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March 29, 2007

Level of Support for Israel the "Ethical Barometer"

Historian Victor Davis Hanson shares his views about why there is so much hostility toward Israel and why Israel deserves strong support.

What explains the overwhelming criticism of Israel? What can Israel do to combat this?

Envy, mostly - how can fewer than seven million achieve what 500 million Arabs could not? Israel is successful, wealthy, and pro-American, the usual foci of the anger of those who need some psychological banshee to deal with their own sense of failure and inferiority.

Israel must continue to explain its democratic essence, its humanitarian accomplishments, and its willingness to treat future democratic Arab states as equals, but assume that such magnanimity will win it only contempt. It must always beware of tiring, of sinking under the Western maladies of cynicism and nihilism. Remember, for Europeans and Arabs, hating "Zionists" and "Israel" has become an acceptable way to hate Jews without the stigma of anti-Semitism.

When are you planning on coming again to Israel? We would love to host you here at the Jerusalem Post.

I was last there during December 2004. I would love to come back and will soon. Israel serves today as the ethical barometer in the western collective mind. Support for it brings no oil, no ingratiation with terrorists, no psychological lift of the usual easy bullying of a small democracy, but it does reveal respect for democracy, confidence in the history of the West, and respect for a humane culture and an accomplished people under terrible assault. So, I confess, as I age I sort of judge Westerners I meet now by their degree of fairness toward Israel. I've gotten to the point when I hear a rabid Leftist or a creepy Right-wing nut rant on Israel, I just pack it up and walk away. Life is too short for such nonsense.

March 23, 2007
An Interview
Reflections on Iran, Iraq, the Middle East and the West
.
by Ellis Weintraub
Private Papers
www.victorhanson.com

The Jerusalem Post recently published a portion of Weintraub's interview with Victor Davis Hanson.

What steps should be taken on Iran by Israel, the United States, or the West in general?

I believe we have one to two years, a little more at best, so [the U.S.] must up our military profile in the Gulf, pursue and enhance the U.N. sanctions, get the Europeans to stop selling this regime almost anything it wants (the E.U. is Iran's largest trading partner), work with neighboring Arab states, and collapse the price of oil to below $50 a barrel, which would cut off the petrol wealth of this corrupt and shaky regime.

How dangerous is an atomic Iran? Would they use the bomb?

No one knows exactly to what extent Ahmadinejad is typical of the current leadership. My guess is that he is seen as a useful pit bull whose barking whips up Islamic solidarity, but whose leash the mullahs are not ready to cut loose until they have the bomb.

This sort of extremist Persian Shia fervor nullifies classical deterrence. Would such madmen be willing to lose 40 million [citizens] so that the martyred would be in paradise and the survivors eternally boasting that the despised Persian Shi'ites were the true jihadists of Islam who took out the Zionist entity?

The world must act collectively; it cannot expect that 60 years after the Holocaust an Israeli prime minister will sit idly by while a Persian dictator first promises to wipe out the "one-bomb" state, and then proceeds to obtain the means to fulfill that sick boast.

Does U.S. involvement in Iraq limit America's ability to deal with Iran's nuclear program?

It cuts both ways: having troops deployed nearby helps if they are winning, and the opposite if they are perceived as losing. Iran is terrified of a stable democratic Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Iraq near or on its borders, so we are in high-stakes gambit. We must not lose in Iraq. The consequences would be terrible.

I still think the U.S. can stabilize [Iraq] - betting against the U.S. military is not wise. We forget that going 7,000 miles into the ancient caliphate and fostering democracy in a climate of three decades of nightmarish terror isn't easily accomplished in four years.

What role can democratic reforms in the Middle East play in ending terrorism?

Ultimately, constitutional government will help to break the connection between corrupt autocracies and jihadists.

In the short term, we may see the election of terrorists like Hamas.

The Palestinians got their free elections; they voted; and now they must stew in their own juice. That's why it is critical not to give a dime to the Palestinian Authority Hamas government until [they] renounce their terrorist charter.

What explains the overwhelming criticism of Israel? What can Israel do to combat this?

Envy, mostly - how can fewer than seven million achieve what 500 million Arabs could not? Israel is successful, wealthy, and pro-American, the usual foci of the anger of those who need some psychological banshee to deal with their own sense of failure and inferiority.

Israel must continue to explain its democratic essence, its humanitarian accomplishments, and its willingness to treat future democratic Arab states as equals, but assume that such magnanimity will win it only contempt. It must always beware of tiring, of sinking under the Western maladies of cynicism and nihilism. Remember, for Europeans and Arabs, hating "Zionists" and "Israel" has become an acceptable way to hate Jews without the stigma of anti-Semitism.

Considering ancient Israel's role in the development of Western civilization, does being a classical historian influence your current views on Israel?

Yes, especially the pseudo-claims by Israel's enemies of an eternal Islamic or Arab homeland, as if Jews, Persians, Greeks, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Ottomans, and Europeans have not all staked their claims on the Middle East. History is unkind, and does not magically settle mythic claims like Zeus on Olympus. In the case of present-day Israel, it is unique in that the Jews were the first settlers of Israel, and presently they have the legal right, the military strength, and the cultural dynamism to enhance and protect their homeland.

When are you planning on coming again to Israel? We would love to host you here at the Jerusalem Post.

I was last there during December 2004. I would love to come back and will soon. Israel serves today as the ethical barometer in the western collective mind. Support for it brings no oil, no ingratiation with terrorists, no psychological lift of the usual easy bullying of a small democracy, but it does reveal respect for democracy, confidence in the history of the West, and respect for a humane culture and an accomplished people under terrible assault. So, I confess, as I age I sort of judge Westerners I meet now by their degree of fairness toward Israel. I've gotten to the point when I hear a rabid Leftist or a creepy Right-wing nut rant on Israel, I just pack it up and walk away. Life is too short for such nonsense.

Posted by LG at 04:37 PM |  Comments (0)

NY Times Comes to CAIR's Rescue

One Muslim Advocacy Group's Not-So-Secret Terrorist Ties.

Unfit Print.
By Steven Emerson
The New Republic Online

March 28, 2007

This year has been a rocky one for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the self-professed "prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy" group. First, Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer rescinded an award her office had issued a CAIR official, stating that she was uncomfortable with many of the organization's positions. Then, two weeks ago, the GOP House Conference objected to the use of a Capitol facility -- provided by Democratic Representative Bill Pascrell to host a CAIR forum, labeling the group "terror apologists" (based on CAIR's long track record of extremism and anti-Semitism).

Yet, just as people began to realize this and to ostracize CAIR accordingly, The New York Times arrived with a life raft. Earlier this month, Neil MacFarquhar wrote an incredibly generous profile called "Scrutiny Increases for a Group Advocating for Muslims in U.S." MacFarquhar's piece is so fraught with errors -- of commission and omission -- that it is a coup of CAIR propaganda.

MacFarquhar gets off on the right foot, noting, "Several federal officials said CAIR's Washington office frequently issued controversial statements that made it hard for senior government figures to be associated with the group." But he cites none of these "controversial statements." Nor does he mention the CAIR-sponsored fund-raisers and conferences featuring former neo-Nazi leader William Baker and jihadist cleric Wagdy Ghoneim. (At a 1998 CAIR event, Ghoneim sang, "No to the Jews, descendants of the apes." And, after he was deported in 2004 for overstaying his visa, Hussam Ayloush, CAIR's Southern California director, called Ghoneim's removal from the U.S. "a dent in our civil rights struggle.")

Readers of the Times wouldn't know, for example, that Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin alleged CAIR's links to terrorists; nor that Steven Pomerantz, former counterterrorism chief of the FBI, has written,
"Any objective assessment of the material ... leads to the conclusion that CAIR, its leaders, and its activities effectively give aid to international terrorist groups."

In airing critics' complaints about the group, MacFarquhar cites its refusal to "endorse the American government's blanket condemnations of Hezbollah and Hamas." Actually, that's only half the story. At a 2001 rally in front of
the State Department, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad actually defended Hamas's murderous tactics: "The Palestinians are using legitimate means of resistance. We should not be shy about it, and we should not be apologetic about it."

The devil, however, is in the details, and MacFarquhar doesn't even bother with them. CAIR has received significant funding from the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, an outfit notorious for publishing anti-Semitic, jihadist
literature. (Sample passage: "Teach our children to love taking revenge on the Jews and the oppressors, and to each them that our youngsters will liberate Palestine and [Jerusalem] when they go back to Islam and make jihad
for the sake of Allah.") CAIR officials also make frequent pilgrimages to the Persian Gulf to solicit funds (for a $50 million p.r. campaign and a new $24 million office building).

The Times even parrots a typical CAIR refrain -- that "some pro-Israeli lobbyists" are responsible for the group's woes -- and stands it up in the mouth of some unnamed government official. If MacFarquhar had dug deeper, he
would have found conspiracy-mongering. A March 1998 article in the Georgetown Voice (titled "Muslim group sponsors controversial speaker; Jews Control U.S. Policy, Awad Says") reported that Awad called U.S. policy
"driven in part by the Jewish origin of many Clinton administration officials." Awad continued, "Who of Clinton's advisors ... is opposing the latest agreement with Iraq? Look at their names. Look at ... their ethnic or religious or racial background. You will see that these are the same groups that belong to the same interest groups in the administration. These are the same people who are pushing the United States to go to war on behalf of a
third party." And, at a Washington, D.C. rally in 2000, Awad unequivocally announced his vision for the Middle East, "They [the Jews] have been saying 'next year to Jerusalem.' We say 'next year to all Palestine.' "

While the Times did not see fit to provide its readers with any of CAIR's "controversial" statements (Awad in 1994: "I am in support of the Hamas movement"), the paper did disingenuously quote one of CAIR's most dangerous
supporters. Former FBI agent Michael Rolince -- who spent much of his time at the agency championing "partnership" between Islamist groups and law enforcement (and has, since his retirement, frequented the Islamist speaking and fund-raising circuit) told MacFarquhar, "Of all the groups, there is
probably more suspicion about CAIR, but when you ask people for cold hard facts, you get blank stares."

Not only is this a total falsehood, but it's also a conflict of interest. Rolince was involved in a highly controversial program, eventually de-funded and cancelled by the FBI, that would have funneled millions of dollars to a
constellation of radical Muslim groups, including CAIR (to, in the words of the Times, "institutionalize bridge building"). I have met with Rolince several times, and he simply refused to read the materials on CAIR that I,
and others, provided. Moreover, Mike Rolf, a retired FBI agent, disagrees with Rolince's casual acceptance of CAIR. Rolf states, "It is clear that CAIR has had a number of people in positions of power within the
organization that have been directly connected to terrorism and have either been prosecuted or thrown out of the country" and has said that, despite Rolince's contention, "there are no blank stares from people working in
counterterrorism in the U.S., and it is troubling that CAIR seems unable to directly and specifically condemn terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah."

In truth, as Rolince would know if he'd read what I gave him, CAIR's ties to terrorists are numerous and well-documented. For one, the group was incorporated by members of the Islamic Association for Palestine , a now
defunct organization shuttered by a successful lawsuit against U.S.-based Hamas front organizations (the suit was brought by the family of an American victim of a Hamas attack).

For another, CAIR received $5,000 in 1994 from the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), which goes on trial later this year for funneling millions of dollars to Hamas (the Treasury Department has
designated it a Hamas front group). In the days after September 11, CAIR used its website to raise money for HLF, sending people who clicked on a link -- called "Donate to the NY/DC Emergency Relief Fund" -- to the HLF
website. Perhaps Rolince and The New York Times, when presented with such facts, would only respond with blank stares.

At one point, MacFarquhar even strays into direct Hamas propaganda, asserting that Mousa Abu Marzook is "a Hamas leader deported in 1997 after the United States failed to produce any evidence directly linking him to any
attacks." Actually, in his extradition order, Judge Kevin Duffy saw reason to believe that "Abu Marzook engaged in and intended to further the aims of [a terrorist] conspiracy by his membership in and support of the Hamas
organization." Duffy also concluded "that probable cause exists that Abu Marzook knew of Hamas's plan to carry out violent, murderous attacks, that he selected the leadership and supplied the money to enable the attacks to
take place, and that such attacks were, therefore, a foreseeable consequence of the conspiracy."

CAIR's very public defense of Marzook -- which the Times neglects to mention -- is illuminating. In June 1996, CAIR signed an open letter to then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher calling for Marzook's immediate
release, railing against "the injustice that has prevailed," and alleging that "our judicial system has been kidnapped by Israeli interests." Then, its 1996 report "The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States " included Marzook's arrest in its list of incidents of anti-Muslim bias and violence.

The Rolinces and MacFarquhars of the world might not lose any sleep for propping up a group that publicly supports Hamas kingpins and other anti-American terrorists, but thankfully, most people do. The Times got one
thing right: Scrutiny of CAIR is on the rise, and that is something everyone should welcome.

Steven Emerson is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism and the author, most recently, of Jihad, Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the US (Prometheus).

To protest MacFarquhars' distortions and lack of context, write to the New York Times:
letters@nytimes.com

Posted by LG at 06:09 AM |  Comments (2)

March 28, 2007

Human Rights Council Criticized

Speaking before the UN Human Rights Council, a UN Watch representative criticizes Council's partisanship, fixation on Israel, and indifference to other abuses of human rights. Mexico's Luis Alfonso de Alba, President of the Human Rights Council, is not pleased.

Posted by GI at 03:22 PM |  Comments (2)

March 26, 2007

A New Register at Al-Hurra

Alhurra_logo.gif

Joel Mowbray writes in OpinionJournal that the U.S. taxpayer-financed Al-Hurra has

taken a new direction since it was taken over by a longtime CNN producer, Larry Register, last November. Launched in February 2004, Al-Hurra broadcasts three separate feeds: to Europe, Arab nations and one for Iraq. The network is supposed to be a key component of our public diplomacy to the Arab world. Its mission statement calls for it to showcase the American political process, and just as important, report on things that get little attention on other Arabic networks, such as human-rights abuses and government.

Within weeks of becoming news director, Mr. Register put his own stamp on the network. Producers and on-air talent quickly understood that change was underway. Investigations into Arab government wrongdoing or oppression were no longer in vogue, and the ban on turning the airwaves over to terrorists was lifted. For those who had chafed under Mr. Register's predecessor--who curbed the desire of many on staff to make Al-Hurra more like al-Jazeera--the new era was welcomed warmly.

"Everybody feels emboldened. Register changed the atmosphere around here," notes one staffer. "Register is trying to pander to Arab sympathies," says another.

The cultural shift inside the newsroom is evident in the on-air product. In the past several months, Al-Hurra has aired live speeches from Mr. Nasrallah and Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, and it broadcast an interview with an alleged al Qaeda operative who expressed joy that 9/11 rubbed "America's nose in the dust."

While a handful of unfortunate decisions could be isolated, these actions appear to be part of Mr. Register's news vision. Former news director Mouafac Harb, a Lebanese-born American citizen, was not shy about his disdain for terrorists and had a firm policy against giving them a platform. But Mr. Register didn't wait long to allow Hamas officials on the air to discuss Palestinian politics.

At a staff meeting announcing the reversal of the ban on terrorists as guests, Mr. Register "bragged" about his personal relationship with Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar, a top Hamas official, according to someone who was present. Contacted on his cell phone for comment, Mr. Register declined, indicating that he couldn't spare even two minutes anytime in the coming days.

Posted by TS at 07:28 AM |  Comments (1)

BBC Cover-Up

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The Daily Mail reports:

The BBC has been accused of "shameful hypocrisy" over its decision to spend £200,000 blocking a freedom of information request about its reporting in the Middle East.

The corporation, which has itself made extensive use of FOI requests in its journalism, is refusing to release papers about an internal inquiry into whether its reporting has been biased towards Palestine.

BBC chiefs have been accused of wasting thousands of pounds of licence fee payers money trying to cover-up the findings of the so called Balen Report into its journalism in the region, despite the fact that the corporation is funded by the British public. . . .

Conservative MP David Davies said: "An organisation which is funded partly to scrutinise governments and other institutions in Britain appears to be using tax-payers money to prevent its customers from finding out how it is operating. That is absolutely indefensible."

He added: "I think the BBC are guilty of shameful hypocrisy. What could possibly be in this report that could possibly be worth £200,000 to bury. What is it they feel is so awful in this report."

Posted by TS at 05:44 AM |  Comments (1)

March 19, 2007

Straight Talk on Palestinian Incitement

NadirSaid21.jpe

Two men, a Palestinian and an American, an academic and a journalist, independently discussed in separate venues the militarization of Palestinian youth.

The American, New York Times reporter Steve Erlanger, wrote a long feature last week in which he almost entirely ignored the widespread phenomenon of hate indoctrination. The Palestinian academic, Dr. Nadir Sa'id, spoke openly about it on Palestinian television March 6. Palestinian Media Watch translated his words:

What happened in Palestine in the last years is speech incitement of the highest degree. Violence speech of the highest degree in mosques, and occasionally in the media, from many politicians. . . . there are Imams who incite to killing: killing of women, beating children, killing the "other," rejection of the "other's" opinion. A whole generation was raised on the denial of the "other" and erasing him completely, and to the possibility of killing him without any restraint or problem.

Posted by TS at 05:04 AM |  Comments (0)

Johnston, 'almost a Gazan'

free johnston.jpe

Earlier we noted that BBC has acknowledged that the job of their reporter Alan Johnston, who is still being held captive in Gaza, is to bring daily reports "on the Palestinian predicament."

According to Palestinian sources, he was doing a pretty good job. The Palestinian Ma'an News Agency reports:

The BBC director in Gaza expressed hopes that Johnston will be released soon and said that Johnston was almost a Gazan as he had lived with the Gazans for a long time and cared very much for Palestinians.

Posted by TS at 04:36 AM |  Comments (2)

March 15, 2007

Density on Gaza Population, Again

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If you keep repeating a lie enough, it becomes the accepted wisdom, or so the saying goes. Unfortunately, though, the same can't be said about the truth. CAMERA has spread the word that Gaza is NOT the most densely populated area in the world here, here, here, here, and here, to name just a few. We have also managed to get the falsehood corrected at the San Diego Union-Tribune and Reuters.

But that hasn't stopped Alex Fishman from writing in Ynetnews.com that the Gaza Strip is "the most densely populated area in the world."

Posted by TS at 08:44 AM |  Comments (0)

New NY Times Reporter Errs on Lebanon War

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Hezbollah launched rockets at northern Israel at the same time as it conducted a cross-border raid into Israel, capturing, killing and wounding soldiers. One of the wounded is loaded into an ambulance/Photo by Reuters

Isabel Kershner joined the Jerusalem bureau of the New York Times just over a month ago. An error in her article today highlights the value, especially for a newer staff member, of fact-checking by revisiting the paper's archives.

Her error is:

Several days into the war, Mr. Olmert justified the military campaign in Lebanon that followed the July 12 capture of two Israeli soldiers and the killing of three more in a cross-border raid by Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group. Hezbollah responded to Israeli retaliation by bombarding northern Israel with rockets.

To write that Hezbollah rocket attacks came after an Israeli reaction to the capture of the soldiers is absolutely false; Hezbollah attacked Israel with rockets during the course of the Hezbollah raid on sovereign Israeli land in which IDF soldiers were killed and captured. As the New York Times' own Greg Myre and Steve Erlanger reported on July 13:

The Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah surprised Israel with a bold daylight assault across the border on Wednesday [July 12].... The fighting on the Lebanese border erupted around 9 a.m., when Hezbollah attacked several Israeli towns with rocket fire, wounding several civilians, the Israeli military said. But that attack was a diversion for the main operation, several miles to the east, where Hezbollah militants fired antitank missiles at two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence, the military said. Of the seven soldiers in the two jeeps, three were killed, two wounded and two abducted, the military said. (Clashes Spread to Lebanon as Hezbollah Raids Israel, July 13, 2006)

Stay tuned for word on a correction.

Posted by TS at 07:03 AM |  Comments (0)

March 13, 2007

BBC Acknowledges Partisan Reporting

A BBC Web site article about their Middle East reporter, Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped by Palestinian gunmen yesterday includes a quote from BBC diplomatic correspondent Paul Adams attesting to the corporation's intentional skewing of reports from the region.

The BBC described Johnston as a "highly experienced and respected reporter".

"It is his job to bring us day after day reports of the Palestinian predicament in the Gaza Strip," said the BBC's diplomatic correspondent, Paul Adams, himself a former Middle East reporter.

So there it is: The BBC has stationed a reporter in Gaza--not to objectively report on the events of the day--but to bring daily reports on "the Palestinian predicament."

Question to BBC: Are there any BBC reporters whose job it is to bring us day after day reports of the Israeli predicament in Sderot or anywhere else?

Posted by RH at 12:37 PM |  Comments (2)

March 12, 2007

Hamas says...

From Reuters:

"We will not betray promises we made to God to continue the path of Jihad and resistance until the liberation of Palestine, all of Palestine," Hamas said in a statement, in a clear reference to Israel as well as to the occupied West Bank. ...

In its statement Hamas said it continued to be a "movement of resistance, seekers of martyrdom" and that its "principles will never be changed."

"Zawahri's recent statements were wrong ... Resistance is our strategy. How and when? This depends on the reality at the time and our corresponding view of things," Hamas said.

"So be assured doctor Ayman, and all those who love Palestine like yourself, that Hamas is still the group you knew when it was founded and it will never abandon its path."

Posted by GI at 03:34 PM |  Comments (0)

BBC Mideast Reporter Kidnapped in Gaza

johnston.jpg

AP and Reuters and others are reporting that BBC's Gaza-based Mideast reporter Alan Johnston was kidnapped by four masked Palestinian gunmen near his car in Gaza city.

BBC itself was one of the last to report that their reporter was missing and still has no comment to make on the Palestinian kidnapping.

The corporation said it has been unable to contact Alan Johnston, but did not comment on Palestinian reports that he had been kidnapped.

Posted by RH at 12:49 PM |  Comments (1)

Misplaced Cash

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As CAMERA has documented, international aid has been on rise since Hamas' election victory, despite media reports about the supposed international boycott. So where's it all going?

That's a good question, says Salam Fayyad, who will soon reassume his old post of treasury chief for the Palestinian Authority. Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph, he admitted that there is no way to know whether the hundreds of millions in aid is being used as intended:

"Please write this: no one can give donors that assurance. Why? Because the system is in a state of total disrepair."

The Telegraph's Josh Mitnick reports:

Now, Palestinian Authority spending is out of control, salaries are bing paid to workers who never turn up, and nobody can track where the money is going, according to Mr. Fayad.

We know where at least some of it is going.

Posted by TS at 08:55 AM |  Comments (0)

Palestine, The Serious Game

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David Sarno of the Los Angeles Times reports:

Denmark-based Serious Games Interactive has built a game around one of the world's most divisive issues. In Global Conflicts: Palestine, you control a freelance journalist who roams the streets of Jerusalem armed with nothing but a pencil and a steno pad. Your editor asks you to cover Israeli Defense Forces security raids, border checkpoints, and even martyrdom; you're asked to interview families of the victims and of the bomber alike. As you speak to Arabs and Israelis around town, you carefully pluck their best quotes, the object being to write a balanced, thorough newspaper article at the day's end.

With funding from the government of Denmark and the European Union as well as private sources, Global Conflicts' $800,000 budget has enabled designers to build a dynamic and visually attractive 3-D environment. The game's open, go-wherever feel is reminiscent of much bigger commercial games, which is amusing considering that all you really ever do in this game is talk to people.

Martyrdom? Would that include the intentional blowing up of innocent civilians in pizza parlors and bat mitzvah parties? Is that Sarno's word or Serious Games'? "Martyrdom" aside, it would be interesting to see how this game works.


Posted by TS at 08:11 AM |  Comments (3)

March 08, 2007

Another foolish Baltimore Sun editorial

Baltimore Sun editorials on Arab-Israeli matters tend to be superficial, illogical and therefore foolish. The latest, "Louder than words," in the February 27 edition, is no exception. It:

* Decries Israel's recent counter-terrorism raid in Nablus, but fails to mention that the action uncovered three bomb-making laboratories, resulted in the arrest of five suspected Islamic Jihad terrorists, that in 2006 most attempted suicide bombings originated in the Nablus area, or that just a few days before the raid Israeli authorities disrupted an Islamic Jihad plot to bomb a shopping center in Tel Aviv. The Sun offers no substitute strategy for Israeli self-defense.

* Acknowledges that diplomacy can't progress unless the Palestinian Authority's Hamas-led government "recognizes Israel and renounces terrorism -- its leaders have done neither," yet laments Washington's "uncompromising stand ...." So the United States should compromise, even though Hamas does not?

* Complains -- this is Sun editorialists on autopilot -- of "the Bush administration's apparent lack of interest in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis" and says "actions speak louder than words." But this latest visit just added to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's lengthy Arab-Israeli frequent flyer log. The Sun, acknowledging Hamas' obstructions, nevertheless insists on blaming President Bush and Rice for the absence of a "two-state solution." And,

* Repeats conventional news media wisdom that "loss of millions in international aid" "has devastated the [Palestinian] economy." But, as a CAMERA study has shown, international subsidies have risen, not declined. A bloated public sector, inefficiency, corruption, crime and internecine fighting, not a redirection of aid from the Hamas government to non-governmental agencies, has hurt the Palestinian economy.

"Louder than words" is a jumble of contradictory observations. It provides nothing remotely resembling an analysis. It leads to no useful insight or recommendation. Like most Sun Arab-Israeli editorials, it wastes the paper's space and readers' time.

Posted by ER at 11:35 AM |  Comments (2)

Dismal Human Rights Report

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The U.S. State Department has released its annual report on the status of human rights around the world, and according to NGO-Monitor its section on Israel is marred by the reliance on politicized NGO's that lack credibility:

On March 6, 2007, the U.S. State Department issued its influential “2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.” As in past years, the 2006 report section on “Israel and the Occupied Territories” relies heavily on allegations from politicized NGOs, many of whom are active proponents in the “Durban Strategy,” without providing any criteria by which these NGOs and their claims were selected or assessed. NGOs cited by the report include ICAHD, Human Rights Watch, Mossawa, Adalah, and B’tselem. This analysis highlights deficiencies found in the 2006 report stemming from the reliance on NGOs that display anti-Israel bias, publish claims that lack credibility, and ignore the complexities of human rights requirements in the context of conflicts involving terrorism and warfare.

Among the report's failings identified by NGO-Monitor are its repeated citation of unverifiable NGO statistics. For example, the State Department report cites Btselem statistics for Palestinian casualties, despite a detailed CAMERA analysis which raises serious questions about their reliability. NGO-Monitor explains:

The 2006 Report cites to figures provided by B’tselem regarding the number of Palestinians allegedly killed in Israeli military operations. The report also repeats a B’tselem claim that “at least 322 were not engaged in hostilities when killed.” No information is provided to support this claim. B’tselem’s data regarding alleged non-combantants has been called into question. In addition, B'Tselem openly declares its political agenda stating that it "acts primarily to change Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories", and is not an independent human rights group. Its reports, including the number of civilian casualties, require independent confirmation.

Posted by TS at 05:55 AM |  Comments (0)

March 07, 2007

Was Palestinian Vote for Hamas Really a Vote for Clean Government?

Just over a year ago, Palestinians elected to be governed by Hamas. Most pundits and media reports accepted the explanation that the Palestinians were not voting for Hamas's extreme prescription for resolving the conflict with Israel — wiping out the Jewish state — but rather, were sending a message that the endemic corruption of the Fatah run Palestinian Authority was no longer tolerable. It was claimed that Hamas, while extreme ideologically, was free of the corruption, waste and nepotism that characterized Fatah.

A year in to Hamas's rule, a different picture has emerged. When asked if the Hamas government had done anything well in the past year, recently appointed finance minister Salam Fayyad, a professional economist who is not a member of Hamas, responded:

The state of public finance has suffered and suffered badly. There has been a reversal of many areas of reform. Transparency—there's been a major decline there. Extra-budgetary spending re-emerged. Getting a handle on what's been going on becomes more difficult. It's the job of the treasurer to know what's going on. None of this has happened. We need to fix the system in a hurry. (Newsweek, March 5, 2007)

Fayyad's statement, worded in a polite manner, reveals that many of the same issues of mismanagement that dogged the Fatah-dominated government persist in the new Hamas government.

Meanwhile, a recent opinion poll shows a substantial majority of Palestinians do not recognize Israel's right to exist, which puts them in agreement with Hamas's vision about the future of Israel.

All of this raises important questions: Should commentators and pundits who ascribed Hamas's victory merely to a desire for cleaner government have been more skeptical and open-minded about the motives of Palestinian voters? And in future elections, will they continue to stick by this explanation despite evidence to the contrary?

Posted by SS at 10:33 AM |  Comments (2)

March 01, 2007

Ma'an Flounders Explaining Sanitized Reports

The Palestinian Ma'an news agency put up a spirited but hopeless effort to respond to Palestinian Media Watch's analysis documenting that the agency's English reports are a sanitized version of the incitement-filled Arabic reports.

Ma'an writes:

Ma'an's editor-in-chief, Nasser Al-Lahham responded to the Israeli accusations by saying that several Israeli journalists object to Ma'an, especially the English version which has begun to spread across the world. [CAMERA asks: What does this explain?] He ascribed the reason for the difference between the Arabic and the English versions to being merely professional rather than political. [How so?] There is a difference between editing English and Arabic news [like what?], he said, and there is no connection to any wish to conceal any secrets from the Danish and Dutch donors. He also added that the assumption that the donors monitor the English version and neglect the Arabic site is "stupid", since the Danish and Dutch embassies possess the ability to read Arabic-language media. . . .

When Ma'an was established at the beginning of 2005, Ma'an News Agency hosted media experts from all over the world, including Israel, in order to discuss the terminology. Among the guests were the Israeli journalists, Miron Ropot and Zvika Yehezkely, along with dozens of media professors from Britain, Iran, Europe and the United States. All agreed that each language has its own terminology and special meanings, and that Ma'an will not stop using terms such as "martyr", "resistance" and equivalent terms, in Arabic.

Apparently, Ma'an can't get its story straight. It then makes the contradictory statement:

Philippa N., chief English editor, said: "We have never tried to hide the fact that we cater to a different audience and therefore need to employ a different language. The most important thing for us is to deliver the facts and to portray the full extent of the harsh reality of life for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, without causing incitement. The coverage is more important than the language. In regards to our choice of terminology, we aim to stick as close as possible to UN-accepted terms, while maintaining our Palestinian perspective."

The U.N. doesn't exactly have a friendly track record when it comes to Israel, but at last check the international body does not yet emply the term "martyr" when referring to Palestinian suicide bombers who blow themselves up among Israeli civilians.

And, of course, in Ma'an's "Palestinian perspective," the southern Israeli town of Eilat, which is fully recognized by the international community as part of Israel, and which has nothing to do with the West Bank or Gaza, is "located in the south of occupied Palestine."

And that, folks, is delivering the facts without causing incitement according to the "Palestinian perspective."

Posted by TS at 06:56 AM |  Comments (0)