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November 25, 2008

Digital Intifada

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A poster from the Web site of the Iranian news agency Fars, Oct. 29, 2008, tries to justify the criminal competition of hacking into Israeli and pro-Israeli websites/Courtesy of Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

First there was the Electronic Intifada, then there was the Digital Intifada established by Iran and Hamas “to prevent the spread of terrorist Zionist opinions."

Encouraging aspiring hackers "to prevent the spread of terrorist Zionist opinions," conference organizers doled out $2000 to successful hackers.

Posted by TS at 03:58 AM |  Comments (0)

November 24, 2008

A Veteran of the Peace Process Re-assesses the Situation

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Aaron David Miller, long an ardent supporter of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, wrote a piece published in the Jerusalem Post on November 23, 2008 suggesting "that a conflict-ending agreement between Israelis and Palestinians may no longer be possible."

According to Miller,

The dysfunction and confusion in Palestine make a conflict-ending agreement almost impossible. The divisions between Hamas (itself divided) and Fatah (even more divided) are now geographic, political and hard to bridge.

Miller's gloomy view of prospects for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians coincides with alarming reports on the activities of Iran and its cohorts in the region.

The International Atomic Energy Agency released a report on November 20, 2008 confirming that man-made uranium was found in a Syrian facility bombed by Israel last year.

Defense minister Ehud Barak confirmed on Nov. 24, 2008 that Hezbollah has tripled its inventory of rockets since the summer 2006 war and now possesses 42,000.

According to nuclear experts cited in an article in the IHT, Iran has enough nuclear material to produce one atomic bomb and will soon have enough material for several more. This comes on top of the recent testing of a new Iranian rocket capable of hitting Israel.

Posted by SS at 12:08 PM |  Comments (0)

LA Times Needs A Map

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Geography quiz for LA Times editors: Look at the map and identify which countries border the Gaza Strip.

The Los Angeles Times has a longstanding mental block when it comes to correctly identifying the Gaza Strip's borders.

Most recently, on Friday an editorial falsely stated:

On the contrary, as the military power surrounding Gaza, Israel has a duty to ensure that civilians receive sufficient food, fuel and medicine.

But, of course, as the map shows, Gaza's southern border is shared with Egypt, not Israel, and therefore Israel does not "surround" Gaza.

The LA Times' Richard Boudreaux more accurately reported on Gaza's geography in his news story the very same day:

Because Israel controls most access points to Gaza. . . ("Israel rejects U.N. appeal on Gaza")

(Notably, though, Boudreaux, like the U.N. which is pressuring Israel to ease the blockade, does not mention Egypt at all, which controls its own crossing point with Gaza and which is likewise maintaining a blockade.)

To politely request that the paper print a correction making clear that Israel does not "surround" the Gaza Strip, write to Readers Representative Jamie Gold at Readers.Rep@latimes.com .

Posted by TS at 04:33 AM |  Comments (2)

November 20, 2008

Swedish Television Challenges BBC Reporting

It's a story about BBC misreporting, and about how a "country is portrayed according to a particular script which doesn’t actually necessarily fit the reality of that crisis."

(But this time, that country isn't Israel.)

Read all about the Swedish exposé here.

Posted by GI at 03:40 PM |  Comments (1)

Gaza Electricity Official: 'No Reason For a Crisis'

The Palestinian Authority agrees with Israel's Matan Vilnai -- the Gaza blackouts are staged. Even an official at the Gaza electricity company concurs. The Jerusalem Post reports that the official, who asked not to be identified, told the Fatah controlled Pal-Press Web site:

"Hamas has seized more than 220,000 liters of fuel that was intended for generators belonging to our company," he revealed. "There's no shortage of fuel and as such there is no reason for a crisis."

The official also disclosed that Hamas militiamen had been forcing the company to cut off power supplies to some areas in the Gaza Strip so as to create the impression that the outage was due to a lack of fuel caused by the ongoing closure of the border crossings.

Posted by TS at 02:21 PM |  Comments (0)

November 18, 2008

Now Can We Believe Them? A Palestinian Commentator Affirms What Zionist Jews Have been Saying All Along

The refusal of Christian peace activists in the U.S. to take Jewish and Israeli testimony about the Muslim mistreatment of Christians in the Middle East seriously is truly a thing to behold. The testimony of American and Israeli Jews about the suffering of Christians in the Middle East is discounted because it is interpreted as an attempt to affirm the legitimacy of a Jewish state in the Middle East and undermine the legitimacy of the cause of Palestinian nationalism. As written previously on this blog, “Apparently, when a Zionist Jew hears a tree fall in the forest, it doesn't make a sound peace and human rights activists in the West want to hear.”

Maybe, they’ll listen to ‘Abd Al-Nasser Al-Najjar, columnist for the Palestinian daily, Al-Ayyam. According to a MEMRI translation of his Oct. 25, 2008 column, Al-Najjar has addressed the issue in a much more forthright manner than Sabeel or its supporters in the West. Here is part of what he wrote:

Christians are being persecuted not only in Iraq, but in most Arab countries, regardless of their numbers there. They are subjected to every possible kind of discrimination, as well as expulsion. The problem is that it is not only Arab officials who are remaining silent [in the face of these crimes] - [they do so] because their primitive mentality is centered on the cult of the ruler - but, alarmingly, so are Arab intellectuals, the elites, non-government organizations, and leaders of the private sector. All these groups look on at these unprecedented [acts of] folly without apprehending the danger with which these crimes are fraught.

"Furthermore, there has been an attempt to marginalize Christian culture in Palestine, even though it is rich and deeply rooted [there]. This began with [accusations] of unbelief [against Christians] - a move that ultimately harmed Palestinian society as a whole...

"Despite all the injustices [against the Christians], no one has seen or heard of any constructive action to curb it and to [defend] the Christians' rights - whether by the elites, by any of the three branches (executive, legislative, and judiciary), by non-government organizations, or even by the political factions themselves. [Such action should have been forthcoming] not out of kindness and compassion, but [due to] regarding Palestinian Christians as indigenous to this land, and [therefore] no different from us, with the same rights and obligations [as Muslims].

If Arab Muslims can speak honestly these issues, then why can’t Christians in the West speak in the same forthright manner about these issues?

Posted by dvz at 02:12 PM |  Comments (0)

November 14, 2008

The Truce Holds

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Room hit by Grad rocket

The 5 month truce between Israel and Hamas has reduced the violence but not ended it. With each flare-up, it is clear that the term "truce" has taken on a diplomatic meaning distinct from actual events on the ground. The media has adopted this definition of the truce. News sources use terms like "shaky," under "pressure," or "deteriorating" to describe outright violations of the truce.

On Nov. 14, an AP story, "Gaza truce shaky amid rockets, airstrike," noted that 11 militants have been killed and 140 rockets and mortars have been fired in the recent outbreak of violence.

Deutsche Agenteur headlined its piece, "Gaza truce deteriorating amid rocket barrage, airstrike."

The International Herald Tribune's piece on Nov. 13, "Gaza clash puts new pressure on truce," described the killing of four Hamas gunmen in a gun battle as "further testing a shaky truce that took effect in June."

The LA Times on Nov. 13 saw it this way as well, reporting in "Israel-Gaza border clash further threatens truce" that the killing of the gunmen was "the second such incident in about a week." The LA Times noted:

The fighting raised the possibility that the truce will break down or will not be renewed when it expires next month, bringing a new round of heavy fighting in the region as the United States and Israel change administrations. ... Israel tightened a blockade of Gaza but eased it in June after the Egyptian-brokered truce took hold. The truce largely held, until this month. On Nov. 4, Israeli forces making their first incursion into Gaza since June destroyed a border tunnel they believed militants had planned to use to capture Israeli soldiers. Six Palestinian militants were killed in the fighting that day.

Hamas continues to build its arsenal, sporadically fire salvos of rockets and mortars and dig tunnels to kidnap Israeli soldiers. Israel for its part continues to conduct air strikes and raids into Gazan territory in response to identified threats. And the truce continues.

Posted by SS at 12:55 PM |  Comments (3)

November 13, 2008

The New York Review of... Palestinian Blamelessness

If you've ever been puzzled by what motivates the rather consistent anti-Israel stance of publications like the New York Review of Books, a recent issue of that magazine provides one useful clue. The reflexive pro-Palestinian sympathies, it seems, are in part related to what could be called the Myth of Palestinian Blamelessness.

In a book review in the Nov. 20, 2008 issue ("Fishing in the Dead Sea"), Colin Thubron discusses several books about the late King Hussein of Jordan, and in the process leaves us the clue, a telling sentence that reveals his — and the magazine's — embrace and propagation of this myth.

Here is his account of the 1948 war, a key turning point in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians:

Abdullah was the grandfather, mentor, and model of the young King Hussein. As a Hashemite and descendant of the Prophet, Abdullah conceived his ancestral destiny as leader of the Arab peoples. With the outbreak of the Arab-Jewish war in 1948, he moved his British-trained Arab Legion in to the Palestinian heartland, ad the ensuing peace left him in control of territory a few miles from the Mediterranean, with the prize of East Jerusalem. So together with Israel—and perhaps in tacit collusion—Abdullah aborted Palestinian hopes for a state ....

The state rejected by the Palestinians.
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There you have it. The Palestinians, by this account, are not even partially responsible for their lack of a state. The culprits are Israel and Jordan. That the Palestinian leadership repeatedly rejected proposed compromises, including the UN's 1947 partition plan embodied in General Assembly resolution 181, is apparently not considered. Nor does it seem to matter that the Palestinians responded to the UN resolution by starting a war against the Jews of Palestine. (Ironically, the author promotes this myth of Palestinian blamelessness, this lack of critical analysis of Palestinian responsibility, even while approvingly describing the Israeli revisionist historians as "critically analyz[ing] the founding myths of Israel.")

The Palestinians, in reality, would have had a state had they chosen compromise instead of war. Instead, they chose to reject the Jewish state at the cost of their own independence. Israel, for its part, succeeded in defending itself against attacks by the Palestinians, and later by Arab states. And Jordan chose to annex the West Bank instead of turning it into a Palestinian state. But in the alternate reality in which the Palestinians seen as blameless actors (or even an act-less), perhaps the New York Review's anti-Israel tendencies are a bit easier to understand.

(For a rebuttal of Thubron's allegation that Israel "colluded" with Jordan to prevent a Palestinian state from arising, see the chaper "The collusion that never was" in Ephraim Karsh's Fabricating Israeli history: The 'New Historians.' Interestingly, but not surprisingly, neither this book nor its author is mentioned in the pages of the New York Review of Books, according to a web search of the magazine's web site.)


Posted by GI at 04:50 PM |  Comments (3)

The Road to Damascus

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Hama - 1982

Syria has recently been the focus of much diplomatic activity. Reported statements by outgoing Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and European Middle East interlocutors have hinted at giving Syria possession of the Golan Heights and offering economic inducements as a means of moving the peace process forward and isolating Iran.

Michael Rubin, a Middle East scholar at the American Enterprise Institute is less sanguine about the likelihood that such inducements will work. In his piece published in Forbes on Nov. 12, 2008, Syria Can't Be Flipped, Rubin argues that Syrian President Bashir Assad will play along with Israeli and Western peace processors, but he will never take the bait. For historical reasons and to safeguard its own survival, the minority Alawite regime cannot abandon its rejectionist stance against Israel or its alliance with Iran.

The Alawites make up about 10-12 percent of the Syrian population and historically have a tense relationship with the Sunni majority. Alawite adherence and allegiance to traditional Islam has been questioned. In February 1982, Bashir Assad's father, Hafez Assad, suppressed a Muslim Brotherhood uprising against Alawite rule by slaughtering a reported 38,000 Syrians in the city of Hama. Going further back, when Syria was under French domination prior to its indepedence in the 1920s and 30s, the Alawites were accused of collaborating with French authorities. What remains unclear is the degree to which the Alawite regime's rejection of Israel is driven by its need to prove its fervent Arab and Islamic credentials to the Sunni Arab majority in the Middle East.

Posted by SS at 11:21 AM |  Comments (0)

November 11, 2008

Vilnai: More Blackouts, More Propaganda

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Gaza blackout/photo by AFP

In the face of new blackouts in the Gaza Strip, Ynet reports:

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said Hamas is using Gaza's electricity to attack Israel.

"It's a pity that we are falling for this propaganda. I can confirm one thing, if there is only one kilowatt in all of Gaza it will be in one place only - a workshop that manufactures rockets," he told Army Radio.

"They are using us. They know us. They know our sensitivity to humanitarian issues and they are playing with it."

For earlier reports on how Hamas manufactured a crisis, see here, here and here.

Posted by TS at 02:47 AM |  Comments (0)

November 09, 2008

Israel Coverage Falloff

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Michael Oren reports in Ha'aretz that American media interest in Israel is waning for now:

The good news is that Israel is no longer in the news. And the bad news is that Israel is no longer in the news. For the past month, at least, Israel - indeed, the entire Middle East - has been knocked out of the newspapers and from television screens in the United States, the victim of a one-two media punch. . .

This is good news for those Israelis who have always felt that they receive too much attention in the American press, that the Jewish state is unfairly placed under a media microscope intent on magnifying its faults. From this perspective, the current situation presents an unprecedented opportunity for censure-free action by Israel to clamp down on Palestinian terror and accelerate construction in the territories. . .

But the absence of media interest in Israel is bad news for those eager to see America more vigorously engaged in securing a settlement freeze and advancing the peace process. Though not as powerful as the Israeli press, which effectively dictates national priorities and dominates decision-making in its country, the media in the United States does influence the political agenda. . .

Whether one regards it as good news or bad, the falloff of coverage of Israel in the United States is almost certain to be temporary.


Posted by TS at 04:12 AM |  Comments (0)

November 05, 2008

PBS’s Problematic “Campus Battleground” Re-Aired

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The “Campus Battleground” documentary film in the PBS series, "America At a Crossroads," ostensibly reported objectively on “Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli activists clash[ing] at UC Berkeley and Columbia University.” However, when the film was closely scrutinized by CAMERA, something other than objectivity was revealed (Film Review: Campus Battleground (2007)).

Problematic aspects of the film include: 1) No mention of serious instances of pro-Palestinian intimidation and violence on campus such as Concordia/Montreal (2002). 2) Footage is provided of a class teaching only a Palestinian perspective on history, yet there is no similar clip demonstrating an Israeli or a more neutral perspective on history. 3) The mainstream Palestinian perspective opposing Israeli security checkpoints and the security barrier is shown but not the mainstream Israeli perspective explaining the need for these measures. 4) Completely inadequate discussion of the problems arising from the fact that numerous instructors on American campuses indoctrinate students with false teachings defaming Israel. Examples of this last point:

Rashid Khalidi, professor of Middle East Studies at Columbia University and the director of Columbia’s Middle East Institute, has defamed Israel for many years with falsifications such as the claim that non-Jews are barred from most land in Israel.

Joseph Massad, Columbia University professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history, frequently defames Israel in his classroom and then bullies students who dare to question either his tendentious, often false facts or his opinions.

Steve Niva, a defamer of Israel, teaches Middle East Studies at Evergreen State College (Olympia, Washington). Mr. Niva, frequently lecturing and writing on the Arab-Israeli conflict, maintains falsely that Israel itself - not Hamas, Islamic Jihad or any other terror group - is to blame for the suicide bombings which have killed hundreds of Israelis.

From time to time, films in the Crossroads series are re-aired so that Campus Battleground was re-broadcast (not merely once but twice) on Thursday, October 30, 2008, by many PBS stations across the U.S. One of these stations was Boston’s WGBH World (a digital cable channel). The Crossroads broadcast schedule provides a local-stations one and two-week advance listing for premieres and re-airings.

Fortunately, Crossroads provides a Web site feedback process for complaints.


Posted by MK at 02:36 PM |  Comments (5)

November 02, 2008

Google Earth Cleans Up

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It's always nice to start the week with good news. Several months ago, Snapshots reported on how Google Earth became a platform for anti-Israel propaganda.

That situation has improved, according to Representative Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn and Queens). His Web site applauds

Google, Inc. for removing a series of anti-Israel depictions from its program.

Previously, Google Earth’s map of Israel automatically linked to subjective, ideologically driven summaries of history and included the following inaccuracies:

- In March 2008, the Gaza Strip was still listed as "Israeli-occupied," despite Israel's full withdrawal in 2005 and the military takeover of the Gaza Strip by Hamas in mid-2007.

- Kiryat Yam was wrongly claimed to be built on the Palestinian village of Ghawarina.

- Mt. Scopus and its Hebrew University campus in Jerusalem are placed within Jordanian territory prior to 1967, even though it was an area where Israel exercised control during that period, according to the 1949 Armistice Agreement.

The program also guided users to the "Palestine Remembered" site, which includes the following quotes:

- “The Palestinian people have been on the receiving end of Israeli terrorism (the chief aspect of which are the collective dispossesion and ethnic cleansing of 8.5 million Palestinians) for the past five decades.”

- “Palestine Remembered has been explicitly built to expose and uncover Israeli war crimes and to amplify the voices of the Palestinian refugees.”

Posted by TS at 04:48 AM |  Comments (0)

November 01, 2008

USA Cable TV Network Guilty in Polonium Poisoning Episode

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Detective Mike Logan (Chris Noth) and Captain Danny Ross (Eric Bogosian)

USA Network, an NBC affiliate, aired on Oct. 24, 2008 a “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” encore episode (entitled "30") which had been originally broadcast by NBC on Feb. 27, 2007. At that time, CAMERA’s Web site documented the problematic broadcast in a report entitled “NBC's ‘Law & Order’ Promotes Anti-Jewish, Anti-Israel Sentiment.”

In this segment's plot, Israel is a suspect in the fatal polonium poisoning of an American investigative journalist. The episode also portrayed fictional Israeli brutality towards Palestinians and depicted fictional New York police detective Mike Logan (played by Chris Noth) repeatedly hectoring his Jewish captain, Danny Ross (played by Eric Bogosian), with the dual-loyalty canard accusation (including covering up for Israel).

That CAMERA posting was cited as the source in a March 11, 2007 Jerusalem Post report by Michael Freund who wrote:

Contacted by The Jerusalem Post, NBC sent a statement via e-mail which said, “As you know, the program material on Law & Order: CI has traditionally addressed provocative, contemporary issues. Its 'ripped from the headlines' stories often spark debate on many controversial subjects. As noted on air, the program is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event.” An NBC spokesman declined to respond to questions concerning allegations of anti-Semitism in the show's dialogue and plot.

The “ripped from the headlines” story line for this L & O episode was presumably ripped from a headline story having absolutely nothing to do with Israel: A former Russian spy turned Russian dissident, Alexander Litvinenko, was poisoned by polonium 210 in London in 2006 and subsequently the British justice system charged a former officer of the Russian special services with the crime.

Such a defamatory, mean-spirited show that incites scorn for Jews and Israelis is hardly worthy of the Law and Order: CI series, or of USA Network, or NBC.

Posted by MK at 11:29 AM |  Comments (0)