Biased coverage of Israel down under

FrontPage magazine has a report on biased coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the Australian Broadcasting Network:

At the ABC, an unregenerate penchant for pro-Palestinian partisanship is nowhere more apparent than in the network’s choice of documentary programs. A particularly egregious example of anti-Israel bias appeared in a film entitled “The Killing Zone” that was broadcast last year on ABC Television’s Four Corners.

Anyone who watched “The Killing Zone” might be excused for thinking that Israelis are cold-hearted murderers, while Palestinians are pacifists who espouse the non-violent doctrines of Mahatma Ghandi. Yet, in truth, Gaza is a stronghold of Muslim extremism and its streets teem with gunmen from the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements who are constantly conducting armed assaults against Israeli soldiers and civilians alike.

See also the exhaustive work by Australian media monitors documenting bias at Melborne’s ‘The Age’ – it’s available here (as a rather large .pdf file).

February 9, 2004 23:48 By Category : Backspin

Confirmed: PA paid terrorists with EU money

The (Hebrew) site News First Class is the first to relay this:

The German newspaper Berlin Morgenpost reported Sunday on the initial results of the European Commission’s Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) investigation into suspicions that $1.1 billion in EU aid to the Palestinians was used in an illegal manner.

The initial report indicates that Arafat transferred much of the European aid money to various Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terror groups and to Palestinian officials.

There has been a great deal of speculation and some media reports regarding this, but this is the first official EU confirmation of the PA spending European taxpayers’ money on arming terrorists.

February 9, 2004 23:39 By Category : Backspin

Internal Palestinian Disorder

● Mitch Potter of the Toronto Star reports on the breakdown of law and order in Nablus, where mafia-like gangs rule the city:

Buoyed by what is now a total absence of islah, or public order, a fragmented array of heavily armed criminal gangs has turned the intifada on itself.

As many as eight separate factions in Nablus and the three refugee camps that ring the city — lay claim to the title Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the radical offshoot of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement.

But the name doesn’t mean much these days, not when so many who lay claim to it are fighting for the spoils of criminal racketeering, car thefts, drugs, gun running and extortion.

“It is a mafia that controls our streets now,” says Mayoub Abu Saliyeh, who last week witnessed a bloody turf battle from the vantage of the gas station he manages. “People get killed, nobody gets arrested, because there is no law, no security.

“I have never seen my city like this before, where any man with a gun can do whatever he wants. It is a dream for Israel, the way Palestinians quarrel with each other.”

AP and Reuters picked up on the 400 Fatah members resigning en masse to protest PA corruption and ineffectiveness. BBC added:

There is a history of friction between the younger members of the Fatah movement and the old guard brought back from exile after interim peace agreements in the early 1990s to run the newly-formed Palestinian Authority.

Failure to hold elections for the party’s governing bodies are at the heart of the dispute.

Party procedure calls for elections every five years, but none have taken place since 1989.

Jerusalem Post reports that Palestinian journalists continue to protest Fatah press intimidation:

Alarmed by a rise in the number of attacks on journalists, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and human rights groups have once again appealed to the Palestinian Authority to take stiff measures against perpetrators.

The journalists are also planning a one-day strike later this week to protest against the attacks, all of which have been carried out by Fatah gunmen.

The most recent attacks took place last week in Ramallah and Gaza City. In the first case, three masked Palestinian gunmen carrying AK-47 assault rifles stormed the offices of the Ramallah-based Al-Quds Educational Television.

Assistant manager Haroun Abu Arrah, one of two station employees present at the time, told the Committee for the Protection of Journalists that one of the men demanded that he hand over a tape. When Abu Arrah asked for clarification, the gunmen began beating the two staffers with rifle butts and fists.

February 8, 2004 23:35 By Category : Backspin

Photojournalism, or staged emotion?

While a number of photojournalists were taking yet another photo of Palestinian suffering, Enric Marti of the AP shot the scene from a far more telling angle, including the photographers themselves:

Photographers take pictures of a Palestinian woman as she cries next to the 8-meter-tall wall part of the barrier Israel is building to separate the outskirts of Jerusalem from the West Bank in the village of Abu Dis Saturday Feb. 7, 2004. Around a thousand Israeli and Palestinians rallied against the controversial security barrier that is meant, according to Israel, to keep suicide bombers out. Others condemn the barrier, which dips deep into the West Bank in some areas, as a land grab. (AP Photo/Enric Marti)

One has to wonder if the woman’s crying began before she encountered the photographers, or after. Were they merely ‘capturing the scene’, or making it?

UPDATE: Roger Simon calls this “one of the most graphic portrayals of media dishonesty I have ever seen.”

Instapundit says the picture “demonstrat[es] just how manufactured much reporting is,” and reminds us of this similar picture, from Cancun.

(Hat tip: LGF)

February 8, 2004 0:28 By Category : Backspin

Friedman: A Jewish conspiracy

HonestReporting’s communique yesterday noted that NY Times columnist Tom Friedman showed blatant disregard for the facts regarding Israeli prisoner releases. We haven’t seen a correction yet from the Times, but this certainly demands one.

Friedman also makes the outrageous claim in his column that there’s a Jewish conspiracy operating in Washington:

Sharon has…Mr. Bush surrounded by Jewish and Christian pro-Israel lobbyists, by a vice president, Dick Cheney, who’s ready to do whatever Mr. Sharon dictates, and by political handlers telling the president not to put any pressure on Israel in an election year – all conspiring to make sure the president does nothing.

Elliot Chodoff’s response:

Friedman, whose writing skills far surpass his analytical ones, chooses his words carefully. After warning us that Bush is being held under “house arrest” by Sharon, he uses terms like “surrounded,” dictates,” and “conspiring.” So, if we are to understand Friedman, US policy is made in Jerusalem and dictated to a surrounded president under house arrest, who is paralyzed by a conspiracy. The sinister absurdity of Friedman’s assertions are so overwhelming that they make the nonsense of the rest of his article virtually irrelevant.

We are forced to wonder about the source of Friedman’s sudden realization that American policy is controlled by the Jews. Is he simply parroting the conspiracy theories of his Saudi and Palestinian friends, or is he quoting from two of their favorite bed time story books: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf?

Comments to: letters@nytimes.com

Send a copy to the Times’ Public Editor, Daniel Okrent: public@nytimes.com

February 6, 2004 12:56 By Category : Backspin

AP sarcasm reserved for Israelis

The Associated Press ran an article on Jewish Gaza residents that is just dripping with sarcasm:

A day after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Jewish settlements in Gaza would have to be removed, the settlers threw open their heavily guarded electric gates Tuesday to show they are just ordinary suburban folk who want peace – but will never leave this land.

Many say they do not believe Sharon is sincere, but just in case, they launched a full-scale counterattack with cookies, glossy brochures and media-savvy English speakers.

The reporter encourages the reader to join him in reveling in the fact that he wasn’t taken in by the sneaky, ‘media-savvy settlers’. Why is such tendentious treatment reserved for this community?

And when was the last time an absurd Palestinian statement was actively undercut like this?:

“It’s a town. I never understood the word settlement. It’s a town like suburban Long Island, like suburban London,” [Anita Tucker] said.

Tucker’s small town is protected by a triple layer of curled razor wire, electric fencing and a tall metal fence, its entrance guarded by soldiers.

Comments to AP: feedback@ap.org

February 5, 2004 13:04 By Category : Backspin

Taranto links to HR

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal Best of the Web – edited by the incomparable James Taranto – brought our communique on the Minneapolis Star Tribune to the attention of many thousands of readers.

Thanks for the link, James.

February 5, 2004 10:05 By Category : Backspin

Star Trib apologizes

Yesterday’s HR communique addressed the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s anti-Israel double standard in applying the term ‘terrorism’

HonestReporting heard today from the Minnesota JCRC that the Star Tribune admitted that they were in error in both instances noted by the communique:

- Regarding the January 21 article in which the Kach movement was described as a terrorist organization, but Hezbollah was not, Star Trib deputy managing editor Roger Buoen said:

Thank your for your recent email about the article and photo caption we published on January 21. As you noted, the Kach movement is described in the photo caption as a group on the U.S. State Department’s list of terror organizations, while Hezbollah, which is also on the State Department’s list, is referred to in the story as a guerilla organization. I agree with your point that referring to the organizations in this way gave readers and unfair and unbalanced description of the two groups.

The editor who worked on the photo caption added the information about Kahane’s group to give background about an organization that is unknown to many of our readers. However, the article was trimmed back for space reasons, and similar background about Hezbollah was left out.

That was a mistake because it created an imbalance in the portrayal of the two organizations. We have talked to the editor involved, and she understands the balance and fairness problem that the editing created.

- Regarding the January 31 story which referred to “Zionist Terrorists,” the editor of the Faith and Values section of the paper, Paul Walsh, said:

Quite simply, that was an oversight. A sharp-eyed editor should have changed that word.

Kudos to media monitors at Minnesotans Against Terrorism and the JCRC.

It’s our sincere hope that the Star Tribune will not require further critique regarding a double standard in Mideast reporting.

February 4, 2004 13:26 By Category : Backspin

Biased coverage of Iraq

ABC News reports that American soldiers in Iraq are upset about biased media coverage:

In the following days, the press reported on the indiscriminant shooting of civilians. Soldiers were dumbstruck — “They ambushed us.” Maj. Larry Perino was indignant. Although none of his men was involved, he felt the sting.

Many of the soldiers I spoke with were furious.T hey saw the incident as validation of their training as professional soldiers. “If you are a civilian and it’s night during a war and you hear a firefight, what do you do?” Perino asked. “You get out of there.” If you don’t, he implied, then you’re part of the fight. Maj. James Market put it another way: “You don’t put your head into a wood chipper, then say, ‘Hey, what did you do to my hair?”

Michael Novack at National Review, meanwhile, says reporters inflate the casualty numbers to make Iraq look worse:

The news media, which constantly accuse the Bush administration of exaggerating the threat in Iraq, are constantly exaggerating the number of U.S. combat deaths there. I first pointed this out last August. For a while, the exaggeration stopped, but early in January it recommenced. The round number “500″ was apparently irresistible. . . .

These 343 (not 500) combat deaths, furthermore, need to be set in context. During 2003, the number of homicides in Chicago was 599, in New York City 596, in Los Angeles 505, in Detroit 361, in Philadelphia 347, in Baltimore 271, in Houston 276, and in Washington 247. That makes 3,002 murders in only eight cities.

Sounds awfully familiar to those of us following media coverage of Israel.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

February 3, 2004 21:16 By Category : Backspin

Competing BBC Buttons

While reporter Andrew Gilligan has quit and the entire BBC Board of Directors offered the same, competing statements of popular support and opposition to the Beeb have emerged:

Click here to find out why.

The BBC Lied, Dr. Kelly Died

February 3, 2004 11:16 By Category : Backspin