November 28, 2007
In LA Times, One Step Forward, One Step Back
There is improvement in the LA Times' Annapolis coverage today over yesterday. Today's articles do not wrongly substitute "road map" references to Palestinian "terror" with the euphemistic "militant."
Richard Boudreaux writes:
That plan requires the Palestinians to "take steps to dismantle terrorist organizations" -- in other words, a victory by Abbas' Fatah party over the militant group Hamas, which calls for Israel's destruction.
He does insist, though, that Hamas is a "militant group," despite the fact that the U.S., European Union and Israel call it is a terrorist organization.
In a separate article, Paul Richter also commendably keeps to the "road map" language, writing that interim issues include "fighting terrorism."
Unfortunately, though, today's coverage introduces a new problem, with Boudreaux writing:
By pledging to honor the long-ignored road map, the two leaders in effect have agreed to stop the attacks and begin an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territory while simultaneously trying to negotiate the major issues.
Here, Boudreaux confuses the disputed West Bank for "Palestinian territory." Of course, the borders of the future Palestinian state in the West Bank -- an unallocated portion of the British Mandate -- are still undetermined. Thus, it is inaccurate and prejudicial to call anything over the Green Line "Palestinian territory."
November 27, 2007
Historical Revisionism in LA Times Annapolis Coverage
The Los Angeles Times twice engages in historical revisionism during the course of its Annapolis coverage today. First, the article by Paul Richter and Richard Boudreaux inaccurately descripes a key Palestinian obligation under the "road map," stating that the plan "requires certain interim steps, including action to disarm militant groups."
While the "road map" calls on Palestinians to act against terror, terrorism, or terrorist capabilities and infrastructure more than half a dozen times, not once does it mention "militant" or "militancy." Though "militant" too often has been used in the press as a euphemism for terrorist, in particular for those conducting terrorism against Israel, those who drafted the "road map" pointedly avoided such confusion.
In a second departure from the historic record, a sidebar on Annapolis today incorrectly states that:
The Palestinians, who account for about one-third of the city's 732,100 people, want to recover East Jerusalem and make it the capital of their state.
Of course, it's wrong to say that the Palestinians want to "recover" East Jerusalem, since it was never before in history under their control.
November 26, 2007
Saudi Arabia Sentences Rape Victim to Jail & 200 Lashes
It is no secret that Saudi Arabia systematically represses its women, stifles free speech, and abuses due process. All of these concerns have been raised once again by a recent incident. CNN.com has reported that a Saudi religious court has decided to increase the punishment of a victim of a gang rape who was originally sentenced to receive 90 lashes for committing the crime of meeting with an unrelated male (a former friend whom she arranged to meet in public so she could retrieve some photographs from him. Both were raped). After her lawyer protested that the sentences given to the rapists were too light, the victim's sentence was increased to six months in prison and 200 lashes. Moreover, the lawyer for the rape victim has been disbarred and is now facing a disciplinary hearing.
And this is the country that some look to for guidance on bringing peace to the Middle East?
Written by Stephen Silver
Theaters Settle, Pay Reservists for Screening 'Jenin, Jenin'
Ynetnews.com reports today that IDF reservists who served in Operation Defensive Shield (2002) will receive compensation from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem theatres for their decision to screen Mohammed Bakri's Jenin, Jenin, which was found to be riddled with gross distortions:
Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv cinematheques will pay NIS 40,000 in restitution to five IDF reservists who were offended by the screening of the contentious film "Jenin Jenin". The reservists maintained that the film, in which actor and director Mohammed Bakri depicts IDF excursions into Gaza during Operation Defensive Shield, is defamatory and slanderous. . .
"This plea agreement is a major achievement," said Yonatan Van Kaspel, one of the IDF soldiers involved. "Every director will now have to think twice before filming blatant lies, and every movie theater will have to be considerably more careful about what they screen.
Right now we only have the battle against Bakri left," Van Kaspel continued. "I feel that we owe this as a moral debt to our friends who were killed or wounded in Jenin."
November 25, 2007
Ya'alon: Media Protects Corrupt Politicians
The Jerusalem Post reports that today former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon told Army Radio:
"Politicians have learned that if they lead a move of disengagement, realignment or caving in, the mainstream of public opinion, and I refer chiefly to the media, will support them . . . .
"I read the words of some journalists who are considered to be senior [members of the press]. There is corruption there that I think brings politicians to realize that if they want to be protected by the media and given 'reprieves' for professional failures and moral issues, they should proceed in certain directions. I certainly suspect that we are now experiencing such a case."
Ya'alon doesn't identify those senior journalists who aren't doing their job as they should, but we can.
November 19, 2007
Palestinians: Israel Prevents Hamas Takeover of West Bank
According to a November 2007 poll of Palestinians by An Najah University, a plurality of Palestinians feel that Hamas is "unable to dominate the West Bank" mainly because of Israel's presence in that territory. That seems to be something that both Olmert and Abbas would want to consider when they meet in Annapolis later this month.
What makes Hamas unable to dominate the West Bank?
36.7% The Israeli Occupation
23.3% The Strength of Fateh in the West Bank
19.6% The weakness of Hamas in the West Bank
13.0% The strength of the security apparatuses in the West Bank
7.4% No opinion/I do not know
You can see the rest of the poll results here.
Hamas Further Curbs Press
Gaza's Hamas rulers issued an edict Wednesday banning journalists from working in the coastal strip unless they submit to sweeping press restrictions, and it said it would soon impose new restraints on public gatherings. . . .
Gaza's Interior Ministry said journalists who do not hold Hamas-issued press cards would not be allowed to work in the territory.
News organizations have resisted getting the cards because that entails submitting to restrictions which include a vague ban on stories that "cause harm to national unity" or do not uphold "national responsibilities."
The restrictions were first enacted in 1995 when Fatah was in power, and that group used the rules to crack down on Hamas.
"The government will not allow any reporter or photographer to work unless they get the press card," said a statement on the Interior Ministry's Web site. "This decision came after the rally of the Fatah movement in which dozens of cameramen and photographers were observed, not working for any media organization, but using these cameras for political parties and for personal reasons."
After the restrictions were issued, Hamas police briefly detained a Palestinian cameraman for Germany's ARD TV. . .
The Tel Aviv-based Foreign Press Association, representing foreign journalists in Israel and the Palestinian areas, condemned what it called "harassment of Palestinian journalists in Gaza by Hamas security forces."
In a statement, the association also objected to the new rules. "The authorities in Gaza are urged to respect press freedom and to allow all journalists to pursue their work without intimidation or interference," it said.
November 16, 2007
Moore Molly: The Old Muslim Brothers
Molly Moore is a Washington Post foreign correspondent. Based in Paris since 2005, she previously worked for The Post’s Jerusalem bureau, producing coverage conspicuous for its romanticized Palestinian Arabs. Transferred to France in time for the epidemic of riots featuring young Muslim immigrants, Moore routinely wrote of disadvantaged “youths.” She virtually ignored the contribution of Islamic radicalism to the violence. When she visited her family in Louisiana after Hurricane Rita, she compared the damage to “destruction in the Gaza Strip after Israeli bombs shattered neighborhoods ....” As if Israeli counter-terrorism was mindless as a natural disaster, as if her relatives and friends were Gazans.
Now, in describing the Muslim Brotherhood (“Panel Decries Terrorism Blacklist Process; U.N., E.U. Methods Violate Basic Human Rights Principles, European Committee Says,” November 13) Moore writes only that it is “one of the Arab world’s oldest Islamic organizations.” That is, the Muslim Brotherhood is Muslim, Arab and elderly. Period.
Which leads to a question: If a Muslim Brotherhood-inspired terrorist fell in an Israeli forest, and only Molly Moore heard it, was he really just an elderly militant?
In September, when a Post Metro desk reporter described the Brotherhood merely as “a conservative worldwide Islamist organization,” CAMERA noted that the group, founded in Egypt in the 1920s, is anti-modern, anti-Western and anti-Jewish. It has inspired, among other movements, Hamas and al-Qaeda. Moore, most likely, is better informed on this score than the Metro reporter. Perhaps she chose to keep the essential information to herself. Maybe she included this key background but an editor cut it. Either way, Post readers were left in the dark.
In “Panel Decries Terrorism Blacklist Process,” Moore refers in her own words to “terrorism suspects,” “terrorist,” anti-terrorist activities” and “alleged terrorist.” This is done in the context of criticism of the handling of “terrorism suspects,” but nevertheless the language is precise — unlike references to Palestinian “militants,” “activists” and such during her Israel days.
Which leads to a question: If a Muslim Brotherhood-inspired terrorist fell in an Israeli forest, and only Molly Moore heard it, was he really just an elderly militant? E.R.
Jews from Arab lands forced to leave behind $300 billion in assets
With the Annapolis summit approaching, it is likely that the Palestinians and their supporters will demand compensation from Israel for the plight of the 600,000 Arabs and their descendants displaced as a result of the 1948 Arab invasion of nascent Israel. Little coverage will likely be given to the role that the Arab states played in encouraging them to leave in order to facilitate the invasion and anticipated annihilation of Israel, nor to the fact that the Palestinian Arabs subsequently found themselves in political limbo as a result of most Arab states' conscious decision to turn them into political pawns by refusing to grant them citizenship and by banning them from leaving the often squalid refugee camps to which they have been largely confined in many Arab states.
It is equally likely that little, if anything, will be said at Annapolis about the plight of the approximately 850,000 Jews who fled or were expelled from Arab countries during the same period, and that little or no effort will be made to seek redress and compensation for these Jewish refugees and their descendants from Arab countries. However, a Jerusalem Post article notes that the Jews who were expelled from Arab countries after 1948 left behind assets valued today at more $300 billion and continue to own property deeds on a total area of about 100,000 sq. km. -- which, the article notes, is five times the size of the State of Israel.
The article is below.
- Stephen Silver
Nov 16, 2007
Expelled Jews hold deeds on Arab lands
By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
The government needs to bring up the issue of hundreds of thousands of Jews who left their homes in Arab countries following the establishment of the State of Israel as part of any future peace agreement with the Palestinians, the president of the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries said Thursday.
About 850,000 Jews fled Arab countries after Israel's founding in 1948, leaving behind assets valued today at more than $300 billion, said Heskel M. Haddad.
He added that the New York-based organization has decades-old property deeds of Jews from Arab countries on a total area of 100,000 sq.km. - which is five times the size of the State of Israel.
Most of the properties are located in Iraq, Egypt and Morocco, Haddad said.
The Baghdad-born Haddad fled Iraq in 1951, and, after a brief stop in Israel, made his way to the United States where he went on to become a prominent New York optometrist.
In an interview, he said that it was imperative for Israel to bring up the issue of the Jews who fled Arab countries at any future peace talks - including those scheduled to take place in Annapolis in the coming weeks - since no Palestinian leader would sign a peace treaty without resolving the issue of Palestinian refugees.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians - with estimates ranging from 400,000 to 750,000 - left Israeli-controlled territory in 1948 and 1949, and they, along with their millions of descendants, make up one of the prickliest issues to be dealt with by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators as part of any resolution to the conflict.
Haddad said that the key to resolving the issue rested with the Arab League, which in the 1950s passed a resolution stating that no Arab government would grant citizenship to Palestinian refugees, keeping them in limbo for over half a century.
At the same time, the Arab League urged Arab governments to facilitate the exit of Jews from Arab countries, a resolution which was carried out with a series of punitive measures and discriminatory decrees making it untenable for the Jews to stay in the countries.
""No Jews from Arab countries would give up their property and home and come to Israel out of Zionism," Haddad said.
He said that the Israeli government was "myopic" not to utilize this little-known information, which he said should be part of a package financial solution to solving the issue of Palestinian refugees.
An Israeli ministerial committee on claims for Jewish property in Arab countries, which is currently headed by the Pensioners Minister Rafi Eitan, has been virtually dormant since it was established four years ago.
November 15, 2007
Key Context in Jacoby's "Is Israel a Jewish State?"
Syndicated columnist Jeff Jacoby packs key context into his November 14 Boston Globe essay, "Is Israel a Jewish State?", regarding Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He points out the absurdity of Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat's objection that it is "not acceptable for a country to link its national character to a specific religion." Jacoby lists several countries, such as England, Argentina, Greece, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority itself, that do the very same thing.
He concludes that:
The refusal of the Palestinian Authority to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate Jewish state isn't a denial of reality; it is a sign of their determination to change that reality. Like Arab leaders going back a century, they seek not to live in peace with the Jewish state, but in place of the Jewish state. Olmert can show up at Annapolis bearing Palestinian sovereignty on a silver platter, with half of Jerusalem thrown in for good measure. He will not walk away with peace. On the contrary: He will intensify the Arab determination to replace the world's one Jewish state with its 23rd Arab state.
The key to Arab-Israeli peace is not Palestinian statehood. It is to compel the Arab world to abandon its dream of liquidating Israel...
Read the entire column below.
Originally published in the Boston Globe, November 14, 2007
By Jeff Jacoby
In advance of the upcoming diplomatic conference in Annapolis, Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced the other day that he expects the Palestinian Authority to finally acknowledge Israel's existence as a Jewish state. A newly arrived visitor from Mars might wonder why this should even be an issue - after all, Israel is a Jewish state. If the more than 55 countries that make up the Organization of the Islamic Conference are entitled to recognition as Muslim states, and if the 22 members of the Arab League are universally accepted as Arab states, why should anyone balk at acknowledging Israel as the world's lone Jewish state?
Yet Olmert's demand was rebuffed. Saeb Erekat, the senior Palestinian Authority negotiator, said on Monday that Palestinians would refuse to recognize Israel's Jewish identity on the grounds that "it is not acceptable for a country to link its national character to a specific religion."
In fact, there are many countries in which national identity and religion are linked. Argentinian law mandates government support for the Roman Catholic faith. Queen Elizabeth II is the supreme governor of the Church of England. In the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, the constitution proclaims Buddhism the nation's "spiritual heritage." "The prevailing religion in Greece," declares Section II of the Greek Constitution, "is that of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ."
In no region of the world do countries so routinely link their national character to a specific religion as in the Muslim Middle East. The flag of Saudi Arabia features the shahada - the Islamic declaration of faith - in white Arabic script on a green background; on the Iranian flag, the Islamic phrase "Allahu Akbar" ("Allah is great") appears 22 times. And then there is Erekat's own Palestinian Authority, whose Basic Law provides in Article 4 that "Islam is the official religion in Palestine."
Clearly, then, Erekat and the Palestinian Authority do not refuse to accept Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish state out of some principled opposition to linking national and religious identity. Perhaps, our visiting Martian might surmise, their objection is simply tactical: Are the Palestinians withholding formal recognition from Israel in order to extract some corresponding recognition for themselves?
But that explanation also doesn't hold water. Olmert has repeatedly endorsed the creation of a sovereign state of Palestine. "We support the establishment of a modern, democratic Palestinian state," he says. "The existence of two nations, one Jewish and one Palestinian, is the full solution to the national aspirations and problems of each of the peoples." Last week he went so far as to suggest that a plan for Palestinian peace and statehood might be achieved "even before the end of President Bush's term in office."
So why won't the leaders of the Palestinian Authority acknowledge the obvious - that Israel is the Jewish state? The Jewish connection to Palestine is a matter not just of rich historical fact, but of international law. When the League of Nations entrusted Britain with the Mandate for Palestine in 1922, it expressly recognized "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine" and the rightfulness of "reconstituting their national home in that country." By that point, Britain had already transferred 80 percent of historic Palestine to Arab rule - today's Muslim kingdom of Jordan. All that remained for a Jewish state was the residual 20 percent. But there, at least, it was clear that the Jewish community was "in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance," as Winston Churchill underscored at the time.
Eighty-five years later, that small sliver of the Middle East is home to nearly half the world's Jews. If that isn't a Jewish state, what is?
Yet all this is beside the point. The refusal of the Palestinian Authority to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate Jewish state isn't a denial of reality; it is a sign of their determination to change that reality. Like Arab leaders going back a century, they seek not to live in peace with the Jewish state, but in place of the Jewish state. Olmert can show up at Annapolis bearing Palestinian sovereignty on a silver platter, with half of Jerusalem thrown in for good measure. He will not walk away with peace. On the contrary: He will intensify the Arab determination to replace the world's one Jewish state with its 23rd Arab state.
The key to Arab-Israeli peace is not Palestinian statehood. It is to compel the Arab world to abandon its dream of liquidating Israel. As a matter of national self-respect, Olmert should repeat his demand that the Palestinians acknowledge Israel's Jewish identity - and make it nonnegotiable. If Israel cannot insist even on so fundamental a point of honor, it has already lost more than it knows.
November 14, 2007
Charles Enderlin Backtracks Again: The Al Dura Scandal Continues
Updated: Only 18 minutes of film shown. Two staged scenes have been cut. Al Dura is still clearly alive at the end of the film.
Today — November 14 — the public will finally be able to view the 27 minutes of raw footage of the death of Mohammed Al Dura and determine whether or not it was a fake. Or will they?
The image of Mohammed Al Dura , the 12-year-old Palestinian boy seen crouched in terror behind his father as he allegedly became the fatal victim of Israeli bullets in September 2000, has become the icon of Palestinian "martyrdom," fueling anti-Israel hatred and violence in the Arab world. But questions have been raised about the authenticity of this image which was filmed by France 2's Palestinian cameraman with voice-over by Charles Enderlin, its Jerusalem correspondent. Even though less than a minute of edited film was shown on the French public TV network and the death was not seen, Enderlin reported that Al Dura was killed by Israeli bullets. He claimed the rest of the 27 minutes of footage was cut because it showed the child's "death throes."
France 2 refused to hand over the original film but a court order last month by the French court of appeals forces the station to turn over the 27 minutes of raw footage—which actually consists of staged scenes of Palestinians pretending to be shot, according to the few journalists who previously saw it— to be viewed in court at a public hearing.
But just when we thought the truth would finally be revealed, France 2 is backtracking again. Enderlin now is telling Jerusalem Post, there were never 27 minutes of raw footage:
"I do not know where this 27 minutes comes from," he said. "In all, there were only 18 minutes of footage shot in Gaza."
Enderlin might not remember where the 27 minutes came from, but we can remind him. His cameraman in whom he claimed to have "full confidence" testified to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights that he had "spent approximately 27 minutes photographing the incident which took place for 45 minutes." And the three French journalists who were invited by France 2 to view the footage, Luc Rosenzwieg, Denis Jeambar and Daniel Leconte, reported that "In the 24 minutes of film preceding the footage of Al Dura, young Palestinians are performing for the television cameras. They fall and when they think that no one is around, they get up. "
For more details, see Anatomy of a French Media Scandal and stay tuned for updates!
Updated: Only 18 minutes of tape were shown in court, none of which showed Al Dura being killed. In fact, he is alive at the end of the tape without any sign of having been wounded. Witnesses who have previously seen over 20 minutes of raw footage say that two obviously staged scenes were cut.
More journalists are convinced the entire episode was staged.
November 13, 2007
Why Zahar's Threat Matters
Yesterday, we blogged about Mahmoud Zahar's under-reported threat that Hamas would takeover the West Bank if Israel pulled out. A report in Ha'aretz today underscores why such threats by Zahar warrant serious coverage:
The Gaza sources said Monday that the rift within Hamas' leadership is worsening, and the more extreme faction has taken over the organization in the Strip.
The sources said the faction includes most of Hamas' military wing, and is led by former foreign minister Mahmoud a-Zahar, head of the military wing Ahmad Jabari, and former interior minister Sa'id Siyam.
It relies on Iranian funding, the sources said, and is conducting a completely independent policy: It no longer listens to either Khaled Meshal, head of the organization's Damascus-based political office, or Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh.
The sources estimated that Haniyeh controls at most 30 percent of Hamas' fighting forces - even among the Executive Force, which is technically subordinate to his government.
Senior IDF officers offered a similar assessment. The military wing, controlled by Jabari, has effectively gained control of Gaza, they said; this faction ignores directives from Meshal and dictates to Haniyeh.
The extremist faction seeks to reproduce Hamas' takeover of Gaza in the West Bank. Haniyeh's faction, in contrast, believes the takeover of Gaza was a mistake, and has no desire to repeat it in the West Bank.
November 12, 2007
Erekat Invents New Facts
Palestinian official Saeb Erekat today rejected Israel's pre-Annapolis summit demand that the Palestinians recognize the country's existence as a Jewish state, telling Radio Palestine: "There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined."
Erekat is not known for hewing closely to the facts. After an Israeli military operation in Jenin in April 2002, during which approximately 50 Palestinians, mostly combatants, and 23 Israeli troops were killed, Erekat falsely claimed that "the camp was totally destroyed," that "there is no longer a refugee camp there [in Jenin]," and estimated that the number of Palestinian dead "will not be less than 500."
His comments today might not be as damaging is his April 2002 accusations; but they are just as false.
In fact, "religious and national identities are intertwined" in many countries. The State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report, for example, notes that the Evangelical Lutheran Church is the official state religion of Denmark and Norway, and "enjoys some privileges not available to other faiths." In Greece, the Constitution establishes the Eastern Orthodox Church as the "prevailing religion." The official titles of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran begin with "The Islamic Republic of...," a point reinforced in those countries' constitutions. The Jordanian constitution describes that country as an "Arab State" and notes that "Islam is the religion of the State." The Saudi constitution states that "Saudi Arabia is a sovereign Arab Islamic state with Islam as its religion." And numerous other states describe themselves in a similar manner.
It is hard to believe that Erekat is not familiar with the constitutions of neighboring Arab and Islamic states. But he need not look even that far for an example of a country where religious and national identities are intertwined
The Palestinian Basic Law, which acts as a provisional constitution, asserts that "Islam is the official religion in Palestine," and that "The principles of Islamic Shari'a shall be the main source of legislation."
The more recent Palestinian draft constitution similarly notes that Islam will be the official religion of any future Palestinian state.
Major Papers Ignore Zahar Threat
On Friday, top Hamas official Mahmud Zahar threatened a Hamas takeover in the West Bank, stating at a rally:
"Israel says the party in power in Ramallah (Fatah) serves its interests and if Israel withdraws from the West Bank, Hamas will take control. That's true."
Though this threat to Abbas' government was picked up by the wire services, it didn't make it into the mainstream American newspapers. Until today, that is.
Today, the New York Times' Steve Erlanger mentions Zahar's threat at the end of a long story about the pessimistic outlook for the upcoming Annapolis meeting. The reference is in the context of coverage of the political risks Abbas faces.
To date, the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and Washington Post have all not covered Zahar's threat to conquer the West Bank in the event of an Israeli pullout.
Given the fact that Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank are among the core issues reportedly to be addressed either at the Annapolis conference or in the talks that come after, surely this threat is worthy of coverage.
Mohammed Puts Words in Mahmoud's Mouth
Reporting on Saturday's unveiling of the new monument to Yaser Arafat, AP's Mohammed Daraghmeh puts words into Mahmoud Abbas' mouth, writing:
In a brief speech, Abbas pledged to reclaim part of Jerusalem for his people.
Only Abbas didn't specify a claim on just "part" of the city. That's purely Daraghmeh's interpretation. Here's actually what Abbas said, as quoted by Daraghmeh himself two paragraphs later:
"We will continue on the path of the martyred President Yasser Arafat to be reburied in Jerusalem, which we loved . . . . Jerusalem, which he tried to make, and which all our people are trying to make, the capital of the Palestinian state."
Similarly, Karin Laub, Daraghmeh's colleague at the AP, supplied another quote, and it too did not mention any designs on "part" of the city:
"We are continuing the path, continuing the pledge, to establish an independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, God willing."
(Hat tip: Hillel S.)
November 11, 2007
Truth Buried With Arafat's Tomb
With the Los Angeles Times' report Friday on the opening of Yasir Arafat's monument, the former Palestinian leader's infamous corruption and wealth is recast as a "spartan lifestyle":
The compound's spare design -- the pale stone is adorned only with Koranic verses in an ornate Arabic script -- is meant to symbolize Arafat's spartan lifestyle and personal sacrifice for the Palestinian cause, [project overseer Mohammed] Shtayyeh said.
In March 2003, Forbes Magazine listed Arafat as one of the richest "Kings, Queens and Despots" with a fortune of $300 million, (much of it reportedly filched from international aid to the Palestinian people).
American sources put Arafat's personal worth at over $1 billion. As CBS reported:
Although the money for the portfolio came from public funds like Palestinian taxes, virtually none of it was used for the Palestinian people.
Even in death Arafat continues to divert funds from the Palestinian people, as his tomb's "spare design" cost a cool $1.5 million.
November 09, 2007
Palestinians Fleeing Iraq Receive Little Sympathy From Arab States
According to a report in Haaretz on Nov. 9, 2007, 2000 Palestinians fleeing Iraq are stranded in refugee camps on the Syrian border. Once favored by the regime of Saddam Hussein, Palestinians have become the targets of violence by fellow Iraqi Arabs. According to the report, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has
made a global appeal for somewhere to resettle the children, but so far only Chile and Sudan have indicated they might host some of them.
Apparently, the plight of these Palestinians has not elicited much sympathy from brethren in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria or any other Arab country. This is not the first time Arab countries have ignored Palestinian refugees from Iraq. Human Rights Watch reported in 2006, that Jordan and Syria had closed their borders to Palestinians fleeing the violence in Iraq.
The Haaretz story reminds us of how the plight of Palestinian refugee issue receives so much attention when connected to conflict with Israel, but raises little interest or sympathy, even among fellow Arabs, when Israel cannot be blamed.
November 08, 2007
Ha'aretz's Eldar Wins Journalism Prize
Ha'aretz reports today that its senior military correspondent, Akiva Eldar, received the Eliav-Sartawi Award for Middle Eastern Journalism from the group Search for Common Ground in New York yesterday.
"Media in the Middle East should be self-critical about its role in deepening the rift,"
says Eldar, the same journalist who has done more than his share to deepen the rift by spreading falsehoods about E-1 construction, an apparently non-existent Hamas compromise, Moledet activist Aryeh King, Gaza hothouses, Palestinian incitement, Hanan Ashrawi, and so on and so on.
Ha'aretz also reports:
Prizes were also awarded to Bassam Aramin, a member of Combatants for Peace who lost his daughter to a Border Police shooting last year . . . .
But as CAMERA earlier documented, it wasn't at all clear that border police were responsible for Aramin's death. But nevermind. The cause -- co-existence -- is a worthy one, so why get hung up on such meddlesome details?
Hass' Water Falsehood
The reason [for brackish drinking water in Gaza] is an ancient one: overpumping because Gaza must make do with the waters from its aquifers alone. It is as if were to say to the residents of Be'er Sheva: make do with the water that flows nearby. The water resources in the rest of the country are not for you.
But Gaza does get some water from outside its own aquifers. For years, Israel has been providing the Gaza Strip with 5 MCM of water, and this supply has continued right through the disengagement, Hamas' coup last summer, and Israel's terming of Hamas "hostile territory," a fact confirmed today by Shlomo Dror of the Civil Administration. Moreover, the fact that Israel supplies Gaza with water is regularly reported by Ha'aretz's own news writers.
As Amos Harel and Barak Ravid wrote Oct. 25, 2007:
The defense establishment is reportedly opposed to the idea of cutting the water supply to the Strip.
Aluf Benn wrote July 16, 2007:
Israel supplies electricity and water to the Gaza Strip, and Israeli officials told Israel Radio that the government is also prepared to send food if Hamas were to agree to receive it.
Amos Harel, Aluf Benn and Barak Ravid wrote Sept. 5, 2007:
We will set a price tag for every Qassam, in terms of cutting off infrastructures," Ramon told Army Radio. "Hamas will ... know this in advance. We will not continue to supply 'oxygen' in the form of electricity, fuel, and water while they are trying to murder our children."
Hass herself very well knows that for years Israel has been supplying Gaza with several million cubic meters of water. As she wrote Sept. 1, 2005:
But even now, the PA is using only half of the 10 million CBM [sic] that the Oslo Accords allow it to purchase from Mekorot, in other words, from water sources outside the Strip.
Also, Abdel Zaanoun of the AFP reported Sept. 20, 2007:
Israel supplies over 70 percent of Gaza's electricity and nearly all of its drinking water.
Hamas Continues to Treat Journalists 'With Dignity'
The Union of Palestinian Journalists on Tuesday condemned the raid on the home of union member Hisham Saqalla.
In a statement the union accused what they called "Hamas executive militias" of carrying out the raid after a series of threats from the spokesperson of the deposed Palestinian prime minister, Isma'il Haniyeh.
According to the statement, several members of the Palestinian Union of Journalists are being threatened and blackmailed on a daily basis by the Hamas-led government.
November 07, 2007
Leibler Slams Ha'aretz
Writing in the Jerusalem Post today, Isi Leibler slams Ha'aretz for its "op-ed and magazine articles demonizing Israel and inclined toward post-Zionism," for its refusal to correct falsehoods (especially those raised by CAMERA "as a matter of principle"), and for its deliberate failure to cover political corruption when those leaders were carrying out policies that Ha'aretz favored.
Could one, for instance, visualize The New York Times suppressing information about an American president involved in corruption out of a desire to promote the administration's foreign policy objectives? No newspaper of integrity in the world would tolerate an editor making such an outrageous statement.
November 06, 2007
“Tiny Eritrea,” Un-Tiny Israel
Sometimes a word is worth a thousand pictures — if attitudes could be pictured, that is.
The Washington Post foreign service, in an article headlined “Ethiopia, Eritrea on Verge of Border War, Report Says” (November 6), told readers that “Eritrea, a tiny [emphasis added] country with one of the largest armies in Africa, has about 12,000 troops near the disputed border ....”
Eritrea, according to the CIA World Fact Book, is “slightly larger than Pennsylvania,” encompassing 121,320 square kilometers (nearly 40,000 square miles), with a population of 4.9 million people.
Israel, the Fact Book relates, is “slightly smaller than New Jersey,” encompassing 20,770 square kilometers (about 7,000 square miles) with 6.4 million people. (Israeli census figures estimate the population at just over 7 million.)
Other “tiny” countries, according to Post foreign news coverage in the past three years, include the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan (47,000 square kilometers, “about half the size of Indiana,” in the CIA’s description, or more than twice as large as Israel); Israel’s neighbor to the north, Lebanon (10,000 square kilometers, “about 0.7 times the size of Connecticut”); and Albania, Gambia, Luxembourg, and Malta.
But not Israel. In an “Outlook” section (The Post’s Sunday commentary pages) interview, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said “Israel is a tiny country.”An “Outlook” essay asserted that the Jewish state’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, wanted to secure nuclear weapons for his “tiny, poor and often friendless” country. But as beheld in the eyes of The Post’s foreign news staff, the Jewish state, if not actually large, is at least untiny.
Sand and the Cesspool
In the International Herald Tribune today, Steven Erlanger reports that Gaza faces another sewage disaster similar to the one last March in Um Al Nasser, in which five people died. He quotes an Israeli official, Shlomo Dror, as saying that the lagoon broke last March "because there is no security there and people were stealing the sand."
But it's not only an Israeli official who blames the Um Al Nasser sewage disaster on Palestinian sand thieves -- so does a Gaza mayor. As the Age (Australia) reported last spring:
Gaza City Mayor Majid Abu Ramadan, who leads a council of Gaza municipalities, blamed the collapse on endemic lawlessness.
He accused local residents of stealing the dirt and selling it to building companies for 300 shekels ($A86.80) a truckload.
Likewise, another Palestinian source, the independent weekly Jerusalem Times, reported on Gaza municipality health warnings about sand thieves as far back as June 18, 2004:
The Municipality of Gaza recently warned local, international and environmental media from the expected collapse [sic] and destruction of one of the strategic serviceable establishments in Gaza. The collapsing of the sewage treatment water tank will convert Gaza province into a catastrophic area that will affect the Palestinians’ health and environment.
The municipality’s representatives said that some vandals were able to remove (steal) the sand surrounding these huge establishments for commercial use . . . .
[Palestinian general manager in Gaza municipality Mohammed Akram] Halas said that this huge sewage waste water tank is considered as a national priority and called on the local Palestinians to stop from removing and transferring the sand surrounding the tanks, in which these sand retaining walls were erected to protect the reservoirs from possible collapsing of the tanks to reduce possible risks on the Palestinians . . . .
The Palestinian general manger of the water and sewage waste water department in the Gaza municipality, Engineer Hazem Tarazi, mentioned that the tank is considered a vital part for using the waste water and treating it. . . . (“Vandals Undermine Sewage Operation”)
Also, while Erlanger reports in great detail about the shortage of steel pipes due to Israeli restrictions, he minimizes Israeli security concerns about their use in making rockets. He refers to Israeli restrictions on imports of
any materials -- from metal pipes to welding machines to the wire used to refurbish electric motors -- that Israel has decided could have a secondary use by the Hamas administration and the Palestinian gunmen who are firing rockets across the border into Israel.
Erlanger makes the Israeli decisions sound arbitrary, as if there isn't any history behind them. In fact, there is, though Erlanger doesn't bother to recount it. As the Jerusalem Post reported just prior to the Um Al Nasser disaster last spring:
On February 9, the Shin Bet arrested Amar Azk, 37 [a metal merchant at the Karni crossing]. During his interrogation, he confessed selling the pipes to Hamas and other terrorist organizations that manufactured Kassam rockets, fired almost daily at Israel. The Shin Bet said Azk's activities began with the start of the second intifada in 2000 and were only brought to a halt by his arrest. The agency could not say how much metal Azk traded, except that it was "significant."
The pipes that were sold to Zak were intended for the construction of a sewage system in Gaza.
Update on Levy's Difficulty with Numbers
Earlier we blogged about Gideon Levy's grossly inaccurate reading of B'Tselem numbers. He said that according to B'Tselem 467 Israelis were killed in the last seven years, when B'Tselem's actual figure is 1,025.
Interestingly, we spoke with Levy today, who said that a correction ran in the Hebrew edition the day after the column appeared (Oct. 30). If any readers in Israel have the Oct. 30 Hebrew edition and can confirm this, we would be happy to hear from you.
A CAMERA check confirms that there has been no correction in the English edition, and Levy took no responsibility for seeing that there will be one. Likewise, the office of publisher Amos Schocken did not seem too concerned about a correction in the print English edition, so perhaps a little feedback could help (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Also, with Levy's comment about a Hebrew correction in hand, we spoke to a staff person at the English Web site who seemed to be fixing the error on the spot, but when we checked just now, the error still remains (as it does on the Hebrew site, too).
November 04, 2007
LA Times Corrects Israeli Arab Falsehood
Now what about that Gaza borders correction?
AP Turns Up Forged Palestinian Student Document
Kudos to the Associated Press for fact-checking documents submitted to the Israeli High Court by the politicized NGO called "Gisha". The AP's check turned up a forgery:
A Palestinian included by a human rights group as one of hundreds of university students trapped in Gaza is apparently not a student and used what appeared to be a forged document to make his case to leave for Texas, The Associated Press learned on Thursday.
"Gisha," a human rights group advocating freedom of movement for Palestinians, is pressing the Israeli Supreme Court to allow university students to leave Gaza to continue their studies abroad. The group included Yaser Betar in its suit, presenting the court with a one-page document from the University of North Texas affirming that he is enrolled in a doctorate program.
But after the AP sent the document to the university, its spokeswoman replied that the document was not authentic, and Betar "is not currently enrolled at the university. He studied Engineering Technology as an undergraduate student from spring 1992 to fall 1998 and did not earn a degree."
University spokeswoman Kelley Reese wrote in an e-mail message, "The document The Associated Press shared with the University of North Texas is not a UNT document. The university repudiates the document."
Needless to say, this report raises damaging questions about the credibility of Gisha. All of their claims must now be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism.
November 01, 2007
Ha'aretz's Levy Numerically Challenged
It has been reported before that Gideon Levy, an Arab affairs writer for Ha'aretz, does not understand Arabic, cannot read it and cannot speak it. But an Op-Ed by Levy this week reveals for the first time that numbers might be equally challenging for him. He writes:
Israel can no longer continue to mouth slogans about security, after seven years in which it killed 4,267 Palestinians, 861 of them children and teens, in comparison to 467 Israelis who were killed, according to data from B'Tselem.
In actuality, according to B'Tselem, the number of Israelis killed in the last seven years is 1,025 -- more than double the amount that Levy claims. B'Tselem's casualty statistics are readily accessible here.
In a separate Ha'aretz Op-Ed, Yoel Marcus misleads in an Op-Ed Tuesday, writing that President Bush's:
road map begins with a Palestinian commitment to halt terror, but also with an Israeli commitment to dismantle settlements.
While the "road map" calls for the limited dismantling of certain "settlements outposts" and a freeze on settlement growth, there is no general requirement "to dismantle settlements" as Marcus suggests. Specifically, Phase I of the plan says:
+ GOI [Government of Israel] dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001.
+ Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).
As most observers are aware, "settlement outposts" and "settlements" mean two vastly different things. The former refers to the small off-shoots of established settlements; they are often located on empty hilltops, entail a caravan or two, and were erected without official Israeli approval. The settlements, on the other hand, refer to the large, established communities housing thousands of people, and are legal under Israeli law. Marcus would have been correct were he to have said that the road map begins "with an Israeli commitment to dismantle some settlement outposts."