November 30, 2006
Fisk's Fraudulent Uranium Weapons Claim
Anti-Israel agitator-cum-journalist Robert Fisk has a habit of fabricating stories about Israeli atrocities. Recently, he speculates that Israel has developed and used a "secret new uranium-based weapon" in Lebanon this summer("Mystery of Israel's Secret Uranium Bomb," Oct. 28, 2006, Independent). Fisk cites alleged results of tests on soil samples collected from bomb craters in Lebanon. These tests were conducted by Chris Busby, the British Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk — a group of scientists who believe that internal radiation emitters, especially depleted uranium (DU), are the main cause of the world wide cancer "epidemic."
Fisk's piece reads like science fiction — and apparently it was. Experts from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released a statement on November 8, stating that they had found
no evidence of penetrators or metal made of DU or other radioactive material. In addition, no DU shrapnel, or other radioactive residue was found. The analysis of all smear samples taken shows no DU, nor enriched Uranium nor higher than natural uranium content in the samples.
Baltimore Sun -- If You Can't Say Something Smart ...
Baltimore Sun editorials on Arab-Israeli news tend to oscillate between being wrong and being fatuous. Insightful commentary has appeared — as an aberration. This pattern, holding for at least the past four years, continued with “An offer worth exploring” (November 29). It’s firmly on the fatuous side of the ledger.
“An offer worth exploring” notes Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s proposed concessions in exchange for an end to terrorism and start of negotiations toward genuine peace. The editorial says “the Palestinians should respond, and they should start with the Hamas-led government acknowledging Israel’s right to exist.” Of course, and as in the musical Camelot, it should never rain ‘til after sundown.
The Sun doesn’t get it: Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement) exists to destroy the Jewish state of Israel and establish an Islamic theocracy over all of western Palestine — Israel, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and the Gaza Strip. It has held the residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip hostage to this ideology. It refuses to bow, as it says, to Israeli, U.S. and European demands to recognize Israel’s right to exist, end terrorism and agree to uphold previously negotiated Palestinian-Israeli agreements. It does so even though acceding would result in resumption of international aid and tax payments collected for the PA by Israel.
On what analytical basis does The Sun offer its advice? The day before the editorial appeared, Reuters News Agency headlined a dispatch “Hamas Sticking to Tough Line on Israel.” Reuters reported that “‘Hamas believes the presence of Israel is something that is not permanent ... and it is possible that in the end, it can be contained within a Palestinian state,’ said Mustafa Assawaf, a Palestinian expert on Islamist groups. Assawaf predicted that Hamas would never recognize Israel ‘even if the temptation was world recognition and a (Palestinian) state.’” If The Sun has better information, it doesn’t say so.
The Sun also advises Lebanese Christians, Druze, and Sunni Muslims “to resist taking up arms” to support the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora against attempts by Hezbollah (the Lebanese Shi’ite “Party of God”) to overturn it on behalf of Iran and Syria. They should instead “rely on the Lebanese army.” Incredible.
The same Lebanese Army that fractured along sectarian lines at the start of the 1975 - 1990 civil wars and has not been put back together? The same army that failed to stop Hezbollah from erecting a state-within-a-state in southern Lebanon and dragging the country into war with Israel last summer? The same army whose equipment, not to mention morale, is inferior to Hezbollah’s and that required the presence of an expanded international force under the United Nations just to deploy in southern Lebanon, never mind actually disarm Hezbollah or prevent new weaponry from being supplied by Iran and Syria?
Baltimore Sun editorialists apparently had nothing serious to say about Hamas, nothing useful to say about Lebanon. But they produced an editorial anyway.
An old journalism maxim describes editorial writers as those who come down from the hills after the battle and shoot the wounded. In this latest Arab-Israeli editorial, The Sun’s opinion writers shot themselves. Again.
November 29, 2006
The 'Zionist Entity' and the Mideast Divide
The heading of the letters section in the Los Angeles Times today is "Settlements and the Mideast divide." For one letter-writer, the debate is not about the settlements' existence, but about Israel's. Indeed, like Israel's most intractable enemies, Richard O. Richards cannot even bring himself to say the country's name:
The one who needs to "get real" is the so-called free press in the Western media, which for years has stuck its head in the sand and ignored the racist and neofascist nature of the Zionist entity.
Was the LA Times "ignoring the racist and neofascist nature of the Zionist entity" when it repeatedly printed Op-Eds by Richards' UCLA colleague Saree Makdisi, who called for a binational state (i.e., Israel's elimination) and accused Israel of deliberately targeting civilians, among other atrocities? (And, the Times has yet to correct Makdisi's numerous outstanding factual errors.)
November 28, 2006
'Palestine Times' Hot Off the Press
Ha'aretz reports today:
The first privately owned English language daily, the "Palestine Times," was launched yesterday in the West Bank and Gaza, with its editors aiming to provide news about the region to English speakers abroad.
The 12-page newspaper will cover Palestinian affairs, the conflict with Israel and developments in the Arab community in Israel, said its editor-in-chief, Othman Haj Mohammed.
The last time, that we know of, that there was an English-language newspaper in the region with "Palestine" in the title was the pre-1948 predecessor to the Jewish-owned Jerusalem Post, then dubbed the Palestine Post.
November 20, 2006
In Ha'aretz Op-Eds, Contradictory 'Facts'
Opposing viewpoints on an Op-Ed page make for lively reading. Contradictions of fact on the Op-Ed page--true and false literally side by side--make for poor journalism.
In Ha'aretz today, Danny Rubinstein writes:
The guidelines of the [Palestinian] national unity government are based on the "prisoner's document," and do not meet the three demands of Israel and the Quartet (recognition, an end to violence and abiding by previous agreements.)
In another Op-Ed, Yossi Sarid writes:
Inside prison [Marwan Barghouti] formulated the "prisoners' document" drawn up by Fatah and Hamas members, which calls for the establishment of two states based on the 1967 borders [sic] , adopts previous agreements between the sides and abandons the armed struggle in the unoccupied territories.
So much for Sarid's "facts." His opinion, that Barghouti should be released, is open for reader debate.
November 19, 2006
Islamic Jihad Leader: The Barrier Works
The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reports that Ramadan Shalah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader, publicly admits that the West Bank barrier successfully keeps suicide bombers out of Israel.
November 16, 2006
Carter on the 'Wall'
In his book that came out this week, called Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Jimmy Carter slams Israel's West Bank security barrier:
"Imprisonment wall" is more descriptive than "security fence." (p. 174)
Saudi Arabia will press ahead with plans to build a massive security fence along its borders with Iraq to prevent infiltration of “terrorists,” the interior minister said in an interview published Tuesday.
Construction of the double-track barbed fence, which will be fitted with remote sensors and thermal cameras, will begin next year, Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz told Al Anbaa Kuwaiti newspaper.
“Authorities in Saudi Arabia have begun the executive measures to build the largest security fence that extends along the 900-km (562-miles) border with Iraq,” he said.
November 15, 2006
Reuters' "Revenge" Rocket
The headline to a Reuters news video segment about today's fatal Palestinian rocket attack echos the Hamas and Islamic Jihad propaganda about the attack, claiming it was merely a response to a fatal Israeli shelling in Beit Hanoun. The headline reads: "Revenge rocket kills Israeli woman."
The voice-over by reporter Sonya Legg (sp?) similarly asserted that "the attack was a response to last weeks shelling in Beit Hanoun... ." Has Reuters somehow determined that the Palestinian rocket would not have been launched had Israel's misfired shell in Beit Hanoun not killed any Palestinians? What about the fact that such rocket fire preceded Israel's operation in the Gaza Strip, has been ongoing for years, and continued even after Israel ended its occupation of the area?
Indeed, the reporter acknowledged that "300 Palestinian rockets have been fired into southern Israel since the start of the year." So what does Reuters consider those attacks?
Compare the news service's unquestioning acceptance of Hamas's rational for the rocket attack with its less-accepting reports on Israel's security fence. Although Israel insists that purpose of the barrier is to keep suicide bombers and other terrorists from attacking Israeli population centers, Reuters does not describe it as "security barrier." Instead it gives equal weight to Israel's claim and Palestinian assertions that the fence is merely a "move to seize land."
(The Associated Press had similarly flirted with calling Palestinian suicide bombers "revenge bombers"—read about it here—but has since stopped using such absurd and partisan language.)
Lutheran Staffer Promotes Hamas Ally
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is not nearly as hostile toward Israel as some of the other mainline churches in the United States. Thanks to the behind-the-scene efforts of a small, but effective group of Christian-Jewish scholars who take Arab and Muslim leaders at their word when they talk about destroying Israel, the resolutions about the Arab-Israeli conflict passed by ELCA's Churchwide Assembly in 2005 acknowledged Israel's legitimate security needs. The church even pledged to draw attention to the plight of Christians in countries like Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, suggesting that at least a few ELCA members and leaders know that not every Christian in the Middle East blames Israel for their suffering.
Still, there are times when even Lutherans can miss the point about life in the Middle East.
Most people can tell the difference between a wall built by communist dictators who order their soldiers to shoot people in the back as they try to escape tyranny and a passive barrier built to stop the murder of civilians by suicide bombers and snipers, but this distinction seems to be lost on ELCA Communicator Ben McDonald Coltvet who attended a conference titled "Life in the Shadow of a Wall" held in Wittenburg, Germany. The conference, which ended on Nov. 14, included testimony from those affected by the "wall/border" separating the U.S. and Mexico, Israel's security barrier, and yes, the Berlin Wall, where people fleeing tyranny were shot in the back by East German soldiers.
It gets worse. According to Coltvet's blog about the event, conference attendees heard testimony from Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh, who won his post by virtue of his support from ... Hamas! To be sure, Mayor Batarseh, a Catholic, is not a member of the organization, but his primary political support comes from this group, which is openly dedicated to the destruction of Israel. (And as Molly Ivins is fond of saying, "You gotta dance with them that brung ya.")
Here is what Chiesa, a Catholic journal, said about Hamas's dominance in Bethlehem politics in 2005:
The leader of the Hamas contingent in the municipal council of Bethlehem, Hassam El-Masalmeh, exalts the suicide attacks against the Jews, and asserts that these will continue until all of Palestine, including the territory of Israel, is under Palestinian control.
But mayor Victor Batarseh, a practicing Catholic, condemns the terrorist attacks and wants Hamas to stop carrying them out. He says that he is ready for a territorial compromise with Israel in order to bring about a true Palestinian state. But even before the latest municipal elections, he chose Hamas as his main ally, together with another extremist group called Islamic Jihad.
Maybe ELCA's communicator was unaware of these affiliations. Mayor Batarseh's affiliation with Hamas (and, according to Chiesa, Islamic Jihad) hasn't prevented him from speaking as a so-called "peace activist" in at the Full Sail School of Film, Art, Design and Music and Media Production in Florida and at Missouri Southern State University.
Still, given the agenda of the conference, and Batarseh's involvement, a few questions should be asked:
Just how reasonable is it for a man whose political allies include Hamas — a group that targets Israeli civilians for murder — to be testifying about the negative impact of Israel's security barrier on Palestinians? Were conference participants told of Mayor Batarseh's affiliation with Hamas?
Is it appropriate to link the Israel's security barrier with the Berlin Wall? The Berlin Wall was clearly intended to keep people inside a communist state. The goal of Israel's security barrier is to prevent suicide attacks (which don't seem to get much mention on Coltvet's blog, by the way).
Just how much information about the infrastructure of anti-Jewish hate and hostility in Palestinian society were the participants given? Religious leaders in the Gaza Strip routinely call for Jews to be killed and for children to become suicide bombers. Were conference participants given this information?
November 14, 2006
Time Magazine Manipulated Photos
Time Magazine has joined the roster of journalists or media outlets that have manipulated photos during the recent Israeli-Lebanon war. (Hat tip: Little Green Footballs)
Photographer Bruno Stevens revealed that Time Magazine altered the caption of his photo of an allegedly downed Israeli jet.
His original caption read:
Kfar Chima, near Beirut, July 17, 2006 An Israeli Air Force F16 has alledgedly been shot down while bombing a group of Hezbollah owned trucks, at least one of these trucks contained a medium range ground to ground missile launcher.
Stevens subsequently corrected his caption to read:
Kfar Chima, near Beirut, July 17, 2006 The Israeli Air Force bombed a group of Hezbollah chartered trucks parked on the back of large Lebanese Army barracks, at least one of these trucks contained a medium range ground to ground missile launcher, at least one missile was hit, misfiring high into the sky before falling down and starting a huge fire in the barracks’ parking lot.
The photographer's web site also contains pictures clearly showing a medium range missile launcher destroyed by the Israelis during this particular raid on the Lebanese base.
But Time Magazine's caption omitted all mention of the missile launcher, Hizballah's attempt to fire a missile and the reason for Israel's attack, stating only:
The wreckage of a downed Israeli jet that was targeting Hizballah trucks billows smoke behind a Hizballah gunman in Kfar Chima, near Beirut. Jet fuel set the surrounding area ablaze.
Al Jazeera International to Debut
Tomorrow, Al Jazeera International will go on the air, reports the International Herald Tribune. What else can we expect from the Arab satellite news channel?
By year-end, Al Jazeera will have news channels in Arabic and English, a pan-Arab newspaper, Web sites and blogs, sports and children's outlets, and even a channel modeled after C-Span.
Nineteen inhabitants of Beit Hanun were killed with malice aforethought.
November 12, 2006
Christian Decline in Palestinian Areas
Christians claim Muslim gangs routinely try to seize Christian property using doctored documents, but Palestinian authorities say it's random lawlessness in areas where land deeds are not registered.
Nicholas Goldberg Finds Accuracy
Last month we wrote about "Op-Ed, Explained," the piece by Los Angeles Times Op-Ed page editor Nicholas Goldberg which described the paper's goals and criteria for the opinion pages. Apparently, accuracy is not a value that Goldberg felt warranted mention.
Today, Nicholas Goldberg "found" accuracy. In a column about the Israeli national mood, he writes:
In the 1990s, a group of "new historians" emerged to challenge the traditional Zionist narrative, focusing less on the standard David-versus-Goliath view of Israel and the Arabs and more on a less heroic, but perhaps more historically accurate, version.
To call the "new historians" "historically accurate" is historical revisionism.
And, while we're on the subject of accuracy, where are the Times corrections for Saree Makdisi's errors?
November 09, 2006
Charming Terrorist's Omitted Admission
Zakaria Zubeidi, leader of the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin, was a widely-quoted, at times romantically portrayed source and subject for Western news media in 2004 and 2005. He appeared a dozen times in The Washington Post, once virtually lionized by the newspaper's Molly Moore as a Palestinian hybrid of Robin Hood and Judge Roy Bean ("Refuge Is Prison For Hunted Palestinian; De Facto Sheriff Is Wanted by Israelis," Aug. 23, 2004). (See critique of Moore's feature).
When Reuters News Agency's Israel bureau held a going away party for a colleague in the summer of 2005, Zubeidi reportedly appeared in a spoof video, sitting in Reuter's Jenin office, pretending to be bureau chief. The agency issued a statement saying it told the staff involved that it found the video "inappropriate and in bad taste" and "to make it clear that it is not associated with any group or faction in any conflict."
Regardless of journalists' apparent fascination with Zubeida, Israeli officials say that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (also listed by the United States as a terrorist organization) is responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in which more than 80 Israelis have been killed and close to 700 wounded. The Jerusalem Post reported on July 7, 2006 that Zubeidi escape an Israeli Defense Forces capture attempt in Jenin that led to a shoot-out in which one Palestinian Arab was killed, five wounded. The IDF acted after several terrorist attacks reportedly planned by Zubeidi, including a thwarted suicide bombing at the Jewish settlement of Barkan.
Zubeidi -- his last name is spelled Zbeida by The Washington Post -- still occasionally receives lavish, if not completely uncritical coverage. In "This man's young disciples, trained in the cause of martyrdom, wrap themselves in explosives and blow up innocent Jewish civilians," (Sunday Times of London, June 11, 2006), reporter Christine Toomey, after an attempted psychological review of Zubeidi's troubled childhood, does ask the sort of pointed follow-up questions about murder and "martyrdom" that Moore avoided.
But neither The Washington Post or other major U.S. papers seemed to have covered a revealing admission by Zubeidi to the German publication Welt am Sonntag, which appeared in the March 6, 2006 edition and was reprinted in Kuwait's Al-Rai Al-Amm the same day. As noted by Israel's Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (www.terrorism-info.org.il) Zubeidi said:
"Without the assistance of our Hezbollah brothers we would not have been able to persist with our struggle ...." Hezbollah, the Iranian-funded, Syrian-armed Lebanese "Party of God," provides "funds, arms, training and support. We coordinate our operations with them."
According to the ITIC, Zubeidi acknowledged that Hezbollah exerts much influence on him.
So, when he can be described as providing law and order in the Jenin "refugee camp" -- a long permanent if comparatively poorer neighborhood of the city of Jenin -- that a corrupt, incompetent Palestinian Authority does not, and an occupying Israel prevents, Zakaria Zubeidi is newsworthy. But when he's a leader of a Palestinian terrorist group, affirming a debt to a major internationial terrorist organization, he's not. Apparently, if the subject is Zakaria Zubeidi, bad news is no news.
The columnist that ignored everything
In his Op-Ed Tuesday in Ha'aretz, entitled "The murder that stopped everything," Nehemia Shtrasler suggests that Yasir Arafat fought against terror in the interest of peace. In contrast, former Prime Minister Netanyahu aimed to
smash the Oslo agreement; and he did so throughly. In September 1996, he opened the tunnel in Jerusalem (at Ehud Olmert's advice), and therefore, the two of them set Jerusalem and the territories on fire. Netanyahu invented the cliche "if they give, they'll get" to create a complete standstill. He rejected the incremental process, but instead intensified building in the settlements, Har Homa and East Jerusalem.
He did not permit safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank, and did not release Palestinian prisoners. Thus the Oslo agreement was smashed.
First, the factual error: During his tenure from May 1996 to July 1999, Netanyahu released at least 281 Palestinian prisoners. On Feb. 11, 1997, he released 30 Palestinian women (New York Times, “West Bank Town Hails Freed Prisoners,” Feb. 13, 1997). On Oct. 1, 1997, Netanyahu released Hamas leader Sheik Amhed Yasin to Jordan (New York Times, “Israel Frees Ailing Hamas Founder to Jordan at Hussein’s Request, Oct. 1, 1997). Finally, in November, 1998, as part of the Wye River Accords, Netanyahu released 250 Palestinian prisoners, including 150 common criminals and other offenders (New York Times, “Israel’s Release of Criminals Elicits Dismay in Palestinians,” Nov. 30, 1998).
Don't expect a correction from Ha'aretz, though. (Nevertheless, send requests for a correction to publisher Amos Schocken at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Was opening an airport in Gaza and withdrawing from Hebron part of Netanyahu's plan to "smash the Oslo agreement?"
November 07, 2006
Incitement in the News
One of the major shortcomings in news coverage of the Middle East conflict has been the media's lack of attention to the incitement all too pervasive in Palestinian society.
Sometimes, though, journalists do take note of, and comment on, Palestinian hate education.
In the Nov. 13 US News and World Report, for example, Editor-in-Chief Mortimer Zuckerman writes:
Hamas ensures further bloodshed by indoctrinating Palestinian children. They are not born hating, but from the age of 3 their radical leadership incites them to murder. The hate pervades the educational system, TV broadcasting, summer camps, children's trading cards, movies, music, even games that make martyrdom a major theme. A Palestinian psychiatrist recently reported that over half the Palestinian children between the ages of 6 and 11 dream of becoming suicide bombers. And in this perverse and tragic pursuit, they are urged on by their prime minister, Haniyeh. "One of the signs of victory," he told a rally recently, "is the Palestinian mother who prepares her son to be a warrior and then receives the news of his death for the sake of Allah with cries of happiness."
Read it all here.
November 06, 2006
Jerusalem Women Speak
"Jerusalem Women Speak," a lecture tour organized by the group Partners for Peace, just concluded a tour across New England.
It is worth remembering, then, what Partners for Peace is.
After a "Jerusalem Women Speak" tour several years ago, a student contributor to CAMERA's On Campus magazine noted that
Partners for Peace was formed after the government rejected a tax-exempt status application from the Council for the National Interest (CNI). Afterward, CNI members created Partners for Peace as an outlet to pursue its activities. According to AIPAC's Near East Report newsletter, CNI members were urged to support Partners as an alternative. Like Partners for Peace, CNI was built on avowed hostility to Israel and a tendency to espouse conspiracy theories. CNI Foundation Chairman Paul McCloskey went so far as to refer to Israel as "an ugly little nation" and "a potential enemy of the United States." In addition, CNI Chairman Paul Findley has accused the Mossad (Israeli intelligence) of playing a role in the JFK assassination and attempting to kill President George Bush.
Partners for Peace's ties to CNI do not end there, however. Not only do the two organizations share an office, but they are also joined by marriage (Bird's husband, Eugene, serves as CNI president).
CNI, in turn, grew out of the American Educational Trust (AET), which publishes The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. To characterize the publication as biased against Israel would be a serious understatement. The Washington Report has slapped a string of caustic labels on Israel's defenders, among them "fifth columnists," "Israel-firsters," "viruses," "bacteria," "cancer," and an "alien intrusion" operating "against the interests of the United States." Furthermore, the White House, the State Department, Congress, and the media have been defined by the publication as "Israeli occupied territory."
In the past, Washington Report publisher Andrew Killgore and editor Richard Curtiss, as well as former CNI Executive Director David Bowen, have delivered speeches at meetings of the Liberty Lobby, which the Anti-Defamation League has called "the most influential and active anti-Semitic propaganda organization in the United States."