Sky News’s Distorted Sharon Narrative

skewed-skynewsSky News Middle East Correspondent Sam Kiley adds his own interpretation of Ariel Sharon’s legacy and is found severely wanting. He opens with:

In October 1953, Israeli paratroops and commandos from the Jewish State’s first special forces unit, attacked the Arab village of Qibya, on the West Bank.

Some 69 villagers, many of them women and children, were killed. International condemnation followed.

This ignores vital context whereby Israel was responding to deadly raids by “fedayeen” terrorists sponsored by neighboring Jordan and Egypt. The result is to set the framework of Israel, and particularly Sharon, as belligerent.

Kiley writes:

In September 2000, he [Sharon] ignited the al Aqsa Intifada by provocatively exercising his ‘right’ to enter the al Aqsa Mosque complex in a move which sparked immediate bloodletting.

Like many other journalists, Kiley insists on sticking to the faulty narrative that blames Sharon for starting the Second Intifada despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, much of it provided by the Palestinian leadership. Kiley’s description of the Temple Mount as the “al Aqsa Mosque complex” is disingenuous considering Sharon had no intention of entering the mosque itself. Referring to “his ‘right’” in quotations can be interpreted as a denial of Jewish historical claims to its holiest site, adopting instead a Palestinian narrative that erases Jewish rights or the historical presence of the Temple in that location.

Further proof of Kiley’s adherence to the Palestinian narrative is provided in this sentence:

His [Sharon's] plans to end the most poisonous aspect of Israel’s relationship with her Arab neighbours, the occupation of Palestinian lands, were cut short when he suffered a stroke. 

Israel’s Arab neighbors attempted to wipe out the Jewish state many years before any so-called “occupation of Palestinian lands” – to call this the “most poisonous aspect of Israel’s relationship” with the Arab states ignores the deep-seated hatred and hostility towards a Jewish state in the Middle East that goes back to even before 1948. Unless Kiley considers “Palestinian lands” as meaning Israel in its entirety.

If we give Kiley the benefit of the doubt on that, his article highlights the importance of the use of correct and accurate terminology and giving the relevant context. In this regard Sam Kiley has failed.

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January 14, 2014 15:06 By Category : Backspin UK News Tags:, , , ,

Starving Palestinians

How many times have you seen a story in the major media claiming that Israel has turned Gaza into an “open-air prison?” How often does the media discuss seemingly arbitrary restrictions that Israel places on specific goods entering the Gaza Strip? Forget about the fact that convoys of trucks carrying humanitarian aid enter and leave the strip every day. Israel even transferred an emergency supply of gas for home heating during the recent winter storm.

380x252-fence-CCBYNCND_anaxila-flickr_555087534No, the story of Israel blockading Palestinians is part of a narrative that many journalists are obsessed with, despite the lack of accuracy.

How much more useful these journalists would be if they reported on how Syria is starving Palestinians to death with a complete blockade on a refugee camp. But that is exactly what is happening. From The Media Line:

More than 40 Palestinians have now died of starvation in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, say activists who are calling on the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to intervene.

Three quarters of the dead have perished in the last three weeks as the situation in the camp, which is home to much of Syria’s Palestinian population, reaches a crisis point after six months of a crippling siege which have seen supplies of food and medical aid blocked from reaching the camp.

Conditions in the refugee camp have become desperate since the full government siege began in July 2013. The blockade of the area has meant no aid has been able to reach the estimated 18,000 residents of the camp. Christopher Gunness of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees said it isn’t just the lack of food and medicine that is making the situation untenable for residents.

“Residents are having to rely on going out on terraces and burning furniture and branches to warm themselves in the open because wood fires cannot be used indoors. There is a very infrequent supply of tap water – reportedly available for four hours only at intervals of three days.”

Israel’s attempts to control material that can be used for weapon making are labeled a “blockade.” Meanwhile, the Syrian Army starves  Palestinians to death and most of the media sit on their hands.

Why the double standard?

Image: CC BY-NC-ND flickr/anaxila.

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January 14, 2014 14:36 By Category : Backspin

Sharon and the Wrong “Drugged Cockroach”

An otherwise fair article on Ariel Sharon by Con Coughlin in the Daily Telegraph contains the following:


In fact, Sharon never described Palestinians as “drugged cockroaches.” Coughlin has apparently confused an often misused quote that is actually attributed to former IDF Chief of Staff and MK Rafael Eitan.

druggedcockroachAccording to an investigation by CAMERA, Eitan, in an atypical comment, made it during a discussion of how best to deal with Arab violence in the West Bank. In responding to suggestions by Knesset members that the army should stop stone throwers by shooting at their feet or throwing stones back, Eitan reportedly said:

The Arabs will never win over us by throwing stones. Our response must be a nationalist Zionist response. For every stone that’s thrown–we will build ten settlements. If 100 settlements will exist–and they will–between Nablus and Jerusalem, stones will not be thrown. If this will be the situation, then the Arabs will only be able to scurry around like drugged roaches in a bottle.

In any case, the reference to “drugged cockroaches” should not be part of Coughlin’s article.

An email has been sent to both him and the Daily Telegraph requesting a correction but over 24 hours later, there’s been no response.

UPDATE: The Daily Telegraph has now removed the erroneous quote from the article.

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Image: CC BY flickr/Kodomut.

January 13, 2014 16:39 By Category : Backspin UK News Tags:, , ,

Debunking the Genocide Charge

i24Referring to charges of genocide against Israel leveled by Israel-hating UN official Richard Falk, Ben-Dror Yemini writes for i24 News:

Let us gauge the genocide claim. In 2013, 36 Palestinians were killed, according to the human rights organization B’Tselem. At least 30 of those were either involved in clashes with IDF soldiers or were members of terrorist organizations. Only a few innocents were killed. The death of each one of them is to be deeply regretted. Yet one should add that there isn’t another conflict in the world where the fatality rate among civilians is as low as in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In other conflicts it is estimated that between 60 and 90 percent of fatalities are innocents. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they are a minority.

In fact, the annual fatality count in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is lower than a daily terror casualty toll in Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and other countries, where 1,153 people died as a result of terror attacks. This does not include the daily toll from the massacre perpetrated by the Syrian regime.

Most of the victims are Muslims killed by radical Islamists. In Pakistan in the course of last year alone, 5,366 people were killed in acts of terrorism. Almost 3,000 of them were civilians. In Iraq in 2013 alone, 8,868 were killed in terror acts, including 7,818 civilians. The war on terrorism waged by coalition forces claimed between 227 and 300 thousand lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, most of them innocents.

Even if the number of casualties of Israeli operations was 10 or 20 times higher, this would still not constitute genocide. A broad historical examination supports this view. Since 1967, less than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed. Most of them were terrorists. You can call it many things, but genocide it ain’t.

Read the full article here.

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January 12, 2014 17:34 By Category : Backspin

CBC Whitewashes Incitement: “Palestinians Tend to Be More Bitter”

Neil Macdonald

Neil Macdonald

Palestinian incitement? The Israeli government’s incitement index could be shoved in veteran CBC correspondent Neil MacDonald’s face and he wouldn’t recognize it for what it is. Instead, he spins it this way to fit his world view:

Netanyahu also seems to be saying there can be no deal unless Palestinians stop saying nasty things about Israelis.

Israel, which has long complained about what Palestinian children are taught, has created an “incitement index,” along with a slide presentation on the Palestinian media that it has shown Kerry’s officials.

The Palestinians, the Netanyahu government says, continue to negate Israel’s existence. Palestinians, of course, have similar claims about Israel . . .

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Macdonald went on to cite a State Department-funded academic study on incitement in schoolbooks. Last year’s study, however, was thoroughly debunked and discredited for its moral equivalence; a State Dept. spokesperson even resorted to “rhetorical backflips” to distance the US from the woeful report Macdonald now embraces:

As for Israel’s complaint that the Palestinians ignore Israel’s existence, the study also found that maps in both Palestinian and Israeli schools tend to blank out the other side entirely.

The study didn’t examine media, or social media, but anyone who has lived there knows there are ugly voices on both sides. Palestinian voices, being the ones on the occupied side, tend to be more bitter.

I’ll forever remember Macdonald for Blaming Israel for Abu Ghraib.

Here’s Israel’s incitement index which Elder of Ziyon posted in slideshare format.

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January 9, 2014 14:34 By Category : Backspin Tags:, , , ,

HonestReporting Hosts Gil Troy and Scholars


For the past four months, HonestReporting CEO Joe Hyams has been busy with more than fighting the anti-Israel lies and distortions of the media. He’s also been cramming for exams, researching and writing papers, and learning from some of the top lecturers in their fields.

In short, he’s been based in Boston as a member of Brandeis University’s Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program, a two-year masters program where he is simultaneously earning a MBA in Non-Profit Management and an MA in Jewish Professional Leadership.

So when Joe learned that the group would be spending 10 days in Israel, he jumped at the chance to host a session at the HonestReporting International Headquarters in Jerusalem. The opportunity, he said, underscored how his time in Boston benefits both HonestReporting and the larger Jewish world.

“The opportunity to host graduate students from Boston is exciting in its own right,” Joe said. “As a non-US Citizen living among the American Jewish Community, I get to look at Israel from the outside in and to bridge the gaps between Israel and US-based leadership. I’m proud to be a part of that emerging and important trend.”

The session at HonestReporting featured McGill University Professor Gil Troy and was attended by the 22 students at the program. Prof. Troy spoke about the need to “go beyond the simplistic polarizations of Israel as good or bad, or Israeli Jews as religious or secular,” in order to see the complexity and richness of Israel. “The delegtimization of Israel has everyone, from right to left, looking at Israel in these simplistic and often extreme boxes,” he said.

Joe and Gil TroyProf. Troy’s latest book, Moynihan’s Moment: America’s Fight Against Zionism is Racism details the 1975 battle in the UN over the resolution that declared Zionism as a form of racism, which many consider the start of the international campaign to delegitimize Israel that is still underway. The book is the perfect starting point for anyone seeking to understand how the anti-Zionist idea, or the movement to delegitimize Israel, grew and spread.

Prof. Troy also called on the students to “take Zionism personally,” and discover what Zionism and Israel means to them individually. “With due respect to JFK, who said “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” we do have to ask what can our country — Israel — do for us,” he said. “How does it help solve our existential dilemmas? We need to ask what having a Jewish state can mean to us as the start of a broader conversation in Israel and around the Jewish world about what Israel is and can be.

The program also included presentations from Aryeh Green, director of MediaCentral, a project of HonestReporting, and Smadar Bakovic, a MediaCentral staffer. Aryeh discussed the challenges he faces helping the media “get the story right in the first place.”

Smadar told the group about her experience fighting anti-Israel sentiments at Warwick University in the UK. She noted how anti-Israel activists had called her a Nazi for fighting for her rights as a student and the strength she gained from the knowledge that she always had Israel to return to if the situation deteriorated in the UK. In 2013, Smadar had won a court case against Warwick and received compensation for her mistreatment at the university.

Prof. Troy noted that this was his third time addressing the Hornstein Program. “ I am always impressed by the quality of the questions, the depth of the involvement, the mixture of idealism and insight they bring on this exciting educational journey,” he said.

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January 9, 2014 14:02 By Category : Backspin

Watchdog of the Week: Murray Freedman Beats the BBC

watchdogoftheweekOn November 15, 2013, during an interview on BBC Radio 4 with Baroness Warsi about Christian persecution in Pakistan and the Middle East, the interviewer mentioned Israel in a sentence discussing countries that persecute Christians:

But are you saying – can I just ask – countries like Pakistan that you refer to, or perhaps Israel or even Iraq where there is a functioning government – is it just down to the politicians in those countries to speak out and this problem could be solved?

There is, of course, no persecution of Christians in Israel. Pro-Israel activist and HonestReporting subscriber Murray Freedman launched a complaint to the BBC. Despite receiving an initial response suggesting that he’d misunderstood the context of the statement, Murray persevered and eventually received a letter from the BBC’s Head of Editorial Complaints, Fraser Steel.

Steel noted that while the intention was to cite Israel as an example of a country with a functioning government, rather than a country that persecutes Christians,

it seems to me that bracketing it with Pakistan and Iraq, in the context of an item arising from Baroness Warsi’s warning that Christians is some parts of the world face extinction because of violence against them, nevertheless tended to give the impression that Christians in Israel were suffering violence comparable to what had been experienced in the other countries named, and that this impression, however inadvertent, was misleading.

I’m therefore proposing to uphold your complaint.

 The BBC complaints process is notoriously difficult to negotiate and takes a great deal of patience and perseverance. For that and for succeeding in his complaint, Murray Freedman from the UK is HonestReporting’s Watchdog of the Week.

Are You the Watchdog of the Week?

Have you achieved a success in the fight against anti-Israel media bias? Want to share your success with thousands of HonestReporting’s readers?

If the answer is yes, you could be the next Watchdog of the Week!

Here are just a few of the things you could do to qualify:

  • Sending a tip-off to HonestReporting through our Red Alert page  that we act upon;
  • Get a letter published in a media outlet;
  • Or perhaps you’ve achieved something else that you feel is deserving of this accolade.

Let us know by sending an email to describing your recent achievement and maybe you can be the Watchdog of the Week.


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January 9, 2014 12:41 By Category : Backspin UK News Tags:, ,

Send Me a Speaker From HonestReporting

Are you looking for a top speaker for your synagogue, church, school, university or organization?

Invite someone from HonestReporting to give a briefing on anti-Israel media bias and the work we do.

From the US to the UK and beyond, send a message to to find out if we’ll be in your area soon. For a quicker response, please put in the subject field Send Me a Speaker From HonestReporting.

Gary Kenzer

HonestReporting’s USA director, Gary Kenzer discussing Israel’s battle against bias.

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January 7, 2014 16:34 By Category : Backspin Tags:,

“Data Apartheid” in the Telegraph

dataIt’s not unusual to see articles referring to Israel as the “Startup Nation” by virtue of its remarkable technological and entrepreneurial prowess.

It is unusual to see an article focused on Palestinian startups. Included in his article “Palestine’s startup ecosystem stirs into life,” Monty Munford writes (emphasis added):

Israeli authorities control cellular networks in Palestine and have still to grant 3G licences to Palestinian operators although smartphone use is widespread in the country. Consequently, Palestinians have no option other than to sign up with Israeli operators and Palestinians startups suffer from this consequent data-apartheid.

The term “data-apartheid” is an appalling example of how the false Israel “apartheid” analogy is being deployed in the least expected contexts.

This is an assertion that Israel is withholding 3G licenses on racial grounds. What evidence does the journalist have to make this claim? Unsurprisingly there is none in the article.

Considering that many Israeli cellphone companies operate automated customer service menus in Arabic while, of course, Israel’s Arab population are valued customers, contradicts charges of racial discrimination.

Irrespective of the fairness behind Israeli control of telecommunications, race simply doesn’t come into it. So why use such a loaded and patently false term such as “apartheid?”

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January 5, 2014 15:39 By Category : Backspin UK News Tags:, , , , , ,

Hero Worship at the New York Times

NY TimesA NY Times staff-ed mostly blames you-know-who for the impasse of peace efforts. The Gray Lady’s entitled to its views, but screwing up the facts is unforgivable.

As part of the negotiating process, Mr. Netanyahu agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails over nine months rather than halt settlement construction. But when Mr. Abbas welcomed the latest group to the West Bank this week, Mr. Netanyahu accused him of embracing terrorists, even though Mr. Abbas never condoned the prisoners’ crimes.

Say what? Abbas only called the prisoners “heroes” after the December and October releases.

Memo to the Times: a hero is “a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.”

Abbas didn’t just condone the blood on everyone’s hands. This was hero worship.

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January 5, 2014 9:41 By Category : Backspin Tags:, ,