February 24, 2006
Ilan Pappé's Bias "in a Class of its Own."
The scholarship of Israeli academic Ilan Pappé has been widely exposed as warped by ideology; Pappé himself has admitted as much. (See, for example, this overview from CAMERA's On Campus magazine, or these comments by Benny Morris.)
The winter 2006 Middle East Quarterly includes a review by historian Efraim Karsh of Pappé's recent book, "A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples" which casts further doubt on Pappé's credibility:
Publication of A History of Modern Palestine by a prestigious academic press is a sad testament to the pervasive politicization of Middle Eastern studies where the dividing line between academic scholarship and unadulterated propaganda has been blurred, if not erased.
Even by the skewed standards of this field of studies, Pappé's latest book ranks in a class of its own. Not only does it add no new facts or ideas to the anti-Israel literature, but the sloppiness of its research astounds. It contains countless factual errors and inaccuracies. ...
More serious is the book's consistent resort to factual misrepresentation, distortion, and outright falsehood. Readers are told of events that never happened .... They learn of political decisions that were never made .....
Read the details in the full review.
February 20, 2006
AP recommends Islamist group, CAIR
At the end of a Feb. 2 Associated Press article about the Islamic rite of passage known as "Ameen," readers are referred to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Web site.
The Associated Press routinely directs readers to internet sites related to the content of their article— but is CAIR merely a resource for info about Islam? Hardly!
For one, the organization is thought to have close ties to Islamic terrorists. (See, for example, this sworn testimony before a U.S. Senate panel on 9/10/03.)
Furthermore, CAIR is as much an political advocacy group as it is a resource on Islam. At the CAIR Web site, before arriving at information about the Quran and related material, the visitor finds material - “current action alerts” - advocating the defeat or promotion of particular legislation related to the U.S. war on terror and other political issues.
CAIR’s actions over the years have included a number of unsubstantiated persecution charges. For example, on July 10, 2004, CAIR claimed a hate crime took place involving arson at a Muslim-owned grocery store in Everett, Washington. But investigators quickly determined that Mirza Akram, the store's operator, staged the arson to avoid meeting his scheduled payments and to collect on an insurance policy. Everett’s daily newspaper, the Herald, reported on the federal court charges against Mr. Akram and his accomplice.
Is this really the type of organization that AP wants to promote?
(Additional information about CAIR can be obtained at CAMERA’s Web site.)
February 17, 2006
Atlantic Monthly Article on Checkpoints is Fair
There is a lengthy article by Ted Conover entitled "Checkpoints" in the March issue of the Atlantic Monthly. I found it to be informative and balanced. The reporter experienced the checkpoints with Israelis and then with Palestinians. While he inaccurately called the settlements "illegal," he presented the Israeli perspective clearly and in human terms, as he did with the Palestinians. He did appear to feel more for the Palestinians, inserting his own opinion of their "humiliation" etc., but overall I thought it was a fair article. He made it very clear that for Israelis it's all about security, that the checkpoints are effective in catching terrorists, that the Israeli soldiers don't enjoy the work, and that when one of them gets abusive, he is subjected to punishment and court martial.
February 14, 2006
The Washington Post Against Itself
(Pictured: former apartheid Prime Minister Verwoerd and Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar)
Does The Washington Post have one standard for apartheid racism and another for Hamas's racism?
Back in 1982, The Post's then-editorial page editor, Meg Greenfield, wrote:
The argument is that the apartheid system, whatever its inequities, is for the present, anyway, a safeguard aganist the violence, anarchy and social and economic catstrophe just waiting to happen here. From which it follows that this system may be disassembled only very gradually and as the possibility of a healthier social order is developed to take its place. But this is an inverstion of the truth. The apartheid system is not a temporary solution. It is the problem. It is not a defense against danger. It is a source and endless inflamer of the danger. (South Africa: Worse Than You Think; Apartheid Is Taking Its Supporters Over a Cliff," Nov. 14, 1982)
Fast-forward 23 years to the Post's January 22 editorial, "Palestinians risky election." It concludes that the Bush administration “must hope that Hamas eventually will embrace democracy as the sole means of advancing its agenda, rather than as a mere tool to prevent its own disarmament or any Palestinian concessions to Israel .... [but] Whether or not that happens, a Palestinian Authority backed by Hamas may be able to restore a semblance of order to Gaza. In the dismal present circumstances, that would be a step forward.”
The possibility that Hamas might "restore a semblance of order to Gaza" closely parallels the argument then made for tolerating apartheid, which the late Meg Greenfield exposed. Apartheid temporarily repressed potential disorder that its own inequities, based on institutionalized racial discrimination, sowed. Similarly, disorder and dismal circumstances epitomize the Gaza Strip today not only due to the corruption of the Fatah-dominated PA, which Hamas said it would change, but also to Hamas-led terrorism. Remorseless anti-Israel violence, in the name of an Islamic movement slandering Jews as "sons of monkeys and pigs," helped abort Oslo peace process hopes for coexistence and prosperity.
South African apartheid saw blacks as inferiors requiring tight control. Hamas' anti-Zionist, antisemitic charter insists that Jews are evil, grasping enemies of humanity, legitimate targets for murder and not entitled to a state.
Greenfield asserted that apartheid should not be tolerated, even in the short-run, as a lesser of other, anticipated evils. But The Post's editorial advises tolerating, if not rewarding Hamas because it might help clean up the mess it greatly contributed to making.
For a full analysis of the editorial, "Palestinians risky election" including its other instances of factual amnesia and illogic, click here. Meanwhile, Post editorials on Arab-Israeli topics would benefit from a dose of Greenfield's moral clarity.
February 10, 2006
No Challenge to Rami Khouri
Rami Khouri, editor-at-large of Lebanon’s Daily Star (Beirut) and a frequent NPR guest for several years, behaves more like a polemicist than journalist when on-air. He rarely misses an opportunity to bash Israel and the U.S. Yet, his hosts and co-panelists continue to shy away from challenging the Jordanian-Palestinian despite his distortions and simplisms. For example:
WBUR/NPR’s Here and Now, 2/14/06 (commenting on the Hamas election victory):
The majority of Palestinians want to negotiate peace and co-exist with Israel.
This Khouri distortion ignored the fact that the Hamas victory is consistent with what we have been seeing in a number of Palestinian opinion polls in recent years. Majorities have repeatedly indicated their support for violence while a marginal majority supports peaceful coexistence with Israel in their own independent state only when all their demands have been met. For example, the Boston Globe, 1/17/06, reported that according to the polling of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research: “86 percent [of Palestinians] said armed struggle brought Palestinians their greatest recent gains in the conflict.” USA Today, 9/29/04, reported: “One poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and Hebrew University in June, found that 69% of Palestinians believe armed attacks against Israelis have helped achieve their national goals. Fifty-nine percent said they support suicide bombings in Israel.”
NPR’s Talk of the Nation, 2/9/06:
The question is what the Palestinians want not what Hamas wants. Israel has responsibility also – no occupation, no settlements, no assassinations. The reason for the conflict is failure to deal with the Palestinian refugee problem.
This is yet another example of Khouri’s disengenuousness. It is counter-intuitive to assume there is a dichotomy between Hamas and the majority of Palestinians. As to occupation, recall that the Oslo process led to a nearly complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank but this had to be reversed as a result of the enormous ratcheting up of terrorism by the Palestinians upon Israelis. Targeted assassinations were carried out as preventive measures upon organizers of the terror activities and perpetrators about to carry out murders of Israeli civilians.
Khouri’s reason for the conflict ignores reality. First, the Palestinians have several intractable requirements including control of Jerusalem as well as their solution to the Palestinian refugee issue which would lead to a population engulfment of Israel causing the demise of Israel as a Jewish State.
WBUR/NPR’s On Point, 1/6/06:
Peace can only come if there is a stop to the occupying and assassinating. Sharon’s policies shattered the peace process.
The public is not informed by Khouri’s attempt to demonize a particular Israeli leader who represents the majority of Israelis. As recent history shows, protecting the Israeli population from large scale terrorism is the sole reason for targeted assassinations and the presence of Israeli troops in the West Bank. When Palestinian terrorism is no longer a problem, these policies will change.
WBUR/NPR’s The Connection, 5/14/03:
In May 2003, shortly after bombings killed and wounded scores of Saudis and foreigners in Saudi Arabia, Khouri claimed that there was a linkage between the bombings (attributed to Al-Qaeda by Saudi and U.S. officials) and Israeli policies. Khouri claimed there is a “linear process” that leads “ordinary people” to become terrorists when they are “angry” and “humiliated.” The host failed to challenge Khouri by asking why the millions of other angry, humiliated people around the globe have not turned to terrorism.
Additional articles discussing Khouri can be found on the CAMERA Web site.
February 09, 2006
New Yorker's Fact-Checking
Ha'aretz features a lengthy interview with New Yorker Editor David Remnick today, who notes that Israel is a leading interest of his. He also discusses at length the magazine's supposedly strong fact-checking process. Ha'aretz writer Orna Coussin reports:
Remnick says that the trademark attribute of The New Yorker is the insistence on accuracy.
February 07, 2006
Some recent items in the press have have hinted at the ascension of a "moderate" Hamas—the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Margaret Coker and Craig Nelson wrote of the group's self-described "obligation to serve humanity," compared them to former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and contrasted them with the Taliban. Others (e.g. editorials in the Washington Post and New York Times) have expressed hope Hamas would soon be forced to moderate now that it has won the Palestinian elections.
What does Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal say about all this?
"Before Israel dies, it must be humiliated and degraded," he told the faithful at a Syrian Mosque (and on al-Jazeera) last week.
Good thing he cleared that up.
(For more from Mashal's "moderate" address, see MEMRI. Highights include "To hell with you all," "Arab or Muslim mentality ... rejects the foreigner," and the chant of "Death to Israel. Death to Israel. Death to America.")
Mashaal does not stray from the group's charter which calls for the obliteration of the Jewish State. For an English translation of the charter in its entirety, click here.