Jack Kelley’s terror tale

USA Today’s Jack Kelley has been dismissed after the paper found he fabricated many of his stories.

One of Kelley’s biggest stories was his claim to have personally witnessed the Sbarro’s pizzaria bombing in Jerusalem in 2001, which earned him a Pulizer nomination. But USA Today reporters now say he probably made the whole thing up:

Perhaps the most riveting story Jack Kelley wrote for USA TODAY involved a suicide bombing in Jerusalem on Aug. 9, 2001 — a bombing Kelley says he witnessed. Afterward, Kelley spoke about the bombing often — first for USATODAY.com, then on cable TV and in speeches.

Two witnesses contacted by USA TODAY put Kelley at the scene within minutes of the bombing.

On Thursday, Kelley stood behind his eyewitness account. “I know what I saw,” he said.

But what really happened that day, based on police records and interviews with rescue workers and others at the scene, differs substantially from Kelley’s Aug. 10 account.

Read the whole thing, which goes on to detail the problems with Kelley’s account of the attack.

While the growing critical oversight by editorial desks is certainly a good thing, the Kelley affair leaves us wondering how many other Mideast reporters have ‘enhanced’ their stories over the years…

March 22, 2004 1:00 By Category : Backspin

Palestinian propaganda in US textbooks

HonestReporting recently exposed the anti-Israel bias of two children’s primers from BBC and Knight Ridder.

FrontPage magazine now has an article entitled ‘Textbooks for Jihad’ that finds that prestigious American textbook publishers such as Prentice-Hall, Simon and Schuster, TCI, and others are educating children to the “Arab point of view” and its aspirations of world domination:

The content of TCI’s book and resource material for its Modern Middle East curriculum unit is blatantly anti-Israeli. High school teachers are instructed to require class “exercises” designed to pit some students in roles as advantaged Jews against other students as disadvantaged and unfairly treated Palestinian Arabs. The teachers, representing a world power, are instructed to intentionally and unfairly side against Arabs to suggest the existence of favoritism to Jews. The course material is quite shocking and clearly biased.

Furthermore, the TCI material turns Middle East history on its head. It does not present the history of Arab terrorism against Israel much less outline its extent over the last 55 years. The theme is constantly implied, stated and reiterated that Israel is a foreign entity that stole the Palestinians’ “country.”

If you have a child in high school in North America, take a look at his/her world history or world events textbook. As we stated regarding the BBC and Knight Ridder material:

By distorting the history of the region, ignoring the legacy of Arab rejection of Israel, denying the reason for peace failings, and omitting Palestinian terrorism, these news agencies do a great disservice not only to Israel, but to our young people, the decision-makers of tomorrow.

March 20, 2004 22:04 By Category : Backspin

BBC radio’s moral nihilism

The BBC’s Today program this morning tackled the issue everyone’s been struggling with:

“In the aftermath of the Madrid bombings, we discuss the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist.”

So who did they bring on the show to clarify this for us? Palestinian hijacker and hostage-taker Leila Khaled, and IRA publicity head Danny Morrison.

We kid you not. Hear it for yourself: RealAudio link

Melanie Phillips is outraged:

This is the BBC’s idea of balance — two apologists for terror, in earnest discussion. And this is the organisation the public nevertheless still appears to trust and venerates as an icon. Is it any wonder the country is in the grip of so much appeasement, irrationality and ignorance?

(Hat tip: Dan S., Biased BBC)

March 18, 2004 16:31 By Category : Backspin

PETA ad campaign

The animal rights group PETA has a new European ad campaign that compares the slaughter of chicken to the murder of Jews in Auschwitz:

The text at the top reads: “To animals, all people are Nazis”

From Reuters:

Paul Spiegel, president of the Central Council of Jews, said he would ask prosecutors to raise charges of “inciting racial hatred” against vegetarian group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for the advertisements called “Holocaust on a plate.”

PETA campaign coordinator Matt Prescott said he was aware of the council’s views, but added: “We are not willing to end the campaign.” He said he himself was Jewish.

The posters, due to be displayed in Stuttgart from Thursday and in 11 European cities at later dates, show pictures of battery hens packed into cages next to historic pictures of emaciated Jewish inmates in Nazi concentration camp bunk beds.


- PETA was the group that decided to voice its moral outrage against Palestinian terrorism only when donkeys (not Israeli humans) became threatened.

- PETA’s comparison of Jews to fowl is disturbingly similar to regular Arab descriptions of Israeli Jews as “sons of apes and pigs.” But at least to the Arabs this is considered an insult!

The quotation from German Jewish philosopher Theodor Adorno reads “Auschwitz begins when someone is in a slaughterhouse and says they are only animals.”

UPDATE: Last year, PETA did this campaign in the US.

March 18, 2004 15:56 By Category : Backspin

Guardian: There are no bad guys

From an editorial at the Guardian after the Madrid bombing:

Life stopped in the winter drizzle of Madrid yesterday. Offices, shops and cafes emptied, as funeral candles were lit in moving scenes of solidarity…If cities across Europe were waking up to the fact that they were as much in the crosshairs of an attack on this scale, as New York or Washington were, the Israeli mass circulation Yedioth Ahronoth could not restrain itself: “Welcome to the real world”, it declared unsubtlely.

But which real world? The world in which neighbourhoods are razed, water supplies cut off, children shot, in thinly disguised acts of collective retribution? …

We need to get beyond the them and us, the good guys and the bad guys, and seek a genuinely collective response.

Andrew Sullivan responds:

Notice how the Guardian instinctively, viscerally, blames the victim, Israel, for the terrorism that has plagued it for so long. For in the Guardian’s view, the democracies are always wrong; and the terrorists always have a point. Alas, the measures the Guardian refers to are a few of the most extreme tactics that the Israeli government has deployed in an attempt to stop the constant stream of atrocities wrought upon the only democracy in the Middle East. They are not acts of indiscriminate “collective retribution”–nor, as the Guardian implies, deliberate attempts to kill children–but bids to stem the tide of murder flooding into Israel’s streets and mass transportation systems.

In Europe, there are no bad guys, even those who deliberately murdered almost 200 innocents and threaten to murder countless more. Ask yourself: If the Guardian cannot call these people “bad guys,” then who qualifies? And if the leaders of democratic societies cannot qualify in this context as “good guys,” then who qualifies? What we have here is complete moral nihilism in the face of unspeakable violence.

Glenn Reynolds: “It’s not complete moral nihilism, alas. It’s not as if they show the same unwillingness to pass judgment where American actions are concerned.”

Or Israeli actions, of course.

March 18, 2004 10:19 By Category : Backspin

Mideast democracy oversight

Correction, New York Times, March 14:

“An article last Sunday about attempts to create democracy in Iraq misstated the precedent in the Mideast. Iraq would become the region’s second functioning democracy, after Israel, not its first.”

The oversight would be understandable if this weren’t a defining characteristic of the entire Mideast — Israel, the region’s pariah, perennial scapegoat, and (not coincidentally) only democracy. This was like a Mideast reporter forgetting that there’s oil in the region.

March 17, 2004 17:31 By Category : Backspin

Three new IDF videos

The IDF has released three short videos on the corruption of Palestinian culture, which is probably the most significant force they are really up against:

- The Exploitation of Palestinian Children by Terrorist Organizations

- Born to be a Shahid (Martyr)

- Exploiting Ambulances for Smuggling Explosives – Actual footage of the search for, discovery, and demolition of a suicide bomber belt that was hidden in a Palestinian ambulance to evade IDF security.

March 17, 2004 14:58 By Category : Backspin

Real Progress on ‘The T-Word’

We’ve just released a new communique that tracks some real success in the HonestReporting campaign to ensure media outlets refer to Palestinian terror as ‘terror’. View the communique here, and sign up above to receive HR communiques by email.

Also, see the HR webpage addressing this issue in greater depth: Calling Terror by Its Name

And we’ve posted a new study that finds a broader pattern of anti-Israel bias in terrorism reportage at the San Jose Mercury News.

March 16, 2004 22:31 By Category : Backspin

Using children for terror

Haaretz reports another shocking case of Palestinian use of children for terrorist activity:

Israel Defense Forces soldiers on Monday caught a 10-year-old Palestinian boy trying to get a large bomb through a roadblock in the West Bank city of Nablus.

Border Police sappers managed to safely detonate the device. The boy was reportedly with a group of school children.

Israel Radio reported that the boy told the soldiers that he had been offered a large sum of money to carry the device through the roadblock. An IDF officer told Army Radio the military believed the device was destined for a terror attack inside Israel.

For some reason, neither AP nor Reuters deemed this worthy of a story.

UPDATE: Jerusalem Post quotes an IDF commander on the incident:

“When the boy’s dispatchers saw he was being detained, they dialed the cellphone inside the bag in an attempt to detonate the bomb, but it failed to go off.”

Since the outbreak of violence, terrorists have dispatched 29 suicide bombers younger than 18, officials said.

Since 2001, more than 40 other minors who were involved in planning suicide bombings have been arrested by security forces.

AP does have a story now: ‘Palestinian Child Conscription Draws Ire’
Palestinians, including the boy himself, are now denying the whole thing.

March 15, 2004 20:44 By Category : Backspin

Brits on suicide bombing

It’s not just MP Jenny Tonge who would consider becoming a suicide bomber to kill innocent Israelis if she were a Palestinian.

From AP:

Just under half of British Muslims questioned in a poll released Sunday said they might consider becoming suicide bombers if they lived in the Palestinian territories, and more than one in ten said further terror attacks on the United States would be justified.

Perhaps even more scary:

An overall sampling of Britons asked the same question found that 15 percent said they might consider becoming bombers if they were in Palestinians’ shoes.

Says commentator Tom Gross, in correspondence with HonestReporting:

The Guardian newspaper, perhaps because it fears the results of its own poll, tucks these results at the very end of an article on today’s front page and does not give prominence to them in its headline.

If people are wondering how so many Muslims and non-Muslims came to formulate such views, they could start by examining the consistent inflammatory misreporting and lies about the Israeli- Palestinian conflict in The Guardian itself in recent years, and even more so by the BBC, the world’s biggest radio and television broadcaster.


March 15, 2004 20:30 By Category : Backspin