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Today BackSpin received its 100,000th visitor — a remarkable pace for a blog that’s only 5 months old.

Thank you to our regular readers for making BackSpin the blog for monitoring media coverage of the Mideast conflict!

April 1, 2004 14:46 By Category : Backspin

USA Today whitewashes child terror

The dramatic scene (March 25) of the Palestinian teenager caught at an IDF checkpoint with an explosive belt wrapped around his body has created great media interest in the question: How can Palestinians allow children to become perpetrators of suicide terror?

As HonestReporting illustrated in our March 2 communique, media reports regularly refuse to acknowledge the regular Palestinian incitement to hate and suicide bombing that lies at the heart of this problem. Instead, Israel is blamed for even this most obscene child abuse.

Yesterday’s USA Today article on this topic is another example of this. The thesis of the article is that ‘the sense that some Arab mothers hate Jews more than they love their children’ is simply wrong. The reporter interviews three pro-Palestinian ‘experts’ to reach this conclusion:

Experts discount claims that any Palestinian mother would wish her child to die as a martyr, even though the mothers of suicide bombers commonly are quoted as glorying in their child’s death. Such comments are meant to provide a show of strength and assuage political and community pressure, mental health experts say.

In other words, when Palestinian mothers, such as Umm Nidal who ‘always longed to be a mother of a shahid’, say they are fiercely proud of their dead terrorist sons, they are not to be taken seriously — it’s only a psychological phenomenon meant to ‘assuage community pressure.’

USA Today also passes off the full horror of jihadi suicide bombing against innocent civilians as a religious dilemma:

Religious mothers have a particular conflict in child rearing; in Islam, life on Earth is considered a test for getting into heaven. Dying as a martyr ensures immediate ascent there. [A psychologist] recounts an incident last week involving a devout mother suffering immense guilt because her son kept telling her he wanted to die as a martyr. ” ‘I don’t want him to die,’ ” Sarraj says the mother told him. ” ‘But at the same time, I’m a good Muslim.’”

The fact that the Palestinian brand of Islam requires her to make a choice between keeping her son (bad Muslim) and watching him blow up on an Israel commuter bus (good Muslim) is somehow avoided here. Responsible reporting would never show such utter lack of moral context.

Comments to: editor@usatoday.com

April 1, 2004 12:37 By Category : Backspin

Fence Double Standard

Erick Stakelbeck at the National Review has some concrete examples of security/border fences elsewhere in the world that the UN doesn’t seem to care about. Here’s one:

The U.N. has also been mum about a razor-wire border fence — funded in part by the European Union — built between the Spanish enclave of Ceuta and neighboring Morocco in 2000.

According to Jonathan L. Snow of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, “[Spain's] fence, designed to curb the flow of illegal immigrants into Europe, has undoubtedly played a role in the death of more than 4,000 people who have died trying in vain to cross the strait to enter Spain.”

For the EU, which has been critical of the Israeli fence, funding the Spanish/Moroccan barrier seems a gross violation of its ultra-liberal ideals.

For more on the UN’s anti-Israel bias, see this AIPAC report from 2002.

April 1, 2004 10:23 By Category : Backspin

Sharansky slams BBC

Jerusalem Post reports:

The BBC employs a “gross double standard to the Jewish state” that smacks of anti-Semitism, Minister Natan Sharansky charged Tuesday, reacting to its coverage of the IDF’s arrest of a 16-year-old would-be suicide bomber last week. Sharansky quoted BBC correspondent Orla Guerin as describing to viewers how the IDF “paraded the child in front of the international media,” then “produced” the child for reporters, “posed” him a second time for the cameras, and then “rushed him back into a jeep.” Such language, Sharansky said, casts doubt on what happened.

Other news agencies, such as the New York Times in their report on this event, also prominently noted the “propaganda victory” for Israel that it provided. But the Times also printed an entire photo spread on their front page that day of Husam Abdu.

March 31, 2004 22:43 By Category : Backspin

Arafat’s terror ties

The Israeli government has long argued that Yassir Arafat is not merely failing to uproot terror groups — he’s actively supporting them.

Some new evidence emerged yesterday (via Ha’aretz):

A confession by a member of Fatah’s armed branch in Nablus has shed new light on the extent of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat’s involvement in terror. The terror suspect told Shin Bet security service interrogators that money he received from Arafat was used to purchase weapons and to carry out shooting attacks in the West Bank.

Raaf Mansur, from the Nablus area, was detained by Israel Defense Forces soldiers last February. Mansur headed a wing of Fatah’s military branch, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. His cell was responsible for attacks in the Nablus and Jenin areas.

Letters confiscated by Israeli security forces from Mansur’s home included pleas sent to Arafat for money to fund armed activities. Mansur told interrogators that his appeals to Arafat resulted in a monthly NIS [new Israeli shekels] 7,500 [about $1,650] payment to him. The allocations continued up to the time of Mansur’s arrest.

For more on what Israel has on Arafat, which is almost never reported in the western press, see this article from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and the HonestReporting communique The Fatah-Al Aqsa Brigades.

March 30, 2004 10:50 By Category : Backspin

Hanson on Israel support

Victor David Hanson, senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, has a strong new column on his blog: When Should We Stop Supporting Israel

Hanson points out the key problems with Palestinian culture that simply don’t exist in democratic Israel, then concludes:

for the present, Palestinian leaders shouldn’t be too surprised that Americans increasingly find very little in their society that has much appeal to either our values or sympathy. If they continually assure us publicly that they are furious at Americans, then they should at least pause, reflect, and ask themselves why an overwhelming number of Americans—not Jewish, not residents of New York, not influenced by the media—are growing far more furious with them.

March 29, 2004 22:08 By Category : Backspin

Jewish ‘Right of Return’

Comprehensive report by Jack Epstein in SF Chronicle on efforts to compensate Jews who fled Arab lands after the founding of Israel. Great background on the scope of the problem, how recent changes in Iraq and Libya have altered the equation, reaction from Palestinians, and the latest actions in Congress:

In recent months, independent Jewish groups have begun a concerted effort on behalf of these “forgotten refugees,” who they say were ignored by the global community after being absorbed by other countries — mostly Israel — while Palestinian refugees captured worldwide sympathy for living in squalid camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip.

March 29, 2004 16:13 By Category : Backspin

Response from/to Parkinson

Thursday’s HonestReporting communique included a critique of an article by Tony Parkinson, international editor of Melbourne’s The Age.

In his article, Parkinson made an outrageous comparison between Sheikh Yassin and Leon Klinghoffer, the wheelchair-bound American tourist brutally murdered by Palestinian terrorists nearly 20 years ago.

Parkinson wrote to HonestReporting, complaining that we misrepresented his article in our critique, which he termed “an orchestrated attempt at disinformation, vilification and defamation.” Moreover, Parkinson believes nobody actually read his article, but rather fired off angry emails based only upon the few lines in our communique.


March 28, 2004 22:00 By Category : Backspin

Reporting, or demonstrating?

Here’s one of the most biased picture captions we’ve seen in awhile, courtesy of AP:

Members of Sydney’s Muslim community hold posters of murdered Palestinian Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin as they pray before marching through the center of Sydney to condemn the killing, in Sydney, Sunday, March 28, 2004. The peaceful march was also to voice their anger at the brutal murder of Yassin and to call for ongoing and a peaceful resolution to the situation in the Middle East.
(AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Comments to: feedback@ap.org

(Hat tip: LGF)

March 28, 2004 9:01 By Category : Backspin

Stephens on media bias

Very good column by Bret Stephens today on a media bias conference in Tel Aviv that was itself biased, with no real critics of media coverage invited. One particularly sharp observation, directed toward the European media:

Basically, the European media looks at Israel-Palestine as an occupation story. I know this because more than one senior European journalist has told me so. That’s not necessarily the wrong prism through which to see things, but it’s also not the only prism. You might also, conceivably, play this as a cycle of violence story, as much of the mainstream US media do. Or you might view the conflict as a function of the Arab world’s abiding rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Each captures a different aspect of reality, and each contributes to our overall understanding. But you choose to capture only one aspect, which happens to be the aspect favored by the Palestinians. This is a form of bias.

And in case you missed it, Stephens also had a good article in the Wall Street Journal this week addressing the world’s reaction to Palestinian terrorism: The Fear Factor

March 26, 2004 10:51 By Category : Backspin