October 31, 2007
LA Times' Short-term Memory on Arabs in the IDF
The Los Angeles Times twice before has corrected false claims in its opinion pages that Israeli Arabs are barred from serving in the military. Though Arabs are not compelled to serve, some nevertheless opt to serve their country.
Therefore, we scratched our heads when we read today a news article by Richard Boudreaux that errs:
Unlike Israeli Arabs, who number 1.4 million and make up one-fifth of the country's population, Druze serve in the military.
The normally reliable Boudreaux must be having an off week. We still wait word on his claim Friday that Israel "still controls Gaza's borders."
October 30, 2007
Rusty Pipes: Destroying His Credibility, One Sentence at a Time
In a group blog called “talk2action” a writer who goes by the name of Rusty Pipes has taken issue with the work of CAMERA’s Dexter Van Zile. Apparently, with the help of Google, Rusty has discovered the following about Van Zile:
…Dexter Van Zile is not just "a layman in the United Church of Christ" or "Boston's extraordinarily talented pro-Israel Christian researcher", but an employee of the David Project (which reproduces Jacoby's column with an interesting graphic). Van Zile is the President of the Judeo-Christian Alliance, an Initiative of the David Project, and an Executive Committee Member of Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East (a great number of whose resources are authored by him). Speaking of resources, several other backgrounders on Sabeel in the Israel Lobby, have been authored by him -- including this one in the ADL. Unsurprisingly, CAMERA (the organization co-founded by Jacobs of the David Project), has a response to this Sabeel Conference written by Van Zile (of the David Project) [...]
One paragraph, four sentences, five errors.
First, Dexter Van Zile no longer works at the David Project. He works at CAMERA and has worked there for over a year.
Second, Dexter Van Zile is no longer affiliated with the Judeo-Christian Alliance, an initiative of the David Project.
Thirdly, Dexter Van Zile was the JCA’s director, not its president.
Fourth, Dexter Van Zile did not write the ADL backgrounder attributed to him by Rusty Pipes.
Fifth, CAMERA was not founded by Charles Jacobs, but by Winifred Mieselman.
About the only thing left from this paragraph that the reader can believe is that indeed there is someone named Dexter Van Zile who writes stuff that another writer disagrees with. Wow.
Judging from his online bio, cyberpunk novelist William Gibson appears to have the same problem with "writers" who believe everything they read on the Internet: “Google me and you can learn that I do it all on a manual typewriter, something that hasn't been true since 1985, but which makes such an easy hook for a lazy journalist that I expect to be reading it for the rest of my life."
Update 10:08 a.m., Oct. 31, 2007 : CAMERA has been informed that Rusty has been referred to as a woman in postings on Street Prophets, prompting the title change. Once CAMERA determines definitively which gender pronoun is the proper one to use, the headline will be changed to reflect reality.
Update 12:38 p.m., Oct. 31: Correspondence from Frederick Clarkson, one of talk2action's co-founders, indicates that Rusty is in fact, a male. The headline has been corrected. Readers may now return to the debate regarding gender-inclusive language in scripture and hymnals. (Cf. Rev. James Crawford.)
October 28, 2007
LA Times Borderline on Gaza-Egypt
In his report Friday (Oct. 26) entitled "Israel OKs Gaza electricity cutoffs," the Los Angeles Times' Richard Boudreaux's misleads:
Gaza's 1.5 million people get 60 % of their electricity from Israel, which pulled its troops and settlers from the territory in 2005 but still controls Gaza's borders. (Emphasis added.)
The fact that Israel has no control over the Gaza-Egypt border was underscored by Richard Boudreaux's own Oct. 2 report, which stated:
Hamas scored a small gain Sunday, when Egypt opened its border to let 80 stranded Palestinians, including Hamas members and militants from other factions wanted by Israel, cross into Gaza. The decision, a response to pressure by Hamas, was a surprise to Israel, which had counted on Egypt to support its policy of isolating Hamas to keep the border closed. (Emphasis added.)
CAMERA has contacted the Times requesting a clarification. Stay tuned.
October 25, 2007
CAMERA Op-Ed in Globe: "Hate at the Altar"
The Op-Ed by CAMERA's Christian Media Analyst Dexter Van Zile in today's Boston Globe should not be missed. The piece, entitled "Hate at the altar," discusses the decision by Boston's Old South Church to host the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center and its founder Naim Ateek.
Here's an excerpt:
With ... three images, Ateek has figuratively blamed Israel for the attempted murder of the infant Jesus, the crucifixion of Jesus the prophet, and for blocking the resurrection of Christ the Savior.
In the context of Christian-Jewish relations, language like this - which has preceded and justified the killing of Jews for nearly two millennia - is the equivalent of a noose hanging from a tree in the Old South. Its use during a time of violence can only serve to justify continued violence against Israeli civilians.
Read the whole thing here.
October 23, 2007
Gaza Coordinator: Hamas Manufactures Shortages
As if journalists need yet another reason to be skeptical about Palestinian claims of Israeli-inflicted humanitarian crises, the Jerusalem Post reports today:
Hamas is unnecessarily endangering Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip by generating phony humanitarian crises, head of the Gaza Coordination Liaison Administration (CLA) Col. Nir Press said Monday.
On Sunday night, Gaza's Shifa Hospital claimed that due to tight Israeli restrictions on imports into Gaza, it had run out of anesthetic for surgeries, and as a result had canceled all but the most critical procedures.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Monday, Press dismissed the claims and said that in a meeting he held Sunday afternoon with Palestinian Health Ministry officials he was informed that the hospitals were running "low" on the anesthetic. On Monday morning, less than 24 hours after making the request, Israel transferred 151 nitrous oxide gas balloons to Shifa Hospital.
"It is the Palestinians' responsibility to order the supplies," Press said, noting that despite the daily rocket attacks on Israeli towns - on Monday 10 rockets and shells pounded the western Negev - Israel continued to transfer medical goods and supplies into Gaza whenever they were ordered.
Press said that orders were usually placed by the Palestinians days in advance and that Sunday's sudden announcement "was a spin by Hamas and an attempt to put pressure on Israel by creating a humanitarian crisis."
He said that the incident resembled Palestinian claims a few months ago that due to Israeli restrictions on the crossings they ran out of gas needed to operate the Gaza power plant and as a result large parts of the Strip were left without electricity for several days. Also then, Press said, Hamas unnecessarily disrupted Palestinian civilians' lives to try to create an image that a humanitarian crisis was developing in Gaza.
"These are examples of how Hamas wants to create humanitarian crisis," he explained. "They wait until the last moment and then tell us they are running out of supplies so they can create this image of a crisis."
October 22, 2007
Ignoring Explicit Jew-Hatred
In an interesting article entitled "Jew-Hatred and Jihad," researcher Matthias Künzel discusses the direct connection between Nazi anti-Semitism and Islamic extremism, and criticizes the tendency to ignore the actual, ignoble motivation of violent Jihadists. One of his conclusions:
Ultimately, the refusal to recognize al Qaeda's true motives results in a reversal of responsibility: The more deadly the terrorism, the greater the American guilt.
You can read the entire piece here.
October 19, 2007
The Tutu Affair and Accusations of Undue Jewish Influence
Mark Rotenberg, general counsel and adjunct law professor at the University of Minnesota, wrote a perceptive piece for the Minneapolis Star Tribune over the decision to reinvite Archbishop Desmond Tutu to speak at the University of St. Thomas. Tutu was initially disinvited to speak after he made offensive remarks about Israel.
Rotenberg observes that many automatically assumed that the initial decision to disinvite the Archbishop was due to pressure from Jewish groups, but the President of the university, Dennis Dease, denied this. Commenting further upon the increasingly popular belief that pro-Israel Jews wield disproportionate power over the public debate on Israel, Rotenberg remarks:
That an esteemed Catholic university leader would feel compelled to make such a public denial is sad testimony to an upsurge of sinister theories about Jewish power in America today. The truth is that university campuses are awash with anti-Israel sentiment. Harsh critics of Israel -- including diverse Israeli and American Jewish voices -- are commonplace in academic settings. Their books receive broad popular attention in the United States, and their perspectives dominate international forums. It takes no courage to be an Israel basher and no effort to find anti-Israel literature and speakers on college campuses, in the media and on the Web. Those who bewail secret Jewish influences in American politics are not describing reality, but are dabbling in a dangerous cesspool of prejudice.
October 16, 2007
Eldar Errs on E-1
After receding into the background for some time, Israeli construction plans for the area between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim, known as E-1, made headlines again last week when Akiva Eldar reported on the front page of Ha'aretz plans to build a road for Palestinians circumventing the E-1 area.
In a press conference with Secretary of State Rice yesterday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Rice to help stop further Israeli construction at the site.
With the renewed reports, come renewed falsehoods. As Eldar writes:
Such an expanse [of Israeli housing between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim] would effectively sever the territorial contiguity between the northern and southern West Bank.
In actuality, as CAMERA documented in 2005, territorial contiguity would remain entirely intact; there are some 21 kilometers to the east of E-1, a wider area than the approximate 15 kilometers that Israel has between the Green Line and the Mediterranean Sea.
The USA Today had corrected this same falsehood more than two years ago.
October 15, 2007
Ynetnews.com Closing Out
Ha'aretz reports that Ynet's English site will be closing down in the coming days because of low revenue. This information makes us wonder whether editors will be bothered to correct Yossi Beilin's false statement in his Op-Ed today that:
All of the 250,000 Palestinians residing in Jerusalem continue to remain Israeli citizens (albeit without the right to vote in Israel's Knesset and without an Israel passport, but with full social benefits such as health and education.)
Of course, Beilin has completely confused the status of east Jerusalem Arabs. All East Jerusalem Arabs are entitled to Israeli citizenship, but a relatively small number accept it. All those who accept citizenship receive a passport and the right to vote in national Israeli elections. Those who do not want Israeli citizenship still receive an Israeli identity card, which entitles them to health and education benefits as well as the right to vote in municipal elections.
Troubled Times for BBC
The International Herald Tribune reports today that the BBC is struggling to adapt to the digital age, taking on too much, and resulting, some critics say, in quality lapses. The IHT notes:
A BBC investigation has uncovered 10 instances in which audiences were misled.
In one case, the producers of a BBC children's program called "Blue Peter" disregarded an online vote to name a cat that appears on the show, calling it "Socks," rather than "Cookie," the name the voters had chosen. . .
We can think of a few more instances in which audiences were misled on more substantive matters.
Also, despite cutbacks, the "BBC World Service, an overseas arm that gets its funding directly from the government, plans to start television news channels in Arabic and Farsi," according to the IHT.
October 08, 2007
Murder in Gaza, One Paragraph in The Post
“Christian Activist Slain in Gaza” read the headline over a one-paragraph item in The Washington Post’s Oct. 8, 2007 “World In Brief” section. Here’s the item, from news services:
A prominent Palestinian Christian activist, Rami Khader Ayyad, was found dead on a Gaza City street, sending a shudder through a tiny Christian community feeling increasingly insecure since the Islamic movement Hamas seized control last summer. Ayyad, 32 and director of Gaza’s only Christian bookstore, was shot in the head and stabbed, an official said. He had received anonymous death threats accusing him of missionary work. His store, which is associated with a Christian group called the Palestinian Bible Society was firebombed in April.
Now imagine the coverage if a prominent Israeli Arab activist, Christian or Muslim, was found shot and stabbed on an Israeli street after receiving death threats for “missionary work” and having his or her place of business firebombed. A news brief, one paragraph, four sentences? Don’t bet on it. CAMERA’s September 24 Washington Post-Watch, “Old Habits Die Hard, If At All,” noted that “bad, if important, news about the Palestinian Arabs is not a Post priority.”
Christians in the Gaza Strip feel “increasingly insecure” not only because “the Islamic movement Hamas seized control last summer.” Oppression by Muslims of Christians has fueled emigration from what is now the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), Gaza, and Jordan for more than a century. The exodus accelerated after creation in 1993 of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. That’s why there are only about 3,000 Christians are left among the roughly 1.4 million Arabs in the Strip. That’s why, in the West Bank, Christians as a percentage of Bethlehem’s population plunged from 85 percent in 1948 to 12 percent last year, even without Hamas rule.
The Post is hardly the only media minimizing bad news for Christian Arabs. The somewhat longer Reuters and Associated Press dispatches were actually misleading. Each claimed that Christian-Muslim relations in Gaza have been “generally good.” “Good,” if the dhimmi (Jew or Christian as a “protected” second-class citizen under Islamic law) knows his place and keeps it, and keeps quiet, or leaves if things get worse anyway.
October 07, 2007
Ex-BBC Journalist at Home on Iranian TV
Tim Llewellyn, a former Middle East correspondent for the BBC who has criticized his ex-employer for not taking a sufficiently pro-Palestinian stance, has found a post more suited to his liking -- Iran's Press TV.
He now hosts the Press TV program "Middle East Today."
As noted previously in Snapshots, documentaries by the Iranian satellite network include "AMIA," which purports to prove that Israel played a role in the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center, an act of terror for which Iran itself is responsible.
In a 2005 interview with Electronic Intifada, Llewellyn openly identified with the Palestinian cause and excoriated BBC:
It doesn't tell the story: Which is that the Palestinians are occupied and are fighting for independence in the same way that practically every other developing country was fighting for independence in the 30 years after the Second World War ... The very fact that there is an occupation is a provocation.
Presumably, on "Middle East Today" Llewellyn will have the opportunity to "explain properly" suicide bombings, something he hinted he was never able to do on BBC:
Quite often people that carry out these acts are people who have suffered at the hands of the Israeli occupation in the most ghastly circumstances. But we don't hear that side of the story, certainly not in the BBC's or ITV's main news bulletin.
Siege, Rockets and Killing Manipulated
In recent days, reports about Palestinian-staged or manipulated news events abound.
1) About the heavily covered Church of the Nativity siege, Ynetnews reports:
A Fatah official who served as chief of a terrorist organization that holed up for over a month inside Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity in 2002 while fleeing a massive Israeli anti-terror operation admitted in a recently released book the infamous church siege was orchestrated by Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority. . . .
"The conspiracy was to make a siege and put all the fighters inside the church so Israel would make the siege. People from the Palestinian Authority collaborated with this conspiracy,” said Eiman Abu Eita, Fatah's representative in the Bethlehem satellite town of Beit Sahour who at the time of the siege was Beit Sahour's al-Aqsa Brigades chief.
2) Khaled Abu Toameh of the Jerusalem Post reports that Fatah passed off the video a brutal April 2007 "honor killing" of an Iraqi girl as the July Hamas "honor killing" of a 16-year-old Gaza girl.
3) In the same Post story, Abu Toameh also reveals that:
Last week, Fatah claimed that its security forces in Bethlehem had thwarted an attempt by Hamas to launch rockets at Jerusalem. Fatah later admitted that the "rockets" were old pipes apparently used by Palestinian children during a game.
October 01, 2007
Jeffrey Goldberg: Walt and Mearsheimer's Book "Malignant and Dishonest"
"They seem to think that anybody who disagrees with what they say is denying their right to say it. The truth is that most of Mearsheimer and Walt's critics do not want to suppress their ideas. They merely want to refute them." – Jeffrey Goldberg
In the Oct. 8 issue of The New Republic, journalist and author Jeffrey Goldberg forcefully speaks out about Walt and Mearsheimer's new book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.
You can read his incisive discussion of the book's "comically one-sided" account of Middle East history, his explanation of why the book "is not an act of scholarship, but an act of intimidation" and more by picking up a copy of the latest New Republic or by clicking here.