Reuters on Spanish Elections

Reuters headline today:

Socialists Score Spectacular Spanish Election Win

We’re wondering if Reuters would have described it as ‘spectacular’ if the center-right party had won…

March 15, 2004 9:40 By Category : Backspin

Bin Laden reclaiming Occupied Spain

An article that appeared in The Age (Australia) and London’s Daily Telegraph addresses radical Islam’s ‘claim’ to Spain:

Thursday’s bombings have raised an uncomfortable question for Spaniards. Is Osama bin Laden dreaming of exacting revenge for the loss of Al-Andalus, the ancient Moorish kingdom in Iberia?

A group said to be close to bin Laden’s al-Qaeda, the Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri, sent a message to a London-based Arabic newspaper saying: “This is part of settling old accounts with Spain, the crusader and America’s ally in its war against Islam.”

While the authenticity of the message is open to doubt, there is no question that it reflects the thinking of Islamists who hold that any land that has once been part of the Muslim community should forever remain under Muslim rule.

At the beginning of the 11th century, three-quarters of Spain’s population was Muslim. But as soon as the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella reconquered the country for Christianity, the Muslims were ordered out.

The humiliation has never been forgotten in the Arab world.

Journalist and commentator Tom Gross adds: “Not stated in this article (perhaps because the Daily Telegraph in Spain is unaware) is that many radical Islamists regularly refer to Spain as occupied territory in their sermons and websites.”

March 14, 2004 13:53 By Category : Backspin

Terror in Madrid

We join the Spanish community in mourning those killed and injured by the brutal attack on Thursday.

It’s remarkable that the major news agencies continue to refer to it as a ‘terrorist attack’ (which of course it was), though these same agencies refuse to refer to Palestinian attacks on packed Israeli public transportation as ‘terror’:

Associated Press: “Spain’s interior minister said Sunday a videotape has been discovered claiming al-Qaida carried out the Madrid terrorist attacks and threatening more…”

Washington Post: “…trying to manipulate public opinion about the terror attacks before the elections…”

AFP: ‘Terror Attacks Will Not Stop Spanish Football’

We reiterate that this is not merely a semantic issue — as the West unites against barbaric, utterly unjustified terrorism that threatens everyone, it is essential that Israel’s struggle against terror be understood as part and parcel of the larger concern. When news outlets differentiate between a bus attack in Jerusalem (the work of ‘militants’) from a train attack in Madrid (the work of ‘terrorists’), they expose their editorial decision that the Jerusalem attack is somehow more justified. That’s not just wrong, it’s downright dangerous. And far from ‘neutral reporting.’

Reuters, meanwhile, has referred to the Madrid bombs as a ‘guerilla attack’. For this, Reuters gets one point for consistency (they’ve also referred to Hamas as ‘guerillas’), but loses two points for accuracy.

UPDATE: Dr. Stephen Plaut has an article on this as well.

March 14, 2004 9:58 By Category : Backspin

Selective coverage at Wash Post

David Gerstman notes that the Washington Post made a big deal of Israeli Chief of Staff Yaalon’s statement in November that Israel should loosen up restrictions on Palestinians, but when Yaalon said this week that a rapid IDF pullout from Gaza could be intensifying Palestinian terror, the Wash Post chose not to report it at all.

Says Gerstman:

If the Chief of Staff publicly criticizing the Prime Minister is news, it’s news whether his dissent is something that a reporter agrees with or not. This is as clear a case of bias as anything we’ve seen. This doesn’t have to do with choice of words or use of adjectives. It has to do with an objective standard that was used once and then ignored.

March 12, 2004 11:26 By Category : Backspin

Communique on biased kids’ media

We’ve just released a new communique on biased descriptions of the Mideast conflict in children’s media –BBC and Knight Ridder.

To view it, click here.

To receive HonestReporting communiques in your inbox, subscribe above.

March 11, 2004 17:45 By Category : Backspin

Worth Reading Today

- Commentary by the Israeli Consul to New England in The Christian Science Monitor:

As part of an effort to restore diplomatic ties with Egypt, Tehran’s city council recently agreed to rename Khaled Islambouli Avenue, a street named after the assassin of former Egyptian Prime Minister and peacemaker, Anwar Sadat. On one hand, this is a positive sign of increased openness to the ideas of peace and moderation. However, the street was renamed Intifada Avenue after the violent Palestinian uprising against Israel, and a likeness of Islambouli still adorns a downtown building.

This story reveals a great deal about the conflicting attitudes and interests at work in the Muslim world – reform is possible, but old hatreds, misguided prejudices, and support for terrorism are still the norm.

- FrontPage Magazine has a commentary on EU funds being diverted to Palestinian terror.

- From Haaretz: A spokesman from PM Sharon’s office says the security fence will not extend to the eastern side of the West Bank:

Tirza said his committee has tried to limit the damage wrought by the fence. “In places where I can, I move the route of the fence so as not to destroy olive groves and hot houses. Not a single home has been destroyed as a result of the route of the fence, except for some homes built illegally in the area of Baka al-Garbiyeh.”

- From Jerusalem Report: The new Justice Minister of Canada is Jewish, and an committed Zionist.

- From Washington Institute for Near East Policy — ‘All Quiet on Israel’s Northern Front?’ :

The U.S. has repeatedly indicated that Syrian President Assad must take initial trust-building steps such as controlling Hizballah, preventing terrorist spillage from Syria into Iraq, and putting an end to terrorism directed from Hamas and Islamic Jihad headquarters in Damascus. Given Israel’s current focus on Gaza, Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations do not appear to be in the cards for the time being.


March 10, 2004 15:42 By Category : Backspin


Israeli Prime Minister Sharon is regularly branded a ‘hardliner’ by the English-language press (even after showing considerable flexibility on, for example, the proposed Gaza withdrawl).

It’s telling to note where else in the world the major agencies use the term ‘hardliners’:

- In Yemen, to describe fugitive terrorists, including al Qaeda operatives.

- In Iran, to describe the radical Islamic forces that have rolled back women’s rights.

- In India, to describe a ‘right-wing Hindu group’ that is ‘dedicated to creating an exclusive Hindu nation,’ and those who want to ban Valentine’s Day.

- In Macedonia, to describe ‘ethnically divided’ war-mongers.

- In Bahrain, to describe (in translation) Islamists who shut down an ‘immodest’ TV show and insist on ‘no champagne-spraying or scantilly clad women’ at an upcoming car race.

- In Pakistan, to describe Taliban-supporting radical Islamists.

The implication is clear — these are bad folks, the whole lot of them, opposed to reconciliation and progress (and even love).

Is this fitting company for Sharon, the elected leader of a modern, pluralistic, truly democratic nation?

March 9, 2004 16:48 By Category : Backspin

Hamas makes global ties

Don’t miss the significance of this news item: Hamas just announced that they were responsible for the April, 2003 bombing of Mike’s Place in Tel Aviv:

The Hamas declaration of responsibility for the event was at least externally similar to declarations of responsibility claimed by the organization for other attacks. But the content reveals what has been a mystery since the bombing – the identity of the organization that conducted the only successful terror attack inside Israel that emanated from Gaza.

More significantly, strategically, for the first time the organization presents one of its actions as part of a global Islamic struggle and for the first time, it used non-Palestinian suicide bombers.

Hamas, formally founded in 1987, has so far emphasized the local nature of its goals and character. Any attempt to tie it to Islamic organizations like al-Qaida were met by vehement denials by its spokesmen.

So while news outlets continue to insist that terrorist Islam among Palestinians is local in nature, and tied to Israeli occupation, Hamas themselves have now declared their ideological ties to al Qaeda et al. Note that the AP report on this development, however, does not mention this element of Hamas’ declaration.

March 9, 2004 11:22 By Category : Backspin

Failed Attack?

(Via Sharkblog)

A headline from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

Failed suicide attack claims six Palestinian lives

No Jews were killed, but four of the dead guys were trying to commit suicide. They shouldn’t be written off as a total failure.

March 7, 2004 17:30 By Category : Backspin

Worth Reading Today

- Chicago Tribune (req. reg.) reader’s rep Don Wycliff comments on the paper’s Uli Schmetzer debacle and the role of web-based media watchdogs:

It could be that technology already is providing us a kind of ultimate check in the form of the Internet. In the past, national and foreign correspondents could roam the country or the world writing stories about people who would never see their work. In the Internet age, there are fewer and fewer places where the Chicago Tribune–or the Waxahachie Daily Light, for that matter–cannot be accessed and read critically by people about whom we write. And that is a very good thing.

We at HonestReporting will take that as a compliment.

- From The Independent: The UK has offered to send military advisors to the Gaza Strip to bolster security if Israel disengages.

- Prominent Arab journalist Anis Mansour, an Egyptian, calls on Yasser Arafat to make peace with Israel, or the Palestinians will “sooner or later call you to account.” Here is Memri’s report. And here is the report from the Jerusalem Post.

- Jerusalem Post quotes a Palestinian paper that Ron Arad is being held in Lebanon by a group with Syrian connections, and that Israel received from the German media an authentic DNA sample.

March 7, 2004 16:24 By Category : Backspin