July 31, 2008
Washington Post National Desk Gets Israel's Size Right
The Washington Post foreign desk periodically describes countries as big or bigger than Israel as "tiny." But regardless of its small size (about 8,000 square miles) and population (a little more than seven million people, of them about 5.6 million Jews), the Jewish state rarely if every gets the adjective "tiny," or its synonyms, from The Post's foreign news department, as the CAMERA SNAPSHOT "Tiny Georgia, Big Israel?" (May 29, 2008) pointed out.
Usage by Post national and metro desk reporters is another, apparently more accurate, matter. In covering Sen. Barack Obama's visit to Israel, national reporter Jonathan Weisman and metro reporter Michelle Boorstein informed readers that Israel is "a speck on the globe that is slightly smaller than New Jersey ...." ("Obama Working to Ensure Jewish Vote: Meticulous Planning for Visit to Israel Indicates Importance," July 24, 2008). Yes, the same comparison used by the CIA World Fact Book and virtually shunned by The Post's foreign desk.
Implying that Israel is larger than it is by omitting basic geographic and demographic information could allow readers to assume that Israel is more responsible for Middle Eastern problems or better able to take risks than it is, or that it faces less serious threats than it does.
Weisman and Boorstein, and their national and metro desk editors, served Post readers well by being specific, and doing so in a way many Americans can relate to quickly. Their informative analogy undercuts erroneous double standard comparisons that hold Israel as a regional Goliath to the Palestinian Arabs' David. The foreign desk could learn from this example. AG
July 30, 2008
US Largest Donor to Palestinians in 2008
A State Department press conference on July 29 disclosed that the United States is the largest aid donor to the Palestinians this year. The State department spokesman calculates $562 million in aid has been delivered. Interestingly, among the major agencies funding the Palestinians is the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). Recall that Palestinian terrorists have on several occasions claimed that US training enabled them to conduct terrorist operations against the Israelis. Recently, Palestinian Force 17 commander, Abu Yousuf said
I do not think that the operations of the Palestinian resistance would have been so successful and would have killed more than one thousand Israelis since 2000 and defeated the Israelis in Gaza without these [American] trainings.
Let's hope that this time, the training is being conducted with more awareness of its potential misuse.
Lying for the Greater Good
The fawning Ha'aretz article quotes him:
"I lie, they say. Yes, maybe there is an instance in which I lie - when it is a matter of human lives, I lie. If my lie saves people, then I am proud to lie. I lie when I create hope out of nowhere. But those who cause me to lie are not the ones who were standing here outside and screaming like wild beasts. You are the ones who cause me to lie, you are the ones who help me create a new world."
Jerusalem Error in IHT
The print edition -- but not the online version -- of yesterday's International Herald Tribune article entitled "Fatah is said to seize 50 as Palestinian rift grows" falsely states:
Israel took Jerusalem in the 1967 war and then annexed it.
Well, no. Israel was in control of the western part of the city since its independence in 1948 and gained control and annexed only the eastern part in 1967. (From 1948 until 1967 Jordan occupied the eastern part of the city.)
The Palestinians demand the eastern part of Jerusalem, which Israel conquered in the 1967 war and later annexed, as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Stay tuned for word of a correction.
July 29, 2008
NPR's Gradstein fills in at The Washington Post
National Public Radio and The Washington Post are, perhaps, the two major U.S. news media criticized most consistently by CAMERA for anti-Israeli, pro-Palestinian bias in their news reporting.
For the next few weeks or more critiques may be of the “two birds with one stone” variety: With its Jerusalem bureau chief, Griff Witte, on leave in the United States, The Post has turned to NPR’s long-time Israel correspondent Linda Gradstein as its special correspondent in Jerusalem.
CAMERA’s Web site archives dozens of examples of Ms. Gradstein’s slanted reporting, from the early 1990s to the present. Typical was her work for NPR during the bloodiest days of the “second intifada.” In the spring of 2002 Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism went unnamed on NPR, their stories depersonalized, while coverage of accidental Arab casualties of Israeli counter-terrorism received detailed, human interest coverage. Ms. Gradstein’s techniques have included stacking the deck with Palestinian sources; giving them more air time, often much more, than allotted to official Israeli representatives; and citing anti-government and even anti-Zionist Jews without properly identifying them.
Nevertheless, her dispatch, “Olmert: No Accord on Jerusalem This Year” (July 29) for The Post was relatively straight-forward and informative. Her four concluding paragraphs touched on a five-day old development the newspaper virtually had avoided — Palestinian infighting between Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) and Fatah (Movement for the Liberation of Palestine) that has included at least six deaths and several hundred arrests.
Compared to the newspaper’s coverage of Arab-Israeli news earlier in the month, Ms. Gradstein played it straight. Epitomizing Post bias was the blatant editorializing in a news article (“Obama Ends Mideast Swing With Vow to Back Israel, Peace Talks,” July 24), which described Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel as a response, “typically after military operations in the [Gaza] Strip or the Israeli-occupied West Bank.” This obvious and erroneous revisionism inverted cause-and-effect and shifted responsibility.
Two questions immediately arise for Post readers: 1) How is it that NPR’s Linda Gradstein filed a more workmanlike dispatch than the paper’s regular Israel correspondents have been doing lately, and 2) Why, given Ms. Gradstein’s long and documented pro-Palestinian bias, did The Post turn to her as a pitch-hitter in the first place?
Arab States Not Fulfilling Pledges to Palestinians
Ever since the Oslo accords were signed fifteen years ago, Arab states, especially those infused with petrodollars, have routinely promised large sums of aid to the Palestinians but delivered only a fraction of the amount pledged. A Washington Post article by Glen Kessler discusses this phenomenon.
In reality, the source of the vast majority of financial aid to the Palestinians are the Western nations - the EU and the United States. At a time when Arab oil-producing states are flushed with money, it is curious how little discussion there is on this anomaly of the West providing the bulk of the aid to the Palestinians while their Arab brethren provide empty promises. Meanwhile Egypt makes sure that the economy in Gaza continues to flounder by keeping its borders tightly closed.
An even more interesting analysis would be to evaluate how Arab fulfillment of pledges correlates with periods of Palestinian cooperation with Western peace initiatives versus periods of increased terrorism.
Treating Journalists 'With Dignity,' Continued
Hamas has devised a new means of carrying out its policy to treat journalists "with dignity." In addition to the arrest of journalists and the destruction of offices belonging to news agencies, Hamas now introduces the banning of newspapers it does not like.
July 28, 2008
Betancourt Advocates for Shalit Release
Gilad Shalit has a new, high-profile supporter.
Ingrid Betancourt, the French-Columbian politician who was rescued from captivity earlier this month in a daring operation by undercover Columbian troops, addressed thousands of supporters in Paris on Sunday, calling for the release of other hostages still held by FARC terrorists.
The following AFP photo shows Betancourt at the rally, holding a sign with a photo of Shalit and the text, "Gilad Shalit, hostage since June 2006."
July 27, 2008
Hamas Holds Photojournalist
Hamas again demonstrates how it treats journalists with dignity. The latest recipient of Hamas' hospitality is photojournalist Sawwah Abu Seif of the German News Agency, who was arrested while covering Hamas actions against Fatah. Ma'an has the story.
July 24, 2008
Is Middle Eastern Politics Creeping Into Science?
Scientific American is renowned for its captivating coverage of advances in science and technology. The July 2008 edition contains an article on how recent advances in DNA mapping are being used to trace the worldwide migration of humans. A chart in the piece illustrates the chronological genetic branching of humans as they dispersed geographically. It contains 51 ethnic groups, each indigenous to a particular geographic locale. One group included is "Palestinian."
The chart's caption explains that genetic sequencing "lets researchers compare genomes drawn from distinct populations around the globe." The ethnic groups also possess another characteristic: they are indigenous to a specific geographic locale. This allows a genomic migration path to be constructed.
This is where science and contemporary political mythology intersect. The Palestinian identity is a relatively new phenomenon, no more than a century old, emerging out of a political conflict. One element of this conflict are the competing claims of Arabs and Jews over the land. To counter the Jewish connection to the land from biblical antiquity, Palestinians maintain their descent from the indigenous inhabitants of Israel/Canaan. The article implicitly accepts this claim by their inclusion in the chart.
But are the Palestinians a distinct geographic population in the same way as the other groups included in the chart? Today's Palestinians are an admixture of recent migrants from Egypt, Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Turkic regions, and Albania, on top of a pre-existing population descended from Europeans from the Crusades and a remnant of the pre-Islamic population. The choice of Palestinian as one of the four middle eastern groups is a curious one considering the availability of longstanding distinct groups within the region, like Copts, Arabs in Arabia or Yemen, Chaldeans in Iraq or for that matter Jews of Middle Eastern heritage. The other three middle eastern groups shown in the chart, the Druze, Mozabites and Bedouin also can claim distinct identities going back centuries.
Was politics involved in the selection of the Palestinians? There is scant evidence of political ideology in the rest of the piece, although it does include the somewhat out of place assertion that people of European ancestry have a "higher proportion of harmful genetic changes... than the African-Americans did." But the inclusion of an ethnic group formed only recently as a consequence of a contemporary political conflict, raises the question as to whether politics is interfering with sound science.
July 23, 2008
Al Jazeera Celebrates a Murderer...
... with a party. This won't help the organization's reputation in the eyes of people who expect responsible journalism.
From the Jerusalem Post:
For the second time this year, Israel has decided to act against Al-Jazeera, after the influential TV station held a party for released Lebanese child-killer Samir Kuntar, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The party, held in Beirut, was organized by the Al-Jazeera bureau there to honor Kuntar on the occasion of his release from Israeli prison. He was hailed as a hero who carried out a brave military operation against the Jewish state.
The Government Press Office said it would impose sanctions on Al-Jazeera and demand an explanation from the station.
Al-Jazeera's bureau chief in Beirut, Ghassan bin Jeddo, has long been known for his close ties to Hizbullah.
Kuntar, for his part, thanked Jeddo and Al-Jazeera for supporting him and other prisoners in Israeli jails and for waging a campaign to bring about their release.
'Pistol-Toting Settler' Strikes Again
It was the start of a rampage Tuesday that ended with six Israelis injured and the Palestinian assailant dead, shot by a pistol-toting Jewish settler and a border policeman in front of scores of terrified onlookers.
For Boudreaux, settlers are always "pistol-toting," but not gardeners or teachers (though other media outlets provided this information about the brave man who stopped the Palestinian terrorist from killing innocent civilians.)
Also in this article, Boudreaux misleads:
The 208,000 Palestinians who live there make up about one-third of the city's population but lack citizenship.
In fact, 12,000 eastern Jerusalem Arabs hold Israeli citizenship. All were offered Israeli citizenship but most rejected it for political reasons. Boudreaux is himself well aware of this fact.
July 18, 2008
Hezbollah Values: Cheering a Child-Killer
HEZBOLLAH VALUES: CHEERING A CHILD-KILLER; TAUNTING DEAD SOLDIERS' FAMILIES
Too little attention has been paid by the press to Hezbollah's cruelty in taunting the families of the dead Israeli soldiers. And while reporters have noted the joyful celebrations in the Arab/Muslim world over the release of the terrorist Kuntar, as well as four terrorists from Hezbollah, not enough have delved into the heinous nature of Kuntar's attack.
Here are two commentaries on what Hezbollah and Lebanon reveal about themselves when they celebrate the release of a man who bashed in the head of a four-year-old girl.
A Strange Kind of Hero (Boston Globe editorial)
A Moment of Moral Clarity (Gil Troy, Montreal Gazette)
Here's a gem from Steve Huntley of the Chicago Sun-Times,
Abbas Didn't Have to Honor Terrorist
Here is a blog item that includes a video clip of Hezbollah leader Nasrallah's cruel taunting. Where is the mainstream media on this aspect?
A strange kind of hero
July 18, 2008
WHEN ISRAEL swapped prisoners and corpses this week with the Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah, a flood of propaganda immediately followed. Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, depicted the return of five prisoners and the remains of 199 Lebanese killed in the 2006 war with Israel as a way of achieving Hezbollah's original goal when it kidnapped two Israeli soldiers - an act that ignited the war.
Hezbollah's triumphalism serves a political purpose. It enhances the group's prestige within Lebanon and across the Mideast.
In Israel, the exchange of five prisoners for the bodies of the two dead Israeli soldiers was treated as a controversial affirmation of national values. Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke of Israel's readiness to "pay the highest price" to retrieve its captured soldiers. Intelligence chiefs warned that Israel was inviting its enemies to kidnap new hostages to be traded for more prisoners.
But beyond all tactical and political considerations, there is something morally repulsive in the hero's welcome given the most famous - or notorious - of the Lebanese prisoners released by Israel. Samir Kuntar had been sentenced to 542 years in prison for killing four people during a raid in 1979. Kuntar executed a father, Danny Haran, in front of his 4-year-old daughter. Then he killed the little girl by smashing her head against a rock with a rifle butt.
This is the creature Nasrallah hailed as a resistance hero, the figure Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called a "huge hero who sacrificed 30 years of his life for the Palestinian issue," the celebrity that Lebanon's president and prime minister saluted as a liberated freedom fighter.
All wars are inhumane. But not all warriors lose their humanity.
Heartsick Over the Swap?
There is a great deal of disagreement about the wildly lopsided trade of live Arab terrorists for dead Israeli bodies. Many people are heartsick and in disbelief; others are not happy, but feel that the return of the Israeli bodies was worth it. Here are some interesting commentaries on the issue:
Lessons of the Swap by Shlomo Avineri
Politics and Tragedy: Israel's Prisoner Swap by Frederick Krantz
Who Cares about our Soldiers? by Naomi Ragen
When Mistakes are Worth Making by Rabbi Daniel Gordis
Share your views below by posting a comment!
Israel's Prisoner Exchange - Suicidal?
Here's a compelling analysis of the swap of live terrorists for dead bodies:
POLITICS AND TRAGEDY: ISRAEL’S PRISONER EXCHANGE
by Frederick Krantz (www.isranet.org )
It is past time that Israel re-thought its prisoner-exchange policies. What began ca.1983 as a once-only departure from the Geneva Convention norm of reciprocal, post-conflict prisoner-exchange between states has turned into a tragically lop-sided and disproportionate freeing of large numbers of captured terrorist murderers in exchange for the bodies (and body-parts) of a few Israeli soldiers.
Issuing from the IDF's admirable commitment to do everything to ensure the return of all Israeli prisoners and hostages, this usage has evolved into something endangering Israel. It encourages terrorist organizations to use captured Israeli soldiers and citizens as "bait", used, even if dead, to implement further terrorist demands. Indeed, by exchanging live terrorists for dead Israelis, captives - like Gilad Shalit, still held by Hamas - are endangered, by removing any incentive to keep them alive and tolerably well.
In 1983, ...
In 1983, following the 1982 Lebanon war, Israel returned 4,600 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners for six abducted Israeli soldiers; in 1985, in the Jibril exchange, 1,150 terrorists were exchanged for three Israeli soldiers. In 2003, 400 terrorists and criminals and 60 Lebanese bodies were exchanged for three Israeli bodies and one live drug dealer.
This week's exchange, acceded to by the Olmert-led Kadimah government - which had pledged never to give up terrorist prisoners in return for captives - saw the release of five terrorists, four Hezbollah killers and the vicious Lebanese child-murderer Samir Kuntar (held since 1979).
In addition, Israel returned some two hundred terrorists' bodies, including that of Palestinian "heroine" Dalal al-Maghrebi, who in the Coastal Road massacre of 1978 machine-gunned 31 civilians on a hijacked bus.
These killers were exchanged for the bodies of the two Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, captured two years ago by Hezbollah (an act sparking the Second Lebanon War), as well as for several unspecified body parts and a specious "report" on the presumably dead Israeli airman Ron Arad, shot down over Lebanon in 1986 (Kuntar had been held as a counter for Arad's ultimate release).
The desire for closure on the part of the Israeli soldiers' families is understandable, and Israel's commitment to rescue its captured youth expresses the State's Jewish values. But negotiating imbalanced exchanges legitimates terrorist organizations, which then trumpet such "victories". It shows their ability to force Israel to release terrorist "heroes", even as they flout with impunity all the laws of war and international humanitarian usage. Further, such victories stimulate the terrorists' appetite for additional kidnappings, placing Israeli society at ever-greater peril.
Very importantly, but little remarked upon, is the appalling rate of recidivism on the part of released terrorists as a result of such exchanges. According to Israel's Almagor Terror Victims’ Association reports, as summarized by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, of the 6,912 Palestinian terrorists released in "confidence-building" measures between 1993 and 1999, 854 were - [up] to 2003 - subsequently arrested for murder and terrorism. (These figures do not include, of course, those not apprehended, nor does it cover the five years since 2003.)
Since 2000, 180 Israelis have been murdered by released terrorists (including the 30 killed and 155 wounded in the attack on Netanya’s Park Hotel in Passover, 2002; the 17 killed and 42 wounded in the June, 2002 Megiddo bus bombing; and the 7 dead and over 50 wounded in the September, 2003 Café Hillel bombing in Jerusalem - all deaths owed, once again, to released terrorists.
It is crucial, therefore, that the Israel Defense Forces' Code of Conduct, currently being revised, return to realistic international prisoner-exchange norms: proportionally reciprocal exchanges of live prisoners, regular visitation of all prisoners and hostages by international monitors, and availability of the death penalty for any terrorist guilty, like Kuntar or el-Maghrebi, of cold-blooded murder.
No democracy, let alone a sovereign Jewish state like Israel, subject to the unending viciousness of its neighbors, can afford to allow murderous enemies to play on its humanity. Individual suffering must be weighed against society's security and well-being. Allowing genocidal enemies to count on the certainty that blackmail will outweigh proportional reciprocity, and enable apprehended murderers to go free, is neither noble nor humane - it is suicidal.
(Prof. Frederick Krantz is Director of the Canadian Institute
for Jewish Research, and Editor of its Daily Isranet Briefing series.)
July 16, 2008
Washington Post reports too little about Kuntar
Washington Post Jerusalem Bureau Chief Griff Witte ("Israel to Free Prisoners, Swap with Hezbollah Involves Abducted Soldiers," June 30) failed to give readers the minimum sufficient information about a killer being released by Israel in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers.
The lead paragraph mentions a convicted murderer, a term that does not portray fully the nature of Samir Kuntar's crimes. Kuntar is not mentioned by name until the ninth paragraph, more than halfway through the article. Only then is his participation in a 1979 terrorist attack detailed; Kuntar and colleagues killed a policeman, stormed into an apartment building, captured and killed a young father, Danny Haran, in front of his four-year-old daughter, Einat, then smashed the girl's head with his rifle butt. Meanwhile, Haran’s wife accidentally smothered their two-year-old daughter as she tried to keep her quiet in their hiding place.
The Post omits the killing of the policeman, but reports that Kuntar was 16 at the time of the attack. The newspaper also omits that four months ago Kuntar wrote a letter to Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, assuring the Hezbollah leader that, at 46, he is ready to rejoin the war against Israelis.
The Post dispatch examines how the worst fears of families of the two soldiers kidnapped in 2006, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, may soon be confirmed, but adds that family members are glad the government accepted the deal. The report does mention that one at least Israeli politician,Yossi Beilin, believes Israel should release live prisoners only in exchange for live Israeli soldiers, and that the Shin Bet and Mossad intelligencence-security agencies both opposed the deal.
The case of Samir Kuntar was, for Israel, not that of a simple prisoner swap, but rather the freeing of a heinous and unrepetant murderer. It warranted more detail thanThe Post's June 30 coverage supplied. -- A.G.
July 15, 2008
LA Times Corrects: Not a Wall, After All
The Los Angeles Times yesterday corrected a falsehood that appeared in a July 7 article by Ashraf Khalil:
West Bank barrier: An article in Monday's Section A about divisions between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem said a "massive concrete barrier" separates Israel from much of the West Bank. The barrier is a series of walls, trenches and fences and is not all concrete.
The paper has failed to correct, though, a July 3 news brief about the planned prisoner swap between Israel and Hezbollah. The brief falsely stated that "All the Lebanese prisoners to be freed by Israel are alive." In fact, remains of nearly 200 Lebanese and other Arabs will be turned over to Lebanon, as CAMERA pointed out to the LA Times.
The paper did not print a correction, though it did have a news brief and photo July 8 about Israel's efforts to dig up the Lebanese remains in the days before the exchange. Nevertheless, the printing of correct information does not abrogate the need to correct an earlier false report. Write to Readers Representative Jamie Gold at Readers.Rep@latimes.com .
July 13, 2008
Spyer on Changing Times
Jonathan Spyer describes the errors appearing in a Sunday Times interview with Tony Blair by Lesley White:
Lunch with Blair, we are told, takes place under parasols which overlook "east Jerusalem's temples and mosques." I have lived in Jerusalem for just under two decades. It does contain quite a large number of mosques. Temples, however, are conspicuous largely by their absence. The clue is that religions worshipping in temples - Hindus, Buddhists - have scant regard for Jerusalem, and hence don't bother to build facilities for worship in it. . .
Lesley White mentions the "Palestinians I spoke to" in her article. These, however, do not seem to have been offset by any Israelis that were "spoken to" - at least they appear nowhere in the text. This perhaps explains another, more interesting error. Lesley White refers to a person described as Israel's "head of security." This person, apparently, is called Gabi Ashkenazi, and he is, Lesley White tells us, "considered by many the nation's de facto leader."
July 11, 2008
WSJ Corrects "Palestine" Error
In the World Watch section of the July 10th Wall Street Journal, items are placed under the name of the country or territory they involve. There was an item under a section erroneously called "Palestine," and the prime minister was said to be Falam Fayyad. When CAMERA informed the Wall Street Journal that there is not yet such a country named Palestine, that the territory's official name currently is the Palestinian Authority, the editor readily agreed and noted that the section that day had been written by a substitute who was unfamiliar with the nuances of the language involved. CAMERA also informed them of the proper spelling of Salam Fayyad's name.
Here is the prompt correction from the Wall Street Journal, published July 11, 2008:
Salam Fayyad is the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. An item in Thursday's World Watch column incorrectly gave his name as Falam Fayyad and indicated he was prime minister of Palestine.
July 10, 2008
AP Again Idealizes History of Moroccan Jews
Two years ago, the Associated Press ran a story about Moroccan Jews that relayed a glowing account of Jewish-Arab relations in Morocco. There was no mention of the murderous pogroms and discrimination faced by the community, and the only hint at adversity sometimes endured by Jews in Morocco was a passing reference to "some street protests."
Two days ago, a new AP story discussed Jewish-Arab relations in Morocco. In this latest story, the "some street protests" whitewash was replaced with a marginally more accurate reference to "riots," as well as "fears of living in an Arab state and sporadic discrimination."
Still, this description falls short of fairly conveying, for example, that
bloody riots broke out in June 1948 against the Jews in Oujda and Djerada in Morocco. In Oujda, within three hours, five Jews had been killed, 30 seriously injured, shops and homes sacked. In Djerada, the Jewish population of 100 suffered 39 deaths and 30 severely wounded, the remainder less seriously.
Nor is there any sense that, as one observer put it, "in disputes with Moslems, or on civil commercial, and criminal issues among themselves, Jews are almost entirely subject to Islamic courts. ... [E]ven under the best of circumstances [the courts] regard Jewish litigants as unclean, inferior beings."
Fauxtography: Iran Turns Truck Into Dirt Mound
Amnesia on Ha'aretz Cover-Up
In a letter to the editor printed in Ha'aretz Magazine, Eyal Mishmar of Haifa challenges the June 27 claim of media personality Dov Yudkovsky that "The attitude [by journalists] that if a certain politician has a peace plan that we like we'll forgive him everything is unprofessional."
Mishmar responds indignantly:
Excuse me? Will Yudkovsky deign to point to one media outlet, one editor -- one journalist -- who takes this approach? It was apparently not by chance that he chose not to name names.
Click here to learn which media outlet, which editor, which journalist openly acknowledged ignoring Olmert corruption because that newspaper favored the government's disengagement policy.
July 08, 2008
Wash. Post Eulogizes Bulldozer Terrorist
The Washington Post's Griff Witte covers the story of the brutal terror attack in Jerusalem as a eulogy for the Palestinian terrorist. Palestinian Hussam Edwyat went on a deadly rampage with a huge bulldozer through the streets of Jerusalem, crushed to death three Israelis and injured dozens, but the Post was mostly interested in how the terrorist used to have a Jewish girlfriend and what a seemingly nice guy he was.
So perhaps one would conclude, the murderer actually liked Jews, must have closed his ears and eyes to anti-Jewish incitement on Arab TV and radio stations, and was not likely to have been an actual terrorist?
The first-day article, "Three Killed in Jerusalem Rampage" (July 3, 2008), by Griff Witte, (buried on page A10), offers an unabashedly sympathetic portrayal of the Palestinian killer. It begins as if it were an obituary for an Arab man who loved Jews and was devoted to peace. It acknowledges that the man killed and wounded Israelis, but the implication is that this was an inexplicable incident, not a deliberate terrorist attack. The first two paragraphs begin:
Hussam Edwyat, the Palestinian construction worker who killed three Israelis and injured dozens of others by crushing cars and ramming buses with an earthmover in downtown Jerusalem on Wednesday, had intimate ties with his Jewish neighbors.
He worked among Jews, helping to build a luxury, ultra-Orthodox apartment complex in West Jerusalem. He lived among them, waking each day in a house that faces a Jewish neighborhood in mostly Arab East Jerusalem. And for a time, he dated one, friends and relatives said, having had a long-term Jewish girlfriend.
In the third paragraph, Witte again casts doubt that carrying out the bulldozer massacre of innocent Israelis was a deliberate terrorist attack by Edwyat.
Not until the second half of the fifth paragraph and sixth paragraph is there any indication that the Palestinian killer clearly acted deliberately:
But on Wednesday, for reasons that remain unclear, Edwyat attacked them and ended up dying with them.
And not until the eighth paragraph does Witte mention anything personal about the Israeli victims:
Behind it lay a 400-yard trail of mangled bodies and vehicles. Witnesses said Edwyat, 34, appeared determined to cause as much destruction as possible before he was stopped.
In three more paragraphs, Witte acknowledges -- and dismisses -- Israeli suggestions that the attack was politically motivated and reiterates his theme that the killer was really a good man, not a terrorist:
One of the victims was identified late Wednesday night as Elizabeth Goren Friedman, 54. The other two were a 70-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman whose names were not disclosed. More than 40 people were injured.
And in the next paragraph, almost as an afterthought, Witte adds:
While Israeli officials suggested Edwyat had political motivations, friends and relatives in his East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher said that he had never expressed strong views and that his final act had caught them off guard. "He didn't interfere with other people's business," said an uncle who did not want his name used. "Everybody in the neighborhood likes him. This was a shock and a surprise for every one of us." Edwyat dated a Jewish woman for several years. A neighbor and a human rights worker who had spoken with the family said Edwyat had fathered the woman's child. Relatives said his only two children are by his Palestinian wife.
In 17 paragraphs of this first-day story on a deadly attack on Jews in Israel, the Post has provided readers with a eulogy for the Palestinian killer. One wonders why he spent so much time interviewing the terrorist's family and friends, and not those of the victims. Not until the 18th and 19th paragraphs is there any substantive discussion of the attack itself:
Police said Edwyat had a criminal record involving drug charges, but they did not provide details.
As for context, in the 22nd paragraph, Witte states that: "The attack occurred during a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the armed Islamist movement in charge of the Gaza Strip." Witte's reference to the "cease-fire" fails to acknowledge the Palestinians' repeated violations, including numerous missile attacks from Gaza targeting civilians in Israel.
Edwyat had been driving the earthmover as part of work on a planned 13-story apartment building for ultra-Orthodox Jews. He left the site just before noon and guided the earthmover onto an adjacent street, Jaffa. Witnesses said he immediately started ramming traffic both with the body of the vehicle and with the large shovel attached to it by a mechanical arm. Drivers and bus passengers who were in the earthmover's path described a scene of initial confusion, followed by terror as they realized they were under attack.
By contrast, consider the first five paragraphs of the New York Times' first-day article "Palestinian Kills 3 With Construction Vehicle" (July 3), by Isabel Kershner. The first paragraph summarizes the attack, the second describes the number of Israelis killed and wounded, the third and four paragraphs note that Israeli police are treating the incident as a terrorist attack, and the fifth and sixth paragraphs identify the Israeli victims:
The Times also reported the Israeli police's explanation of why the Palestinian driver had to be killed:
The Palestinian driver of a large construction vehicle went on a deadly rampage along a central Jerusalem thoroughfare on Wednesday, crushing several cars and ramming into buses and pedestrians before an off-duty soldier and a police officer clambered up to the cabin and fatally shot him.
At least three people were killed by the lurching vehicle, and more than 40 were wounded, Israeli officials said.
The police said that they were treating the event as a terrorist attack and that the driver, about 30 years old, was a resident of Sur Baher, an Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in 1967 and then annexed.
“There is no doubt at all that this was a terrorist attack,” Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said at the scene shortly afterward. He added that the authorities were investigating whether the driver, identified by acquaintances as Hussam Dweikat, had acted alone.
Two of the victims were Israeli women, Bat Sheva Unterman, 33, and Elizabeth Goren-Friedman, 54, both residents of Jerusalem.
The identity of the third victim still had not been released by late Wednesday night.
The Post continued its odd coverage the next day, in "Motives in Earthmover Rampage Debated in Jerusalem" (July 4, p. A11), also by Witte. In this second-day story, the Post finally provided information of at least one of the victims of Edwyat's barbaric attack, but it also reiterated its unseemly theme that the Palestinian killer was basically a good man who liked Jews:
Police officials contended that it was necessary to kill the driver to stop him. An initial investigation indicated that at least four security personnel members had tried to stop the driver. The off-duty soldier shot him but failed to kill him. An officer from a special antiterrorism police unit who sped to the scene on a motorcycle finally ended the episode. The officer, Eli Mizrahi, told reporters that he had climbed up to the driver’s cabin “when he was still driving like crazy and trying to harm civilians,” and that he fired twice.
But buried in the second half of the eighth paragraph, Witte notes, almost as an afterthought, that the killer
Israeli officials and media described Edwyat as a terrorist who had targeted Jews. But friends and relatives in East Jerusalem on Thursday described a man with no political affiliations or particular grievances against his Jewish neighbors. Instead, they said Edwyat had suddenly snapped for reasons they did not understand.
"He was not a person who hates Jews. He worked with them for years in construction," said Hassan Darbash, an uncle. Relatives confirmed that Edwyat had had a long-term Jewish girlfriend.
In fact, Witte obscures the fact that the killer had gone to jail for DOMESTIC BATTERY of his Jewish girlfriend.
"had recently served two years in prison following allegations of domestic abuse and drug charges, relatives said."
A July 4 Associated Press report by Matti Friedman ("Jerusalem attacker once had Jewish girlfriend") reported:
She said they broke up because Dwayat became abusive. "He would really hit me hard, but I still loved him. I was willing to convert to Islam for him," she said.
She said she eventually pressed charges and he served time in jail.
It bears adding that the AP story reported the killer's actions far less sympathetically than did the Post:
Dwayat, 30, crushed three people to death and wounded dozens on one of Jerusalem's busiest thoroughfares Wednesday with the massive earth moving vehicle he used in his job at a nearby construction site. He smashed through traffic, drove over cars and flipped a crowded city bus on its side.
It also noted that:
The Israelis who stopped Dwayat by shooting him heard Dwayat shout "God is great," an Arabic phrase used by Islamic militants as a battle cry.
The Post, of course, made no mention of this fact, which would have undermined its thesis that the killer had no religious or political motives.
The Post's emphasis on the killer's relationship with a Jewish woman and its belittling of his history of physical abuse of the woman is especially galling. One would think that hitting someone you are dating is indicative not of affection, but of hatred and cruelty toward women and/or Jews.
To the Post, however, even an extremely violent relationship involving an abusive Palestinian man hitting his Jewish girlfriend seems to provide enough of an excuse to justify portraying a cruel terrorist who crushed people to death as a man of coexistence and peace.
Seeing a photo (see above) of one of the cars that the terrorist utterly crushed and mangled until it was unrecognizable as a car, and knowing that witnesses heard him repeatedly shout "Allah Hu Ahbar" as he crushed human beings to death, one wonders how the Post reporter could have any doubt that this was a deliberate terrorist attack.
Stephen A. Silver
July 03, 2008
Washington Post transforms terrorists to 'fighters'
The Washington Post (Gazan Rockets Threaten Truce," June 25) continues to refer to those attacking non-combatants as "fighters" rather than as terrorists -- at least in reporting Palestinian assaults against Israelis. "Fighter" -- ghetto fighter, World War II resistance fighter, 1956 Hungarian freedom fighter, anti-Taliban fighters in Afghanistan -- often carries positive connotations. Post word choice gives the impression that Palestinian terrorists are something else, legitimate combatants, and their indiscriminate attacks something other than terrorism. Such usage is both inacccurate and tendentious.
Four days into the cease-fire, Palestinian terrorists fired a mortar shell into Israel. The attack received no Post coverage. On June 24, Israeli troops in the West Bank killed an armed Islamic Jihad commander; four explosive devices were found near his body. Terrorists then launched several rockets from the Gaza Strip into the Israeli town of Sderot.
Post Jerusalem Bureau Chief Griff Witte and stringer Samuel Sockol reported that "Israel has said it needs freedom to operate in the West Bank in order to prevent a Hamas takeover." No doubt Israel opposes expansion of Hamas rule from the Strip into the West Bank. But Post word choice omits the fact that the Israeli-Hamas truce does not apply to the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) in the first place, and that Israel has said it needs freedom to operate there to prevent terrorist attacks against Jews in the territories and inside Israel. The sharp decline in terrorist attacks after Israel's large-scale military return to the West Bank in 2002, and later construction of the security barrier, suggests that insistence on freedom to operate in the terrtories is well-grounded.
Regardless, The Post's language allows readers to infer wrongly that Israeli actions in the West Bank justified Islamic Jihad's breaking of the truce in Gaza. -- Adam Grodman, research intern.
July 02, 2008
Google Earth Maps 'Nakba'
Posted by TS at 01:41 PM
Wikipedia Blamed For Declining Test Scores
As if any more confirmation were needed that Wikipedia is riddled with inaccuracies and false information, a Scottish parent-teacher group has come out against it as the cause of declining test scores. The Scotsman reports:
WIKIPEDIA and other online research sources were yesterday blamed for Scotland's falling exam pass rates.
The Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) said pupils are turning to websites and internet resources that contain inaccurate or deliberately misleading information before passing it off as their own work.
The group singled out online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which allows entries to be logged or updated by anyone and is not verified by researchers, as the main source of information. . . .
Several further education institutions have already banned students from using the interactive encyclopaedia. At one college in Vermont in the US, a history professor found several students repeated the same error in exam papers. On discovering the information came from Wikipedia, the college outlawed its future use.
Ben-David Sorts Out Ha'aretz 'Purge' Rumors
The Jerusalem Post's Calev Ben-David addresses the Internet rumors concerning changes at Ha'aretz.
Pearl of Wisdom on 'Flat Earth Rhetoric'
In the Jewish Journal, Judea Pearl comments on the propensity of U.S. newspapers to mark Israel's independence day with Op-Eds by Arabs advocating the dismantling of the Jewish state . This is a must read:
Each year, in preparation for Israel’s birthday, newspaper editors feel an uncontrolled urge, a divine calling in fact, to invite Arab writers to tell us why Israel should not exist.
This must give them some sort of satisfaction, such as we might have in inviting officials of the Flat Earth Society to tell us why the the earth is not, could not or should not really be round, and to do so precisely on Earth Day, lest the wisdom would escape anyone’s attention.
Evidently, the banalization of absurdity has its kicks. It is sporty, “out-of-the-box-ish,” admirably “Jewish” and, if only we were not dealing with a dangerous experiment involving the lives and dignity of millions of human beings, could easily have earned its authors the National Cuteness Award.
But the issue before us is an adult matter, and the result is a depressing Kafkaesque choreography in which Israel, the heart and soul of Jewish peoplehood, is put on trial for its very existence, while pro-coexistence commentators, if they are invited, deal with the future of Israel and its achievements, but leave the accusations unanswered.
There is some wisdom to ignoring insults and unfounded accusations. By answering one tacitly bestows credence, however minimal, upon the arguments that put you on the accused bench—the last bench that Israel’s birthday deserves, even ignoring her accusers’ record. So, perhaps it is wise to write chapter and verse about Israel’s achievements (as Tom Friedman did on June 8) and let the “colonial” and “apartheid” accusations hang there, unanswered, as living witnesses of the Orwellian mentality of the accusers?
I am not totally convinced. . . .
Today we are witnessing a well-coordinated effort by enemies of coexistence to get people to envision, just envision, a world without Israel—the rest, they hope, will become history.
The American press seems to fall for it.
In fairness to the editors of the L.A. Times (unlike The Nation and The Christian Science Monitor), articles calling for the elimination of Israel are often balanced by articles calling for peaceful coexistence. But, ironically, this “balance” is precisely where the imbalance occurs, for it gives equal moral weight to an immoral provocation that every Jew in Israel considers a genocidal death threat, and most Jews in the world view as an assault on their personal dignity, national identity and historical destiny. . . .
A true, albeit grotesque, moral balance would be demonstrated only if for every “down with Israel” writer the newspaper were to invite a “down with Palestinian statehood” writer. But editors may have strange takes on morality; for some, questioning the legitimacy of Israel’s existence is a mark of neutrality, while questioning the legitimacy of Palestinian aspirations is a social taboo.
July 01, 2008
Gideon Levy Finds a West Bank Pool
After insisting that "Banana Land" water park in the Jericho area is the only place where hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children can swim, Ha'aretz's Gideon Levy has found another West Bank pool -- in Beita.
So does that makes Banana Land a second to "last refuge?"