Hizbullah TV’s ‘Road to Palestine’

Via MediaLine:

Hizballah’s TV station Al-Manar is airing video-clips day and night depicting the fight against Israel and the aspiration to correct what it sees as the historic injustice done to the Palestinians. In other words: the complete destruction of the state of Israel.

A recent video clip says: “We shall return,” together with the names of Israeli cities such as Beersheva and Tiberias.

With funding and assistance from Iran, Syria, and more recently from al-Qaeda, Hizballah has turned into a leading force in the Arab and Muslim world.


June 2, 2004 15:32 By Category : Backspin

Only Israel labled ‘Nazi’

NAZIWalter Reich in the LA Times (req. reg.) :

Genocidal mass murder continues to foul the world. So do large-scale massacres of civilians and brutal executions.

Yet the foulest epithet in any language — “Nazi” — is hurled not against any of the perpetrators of those crimes but, uniquely and systematically, against Israel.

A piece well worth reading. We received a number of alerts from concerned Times readers regarding an illustration that accompanied this article in the print edition. The illustration (above – click for larger version) was the word ‘NAZI’ with Israel written inside the ‘I’.

While the illustration was ill-conceived, its context alongside the article indicates that there was no major impropriety from the Times on this one.

June 2, 2004 13:37 By Category : Backspin

Reuterization of Washington Times?

AtlanticBlog points out this line from a Washington Times report on the UN Human Rights Commission:

Washington has staked out an increasingly moral and, in many quarters, unpopular stand in the HRC by aggressively seeking the censure of China, Zimbabwe, Cuba and other dictatorial regimes, even as it defends Israel.

Asks William Sjostram:

“even as”? So when did Sharon pull off a military coup and cancel elections?

Comments to Washington Times: click here

June 1, 2004 17:20 By Category : Backspin

Istanbul death threat

Turkey is one of the most popular vacation spots for Israelis. This scary incident happened to Jerusalem’s Nochi Brown in the Istanbul airport yesterday:

Brown arrived at the Istanbul airport yesterday (Monday) after spending the weekend in the city. He was reading the Gemara (book offering interpretation of the Torah) when a group of Arab men waiting for a flight to Algeria began crowding around him, making remarks in Arabic about “avenging the killing of Ahmed Yassin.”

Fortunately, other Israelis were present at the airport at the time, including Itzik Tsabari from Givat Shmuel. Tsabari, who speaks Arabic, was shocked to hear the conversation between the Arab men. “I heard them say ‘Itbach al-Yehud’ [butcher the Jews], we’ll take him to the bathroom and get our revenge for Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians”, he recounted.

Thanks to Tsabari, Brown came out of this OK. But it doesn’t bode well for Jews/Israelis travelling in areas with large Muslim populations. This story should at least make its way into Jewish publications, to encourage greater awareness of this growing problem.

June 1, 2004 11:56 By Category : Backspin

The Same Old Song

tobinJonathon Tobin of Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent notes that the moment the US started running into trouble in Iraq, the Jewish members of Bush’s inner circle became scapegoats:

It is a rule of thumb that has been tried and tested many times over the last 2,000 years. When things go bad, blame the Jews. So it can hardly be termed a surprise that the problems that have arisen for the United States in Iraq have led some of the conflict’s fiercest critics to trot out the same bag of tired tricks. When in doubt, they always turn to the familiar refrain of thinly and not-so-thinly veiled canards directed at Israel and the Jews.

Some recent examples: BusinessWeek, Sen. Fritz Hollings (it’s Perle, Wolfowitz and Krauthammer’s fault — Bush hoped that “spreading democracy in the Mideast to secure Israel would take the Jewish vote from the Democrats”), and Gen. Anthony Zinni on 60 Minutes. Then there are those who claim the lack of Israeli concessions to Palestinians doomed the Iraq mission: Anthony Cordesman in the Baltimore Sun (“the United States must abandon the surrealist illusions of those neoconservatives who have done so much to undermine U.S. interests”) and Zinni as quoted by the NY Times Nicholas Kristoff, in Kristoff’s recent anti-Sharon screed.

Haaretz also addresses this issue today:

…certain members of the U.S. Jewish community are beginning to feel a little uncomfortable.

“The fact is that this claim is out there,” says the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, on the charge that the Jews and supporters of Israel were the ones who pushed the U.S. into the war. “We were pointed out at the beginning, and it’s easier to blame us when things go bad,” he adds.

Here’s what Foxman means by ‘pointed out at the beginning’ of the war.

UPDATE Via Judith Weiss: It’s happening in Greece, too.

May 31, 2004 17:43 By Category : Backspin

BBC’s Mideast policeman


While the Israeli foreign ministry is again furious with the BBC, Haaretz has an article on Malcolm Balen, the BBC’s ombudsmen for Mideast matters. Good background on the groundswell of complaints that brought the Beeb to appoint Balen, and a definition of Balen’s role:

“I am not here as an extra layer of editorial supervision on a minute by minute, day-to-day basis. What I do is a long-term editorial review, and by definition, the review is retrospective, rather than a look at day-to-day output. The truth is, in any editorial job, you are so tied up with your program and deadline, that you simply do not have the time to stand back and look at the coverage as a whole,” says Balen.

“Nobody has the time in a journalistic job to trace the course of a single story in an organization as large as the BBC, which is what I was appointed to do. I can concentrate on a single story and look at all sorts of angles and aspects. I can join the dots together, [determine] what the coverage feels like, what the tone is like – crucially, what the content is like, what the balance is like.”


May 31, 2004 16:20 By Category : Backspin

Okrent: Institutional reporting failures

In a column reviewing the NY Times’ faulty coverage of WMDs in Iraq, Times’ Public Editor Daniel Okrent outlines a number of ‘institutional’ problems that plague news reporting:

* The Hunger for Scoops
* Front Page Syndrome
* Hit-and-run Journalism
* Coddling Sources
* End-run Editing

While all five of these problems exist also in reporting on Israel, Okrent’s ‘Coddling Sources’ seems most clearly relevant:

There is nothing more toxic to responsible journalism than an anonymous source. There is often nothing more necessary, too; crucial stories might never see print if a name had to be attached to every piece of information. But a newspaper has an obligation to convince readers why it believes the sources it does not identify are telling the truth. That automatic editor defense, “We’re not confirming what he says, we’re just reporting it,” may apply to the statements of people speaking on the record. For anonymous sources, it’s worse than no defense. It’s a license granted to liars.

The contract between a reporter and an unnamed source – the offer of information in return for anonymity – is properly a binding one. But I believe that a source who turns out to have lied has breached that contract, and can fairly be exposed.

Indeed. So why is Saeb Erekat, a named source who turned out to be baldly lying about Jenin, still considered a reputable spokesman by news outlets? Why were unnamed Palestinian sources granted broad legitimacy regarding the supposed Gaza ‘massacre’ on May 19 (which turned out to be nothing of the sort)? And when was the last time an unnamed Palestinian source who ‘breached the contract’ of truth was exposed for this in follow-up stories?

Analyst Joshua Muravchik makes a similar point in his book, Covering the Intifada: How the Media Reported the Palestinian Uprising:

Journalists seem to follow a canon that says when two sides are fighting, it is their obligation to report equally and with equal credence what is said by each. But the quality of the information provided by the two sides in this conflict is highly asymmetrical. By this I mean simply that the Palestinians repeatedly lie. It starts with Arafat and goes down to his many deputies. It seems even to reach…man-in-the-street interviews, such as the Jenin resident who claimed [falsely] to have watched Israel bury ten bodies under a building.

Given this, media objectivity cannot be achieved in this conflict by simply quoting Palestinian officials or local ‘eyewitnesses,’ unchallenged. Okrent would seem to agree.

May 31, 2004 10:15 By Category : Backspin

Foreign Ministry vs. BBC, round 2

As the BBC plans to air a new Vanunu interview tonight, the Israeli Foreign Ministry lashes out again against the Beeb:

Foreign Ministry officials charge that the BBC is a “communications organization whose goal is to undermine the legitimacy of the state of Israel. It promotes hostile coverage of Israel… and the Vanunu affair proves that the BBC is a communications entity which shows complete disregard for journalistic standards and ethics. Their journalistic culture can be compared to that of media outlets in Arab states, or in the Palestinian Authority.”

One Foreign Ministry source said the ministry will now reevaluate Israel’s relations with the BBC. For five months, leading up to November 2003, Israel boycotted the BBC.

The Foreign Ministry is furious about what it regards as the BBC’s shirking of responsibility for an interview with former nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, who was convicted of treason and recently released from prison. An exclusive interview with Vanunu is to be broadcast by the BBC this evening (and there was a report about the interview this morning in The Sunday Times).

“The BBC baldly lied to us after Vanunu’s release,” says the ministry official. “It lied when it denied having any connection with the apartment which was about to be rented for him in Jaffa. [Journalist Peter] Hounam worked for the BBC, and they are simply lying on this matter.”

May 30, 2004 14:07 By Category : Backspin

Worth reading today

* The Independent has an interview with an Al Aqsa Brigades leader who openly admits Yassir Arafat’s involvement in his group’s terrorism:

While on the subject of the PLO chairman, what about his periodic condemnations of murders carried out by Palestinian militants? “It’s a tactic,” says Zubeidi. About this at least, he and the Israelis, who hold Arafat’s Fatah directly responsible for financing the Brigades, appear to agree.

Also, the Independent apparently agrees with Hamas et al that Israeli settlers shouldn’t be considered civilians:

“He declines to discuss how many Israeli deaths he has been personally responsible for since then, or the details of the many operations the faction has conducted from Jenin against civilians, soldiers and settlers

(Hat tip: Alvin D.)

* (Via YNet) Report: Iran Establishes Suicide Bomber Unit to Strike Israel

Iranian intelligence has established a unit charged with recruiting suicide bombers to be sent to Israel, Iraq, and Lebanon, the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported Friday.
The newspaper received a video cassette of the speech of a senior Iranian intelligence official speaking to students at al-Hussein University, where Revolutionary Guards are trained.
In it, he warns that Iran has the capability to strike the U.S. and other Western countries: “We’ve looked at 29 sensitive sites in the West and we know how to hit them.”

* Missile Defense for El Al Fleet

Next month, El Al will begin equipping all of its planes with an anti-missile system called “Flight Guard” – the first airline in the world to use such a system.
Within seconds of a missile being detected, an onboard computer releases flares, fired at different angles to act as a diversion.
The system is completely automated because a missile attack could happen before the pilots could react.

* Moshe Arens on The Gaza Paradox

* ‘Arabs, too, are losing patience with Arafat’ – via IHT

* Washington Times editorial on ‘Gaza’s Future’

By launching a robust military campaign to destroy weapons-smuggling tunnels along the border separating Gaza and Egypt, Sharon seeks to prevent a situation in which Israel is perceived as being weak. But the most critical reason for the campaign (which is likely to be repeated in the months ahead, whether settlements remain in Gaza or not) is to deny the terrorists the ability to smuggle long-range weapons into Gaza for use against nearby Israeli cities.

Israel’s failure to do that before withdrawing from Lebanon has resulted in Hizballah being able to deploy missiles capable of reaching Haifa, an area where much of Israel’s industrial capacity is located. Sharon is understandably determined to prevent Hizballah and its friends from doing this in the south.

May 28, 2004 16:11 By Category : Backspin

Terrorists’ use of UN ambulances

unambulancePeter Hansen of the UNWRA asked today for an apology from Israeli Defence Minister Mofaz for what Hansen called “damaging and baseless allegations” that Palestinians used UN-supplied ambulances to spirit away Israeli soldiers’ body parts two weeks ago.

Well, this intelligence site says

Reuters has a video cassette of pictures taken during the Israeli army operation in the Zeitun quarter of Gaza City on May 11, 2004. It shows armed Palestinians using UNRWA ambulances to transport terrorists and possibly also remains of fallen Israeli soldiers.

Also, Israel’s Channel 10 aired pictures of armed Palestinians using UNRWA ambulances to flee undercover (see the damning still shot above).

And Haaretz reports:

Israeli police have uncovered a network that smuggled PA officers, including members of Arafat’s elite Force 17 personal protection unit, into Israel in fake ambulances, and may also have smuggled terrorists into Israel using the same method. Police recently arrested an Arab with Israeli citizenship suspected of posing as an ambulance driver and illegally bringing into Israel dozens of Palestinians disguised as sick patients. The “patients” were hooked up to medical devices inside the ambulances and presented forged documents at Israeli checkpoints. Police recently raided a warehouse near Jerusalem in which commercial vehicles were transformed into ambulances.

For more background on Palestinians’ use of ambulances for terror, see this and this from the Foreign Ministry.


May 27, 2004 14:43 By Category : Backspin