The Guardian Walls Out Israelis, Suicide Bombers, and Balance

An interactive feature at The Guardian look at walls and barriers around the world. From the US-Mexico border, to the 2,500 mile barrier separating India and Bangladesh, along with 99 walls separating Belfast’s Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods, call it “wall-to-wall coverage.”

Israel’s security barrier is featured too.

Harriet Sherwood (with some credited assistance from B’Tselem) has plenty of comments, photos and videos of Palestinians talking about how the wall impacts their lives.

Left outside The Guardian gates, unfortunately, are Israelis sharing how the security barrier impacts their lives. That would mean addressing the deadly Palestinian suicide bombers who wreaked havoc in the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv during the second intifada.

But why let journalistic balance ruin a perfect mood created by Sherwood, B’Tselem, and five photogenic Palestinians?

Since The Guardian won’t deign to talk to Israelis, I’ll let Ramadan Shalah — the far less alluring Palestinian Islamic Jihad chief — make my point instead. The barrier keeps out terrorists.

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November 20, 2013 13:13 By Category : Backspin Tags:, , ,

Kumbaya in Qom Catechisms

The dual loyalty charge rears its head. While Mark Dubowitz, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, was being interviewed on the radio about Iran’s nuclear program, foreign policy reporter Laura Rozen tweeted her displeasure. The tweets were since removed, but Adam Kredo got the screen grabs.

What is there to say? Rozen’s tweets reveal a snide, dismissive attitude towards Israeli concerns.

Laura Rozen

If you think for yourself and come to conclusions that agree with Israel, that doesn’t make you Israel’s puppet. And if you think for yourself and come to conclusions that agree with Iran, that doesn’t make you Iran’s puppet either (we can respectfully agree to disagree). Fair enough.

But if you don’t think for yourself and blindly believe Big Media’s daily Kumbaya in Qom catechisms, whose puppet are you?

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November 20, 2013 9:47 By Category : Backspin Tags:, , , , , ,

Fisk Revives Uranium Charge?

Robert Fisk‘s latest piece focuses on Yasser Arafat and it doesn’t make for pleasant reading. Included are such snippets as how Arafat “no longer wore socks, how he had a habit of picking loose skin from his feet during interviews, how the lavatories smelled.”

Just as nauseating is how Fisk effectively whitewashes Arafat’s bloody history of terror.

But what catches my eye is the following (emphasis added):

Then this month, when the scientists reported on the high level of polonium found in Arafat’s body, it [talk of "poison"] started again. Perhaps it came, one interviewer suggested to me, in the depleted uranium shells the Israelis had fired at Arafat’s headquarters when he was trapped inside. Problem. According to my enquiries at the time, the Israelis had no depleted uranium shells in their ordnance inventory. That doesn’t mean they haven’t used them in other locations. But not at Ramallah.

Back in October 2006, Fisk was given the front page of the UK’s Independent to spread the libel that Israel had used uranium-based weapons in southern Lebanon. The charge was swiftly debunked yet Fisk and the Independent have never, to this day, retracted this libel.


Fisk still seems to be stringing along the story, despite the evidence, that Israel has used depleted uranium weaponry. Even after it is confirmed to him that no such weaponry is in IDF usage, Fisk still implies that these figments of his imagination have been deployed somewhere.

When will Robert Fisk give up his Israeli uranium charge?

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November 18, 2013 16:58 By Category : Backspin Tags:, ,

New York Times Continues Anti-Israel Crusade

NYT-magGlass-01Only a week ago, the New York Times launched an attack on Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in a staff editorial, accusing him of generating “hysterical opposition” to an Iranian nuclear deal. It seems that the NY Times just can’t let go.

In a fresh attack, the NY Times’ latest editorial concludes with the following:

President Obama deserves more time to work out a negotiated settlement with Iran and the other major powers. If the deals falls through, or if inspections by the United Nations unearth cheating, Congress can always impose more sanctions then. But if talks fail now, Mr. Netanyahu and the hard-line interest groups will own the failure, and the rest of us will pay the price.

So according to the NY Times, if the Iranians cheat, then the West can impose sanctions after the event. Maybe even after the Iranians have reached nuclear weapons capability. Does the NY Times consider the possibility that imposing more sanctions at that point might be too late?

But worse, the NY Times places all of the blame for any failure of negotiations on Netanyahu. To be clear, the Israeli PM is not opposed to the talks. He is opposed to a bad deal while the NY Times appears to be hell-bent on accepting any deal. If talks do indeed fail, perhaps this may be influenced by Netanyahu’s lobbying. Ultimately, however, the results of talks with the Iranians will be down to those sitting around the table and certainly dependent upon the credibility of Iranian intentions.

For the NY Times to single out Netanyahu twice in the space of a week would indicate a personal vendetta. How sad that the paper of record has descended to this level.

As for “the rest of us” paying the price, who do the members of the NY Times editorial board think they are? If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, it won’t be the editorial board paying the price but it might just be Israel.

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November 17, 2013 13:30 By Category : Backspin Tags:, , ,

Vote for the Dishonest Reporter of 2013

Dishonest Reporting Awards 2013Now’s the time to vote for the Dishonest Reporter of 2013. It’s our annual recognition of the year’s most skewed and biased coverage of Israel and the Mideast conflict. Make your voice heard and we’ll announce the ignoble winners by the end of the year.

Vote for one reporter or news service, along with a brief reason for your choice. This year’s nominees are:

  1. The Lancet — for accusing Israeli doctors of  collusion in torture.
  2. Amira Hass — for defending Palestinian stone-throwing and a terror tunnel.
  3. German cartoonists — for demonizing Israel.
  4. The NY Times — for battling Israel over Iran.
  5. BBC — for pulling the plug on a Jerusalem documentary.

You can also write-in someone else, so check out our archives for this year’s media critiques, Israel Daily News Stream posts, and blog entries.

There are three ways to send us your nomination:

  1. Post a comment below.
  2. Post a comment on HonestReporting’s Facebook page.
  3. Send an email to

Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t acknowledge nominations.

And for old times sake, see who HonestReporting readers “honored” last year.

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November 17, 2013 12:01 By Category : Backspin Tags:

Guardian Blogger: Israel Responsible for Mideast Christian Persecution

guardian-magGlassAndrew Brown, religion blogger for The Guardian’s Comment is Free writes about former U.S. President George W. Bush’s speaking engagement at a fundraiser for Messianic Jews.

In his piece, Brown mentions the Christian Evangelical leanings of those British politicians behind the Balfour Declaration. According to him (emphasis added):

without that declaration, there could not have been the Jewish immigration to Palestine that laid the foundations for the state of Israel.

Some people will see this as an example of the destructive craziness of religion, and perhaps it is, but it is also an example of the way in which theology is only powerful and important when it is wrapped up in identity.

Is Brown suggesting that the creation of Israel is the result of “destructive craziness?”

Brown continues:

Because if there is one group that has suffered as a result of the establishment of the state of Israel and its support by Western Christian countries, it is the historic Christians of the Middle East – who are now the victims of persecution throughout the region and scapegoats of an angry nationalism.

Is Brown really claiming that Israel is responsible for the persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East?

Perhaps he would like to explain:

  • Attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt.
  • The mass exodus of Christians from Iraq.
  • State sanctioned persecution of Christians in Iran.
  • Threats to the lives of Syrian Christians from Al-Qaeda.
  • Pressure from Hamas for Gaza Christians to convert to Islam.

There is one common thread linking all of the above and it is not Israel or the Jews.

In fact, there is one country in the Middle East where Christians are doing comparatively well. Can you guess where it is?

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November 14, 2013 17:42 By Category : Backspin Christian Exodus UK News Tags:, , , , , , , , , ,

German Cartoon Demonizes Israel — On Kristallnacht Anniversary

Another German newspaper faces allegations of anti-Semitism over a nasty cartoon. Once again, Israel is poisoning peace.

Horst Haitzinger’s cartoon was published in Badische Zeitung on the anniversary of Kristallnacht. It features a snail with a dove’s head on the way to Iranian nuclear talks in Geneva. Looking on is Benjamin Netanyahu, who says into a cell phone, “I need pigeon and snail poisons.”

Badische Zeitung

The Jerusalem Post talked to some people in the know, as well as one of the B.Z. editors.

Alex Feuerherdt, a German journalist who has written extensively on media anti-Semitism, told the Post the cartoon shows “that modern anti-Semitism is dressed up as criticism of Israel.”

The Badische cartoon shows traditional anti-Semitic depictions of Jews as “poisoners” or “saboteurs” or a ” danger for world peace.” Feuerherdt says the cartoon ignores Iran’s threat to obliterate Israel through its nuclear weapons program. He added it is “disgusting” that the Badische paper published the illustration on Kristallnacht, the 1938 pogrom launched by Germans and Nazis to kill Jews and destroy their businesses . . .

Thomas Fricker, a political editor with the Badische, flatly denied the allegations of anti-Semitism. In an email to the Post, Fricker wrote the accusation that the cartoon contains anti-Semitic cliches “seems to me to be unfounded.”

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It’s also reminiscent of another German cartoon with a similar Israel’s poisoning the peace dove theme. In that instance, the Stuttgarter Zeitung depicted settlements as deliberately poisoning the peace process. I was hesitant to call it anti-Semitic, but it does play up old, unsettling themes.


And lest we forget, there’s also Süddeutsche Zeitung, which literally demonized Israel as a modern day Moloch.

The paper apologized, and was also found in violation of the German Press Council code.


One cartoon canard is ugly. Two with such similar poisoning themes is possible plagiarism or credible coincidence. But a trifecta of cartoons in respectable German newspapers represents a deeper problem that can’t be ignored.

Which is why it’s important to sign HonestReporting’s petition calling on the international media to adopt US and EU definitions of anti-Semitism and stop the demonization of Israel.

Enough is enough.

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November 14, 2013 14:57 By Category : Backspin Tags:, , , , , ,

Kumbaya in Qom

Tom Friedman

Tom Friedman

Methinks Tom Friedman doth overstate Israeli animosity towards Iran:

We, America, are not just hired lawyers negotiating a deal for Israel and the Sunni Gulf Arabs, which they alone get the final say on. We, America, have our own interests in not only seeing Iran’s nuclear weapons capability curtailed, but in ending the 34-year-old Iran-U.S. cold war, which has harmed our interests and those of our Israeli and Arab friends.

Hence, we must not be reluctant about articulating and asserting our interests in the face of Israeli and Arab efforts to block a deal that we think would be good for us and them. America’s interests today lie in an airtight interim nuclear deal with Iran that also opens the way for addressing a whole set of other issues between Washington and Tehran.

I’m holding my tongue on the wisdom of interim agreements and just how airtight the “first-step” deal discussed in Geneva was. But Friedman continues:

Some of our allies don’t share those “other” interests and believe the only acceptable outcome is bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities and keeping Iran an isolated, weak, pariah state. They don’t trust this Iranian regime — and not without reason. I don’t begrudge their skepticism. Without pressure from Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and the global sanctions on Iran they helped to spur, Iran would not be offering to scale back its nuclear program today.

But that pressure was never meant to be an end itself. It was meant to bring Iran in from the cold, provided it verifiably relinquished the ability to breakout with a nuclear weapon.

I’d like to see an end to the Iranian-Western conflict. And I’d like to see Iran rejoin the family of nations, including normal relations with Israel. In that context, the pressure’s not an end unto itself. I’d much prefer a peaceful resolution to the nuclear standoff.

But for too many years, Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime has talked about destroying Israel, bankrolled terror, and repressed it own citizens. Iranian missiles may not yet reach the US, but they can certainly reach Israel and Europe. The longer-term US interests Friedman refers to won’t measure up to reality unless the Obama administration entertains the idea of regime change.

Israel doesn’t have a problem with the Iranian people. Before the 1979 revolution, relations were normal and Israel reportedly helped Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.

But that was a long time ago.

Today, Israelis aren’t ready to be sold on Kumbaya in Qom. Certainly not by a newspaper whose op-ed section is snotty and dismissive of Israel from the comfort and safety of Manhattan’s Eighth Ave.

(Image via YouTube/Al Jazeera English)

November 13, 2013 17:09 By Category : Backspin Tags:, , ,

Charity Navigator Rates HonestReporting as “Exceptional”

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November 5, 2013 11:11 By Category : Backspin

Razing a Racket

building demolitionYou’re the mayor of Jerusalem. And it all comes down to you.

You’re dealing with 11 illegally built Palestinian apartment buildings on your city’s northern outskirts. They’re within the municipal boundaries alright, but they’re outside the security barrier.

You rub your head at another only-in-Israel moment no other mayor in the world deals with. The apartments were illegally built. Heck, the cops even arrested a few Palestinians for fraud involving the land some of those buildings were built on. But it ain’t safe for building inspectors to travel outside the security barrier to neighborhoods like Ras Hamis and Ras Shehada, which is why the Palestinians managed to brazenly build nine and ten-story buildings now occupied by hundreds of people.

You know they created a black hole for documenting legal ownership. Arab money from abroad is sometimes used to acquire Jerusalem properties. Preserve Islamic heritage, they claim. Yeah, right. You can’t help but wonder if those buildings are part of a larger racket.

And in the absence of inspections, you’re certain the people who built those buildings played fast and loose and with health and safety regulations.

Evict ‘em all and demolish the buildings?

That’s what any other mayor would do.

But nothing’s a no-brainer in Jerusalem. In your city, you don’t just deal with the usual bevy of bureaucrats, politicians, community activists, and legal beagles.

In Jerusalem, the Palestinians boycott local elections, yet they prefer living under your jurisdiction than with the corrupt, inept Palestinian Authority. They vote with their feet. You also have to consider foreign diplomats pontificating from far away about the peace process, a motley assortment of shady NGOs, and foreign reporters ready to sensationalize anything you do. Many of them aren’t local taxpayers.  All politics is local. Except for here.

Till now, you pretty much managed to defuse the home demolition issue. Demolition orders went down on your watch, partly because of US and EU pressure, and partly because the threat of heavy fines helps maintain some semblance of law and order. But hitting people in the wallet only goes so far. Palestinian squatters backed by the right combo of lawyers, NGOs, and journalists can fight city hall. It’s the price we pay for democracy, you repeatedly remind yourself.

Turn a blind eye?

That’s the easy way out. But it only takes one slum fire or building collapse for the you-know-what to hit the fan. And when it does, the same people who urged you to leave the apartments alone will accuse you of discrimination and neglect.

Only in Israel.

Of course, only-in-Israel moments can work for you too. Last week, your national leaders released a bunch of terrorists, then accelerated construction projects in the eastern part of Jerusalem. That gives you some leverage.

But there’s no getting around the headlines. You already know what they’ll say.

Israel Evicts Hundreds of East Jerusalem Palestinians

World Condemns Large Scale Israeli Demolition Plans

The buck stops with you.

What would you do?

(image via YouTube/sdblahm67)

November 4, 2013 12:52 By Category : Backspin Tags:,