HR Letter Published in The Guardian

guardian-magGlassA letter has been published in The Guardian in response to an article that drew parallels between Nelson Mandela’s struggles against apartheid and the Palestinian cause. Only the second half of the letter from HR Managing Editor Simon Plosker appeared. Here is the submitted letter in full:

There is much that Nelson Mandela can teach the world. Palestinians, however, are abusing the legacy of Mandela for their own anti-Israel political agenda and cheap propaganda. (Palestinians draw parallels with Mandela’s anti-apartheid struggle) How can the same people who see nothing morally wrong in the intentional murder and suicide bombing of Israeli women and children in cafes and on buses have the gall to claim Mandela as one of their own?

Mandela preached reconciliation for South Africans while the Palestinian leadership preaches incitement and hatred towards Israel. Calling Israel an “apartheid state” is an insult to the millions of black South Africans who suffered under that system.  South Africa can be grateful that a man of Mandela’s stature came to lead its people to a better future. Sadly there has never been a “Palestinian Mandela.” Having produced morally reprehensible leaders of the calibre of Yasser Arafat and Hamas, no wonder the Palestinians find themselves in their current predicament.

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December 17, 2013 11:55 By Category : Backspin

Attacking Journalists To Become a War Crime?

Reporters Without Borders is pushing to make attacks on journalists a war crime.

Sounds great, as long as it also becomes a war crime for terrorists to impersonate or embed themselves among journalists.

Do you really think the UN will define who is a journalist better than say, the NY Times or the Newseum?

December 15, 2013 15:37 By Category : Backspin Tags:, , , , , ,

Why Mandela Would Be Run Out of Ramallah Today

Mandela 1995

Nelson Mandela presenting the 1995 Rugby World Cup trophy to South African team captain Francois Pienaar.

I’m scratching my head over The Guardian.

How can the same people who blew up innocent civilians in cafes and buses have the gall to claim Nelson Mandela’s legacy?

As the Christian Science Monitor aptly pointed out, the Palestinians embrace of Mandela’s mantle is very, very limited.

But much of Palestinians’ praise is for how Mandela pushed back against an apartheid regime, rather than on how he embraced the language, literature, and leaders of that regime in a search for national reconciliation.

After the 1995 Rugby World Cup, Mandela famously donned Springbok gear to present a trophy to the Afrikaaner team. South Africans still talk about it as a big moment in national reconciliation.

In contrast, just getting Israelis and Palestinians onto the same soccer field today means overcoming the powerful Palestinian anti-normalization campaign.

Reconciliation? Mandela would’ve been run out of Ramallah for using that dirty word.

(Image of Mandela via YouTube/Richard Sherman)

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December 12, 2013 14:56 By Category : Backspin Tags:, ,

Speaking Events: HonestReporting CEO on the East and West Coasts

Joe Hyams (r) with Dexter Van Zyl

Joe Hyams (r) with Dexter Van Zile


On Sunday, December 8, HonestReporting CEO Joe Hyams was a guest speaker at LimmudBoston. He presented a joint session on Israel and the media titled Getting it Right: Israel, the Media and the Modern Middle East.

Six Secrets of Media Objectivity – Quantifying Media Bias and Responding Effectively.
Lessons and first hand insights from the November 2012 media war. We’ll explore the role of social media, photography and the power of grassroots action. You’ll gain behind-the-scenes perspective and practical communications training from the Executive Director of HonestReporting, an Israeli non-profit.

Joe was also joined by Dexter Van Zile of CAMERA.

Joe addressed the audience:

We have no Iron Dome for libel, no magic wand for myths and lies. Bias leads to hate, which harms Israel and Jewish communities everywhere. Let’s give the challenge our full communal focus. 

Iranian American Jewish Federation, Los Angeles

Joe will also be presenting at the Iranian American Jewish Federation in Los Angeles on Sunday, December 15 at 11am.

Click here to see a flyer for more details.

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December 9, 2013 12:48 By Category : Backspin

Australian Advocates on HR Mission

Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich

Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich

HonestReporting’s 19th Mission to Israel saw the second successful linkup with Australia’s New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies (NSWJBD). Twenty participants experienced a week of high-level speakers, exclusive visits to the places in the news all topped off with fine cuisine and luxury accommodation.

Participants were welcomed by Brigadier General (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, the Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, who gave a detailed overview of Israel’s current situation vis a vis the region and the Palestinians. He reiterated that the real issue is the refusal of the Palestinians to accept a Jewish state in the Middle East.

Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich explained the IDF’s impressive social media strategy on Facebook, YouTube and other platforms before the group took an exclusive tour of Israel’s security fence and got to see for themselves Palestinian foot traffic crossing a checkpoint into the West Bank city of Qalqilya courtesy of the IDF Lt. Col. responsible for the area.

“This is the best trip I’ve ever done – logistically excellent; well prepared.” – Ghita

Day 2 saw highlights including former government spokesperson Miri Eisin, an alternative view of the settlement issue from a representative of Peace Now and a passion-filled tour of Jerusalem’s Old City.

One of the most fraught issues within Israel today is that of the Bedouins of the Negev and the Israeli government plan to resettle them in purpose-built towns. This topic was seen from all sides during a trip on Day 3 to the northern Negev, meeting with Bedouins in an “unrecognized” town and representatives from NGOs opposed to the government’s plans. The group then heard from a government representative responsible for implementing the relocation plan. The group left with an understanding that such a complex issue is not as black and white as it would appear in some of the international media.


Continuing on their travels, the group headed to the Erez Terminal that handles pedestrian traffic crossing to and from Gaza and received a briefing from an IDF Lt. Col. on how Israel and Gaza interact.

As if that wasn’t enough, the group spent the next day visiting Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs getting a first-hand account of the remarkable Jewish history of the city and what it is like to live there today in one of the region’s most contested and controversial flash-points.

“The best trip I have ever had to Israel and I’ve been on about 10 trips” – Alan

One can only get a full understanding of the complexities of the situation by hearing as well from the Arab side. Mission participants were afforded the opportunity to find out the Arab perspective through a series of talks, including a former Palestinian terrorist turned peacemaker and the award-winning Israeli-Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh.

With the Middle East experiencing enormous upheaval, Israel is not immune. So where better to learn more about the strategic threats and realities than a visit to the Golan Heights overlooking Syria. The group even had the opportunity to speak with an Israeli doctor treating Syrian casualties of the civil war in Israeli hospitals – a truly remarkable story that highlights Israel’s humanitarian spirit.


By the end of the Mission, the participants had also heard from a variety of other speakers, including Professor Gerald Steinberg on the role of non-g0vernmental organizations in the conflict, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner on taking terrorists to the courts and Gil Hoffman, the political editor of the Jerusalem Post. And of course, HonestReporting’s own staff talking about media bias.

“Programming, logistics, food and people were all terrific and exceeded my expectations. I feel privileged to have been included in this mission. Thank you for all of your hard work in this mission and your daily efforts to fight media misinformation and bias towards Israel.” – Cathy

You can read the experiences of the participants themselves through a series of blog posts written for the J-Wire site here:

“My first trip to Israel and due to such a wonderful experience, definitely not my last.” – Linda

If you would like to find out more about our next Mission in May 2014 (open to all wherever you are from), see here or email Suzanne Lieberman –

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December 3, 2013 12:07 By Category : Backspin Tags:, , ,

Jihadist Terrorists Killed; Times Omits the Facts

timeslogoOn November 26, the IDF killed three Salafi jihadist terrorists in the West Bank. The Times of London reports on claims by an Islamist terror group with links to Al-Qaeda that the three terrorists were members of that group. Referring to the deaths of the three, it reports:

Palestinian officials have denounced Israeli claims about the men’s affiliations. They also condemned the deaths as “extrajudicial killings”, noting that Israeli special forces shot the men in their car without establishing that they were armed. Firearms and improvised explosions were discovered in the car.

Rather than rely on less-than-reliable Palestinian sources, a professional journalist would have also published the details of the incident from the IDF, which were already in the public domain. On the day of the incident, the Jerusalem Post reported:

The Palestinian terror suspects were in a car that had explosives and firearms in it, when they were met by the counterterrorism unit and additional special forces, who were sent to intercept the vehicle, a senior IDF source said.

Israeli forces opened fire at the car’s wheels, and the suspects fired back. Following an exchange of fire, the two suspects were killed, the source said.

A little over an hour after the firefight that killed the two terrorists, security forces engaged a third armed suspect. The terror suspect was shot dead in the exchange. There were no injuries reported among security forces.

Today’s Daily Telegraph also reports on the same story and includes the following:

Two of the men were shot dead when they opened fire at Israeli troops who tried to arrest them after shooting out the tyres of their car, the army said.

Why then did The Times’ journalist parrot Palestinian claims without checking their veracity first?

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December 2, 2013 14:46 By Category : Backspin UK News Tags:, , , ,

Oborne Back to Bashing the “Israel Lobby”

Peter Oborne

Peter Oborne

Firstly, in the interests of full disclosure – when it comes to British journalist and commentator Peter Oborne, HonestReporting has history. Back in 2009, Oborne presented an episode of the Channel 4 investigative program Dispatches. The broadcast examined “one of the most powerful and influential political lobbies in Britain, which is working in support of the interests of the State of Israel”, directly attacking and smearing HonestReporting in the process.

Oborne and his cameraman even burst into HonestReporting’s Jerusalem office, with the camera rolling, looking for evidence of HonestReporting’s involvement in a shadowy “Israel lobby” operating in UK politics and media. Needless to say, Oborne’s conspiracy theories did not lead anywhere.

Oborne, however, continues his fixation with pro-Israel “lobby” organizations. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he goes after the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) group, affiliated with the UK’s ruling Conservative Party.

In it, he refers to briefing packs on the Iran deal given to Conservative MPs at a CFI luncheon as “propaganda.” Throughout his piece, Oborne portrays the efforts of legitimate organizations advocating for Israel as being of a malign and sinister nature:

As so often happens, British politics is following the United States, where the pro-Israel lobby would love to destroy the provisional deal that John Kerry has thrashed out with the Iranian foreign minister.

Inspired by the formidable American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), legislators in Washington are already planning to undermine the authority of the White House by inflicting fresh sanctions on Iran. The situation is so desperate that AIPAC has teamed up with its enemies in the Arab lobby – an unprecedented development – to wreck the deal.

Oborne’s obvious disdain for Israeli PM Netanyahu and the Likud party cloud his judgment. He appears to believe that both AIPAC and CFI advocate the “hardline position” of the Likud:

Yet the CFI – by far Britain’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group – acts as if every Jew in the country is a Likud supporter. The same is true of AIPAC in the US. Personally, I suspect the deal struck on Sunday is far more popular among British and American Jews than the pro-Israel lobby is prepared to countenance – especially since its apparently blind support of Netanyahu is not even reflected within Israel itself, where his conduct has been widely condemned.

Perhaps Oborne doesn’t follow Israeli politics very closely. If he did, he’d know that the Iranian nuclear deal is opposed by parties from across the Israeli political spectrum as well as a significant proportion of the Israeli electorate. An Israeli Channel 2 poll found:

60 percent of Israelis consider the interim deal “endangers Israel,” as compared to 25% who do not, and 15% who had no opinion.

The same survey found 58% of Israelis believe Netanyahu’s criticism of the Obama administration over the accord is “justified,” while 28% consider the criticism “exaggerated” and 14% have no opinion.

On the issue of Iran in general, Oborne has been panned by Con Coughlin, the defense editor of his own newspaper, following the release of a book, “A Dangerous Delusion,” in which Oborne and his co-author argue that Iran hardly represents a threat at all:

Given the authors’ alarming ignorance about the rudimentary principles that underpin the current Iranian regime, it is a wonder that their warped interpretation of the facts ever made it into print. Certainly, the book’s title more aptly applies to the specious arguments advanced by the authors themselves than the way the West has attempted to handle the Iranian crisis during the past decade.

Oborne is clearly not the right person to comment on the dangers of the Iranian nuclear program and even less so when this gets mixed in with his obsession with the image of an all-powerful lobby even when this holds no water. Even Oborne himself concluded in his 2009 program that he hadn’t found anything even faintly resembling a conspiracy.

Fast forward to 2013 and all Oborne will find is the very legitimate fears of Israel when it comes to the Iranian nuclear threat and the very legitimate right of Israel and its supporters to express those fears to the international community.

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November 28, 2013 15:32 By Category : Backspin UK News Tags:, , , ,

Aussie Paper Publishes Photo, Caricatures Jews

Put aside the attitude of Amin Saikal as he almost crows with glee over the perceived blow to Israel following the signing of the Iran interim nuclear deal. The first thing that most readers will notice before reading the text of his Sydney Morning Herald op-ed is the accompanying photo.


What exactly does an uncaptioned photo of silhouetted ultra-Orthodox Jews have to do with the Israel-Iran situation?

Considering that the ultra-Orthodox are representative of some 15% of the Israeli population, the photo, artistic as it may be, cannot be said to be an accurate representation of Israel or Israelis.

While the image by itself is neutral, within the context of the story, it is inappropriate.

Could it be that the Sydney Morning Herald is simply using a “classic” image of Jews to caricature rather than to illustrate the story?


Following an email from HonestReporting and the exposure created by this post, the Sydney Morning Herald has removed the offending photo.

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November 28, 2013 13:27 By Category : Australia Backspin Tags:, , , , , ,

Daily Mail Places Netanya in the West Bank

netanyamapSometimes you have to wonder how such a fundamental factual error can appear in a media outlet.

The Daily Mail, in a report on an Israeli mother fined by a rabbinical court for failing to circumcise her son, includes the following:

The decision to force the woman to have her son circumcised was taken previously by a Rabbinical court, which upholds Jewish law, in her home town of Netanya on the West Bank.

Netanya, is, of course, located within the Green Line on Israel’s coast and not on the West Bank.

An email has been sent to the Daily Mail requesting a prompt correction.


Credit to the Daily Mail for making a swift correction.

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November 27, 2013 11:05 By Category : Backspin UK News

Israel the Cuddly Lion Cub Killer

foreignpolicylogoA pair of lion cubs born in a Hamas-run amusement park in Gaza made headlines in the past few days. Sadly both cubs died only three days later.

A number of explanations were offered for their deaths but the bottom line appears to be that there was simply no expertise in Gaza for rearing captive lion cubs. As a blog on Foreign Policy magazine explained:

Reports have cited several possible causes of death for the cubs, who were reportedly born healthy. The lioness that birthed them refused to feed them, so zookeepers substituted whole milk and nursed the cubs by hand. The lion that fathered them showed signs of aggression toward the cubs. Zookeepers had to rely on experts in Egypt, reached by phone, for advice on the cubs’ care. On Tuesday, an Israeli airstrike targeting rocket-launching militants startled the lioness. At least according to one report, she stepped on the cubs. Zookeepers brought the cubs into a warmed room to protect them from the November chill, but later told reporters that they did not have the facilities to adequately shelter the newborns. Some reports cited an unidentified illness or “pollutants,” and zookeepers noted that they were not able to import the vaccines necessary to inoculate the cubs.

So why then did Foreign Policy decide to run the post with this sensationalist headline?


A look at the article’s hyperlink - - would suggest that the draft headline read: “Gaza’s Newborn Lion Cubs Die Days After Birth – Will Break Your Heart.”

So, clearly somebody at Foreign Policy gave it some thought as to how to make the headline more interesting and clickable. And what better way of doing this than intimating that those dastardly Israelis were directly responsible for the deaths of two cute and cuddly baby animals.

This headline is wholly inappropriate and defamatory. Please ask Foreign Policy to change the headline by sending your emails to

[H/T: HonestReporting reader who emailed us through our HR Red Alert.]

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November 24, 2013 13:19 By Category : Backspin Tags:, , ,