January 31, 2006
CNN Broadcasts Hamas Consiracy Theory, Later Sets the Record Straight
During an interview on the Jan. 29 CNN program Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar disseminated the debunked conspiracy theory that the blue stripes on the Israeli flag represent the country's ambitions to expand its borders to the Nile and Euphrates rivers.
Although interviewer Wolf Blitzer didn't at the time challenging Zahar's misinformation, he did (partially) set the record straight the following day.
"Now, the Israelis are putting on their flag two blue lines. That means the river Nile and the Euphrates," Zahar told CNN.
Later in the interview, Zahar repeated the charge:
... ask the Israeli about what is the meaning of the two blue lines in their flag. What is the meaning of land of Israel in their concept?
BLITZER: The two blue lines on the Israeli flag that are on top of the Star of David, is that what you're talking about?
AL-ZAHAR: They are indicating -- they are saying that frankly -- it is indicating the River Nile and Euphrates (inaudible). On one coin, the gold shekel, there was -- it was a map, including Palestine, Sinai, Syria, Jordan and part of Saudi Arabia. So they are not denying that. Ask them about this question...
BLITZER: Well, let's just be clear about this. What you're saying is that Israel wants to establish a state between the Nile and the Euphrates, is that what you're saying?
AL-ZAHAR: I'm sorry, I'm not understanding your question.
BLITZER: Are you saying that Israel hopes to establish a state between the Nile River in Egypt and the Euphrates River in Iraq?
AL-ZAHAR: Yes. It is written in their Bibles. They are even -- it is written in the Knesset. That is the meaning of the David Star that was said (ph) as the land of Israel. This is the historical land of Israel.
BLITZER: Let me just wrap it up with one final question, and see if we can get a straight answer. If Israel were to accept a complete withdrawal...
The following day on CNN's The Situation Room, Blitzer rehashed the interview, this time pointing out that the stripes are actually said to be inspired by the Jewish prayer shawl:
BLITZER: In refusing to back away from the stated Hamas goal of destroying Israel, Al-Zahar pointed to the Israeli flag.
[video from Zahar interview]
BLITZER: The flag of Israel, by the way, could be traced back more than a century to the dawn of the modern Zionist movement. According to the encyclopedia Judaica and the Israeli foreign ministry, the two stripes on the flag were inspired by the two stripes on the prayer shawls worn during prayer. These stripes and the six pointed Star of David date back to antiquity.
Blitzer didn't point out that Zahar's claim about a Knesset inscription calling for an Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates was also false.
For more on the Nile to Euphrates mythology, see:
For more on prevarications by Palestinian officials being spread via the U.S. media, see here.
January 29, 2006
The Mideast's First Democracy
Good news comes by way of John V. Whitbeck, an international lawyer from Jedda, who enlightens us today that with the successful Palestinian Authority elections, the Middle East will be gaining its first democracy! In a letter in the International Herald Tribune, he writes:
While they may not yet be thinking in these terms, the Palestinian "old guard" lived its finest hour on Wednesday. Under the extraordinarily adverse conditions of occupation, they organized a fair and inclusive election, counted the votes quickly and honestly and stepped aside gracefully when defeated. Viewed from the region, this is breathtaking.
The Middle East now has its first true democracy . . .
Umm, so what does that make of Israel's upcoming elections, which are--as always--marked by a vigorous, free press and multiple candidates and parties? A desert mirage? Somebody should inform the New York Times' Almanac 2004, Freedom House, the CIA's World Factbook and the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office that they are suffering from delusions of Israeli democracy after prolonged exposure in the desert sun.
January 26, 2006
Hamas has claimed victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections. While some media outlets have attempted to cover up Hamas's continued rejectionism (see details here), other analysts point out that political power does not necessarily lead to moderation (see, for example, here.)
January 24, 2006
NY Times Ignores Nablus's Role as Center of Terrorism
A New York Times article (Jan. 23, 2006) about the upcoming Palestinian elections (“In a Stronghold, Fatah Fights to Beat Back a Rising Hamas”) represented Nablus as a large and beautiful Palestinian city suffering from Israeli restrictions. This partial representation ignored Nablus's role as a center of Palestinian terrorist activity, as well as its Jewish biblical antecendents. According to the Times:
Nablus is a stunning city, set in a steep valley, founded by the Romans in A.D. 72 and proud of its ancient aqueducts. It is the second-largest city in the West Bank, with some 325,000 people. But it has also been severely affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially in the last five years, with the highest number of casualties, most severe physical damage and most intensive restrictions on movement in the West Bank, according to a report issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in December. Fatah and the Palestinian Authority are paying the price for the economy and the border closures, as well as for Fatah's reputation for corruption.
Well, actually the Romans were not the initial founders of the city; they re-established a city called Flavia Neopolis on the site of the biblical Shechem, in which the Jewish patriarch Abraham offered his first sacrifice to God, and in which Israelites lived and an Israelite king was crowned before the biblical city was destroyed by the Assyrians in the 8th century BCE. The Arabs later called the city Nablus, but it is still known as Shechem by Israelis.
Omitted from the image painted by the Times is Nablus’s role as the headquarters of the terrorist organizations' leaderships in the West Bank and the context for why the city is suffering from “intensive restrictions on movement.” According to Dr. Reuven Erlich, head of the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center:
The Nablus terrorist infrastructure directed and executed suicide attacks in which scores of Israeli citizens were killed and over 400 were wounded. The terrorism operational centers in Nablus instructed terrorist squads in the Jenin, Tulkarm, Qalqilya, and Ramallah areas to perpetrate terror attacks in the West Bank and inside Israel.
In a paper entitled “Nablus: The Main Infrastructure of Palestinian Terrorism,” Erlich presents the facts ignored by the Times for why the IDF continuously operates in the area and why the Israeli army’s Operation Defensive Wall is necessary. Read the whole thing here.
January 23, 2006
Hamas's Election Platform
In a lengthy article today about Hamas's role in the upcoming elections, Ken Ellingwood and Laura King report in the Los Angeles Times today:
Hamas, in an apparent attempt to widen its appeal, doesn't mention the destruction of Israel in its election platform.
Though Hamas's official platform, as reportedly published on the Central Election Commission Web site, does not mention the destruction of Israel, the terrorist movement is not exactly hiding its goal to eliminate Israel.
As reported in a Palestinian Media Watch bulletin, Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a senior Hamas official, reiterated on a Palestinian Authority Television election ad the Hamas agenda to eradicate Israel:
We do not recognize the Israeli enemy, nor his right to be our neighbor, nor to stay [on the land], nor his ownership of any inch of land. . .
January 22, 2006
CNN Removes Reference to Tel Aviv as Capital
After receiving the following news alert from CNN referring to a bombing in the "Israeli capital of Tel Aviv," CAMERA member Chana G. protested to editors:
As a result, CNN changed the story's headline and opening paragraph, which now appear as follows:
Kudos to Chana for her geography pointer to CNN editors!
CAMERA Weighs In On 'Munich' Debate
CAMERA's Andrea Levin is one of several contributors to a FrontpageMagazine.com symposium on Steven Spielberg's new film, "Munich" and its meaning.
For more CAMERA analyses on "Munich," see here.
January 18, 2006
Hamas Whitewash, Brought to You by the NYT
An article by Craig Smith in today's New York Times about Hamas' new television station, entitled “Warm and Fuzzy TV, Brought to You by Hamas,” conceals from readers the groups declared territorial objective—replacing all of Israel with an Islamic state.
Smith quotes a Palestinian involved with the new television station:
“I will show them our rights through the history,” he said, “show them, ‘This is Nablus, this is Gaza, this is Al Aksa mosque, which is with the Israelis and should be in our hands.’”
Nowhere does Smith clarify that, of course, Hamas’ claim has never been limited to Nablus, Gaza or even Jerusalem.
It would have been easy to clarify. For example, Smith could have cited Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar, who was quoted in yesterday's Guardian saying: "Nobody among our sons and grandsons will accept Israel as a legal state. ... Not in this generation, not in the next generation, will we accept it here."
Instead, the reporter again fails to clarify Hamas’ objectives when he euphemistically writes about the Hamas seal, saying it "depicts the Dome of the Rock (which stands alongside the Al Aksa mosque in Jerusalem) between swords and an idealized map of Palestine.”
Idealized? Would that be a map showing Nablus, Gaza and Jerusalem–the locations mentioned by Sharawi–as part of Palestine? Well, not exactly. As apparent in the Hamas seal pictured, an “idealized map of Palestine” includes the West Bank, Gaza and all of Israel.
So why doesn’t Smith say so?
USA Today Equates Sharon and Arafat
USA Today’s January 6 editorial “Loss of ‘bulldozer’ leaves path to peace clogged’ contains two false equations. One equates Ariel Sharon with Yasser Arafat as an enemy of peace; the second balances hard-line Israeli nationalists with Palestinian radicals. The editorial included other erroneous and misleading statements as well.
In equating Sharon with Arafat, USA Today says, “Five years ago, the question was whether there could ever be Mideast peace with the hard-charging Sharon, known to Israelis as ‘the bulldozer,’ in power. He was every bit the enemy of the olive branch that Arafat was [emphasis added] . But today, the question is whether there can be peace without him.” While the editorial acknowledges Sharon’s recent efforts to promote peace, it nevertheless erroneously leads the reader to believe that Sharon and Arafat had similar goals. But Arafat’s objective was to destroy the Israeli state, Sharon’s was to defend it. Arafat indeed was the “enemy of the olive branch”; Sharon was the enemy of Israel’s enemies.
The second false equation reads, “Sharon and his newly formed centrist political alliance, Kadima, were favored to win Israel’s parliamentary elections in March. His absence invites hard-line Israeli nationalists and radicals among the Palestinians [emphasis added] next door to advance their mutually destructive agenda.
The difference between “hard-line Israeli nationalists” and Palestinian radicals, such as Hamas, is that the former enjoy little support but the latter are expected to get approximately one-third of the vote in upcoming legislative elections. In addition, hardline Israeli nationalists – USA Today does not define the term or provide examples – are not blowing up Palestinian buses; Palestinian radicals have been murdering Israelis
The editorial says Sharon’s promotion of Israeli settlements created “a massive obstacle to a peace settlement and formation of viable Palestinian state.” In fact, Palestinians did not demand as part of the Oslo process that the settlement issue be resolved quickly — they agreed to leave it for final status talks while giving other issues priority. Palestinian propaganda often focuses on Jewish communities beyond the pre-1967 “green line.” But, presented the opportunity by Israel and the United States in 2000 to leap frog the settlement debate by establishing a Palestinian state in 95 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2000, Arafat rejected it. This suggests that something more than eliminating most Jewish villages and towns in the territories motivates Palestinian leadership.
Likewise, USA Today echoes allegations that Israeli retention of parts of the West Bank—perhaps no more than the eight percent on the Israeli side of the security fence—might obstruct formation of a viable Palestinian state. Yet such a state need be no less viable than Israel was in its constricted pre-‘67 boundaries.
The editorial also refers to the security barrier near the pre-‘67 green line as “encroaching on their [the Palestinians’] land” and on “occupied lands.” Legally, the land is disputed, the last unallocated portion of the League of Nations/United Nations British Mandate. As Eugene Rostow, a co-author of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) noted, Jews as well as Arabs have legitimate claims there.
USA Today opines that “lasting security for Israelis requires giving Palestinians dignity, hope for economic security, and eventually their own state.” The editorial misunderstands the essence of dignity -- among other things, it cannot be given. Ultimately inherent, it has to be cultivated on one’s own. Palestinian Arabs must shoulder the responsibility -- like the Israelis building their new state after 1948 -- for building their own dignity. Negotiating in good faith, establishing law and order in places under Palestinian Authority control, investing rather than squandering the billions of dollars in aid provided by foreign donors -- these would be a good start.
USA Today’s “Loss of ‘bulldozer’ leaves path to peace clogged’ needs a bulldozer to unclog its own illogic.
– by Eric Rozenman, CAMERA Washington director, and Kate Naseef, CAMERA Washington research intern.
HRW Relies on False, Unverified Media Accounts
In yesterday's digest, NGO-Monitor reports that a recent Human Rights Watch letter to President Bush about Israel relied on unverified media reports:
On December 27, HRW’s Sarah Leah Whitson (whose anti-Israel activism predates her employment at HRW) attacked Israeli policy in the form of a letter to President Bush condemning "Expanding Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories". As in past HRW allegations against Israel, this letter was based on unverified media reports and repeated the distorted politicized rhetoric of international law, including references to the discredited advisory opinion of the ICJ.
The Israeli government also has made clear that, despite U.S. opposition, it plans to build 3,500 housing units in E-1 and to include Ma'ale Adumim and E-1 on the western side (the "Israeli side") of the metal and concrete barrier that Israel is building, mostly inside the OPT (hereinafter, the "wall"). Such actions would effectively sever the West Bank in two by cutting the already limited Palestinian north-south access routes through the West Bank.
It is absolutely false to claim that E-1 building would split the West Bank in half. As the April 17, 2005 USA Today correction stated:
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.
January 17, 2006
Star-Ledger Reinforces Sabra and Shatila Canard
A Jan. 8 Op-Ed in the New Jersey Star-Ledger by deputy editorial page editor Deborah Jerome-Cohen states:
Many Israelis didn't like the Sharon who was known around the world as the "butcher" and "war criminal" who orchestrated the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebaonon in 1982.
It may be true that much of the world—the Arab world especially—wrongly believes Sharon "orchestrated" the massacre. Now, thanks to this Star-Ledger Op-Ed, readers in New Jersey are likely to believe the same canard, since Jerome-Cohen never clarifies that Sharon in fact did not "orchestrate" the massacre. Nor does she even point out that massacre was carried out by a Lebanese Christian militia, leaving readers are likely to believe it was carried out by Israel.
Of course, not only did Israel not carry out the massacre, but the most thorough investigation into the incident—the Kahan Commission report (which was critical of Sharon)—unequivocally found that Sharon did not in any way orchestrate the massacre.
The report stated:
We have no doubt that no conspiracy or plot was entered into between anyone from the Israeli political echelon or from the military echelon in the I.D.F. and the Phalangists, with the aim of perpetrating atrocities in the camps.... No intention existed on the part of any Israeli element to harm the non-combatant population in the camps.
For a more in-depth look at the report's conclusions, see here.
January 15, 2006
Abbas' Memo to Palestinian Journalists
MEMRI reports that in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV on Jan. 9, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas castigated the Palestinian media for failing to report that 90 percent of the rockets fired by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza land on Palestinian territory:
We should not consider the truce a favor that we are doing to others. We are not doing Israel any favor. We are giving a gift to our own people. The truce is for the sake of our people. What is the use of entering into conflict with the factions now? What is the use of missiles? I would like someone to give me even one benefit. Just one. Yesterday, when I was coming from the Erez crossing, I was greeted by two missiles. One of them hit Abu Iskandar's office. What's the use of that? Ninety percent of the missiles hit our own people. They are fired, then come back and land on our homes - killing and wounding, killing and wounding... Unfortunately, you in the media do not highlight this fact. You don't highlight this. This must be made clear. Go and see where these missiles land. This is one aspect. As long as this is useless, why are we doing it? Only to say we are resisting? This is not resistance. With these missiles - which kill us - we are giving the Israelis a pretext to send planes to attack us, or to make supersonic booms, making our children deaf and paralyzed, and so on. You must tell the truth. You, the entire media... These missiles - what use are they? But all you say is: a missile was launched here and struck there... You should... You are not objective bystanders. You are citizens.
Any observer of the media is right to criticize journalists for overlooking an important aspect of the conflict. But reporting every aspect of the conflict is the professional role of an objective journalist, a point that Abbas seems confused about.
January 12, 2006
Ha'aretz's Contribution to Jewish Anti-Zionism
Isi Leibler, chairman of the Diaspora-Israel relations committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, notes in the Jerusalem Post that Ha'aretz has contributed to Jewish hatred of Israel. He writes:
To make matters worse, elements on the Israeli Left initiated a drumbeat of unprecedented self-hatred in the media and universities. Outlandish views that had hitherto been restricted to inconsequential fringe groups filled the op-ed columns of Haaretz, the media flagship of the Israeli intelligentsia, and whose English-language edition began publication in recent years.
Within the Israeli polity, such post-Zionist propaganda only had marginal impact because being in the front lines of terror, Israelis were not unduly influenced. However when the English-language versions of these masochistic articles were globally disseminated on the Internet, they impacted negatively -- especially on Jews living in societies where application of double standards and demonization of Israel by the local media had already become daily fare.
January 10, 2006
IBD Questions Media Inconsistency
Inconsistent reporting is one powerful way in which the media—intentionally or not—distorts the public's understanding. We've recently pointed out, for example, inexcusable double standards in reporting by Margaret Coker and the Associated Press.
An editorial in today's Investor's Business Daily argues that, in contrast with the media's pointed condemnations of Pat Robertson's recent "stupid remarks," news stories and editorials "pretty much ignored" anti-Semitic remarks by Hugo Chavez:
Robertson, a fundamentalist Christian televangelist and founder of the 700 Club, infamously suggested last Thursday the massive stroke suffered by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was divine punishment for "dividing God's land." ...
For his remarks, Robertson was roundly criticized ...
Contrast that with comments that were far more harsh, outright anti-Semitic and hateful, and that the media pretty much ignored.
We're referring to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's diatribe against Jews, delivered on Christmas Eve.
Chavez called Jews "descendants of those who crucified Christ" and, using another false old anti-Semitic trope, stated they "took the world's riches for themselves."
Unlike Robertson's comment -- whose indefensible content won't be defended here -- Chavez's hate speech won blase acceptance in the media, with the honorable exception of a handful of bloggers. For the media, it was: gee, what will that zany Chavez say next? ...
It's hard to imagine, given Chavez's "Mein Kampf"-like diatribe, that Jews will feel very comfortable in Venezuela now. It's even harder to understand why we in the media just don't seem to care.
January 09, 2006
Another Fatah "Lesson in Journalism"
Khaled Abu Toameh of the Jerusalem Post reports yesterday:
Fatah gunmen on Saturday threatened to shut the offices of the pan-Arab Al-Arabiyah sattelite TV station in the West Bank and Gaza Strip after accusing it of "defaming" Palestinian female suicide bombers and their families.
Leaflets distributed by Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigade, demanded that the Dubai-based station apologize to the families in particular and the Palestinians in general within 24 hours or else its offices would be closed. . . .
[The leaflets charged:] "This film depicts female suicide bombers as a group of women suffering from psychological problems and who are under pressure from males. It claims that in order to rid themselves of these problems, these women are prepared to kill themselves. . . "
New York Times Whitewashes Palestinian Terrorist Groups Again
The New York Times’ bureau chief Steven Erlanger has again (Jan. 8, 2006) whitewashed Hamas, adopting its own words to justify the terrorist group's action as a "struggle against Israeli occupation.” CAMERA previously criticized Erlanger for this sort of lapse in accuracy, pointing out that that the terrorist group’s campaign of suicide bombings and attacks against women and children on the streets of Israel can hardly be classified as a struggle against or resistance to occupation. Yet Erlanger has persisted. In his Sunday article, Erlanger characterizes Hamas–not as terrorists bent on Israel’s destruction, but—as “a radical Islamic group Hamas, dedicated to a continuing armed struggle against Israeli occupation.”
It is not as if Erlanger does not recognize Hamas’ motives. A database search of New York Times articles show that on at least six occasions (Nov. 6, Nov. 7, Nov. 12, Nov. 14, Nov. 19, and Dec. 24) since writing the Nov. 4 article criticized by CAMERA, the newspaper's bureau chief described the organization as “sworn to Israel’s destruction.”
Why then has he now reverted to doing PR for Hamas?
In this same article, Erlanger also misrepresents the Road Map, softening the obligations of the Palestinians. He claims that:
One of the road map's first requirements is that the authority disarm all militants, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, which is affiliated with Fatah itself.
But the Road Map requires more than just that. It also stipulates that the Palestinian Authority "undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere."
It is time for the Times to stop whitewashing Palestinian terrorist groups and the obligation of the PA to dismantle them. (Hat tip: Mediacrity)
January 06, 2006
Margaret Coker's Partisan Reading of Oslo
In a December 4 article in which she discusses the Israeli and Palestinian election campaign and Israel's reluctance to allow Palestinian voting in Jerusalem, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Margaret Coker made sure to note that the right of Palestinian to vote in Jerusalem "was stipulated in the Oslo peace accords."
Clearly, then, Coker is familiar with Annex II of the Interim Agreement—the Oslo document containing the stipulation she cited.
So why, when the article discusses Hamas' participation in the Palestinian election—"Israeli officials are mixed about what [Hamas'] entrance into policis will mean," Coker wrote—did the reporter ignore what Annex II says about groups like Hamas?
A few paragraphs before the document's clause about Palestinian voting rights in Jerusalem, Annex II states:
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.
Hamas' charter and violence make clear the group's "racism" and "unlawful" acts. (See here for details about Hamas' ineligibility for Palestinian elections.)
Coker's selective citation of the Oslo Accords to raise questions about (possible) Israeli policies while at the same time overlooking Oslo's demands on the Palestinians suggests a very disturbing double standard.
January 03, 2006
Unlike U.S. Media, Iranian TV Refers to Israeli Strategic Depth Issue
A Snapshots blog entry last summer pointed out that, with few exceptions, media coverage about Israeli settlements and the Gaza disengagement failed to inform readers of a central reason why the settlements were built in the first place: national security and strategic depth in a country long threatened by bellicose neighbors. (See that entry here.)
Even Iranian officials on Iranian TV, it turns out, are less tight-lipped about these Israeli securty issues than are U.S. media commentators.
MEMRI translated this from a Jan. 1 broadcast on Iran's channel 2:
Secretary of Iranian Supreme Council for National Security Ali Larijani: As for the Israelis and their declarations [about possible military action against Iran's nuclear program], they will suffer a great loss. Israel is a very small country. It doesn't have the necessary width...
Interviewer: It has no strategic depth...
Ali Larijani: That's right.
Why does Iran's government-controlled media appear more free to discuss this subject than our own media?
LA Times, Fisk, Settlements & More
A few days after publishing the Robert Fisk rant which claims (wrongly) that the American media has given up on the term "settlements" and instead speaks of "Jewish neighborhoods," the Los Angeles Times today has an Op-Ed by Gershom Gorenberg about settlement expansion. (Number of times "Jewish neighborhoods" are mentioned: 0. Number of times "settlements" or "settlers" are mentioned: I stopped counting after 18.)
Gorenberg points out that the "road map" "explicitly states that Israel must freeze all settlement activity." Since the Times is apparently interested in who's keeping up their end of the bargain, can we look forward to an 850 word Op-Ed about the Palestinian failure to dismantle terrorist groups, as required by the "road map"? Don't count on it. Neither the news section nor the Op-Ed pages reported on the Palestinian police's recent sheltering of wanted Islamic Jihad terrorists in Jenin.
And, a wire story yesterday misreported the Palestinian "road map" obligation to disarm terror groups as an Israeli demand:
Israel has demanded that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud abbas disarm gunmen as a condition to renewing negotiations on the U.S.-sponsored "road map" peace plan.
So it's pesky Israelis always getting in the way of the "road map," whether the violation is their own or the Palestinians'.
But I digress. Back to Gorenberg. He reports that in the spring of 1968,
the State Department ordered the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to remind Israeli officials of "our continuing opposition to any . . . settlements" and of the U.S. view that they violated international law.
[See note below.]
Though U.S. policy has consistenly considered Israeli settlements an obstacle to peace, it has not considered them a violation of international law since the Carter administration, a position which was quickly overturned by President Reagan. The Boston Globe corrected this point and we wait to hear whether the Times will too.
Note May 6, 2010: One element of this blog entry has been clarified. It previously stated that only the Carter Administration has regarded the settlements as illegal. In fact, no administration since the Carter Administration has declared the settlements illegal. Moreover, no chief executive aside from former President Carter has personally declared them illegal.