteaume reporting from Washington:
Bush has applauded the "courage" of Sharon for pushing on with the Gaza pullout, but has shown impatience with the Israeli decision to confiscate Palestinian territory in the West Bank to expand colonies.
The last time we heard settlements described as "colonies" in the mainstream media (MSM) was an Op-Ed full of errors and distortions in the New York Times by PLO legal advisor Michael Tarazi who argued for the elimination of Israel. The term “colony,” a modern curse word implying an alien community established in foreign territory by an imperial power, applies neither historically, legally, nor logically to the Israeli presence. But AFP's Lanteaume, just like PA's Tarazi, is unfettered by the facts.
Finally, the West Bank land is "Palestinian"? According to the Quartet's "road map," the status of that disputed land is left open until final status negotiations. Thus, Lanteaume's "reporting" reflects her wishful thinking more than anything else.
Book Errors & Corrections
This week's New York Times Book Review carries an interesting essay by Nora Krug about the frequency of errors appearing in books, and the infrequency of corrections. Some of Krug's observations include:
Corrections in books are rare. But the conclusion this implies -- that books rarely contain errors -- it itself incorrect. Books are not usually corrected because they can't be, not because they shouldn't be. . . .
But even small errors can lead to large problems. "The historical error can be very much like the virus that spreads from book to book," [Author Ron] Chernow said. He cites a line attributed to Hamilton in books for 150 years -- "Your people, sir -- your people is a great beast!" -- which he said since been shown to be hearsay reported 71 years after it was supposedly uttered.
Falsehoods like these seep into the record, infecting newspapers and magazines, which often rely on books as main sources.
September 23, 2005
Dershowitz on Amnesty International
In June, CAMERA reported on criticisms of a May 2005 Amnesty International report. Critics denounced, among other thigs, the absence of credibility in Amnesty's research and allegations, and the "very low level of research" displayed by by the organization.
In a Sept. 17 op-ed in the National Post (Canada), Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz added his voice to the criticisms of the human rights group's practices. He wrote:
...a recent report by Amnesty International ("AI") on violence perpetrated against Palestinian women by Palestinian men in the West Bank and Gaza ... purported to be "part of the global AI campaign to stop violence against women." ...
The AI report documents honour killings of women who had been raped. ...
The AI report places substantial blame for these and other killings on -- you guessed it -- Israel! Here is AI's conclusion, listing the causes of the violence directed against Palestinian women, presumably in the order of their importance: "Palestinian women in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are victims of multiple violations as a result of the escalation of the conflict, Israel's policies, and a system of norms, traditions and laws which treat women as unequal members of society."
The "escalation of the conflict" (which AI blames primarily on Israel) and "Israel's policies" rank higher than the "norms, traditions and laws which treat women as unequal." The report asserts that violence against women has "increased" dramatically during the Israeli occupation and has reached "an unprecedented level" as a result of the "increased militarization of the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation." It is as if the West Bank and Gaza Strip had been violence-free for Palestinian women until the Israeli Occupation.
On Aug. 23, 2005, I spoke with Donatella Rovera, who is AI's researcher on Israel and the Occupied Territories and asked her to provide the data on which she had based her conclusion... I also asked her whether AI had compared violence against women in the occupied West Bank and Gaza with violence against women in unoccupied Arab-Muslim areas that have comparable populations, such as Jordan. Rovera acknowledged that AI could provide no such comparative data and confirmed that the report was based on anecdotal information...
It is impossible under these circumstances for any outside researcher to replicate AI's study and to confirm or disconfirm its conclusions.
September 22, 2005
AP's Road Map Amnesia Crosses Borders
A blog entry yesterday noted a tendency in Associated Press stories to report as if the Road Map applies only to Israel. Specifically, the entry looked at a problematic dispatch by Mark Lavie of the AP Jerusalem bureau.
The tendency, though, is not limited to reports from Middle East. A day earlier, the AP's chief diplomatic correspondent Anne Gearan, reporting from the United Nations, was equally oblivious to the Road Map's demands on Palestinians.
She summarized the plan as follows:
The road map calls for a freeze on Jewish settlements in the larger West Bank, and the dismantlement of more than 100 unauthorized West Bank settlement outposts.
Despite conceding that "Hamas leaders have said the group will continue to build its private army and carry out attacks in Israeli-controlled areas," Gearan doesn't mention the Road Map's calls for the PA to "undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere." Nor does she even hint at the Palestinian obligation under the plan to begin "sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure."
September 21, 2005
AP Still Displays Selective Vision
In the latest example, a Sept. 21 dispatch by Mark Lavie, the reporter notes the continued existence of Palestinian terrorist groups; the "large quantities of weapons" being smuggled into the Gaza Strip; Hamas' call for continued attacks on Israeli targets in the West Bank; "several large rallies featuring [Hamas and Islamic Jihad] gunmen firing in the air"; and the stated refusal of Hamas to give up its weapons. Although each item on this list represents a violation of Palestinian obligations under the road map, Lavie does not once mention the plan or the violations.
Only later in the article does Lavie get around to mentioning the peace plan—not once, but twice. What spurs Lavie's sudden recall of the document? The reporter is discussing possible Israeli violations. Referring to a claim by former Gaza settlers that they had government permission to relocate at an old military base in the West Bank—a claim refuted by Israeli officials—Lavie notes:
Shirat Hayam evacuees said they would move to Maskiyot in the northern Jordan River valley, now a military school. That would violate Israeli pledges not to set up new settlements in the West Bank, contained in the internationally backed "road map" peace plan and promises to the U.S.
However, Ron Sheckner, a Defense Ministry official, denied that permission has been given. "No one got a promise about this," he said, adding that Israel would only expand existing settlements - also a violation of the "road map."
Christians Protest Persecution by Muslims
Although it is from earlier in the month, this piece in the Telegraph [London] is worth noting for any who might have missed it:
Christians in the Holy Land have handed a dossier detailing incidents of violence and intimidation by Muslim extremists to Church leaders in Jerusalem, one of whom said it was time for Christians to "raise our voices" against the sectarian violence.
Read the rest here.
AP Amplifies Tunisian Falsehood
As a service to its readers, reporters often attempt to clarify, if possible, confusing or ambiguous statements. That was not the case yesterday, when Sam Ghattas of the AP reported on the Tunisian foreign minister's statements at the U.N. General Assembly.
After addressing the Palestinian issue, Foreign Minister Abdelwahab Abdallah went on to say:
We also consider that achieving fair, comprehensive and durable peace in the Middle East region requires the recovery of sisterly Syria and Lebanon of all their occupied territory.
Though he doesn't say so outright, the assumed occupier is Israel. Only, the United Nations, the body which Abdallah is addressing, has already confirmed on June 16, 2000 that Israel no longer occupies any inch of Lebanese land.
Rather than point out that Abdallah was wrong to imply that Israel continues to occupy Lebanese territory, AP's Ghattas amplifies the misrepresentation by specifically identifying Israel as the alleged occupier while the Tunisian never did:
He said a durable peace would require Israel also to give up land it captured from Syria and Lebanon.
September 20, 2005
The Forgotten Clause of the Oslo Accords
In an Op-Ed today, Ha'aretz's Aluf Benn argues that Ariel Sharon is trying to drive a wedge between the West Bank and Gaza Strip and to establish a separate status for each. He writes:
It is clear that [Sharon] is washing his hands of the forgotten clause in the Oslo Accords, that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are "one territorial unit."
But it is Benn who seems to be "washing his hands of the forgotten clause in the Oslo Accords"--that which prohibits Hamas from participating in elections. Instead, he portrays Sharon's insistence on Palestinian compliance with that clause as Israeli obstructionism. He avers:
Yet Prime Minister Ariel Sharon already is launching relations with the Palestinian Authority in the post-disengagement era with threats of disrupting West Bank elections should Hamas decide to contend in them. . . .
In demanding Hamas' exlusion, Sharon is defying PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' main effort to integrate the opposition and terror organizations into politics. [TS asks: BTW, Benn, recall that clause in the "road map" which prohibits just that?] . . . Sharon is also placing the American administration in a dilemma between its two main principles . . .
Sharon placed the problem on the agenda, and has four months to find a solution. But the significance of his threats transcends the clumsy attempt to dictate the Palestinians' list of candidates and election platforms.
September 19, 2005
Missing UN Report on Palestinian Living Standards
U.N. SAYS PALESTINIANS FARE BETTER THAN OTHER ARABS
Palestinian Arabs living in the Israeli-controlled West Bank and Gaza Strip have fared better in terms of life expectancy, adjusted real income, and educational attainment than many fellow Arabs, according to the United Nations. The U.N.’s 2005 Human Development Report, released to coincide with this month’s opening session of the U.N. General Assembly, ranks the Arabs of what it calls “Occupied Palestinian Territories” at 102 out of 177 countries.
The Associated Press and other wire services filed dispatches mentioning the report’s general finding – that not enough is being done for the 40 percent of the world’s people who live on less than $2 a day. But a September 19 Nexis search showed no news coverage of the study’s ranking of Palestinian Arabs under “Israeli occupation” higher than Algerians (103), Syrians (106), Egyptians (119), Moroccans (124) and Yemeni (151). Based on data for 2003 – a period of frequent Israeli counter-terrorism responses to the “al-Aqsa intifada” – the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza Strip also were not far behind Tunisians (89) and Jordanians (90).
Contradicting the story-line
A great deal of news media commentary, and not a little reporting, has portrayed the Palestinian Arabs as impoverished, and forced by Israel to endure substandard if not subhuman living conditions. The U.N.’s 2005 Human Development Report suggests otherwise, the Palestinian ranking of 102 falling into the “medium human development” listing. For purposes of comparison, Norway (1), Iceland (2), Australia (3), the United States (10) and Japan (11) are among the 57 countries classified offering “high human development” and Madagascar (146), Swaziland (147), Sierra Leone (176) and Niger (177) bookend the “low human development” category.
Israel ranks 23 in the U.N. report. The top Arab states are the oil-rich, population poor sheikdoms of Qatar (40), United Arab Emirates (41), Bahrain (43) and Kuwait (44).
Arabs' Self-Inflicted Woes
At first glance, the 2005 study might seem to conflict with the U.N.’s 2004 Arab Human Development Report, which asserted that the standard of living for 58 percent of the Palestinian population fell below the poverty line. But without the self-inflicted damage of the Palestinian’s 2000 - 2005 terrorism war against Israel, the territories – whose economies had grown markedly in the Oslo “peace process” years of 1993 - 2000 – likely would be listed even further ahead of Algeria, Syria, Egypt, Morocco and Yemen. As the under-reported 2004 study noted, much of what really ails the Arab countries, and the Palestinian Arabs, are “deficits of freedom,” including lack of Western-style political, religious, minority and women’s rights and the prevalence of corrupt, oppressive, unrepresentative governments.
Harry Golden, editor of the Carolina Israelite and author of the 1958 bestseller, Only in America, said that after a lifetime of clipping news articles, he often found that the important stories were on the back. Or, in this case of Palestinian living standards under Israeli control, especially compared to Arab brethren under their own sovereign governments, nowhere at all.
This important story deserves to be covered for at least three reasons: 1) the facts it reveals about Palestinian standards of living – as compared to fragmentary and often misleading feature reporting about “Palestinians under Israeli occupation”; 2) the under-reported reality of life in many Arab states;, and 3) the virtually unreported Israeli efforts to normalize daily life for peaceful Palestinians as much as possible.
The Teibel Double Standard
AP writer Amy Teibel seems capable of giving a clear accounting of a party's obligation under a bilateral or multilateral agreement--at least when that party is Israel. For instance, on Sept. 13 she spelled out Israel's "road map" commitment regarding settlements:
Sharon, speaking en route to U.N. anniversary celebrations in New York, also reiterated that Israel would continue building in West Bank settlements--even as he declared his intention to carry out the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan that expressly obligates Israel to halt such construction.
On the other hand, when a Palestinian obligation was concerned, Teibel yesterday qualified:
Israel says Hamas participation in Palestinian elections violates the 1994 interim peace accords that created the Palestinian Authority, banning groups from running if they call for destruction of Israel.
Does the AP staff not have access to a copy of the Oslo Accords? Would it be too much trouble to consult with the text to see if it does indeed prohibit terror groups like Hamas from running in elections?
At least the AP is one step ahead of the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, which didn't even mention Sharon's comment that Hamas participation in elections is a violation of the Oslo agreements. (Hat tip: Dave Alpern)
LA Times Omits Key Point on Hamas in Elections
On Saturday, CAMERA's Web site reported that the New York Times erroneously described the Palestinian obligation to prohibit terror groups like Hamas from participating in elections as an Israeli demand. Alex Safian reminds the Times about the Palestinian commitments under the Oslo Accords:
Annex 2 of the Interim Agreement, for example, clearly requires the Palestinians to bar terror groups like Hamas from the electoral process:
Article III – Qualification and Nomination of Candidates
The nomination of any candidates, parties or coalitions will be refused, and such nomination or registration once made will be canceled, if such candidates, parties or coalitions:
(1) commit or advocate racism; or
(2) pursue the implementation of their aims by unlawful or nondemocratic means.
Now the Los Angeles Times is also guilty of Oslo amnesia when it comes to Hamas running in elections. An article yesterday by Laura King and Ken Ellingwood, entitled "Hamas Politicians Maneuvering in Gaza Strip," contains nine paragraphs which directly deal with Hamas running in elections, but none mention that such a move is a violation of the Oslo Accords. Instead, like the Gray Lady, the LA Times presents Israeli opposition to Hamas participation as an Israeli "demand."
King and Ellingwood report:
Israel strenuously objects to Hamas participating in elections, particularly those that encompass all Palestinian territory, as long as it refuses to renounce its armed struggle or give up its weapons.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told reporters in New York during the United Nations summit on Friday that Israel might withhold help for the Palestinian elections if Hamas runs.
Now that it has withdrawn from Gaza, there is little Israel could do there. But the prime minister said Israel could, for example, leave West Bank roadblocks in place.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Saturday that Sharon's comments weakened moderates such as Abbas and helped strengthen Hamas.
"I really urge Mr. Sharon not to interfere in internal Palestinian affairs," Erekat said.
"The turning point in Palestinian history is these elections…. This is the road. This is the first step to put Palestinians on the right track. Such statements from Mr. Sharon only complicate this and weaken us."
Hamas said it was determined to run despite Sharon's comments and warned against interference.
The issue of Hamas running in the elections is likely to come up in a meeting between Sharon and Abbas that is tentatively scheduled for the first week of October.
The Bush administration, together with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other leaders, supports Israel's demand that Hamas disarm, but in general believes that attempts to keep the group out of politics would backfire, Western diplomats said.
AFP Takes Sides on Terror Terminology
In an otherwise solid article on the threat facing the Israeli community of Netiv Haasara, just north of the Gaza Strip, Agence France Presse exemplifies its tendency to whitewash Palestinian terrorism.
Reporter Michael Blum writes today ("Netiv Haasara, Israel's new frontline on Gaza"):
But it never occurred to [Netiv Haasara residents] that they would pay a price for the barrier Israel is constructing against what it calls Palestinian "terrorism," should militants target Israeli communities with rocket or mortar attacks out of the Gaza Strip.
Blum is perfectly aware that these "militants" are targeting civilians, even in their homes, which by definition renders the attackers "terrorists."
Living in the village for five years, today they hardly dare walk anywhere near the Netiv Haasara security fence, remembering all too clearly that a young woman was killed two months ago when a rocket smashed into her home.
September 18, 2005
New York Times Ignores Palestinian Violations of Peace Plans
CAMERA notes that a New York Times story on upcoming Palestinian elections portrayed the Israeli demand that Palestinians bar terror groups from elections as a unilateral demand, when, in fact, it was an obligation under the Oslo Accords . The reporter also ignored all other Palestinian obligations under the various peace plans as well, but did note an alleged Israeli violation of the Road Map.
While there’s no doubt the PA routinely violates its peace-plan obligations, by publishing Brinkley’s skewed and inaccurate dispatches the New York Times violates its journalistic obligations to avoid bias and give readers the full truth.
Meanwhile, Mediacrity notes that the Times' "disastrous" coverage of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is an excellent example of how the Times "habitually ignores or underplays stories that do not fit its preconceived notions and biases for coverage of the Middle East."
Since Sept. 12, when Israel forces withdrew, Gaza has been the site of an orgy of looting and violence that has included wholesale violations of Israel's agreements with Egypt to police the border...the Times has reacted by keeping its coverage to a bare minimum -- making it resemble, in its Gaza coverage, a small-town newspaper out in the sagebrush more than a major "newspaper of record."
Read the whole entry.
September 15, 2005
BBC Details Taibeh (Taybeh) Attack
Lucy Williamson of the BBC has published a detailed report about last week's attack by Palestinian Muslims from Deir Jarir on the Palestinian Christian town of Taibeh (Taybeh). "The reason?" asks Williamson, "An alleged relationship between a Christian man from Taybeh and a Muslim woman from Deir Jarir."
Williamson interviews Nadim Khoury of Taibeh, the owner of a famous brewery:
Nadim was lucky--the brewery escaped. But the mob burned 13 houses that night--all of them belonging to Nadim's extended family. His cousins hid in the olive groves overlooking the village and watched as their homes were torched.
Nadim's cousin, Madhi, is the man accused of impregnating the Muslim girl from Deir Jarir, who was later killed, presumably by family members. Williamson writes:
No investigation will convince the [woman's] family of Mahdi's innocence, [a relative] says. And no prison term will constitute justice. There are some things you cannot compensate for. Mahdi must die.
The death threat is supported by some in Deir Jarir's traditional council. . .
September 14, 2005
Palestinian Quote Clarified
After several Knight Ridder newspapers, including the Akron Beacon Journal, the Charlotte Observer, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the San Jose Mercury News quoted a Palestinian repeating the libelous canard that Israel destroyed the Al Aqsa mosque, CAMERA was informed that Knight Ridder commendably issued a clarification and asked its newspapers to run a correction.
The original quote read:
"I want to destroy everything here as they did the Al Aqsa Mosque," said Mahmoud Malahi, who told a reporter he had lost a leg to an Israeli tank when he was 15.
The clarification notes:
In a story on the Gaza Strip, included a quote from a Palestinian demonstrator that wrongly equated the destruction of a former synagogue at Netzarim in the Gaza Strip to Israeli actions regarding the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The story should have clarified that the Israelis have not destroyed or vandalized the mosque.
To its credit—or maybe simply because space considerations—another Knight Ridder newspaper which ran the story, the Philadelphia Inquirer, removed the inaccurate quote before publishing.
Stop the Presses: Ha'aretz Corrects
A truly rare event has occured in the English edition of Ha'aretz today. A correction appears. It reads:
In yesterday's edition (Palestinians torch Gush Katif synagogues), the quote, "They left empty buildings that used to be temples, but they removed all the religious symbols, and they are no longer religious places" was said by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and not by David Baker [an official in the Prime Minister's Office].
The article was by Amos Harel, Arnon Regular and Nir Hasson.
Incitement Continues on PA TV
MEMRI TV has just released a clip of incitement on PA TV, officially sanctioned Palestinian television. The following is an excerpt of the televised Aug. 29, 2005 statements of the PA Ambassador to the UAE's Salim Abu Sultan on the Jihad of Palestinian mothers:
This lion cub went and attacked a settlement in the Gaza Strip. He fought and died a martyr's death. The next day, foreign journalists swarmed in and saw this mother, who is uneducated. They said to her: "Is it true that Saddam Hussein gave you $25,000 for sending your son to blow himself up?"
What did this woman respond? Those who asked her were of course foreign journalists and TV channels from Europe... She said to them: "You don't understand the meaning of this world, the world to come, death, paradise, and so on. Our people lives on sacred land, and I wished the best for my son. The highest status of a person is that of a martyr, because he is placed next to the prophets in the world to come. I wished this for my beloved son, and dreamt that night that my son attained this status. Allah be praised for granting me this. All the money and all the oil of this world are worth less than one fingernail of my son."
September 13, 2005
CAMERA Report: Media Excuses Palestinian Destruction of Synagogues
As the IDF left the Gaza Strip, ending the Israeli presence there, Palestinians charged in, looting, burning and destroying the synagogues left behind. One can only imagine the international outcry had Israelis destroyed even one deserted Muslim mosque–the mere rumor that a Koran may have been mishandled was enough to spark widespread media condemnation—but here much of the media, following the Palestinian lead, justified the rampaging as an understandable reaction to what they called "38 years of Israeli occupation" in the Gaza Strip and turned the tables to criticize Israel.
CAMERA has documented some of the media response. Read about it here.
Independent: 'Militant' Infiltrates Reuters
The British Independent reported on Sunday that a member of the terrorist group Hizb ut-Tahrir is employed at Reuters:
A militant Islamist group that Tony Blair has said should be banned has members in some of Britain's most important institutions, including the NHS and blue-chip companies such as IBM and Reuters, an Independent on Sunday investigation has revealed. . . .
The IoS has now learned that at least two members of Hizb, which seeks to form a global Islamic state regulated by sharia law, work for the computer giant IBM, and that Reuters, the international news and financial information agency, has at least one member among its employees.
After being informed of this, a Reuters spokesperson said: "We require our journalists to be very sensitive to any activities which might lead to their impartiality being questioned. We of course recognise the right of people to hold their own views.
"We are not aware of any of our employees being members of Hizb ut-Tahrir. If it becomes illegal, then certainly we would review the matter on the 'Do their private actions impact our public reputation?' principle."
This revelation comes on the heels of publicity surrounding another Hizb member who was gainfully employed at the Guardian newspaper:
Recently, the IoS disclosed that The Guardian had employed Dilpazier Aslam, a Hizb member, as a trainee journalist, and articles he wrote after the London bombings did not mention his connection with the group. He lost his job at the paper after refusing to give up his membership.
September 12, 2005
The Palestinian Economy — a Palestinian Problem?
The media often implies that Israel is solely to blame for poverty in Gaza and the West Bank, while ignoring Palestinian responsibility for the situation.
For example, an Agence France Presse dispatch today suggests that Israeli security measures alone are responsible for the state of the Palestinian economy:
Owing to an almost uninterrupted army blockade of the territory during the five-year Palestinian uprising, Gaza labourers have been largely unable to cross into Israel for work.
Unemployment stands at around 45 percent and up to two-thirds of the population live in poverty, with Israeli military checkpoints hampering freedom of movement and goods inside the Palestinian territory.
However, a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, quoting the UC Berkeley-trained economist and Palestinian official George T. Abed, shows that the Palestinians themselves should be held accountable for their own economic situation, both in the past and looking forward.
Here are some excerpts:
... while the United States and other donors have pledged billions of dollars [for the Palestinians], a senior member of the Palestinians' new economic team says the flood of money is largely unnecessary at this time -- and some of it may be counterproductive.
"If you poured in a lot of financing at this time, it would not have a big impact. It would not be very effective," said George T. Abed, who retired earlier this year from a senior position at the International Monetary Fund, then was appointed governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority. "Governance is poor. It would be wasted."
Abed ... said the view from inside the territories is different from the perception some may have from the outside. Although unemployment and poverty are rampant, Palestinian banks are overflowing with deposits, he said, and many wealthy Palestinian entrepreneurs living overseas are eager to invest in the territories.
The immediate challenge, according to Abed, is building a modern system to handle the existing capital efficiently ...
The Palestinians are at a critical stage as they seek to recover from the effects of the nearly five-year uprising known as the intifada, the decadeslong Israeli occupation and the corruption and fiscal mismanagement of the previous Palestinian administration, led by the late Yasser Arafat.
In an Atlantic Monthly article titled "In A Ruined Country," author David Samuels estimated that Arafat and his senior aides may have siphoned off as much as half of the $7 billion in aid to the Palestinian Authority. Samuels, citing an International Monetary Fund report, said Arafat may have personally taken $900 million just from 1995 to 2000, a figure that did not include the rake off from kickbacks and other forms of corruption.
In the long term, Abed said, private capital and internal reform will be more important than government contributions or funds from public institutions such as the World Bank if the Palestinians are to create a self-sustaining economy with jobs that rely on growth rather than aid.
"There are things that require funds, and things that require reform," said Abed. "We can produce high single-digit growth in the first year or two of our administration if we can make those changes in things like the judiciary, education and the government.
"The Israeli withdrawal (from Gaza and the northern West Bank) will have little impact without the economic and other changes," he added.
The Palestinians already receive the highest per-capita donor aid in the world, according to James Prince, a consultant to the Palestinian Investment Fund and co-author of a recent report, "The Economic Road Map: Beyond the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."
The funds, Prince said, have not done much beyond ensuring a minimum standard of living. But they have left the economy weakened because little of the money has been used to encourage private investment.
While the article offers valuable insight into the Palestinian economic situation, the reporter seems to miss the mark when listing the "decades long Israeli occupation" as a cause of Palestinian economic decline.
Speaking before the US Congressional Joint Economic Committee, Dr. Talia Einhorn, a Senior Lecturer-in-Law at the University of Manchester, discussed the developement of the Palestinian economy:
Prior to their occupation by Israel in 1967, the economies of the West Bank and the Gaza strip were underdeveloped and fragmented. There was no exchange between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
... In the whole area of the Occupied Territories there was only one modern factory.
... The overall manpower employed in industry has in fact decreased from 2500 in 1953 to 1782 in 1960.
In view of the weakness and problematic structure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip economies prior to the 1967 war, Israel could hardly be blamed for having distorted the Palestinian economy.
... By 1986 the number of Palestinians employed in Israel was estimated at 94,700, which amounted to 36% of the total labor force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In 1987 109,000 Palestinian workers, constituting almost 40% of the labor force, were employed in Israel. 61 Employment in Israel has been very meaningful from the point of view of the Palestinians: the income from Israel equaled a quarter of the GDP; most persons employed in Israel had no other source of income; more than half were sole providers of large families. Work was especially important for the residents of the Gaza Strip, where most of the population was urban, the economy less developed, the per capita GDP smaller, and rate of population growth - faster. From the Israeli point of view, the importance of the economic connection was much smaller. The 109,000 Palestinians working in Israel in 1987 constituted only 7.2% of the total labor force.
... During the first years of occupation the West Bank and Gaza Strip attained a relatively high rate of growth. The average annual growth of agricultural productivity was 12% in each of the first six years; average annual growth of industrial productivity - 15%
The first 20 years of occupation have brought about a pronounced improvement in the standard of living of the Palestinians. Private consumption per capita rose during 1969-1986 at an overall rate of 5% per annum. This is evidenced by economic indicators, such as increase and improvement of quality of the food consumed; housing conditions; ownership of private cars, refrigerators, television sets, cooking appliances, sewing machines, etc. According to the World Bank Report, 95% of the Households in Gaza had running water and 100% had electricity (compared with 3 percent for water and 14% for electricity in 1974). This does not relate to the disadvantaged refugee camps. However, the quality of water in Gaza is far from satisfactory and electric shortcuts occur all too often. In the West Bank 79% of the households have running water and 75% - electricity, compared with 24% with water and 46% with electricity in 1974.
Broadly speaking, the pattern of economic growth of the Occupied Territories since 1967 can be broken into four phases: very rapid growth until the mid-1970s; slightly less rapid growth until the early 1980s; stagnation until the onset of the Intifada (uprising) in December 1987; and decline thereafter.
Ha'aretz's Legal Follies
Today's Ha'aretz editorial, entitled "Back to the border of sanity," pontificates:
Thirty-eight years after Gaza was occupied in what most of the public still believes was a war of no choice, Israel is returning the Gaza Strip to its legal owners as they are embodied by the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Authority embodies the "legal owners" of the Gaza Strip? No treaty ever made the PA the sovereign or legal owners in Gaza. In fact, though the PA has been handed de facto sovereignty, its officials deny that they have sovereignty. With Israel apparently giving up its own legal claims by turning over control to the PA, together with the fact that the Egyptians never had any legal claims, there is a sovereignty vacuum which the PA will attempt to fill. If they succeed in doing so and gain international recognition, they will establish legal sovereignty.
September 11, 2005
As "triumphant" Palestinians set fire to synagogues in Gaza, the Associated Press obligingly reported that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas saw Israel's administration of Gaza as "aggression, injustice, humiliation, killing and settlement activity."
... what was it all about? Why did Jews settle in Gaza in the first place? ...
The initial consensus [in Israel's 1967 government] was that Gaza would eventually be annexed and serve as a buffer against invasion from Egypt, still seen then as Israel's most dangerous foe. ...
Middle East Historian Dan Schueftan ... acknowledges that there was ... a 1967 strategic rationale. "The thinking at the time was that Israel should have bases on the traditional invasion route from Egypt to the north ... and that it should have a presence in Gaza to control terror against Israel, which had been rife ..."
The second phase of settlement in Gaza came after the 1973 Yom Kippur War. ... After the war, in which Israel was taken by surprise and which left the country traumatized, the new government under Labor's Yitzhak Rabin planned a major settlement project at what became the Katif Bloc to beef up the buffer against Egypt ...
The third and most expansive phase of settlement in Gaza came after the right-wing Likud leader Menachem Begin came to power in 1977 and made peace with Egypt in 1979. The consequent evacuation of Israeli settlements in the northeastern Sinai adjacent to Gaza, including the town of Yamit, only gave the Gaza project added momentum, with the role of the Gush Katif settlements as a buffer between Egypt and Gaza now seen as even more important.
A Regular Robbery?
Recall the apparent "honor killing" case last April which Ha'aretz's Arnon Regular reported as a robbery? The British Independent, the BBC, the Jerusalem Post, and the AP all reported the murder of 20-year-old Yusra al-Azami and her fiancé as an "honor killing" for which Hamas later apologized because the couple, in a car together with their siblings, was actually engaged.
But, at the time, Regular discounted the "honor killing" story, and instead stood by his report that the gunmen "apparently were attempting to rob the couples."
It seems that Regular is again spreading tales of robbery in another murder case which was widely reported under far different circumstances. "Mousssa Arafat's son says his father was killed during an armed robbery attempt," is the headline of Regular's news brief today. It reads:
Manhal Arafat, the son of Moussa Arafat, the Palestinian Intelligence chief who was assassinated in Gaza last Wednesday, said Friday that his father was killed during an armed robbery attempt that "outside parties are trying to exploit for their own purposes." Arafat said the militants who attacked the house where he and his father were staying wanted to steal arms and weapons. Manhal Arafat, who was abducted during the raid and released Thursday night, said he expected the Palestinian Authority to find his father's murderers, and that he had no intention of engaging in a blood feud.
Just as in his earlier article about the killing of al-Azami, Regular provides no information which contradicts the shaky robbery version. For instance, it has been widely reported that the Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the attack. As the Jerusalem Post reported Thursday, Abu Abir, a spokesman for the group,
said his group would later issue a detailed statment about the assassination and its motives. He accused Arafat of corruption and murder and vowed to pursue other senior Palestinian officials involved in similar "crimes" against the Palestinians. "We have a comprehensive plan to fight rampant corruption in the Palestinian ministries and institutions," he said.
Also, the Post reported:
Many Palestinians in the Gaza City said Wednesday's assassination of General Moussa Arafat . . . could not have been carried out without the involvement of at least one of the PA's official security branches.
Eyewitnesses reported that some of the gunmen who participated in the raid on Arafat's two-story villa in the Tal as-Hawa neighborhood used armored vehicles belonging to one of the security organizations.
Manhal, who's going to believe the robbery story aside from Arnon Regular?
September 10, 2005
David Gelernter comments in Friday's L.A. Times:
A 55-SECOND video report, produced in 2000 by a French TV station and distributed free of charge around the world, has caused untold injury and grief to Israeli civilians. This month, the French author Nidra Poller analyzes the evidence in Commentary magazine and shows that the video is a fraud — "an almost perfect media crime," the retired French journalist Luc Rosenzweig calls it.
Read the whole thing here.
See more information here.
September 09, 2005
Mystery Deepens II: Why Did Ha'aretz and the New York Times Reach Different Conclusions?
As we indicated in our last Snapshots entry, independent investigations of Yasir Arafat's medical reports by Ha'aretz and New York Times reached different conclusions. The Times ruled out the rumor that Arafat had AIDS while Ha'aretz continued to give it credence as one of the possible underlying causes of his death. In fact, the medical records neither rule in nor rule out AIDS as a possible cause.
Why such different conclusions? Ha'aretz correspondent Amos Harel discusses the controversy in a follow-up article today.
How did Haaretz and The New York Times come to such different conclusions, based on the same report? A copy of the report was first obtained during research for the book, "The Seventh War," written by Amos Harel and Avi Isacharoff. The copy was presented by the authors to a Times reporter who was present at the meetings with Israeli experts.
The experts posited three principal causes of death: poison, infection or AIDS, with each doctor assigning a different probability to each option.
The Times, after consulting with its own medical reporters, decided to rule out almost completely the probability of poisoning or AIDS. The Israeli doctors, and Haaretz in their footsteps, thought differently.
As expected, fierce denials were sounded in Jerusalem on Thursday regarding the possibility that Israel might have poisoned Arafat. These can be taken at face value, or it might be asked what interest would it serve to confirm the accusation, were it true. Palestinian spokesmen responded with restraint to the media publicity. It was apparent that they were not going to lose sleep over the thought that Arafat might have been poisoned.
If the story has a bottom line it is this: It is doubtful that the mystery of his death will ever be solved. On the other hand, Arafat's passing came at a time convenient for all.
September 08, 2005
Mystery Deepens: Did Yasir Arafat Die of AIDS?
The circumstances of Yasir Arafat's illness and death last year were shrouded in mystery and secrecy, fueling speculation that he died of AIDS and Palestinian allegations that he was poisoned by Israel. Independent investigations of Arafat's medical records by reporters for Ha'aretz, and the New York Times have only deepened the mystery.
Avi Isacharoff of Israel Radio and Amos Harel of Ha'aretz obtained Arafat's medical dossier from a senior Palestinian official. The Ha'aretz article discusses the chapter in their book, "The Seventh War," that is devoted to the last weeks of Arafat's life.
They make public for the first time the main points of the report drawn up by the medical team of Percy military hospital, in the Paris suburb of Clamart, where Arafat was treated in the last two weeks of his life. The French physicians do not think that Arafat was poisoned, but also refrain from adducing an alternative cause of death. "It is not possible to determine a cause that will explain the combination of symptoms that caused the patient's death," the summarizing report of the hospital's intensive care ward states.
The article discusses the speculation that Arafat died of an AIDS-related infection.
"I know that the physicians in Paris found the AIDS virus in Arafat's blood," Dr. Ashraf al-Kurdi, the personal physician of the late Palestinian Authority chairman, says in a telephone interview from Amman. Dr. al-Kurdi, who was kept from joining the Palestinian delegation that accompanied Arafat on his final trip to Paris, does not say where he got this sensational information. To heighten the mystery, he also maintains that Arafat was poisoned and that the AIDS virus that was found in his blood "was injected into his body in order to camouflage the poisoning."
Strange as it may seem, al-Kurdi is not the only one who says that Arafat was infected with AIDS. Similar allegations are made by an Israeli physician, who was told about it by a French colleague who treated Arafat, and by sources in the Israeli defense establishment. Even though some of the symptoms of the mysterious disease that caused Arafat's death 10 months ago resemble those of AIDS, the detailed report prepared by the French medical team makes no mention of any test that would confirm or rule out the existence of the virus in his blood.
The New York Times reports that Arafat died from a stroke that resulted from a bleeding disorder caused by an unidentified infection. While the Times suggests that its independent review "dispels a rumor that [Arafat] may have died of AIDS", it acknowledges that "the French doctors never discovered the specific cause of the infection", and bases its own conclusion on an unidentified Israeli infectious-diseases expert.
The records make no mention of an AIDS test, an omission the experts found bizarre. An Israeli infectious disease specialist said he would have performed the test, if only to be thorough and to refute the rumors that surrounded the case.
He said news accounts during Arafat's illness made him strongly suspect that Arafat had AIDS. But after studying the records, he said that was improbable, given the sudden onset of the intestinal troubles.
September 02, 2005
NY Times Points Out Lack of Credibility of Source
In a September 1st article ("School Siege Leader Calls Russia Unwitting Ally"), NY Times reporter C.J. Chivers points out the lack of credibility of Shamil Basayev, the Chechen terror leader who masterminded the barbaric attack on the Beslan school last year:
Unraveling truth from fiction in Mr. Basayev's statements has often proved difficult; he is prone to exaggeration, absurdities and lies.
Why does the New York Times not inform its readers of the similar lack of credibility when quoting spokespersons such as Saeb Erekat, infamous for numerous anti-Israel fabrications, such as the bogus "Jenin Massacre?" For that matter, why didn't Times reporters ever include such a credibility warning when quoting the late Yassir Arafat?
September 01, 2005
Jihad in America
The Associated Press is reporting the indictment of four members of a radical Islamic gang who were plotting to carry out terrorist attacks in the U.S. The plan included shooting up synagogues on the High Holy Days in order to "maximize casualties."
Named in the indictment were Levar Haley Washington, 25; Gregory Vernon Patterson, 21; Hammad Riaz Samana, 21; and Kevin James, 29.
The four conspired to wage war against the U.S. government through terrorism, kill armed service members and murder foreign officials, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors contend the plot was orchestrated by Washington, Patterson and Samana at the behest of James, an inmate at the California State Prison-Sacramento who founded the radical group Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh.
According to the indictment, Washington pledged his loyalty to James "until death by martyrdom" and sought to establish a JIS cell outside prison with members with bomb expertise.
Washington, Patterson and Samana—who attended the same Inglewood mosque—allegedly conducted surveillance of the Los Angeles targets, as well as Internet research on Jewish holidays. Law enforcement officials have previously said that the military facilities included National Guard sites, though the indictment does not specify.
The attacks were to be carried out with firearms and other weapons at synagogues during Jewish holidays "to maximize the number of casualties," authorities said. Patterson allegedly bought a .223-caliber rifle in July.