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January 30, 2009

Former Saudi Diplomat Throws Red Meat to Extremists in the Name of Peace

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Prince Turki al-Feisal, former Ambassador to U.S. and author of vicious anti-Israel screed (www.saudiembassy.net)

By now the sins of the ruling class in Saudi Arabia have been pretty well documented. In an effort to keep a lid on religious extremism in the country they rule, the Saudi Royal family allowed extremist clerics to spread a puritanical and violent interpretation of the Muslim faith to other countries, including Pakistan, which now has the bomb. Stephen Schwartz wrote in 2003," When bombs go off in Israel, Kenya, Indonesia, and elsewhere, Saudi Arabia is still the main source of the terrorist money. The kingdom is an unwavering nerve center of ideological indoctrination, incitement, and terrorist financing."

It shouldn't come as any surprise, but Prince Turki al-Feisal, former Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. recently penned an hateful and dishonest piece that was published at FT.com, which warned of damaged relations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia if President Barack Obama does not start turning the screws to Israel.

In his piece, the Prince writes "[N]ot only have the Israeli defense forces murdered more than 1,000 Palestinians, but they have come close to killing the prospects of peace itself." (Emphasis added.)

Didn't eight years of rocket and mortar fire from the Gaza Strip diminish the prospects for peace? Didn't Hamas' violent takeover of the Gaza Strip -- during which it threw Fatah members off rooftops -- diminish the prospects for peace? And how about the anti-Jewish incitement on Palestinian television. (The Prince must be familiar with this incitement. It is also a problem in Saudi Arabia.)

The Prince then threatens the U.S. asserting that if it wants to maintain its "special relationship" with Saudi Arabia, it wil have to drastically revise its policies vis a vis Israel and Palestine. In particular, Prince Turki al-Feisal insists that President Obama

condemn Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians and support a UN resolution to that effect; forcefully condemn the Israeli actions that led to this conflict, from settlement building in the West Bank to the blockade of Gaza and the targeted killings and arbitrary arrests of Palestinians; declare America’s intention to work for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, with a security umbrella for countries that sign up and sanctions for those that do not; call for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Shab’ah Farms in Lebanon; encourage Israeli-Syrian negotiations for peace; and support a UN resolution guaranteeing Iraq’s territorial integrity.

Here, Prince Turki al-Faisal is asking for America to defend the Middle East Iran's nuclear ambitions while at the same time affirming Iran's anti-Israel agenda. Someone needs to inform the former ambassador he can't have it both ways. He can either ask for protection from Iran's ambition to dominate the Middle East, or he can affirm Iran's hostile anti-Israel agenda, but he can't do both.

It also doesn't help the good Prince's credibility much to accuse Israel of murdering Palestinians. Yes, Israel did kill Palestinians, many of them terrorists and members of Hamas, but this does not qualify as murder. The attack on Sept. 11, 2001 -- perpetrated by extremists from Saudi Arabia? That qualifies as murder. But defending one's population against rocket and mortar attacks that have been ongoing since 2001? That is not murder. That's fighting a war -- something that Saudi Arabia is ill-equipped to do, relying on the United States to protect it from Saddam Hussein in the 1990s, and now apparently, from Iran's nuclear ambitions.

By invoking Shebaa Farms, and asserting that it belongs to Lebanon, Prince Turki al-Faisal is attempting to gloss over a few facts. The UN has already affirmed that Israel withdrew from all of Lebanon in 2000. Also, Israel took the territory from Syria -- not Lebanon -- during the 1967 War. It appears that Shebaa Farms has become a relay baton that can be passed from one regime to another and used to club Israel -- apparently with Saudi Arabia's approval. The Prince should know that this is not the stuff that makes for peace.

Prince Turki al-Feisal also ignores an important fact. Israel has been attacked from nearly every bit of territory from which it has withdrawn since the 1990s. And yet he portrays Israel as the source of the conflict, closing his piece with the following sentence: "Let us all pray that Mr. Obama possesses the forefight, fairness, and resolve to rein in the murderous Israeli regime and open a new chapter in this most intractable of conflicts."

How can a man who serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Crisis Group, an organization that bills itself as trying to "prevent conflict worldwide" write such a dishonest and incendiary article? Does he really believe what he has written, or is he merely trying to mollify extremists in Saudi Arabia that hate the royal family as much as they hate Israel?

Posted by dvz at 08:37 AM |  Comments (0)

January 29, 2009

Soldier's Letter to Gazans

This "Open Letter to a Citizen of Gaza: I am the Soldier Who Slept In Your Home", originally published in Hebrew in the Maariv newspaper, shows the compassion and humanity of Israeli soldiers and also points the way to a solution to the conflict. Please consider copying and pasting this soldier's letter into a new message and forwarding it to government leaders, clergy, editors, friends and family. It is very powerful.

An Open Letter to A citizen Of Gaza:
I Am the Soldier Who Slept In Your Home:
By: Yishai G (reserve soldier)
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[Originally published in Hebrew in Maariv]

Hello,

While the world watches the ruins in Gaza, you return to your home which
remains standing. However, I am sure that it is clear to you that someone
was in your home while you were away.

I am that someone.

I spent long hours imagining how you would react when you walked into your
home. How you would feel when you understood that IDF soldiers had slept on
your mattresses and used your blankets to keep warm.

I knew that it would make you angry and sad and that you would feel this
violation of the most intimate areas of your life by those defined as your
enemies, with stinging humiliation. I am convinced that you hate me with
unbridled hatred, and you do not have even the tiniest desire to hear what I
have to say. At the same time, it is important for me to say the following
in the hope that there is even the minutest chance that you will hear me.

I spent many days in your home. You and your family's presence was felt in
every corner. I saw your family portraits on the wall, and I thought of my
family. I saw
your wife's perfume bottles on the bureau, and I thought of my wife. I saw
your children's toys and their English language schoolbooks. I saw your
personal computer and how you set up the modem and wireless phone next to
the screen, just as I do.

I wanted you to know that despite the immense disorder you found in your
house that was created during a search for explosives and tunnels (which
were indeed found in other homes), we did our best to treat your possessions
with respect. When I moved the computer table, I disconnected the cables and
lay them down neatly on the floor, as I would do with my own computer. I
even covered the computer from dust with a piece of cloth. I tried to put
back the clothes that fell when we moved the closet although not the same as
you would have done, but at least in such a way that nothing would get lost.

I know that the devastation, the bullet holes in your walls and the
destruction of those homes near you place my descriptions in a ridiculous
light. Still, I need you to understand me, us, and hope that you will
channel your anger and criticism to the right places.

I decided to write you this letter specifically because I stayed in your
home.

I can surmise that you are intelligent and educated and there are those in
your household that are university students. Your children learn English,
and you are connected to the Internet. You are not ignorant; you know what
is going on around you.

Therefore, I am sure you know that Qassam rockets were launched from your
neighborhood into Israeli towns and cities.

How could you see these weekly launches and not think that one day we would
say "enough"?! Did you ever consider that it is perhaps wrong to launch
rockets at innocent civilians trying to lead a normal life, much like you?
How long did you think we would sit back without reacting?

I can hear you saying "it's not me, it's Hamas". My intuition tells me you
are not their most avid supporter. If you look closely at the sad reality in
which your people live, and you do not try to deceive yourself or make
excuses about "occupation", you must certainly reach the conclusion that the
Hamas is your real enemy.

The reality is so simple, even a seven year old can understand: Israel
withdrew from the Gaza strip, removing military bases and its citizens from
Gush Katif. Nonetheless, we continued to provide you with electricity,
water, and goods (and this I know very well as during my reserve duty I
guarded the border crossings more than once, and witnessed hundreds of
trucks full of goods entering a blockade-free Gaza every day).

Despite all this, for reasons that cannot be understood and with a lack of
any rational logic, Hamas launched missiles on Israeli towns. For three
years we clenched our teeth and restrained ourselves. In the end, we could
not take it anymore and entered the Gaza strip, into your neighborhood, in
order to remove those who want to kill us. A reality that is painful but
very easy to explain.

As soon as you agree with me that Hamas is your enemy and because of them,
your people are miserable, you will also understand that the change must
come from within. I am acutely aware of the fact that what I say is easier
to write than to do, but I do not see any other way. You, who are connected
to the world and concerned about your children's education, must lead,
together with your friends, a civil uprising against Hamas.

I swear to you, that if the citizens of Gaza were busy paving roads,
building schools, opening factories and cultural institutions instead of
dwelling in self pity, arms smuggling and nurturing a hatred to your Israeli
neighbors, your homes would not be in ruins right now. If your leaders were
not corrupt and motivated by hatred, your home would not have been harmed.
If someone would have stood up and shouted that there is no point in
launching missiles on innocent civilians, I would not have to stand in your
kitchen as a soldier.

You don't have money, you tell me? You have more than you can imagine.

Even before Hamas took control of Gaza, during the time of Yasser Arafat,
millions if not billions of dollars donated by the world community to the
Palestinians was used for purchasing arms or taken directly to your leaders
bank accounts. Gulf States, the emirates - your brothers, your flesh and
blood, are some of the richest nations in the world. If there was even a
small feeling of solidarity between Arab nations, if these nations had but
the smallest interest in reconstructing the Palestinian people - your
situation would be very different.

You must be familiar with Singapore. The land mass there is not much larger
than the Gaza strip and it is considered to be the second most populated
country in the world. Yet, Singapore is a successful, prospering, and well
managed country. Why not the same for you?

My friend, I would like to call you by name, but I will not do so publicly.
I want you to know that I am 100% at peace with what my country did, what my
army did, and what I did. However, I feel your pain. I am sorry for the
destruction you are finding in your neighborhood at this moment. On a
personal level, I did what I could to minimize the damage to your home as
much as possible.

In my opinion, we have a lot more in common than you might imagine. I am a
civilian, not a soldier, and in my private life I have nothing to do with
the military. However, I have an obligation to leave my home, put on a
uniform, and protect my family every time we are attacked. I have no desire
to be in your home wearing a uniform again and I would be more than happy to
sit with you as a guest on your beautiful balcony, drinking sweet tea
seasoned with the sage growing in your garden.

The only person who could make that dream a reality is you. Take
responsibility for yourself, your family, your people, and start to take
control of your destiny. How? I do not know. Maybe there is something to be
learned from the Jewish people who rose up from the most destructive human
tragedy of the 20th century, and instead of sinking into self-pity, built a
flourishing and prospering country. It is possible, and it is in your hands.
I am ready to be there to provide a shoulder of support and help to you.

But only you can move the wheels of history."

Regards,
Yishai, (Reserve Soldier)

Posted by LG at 01:06 PM |  Comments (9)

January 28, 2009

The Whole Scoop on the Holy Land Foundation

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The Holy Land Foundation, 2001, in Richardson, Texas (Photo by Richard Martinez/Getty)

The Los Angeles Times today corrects:

Obama and Muslims: An article in Sunday's Section A about President Obama's efforts to reach out to the Muslim world reported that federal prosecutors had accused the Holy Land Foundation of Texas of funneling more than $12 million to Hamas. The story should have gone on to say that the Muslim charity and five of its former leaders were convicted in November of federal charges of funneling millions of dollars to the Palestinian militant group.

Why stop now? As long as the Times is fessing up about the legal troubles of certain extremist Muslims in America, isn't it about time editors finally disclose important biographical information about Mahmoud Abu Marzook, a repeat Op-Ed contributor who was indicted in the United States in 2004 as a co-conspirator on racketeering and money-laundering charges in connection with activities on behalf of Hamas?

Posted by TS at 08:01 AM |  Comments (0)

Hijacking Ambulances

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Mohammed Shriteh, 30, is an ambulance driver registered with and trained by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.

His first day of work in the al-Quds neighbourhood was January 1, the sixth day of the war. "Mostly the war was not as fast or as chaotic as I expected," Mr Shriteh told the Herald. "We would co-ordinate with the Israelis before we pick up patients, because they have all our names, and our IDs, so they would not shoot at us."

Mr Shriteh said the more immediate threat was from Hamas, who would lure the ambulances into the heart of a battle to transport fighters to safety.

"After the first week, at night time, there was a call for a house in Jabaliya. I got to the house and there was lots of shooting and explosions all around," he said.

Because of the urgency of the call, Mr Shriteh said there was no time to arrange his movements with the IDF.

"I knew the Israelis were watching me because I could see the red laser beam in the ambulance and on me, on my body," he said.

Getting out of the ambulance and entering the house, he saw there were three Hamas fighters taking cover inside. One half of the building had already been destroyed.

"They were very scared, and very nervous … They dropped their weapons and ordered me to get them out, to put them in the ambulance and take them away. I refused, because if the IDF sees me doing this I am finished, I cannot pick up any more wounded people.

"And then one of the fighters picked up a gun and held it to my head, to force me. I still refused, and then they allowed me to leave."

Mr Shriteh says Hamas made several attempts to hijack the al-Quds Hospital's fleet of ambulances during the war.

"You hear when they are coming. People ring to tell you. So we had to get in all the ambulances and make the illusion of an emergency and only come back when they had gone."

Brought to you by the terrorists whom President Jimmy Carter says he can trust.


Posted by TS at 07:46 AM |  Comments (0)

Insider's View of UNRWA

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The first ever insider's analysis of UNRWA's operations has just been released by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Authored by James G. Lindsay, the former legal advisor to the UNRWA, the new report has been added to CAMERA's list of resources about UNRWA. As Ynet reports:

Lindsay's report warns that the agency has deteriorated increasingly over the years since its establishment, and that it was currently offering services to those who were not actually in need of them. "No justification exists for millions of dollars in humanitarian aid going to those who can afford to pay for UNRWA services," the report says.

He suggests UNRWA make operational changes and "halt its one-sided political statements and limit itself to comments on humanitarian issues; take additional steps to ensure the agency is not employing or providing benefits to terrorists and criminals; and allow the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), or some other neutral entity, to provide balanced and discrimination-free textbooks for UNRWA initiatives." . . . .

Lindsay claims the most important change that should be made in the agency is "the removal of citizens from recognized states – persons who have the oxymoronic status of “citizen refugees” – from UNRWA’s jurisdiction. This would apply to the vast majority of Palestinian “refugees” in Jordan, as well as to some in Lebanon and Syria."

Posted by TS at 06:41 AM |  Comments (0)

January 27, 2009

Gazans Angry at Hamas

gaza rockets.jpgA Der Spiegel reporter visited Beit Lahia, where he spoke with residents who told him that their homes were used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters to attack Israeli troops, and were even booby trapped by Hamas. Many blamed Hamas for the destruction that surrounded them.

But they also expressed that there isn't much they can do about it. "Many people are now against Hamas but that won't change anything," one said. "Because anyone who stands up to them is killed."

Read the piece here. More on Hamas's use of human shields can be found here.

Posted by GI at 02:15 PM |  Comments (1)

Checking the Numbers

Ynet reports that an IDF investigation finds that 250 out of Gaza fatalities were civilians, and at least 700 were gunmen. The article states:

The data presented by the Palestinian [sic] is vastly different: Palestinian Groups operating in the Strip have reported 92 of the fatalities as gunmen, 48 of whom were affiliated with Hamas, 32 with Islamic Jihad, 10 with the Popular Resistance Committees' Salah a-Din Brigades and two with the Mujahedeen Brigades.

Click here to see CAMERA's analysis of the figures compiled by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

Posted by TS at 03:10 AM |  Comments (0)

January 26, 2009

Naive Newsman on the West Bank

Dry Bones brings back the Naive Newsman, who turns his sights from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

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Posted by TS at 02:33 AM |  Comments (1)

January 25, 2009

Free Gaza Coordinator Doubles as Daily Telegraph Journalist

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Ewa Jasiewicz, one day a Free Gaza coordinator, the next a Daily Telegraph reporter

Here's the scoop from Melanie Phillips.

Posted by TS at 03:38 AM |  Comments (2)

January 20, 2009

AFP Falsely Ties Victim to White Phosphorous

There has been no shortage of Palestinian wounded for photo services to document, so it is odd that AFP falsely links an injured boy to claims about white phosphorous. Consider the following photo and caption:

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Palestinian Loua Sobeh, 10, is treated for burns at Shifa hospital in Gaza City on January 12, 2009. Palestinian doctor working in Gaza City Dr. Yusef Abu Rish told AFP that at least 55 people were injured early yesterday by white phosphorous shells, banned under international law for use against civilians, but permitted for creating smokescreens. "These people were burned over their bodies in a way that can only be caused by white phosphorous," said Abu Rish. An Israeli military spokeswoman denied the claims. "There is no use of white phosphorous. Everything we use is according to international law," she said. AFP Photo/Yasser Aymeh, Jan. 12, 2009

While AFP does not explicitly state that Sobeh was injured by white phosphorous, the gratuitous inclusion of Dr. Abu Rish's statement strongly implies that he is. And some media outlets got the message. The San Francisco Chronicle and the Daily News (Egypt) for instance, used this photo of Sobeh to illustrate their articles about claims concerning Israeli use of white phosphorous.

Meanwhile, it has become clear that Louai Sobeh, who gave his testimony to B'Tselem, was not injured by white phosphorous. He told B'Tselem he was injured in an attack by combat helicopters and gunfire, and according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, he was injured by tank fire. Tellingly, neither organization mentions white phosphorous.

Why, then, given the supposedly high number of casualties due to white phosphorous does AFP resort to falsely linking a victim to the weapon?

Perhaps, because despite the reports on CNN about the "Nasty, Nasty Weapon" which has brought casualties to Shifa Hospital, the Red Cross' delegation to that hospital did "not come across injuries which could be proved to be from white phosphorus."

For more on false claims about white phosphorous, see here.

Posted by TS at 02:38 AM |  Comments (3)

January 19, 2009

News Station Used to Launch A Grad Rocket, Palestinian Journalist Laughs

Below is footage of a Palestinian journalist from Gaza laughing at reports that the television station for which she works has been used as a launching pad for a "grad" rocket against Israel.

As Hunter S. Thompson was fond of saying, "The Thing Explains Itself."

Posted by dvz at 03:05 PM |  Comments (4)

Question to B'Tselem

Earlier we asked whether B'Tselem will indicate how many of the Palestinian deaths from Gaza fighting were a result of "work accidents," friendly fire and secondary explosions from Palestinian munition. It also bears asking, will B'Tselem identify those Palestinians -- Fatah men, primarily -- killed by their Hamas brethren?

Posted by TS at 03:34 AM |  Comments (0)

Bones' Naive Newsman

Dry Bones came up with a new character -- "Naive Newsman."

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

January 18, 2009

LA Times, B'Tselem Correct

A few days ago, we noted an LA Times error about the number of rockets launched at Israel last Tuesday. That reported has been corrected online, but not in print.

As for B'Tselem, they have corrected the number of Israeli soldiers killed in the fighting -- from seven to 10.

Israeli sources have their own breakdown of Palestinian casualties from the Gaza fighting, but B'Tselem habitually discounts Israeli information.

Posted by TS at 07:54 AM |  Comments (0)

Israel TV Show Satirizes BBC Coverage

"Eretz Nehaderet," a popular Israeli tv program, satirizes BBC coverage of the fighting in Gaza:

Posted by TS at 03:00 AM |  Comments (0)

January 16, 2009

Israeli Novelist Criticizes Ha'aretz's Gideon Levy


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A. B. Yehoshua

It might not be scathing, but it's certainly telling. Even the ultra-dovish Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua, a frequent critic of Israel, is publicly questioning the moral stance of Ha'aretz's radical columnist Gideon Levy.

After pointing out that he has agreed with Levy in the past, Yehoshua suggests that the journalist's stance on the current fighting in Gaza — as usual, Levy's columns about the fighting contain little more than shrill attacks on Israel — is morally flawed.

The doleful thought sometimes crosses my mind that it is not the children of Gaza or of Israel that you are pining for, but only for your own private conscience. Because if you are truly concerned about the death of our children and theirs, you would understand the present war ...

The war is meant to stop Hamas from firing rockets into Israel, Yehoshua writes, after expressing disappointment with Levy's seeming indifference to these attacks.

All we are trying to do is get their leaders to stop this senseless and wicked aggression, and it is only because of the tragic and deliberate mingling between Hamas fighters and the civilian population that children, too, are unfortunately being killed. The fact is that since the disengagement, Hamas has fired only at civilians. Even in this war, to my astonishment, I see that they are not aiming at the army concentrations along the border but time and again at civilian communities.

The open letter is understated. But it is no small matter that A.B. Yehoshua, who notes that he has in the past spoken on the phone with Levy, felt moved to embarrass the Ha'aretz columnist with this open letter questioning his moral authority.

Posted by GI at 11:03 AM |  Comments (0)

January 15, 2009

BBC In Bid To Protect Its HQ From Car Bombers

The BBC has an expensive plan to build a 'ring of steel' around its HQ in London.

But the most important question is: will this 'ring of steel' keep the bias in or out?

Posted by MMS at 12:38 PM |  Comments (1)

January 14, 2009

Iran Disapproves of BBC's New Persian Channel

Iran has strong words of disapproval for the BBC's new Persian channel.

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Gholamhoseyn Mohseni-Ezhei, Iran's Intelligence Minister states:

We do not consider this network as suitable for the security of the country and will take the necessary measures with regards to it.

Which "necessary measures" might they be?

Posted by MMS at 03:55 PM |  Comments (0)

LA Times Corrects, Errs

The Los Angeles Times today corrects the error from last week's Hamas Op-Ed, but news coverage today introduces a new error:

. . . and on Tuesday, only two rockets were reported.

The IDF reported that 18 rocket and mortar shells were fired into Israel on Tuesday.

Posted by TS at 06:03 AM |  Comments (0)

Hamas Hiding Its Casualties

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Hamas' online announcement prohibiting the publication of information on fighter casualties

The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reports:

1. On January 10, at 21:41 , all web surfers on Hamas's PALDF forum (the movement's main message board) received a message from a user nicknamed “Samed” (“He who stands firm”). He is one of the forum's moderators (the user was said to be a muraqib, Arabic for “inspector”). The message said that according to the policy of the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip (“the jihadist resistance”), it was forbidden to publish photographs, names, or details of those members of the resistance (i.e., terrorist organizations) killed or injured in the fighting until the end of the “Israeli aggression” in the Gaza Strip. The moderator said that any message violating those principles would be removed from the forum. He added that they were all “soldiers of the resistance” who should avoid providing assistance to the enemy (see Appendix for the complete message and its translation).

2. The message reflects the policy of Hamas, which has refrained from publishing the names of its operatives who were killed or injured since the beginning of the ground phase of Operation Cast Lead. As part of that policy, almost no names or photographs of killed operatives have been published on PALDF in the course of the past week (unlike in the first week of the operation, in which the names and photographs of scores of killed Hamas operatives were published). It should be noted that a similar policy was followed by Hezbollah in the second Lebanon war, when it purposefully did not publish the names of killed operatives, preferring instead to bury them in secret, without media coverage, to reinforce the “divine victory” myth it sought to create.

This is confirmation of what was earlier reported about casualty information coming from the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, run by Hamas.

Posted by TS at 03:10 AM |  Comments (0)

January 13, 2009

USA Today's 'most pressing' Mid-East problem

USA Today asserts that the Gaza Strip “symbolizes the Middle East’s most pressing problem: the lack of a Palestinian homeland” (“Amid Gaza violence, a new task for Obama; Israel-Hamas conflict escalating in Mideast,” Dec. 29, 2008).

Really? In 2002 and 2003, the United Nations’s reports on Arab human development, written by Arab academics, found that the Arab Middle East — regardless of oil revenue — lagged behind most other regions of the world in material progress. The most pressing problems, the reports summarized, included “deficits” of political freedom, rule of law, education, investment, women and minority rights, religious tolerance, knowledge production and economic growth. One reason cited was religious (Islamic) fundamentalism.

Or perhaps Iran’s nuclear weapons program “symbolizes the Middle East’s most pressing problem.” The danger is acute, given doubts that an Islamic revolutionary regime sworn to the destruction of Israel and reduction or elimination of American influence in the region can be deterred by traditional means.

But Khomeinite Iran (and Lebanese satellite Hezbollah) constitute just the Shi’ite spearhead of the international Islamo-fascist movement that has declared war not only Israel and the Jews but also the “Crusader” West led by the United States and Great Britain. The Sunni spearhead is, of course, the loose network ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood through Hamas and other such groups to the Lashkar e-Taiba killers in Mumbai, India and al Qaeda.

If the list must be topped by a nation in search of a homeland, then perhaps lack of a sovereign Kurdistan constitutes the Middle East’s “most pressing problem.” The Kurds number an estimated 27 - 28 million people worldwide, most living more or less contiguously in parts of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey; are an ancient people, claiming descent from the Medes; and were led by the Great Powers to expect a state in the 1920 Treaty of Sevres. Palestinian Arabs count an estimated 2.5 million in the West Bank (a figure the American Israel Demographic Research Group asserts is significantly inflated), 1.4 million in the Gaza Strip, and perhaps several million more in Lebanon, Syria, Europe, North America and elsewhere. Members of a 20th century movement rather than an ancient people, they also are the majority in Jordan, an Arab state created by Great Britain from three-fourths of the territory initially allocated for British Mandatory Palestine.

When it comes to “the Middle East’s most pressing problems,” USA Today reporters Richard Wolf and Andrea Stone would do well to consider the above list. And add to it one more — various Palestinian leaders' refusals to accept a homeland if it meant living peacefully next door to the Jewish homeland. This dead-end refusal is the Palestinians’ most pressing problem.

Posted by ER at 04:06 PM |  Comments (0)

Norwegian Doctors Return from Gaza to Attack their Critics


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Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse have ended their humanitarian mission in Gaza at the height of a reported medical crisis there to return to Norway. They have not, however, ended their anti-Israel propaganda campaign.

In a televised press conference available on Norway's Channel 2 Web site, they urge their critics to "bring it on!"

Come on--bring it on, bring it on! We have nothing to hide, reality is bad enough. Bring it on! This is a huge smear campaign and I can tell you we expect more. We expect more from the Israeli people.

Gilbert accuses Israel of a long, meticulously planned campaign to hide what is happening in Gaza, then congratulates himself for "breaking that plan."

That is the most dangerous thing for us. That we broke that plan.

He suggests that white people have more credibility among Americans than those with darker skin, as he accuses Israel of blocking Fosse's telephone interview with Larry King:

What was that? Well that was a possibility for some white person in Gaza City inside a hospital to talk to the American public.

Eric Fosse adds:

The deliberate efforts to distort information does not come from us. It comes from people with a lot of resources to do it and believe me they do whatever they can to make it up and they inhibit all of you to do your work and they try of course to inhibit us to tell the truth. ..They use every means to stop witnesses, to stop objective information.

Fosse, referring to a UN driver who was shot last Thursday at the Erez crossing, proclaims that the Israelis have shot at UN humanitarian workers and stopped them by force. Of course, the IDF denies having fired on the UN truck and is investigating reports that it was Hamas gunmen who shot at the truck. Fosse makes no mention of this. Nor does he mention the fact that the wounded Palestinians on this truck were evacuated and treated in Ashkelon which itself is the target of Hamas rockets.

Who are the ones deliberately distorting information?

Posted by RH at 01:34 PM |  Comments (2)

B'Tselem's Casualty Count

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B'Tselem keeps a running count of Palestinian and Israeli casualties in the Gaza fighting. The Palestinian number comes from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, and B'Tselem is good enough to say so.

What strikes us as noteworthy is the Israeli number. According to B'Tselem, it's "3 civilians and 7 soldiers" as of today. In actuality, 10 soldiers were killed since the fighting started Dec. 27, so B'Tselem is apparently excluding the soldiers killed in "friendly fire" incidents.

Will B'Tselem likewise make an effort to identify and exclude those Palestinians killed in "friendly fire," "work accidents," or secondary explosions caused by Palestinian munitions? Or will a double-standard be the order of the day?

Posted by TS at 08:02 AM |  Comments (1)

NY Times Inconsistent on Casualty Corrections

A New York Times correction states today:

An article on Saturday about popular anger against Israel in the Arab world over the Gaza invasion overstated, in some editions, what is known about Palestinian civilian and combatant deaths in Gaza since Israel’s military operation began on Dec. 27. While hundreds of Palestinians have been killed, as the article reported, the number of combatants among them is unclear. Combatants are not necessarily “most” of the total. (Emphasis added.)

The New York Times seems to be saying that it does not actually know if most of the Gaza casualties were combatants or civilians.

Why, then, hasn't it corrected Rashid Khalidi's claim that "most" were civilians? Indeed, the Times' own coverage seems to suggest that it's more likely that most are combatants as opposed to civilians:

The United Nations estimated a few days ago that a quarter of the dead were civilians.... But Palestinian residents and Israeli officials say that Hamas is tending its own wounded in separate medical centers, not in public hospitals, and that it is difficult to know the number of dead Hamas fighters, many of whom were not wearing uniforms. (Steven Erlanger, "As Gaza Battle Goes On, Israel Is Set to Negotiate With Egypt on Cease-Fire," Jan. 8)

We also still wait for the Times' correction on Khalidi's bogus quote.

Posted by TS at 05:17 AM |  Comments (0)

NY Times' Unethical Omission

In an article about the gap between Israeli opinion and much of world opinion about Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip, the New York Times' Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner omits key information which underscores the Israeli position that the Israeli army is acting justly. He reports:

Moshe Halbertal, a left-leaning professor of philosophy at the Hebrew University, helped write the army’s ethics code. He said he knew from personal experience how much laborious discussion went into deciding when it was acceptable to shoot at a legitimate target if civilians were nearby, adding that there had been several events in this war in which he suspected that the wrong decision had been made.

For example, Israel killed a top Hamas ideologue, Nizar Rayyan, during the first week of the war and at the same time killed his four wives and at least nine of his children. Looking back at it, Mr. Halbertal disapproves, assuming that the decision was made consciously, even if Mr. Rayyan purposely hid among his family to protect himself, as it appears he did. Yet almost no one here publicly questioned the decision to drop a bomb on his house and kill civilians; all the sentiment in Israel was how satisfying and just it was to kill a man whose ideology and activity had been so virulent and destructive.

But, as reported by the Independent (and confirmed by the UN's OCHA),

The family were warned 30 minutes earlier by the Israel Defence Forces that the house would be attacked, but Mr Rayan's son-in-law, Mahmoud Albaik, said they had refused to leave and that, urged by his son in a telephone call to leave seconds before the attack, he had said: "I want to be a martyr."

Thus, it wasn't an Israeli decision to "kill noncombatants," but a Hamas decision, carried out by Rayan himself, to let his family die. Isn't the fact that the family was given 30 minutes notice prior to the bombing absolutely essential to any discussion about the morality of IDF actions? Whether or not Halbertal was aware of this critical point, it is Bronner's obligation to report it. Bronner wasn't the first to overlook this key information.

Posted by TS at 02:43 AM |  Comments (2)

Manipulating the Media

For a good summary of how Hamas exploits civilians and manipulates the media, visit Powerline.

Posted by TS at 02:39 AM |  Comments (0)

January 12, 2009

Update on Questionable CNN/Channel 4 Video

In response to increased skepticism and questioning by bloggers about Ashraf Masharawi's video of his younger brother's death and burial, CNN has responded with a defensive article. Although it is headlined "Gaza video genuine, journalists say", it turns out it is only one journalist who "says", and that journalist is, according to the article, "the team's employer"--Paul Martin.

The only "proof of authenticity" that Martin attempts to bring is that he knows and trusts Ashraf:

He's a man of enormous integrity and would never get involved with any sort of manipulation of images, let alone when the person dying is his own brother," Martin said. "I know the whole family. I know them very well. ... [Mashharawi] is upset and angry that anyone would think of him having done anything like this. ... This is ridiculous. He's independent.

Martin gives no explanation as to why the film was introduced as having been "captured on film by [Ashraf]" when Ashraf himself is featured in the scenes. He does not attampt to explain how another cameraman so conveniently happened to be on the scene with his equipment in order to film Ashraf finding his younger brother, burying him, showing roof damage, etc. Nor does he attempt to explain how Ashraf, in his time of grief, took the time to edit the tape and to create a cohesive storyline.There is no attempt to explain the lack of correlation between the damage shown on the roof and that which a "missile" would make.

Here is Martin's attempt to explain the obviously staged resucitation scene run by Norwegian emergency room specialist Mads Gilbert in the hospital.

Responding to accusations that the resuscitation efforts of Mashharawi's brother appeared inauthentic, Martin said that, based on his years of reporting from Gaza, doctors often go through such efforts even with little hope that a patient can be saved.

While doctors might continue to give CPR for several more minutes even after they believe there is no hope, in this scene there clearly are no "efforts" being made to resucitate the child. Does Martin mean to suggest that because the doctors gave up on the patient, they decided to pretend to be doing CPR for the sake of the camera? Isn't that unethical?

If a 12-year-old boy lost his life as a result of being sent to play on the roof during an aerial bombardment, it is even further testimony to the cynical use of children during wartime. If a dead child's corpse is being used as a prop in a re-enacted scene, it is disgraceful. The lack of disclosure and misrepresentation of the video by CNN and Channel 4 violates journalistic ethics, making these news organizations party to the cynical use of children as pawns in Hamas' propaganda campaign.

Posted by RH at 01:14 PM |  Comments (4)

Israeli Girl: "I Don't Know Why" Media Overlook Rocket Fire from Gaza

In July 2008, during the 6-month "truce" or "calm" agreement involving Israel and Hamas, 12 rockets and mortars were fired into southern Israel.

That same month, a young Israeli girl named Dana from Kibbutz Nir Am recorded an emotional description of the trauma caused by the relentless Palestinian rocket attacks targeting the south of Israel. While explaining what life is like life under the threat of indiscriminate attacks, she also referred to the scant media coverage of her plight:

Everyone living in our area knows it's just -- [the "calm"] is just for now, it's only these few months. Every now and then, we get a Qassam bomb to our direction. The media doesn't speak about it, I don't know why.


Posted by GI at 11:49 AM |  Comments (2)

Refuge at Shifa Hospital -- For Hamas Leaders

Earlier we learned that Shifa hospital's maternity ward has been used by Hamas -- now the New York Times and Ha'aretz report that another underground part of the hospital is said to serve as a refuge for Hamas.

Another interesting excerpts from the Times' story:

A new Israeli weapon, meanwhile, is tailored to the Hamas tactic of asking civilians to stand on the roofs of buildings so Israeli pilots will not bomb. The Israelis are countering with a missile designed, paradoxically, not to explode. They aim the missiles at empty areas of the roofs to frighten residents into leaving the buildings, a tactic called “a knock on the roof.” . . .

Posted by TS at 03:36 AM |  Comments (1)

Falk Falsehood

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Roni Yihye, killed Feb. 27, 2008, by Palestinian rocket fire

According to a UN news report, Richard Falk, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, has some unusual observations about rocket fire from the Gaza Strip:

. . . for the year prior to 27 December not a single Israeli death resulted from rockets fired from Gaza, he noted.

Actually, Falk, four Israelis were killed by rockets or mortar from the Gaza Strip during that time.

May 9, 2008 - Jimmy Kadoshim, 48, of Kibbutz Kfar Aza, was killed by mortar fire from the Gaza Strip while tending his garden.

May 12, 2008 - Shuli Katz, 70, of Kibbutz Gevaram, was killed while visiting relatives at Moshav Yesha, some 15 kms (9 miles) from the Gaza Strip.

June 5, 2008 - Amnon Rosenberg, 51, of Kibbutz Nirim was killed and four other employees were wounded when a mortar bomb fired by Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip exploded outside the Nirlat paint factory in Kibbutz Nir-Oz. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

Feb 27, 2008 - Roni Yihye, 47, of Moshav Bitcha in southern Israel, a student at Sapir College, was killed Wednesday afternoon when a Kassam rocket exploded in a parking lot near the Sderot campus. He died shortly after sustaining massive wounds to his chest. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

Posted by TS at 03:14 AM |  Comments (2)

January 11, 2009

Media Ignore IDF Denial

Israel has received widespread condemnation for purportedly causing the death of a United Nations aid worker. However, the Jerusalem Post ("IDF: Army didn't fire on UN truck driver," Jan. 10, 2009, by Amir Mizroch) reports that the IDF has determined that it was not Israel that fired on the U.N. truck. Moreover, the IDF points out that the U.N. sources relied upon by the foreign press later admitted that they did not know in which direction the truck was headed when it was hit, and were not certain that tank shells were responsible.

In other words, it appears that it was Hamas terrorists who were most likely responsible for the deadly attack on the U.N. aid worker, not Israeli soldiers.

The IDF further notes that the wounded Palestinians were evacuated to Israel and were treated at Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital. Ashkelon, it bears noting, is one of the cities that has been under attack from Hamas rocket barrages.

The media, which rushed to immediately condemn Israel for the attack, have subsequently ignored this information exonerating Israel and implicating Hamas instead. Please bring this to the immediate attention of reporters and editors so that this does not become a repeat of the infamous al-Dura blood libel.

- Stephen A. Silver

Posted by LG at 02:53 PM |  Comments (1)

Lying for the Camera

A Ynet journalist embedded with the IDF in Gaza provided this interesting tidbit on a family hunkering down in their Gaza home:

We come across a local family in one of the buildings. Grandparents, a few young parents, some children and a few toddlers. Sitting on a rug, their legs are covered in blankets and two soldiers are standing guard nearby. "What about them?" I ask. "They're free to go if they want to, but they don't want to," said Eilon Perry, Givati's operations officer. "They informed us they would be staying in the house and we have no choice but to accept that."

The family suddenly notices the cameras, and immediately, the expression on their faces changes. "We have no food," they say in Arabic, as one of the youngsters suggests we interview him in English about their plight. Givati troops are extremely concerned about being portrayed as abusing innocent civilians. Perry points to a stack of canned goods, water bottles and other provisions. "We provided some of that and they cook and eat quite well," he said. The Palestinians seem to understand him and one of them smiles. It's a war – they had to try.

Posted by TS at 05:27 AM |  Comments (2)

Times (London): Major Israeli Cities Are 'Settlements'

James Bone and Martin Fletcher of the Times (London) call major Israeli cities "settlements":

Rockets repeatedly streaked out of Gaza towards the settlements of Sderot, Beersheba and Ashkelon just across the border.

Maybe the Times has been reading too much of the BBC.

Posted by TS at 04:01 AM |  Comments (0)

January 09, 2009

Vatican's "Justice" and "Peace" Official Compares Gaza to Concentration Camp

For some reason, whenever the words "justice" and "peace" are introduced into Christian discourse about the Arab-Israeli conflict, harsh, unreasonable and fantastic anti-Israel polemic is not far behind.

This was demonstrated most recently by the statements from Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Vatican's Council for Justice and Peace who recently stated in an interview in an Italian newspaper that the Gaza Strip resembled "a big concentration camp."

Cardinal Martino's statement provoked an angry response from Jewish groups and from the Israeli diplomatic corps. According to Reuters Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said, "These remarks are untrue, distort the memory of the Holocaust and are only used against Israel by terrorist organisations and Holocaust deniers."

The New York Times reports that the Vatican has "sought to downplay the cardinal’s remarks."

The Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, called Cardinal Martino’s choice of words “inopportune,” and said they created “irritation and confusion” more than illumination.

While calling the cardinal “an authoritative person,” Rev. Lombardi added that “The more authoritative voice and line would be that of the pope.”

This is not the first time Catholic officials have compared Palestinian suffering to that of the Jews in Europe during the Holocaust.

In 2007, a German bishop compared conditions in Ramallah to the Warsaw Ghetto.

Anyone who thinks there are meaningful similarities between the Gaza Strip and conditions in the death camps of Europe during the 1940s should peruse the pages of Priestblock 25487: A Memoir of Dachau written by Fr. Jean Bernard. Fr. Bernard, a Dachau survivor, tells a story of regular executions, unending work and tremendous deprivation. While there is suffering in the Gaza Strip, it does not approach the suffering at places like Dachau. And while people were killed at Dachau because they were Jews or members of other undesireable populations, the deaths of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is the consequence of the actions of Hamas, an anti-Semitic authoritarian movement that seeks the destruction of the state of Israel, and targets civilians in an effort to achieve this goal.

Nowhere in Fr. Bernard's book is there any mention of a desire on the part of the victims at Dachau to perpetrate a genocide against anyone. They just wanted to survive. The vast majority of them did not.

Posted by dvz at 04:48 PM |  Comments (12)

January 08, 2009

CNN Airs Questionable Film of a Palestinian Death
Starring Mads Gilbert


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Reminiscent of the Al Dura episode, CNN has aired a film supposedly depicting the death and burial of a Palestinian child, which raises similar questions about staging. One of the stars of this film is none other than Mads Gilbert, the doctor whose Norwegian foreign ministry-funded junket to Gaza is more a Hamas propaganda campaign than a humanitarian effort. (See Norwegian Doctors in Gaza: Objective Observers or Partisan Propagandists?)

The premise is that a freelance cameraman named Ashraf Mashrawi has filmed the death and burial of his 12-year-old brother, Mahmoud, who was allegedly killed after being hit by an Israeli rocket. CNN Michael Holmes explains that Ashraf has filmed his personal tragedy because he is “determined to show the world the human cost of this conflict.” Holmes reports:

At a Gaza hospital, doctors try to revive a victim of the violence, their efforts in vain. Twelve-year-old Mahmoud is dead.


The scene shows Mads shaking his head, pointing to a monitor, then placing electrodes on the boy while another doctor performs CPR on the victim. (And the electrodes do not seem to be connected to anything else.)

But while the doctor is vigorously bouncing up and down himself, he seems to be scarcely touching the boy’s chest. Moreover, the victim is not being ventilated at all. Could it be that Dr. Mads Gilbert, a professor of emergency medicine, has forgotten the basics of CPR?

While the film has been pulled from CNN’s Web site, it is still posted on various other sites, including You Tube, Snackfeed and Little Green Footballs.
(Hat tip: Little Green Footballs)

Britain's Channel 4, also airs the curious fillm by Ashraf Mashrawi. Ashraf who apparently works for the station is identified on the film. He alleges on film that his brother was deliberately targeted by Israelis and this is repeated by the reporter. He is shown crying when he gets the news about his brother's death, cradling his brother, pointing out damage on the roof of his home, and burying his brother.

Watch it below:

Since Ashraf was said to to be the one who was filming the entire scenariio, the obvious question is -- who was filming Ashraf? And who really produced and directed the film ?

It is possible that the young boy was killed --and this would certainly be a tragedy-- but the misrepresentation of the film by both CNN and Channel 4 raises questions. Why was this introduced as a film by Ashraf when Ashraf was clearly being filmed by someone else? Isn't it a little too convenient for a cameraman to be on hand to film the entire tragedy? Who edited the film--Ashraf in his grief? Why was the scene in the hospital presented as an attempt to revive the boy when what was shown was clearly not CPR (but rather badly simulated compressions, no ventilation and no defibrillation or any other method of resucitation)? If these are indeed re-enactments of actual events, there should be full disclosure. Otherwise, questions will continue to be asked.


Posted by RH at 11:42 AM |  Comments (5)

January 07, 2009

Rosa Brooks Ignores Facts

Rosa Brooks' Los Angeles Times column "Israel can't bomb its way to peace" (Jan. 1) charges that Israel's military response to incessant Hamas terror was motivated by political rather than security considerations. To make her case, her column ignores several key facts.

First, the timing of the operation was dictated entirely by Hamas' terrorist actions and Israel's immediate security concerns. During the six-month-long (so-called) truce, Hamas fired "only" 300 rockets at Israel, an intolerable level of terror for any country to endure. However, after Hamas declared the truce over on Dec. 19, Hamas began firing as many as 80 rockets a day at Israeli civilians. No country could allow a situation like this to continue. Israel sought an extension of the cease-fire, knowing that Hamas would continue to violate it but hopeful that this would at least result in a decease in terror, but Hamas rejected Israel's pleas and called for Israel's destruction.

Brooks further suggests that the timing of the military operation reflected concern that when President-elect Barack Obama takes office later this month, he may be less supportive of Israel's actions than President Bush has been. But when Obama visited Israel in July 2008, he expressed support for Israel's plight in deeply personal terms, saying: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing."

No less troubling, Brooks dutifully notes the total number of Palestinian casualties, but she fails to acknowledge that many are combatants. She also takes no interest in the fact that Hamas fires missiles at Israeli civilians from the midst of Palestinian population centers -- a double war crime specifically intended by Hamas to manufacture Palestinian civilian casualties for public relations purposes whenever Israel tries to defend itself from Hamas terror. The result is an extension of the suicide-bomb metaphor to the entire population of the Gaza Strip: Hamas attacks Israel while "volunteering" the civilians it hides behind as de facto "martyrs." If Israel responds against the Hamas terrorists, and civilians in the vicinity are also killed, Hamas (and much of the world) can then cynically blame Israel for the civilian carnage that Hamas both provoked and intended.

Of course, Brooks does not bother to note that Israel goes to such lengths to avoid civilian casualties that it often gives up the element of surprise in order to warn Palestinian civilians who may be in harm's way before Israel targets nearby Hamas terrorists.

Finally, Brooks blames Israel for the failure of peace efforts in 2001. Perhaps she forgets that Israel offered the Palestinians a state born in peace on virtually all of the land in dispute, with a capital in Jerusalem, but the Palestinians rejected it in favor of a war of terror targeting Israeli civilians, especially children. Because the Palestinians could not get 100 percent of what they wanted at the negotiating table -- and note that their extreme demands included exclusive Palestinian sovereignty over Jerusalem's holiest Jewish sites, as well as a right to unlimited immigration into Israel designed to ensure that Israel itself became a majority-Arab state -- the Palestinians felt entitled to bomb and kill Israeli children en masse in school buses, pizzerias, discos, cafeterias, malls and ice cream parlors.

It is not Israel that needs to be prodded to make peace -- that failure lies entirely with the Palestinians and their culture of terror. It is a shame Ms. Brooks prefers to ignore relevant facts that would undermine her unfounded attack on Israel's morality and integrity.

- Stephen A. Silver

Posted by LG at 02:23 PM |  Comments (0)

A Media Driven Perspective Versus An Expert's View

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A discussion of the Gaza crisis on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Jan. 6, hosted by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, demonstrates how a media-driven view of unfolding events derived in large part from images of Palestinian victims and Israeli air strikes contrasts with a more informed understanding of the conflict. The show's hosts and producers are to be commended for inviting informed guests to set the record straight. But the striking differences in views apparent in the exchange underscores concern that the narrow focus on Israeli actions prevailing in media coverage fails to convey the irresponsible behavior of Hamas or explain why Israel felt compelled to invade Gaza.


Richard Haass, former State Department Director of Policy Planning, appeared as a guest on the show along with MSNBC show hosts and commentators, Chris Matthews and Mike Barnicle. The different perspectives are evident in the tone and content of the questions asked of Haass and his responses.

Scarborough led off by asking Haass if he thought "Israel has decided it is going to keep going until it crushes Hamas..."

Haass responded that he viewed the situation differently, hoping that the US would "follow-up Israel's military gains with a diplomatic initiative."

Scarborough returned to Israeli actions, asking "Doesn't Israel, by just going after Hamas, doesn't that just radicalize the Palestinian population?" Pursuing the point further, he questions whether Palestinian moderates "are going to be undercut by these actions."

Haass ignores Scarborough's redirection, instead discussing the military gains achieved by the operation. As Haass recounts the accomplishments of the Israeli military action - the weakening of Hamas, killing of several leaders - co-host Brzezinski (the daughter of former Carter administration National Security Advisor and critic of Israel, Zbigniew Brzezinski) interjects, "550 people killed," an allusion to the Palestinian casualties.

Scarborough then comments upon the "fatigue" of the Israeli people. Haass responds with the observation that "Israel wants to live in the 21st century, a lot of people around it want to live in the 7th century. That is Israel's dilemma."

Scarborough returns to the theme of Jewish control of events, now focusing on the American response. He asks, "What is Barak Obama's greatest challenge, is it staring down AIPAC or is it disappointing Muslims across the globe by siding with Israel."

At this point, Chris Matthews responds,
"Israel is seen by most Americans as being right here. No country can permit another country to fire into its territory on a relentless basis. In this situation it is not a question of tilting towards Israel. Israel is right. Objectively right."

Haass adds, "We want Israel to be a secure prosperous Jewish democratic state."

Mike Barnicle then adds, " How do you negotiate with a group that finds it easier to deliver missiles into Israel than to deliver electricity, food and services to their own people."

Co-host Brzezinski then concludes, "That's a different way of looking at it."

It certainly is.


Posted by SS at 12:52 PM |  Comments (0)

Britain’s Islamic fanatics target prominent British Jews

The London’s Sun newspaper reports:

British anti-terror expert Glen Jenvey is convinced online forum Ummah is being used to prepare a deadly backlash against UK Jews.

Among the prominent British Jews being reportedly targeted are Foreign Minister David Miliband and Princess Diana's divorce lawyer Anthony Julius.

Posted by MMS at 10:25 AM |  Comments (0)

LA Times, Platform For Hamas Official

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Batsheva Unterman, one of five Israelis killed during the six-month lull

An 18-month CAMERA study released in February 2008 found that the LA Times gave Op-Ed space to four Arab leaders, including Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzook, while Israeli officials were not granted even one Op-Ed.

Once again, the LA Times has given a voice to Abu Marzook, who spouts the usual falsehoods, including regarding who first violated the ceasefire.

Abu Marzook adds a new falsehood, claiming that one Israeli was killed during the six-month ceasefire. In fact, five Israelis were killed during that time.

Once again, editors withhold from readers the fact that Abu Marzook was indicted in the United States in 2004 as a co-conspirator on racketeering and money-laundering charges in connection with activities on behalf of Hamas -- information pertinent to readers' judgment about his credibility.

When will the Times find space for an Israeli official?

Posted by TS at 06:41 AM |  Comments (1)

What's Going Down at Shifa Maternity Ward

Ashraf Khalil and Jeffrey Fleishman report in the Los Angeles Times today:

The situation is perilous even for those seeking maternity care in Gaza's overloaded hospitals. Pregnant women face the decision of whether to deliver at home or risk trying to reach a medical facility, where critically injured patients take priority. Gaza City's main Shifa Hospital emptied its maternity ward on the first day of the Israeli air assault.

Maybe to make room for a Hamas hang out.

Posted by TS at 05:58 AM |  Comments (0)

Report: Aid Hijacked, Kids As Shields

Note to Amira Hass: Ynet has some new information as to why the distribution of humanitarian aid is hampered once it reaches the Gaza side:

Reports say Hamas takes a cut out of all aid that arrives, including flour and medicine. Supplies intended to be distributed without gain among the population is seized by the group and sold to the residents, at a profit to the Hamas government.

One such incident was recorded Monday, when a convoy of trucks carrying supplies through the Kerem Shalom crossing was opened fire upon and seized by Hamas gunmen. Similar incidents occurred with trucks carrying fuel.

In other cases, civilians are simply used as cannon fodder or human shields. Reports out of Gaza say residents who attempted to flee their homes in the northern area of the Strip were forced to go back at gunpoint, by Hamas men.

The organization is presumably interested in increasing civilian casualties in order to give rise to international pressure against Israel. Arab media reported that in an IDF strike on a UN school 30 civilians were killed, but there is no legitimate way to prove gunmen were among those killed as Hamas tends to bury these bodies quickly, thus eliminating evidence in Israel's favor.

Other civilian complaints state that Hamas gunmen pull children along with them "by the ears" from place to place, fearing that if they don't have a child with them they will be fair game to the IDF. Others hide in civilian homes and stairwells, UNRWA ambulances, and mosques.

In other reported cases Hamas gunmen hold civilians hostage in alleyways in order to provide themselves with a living barricade to ward off IDF forces.

Posted by TS at 04:59 AM |  Comments (1)

IHT Headline Goes With Hamas

The front-page, top of the fold headline in the International Herald Tribune today is:

40 killed in Gaza sanctuary.

Likewise, the headline on the page 4 jump reads:

Israeli mortars kill 40 Palestinians in Gaza sanctuary.

But, as Taghreed El-Khodary and Isabel Kershner correctly report in the accompanying article:

The punishing Israeli offensive against Hamas in Gaza took an even deadlier turn on Tuesday, when Israeli mortar shells killed up to 40 Palestinians near a United Nations school. . . .

United Nations officials put the initial death toll at 30 and 55 people had been wounded, with several in critical condition. Palestinian health officials said 40 had been killed. (Emphasis added.)

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza is controlled by Hamas. Why accept Hamas statistics as fact while disregarding the numbers from the United Nations? Does the IHT headline writer have information that the UN, El-Khodary and Kershner do not?

Posted by TS at 04:18 AM |  Comments (0)

Hamas Keeping Track of Fatalities -- Sort Of

The international media's source for information on casualties, including a breakdown of civilians versus combatants, is a distinctly partisan player in the fighting -- Hamas. As Avi Issacharoff writes:

The official number of fatalities is determined by the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas. After the Israeli bombing of a school in Jabalya on Tuesday, which killed at least 30 Palestinians, the ministry announced that a total of about 640 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the IDF operation, on December 27. But the ministry does not provide any statistics regarding how many of the fatalities are Hamas gunmen killed in clashes with the IDF and how many are non-combatants, and has even said that since the ground incursion began Saturday, all the Palestinians killed have been civilians.

Remember how reliable Hezbollah's casualty claims were in 2006?

Posted by TS at 03:26 AM |  Comments (2)

Reuters Mistakes Flare for 'Weapons System'

Bob Owens of Pajama Media catches a Reuters caption which mistakes an Israeli defensive flare for a "weapons system":

At least four Reuters photos released over the weekend purported to show Israeli aircraft deploying weapons against Hamas targets, when the photos clearly show that the helicopters and fighter aircraft were actually dropping flares to thwart possible surface-to-air missile attacks.

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Reuters caption: “An Israeli Apache gunship flies over the northern Gaza Strip after firing a weapons system January 4, 2009. Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants battled on Gaza City’s outskirts on Sunday after Israeli troops and tanks invaded the coastal enclave in the worst fighting in the conflict in decades.”

Posted by TS at 02:38 AM |  Comments (0)

France 2 Apologizes for Fauxtography

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France 2's Etienne Leenhardt: 'We must be very attentive on verifying sources'

France 2, the network that brought us the Mohammed Al-Dura broadcast, now apologizes for a fake report about fighting in Gaza. The JTA reports:

PARIS (JTA) -- A French television network has apologized for erroneously broadcasting a false report on Israel's Gaza operation.

Assisted by an anonymous posting, the French news blogger site Le Post proved a report Monday by France 2 television used an outdated amateur video of Palestinian casualties from an accidental truck explosion as current footage demonstrating the violence in Gaza.

France 2 also was responsible for a September 2000 report, accused of being a fake, of the supposed shooting death of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Dura, by the Israeli army.

In the new video, the truck in question contained bombs belonging to Hamas and exploded on Sept. 23, 2005. Intended to illustrate the extent of Web reports on the Israeli offensive in Gaza, the video shows dead bodies of toddlers being laid out on a white sheet.

By Monday, Etienne Leenhardt, the joint director responsible for investigative reports, apologized to Le Post journalists for "an error on our part."


Posted by TS at 02:13 AM |  Comments (0)

January 06, 2009

Corpses as Hamas Propaganda

The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg weighs in on the question of why photographs of Palestinian casualties are so "omnipresent":

I'll tell you why, again from firsthand, and repeated, experience: Hamas (and the Aksa Brigades, and Islamic Jihad, the whole bunch) prevents the burial, or even preparation of the bodies for burial, until the bodies are used as props in the Palestinian Passion Play. Once, in Khan Younis, I actually saw gunmen unwrap a shrouded body, carry it a hundred yards and position it atop a pile of rubble -- and then wait a half-hour until photographers showed. It was one of the more horrible things I've seen in my life. And it's typical of Hamas. If reporters would probe deeper, they'd learn the awful truth of Hamas. But Palestinian moral failings are not of great interest to many people.

Posted by GI at 04:52 PM |  Comments (0)

Where Have All the Fighters Gone?

There are some 15,000 Hamas fighters and far fewer Israeli soldiers fighting in the Gaza Strip (the number is not published), so why do two major photo services have countless photos of Israeli soldiers and virtually none of Hamas fighters?

A search of Reuters and Associated Press photo services from Dec. 27 through today using the keywords "Gaza militant" and "Gaza fighter" turned up almost no pictures of Hamas fighters. The exceptions? Three photos from Reuters -- an injured Palestinian fighter brought to Soroka Hospital in Israel for treatment (Jan. 5); relatives mourning over the body of slain fighter Mohammed Abu Shair (Jan. 5); and a wounded Palestinian policeman (Dec. 27).

In contrast, here were plenty of pictures of Israeli soldiers, Palestinian casualties, statesmen and diplomats, destruction in Gaza, and other related topics -- but almost nothing on Hamas fighters.

This seems to be a repeat of the 2006 Lebanon war after which searches of the major photo services turned up not one picture of Hezbollah fighters (except at funerals) for the whole 34-day war.

Israel is not battling a ghost enemy. Nor is it battling Gaza's civilian population, whose casualties show up in countless pictures. Which is just how Hamas likes it.

Posted by TS at 07:07 AM |  Comments (4)

Spare Parts and Fuel

Amira Hass' beat is apparently what is lacking in Gaza, including medical supplies and water infrastructure. (See here, here, and now today here.) Today, she notes, for example:

Spare parts, such as tubing, pipes, and air and water filters, are in short supply because Israel has prohibited their entry into the Strip since during the cease-fire.

Wait a minute. What about those smuggling tunnels which were used so ingeniously provide Iranian, Chinese and Russian arms? Couldn't they have been used to also bring in the needed parts? After all, Hamas is said to be the "party of the people." Isn't in the people's interest to insure that such supplies are available?

Regarding fuel, Hass falsifies:

The Red Cross yesterday was negotiating with the Israel Defense Forces over the transfer of about 20,000 liters of diesel fuel that arrived at the Erez border terminal yesterday. The drivers are afraid of being hit by IDF, in addition to the dangers of negotiating Gaza's poor roads.

In actuality, more than 10 times that amount of diesel fuel did pass into Gaza yesterday through Nahal Oz. As reported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and confirmed by OCHA:

In addition, 215,000 liters of diesel fuel for the power plant, 93,000 liters of diesel for the use of various UN organizations and 50 tons of cooking gas for domestic uses were transferred via the Nahal Oz terminal.

And why does Hass assume that the Palestinian workers who need to unload the goods on the Gazan side are afraid only of the IDF? After, Palestinians have in the past targeted the humanitarian crossings.

Just as before, Hass repeats every Palestinian grievance about availability of necessary supplies -- whether founded or not -- and ignores the actual events.

Posted by TS at 04:40 AM |  Comments (0)

Palestinian: Hamas Hides Among Civilians

Avi Issacharoff reports in Ha'aretz today:

Hamas has thus far avoided direct clashes with Israel Defense Forces troops, preferring instead to take refuge in densely populated civilian neighborhoods, Palestinians sources said yesterday.

Hamas, they said, prefers to shoot from between houses, leaving local civilians to absorb the IDF's retaliatory strikes. Yesterday, two Palestinian families were killed by IDF fire. . . .

The sources also said that senior Hamas officials have been spotted more than once wandering around the maternity ward of Gaza City's Shifa Hospital and even using the hospital to hold press conferences, on the theory that it offers a safe haven from Israeli fire. For the same reason, Hamas forces have taken refuge near buildings that serve as headquarters for various international organizations, such as the Red Cross and the United Nations.

Perhaps Taghreed El-Khodary should check out the maternity ward.

Fighters taking shelter among civilians. . . . sound familiar?

Posted by TS at 04:29 AM |  Comments (0)

Hamas' Own Hospital

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The Jerusalem Post reports today:

Hamas has set up an independent hospital in the Gaza Strip to treat its operatives wounded in fighting with the IDF - and, according to Israeli estimates, it is pilfering a significant portion of the medicine allowed into the strip, senior defense officials told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

This development could be one explanation for the Taghreed El-Khodary's difficulty in locating Hamas combatants at al Shifa hospital. Will she be visiting the new Hamas hospital as well?

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

Eldar, Meshal and Rafah Crossing

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Hamas at the Rafah Crossing in June 27. There was never any agreement that allowed for Hamas management (Photo by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)

In one fell swoop, Ha'aretz's Akiva Eldar completely misrepresents a statement by Khaled Meshal as well as the 2005 agreements concerning authority of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

He wrote:

Exactly one week ago I asked in this column how many Palestinians and Israelis must die before both sides hold their fire and tahadiyeh II is signed. The answer came, ostensibly, on Saturday, a few hours before the Israel Defense Forces stormed the Gaza Strip. Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal announced on the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Web site that he was prepared not only for a "cessation of aggression" -- he proposed going back to the arrangement at the Rafah crossing as of 2005, before Hamas won the elections and later took over the region. That arrangement was for the crossing to be managed jointly by Egypt, the European Union, the Palestinian Authority presidency and Hamas.

First, the Agreed Principles for Rafah Crossing stipulates that "Rafah will be operated by the Palestinian Authority on its side, and Egypt on its side," and that European Union observers would be on site to monitor implementation of the agreement and provide assistance to the Palestinians. Contrary to Eldar's assertion, the agreement does not give authority to Hamas to partially manage Rafah, nor does it even mention Hamas. And since the European Union has a ban on dealing with Hamas, even Hamas' January 2006 election victory did not give it a hand in the management of the crossing.

As reporter in CAMERA's backgrounder on the Rafah crossing, despite the shockwaves caused by the Hamas victory, the Rafah crossing stayed open until June 25, 2006. This was possible in part because Abbas's Presidential Guard took control of the crossing in April 2006, days after the new government was sworn in. With a militia not affiliated with Hamas running the crossing, the European observers — known as the European Union Border Assistance Mission in Rafah, or EUBAM — were able to continue working without violating the EU ban on dealing with Hamas.

In short, there was never any international arrangement which granted Hamas authority at Rafah.

As for Meshal's statement in the hours before Israel's Ground Operation, this comes to us from MEMRI's blog:

Hamas Leader Khaled Mash'al said that a year ago, his movement had proposed to Egypt that the border crossings be controlled jointly by Egypt, the Palestinian Authority presidency, Hamas, and European countries – without Hamas having exclusive authority – but that his proposal had borne no results. Addressing 'Iz Al-Din Al-Qassem, the military branch of Hamas, Mash'al said that the Jihad would continue until victory and liberation were achieved and that the Israeli soldiers entering Gaza would meet a dark fate and would die, be wounded, or captured.

Source: www.palestine-info.info, January 3, 2009

See here for Eldar's previous falsehood.

Posted by TS at 03:05 AM |  Comments (0)

January 05, 2009

Sabeel's Moral Compass Always Pointing at Israel

"In addition, Hamas should immediately end rocket fire into Israel."

That is the last line of a Dec. 31 press release issued by the Friends of Sabeel North America, an organization headquartered in Oregon that provides financial and logistical support to Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. The remainder of the press release calls on the world community to bring an end to Israel's attack on Gaza Strip and condemns Israel for its efforts to bring an end to the rocket attacks that have been terrorizing its citizens for the past several years.

FOSNA reports:

Sabeel in Jerusalem and its Friends in the U.S. promote nonviolent solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, recognize the great disparity of power and Israel's misuse of its massive military power against a people long oppressed by its illegal military occupation. With the world's fourth most powerful military, Israel is guilty of excessive violence that far exceeds that of the occupied Palestinian people.

FOSNA's press release confirms what honest observers already know about Sabeel and its supporters. There is nothing Israel can do in defense of its citizens that Sabeel will not condemn and nothing that Palestinians can do that will bring prompt robust criticism from the organization. When it comes to condemning Israel, Sabeel and FOSNA's prophetic voice has a hair trigger, but when it comes to holding Palestinian leaders accountable for their actions, Sabeel and FOSNA's moral judgement is AWOL.

FOSNA's call for an end to Palestinian rocket attacks, which have been taking place on an almost daily basis since Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, comes as an afterthought, a tagline, an insulting "Oh, by the way ..." that demonstrates that Sabeel is not interested in peace, but Israel's unilateral disarmament.

FOSNA's press release is emblematic of the failure of Sabeel and its supporters to apply the principles of liberation theology in an honest manner to the Arab-Israeli conflict. One of the primary teachings of this theology is the need to "conscientize" or educate people about the causes of their suffering. On this score, Sabeel and FOSNA have failed miserably.

In particular, Sabeel and FOSNA have failed to address how Hamas's actions undermine the prospects of a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians. According to Israeli journalists Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael Oren Gaza is a test case. If Israel cannot achieve an end to the rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, support for a two-state solution will evaporate and further withdrawals will come to an end.

Without the assurance that they will be allowed to protect their homes and families following withdrawal, Israelis will rightly perceive a two-state solution as an existential threat. They will continue to share the left-wing vision of coexistence with a peaceful Palestinian neighbor in theory, but in reality will heed the right's warnings of Jewish powerlessness.

Israel has been attacked from nearly every bit of territory from which it has withdrawn since the 1990s, and yet FOSNA still clings to the notion that the conflict is Israel's fault and is a consequence of Israeli abuse of power.

FOSNA and Sabeel have not engaged in an honest attempt to educate the Palestinians, or their supporters about the true causes of the suffering they have endured for the past several decades. Instead, they have pushed a blame Israel narrative that leads to a dead end of more recrimination and irresponsibility on the part of Palestinian leaders.

Between FOSNA's press release, and Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek's accusation that Israel is perpetrating a "slow and creeping genocide" against the Palestinians (whose population has quadrupled over the past 60 years), Sabeel and its supporters have revealed themselves to be propagandists who either excuse or affirm Palestinian violence against Israel.

So what else is new? Soon after the beginning of the Second Intifada, Rev. Ateek fueled the flames of hostility by issuing two statements – one in English and another in Arabic – that placed the blame for the eruption of the violence solely on Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount despite the fact that Palestinian leaders had been preparing for the uprising months before Sharon’s visit.

In English, he stated “it was right for our Palestinian Muslim brothers and sisters to stand up in the defense of their holiest place al-Haram al-Sharif, when it was being threatened and desecrated."

And in Arabic, Ateek wrote “We salute our Palestinian Muslim Brethren for their defense of their holiest place.”

A true peacemaker would work to calm the flames of hostility during times of conflict. Rev. Dr. Ateek did the exact opposite.

An organization truly intent on "liberating" the Palestinian people would acknowledge the role Hamas has played in causing such suffering in the Gaza Strip. FOSNA has worked to obscure this reality.

Posted by dvz at 04:01 PM |  Comments (1)

Maximum Exposure for Gaza Casualties

As fauxtography may be getting underway at Shifa hospital, photographers line up to give the casualties maximum exposure.

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AP photo by Majed Hamdan, Jan. 4, 2009

Why are there more photographers than medics?

Posted by TS at 06:25 AM |  Comments (4)

The Combatant the NY Times Couldn't Find

In a report about Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip, the New York Times' Taghreed El-Khodary reports today:

A week ago, after Israel began its air assault, hundreds of Hamas militants were taken to the hospital. Yet on Sunday, the day Israeli troops flooded Gaza and ground battles with Hamas began, there appeared not to be a single one.

While El-Khodary, on site at Shifa, could not find a single injured Hamas fighters at the hospital, I easily did -- and I am sitting some safe 60 kilometers away (out of rocket range).

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This AP photograph by Ashraf Amra from yesterday, the day that El-Khodary found not a single militant, is captioned:

Palestinians carry a militant, injured during an Israeli army operation in Gaza, into Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009. Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip early Sunday, bisecting the coastal territory and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against Hamas gained momentum.

In her article, El-Khodary mentions that "Hamas security officers maintain order." Reading between the lines, does "order" include directives to journalists and photographers?

Posted by TS at 05:58 AM |  Comments (0)

Green Helmet's Successor?

We all recall the Green Helmet fauxtography brought to us thanks to Reuters during the second Lebanon War. Now, as the ground operation of Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip is in full swing, meet Green Helmet's potential successor at the Shifa Hospital -- Brown Jacket.

Exhibit A

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Exhibit A is a Reuters photo by Mohammed Salem from yesterday (Jan. 4), captioned:

A wounded Palestinian is brought into a hospital in Gaza January 4, 2009. Israeli sheels killed at least five Palestinian civilians and wounded 40 others when they exploded in Gaza City's main shopping area, medics and witnesses said.

Note the injured man's brown jacket, black short-cropped hair, black shirt, black jeans, lean build. Said to be injured, he appears to be dependent on the supporting medic as he is brought into the hospital.

Exhibit B

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Exhibit B is also a Reuters photo by Mohammed Salem from the very same day. The Reuters caption is:

Palestinians react beside bodies in al-Shifa hospital in Gaza January 4, 2009. Israeli shells killed at least five Palestinian civilians and wounded 40 others when they exploded in Gaza City's main shopping area, medics and witnesses said.

Note the man squatting on the right. Note the brown jacket, black short-cropped hair, black shirt, black jeans, lean build. Note that there is no sign of injury and no sign of a supporting medic. What do you think? Is it the same man?

Given reports that Hamas members are hiding out in mosques and hospitals disguised as doctors and nurses, the potential for staging photographs does not surprise.

Denying allegations that Hamas members were hiding out in his hospital, the director of Shifa stated indignantly:

But to say that they're hiding here? Media teams and Red Cross representatives freely walk around here. If there were activists here, they would have photographed them by now.

Indeed, they very well may have.

Posted by TS at 05:14 AM |  Comments (59)

BBC Journalist: 'Grill' the Israelis

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Jordan Times reports today:

BBC Radio Amman correspondent Saad Hattar said a professional journalist, however, should not ignore any side of a conflict, adding that reporters should “grill” Israeli officials who hold "destructive" ideas.

"Talk to them, grill them and try to convince them that what they are doing is wrong," he told The Jordan Times, adding that reporters should confront Israelis with facts, such as the percentage of civilians among victims of the weeklong attack, which UNRWA officials in Jerusalem place at around 25 per cent.

Got that? "Grill" the Israelis, but not the Palestinians. With them, pass over the Palestinian decision to launch attacks on Israel from Gaza instead of engaging in nation-building in the territory that the Israelis left behind and pass over Hamas' use of homes, mosques and hospitals to store weapons.

The BBC's Hattar is not the only journalist in Jordan who advocates "serving the Palestinian cause":

"In such a situation, professionalism should be placed aside and the national mood should take priority," former president of the Jordan Press Association Tareq Momani told The Jordan Times, noting that Israeli officials’ remarks and statements “portray the victims as criminals".

But Hatter perhaps me be the only journalist working for a Western media outlet who openly admits his partisanship.

Posted by TS at 03:17 AM |  Comments (2)

Pollak Corrects Amanpour

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Noah Pollak of Contentions catches CNN's Christiane Amanpour, star of the grossly biased "God's Warriors" series, on a few Gaza falsehoods:

On CNN a few moments ago, Christiane Amanpour, in the midst of an otherwise completely warped report on the Gaza war, said that over the past year only two Israelis were killed by Hamas rocket fire. Her point in the segment was to insinuate that Israel is overreacting to Hamas attacks that have been largely harmless. In order to do that, she had to abstain from mentioning important facts and context, such as that Hamas’ attacks in 2008 more than doubled — to 3,278 — from the 2007 number. And this figures in the six-month “lull” period, during which “only” around 100 rockets were fired. She also did not mention that the range and deadliness of Hamas’ rockets increased as well, putting around 15 percent of the Israeli population under Hamas’ missile umbrella. (The “disproportionality” fetishists also never get around to noting that Israel has conducted less than a thousand air strikes in response to over 7,000 Hamas rocket attacks since 2005.)

Thus is the history of this episode of the conflict re-written almost in real time, from one of a gathering danger to one of a boring nuisance. Oh, and eight Israelis, not two, were killed by Hamas in 2008. Amanpour’s “errors” always seem to work in one direction, don’t they?

Posted by TS at 02:46 AM |  Comments (1)

January 04, 2009

IDF and New Media

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The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel's army has caught on to the world of Web 2.0:

The IDF has spent the past six months learning to fight a different kind of media war, developing a capacity to take its message to the 'new media,' a general term for a wide variety of on-line social networking, user-generated news and personalized content sites.

"In terms of communicating our message, new media is the future," Brig.-Gen. Avi Benayahu, the IDF's spokesman, told The Jerusalem Post.

Benayahu has overseen a new orientation in the spokesman's unit toward these on-line outlets, even taking his unit's senior officers to an intensive new media workshop at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya in mid-2008. This has translated into a profusion of new initiatives across the Internet.

A YouTube channel established by the IDF a day after the fighting began has become the second-most popular channel on the popular global video-sharing site, drawing over 386,000 page views in the first half of Thursday alone.

Meanwhile, the IDF has been in regular contact with over 50 major American blogs covering the fighting.

ithin Israel, a new video-on-demand channel will launch over the weekend on the HOT cable network carrying nothing but IDF footage from the fighting. Even Israel's major cellular companies, Pelephone, Cellcom and Orange, will begin offering the army footage over 3G cell phones in the coming days.

As for the IDF's upbeat assessment about media coverage, we suspect the army must have missed heavily biased reports such as this one by CNN.

Posted by TS at 03:37 AM |  Comments (1)

January 01, 2009

LA Times Whitewashes Khamenei Statement

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Borzou Daragahi of the Los Angeles Times gives a carefully sanitized account about Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's call to action:

. . . Ayatollah Ali-Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, has carefully condoned "defending" Gazans without calling for killing Israelis.

Here's what Khamenei actually said on Dec. 29:

All Palestinian fighters and all believers in the Islamic world must help the defenseless [Palestinian] women, children, and people in Gaza. Anyone who dies in this legitimate and sacred defense is a shahid [martyr].

So, one should become a shahid without actually killing any Israelis? Obviously, the conclusion to be drawn here is that the shahids should take some Israelis with them as they go.

Iranian students drew the correct conclusion, even if the Times didn't, and the next day set up a martyrdom-seekers organization, as MEMRI reports.


Posted by TS at 06:47 AM |  Comments (2)

LA Times Corrects Casualty Figure

The Los Angeles Times published the following correction today:

'Waltz With Bashir': The review of the movie "Waltz With Bashir" in the Dec. 25 Calendar referred to thousands of Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon being massacred by Christian Falangist militias in 1982. News accounts differ, but reports published in The Times in recent years put the number of dead at 700 to 800.

On a separate matter, while the Times' Web site has fixed a misattributed and miscaptioned photograph, it has yet to correct details about a freed Palestinian prisoner.

Posted by TS at 06:30 AM |  Comments (1)

Study: U.S. Alternative Media Cozy With Al-Jazeera

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What is obvious to many who skim "alternative" news sites has just been confirmed by an academic study. The Jerusalem Post reports today:

"As hundreds of thousands of people all over the globe are protesting the US-armed and funded Israeli acts of war and Zionist genocide against the Palestinian population of Gaza, the slaughter continues with more bombings, siege and a blockade, plus a threatened ground war."

So reads a description of the Gaza fighting on the home page of indymedia.org, the Web site of the Independent Media Center, which describes itself as "a network of collectively run media outlets for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of the truth."

It is accompanied by a picture of burned and bleeding children, among the relatively few civilian casualties of the Israeli assault on Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. The photo is supplied by a Palestinian in Cyprus, and much of the information provided on Gaza comes from an Arab source as well.

According to a study by Dr. Tal Samuel-Azran, a researcher at Ben-Gurion University's Communications Department, this type of cooperation has become the norm.

"Alternative" media in the West, particularly in the United States, have become a hub for the Arab or Muslim perspective on the region's conflicts, a perspective that is not shared or regularly represented by the mainstream media.

Samuel-Azran's study tracked some 1,600 broadcasts on major American networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN, and the use these agencies made of the footage being shown in the largest Arab network, Al-Jazeera.

His findings: Al-Jazeera has not been able to "inject" its perspective - including its more liberal use of bloody images and video footage - into American news broadcasts because it is perceived as too one-sided.


Posted by TS at 05:52 AM |  Comments (0)

Court: Foreign Journalists to Enter Gaza

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Steve Gutkin of the Foreign Press Association/AP photo

The Jerusalem Post reports today that the High Court has ruled in favor of allowing small groups of journalists to enter Gaza at times when the crossing are already open for humanitarian aid:

The State on Thursday agreed to a proposal by the High Court of Justice to allow a small group of foreign journalists to enter the Gaza Strip as part of a pool of reporters.

The recommendation by the court weakens a nearly two-month old government ban on foreign correspondents from entering Gaza. But it falls far short of overturning the ban and restoring the total press access demanded in a petition filed by a group of foreign reporters based here.

The court's proposal, submitted for the approval of both sides, would allow a pool of up to 12 foreign journalists into the Hamas-run territory only when the border is already open for humanitarian shipments. . . .

Government Press Office head Danny Seaman said that he prefers that Palestinian stringers and reporters cover the news from Gaza instead of foreign journalists, since international journalists are routinely used and exploited by the Islamic regime.

"Based on our experience from the war in Lebanon and the way the foreign press has conducted itself in Gaza, we know that Hamas is in complete control of the news, and that reports from Gaza are carried out under duress," Seaman said.

"Foreign media in Gaza will become fig leaves for the news, and will give credibility to the reporting," he said.

The petition charges that the ban constitutes "a grave and mortal blow against freedom of the press and other basic rights," and gives the unpleasant feeling that the State of Israel has something to hide. . . .

Israel has also voiced its displeasure over the international media's balance in their coverage of Gaza, saying reports inflate Palestinian suffering, while not always making clear that Israeli military actions are in response to Palestinian attacks.

A study published by the Joan Shorenstein Center for the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government examined coverage of the 2006 Lebanon war and explained how in an asymetrical war "between a state and a militant, secretive, religiously fundamentalist sect or faction," the battle is two-fold -- military and informational.

Summarizing the findings of Marvin Kalb's study, Anshel Pfeffer wrote:

Miniaturization, wireless broadcasting and high-speed links enable news organizations to overcome technical obstacles. Censorship and intimidation, however, still remain. Which means that democratic societies living by the ideals of a free and unfettered press will always be at a disadvantage to dictatorships and oppressive ideologies, adept at manipulating the media.

Read more on how Hamas and Hezbollah have manipulated the foreign press. See here for more on intimidation of journalists.

Posted by TS at 05:02 AM |  Comments (0)

IDF's YouTube Clips Restored

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YouTube has decided to reinstate IDF clips of attacks on Hamas targets which had been pulled earlier this week. AP/Ha'aretz report today:

YouTube briefly yanked the [IDF] clips on Tuesday, saying it was inappropriate, only to restore it a few hours later, labeling it inappropriate for minors, the military said.

"We were saddened on December 30, 2008 when YouTube took down some of our exclusive footage," the military wrote on its YouTube channel page. Fortunately, due to blogger and viewer support, YouTube has returned the footage they removed. . . .

"The blogosphere and the new media are basically a war zone in a battle for world opinion," said IDF spokeswoman Major Avital Leibovich said. She added that the YouTube channel is an important part of Israel's attempt to explain its actions abroad.

"In modern-day warfare, some battles are conducted through the media," said Gideon Doron, former chairman of the government agency that oversaw the privatization of television and radio services in Israel.

"Many of the victories of modern warfare are mediated by the media," Doron said. "We have Internet and all kinds of modern communication, and the Israeli military apparently decided that it has to broadcast its message through these tools."

The military says its clips have attracted more than 230,000 hits since going online Monday.

Posted by TS at 04:50 AM |  Comments (2)

Israeli Israel-Haters

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Shavit: The motivation of Israeli Israel-haters is "reverse racism"

Ha'aretz's Ari Shavit reflects today on Israeli Israel-haters, and he probably has in mind colleagues Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, among others:

Israel-hating Israelis call Operation Cast Lead a war crime. They record the names of each and every Palestinian killed, denounce each and every Israeli action and portray their state as a bully. While the Egyptians are saying that Hamas is largely responsible for the tragedy of Gaza, Israel-hating Israelis place the whole responsibility on their government and military. While the international community silently understands that a sovereign state is duty-bound to protect its citizens' lives, Israel-hating Israelis believe that Israeli lives can be forfeited.

While the simple facts indicate that the violence in the south derives from the despicable actions of an extremist organization that turned the Strip into a district of terror, Israel-hating Israelis persist in their hatred of their people and homeland and defend the morality of Hamas' destructive aggression.

There is no call for hating the Israel-hating Israelis. At the end of the day, their position is a pathetic one. Their self-righteousness is not at all righteous, and their moralizing has no morality. Their inability to show compassion for the Israelis of Be'er Sheva, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Sderot shows that they possess a degree of callousness. Their inability to view the Arabs firing the Grad rockets as being responsible for their actions shows that they are not free of paternalism.

The real motivation of Israel-hating Israelis is not genuine concern for the Palestinians, but rather a form of reverse racism. By showing forgiveness toward Palestinian fascism they turn their backs not only on Israelis but also on moderate, freedom-loving Palestinians. Those who blame Israel for everything and exonerate the Palestinians of everything are neither serving the cause of peace nor helping to end the violence and occupation. All they are doing is proving the extent to which they are blinded by their burning self-hatred.

Posted by TS at 04:33 AM |  Comments (0)

Bloggers Counter Russian Media

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Ha'aretz reports today that Israeli bloggers are challenging bias in Russian-language media. The print edition includes information not available online:

In the last few days a newspaper in Russia featured a report that Israel is bombing a Russian city. How did this happen? Instead of writing about the unwillingness of the Bnai Ayish Local Council, most of whose residents are Russian speakers, including the council head, to accept that missiles might be launched at it from Gaza, the paper wrote about Israelis firing on the "Russian city of Bnai Ayish." A few hours later, thanks to the assistance of Russian -speaking Israeli bloggers, a more accurate version of the report was published.

When you start from the assumption that the average Russian does not necessarily know where Israel is located and where Gaza is, and that he is fed primarily by the official propaganda in Russia, it is necessary to explain to him the proximity and the danger in launching rockets from Gaza using his own reference points. The bloggers created maps of Moscow and its surrounding suburbs in order to explain to the Russian audience where it would be possible to launch missiles at them and from that conclude how dangerous the rocket threat against Israel is.

Posted by TS at 03:27 AM |  Comments (0)