Worth reading today

* The Baltimore Sun reports on the failure and irrelevance of the Palestinian Authority:

After more than three years of bitter fighting with Israel … the people of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are increasingly disillusioned with Arafat and the government he leads, the Palestinian Authority. The forces arrayed against him include many of the people who had looked to him as the person who could best help them gain an independent Palestinian state.

* IDF home demolitions are driving Rafah residents to confront smugglers (Haaretz):

Two angry residents of the Al-Salaam neighborhood in Rafah murdered Fathi Abu Ghali, who was active in Rafah’s popular resistance committees, after he dug a new shaft that connected to a smuggling tunnel, capping a series of actions by Rafah residents against tunnel operators

* NY Times: Differing attitudes among Orthodox Jews on Gaza withdrawal

* Anti-terror: Two Al Aqsa leaders killed in Nablus; foiled car bomb attack in Gaza

* Wash Post’s Richard Cohen agrees with Jeff Goldberg on Israeli settlers. (Barbara Sofer and Andrea Levin disagree.)

June 15, 2004 14:47 By Category : Backspin

The Fatah-Al Aqsa Brigade

In February, we issued a communique on the media’s misrepresentation of the relationship between Yassir Arafat’s Fatah faction and the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade – one of the most deadly Palestinian terrorist groups. While the large media outlets were describing ‘loose ties’ between the two, the evidence clearly showed a direct and ongoing bond.

Now, Fatah is openly acknowledging that bond. The Jerusalem Post reports that a disagreement between the two groups has led Fatah to publically recognize its obligations to the AAMB. For their part, the AAMB is feeling abandoned by their sponsor:

“Thanks to us, Fatah restored its dignity and power during the intifada,” [an AAMB leader] added. “But now the members of the Fatah Central Council are putting pressure on us to disband. We don’t trust them any more and we tell them that they are the ones who must go.”

Given this acknowledgement, there is now even less justification for media distortions of the ties between Arafat’s dominant party and this terrorist gang. As we noted in February:

This is not merely a semantic matter. The close ties that bond the Fatah-led PA to terrorist groups are the fundamental problem that prevents progress toward peaceful reconciliation. The dominant political party in the PA remains a direct sponsor of ongoing terrorism ? the ruling politicians and the terrorists are one and the same.

If you see a news article that continues to describe mere ‘loose links’ between Fatah and the AAMB, please notify us at action@honestreporting.com.

June 15, 2004 10:25 By Category : Backspin

Romeo and Juliet in Gaza

romeoVia Yediot Achronot (Hebrew):

On Wednesday, IDF soldiers spotted a Palestinian couple in their 20s approaching the security fence near Kfar Darom in Gaza.
The soldiers at first thought they were dealing with suicide attackers, but something about the pair caused the soldiers to hesitate before opening fire.

After their capture, the couple explained that they had been seeing each other for six years, but their families disapproved of their marrying.

Out of despair, they decided to commit suicide by entering a forbidden zone so that the soldiers would shoot them.

After additional questioning, the two were released.

June 14, 2004 18:57 By Category : Backspin

Gulf News’ idea of journalism

BJ Turner of Fort Smith, AR points us to her correspondence with the Dubai-based Gulf News, which is presently on the Gulf News letters page. See the ‘editor’s note’ at bottom:

Sad, but true
From Mrs. B. J. Turner, Arkansas, US

This letter definitely will fall on deaf ears and will not be published in the letters column. Nevertheless, I feel the need to write it. I find it amusing, pathetic, that you publish letters using the term “Israeli terrorist” yet you always edit mine when I write using the word “terrorist” in connection with certain Palestinian actions by substituting it with the word “militant”. And you call yourself “free” and “open-minded”.

I would be only too glad to write rebuttals to Messrs. Aluva and El Thaher’s letters (“Ground realities” and “Uprising” Gulf News, Online, June 8) but won’t because Gulf News edits my 100 word emails so heavily that I often don’t recognise my own writing. Shame on Gulf News for this censorship!

Editor’s note: Mrs. Turner should thank Gulf News for publishing her letters regularly, though she sends them from America. Every newspaper has a policy – and our policy towards all Palestinians is that they are freedom fighters. If Mrs. Turner does not like our policy, then she can stop writing to Gulf News.

June 13, 2004 15:58 By Category : Backspin

Buried context

In the HonestReporting communique from Thursday, we raised concern for Associated Press burying the context for last week’s Israeli airstrike just south of Beirut. Lack of context suggests the IDF acts aggressively for no good reason.

HR reader Ed F. from Winnepeg adds an important point:

In practical terms, burying the context or the Israeli side of events deep in the story often means that such information gets cut by newspaper copy editors. At the newspapers, that is usually not done for reasons of hostility to Israel but due to shortage of space and the exigencies of moving on to the next story and getting the paper out.

The question is: Do the editors at the news agencies who send these stories out over the wires know that?

They probably are aware of this issue. But even without getting cut by copy editors, the buried context is not seen, or properly understood, by the great majority of readers. And that’s bad reporting.

June 13, 2004 14:39 By Category : Backspin

BBC whitewashes Saudi preacher

sheikBBC reports on a guest preacher at the opening of a new London mosque. BBC presents the preacher — Sheikh Abdur-Rahman al-Sudais, from Saudi Arabia — as an unexceptional leader promoting ‘community cohension’ (sic) and ‘building communities’.

But Harry’s Place and MEMRI have the real story on Sheikh al-Sudais, who has made these public statements:

In one of his sermons, Saudi sheikh Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayyis, imam and preacher at the Al-Haraam mosque — the most important mosque in Mecca — beseeched Allah to annihilate the Jews. He also urged the Arabs to give up peace initiatives with them because they are “the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs.”

“Read history,” called Al-Sudayyis in another sermon, “and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil fathers of the Jews of today, who are evil offspring, infidels, distorters of [others’] words, calf-worshippers, prophet-murderers, prophecy-deniers… the scum of the human race ‘whom Allah cursed and turned into apes and pigs…’ These are the Jews, an ongoing continuum of deceit, obstinacy, licentiousness, evil, and corruption…”

A fair report on this Saudi preacher’s visit would have made reference to his wildly anti-Semitic views.

Comments to: newsonline@bbc.co.uk


June 13, 2004 14:15 By Category : Backspin

Bummer of a wedding

weddingarrestVia Maariv:
A wanted Hamas terrorist was in for an unpleasant surprise on his wedding night – an IDF force interrupted the wedding and arrested him. “Dozens of soldiers suddenly appeared and detained the groom on the dance floor,” the owner of the banquet hall told NRG Maariv. The IDF says the man in question is a Hamas activist with “blood on his hands.”
Too bad for the bride…talk about being left at the altar. They should have eloped.

June 11, 2004 9:49 By Category : Backspin

More on EU-financed Palestinian terror

EUObserver.com reports that the EU continues to uncover a money trail from European taxpayers to Palestinian terrorists:

Bayerische Rundfunk (Bavarian TV) reported that 246 million euro of EU money, granted to the Palestinian Authority by the European Commission, ended up in fully uncontrollable bank accounts. Bayerische Rundfunk said, on the basis of a letter by Arafat that it had obtained, that the Palestinian leader personally ordered terrorist attacks, using the accounts where the EU money ended up.

For more on this, see here.

The lack of media interest in this story is baffling…

June 10, 2004 17:20 By Category : Backspin

New Yorker article on settlers

Barbara Sofer critiques a recent article in The New Yorker by Jeffrey Goldberg, entitled ‘Among the Settlers: Will they destroy Israel?’:

A more important problem is the writer’s obvious dislike of his subjects. This from a reporter who interviewed Ahmed Yassin and Hizbullah leaders in Lebanon without expressing antipathy. Let it suffice to say that I doubt he would have remarked on the unkempt fingernails of a working mother with 10 children had she lived in Beirut, Bombay, or Belfast.

But in Hebron, the rules are different. The same mother of 10, claims Goldberg, suffers from a “Moriah complex.” The traditional site of the binding of Isaac, says Goldberg, “symbolizes a Jew’s absolute devotion to even the most inexplicable and cruel demands of God. The Moriah complex is characterized by a desire to match Abraham’s devotion to God, even at the price of a child’s life.”

The suggestion that she – or, by extension, all of us who live here – values her children less than he does and would welcome the sacrifice of a child is an obscenity, not to mention his misuse of a seminal story of Jewish tradition.

See also the response to the article from David Wilder, spokesman for the Jewish Community of Hebron. Wilder claims Goldberg both misrepresented the tone he intended to use in the article (in order to gain access to interviews), and fabricated elements of the story. Your classic ‘charm and betray’ reporter’s M.O.

June 10, 2004 14:11 By Category : Backspin

Israel’s northern threat

Israel’s northern border heated up this week. Here’s a rundown of what happened:

1) On Monday, a Palestinian group (probably the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) fired a number of rockets from Lebanon toward Israel. At least one splashed down near an Israeli sea vessel in Israeli territorial waters.

2) In retaliation hours later, the IAF struck a PFLP target just south of Beirut.

3) On Tuesday, Hezbullah shelled IDF positions on Har Dov, and the IDF returned fire. (article)

Below is a map that explains why it’s essential for Israel to respond to these provocations forcefully. The relevant item here is the range of Katyusha missiles:


News stories don’t include the information conveyed by this map. But you have no idea what’s really flying in this story if you don’t understand this map and its implications for Israeli security — over a million civilians live within range of Ketushas fired from southern Lebanon. And thanks to Syria and Iran, there are plenty pointing that way.

June 10, 2004 0:00 By Category : Backspin