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April 30, 2009

Dying for Coverage

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Gazans protest against the Hamas-Fatah rivalries which have prevented sick Palestinians from leaving the Gaza Strip for medical care (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

One year ago, the New York Times dedicated prominent news coverage to seven Fulbright scholars who could not leave Gaza to study in the United States. The coverage, including a front-page news story and a finger-wagging editorial, (erroneously) blamed Israel for the situation.

Now another group of Gaza citizens is unable to travel abroad for a pressing need -- and the consequences for these people are much more dire than those of the students unable to attend prestigious programs. As reported by the AP:

Hundreds of Palestinian patients have been trapped in the Gaza Strip, unable to travel abroad for crucial treatment for cancer and other diseases, because of political infighting between Gaza's militant Hamas rulers and their Palestinian rivals.

Eight Gazans who were waiting to travel abroad have died since the crisis began in March, when the dispute shut down a medical referral committee that helps sick residents find treatment outside of Gaza, according to the World Health Organization.

While the New York Times deemed the dubious case of the seven Fulbright students a cause celebre, the paper of record has totally ignored the Fatah-Hamas controversy which is responsible for the painful and unnecessary deaths of innocent patients desperately seeking to reach Egypt.

(Note: Prospects of recovery for sick Palestinians were also dimmed in late January, when the Palestinian Authority decided to discontinue payments to Israeli hospitals for treatments there, a development that was reported at the time by the Times. But the issue of the Hamas-Fatah disputes which has blocked the exit of Gazan patients has not been reported by the Times.)

Posted by TS at 05:52 AM |  Comments (1)

April 27, 2009

Roger Cohen Sinks

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The befuddled Roger Cohen is having a tough time keeping track of what does and what does not exist in the Middle East. Thus, in recent weeks he has found "sophistication", but he cannot find double standards. Today, Cohen writes:

In fact, you don’t so much drive into the Palestinian territories these days as sink into them. Everything, except the Jewish settlers’ cars on fenced settlers-only highways, slows down.

It is Cohen's credibility which is sinking. While there are certain West Bank roads prohibited to Palestinian traffic, they are open to all Israelis -- Jews, Muslims, Arabs.

Posted by TS at 06:29 AM |  Comments (0)

April 23, 2009

Misrepresenting Israel on National Geographic TV (Again)

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Islam’s Dome of the Rock is the signature imagery of this National Geographic one-hour documentary originally aired in 2007

“We stand by our film and do not intend to make any changes.”

With these words (in an August 16, 2007 letter), National Geographic Television’s President, Michael Rosenfeld, dismissed CAMERA’s recommendations for changes to the network’s “Secrets of Jerusalem’s Holiest Sites.” The recommendations were related to inaccuracies and distortions pointed out in a July 2007 CAMERA letter to Mr. Rosenfeld and later posted on-line in an October 3, 2007 CAMERA article. The film's serious flaws remain in the recent re-broadcasts on Sunday, April 12, 2009 (5PM Eastern) and Tuesday, April 14 (5PM).

The basic problem is that this film favors key Muslim and Arab viewpoints regarding Israel that are either inaccurate or distorted.

National Geographic Television would be taking a major step toward accuracy and fairness if Mr. Rosenfeld and his associates in Washington D.C. were to honestly scrutinize and then, accordingly, revise this seriously flawed film. However, this appears to be unlikely since NGT, like its parent, the enormously prosperous “non-profit” National Geographic Society, has been able thus far to view itself as impervious to criticism. Such changes would also require overcoming National Geographic’s traditional anti-Israel bias.

Almost half way into the broadcast, the narrator inaccurately explains the cause of the 1948 war: “Arabs reject the deal [U.N. partition plan] outright. 1948 – fighting breaks out between Israel and its neighbors.” Why is this explanation lacking in truth? Because the war didn’t just “break out.” Arab aggression caused the war when, within hours of Israel’s declaration of independence (in accord with the U.N. plan), the armies of five Arab nations (Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon, and Iraq) attacked Israel in order to destroy the new nation.

The very first spoken statement in the film sets its tone and shows an acceptance of Islam’s view of the location known to Judaism and Christianity as the “Temple Mount”: “[T]he world’s most sacred sites – Judaism’s Western Wall, the Islamic Noble Sanctuary, and the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulcher.” (The sense of this characterization is repeated throughout the film).

But the ancient Israelites – the Jews – established the Temple Mount (today called by Muslims, the “Noble Sanctuary” or “Harim al-Sharif”) twenty centuries before the origin of Islam and it’s the Temple Mount not the Western Wall that’s the most sacred site for Judaism. Furthermore, the film, only four minutes into the broadcast, misleadingly says “Jews call the Noble Sanctuary the Temple Mount” but the more chronologically accurate language would be “Muslims call the Temple Mount the Noble Sanctuary.” How can one justify the fact that “Harim al-Sharif” is mentioned at least six times in the film but there’s not even a single mention of the Hebrew term, “Har Ha'ba'it,” for the same location? How can one honestly defend the distorted, unfair phraseology of this film?

Posted by MK at 01:27 PM |  Comments (0)

April 20, 2009

Video: Delegate Walkout During Ahmadinejad Speech

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once famously bragged that, during his September 2005 speech before the United Nations General Assembly, he was surrounded by a glowing aura and mesmerized world leaders didn't and couldn't blink.

On the last day when I was speaking before the assembly, one of our group told me that when I started to say "In the name of God the almighty and merciful," he saw a light around me, and I was placed inside this aura. I felt it myself.

I felt the atmosphere suddenly change, and for those 27 or 28 minutes, the leaders of the world did not blink. When I say they didn't bat an eyelid, I'm not exaggerating because I was looking at them. And they were rapt.

It seemed as if a hand was holding them there and had opened their eyes to receive the message from the Islamic republic.

His trance-inducing halo, however, was apparently missing during his speech today at the UN's so-called World Conference Against Racism in Geneva. Watch as delegates walk out during one of Ahmadinejad's typical anti-Israel rants:

Posted by GI at 01:17 PM |  Comments (0)

Palestinian Doctor Exposes Durban Hypocrisy

Ashraf Ahmed El-Hojouj, the Palestinian doctor imprisoned and tortured for eight years in Libya (along with five Bulgarian nurses) on false charges of infecting hundreds of children with HIV, called out Libya on Friday (April 17) at the UN Durban II Review Conference for its discrimination against minorities. Libyan ambassador Najjat Al-Hajjaji, who chaired the meeting, repeatedly interrupted and ultimately shut down El-Hojouj, who was representing UN Watch, on the basis that he was "not addressing the agenda item" (which we all know is limited to demonizing Israel and banning any criticism of Islam.)

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

Gideon Levy Misquotes Abba Eban

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Abba Eban used the word in "Auschwitz" in reference to Israel's boundaries from 1949-67

It wouldn't be the first time that Ha'aretz's Gideon Levy bungled or fabricated a quote by one of Israel's early leaders.

The latest specimen appears in today's online column, in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, entitled "The Holocaust and Israeli Occupation Cannot Be Compared," in which all the while Levy pathetically tries to do just that.

The forever-factually-challenged Levy writes:

Abba Eban, the legendary Labor foreign minister, once called the borders established following the 1967 Six-Day War "Auschwitz borders" [sic] - no less.

Actually, Eban referred to the pre, not post, June 5, 1967 boundaries of Israel as "Auschwitz" lines. As cited by Levy's colleague Bradley Burston, Eban told the German Der Spiegel in 1969:

"We have openly said that the map will never again be the same as on June 4, 1967. For us, this is a matter of security and of principles. The June map is for us equivalent to insecurity and danger. I do not exaggerate when I say that it has for us something of a memory of Auschwitz."

Posted by TS at 04:59 AM |  Comments (0)

April 15, 2009

McGill’s Pro-Israel Students Versus Law School’s Associate Dean

Two of the many photos comprising the Palestinian Human Rights Week exhibit at the Law Building. At left, a letter purportedly sent from Gaza Strip, entitled "The war in which I was killed and Gaza survived," alleging Israeli atrocities. At right, a picture of two dead Palestinian children. (Digital photos courtesy of Gregory Harris).
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Associate Dean David Lametti removed pro-Israel demonstrators from the Law Building

At Montreal’s prestigious McGill University, the demonizing of Israel, attendant to Apartheid Week activities, was extended for another week to March 11-18 with Palestinian Human Rights Week (PHRW), comprised of lectures and an exhibit. Among other alleged human rights violations, the exhibit depicted the suffering of Gazans during the recent conflict.

An audience for an anti-Israel exhibit might be aware that the decades-long history of the Arab-Israel conflict has been full of terrible accusations of Israeli atrocities and human rights violations. But these audiences tend to be either unaware or unconcerned that the overwhelming majority of these accusations were subsequently shown to be either completely false or grossly exaggerated. A recent example are the false charges of Israeli atrocities in Gaza.

The consequences of the PHRW exhibit were covered in a reasonably balanced way by McGill’s main student newspapers, the Tribune and Daily, something which hasn’t always been the case at McGill as a CAMERA article noted some time ago.

The Daily said:

Peaceful pro-Israel protesters were expelled from the Law Building on March 17 by Associate Dean at McGill’s Faculty of Law, David Lametti, for silently campaigning against a photo exhibit meant to evoke sympathy for the violence faced by the Palestinians.

The pro-Israel non-law students had demonstrated peacefully alongside the PHRW display designed to elicit anti-Israel emotions. The pro-Israel demonstration, organized by Arieh Bloom, President of Republicans Abroad at McGill, carefully avoided obscuring the visibility of the PHRW display.

According to the Daily:

Bloom, who had consulted a lawyer before the counter demonstration, was certain that none of the signs he was showing were hateful. While he described the signs as teaching peace, love and toleration, some did portray violence. One placard depicted a child dressed in green Hamas gear holding a machine gun. Beside the baby sat the slogan: “Teach love, peace, and toleration – not war.”

The Tribune quoted Mr. Bloom: "The associate dean did not demonstrate a proper duty of care by not evaluating our display." According to the Tribune, Mr. Lametti claimed that the pro-Israel demonstrators had failed to go through proper channels to gain permission for the demonstration whereas the plans of the committee for PHRW, in conjunction with members of Young Jews for Social Justice, had been approved. McGill’s Jewish Law Students Association did not participate in the process which determined the advisability of approving the PHRW exhibit since the membership, divided on how to respond, had taken no official position regarding the exhibit.

Mr. Lametti’s expulsion of the pro-Israel students may have violated McGill’s Charter of Student Rights protecting students’ freedom of assembly. The demonstrators have sought a public apology from Mr. Lametti but he has denied any wrongdoing. The demonstrators now seek to file a formal grievance with the help of their student advisor, Mikhail Iokheles, a third-year law student from Sharon, Massachusetts.

Posted by MK at 03:49 PM |  Comments (1)

Jerusalem Post Reports on CAMERA's BBC Complaint, BBC Trust's Ruling

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The article begins:

The BBC Trust, which oversees complaints to the British state broadcaster, has ruled that coverage of Israel in an article on the BBC's Web site and a radio broadcast by its Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen was partially inaccurate and that aspects of the Internet article lacked impartiality.

The Trust was responding to complaints filed separately by London-based barrister Jonathan Turner and by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

Read the rest here.

You can also read CAMERA's press release on the findings here. And be sure to check back at CAMERA's Web site — we'll soon be posting a detailed discussion of the findings.

Posted by GI at 03:03 PM |  Comments (0)

Washington Post Misses Hezbollah in Egypt

The Wall Street Journal made it the lead “World News” section article for April 13 — “Egypt Arrests 49 In Planned Attacks.” That is, 49 members of a Hezbollah
cell allegedly planning attacks on Israeli tourists and smuggling weapons to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The news appeared to confirm Hezbollah-Hamas assistance, Hezbollah’s use of Egypt as a base, and exemplify tension between Hezbollah’s patrons — Iran and Syria — and the largest Arab country

The Washington Times published an Associated Press dispatch headlined “Hezbollah: Egypt: Israeli tourists targeted; Destabilization said to be aim” the same day.

The New York Times followed on April 14 with a lengthy article, “Egypt Accuses Hezbollah of Plotting Attacks in Sinai and Arms Smuggling to Gaza.”

The Washington Post did not report this on April 13, 14, or 15, though former McClatchy Newspapers’ Washington bureau chief and CAMERA member Leo Rennert called it to the paper’s attention on April 14.

The Post recently eliminated its free standing, daily business section and folded the remnants into its “A” section with national and world news, reducing space available for foreign coverage. But the Journal, New York Times and Washington Times, dealing with economic pressures similar to those felt by The Post, recognized and found room for this important story.

Posted by ER at 12:33 PM |  Comments (0)

April 14, 2009

Fatah Contradicts Washington Post on Peace

Covering the president’s commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty (“Camp David Accords: Obama Praises Those Who Pursued Peace,” March 27), The Washington Post reported that “the Palestinian national movement is ... divided over how to approach peace talks with Israel.” Former Post foreign editor and Jerusalem bureau chief, now White House reporter, Scott Wilson wrote that “the armed Islamist movement Hamas rejects Israel’s right to exist, yet controls the Gaza Strip and exerts some political influence in the West Bank. The rival Fatah party endorses a two-state solution with Israel, but it is weak and unpopular in much of the Palestinian territories."

Fatah endorses a “two-state solution?” In “Dahlan to Hamas: Never recognize Israel,” March 17, The Jerusalem Post reported that “former Fatah security commander Muhammad Dahlan ... called on Hamas not to recognize Israel’s right to exist, pointing out that Fatah had never recognized it.” Speaking on Palestinian Authority TV, Dahlan said reports that Fatah demanded Hamas recognize Israel as a precondition for a Palestinian unity government were "misleading."

“They [Hamas] say that Fatah has asked them to recognize Israel’s right to exist and this is a big deception. For the one thousandth time, I want to reaffirm that we are not asking Hamas to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Rather, we are asking Hamas not to do so because Fatah never recognized Israel’s right to exist .... We acknowledge that the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] did recognize Israel’s right to exist, but we are not bound by it as a resistance [terrorist] faction.”

Fatah is the largest group within PLO. Fatah leads the PA, which governs Arab residents of the West Bank. A CAMERA review (“A Look Back: Is Fatah Really Moderate? Aug. 14, 2007) showed the group’s constitution still called, like the Hamas charter, for the destruction of Israel.

The Washington Post reported (“In the West Bank, a Mix of Skepticism, Tempered Optimism, and Rejection,” Jan. 11, 2008), that in response to a speech by President Bush, “Walid Awad, a Fatah spokesman, lauded Bush’s call for an end to Israel’s ‘occupation’ of Arab lands. But he objected to Bush’s next statement, that the agreement ‘must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people.” PA President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas himself deals with Israeli leaders, but does not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Posted by ER at 05:54 PM |  Comments (0)

April 08, 2009

NYT Headline Shoots the Truth

April 13 UPDATE: The New York Times amended the online version of the headline article after CAMERA brought the issue to the attention of the newspaper. Unlike the original online headline, the updated version does provide a hint that the motorist was attacking policemen when he was killed. Here are the original and updated versions of the headline:

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Original Entry:

The New York Times reported matter-of-factly the story of a Palestinian motorist who tried to run down Israeli policemen standing guard near the demolition of the house of a terrorist. Correspondent Isabel Kirshner quoted Israeli spokesman Micky Rosenfeld saying the Palestinian motorist "attempted to run over" three officers.

But the headline-writer seemingly had his/her own ideas about who was responsible for the violence and removed any hint the Palestinian had attacked and the Israelis had acted in self-defense, declaring:

"Israeli Police Kill Palestinian Motorist in East Jerusalem"

The AP did better, writing: "Israeli police shoot would-be attacker"

So did the Jerusalem Post: "Arab killed ramming car into J'lem cops"

And even Ha'aretz: "Police kill Palestinian assailant at demolition of terrorist's home".

Posted by CameraBlog at 03:15 PM |  Comments (8)

April 06, 2009

Danny Zamir Slams New York Times

The New York Times has come under criticism from a number of sources (including CAMERA) for the way it mishandled rumors of misconduct by Israeli troops in Gaza. But the source of the most recent round of criticism is likely to raise some eyebrows.

Danny Zamir, the head of the pre-military academy who brought together some of his graduates for the now infamous chat about the Gaza fighting, slammed the New York Times and other news outlets for twisting the soldiers' conversation in order to make "mendacious claims of policies that involve so-called war crimes."

He wrote Tuesday in the Jerusalem Post:

A number of articles published recently in The New York Times quoted or were based on words spoken by myself and by graduates of the pre-army leadership development program which I head (the "Rabin Mechina") - graduates who participated as combat soldiers in Operation Cast Lead and who met recently to process personal experiences from the battlefield.

Both explicitly and by insinuation, the articles claim a decline in the IDF's commitment to its moral code of conduct in combat, and moreover, that this decline stems from a specific increase in the prominence of religious soldiers and commanders in the IDF in general, and from the strengthening of the position of IDF Chief Rabbi Avichai Ronsky in particular.

It was as if the media were altogether so eager to find reason to criticize the IDF that they pounced on one discussion by nine soldiers who met after returning from the battlefield to share their experiences and subjective feelings with each other, using that one episode to draw conclusions that felt more like an indictment. Dogma replaced balance and led to a dangerous misunderstanding of the depth and complexity of Israeli reality. The individual accounts were never intended to serve as a basis for broad generalizations and summary conclusions by the media; they were published internally, intended for program graduates and their parents as a tool to be used in the process of educating and guiding the next generation.

You can read the rest of the column here.

Posted by GI at 11:06 PM |  Comments (3)

Goldberg and Bibi, the second time around

The Los Angeles Times' Nicholas Goldberg, deputy editorial page editor, was a correspondent in Jerusalem from 1995 to 1998, during Bibi Netanyahu's first term as prime minister. But that experience didn't seem to help him much when it came to putting together this backgrounder yesterday. The headline: "Is this a new Benjamin Netanyahu?" A good question, but if you're looking for an answer in Goldberg's piece, beware of key inaccuracies:

1) Goldberg incorrectly writes that Netanyahu's earlier government "opened an ancient tunnel to tourists beneath the Western Wall and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem." He did no such thing. The controversial tunnel runs along the retaining wall of the Temple Mount -- it is beneath neither the Western Wall nor the Al Aqsa Mosque. It is right next to the Western Wall (which is the compound's western retaining wall), and some 200 meters away from the Al Aqsa Mosque, which sits in the southern end of the compound.

As the Times' own Rebecca Trounson wrote at the time of the controversial opening:

Palestinians threw stones and bottles at Israeli police Tuesday to protest Israel's opening of a controversial tunnel near several of the holiest sites in this disputed city. . .


The tunnel, which traces an ancient roadway, stretches 500 yards beside the Western Wall, all that remains of the Second Temple [sic -- there are other temple remains] destroyed by the Romans in AD 70, and alongside the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Arabs as Haram al Sharif, the "Noble Sanctuary." The compound houses the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque and is the third-holiest site of Islam. ("Tunnel Opening in Jerusalem Sparks Protests," Sept. 25, 1996)

The fact that the tunnel runs along the outside of the compound's retaining wall (which is the Western Wall) and does not go under the Al Aqsa mosque, is plainly visible from this CNN map:

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2) Goldberg errs: "Avigdor Lieberman, [is] a right-winger from the Yisrael Beiteinu party who rejects the idea of a Palestinian state. . . " To categorically state that Lieberman rejects a Palestinian state is incorrect.

Indeed, he wrote in the New York Jewish Week on Feb. 27, 2009: "I also advocate the creation of a viable Palestinian state," a statement which was picked up by other media outlets including Ha'aretz. In addition, in last week's speech, which Goldberg cites, Lieberman notes that the Mideast "road map" is binding for his government. The "road map"'s formal name is "A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," the two states being Israel and. . . . Palestine.

The LA Times' Ashraf Khalil got it right on Feb. 20 when he wrote: "Lieberman technically supports the idea of a Palestinian state, but is lukewarm on the current process." The current process is the one adopted at the Annapolis conference, which skips over the preliminary stages called for in the "road map" and jumps right into the final status issues.

In short, Lieberman supports the establishment of a Palestinian state under certain conditions, namely those specified in the Quarter-sponsored "road map."

CAMERA has informed the Los Angeles Times of these errors and has requested corrections. As Goldberg asks in his backgrounder: So what happens now?

Posted by TS at 07:33 AM |  Comments (0)

Avineri Answers Roger Cohen on Talking To Hamas

Roger Cohen picks up the mantle today in the International Herald Tribune on advocating engaging Hamas. And here's what Shlomo Avineri has to say about it:

The question is what to talk to Hamas about. . . .Most Israelis, as well as the Europeans and Americans, know that Hamas espouses the destruction of Israel. What most of them do not know is that Hamas' founding document includes a much more comprehensive attitude, not merely to Israel and Zionism, but to the Jews.

The prologue to the covenant states that Hamas' aim is a war - not against Israel or Zionism but against the Jewish people at large, since the Jews, and not merely Israel and Zionism, are the enemies of Islam.

And in order to remove any doubt, the entire chapter 22 is devoted to detailing the iniquities of the Jews . . .

Don't tell me that these are merely words and Hamas must not be judged only on the basis of its covenant. Would anyone dare say that if a similar movement were to arise in Europe or America and, in addition to statements like these, was busy killing Jews?

Here's more on Hamas' founding charter. And here's more Roger Cohen folly.

Posted by TS at 04:30 AM |  Comments (2)

April 05, 2009

Spanish Bias

Yoav Sivan spells out in English the problem of Spanish bias, especially at El Pais, where Tel Aviv is always named Israel's capital. Visit CAMERA's Spanish site, ReVista de Medio Oriente, for detailed analyses on El Pais and others.

Posted by TS at 05:57 AM |  Comments (0)

April 02, 2009

BBC Reports Claims Of Violence And Torture Between Fatah And Hamas

Here's a BBC report highlights claims of violence and torture between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas.

Posted by MMS at 11:32 AM |  Comments (1)

New York Times Double Standard Exposed

A CAMERA column in the Jerusalem Post reveals a dramatic New York Times double standard in the way it treats American and Israeli issues.

This unfair overemphasis on allegations of Israeli misdeeds relative to similar, and sometimes more credible, stories about Americans is, simply put, discrimination against the Jewish state.

Read it here.

Posted by GI at 09:17 AM |  Comments (0)

Lieberman Rips Up Non-Existent 'Annapolis Accords'

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Incoming Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Blogger Ami Isseroff flags Reuters and BBC claims that Avigdor Lieberman stated in his inauguration speech that his government is not bound by the "Annapolis accords." Isseroff rightly notes that there is no such accord, and cites the August 2008 AP article "Palestinians reject partial peace accord offered by Israelis."

So, who's the rejectionist?

Posted by TS at 04:32 AM |  Comments (0)