March 30, 2006
SF Chronicle Editorial Tries to Match a Square Peg with a Round Hole
Thursday's editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle takes false moral equivalence to a new—even absurd—level.
The editorial reads:
Israel's next prime minister, Ehud Olmert, may bulldoze new boundaries, oust angry Israeli settlers and ignore negotiations with Palestinian leaders. Enough talking, he's suggesting, here's the new Mideast map, like it or not.
Palestinians have a matching strategy. On the same day that Olmert's Kadima party finished first in elections, the new Hamas leadership formed its first cabinet. Nothing about taking charge has tempered the Hamas stance that Israel should be destroyed.
Got that? "A matching strategy." "Matching," as in "One that is exactly like another" or "One that closely resembles or harmonizes with another." The editorial writer is equating the Hamas strategy, which calls for the violent destruction of Israel, with the Israeli one that offers a Palestinian state, even at the cost of uprooting Jewish towns in the heart of biblical Israel.
Looks like the moral equivalence of the past—where some pundits would equate Palestinian terrorism that aims to kill civilians with Israel's counter terror measures meant to protect them—wasn't quite absurd enough for the Chronicle.
Bonus Blunder: The editorial also misleads readers when suggesting Olmert will "ignore negotiations with Palestinian leaders." Olmert and other Kadima leaders have on many occasions made clear that Israel first will seek to negotiate, but will act unilaterally in the absence of a partner. Maybe the editorial writer didn't pay attention to Olmert's victory speech, during which he said: "In the coming period, we will move to set the final borders of the state of Israel, a Jewish state with a Jewish majority. We will try to achieve this in an agreement with the Palestinians." Apparently the writer also ignored the press conference a few days earlier, in which Kadima number 2 Shimon Peres announced that "We are ready, immediately after the elections, to open a negotiation with the Palestinians that are willing to negotiate and willing to accept the Road Map in order to arrive at an agreement, to mark the future borders ...."
March 29, 2006
Op-Ed Writers Attack Study
Two American Op-Ed writers have just taken bites at Walt & Mearsheimer's study on the pro-Israel lobby.
Today in the Los Angeles Times, Max Boot's punchy criticism raises some new points for consideration (and cites CAMERA's earlier work exposing factual problems). First, he writes, that Walt and Mearsheimer's
very first footnote demonstrates a terminal lack of seriousness: "Indeed, the mere existence of the Lobby suggests that unconditional support for Israel is not in the American national interest. If it was, one would not need an organized special interest group to bring it about." By that standard, Social Security, the 2nd Amendment and Roe vs. Wade must not be "in the American national interest" either, because they are all defended by even more powerful lobbies.
(See here for a skewering of the study's 40th footnote.) Boot concludes:
After finishing their magnum opus, I was left with just one question: Why would the omnipotent Israel lobby (which, they claim, works so successfully "to stifle criticism of Israel") allow such a scurrilous piece of pseudo-scholarship to be published? Then I noticed that Walt occupies a professorship endowned by Robert and Renee Belfer, Jewish philanthropists who are also supporters of Israel. The only explanation, I surmise, is that Walt must himself be an agent of those crafty Israelites, employed to make the anti-Israel case so unconvincingly that he discredits it. "The Lobby" works in mysterious ways.
America's loyalty to Israeli isn't engineered by a Zionist cabal that dupes American citizens and hijacks their government. US policy tends to align closely with Israel's because Americans like Israel. They instinctively sympathize with Israel's fight for survival in one of the world's most dangerous neighborhoods. If public opinion weren't robustly pro-Israel in the first place, the White House and Congress would be far less inclined to give Israel's advocates the time of day. There's a name for that phenomenon. It's called democracy.
March 28, 2006
Katyusha Fired from Gaza
The Jerusalem Post reports:
The French news agency AFP has also reported on this ominous escalation. Will the US media, which eagerly covers certain news from the region, cover the attack?
|Map showing Israeli cities within range of Katyusha rockets. (From JCPA)|
March 27, 2006
Guardian Columnist: Israel is Vicious
A column in the Guardian (March 24) by Geoffrey Wheatcroft shows how deeply entrenched is the anti-Israel attitude at the newspaper.
In an article subtitled "Liberals were once happy to overlook the country's crimes," Wheatcroft decries the Israeli raid on the Jericho prison, without even mentioning that the raid occurred because the new Hamas government announced their intention to release Palestinians held there who were accused of committing terrorist acts against Israel—including PFLP terrorist Ahmad Sa'adat, responsible for murdering a former Israeli cabinet minister. This, despite the agreement worked out in May 2002, where Israel turned over the terrorists to the Palestinians so long as the Palestinian Authority agreed to the stationing of British and American observers to ensure the terrorists remained in jail. Fearing for their own safety in light of recent threats, the British guards abandoned the jail, precipitating the Israeli operation. According to Wheatcroft:
It's very hard to recall the esteem and goodwill in which Israel once basked, not least on the broad liberal left, where there is now a received view that Israel has deserved this change in affections: that Israel and Zionism are vicious now, having been virtuous once. The view may be almost universal ...
He cites as examples of Israeli viciousness, Jenin (where Israel was falsely accused of committing a massacre), targeted assassinations, and alleged F16 attacks on refugee camps. In Wheatcroft's view, it seems, all attempts by Israel to combat terrorism are acts of viciousness. Wheatcroft also includes an out-of-context quote by Moshe Dayan —"There is not one single place that did not have a former Arab population"—frequently found on anti-israel web sites. Wheatcroft maintains that Israel was born in original sin and repeats the debunked accusation that Israel was founded by the ethnic cleansing of the Arabs.
Guardian's Smear Campaign Against Israel Continues...
Chris McGreal of the Guardian is at it again—continuing a campaign to tar Israelis as racists. First came his 15000 word defamation of Israel and South African Jewry in February. Recently (March 24) he decided to focus on an Israeli poll suggesting an increase in anti-Arab sentiment.
After 5 years of suicide bombing, decades of Arab hostility, several Israeli-Arabs implicated in aiding and abetting Palestinian terrorism and Israeli-Arab politicians like Azmi Bishara supporting 'resistance' against Jews, Israelis are taken to task because "63% of Jewish Israelis consider their country's Arab citizens a 'security and demographic threat to the state' and 40% think that it might be a good idea for Arabs to emigrate.
When did McGreal ever wring his hands about the eliminationist anti-Jew hatred rampant among Arabs? (In a recent Pew poll , 100% of the respondants in the "moderate" Arab state of Jordan expressed anti-Jewish sentiment.) When did McGreal ever lament the fact that Jews are barred from living in Arab countries like Saudi Arabia? It is only Israel that is the focus of Mcgreal's moral outrage.
Ha'aretz Reacts to Study
Shmuel Rosner, the Washington correspondent for Ha'aretz, follows up on his earlier blog entry criticizing the Walt-Mearshemier study, noting that "it deserves all the ridicule it has been receiving."
And it has been receiving a great deal of ridicule. But it has also been treated as a serious work--by David Duke, a Ha'aretz editorial, and more recently, two Ha'aretz Op-Eds.
Over the weekend, Tom Segev calls the study "arrogant," and takes some minor stabs at it, but overall concludes:
They are right: Had the United States saved Israel from itself, life today would be better. Therefore, the authors are also correct in the most important argument in their essay, which unfortunately is too incidental: The Israel lobby in the United States harms Israel's true interests. It made the continuation of the occupation and the settlements possible. Its influence led, among other things, to missing out on a peace treaty with Syria and to a loss of the opportunities created in Oslo. The effort to suppress the Palestinian national movement did not enhance Israel's security; on the contrary, it brought Hamas to power.
Now there is great excitement there in America on account of this essay, but maybe not really. Israel's influence is based on an ancient anti-Semitic myth about the Jews who rule the world. This is a myth that is self-fulfilling as long as the world believes in it: If you shatter it, you have eliminated Israel's influence. From that point of view, Walt and Mearsheimer are doing the Israel lobby a good service.
Likewise, an Op-Ed contributed by Daniel Levy, a former advisor to the Prime Minister's Office and a lead drafter of the Geneva Initiative, disprovingly calls the tone of the report "harsh," and says it "lacks finesse and nuance." But he too argues that the authors' "case is a potent one," and goes on say why. He writes, in part, that the
response to the Harvard study has been characterized by a combination of the shrill and the smug.
Perhaps he missed the serious responses deconstructing the so-called "scholarship" of the article, taken on by CAMERA and others, including Reuven Pedhatzur in Ha'aretz yesterday.
The Haniyeh Pattern
In a March 23 release, Palestinian Media Watch reports that Hamas is denying conciliatory statements made by Hamas' Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh in March 16 CBS report.
PMW reports that Haniyeh had said
that he was "seeking a peace settlement and stability in this region," "looking forward to peace and tranquility in this region," and "seeking American administration to create this missing peace."
The Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah reported on March 19 that a Hamas MP denied the statements:
[Hamas] MP Mushir Al-Masri denied what was reported in various places in the media about Hamas abandoning its principles, relying on statements attributed to the Prime Minister designate, Ismail Haniyah, according to which he hopes that a peace treaty will be signed with the Israelis. He said that these statements, released on CBS, are unfounded [lit: naked of all truth]. Al-Masri said that these matters are part of a crazy campaign which aims at embarrassing and confusing the Palestinian arena and undermining the trust of the masses in Hamas movement… He added: "the Palestinian media grasps that this campaign should not be related to… and it understands that America endeavors to undermine the [Hamas] movement in the eyes of the Palestinian people…" As to the PM's statements, which have been distorted, Al-Masri said: "the American channel [CBS] broadcast that Sheikh Ismail Haniyah had said in an interview that he hoped that a treaty with Israel would be signed in the White House. I believe that the basis for the controversy over the [Hamas] political plan are the [peace] agreements, which in our opinion bring no benefit…
Sound familiar? It should, as Hamas pulled a similar stunt with Washington Post reporter Lally Weymouth last month.
March 26, 2006
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated the Hezbollah operated al Manar television satellite network as a specially designated global terrorist entity. A press release states:
Al Manar has employed multiple Hizballah members. One al Manar employee engaged in pre-operational surveillance for Hizballah operations under cover of employment by al Manar.
Al Manar and al Nour have supported fundraising and recruitment efforts by Hizballah. Al Manar raised funds for Hizballah through advertisements broadcast on the network and an accompanying website that requested donations for the terrorist organization. As recently as late 2005, Hizballah-affiliated charities aired commercials on al Manar, providing contact information and bank account numbers for donations. Moreover, Hizballah Secretary General Nasrallah publicized an invitation for all Lebanese citizens to volunteer for Hizballah military training on al Manar and al Nour.
In addition to supporting Hizballah, al Manar has also provided support to other designated Palestinian terrorist organizations, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, notably transferring tens of thousands of dollars for a PIJ-controlled charity. PIJ is listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist and a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Government, and is also named on the European Union's list of terrorist entities.
Hizballah Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah, along with Hizballah's Executive Council, managed and oversaw the budgets of al Manar and al Nour. . .
Today's action prohibits transactions between U.S. persons and the designated entities and also freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
Eye-Catching Ha'aretz Headline Assumes Guilt
A headline in the Internet edition of Ha'aretz yesterday reports a disputed statement by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef as fact. It states:
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: Whoever votes for Kadima will go to hell
The article itself was much more cautious in its reporting, stating in the second paragraph:
The influential rabbi later told Shas Chairman Eli Yishai that he never made the controversial statement, adding, "Had I wanted to say such things, I wouldn't be ashamed of doing so."
But denials are details, right? Why ruin a perfectly good headline on their account?
March 24, 2006
BBC (Temporarily) Adopts Partisan Terminology
As British columnist Stephen Pollard points out, the BBC appears to have published blatently biased language in a news report by veteran BBC correspondent Alan Johnston. The language, which described a Hamas opinion as if it were fact, was eventually (and surreptitiously) changed.
Pollard writes on his Web site:
The report originally read thus:
Hamas has largely been respecting a ceasefire, despite frequent Israeli army provocations, for more than a year, and it is unlikely to go back on the offensive now.
My correspondent complained about the bias of the report, which portrays Hamas as heroically doing its bit for peace in the face of 'frequent' IDF 'provocation'.
The wording was then changed to this:
Hamas has largely been respecting a ceasefire, despite what it sees as frequent Israeli army provocations, for more than a year, and it is unlikely to go back on the offensive now.
I'd say that's still pretty reprehensible, but it is at least better than the first version. But the site makes no acknowledgement of the change ...
Although Pollard's description is based on hearsay (someone emailed him to complain about the original article and the change), this screen shot from a Google search suggests that the BBC did, in fact, allow such partisan language make its way past editors and onto its Web site:
March 23, 2006
Rick Richman adds to the list of analyses pointing to flawed logic and scholarship in Mearsheimer and Walt's "Israel Lobby" paper.
Richman describes how footnote 40 of the study "misstate[s] primary sources and ignore[s] others"—a case of "academic malpractice."
... if one reads the entire Barak interview, or looks at the purported “map” [both cited in footnote 40], or reviews the primary sources Walt/Mearsheimer ignored, the point in the text is not only unsupported but demonstrably wrong. It is simply Arafat’s lie, refuted long ago by the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Israel, the Foreign Minister of Israel, and the Chief Negotiator for the U.S.
Footnote 40 isn't the only flawed reference in the "study." For comments on footnote 181 (and other problematic citations), see CAMERA's analysis.
More on Israel Lobby
The Jerusalem Post today reports that Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz has challenged the authors of "The Israel Lobby" paper to a public debate.
The Post also mentions CAMERA's work debunking some of the study's claims.
Also, while Shmuel Rosner, the Washington correspondent for Ha'aretz, has blogged that the paper "is biased, one-sided, foolish, repetitive, and most of all, has nothing new to offer," Ha'aretz's editorial yesterday spoke respectfully of the study as if it were credible, and concludes:
The Jewish and Israeli lobby in America would do well to begin explaining the next withdrawal now, after years in which they primarily tried to win support for a continuation of the occupation and the settlement enterprise. Perhaps then it will be easier to explain Israeli policy and consolidate the true American and Israeli interests. The professors' article does not deserve condemnation; rather, it should serve as a warning sign.
Ha'aretz, unlike the Post, has not done an article yet regarding the critical response to the already discredited study, from which Harvard and the University of Chicago are already distancing themselves.
March 22, 2006
BBC Web Site Falls Into Same Old Pattern
After a dramatic, high-speed pursuit on the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway midday on March 21, 2006, traffic was brought to a halt as Israeli police intercepted a GMC van, apprehended its 10 Palestinian occupants and seized a 15 pound bomb intended for a major suicide terrorist attack in the heart of Israel. Police acted on an intelligence tip. The Jerusalem Post reports that six Palestinian suicide attacks were similarly thwarted last year.
Yet, the BBC Web site has not carried any word about this big news story--the thwarting of what no doubt would have been a multiple casualty attack in the center of Israel. In its stead, BBC has run an article focusing on the negative impact of Israel’s barrier on Palestinian farmers.
To those familiar with BBC, this is not surprising. The BBC has for years displayed a bias in its news judgement, presenting stories which cast Israelis as aggressors responsible for Palestinian suffering rather than as victims of Palestinian violence.
March 21, 2006
The Israel Lobby
Within days of the publication of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, a study alleging that American foreign policy is heavily directed—and undermined—by the "Israel lobby," a number of critiques have exposed serious flaws in the study's scholarship.
Here are some of the noteworthy analyses and other commentary:
CAMERA's Alex Safian details the study's factual errors, leaps of logic, inaccurate citations, and shoddy sources, as well as the authors' complete disregard of previous work written on the subject. Safian concludes that "a student who submitted such a paper would flunk."
Richard Baehr and Ed Lasky of the American Thinker agree that the paper "fails the test of academic integrity and honest research."
Alan Dershowitz has called the authors "liars" and "bigots" and challenged them to a debate, according to the Harvard Crimson.
James Taranto discusses shortcomings in the paper's argument that moral reasons don't justify American support for Israel.
Shmuel Rosner of Ha'aretz suggests the study "is biased, one-sided, foolish, repetitive, and most of all, has nothing new to offer."
Martin Kramer writes that the piece "cobbles together a lot of half-truths and untruths that have been out there on the far fringe, and gives them 'academic respectability.'"
The study does have its supporters. David Duke proudly states that "I and a few other American commentators have for years been making the same assertions as this new paper."
Newsworthiness Disagreements: Washington Times vs. Washington Post
During the first two weeks of March, the Washington Post and Washington Times disagreed repeatedly about the news value of subjects dealing with Israel, Jews and Palestinian Arabs.
Newspapers can have legitimate reasons for not treating the same news topics similarly, including varying staff size, differing page counts and editors’ subjective judgments about individual stories. Nevertheless, CAMERA has criticized the Post in the past for focusing excessively on the Palestinian Arabs in Middle East news, and subordinating Israelis (and news about them) as bit players in a drama about the Palestinians.
The difference between Washington Times and Washington Post coverage in early March may stem from continuation of this misplaced focus.
On March 1, the Washington Times published two front-page articles of Jewish interest: “London mayor back at work after barb,” about Mayor Ken Livingston continuing to work pending appeal of a four-week suspension for comparing a Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard; and “Americans and Jews villains in blockbuster,” about the Turkish film, Valley of the Wolves, which portrays “crazed American GI’s massacring innocent wedding guests” and “a Jewish surgeon removing organs from Iraqi prisoners ...”
The March 1 Washington Post carried a news brief about Livingston and did not mention the controversy over Valley of the Wolves.
On March 2, both newspapers printed front-page articles related to the controversy over the proposed take-over of operations at six major U.S. ports by a company based in the United Arab Emirates. The Washington Times article was headlined “U.S. urges UAE to end its boycott of Israel” and focused on alleged illegal compliance of U.S.-owned firms with the Arab economic boycott of Israel. The Washington Post’s report was headlined “U.S. Reviewing 2nd Dubai firm” and examined plans of a UAE company to acquire plants making components for U.S. military aircraft and tanks and an Israeli firm’s pending take-over of a U.S. software and security firm that does business with the Pentagon.
On March 3, the Times placed a dispatch about suspected Al Qaeda presence in Palestinian territories on page one. The Post ran the item as a brief.
On March 4, both papers published accounts of the visit to Russia by a delegation of Hamas leaders on inside pages — but the Times also printed a page one photo teasing to the article inside.
Also on March 4, both dailies reported on three Israelis setting off firecrackers in the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, which nearly started a riot. The Times carried an article headlined “Christian shrine hit by Israeli intruders” on an inside page, the Post ran a brief.
On March 6, the Times and the Post covered the assertion by Avi Dichter, former head of the Shin Bet (Israel’s equivalent of the FBI) and a leading Kadima Party candidate in the March 28 elections, that Israel must leave more West Bank settlements and unilaterally determine its own borders. The Times article ran on page one, The Post’s on an inside page.
On March 8, the Times published an article headlined “Israeli charged in drug importing,” which noted “extraordinary joint efforts of the United States and Israeli authorities” in breaking up “a sophisticated drug-trafficking network ....” The Post did not cover the story.
And on March 13, the Times led its “World” news section with a dispatch headlined “Settler-movement founder backs Olmert; Calls some of his peers outside mainstream.” The Post did not cover Rabbi Yoel Ben Nun’s endorsement of Olmert’s Kadima Party.
Too often The Washington Post minimizes coverage of news of Jewish interest. In particular, it provides insufficient coverage of Israelis and Israel as newsworthy in their own right, not primarily as adjuncts to the Palestinian Arabs’ largely self-created melodrama. When it follows this pattern, as it did in early March, it does not serve its readers well.
– Kate Naseef, CAMERA Washington research intern; Eric Rozenman, Washington director.
March 17, 2006
Saudi Prince Talal's Funding Largesse in America
A March 15 Rocky Mountain News column entitled "Underwriting Terror" concerning the $20 million donations of Saudi Prince Talal to Harvard and Georgetown Universities brings to mind the prince's "other" donation—a $27 million gift to a "charity" that funnelled money to families of Palestinian "martyrs" during the height of the suicide bombing campaign in Israel. The editorial cites CAMERA's alert on this matter last December. The columnist writes:
Late last year, you see, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal donated $20 million to Harvard and $20 million to Georgetown for Islamic studies programs at those universities, and he wants the world to know of his "spirit of caring for humanity." But here's a little detail the prince's lavish self-tribute forgot to mention: According to a December report by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, "Prince Alwaleed had previously pledged another large gift of $27 million during a telethon held in April, 2002 for the benefit of the Saudi Committee for the Support of the al-Quds Intifada. The head of the committee, Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz, the Interior Minister, said in a statement: 'The committee will continue to provide direct assistance to the families of Palestinian martyrs and those wounded while resisting the occupation (The Times of London 4/2 3/02).' "
March 16, 2006
New Textbook Study Shows Ongoing Palestinian Rejectionism
The summary of an Israeli study of current Palestinian textbooks notes:
Details Emerge About Jericho Prison
A story in today's Times (UK) provides more details about the situation at the Jericho prison, describing why the British and American monitors felt they had to leave and, consequently, why Israel decided to capture the prisoners.
“Saadat and Shobaki were very much in charge,” one prison source said. “These guys were running the prison. They did what they wanted, when they wanted.” ...
But British sources spoke of a “credible and specific” warning this year that the PFLP had planned to free its prisoners, “possibly taking the monitors hostage”. They also cited warnings last year that militant groups planned to kidnap monitors. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has released a letter to Mr Abbas from John Jenkins, the British Consul-General, and his American counterpart giving final warning that the monitoring would end unless the Palestinian Authority ensured “full compliance” with the monitoring agreements and improved the security of the US and British personnel.
It followed reports by monitors that the six prisoners had access to computers, mobile phones and were not “locked down” at night. The monitors said that they were forbidden to search cells and that mobile phone jammers were switched off.
March 15, 2006
Iran plans to "completely destroy" Israel and U.S.
Let's see if the U.S. media, which is usually so quick to pick up on Ha'aretz articles critical of Israel, notices this disturbing report in today's Ha'aretz:
Former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar said Tuesday that Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told him five years ago that "setting Israel on fire" was the first order of business on the Iranian agenda.
Aznar, in Israel as the guest of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, related the story to Major General (Res.) Professor Yitzhak Ben-Israel, who later confirmed to Haaretz that the remarks had been made.
Aznar's aides refused to give Haaretz the exact quote, but mentioned an article Aznar has written in the past on his meeting with Khamenei.
"He received me politely," Aznar wrote, "and at the beginning of the meeting he explained to me why Iran must declare war on Israel and the United States until they are completely destroyed.
March 12, 2006
West Bank Population Explosion
Commonly accepted Palestinian population figures have recently come under fire as inflated, but rather than downsizing the figure, Laura King of the Los Angeles Times has gone in the other direction. In a news report yesterday, she stated:
An estimated 3.2 million Palestinians live in the West Bank.
Her number is 900,000 larger than the usually cited figure, as found in the the 2006 edition of the Statistical Abstract of the United States, which places the West Bank Palestinian population at 2,311,000 in mid-2004. Likewise, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the West Bank Palestinian population as of mid-2005 is 2,372,216.
CAMERA has contacted the Times' to request that King's reversal of digits -- a possible typo -- be corrected. Stay tuned for news of a correction.
March 09, 2006
UK Anti-Semitism Currently "Obsessive"
The Jerusalem Post reports that, according to a British anti-Semitism expert and others, the UK has become more anti-Semitic.
An official from the British embassy in Tel Aviv is quoted in the article saying that
anti-Semitism in the UK is "obviously still a problem" and that it is "an issue that is very, very important to the British government."
Although the reasons for the shift in British attitudes are no doubt complex, the U.S. Department of State "Report on Global Anti-Semitism" suggests that the European press may shoulder some of the blame:
Also troubling is a bias that spills over into anti-Semitism in some of the left-of-center press and among some intellectuals.
Intercontinental Erases Israel
Zalmi's Weblog has noted that InterContinental Hotels Group placed a four-page ad in Business Traveller "which has achieved in print what Mr Ahmadinejad seeks to achieve with nuclear weapons: the erasure of Israel from the world map." Zalmi continues:
Now I always thought its Crowne Plaza Dead Sea hotel was in Israel. According to this ad, it's in Jordan.
In response to emails from concerned readers, Kate Prescott, communications co-ordinator for InterContinental Hotels Group's Europe, Middle East & Africa region, sent out the following form letter:
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) would like to apologise for any offence that has inadvertently been caused by the recent feature on the group published in the February 2006 UK and Middle East editions of the Business Traveller magazine.
We operate hotels in almost 100 countries around the world, including Israel, for which we also operate a dedicated Hebrew website. We respect our customers in all the markets and territories in which we operate.
This feature was produced locally by our Middle East and Africa division and was intended to highlight hotels operated by that division specifically. This division does not include Israel, which is managed as part of our
We regret any confusion that was caused by the feature and have strengthened our internal processes to ensure that such an error will not be repeated.
To which one rightfully indignant Terry M. replied:
1. I would have to be particularly naïve to agree that leaving Israel off a map of the Middle East, and substituting Palestine could in some way be deemed 'inadvertent'.
2. I am a UK citizen and read the UK edition of Business Traveller magazine.
That you have a dedicated Hebrew website is irrelevant to this issue.
3. I am not sure how you define 'respect for your customers in all the markets and territories' you operate in:
A) Would it be by following the line taken by the Iranian president, and shared by Hamas, that Israel should be wiped off the map?
B) Would it be by insulting Jewish travellers such as myself who read the UK edition of Business Traveller magazine?
4. Rest assured you do not need to apologise for "any confusion that was caused by the feature" - the publicity issued by your Middle East and Africa division was crystal clear and was along the lines of 'there is no such place as Israel...that area is called Palestine'.
To write to Kate Prescott, email Kate.Prescott@ichotelsgroup.com . To request that Business Traveller print a correction, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
(Hat tip: Terry M.)
March 08, 2006
Ha'aretz Blends News, Opinion
The Israel Press Council's Rules of Professional Ethics of Journalism states:
A newspaper and a journalist shall distinguish in the publication between news items and opinion.
On Monday, though, Ha'aretz's Nir Hasson paid no regard to this professional guideline when he reported on a Labor-Meimad gathering for the religiously observant. Blatantly throwing in his own personal views, he writes:
There were none of the scenes of youths trying to stir up the crowd that dominate such right-wing events: Left-wing religious people are apparently level-headed, mature people who are not easily agitated.
Are you agitated about this journalistic abuse? Want to share your feedback--objective or otherwise--with the publisher? Write to Amos Schocken at email@example.com
March 07, 2006
IHT Corrects UN Adviser on UN Resolution
On Sunday we reported that UN adviser Hans Küng dispensed advice to the world on "How to prevent a clash of civilizations," partially basing his high-minded offerings on a distortion of a UN resolution. (Oops!) We are pleased to report that the International Herald Tribune has promptly corrected the error.
March 05, 2006
Ha'aretz Print Edition's Subtle Selectivity
On Friday night, a Jewish Israeli man, his Christian wife, and their daughter entered a Christian holy site in Nazareth and detonated fireworks. As the online edition of Ha'aretz reported today:
The Tiberias Magistrate's Court issued Saturday evening a 15-day remand extension for the three family members suspected of detonating fireworks in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth the night before.
One of the suspects, Violet Habibi, collapsed on the way out of the courthouse. An ambulance arrived at the scene to give her medical treatment.
Police rescued the Habibi family members from the church after they detonated fireworks during a prayer service.
But today's print edition of Ha'aretz singles out the Jewish man in a headline and the lead paragraph. The headline reads:
Riots follow attack in crowded Nazareth church
Authorities move to restore calm after Jewish man set off firecrackers inside basilica
And the lead paragraph states:
Thousands of people marched through Nazareth yesterday afternoon to protest Friday night's incident during which a Jewish man detonated firecrackers in the Basilica of the Annunication in an act that his daughter said was motivated by "economic distress."
Two paragraphs later, readers learn that the Jewish man, Haim Habibi did not act alone, but was joined by his Christian wife Violette and their daughter Odelia.
Given the explosiveness of issues concerning holy sites in Israel and the Palestinian areas, media outlets must take extra care to report on tensions with extreme precision. An earlier example of a media misrepresentation about an attack on a holy site is (mis)coverage of the 1969 attack by an Australian Protestant Al Aksa Mosque.
(Hat tip: Mickey S.)
UN Adviser Misrepresents UN Resolution
You know the U.N. is in trouble when one of its advisors puts forward suggestions on "How to prevent a clash of civilizations" based on misrepresentations of U.N. resolutions. Hans Küng, a Catholic theologian and president of the Global Ethic Foundation, did just that in an Op-Ed today in the International Herald Tribune. He wrote:
The Palestinians can likewise demand that first Israel must withdraw from all occupied territories in accordance with UN resolution 242. . . .
But, as has already been corrected in numerous media outlets, U.N. Resolution 242 does not demand that "Israel must withdraw from all occupied territories," but rather from an unspecified amount of territory. (For more on the resolution's wording, and its territorial implications, see, for example, here.)
Moreover, the New York Times, which publishes the International Herald Tribune, three times in 2000 corrected the same or related errors on U.N. Resolution 242. The Sept. 8 correction, for example, read:
An article on Wednesday about the Middle East peace talks referred incorrectly to United Nations resolutions on the Arab-Israeli conflict. While Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the 1967 Middle East War, calls for Israel’s armed forces to withdraw "from territories occupied in the recent conflict," no resolution calls for Israeli withdrawal from all territory, including East Jerusalem, occupied in the war.
CAMERA has contacted IHT editors about this error. Stay tuned for news about a correction.
March 04, 2006
Architect for Javits Center Backpedals on Anti-Israel Boycott
Recently it was revealed that Lord Richard Rogers, lead architect for the $1.7 billion Javits Center in New York, hosted the first meeting of a group calling for boycott of firms doing business with Israel. This revelation caused a quite a stir in New York. The meeting was held in secret and apparently Rogers didn't expect to be called to account for his association with the anti-Israel crowd. He backpedaled and dissociated himself from the group which was chaired by his close friend Abe Hayeem. (The Javits Center is named after the famous Jewish Senator who was a lifelong advocate for the state of Israel.)
Read Melanie Phillips's article on the boycott of Israel as part of a broader trend to
single out the one country on the planet that is targeted for extermination, first by demonising it with a campaign of lies and then severing its intellectual and economic lifelines to the so-called civilised world.
March 03, 2006
NPR’s Linda Gradstein Avoids Identifying Palestinian Terrorists
CAMERA repeatedly has criticized National Public Radio’s tendency to call Palestinian terrorists “militants,” “activists,” “gunmen”— anything but what they are. So a February 21 Winter Olympics commentary provided an interesting example of accuracy.
In “Attack on 1972 Games Shadows Olympics,” host Steve Inskeep refers to the murderers of Israeli athletes at the Munich Games as “Palestinian terrorists.” Commentator Frank Shorter, a former Olympic marathon runner who competed in the ‘72 Summer Games, refers to the killers as terrorists and to their acts as terrorism.
Perhaps at NPR it is easier to recognize Palestinian terrorism and terrorists 34 years after the fact than in current coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Whatever the reason, contrast Inskeep’s precise reference to the avoidance of specificity by NPR’s Linda Gradstein in reports on February 19 and 20. Both segments dealt with Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) and the latter also mentioned Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are officially listed by the United States, the European Union, Canada and Israel as terrorist organizations.
On February 19, paraphrasing a Hebrew quote from acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Gradstein reported that “with Hamas’ majority in parliament [the Palestinian Legislative Council], the Palestinian Authority has turned into what he called a terrorist authority.” Gradstein reported that Olmert also said “Israel will not compromise with terrorism ....”
But on her own, Gradstein referred to Hamas another 10 times without noting its terrorist designation; its leading role in the “Al Aqsa intifada,” including suicide bombings that killed several hundred Israelis; or its charter commitment to Israel’s destruction. She did, however, report that Hamas’ new legislative council speaker “pledged that Hamas would fulfill what he called its rightful duty to resist occupation.”
In her February 20 report, Gradstein does not use the words terrorism or terrorists even in paraphrase. She does refer, without further identification, to “a local leader of the Islamic Jihad ... killed in a gun battle with Israeli troops” and says “another Palestinian militant was also killed over the weekend ....” It fell to host Renee Montagne to mention Olmert’s reference to the new PA government being formed under Hamas as a “terrorist authority” and to observe that Hamas’ charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state.
Accuracy depends on precision, but regarding Palestinian terrorism, Gradstein was most imprecise.
– by Kate Naseef, CAMERA Washington, D.C. research intern.