March 21, 2017
CBS Article is Not Objective on Israel’s Security Barrier
A CBS article about the opening of subversive grafittist Banksy’s new hotel in Bethlehem demonstrates how a journalist can slant a controversial topic. Entitled "Banksy's ‘hotel with the worst view’ opens in Bethlehem,” the article by Jerusalem-based reporter Robert Berger describes Israel’s security barrier, in his own words, as “Israel's separation wall.”
This is neither the objective nor the accurate way of describing the controversial barrier, of which 90% is not a wall, but a fence. This is the term used by Palestinians and their supporters to refer to the barrier. And the reporter adopts it as his own.
Berger later refers to “security barrier” – in quotation marks – as a term used by Israelis to describe what the reporter himself terms “the wall. ” So why does he not similarly attribute the term “Israel’s separation wall” to Palestinians?
The reporter in his own words
With a play on words on the luxury Waldorf Astoria chain, this place is called the Walled Off Hotel, because it was built almost immediately next to Israel’s separation wall in the Palestinian-ruled city where Jesus Christ was born. [emphasis added]
The reporter attributing a claim
The Israeli government built the wall, or “security barrier” as the Israelis call it, more than a decade ago after a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings, with the aim of preventing terrorists from entering Israel. For the Palestinians, it’s a bleak symbol of Israeli occupation and what many consider apartheid. [emphasis added]
And while he reports Israel’s “aim” in building the barrier, Berger does not bother to mention its success in drastically reducing the number of terrorist attacks and Israelis killed. The number of terrorist attacks decreased by over 90%, and the numbers of Israelis wounded and murdered declined by 85% and 70% respectively, since the barrier was erected. Indeed, an Islamic Jihad leader acknowledged in an Arabic TV interview that the barrier created an obstacle to carrying out the terrorist group’s attacks.
In the same vein, the reporter cynically portrays Israel’s concern for the safety of its citizens by not allowing them to enter Palestinian-run areas as mere allegation:
Israel has banned its citizens from visiting Bethlehem and other Palestinian-controlled areas, purportedly due to fears for their safety. [emphasis added]
What he avoids mentioning is that the Israeli army policy preventing its citizens and tour guides from entering territories under the Palestinian Authority began in late 2000, in the wake of the kidnappings, murders and mutilation of the hapless Israelis who had wandered into Palestinian-controlled neighborhoods (Area A).
Perhaps the most horrifying example was the case of two IDF reservists who inadvertently entered Ramallah on October 13, 2000 and were brutally lynched by a frenzied mob. The bloody incident was caught on film by an Italian journalist. Israelis who witnessed this on television were shocked by the sheer barbarity of the attack and the realization of the danger inherent in entering these neighborhoods. While the Israeli Ministry of Defense gradually began to allow Arab Israelis to visit Area A cities after the second intifada ended, the Palestinian Authority continues to incite against Israeli Jews, and nearly 15 years after the Ramallah lynching, a PA parliament member honored the perpetrators’ families with plaques of honor. Israeli Jews are therefore still barred from entering this area.
March 20, 2017
Washington Post Notes Jordanian Terrorist Hailed as a ‘Hero’
A Washington Post dispatch highlighted the release of Jordanian terrorist Ahmed Daqamseh, who was imprisoned for murdering seven Israeli schoolgirls in 1997. Post reporters Ruth Eglash and Taylor Luck offered readers an important look at the rapturous reception that greeted Daqamseh upon his release on March 11, 2017 (“Freed 20 years after slaying of 7 Israeli schoolgirls, Jordanian is hailed as hero,” March 13, 2017).
The Post provided readers with a look at Daqamseh’s horrendous crimes and the grieving that followed. On March 13, 1997 Daqamseh—a Jordanian solider—opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolchildren who were visiting the Jordanian border site of Neharayim—known as the “Island of Peace”—for a field trip. He murdered seven Israeli schoolgirls and wounded six others.
Eglash and Luck noted the disappointment and pain of one of the survivors of the massacre, Hila Levy, who is now 33 years old. Levy remarked, “We knew he would be released sometime soon, but it still hurts.”
Daqamseh has been celebrated for murdering the seven schoolchildren. The Post pointed out that, “in Jordan, supporters of Daqamseh, whom the Jordanian military court deemed mentally unstable at the time, hailed his release and called him a hero….hundreds of relatives and supporters greeted Daqamseh at his family home in the northern village of Ibdir, 60 miles north of Amman, the capital.” Eglash and Luck said the murderer’s name trended on Twitter among Arab users where he was called a “model” and “hero.” Indeed, in Jordan, “Daqamseh has been adopted by the opposition movement, led by Islamists and nationalist,” both of who have repeatedly called for his release.
The Post reported that following his release, Daqamseh told Al-Jazeera, “Don’t believe the lie of normalization with the Zionist entity. Don’t believe the lie of the two-state solution. Palestine united is from the ocean to the river…there is no state called ‘Israel.’”
The Washington Post should be commended for highlighting the grotesque celebration of anti-Jewish violence and the rejection of Israel’s right to exist that permeates Arab society.
However, The Post’s report was not without fault. For example, it uncritically quoted a Jordanian shopkeeper named Mohammed Youssef, who justified the celebrations of Daqamseh’s release with the spurious claim that “Israelis kill Palestinians by the hundreds every month, and no one is brought to justice.” This accusation, of course, is false. As CAMERA has highlighted (see, for example “Where’s the Coverage? Joint Chief Chairman Declares ‘Israel Went to Extraordinary Length’ to Protect Gaza Civilians” Nov. 13, 2014), various military officials and inquires have noted Israel’s judicious use of force. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, then serving as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has stated: “The IDF is not interested in creating civilian casualties.”
By contrast, self-avowed enemies of the Jewish state purposefully target civilians, including schoolgirls—and are praised in many sections of Arab society for their efforts.
March 15, 2017
NY Times Misleads on David Friedman and Two-State Solution
In an article today about the visit of U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt to the West Bank, Ian Fisher of The New York Times misleadingly reports that David M. Friedman, President Trump's pick for the next ambassador to Israel, "has disavowed the two-state solution" ("Trump's Envoy to Mideast Meets With Mahmoud Abbas in West Bank").
The article does not inform readers that in his Feb. 16 Senate confirmation hearing, Friedman more recently expressed support for the two-state solution, calling it "the best possibility for peace in the region."
As The Times reported Feb. 17 ("Nominee for Israel Envoy Regrets 'Hurtful Words," Emmarie Huetteman):
Although [Friedman] has been dismissive of it in the past, he said the two-state solution had received ''the most thought and effort and consideration.'' He later elaborated that he had not seen any evidence that Palestinians had an ''appetite'' for unifying under a single state.
''It still remains the best possibility for peace in the region,'' he told senators, referring to the two-state solution.
Likewise, AP reported Feb. 16:
Friedman said he "absolutely" supports a two-state solution, but said he's skeptical such an approach can succeed because Palestinians haven't renounced terrorism and have refused to accept Israel as a Jewish state. But he said he would be "delighted" if it were possible to reach a two-state agreement.
CAMERA has contacted The Times to request a clarification. Stay tuned for an update.
March 09, 2017
Israel's Entry Law, and America's
You can love it. You can hate it. But at least be correct, contextual, and consistent when talking about it.
While that's a universal best practice, in this case we're talking about Israel's new law restricting access to the country for some of those advocating boycott of the Jewish state.
We've already called on The New York Times to correct two errors in its editorial about the Israeli law. The editorial wrongly claims the US has "consistently held that settlement building in the occupied territories is illegal." In fact, since the Carter administration it has consistently avoided such a characterization.
The editorial also misleadingly downplays BDS aims, claiming that the movement is merely "against Israel for its occupation of the West Bank." As CAMERA and others (including BDS leaders) have pointed out, a trifecta of BDS goals essentially amount to a call for the elimination of the Jewish state.
Finally, the New York Times editorial, and a number of other media outlets, claim that the law bars entry to anyone who "supports" BDS. In fact, the law is worded much more narrowly, and refers not to supporters but rather anyone "who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel that, given the content of the call and the circumstances in which it was issued, has a reasonable possibility of leading to the imposition of a boycott – if the issuer was aware of this possibility."
One might think from the reaction abroad, including that of The New York Times, that the Israeli law is particularly unusual. What overseas critics of the law don't mention, though, is that the United States has long had similar restrictions.
Section 212(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act says that an alien "whose entry or proposed activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable ground to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States is inadmissible." That's much broader than Israel's language.
The Immigration and Nationality Act also bars members of the Communist party: "Any immigrant who is or has been a member of or affiliated with the Communist or any other totalitarian party (or subdivision or affiliate thereof), domestic or foreign, is inadmissible."
And finally, it bars those who would break laws for the purpose of "opposition to … the United States":
In general.-Any alien who a consular officer or the Attorney General knows, or has reasonable ground to believe, seeks to enter the United States to engage solely, principally, or incidentally in … any activity a purpose of which is the opposition to, or the control or overthrow of, the Government of the United States by force, violence, or other unlawful means, is inadmissible.
One wonders if American critics of the new Israeli law have also criticized these laws, which are much closer to home.
March 07, 2017
ISIS Tells Supporters to ‘Dress Up Like Jews,’ Carry Out Attacks
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is encouraging its supporters to carry out terror attacks against Western Jewish communities. According to the U.K.-based newspaper, Daily Mail, ISIS members in an online jihadi chat room forum discussed disguising themselves as Jews prior to attacking.
The messages first appeared on an ISIS-affiliated Telegram Channel called Lone Mujahid (Holy Warrior), which is often used by the terrorist group to disseminate messages. The Jerusalem Post, which highlighted the Daily Mail’s report, noted:
“The full post read: ‘If you’re still in the west! Dress up like a Jews! Got to your nearest Jewish area! Make sure you have plenty of weapons under your coat!’ and then urged followers to ‘unleash the pain of Muslims’ on the potential victims.”
A subsequent message provided a list of Jewish communities in Britain and included an image of Amedy Coulibaly, an Islamist who, in January 2015, committed a terrorist attack on a Kosher supermarket in a Paris suburb. A post accompanying Coulibaly’s image, exhorted: “Take the brother’s example and terrorize the Yahood [Jew].”
As CAMERA has noted (see, for example “Poll: Majority in France Believe Jews Responsible for Antisemitism,” Feb. 12, 2016) anti-Jewish violence has risen sharply in Europe, with many attacks being perpetrated by Islamists. More recently, in February 2017, two men, “who were described as being of North African origin,” attacked two Jewish brothers in a Paris suburb. The attackers shouted, “Dirty Jews, you’re going to die,” before using a saw to cut off the finger of one of the brothers (“Jews in France: Anti-Semitic Attack Saws Mans Finger Off As Attackers Yell ‘Dirty Jews,’” International Business Times, Feb. 24, 2017).
On March 1, 2017, the United Kingdom’s Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, told Britain’s Jewish community leaders that jihadists were targeting Jews in Europe and the U.K. Rudd noted, “Daesh [ISIS] literature continues to identify the Jewish community as a ‘desirable and legitimate target (“ISIS Plotting Attacks on UK Jewish Community,” Express, March 4, 2017).’”
Although media outlets outside the U.S. reported the Islamic State’s recent plots, many American newspapers failed to provide coverage. A Lexis-Nexis search of major U.S. journals, including The Washington Post, USA Today and The Baltimore Sun, among others, showed no mention of ISIS’s threats.
March 06, 2017
Travel Articles Eschew Bias, Highlight Beauty of Israel
While the mainstream national newspapers continue push the Palestinian narrative about Israel and the Middle East, two recently-published travel articles about Israel are refreshingly honest. Harper’s Bazaar has published a photo essay full of gorgeous scenes from Israel, “30 Photos that Will Make You Want to Book a Flight to Israel ASAP.” The Hindu, an Indian publication, has provided a detailed plan for vegetarians to eat their way through the Jewish state, “Breaking Bread in Israel.”
In The Hindu, reporter Pankaja Srinivasan is relieved to report that vegetarians can, in fact, travel in Israel without fear of "starvation." He samples laffa bread in Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market, zatar bread in Jaffa, hi-tech pita bread and chocolate rugelach in Jerusalem, and falafel everywhere.
Srinivasan’s article is yet another welcome sign of the increasingly warm ties between India and Israel. You can read the whole thing here.
In addition, Harper’s Bazaar has published 30 beautiful images of Dead Sea beaches, Jerusalem landscapes, markets, and holy sites, Tel Aviv skylines and neighborhoods, food in Jaffa, and Caesarea relics.
Overall the article is free from the types of bias we usually see, for example, it acknowledges that Jerusalem is part of Israel, and doesn’t propagandize the Dead Sea. There is, however, one minor error: the caption in the photo of the Western Wall Plaza refers to the Kotel as “the last wall standing of the Second Jewish Temple.” In fact, the Western Wall was not part of the Temple itself, but rather a remnant of an outer retaining wall surrounding the Second Temple. On the other hand, the publication correctly noted that the Western Wall "is considered the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray," and that this is "due to its connection to the Temple Mount," a point that hard news organizations have gotten wrong repeatedly.
You can see all of the photos here.
A shot of a Tel Aviv beach is accompanied by the caption, “A woman takes a dip in the Mediterranean sea off the shores of Tel Aviv. Fun fact: this could be you!” Well, yes, it could be! I’m getting my ticket now….
Facebook Reinstates Fatah’s Terror-Promoting Page
A mere three days after its removal, Facebook has reopened the terror-promoting page of Fatah, the movement that dominates the Palestinian Authority. Facebook did so “without removing any of the terror promoting material that is regularly posted on the page,” according to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), a non-profit organization that monitors Arab media.
Shortly after Facebook decided to close down the page, the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Ministry of Information accused Facebook of “targeting…Palestinian national platforms on social media” and displaying a “blind bias in favor of the occupation.” More conspiratorially, the PA—making use of long-standing antisemitic tropes of Jews controlling the media—claimed that Facebook had “an agreement” with the Jewish state.
However, according to PMW, Fatah’s Facebook page frequently posts material celebrating anti-Jewish violence and terrorism. On April 20, 2016, for example, Fatah’s student movement posted a video entitled “Martyrdom-seeking unites us,” which depicted three young Palestinians planning and carrying out an attack on Israeli soldiers with knives and vehicle-ramming.
CAMERA has frequently highlighted how Facebook has been used to promote Palestinian terrorism and antisemitism (see, for example “German Authorities Investigate Facebook for Allowing Holocaust Denial,” Nov. 9, 2016).
Facebook’s rules forbid bullying, harassment and threatening language. However, the social media organization has been criticized for failing to remove antisemitic posts and apologia and propaganda from terrorist groups. In one January 2014 example that CAMERA documented, an image posted on Facebook celebrated Nazi violence against civilians; perversely using Nike’s swoosh logan and slogan “Just Do It.” Initially, Facebook refused to remove the image, stating that it didn’t violate “community standards.” Eventually, the organization reversed course, removing the post and banning the user (“Facebook Admits the Obvious,” Jan. 9, 2014).
Facebook has also been used by Palestinian terrorist groups to organize and plot attacks against Israelis, as CAMERA noted in an Aug. 17, 2016 article (“Israel Busts Terror Cells Sponsored by Hezbollah, Recruited via Facebook”).
Facebook did not provide a reason for its decision to reinstate Fatah’s page.
March 03, 2017
Iranian Film Depicts Destruction of U.S. Navy
A filmmaker in Iran has released a 90-minute movie depicting the destruction of U.S. Naval forces by Tehran.
Associated Press correspondent Nasser Karimi reported on the film’s release (“Iranian film hails demise of U.S. Navy in imagined Gulf battle,” March 2, 2017). Iranian director Farhad Azima created the animated film, entitled “Battle of the Persian Gulf II.” The movie is a sequel to an earlier work about the 1980’s Iran-Iraq War.
According to the AP:
“In the film, a character who closely resembles Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran's elite Quds Force, leads a single vessel against more than a dozen American warships. When a U.S. commander orders him to surrender or die, he replies: ‘General, I am not a diplomat, I am a revolutionary!’
“He [Soleimani] warns that any American soldiers taking part in an attack on Iran ‘should order their coffins,’ before his forces destroy the whole U.S. fleet.”
The movie depicts the U.S. Naval ships as being obliterated “with a barrage of rockets, some of which tear American flags from their masts.” The battle follows an imaginary U.S. attack on an Iranian nuclear facility.
Azima asserted that the film was made with no government involvement from Tehran and that money was raised from “ordinary people” in Iran. Yet, the ruling mullahs exercise considerable censorship and control over Iranian life; it’s unlikely that the movie was made without their tacit approval.
The AP dispatch claimed that, since the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, “tensions are rising again” between the U.S. and Iran. However, this is not the first time in recent months that Iran has threatened U.S. armed forces.
In November 2016, an Iranian ship “pointed its weapon” at a U.S. Naval helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz (“Iranian ship threatens U.S. helicopter, media MIA,” CAMERA, Dec. 5, 2016). Iran also has threatened U.S. ships, in August 2016 and January 2017, among other instances (“Official: U.S. Navy ship fires warning shot at Iranian boats,” CNN, Jan. 9, 2017). Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told CNN in January 2017 that there were a total of 35 instances of Iranian ships acting belligerent towards U.S. vessels in 2016.
March 01, 2017
Guardian Refuses to Correct False Claim that Journo Drove Through Mt. of Olives “Tunnel”
(Cross-posted from UK Media Watch)
Earlier in the month we examined a Feb. 13th Guardian article written by Sarah Helm, “It’s too late to stop the senseless capture of Palestinian land”, a propagandistic tour de force which amplified the prophetic anti-Zionist musings of a Palestinian “cartographer“ named Khalil Tufakji.
There were multiple errors and misleading claims in Helm’s report, but one we particularly focused on is found in the following passage:
I’ve been listening to Tufakji since the mid-1990s and everything he foresaw has so far come true. He pointed out where a tunnel would be drilled through the Mount of Olives to connect settlements – it seemed impossible but we are now driving through it.
As we noted at the time, whilst it’s unclear where precisely Helm was driving, she certainly wasn’t driving through the historic 3,000 year old Jewish cemetery adjacent to Jerusalem’s Old City – for the simple reason that there is no such tunnel at that location! We considered that Helm may have conflated the fake Mount of Olives tunnel with the real Mount Scopus tunnel (Derech Har HaTsofim Tunnel) quite a few kilometers away.
We complained to Guardian editors and, ten days later, we received a reply, implicitly acknowledging that the journalist was in fact driving through Mount Scopus, as we surmised. However, instead of correcting the grossly misleading text, editors decided to argue that though Helm was driving through Mount Scopus Tunnel, it’s not wrong to refer to Mount Scopus as Mount of Olives.
Here’s their full reply:
We understand that the tunnel known as the Mount Scopus tunnel goes through the Mount of Olives ridge.
The description here by the Jerusalem expert Eli Schiller states in part that: “The Mount [of Olives] has three prominent peaks: Mount Scopus, 826 m, A Tur (Church of the Ascension) 816m, and Mount of Corruption, 746m”.
Schiller also states: “Today Mount Scopus is part of the Mount of Olives, and there is no necessary justification to give each different terminology.”
For the purposes of the article, we think it is sufficient to leave the reference to a tunnel through the Mount of Olives as it is.
Let's be clear about what this represents. Editors knew they couldn't argue the facts in ordinary language (using regular maps), so they pivoted to an obscure geological justification -- concerning what constitutes the broader Mount of Olives ridge -- for Helm's claim that she drove through a tunnel at Mount of Olives.
Of course, the sentence about driving through Mount of Olives would have immediately evoked, to the overwhelming majority of Guardian readers, a very specific visual of the iconic and historic Mount of Olives cemetery. They certainly wouldn’t have considered – let alone researched – the geological nature of the area in question. If they had decided to investigate the claim further, they would have more likely just consulted a regular map (like Google Maps, seen above), and seen that Mount of Olives (in the ordinary use of the term) represents a distinct and unique Jerusalem location.
Indeed, the context and aim of the passage about the tunnel “through Mount of Olives” written by the Guardian journalist seems clear: to support her Palestinian protagonist’s narrative that Israel is encroaching on and desecrating Palestinian land and historical sites in the holy city – making peace impossible and war inevitable. A tunnel through Mount Scopus simply would not have had the desired rhetorical impact as a tunnel through Mount of Olives, and certainly wouldn’t have helped support the story of Israeli malevolence she wanted to tell.
No amount of sophistry or obfuscation can change the fact that the claim by the Guardian journalist was egregiously and substantively misleading to readers, and thus in violation of the accuracy clause of the Editors’ Code.
We have appealed the Guardian decision and will update you as warranted.
-- by Adam Levick