Eyebrow raisers

? Nasty headline of the day, courtesy The Australian:

Israel to Cut 100km off ‘apartheid wall’


? We found the ‘T-word’ in The Independent’s coverage of the security fence – Saudi Arabia’s security fence, that is:

The project, involving fencing and electronic detection equipment, has been in the planning stages for several years. It may cost up to $8.57bn (£4.58bn). Behind the plan is a deep-seated lack of trust in the Yemeni authorities’ ability to arrest infiltrators before they make it into Saudi territory….
The perpetrators of earlier terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, spanning at least a decade, also used explosives from Yemen, state-controlled Saudi media has reported.

The report then elaborates in detail the Yemeni connection to Islamic terror in the Saudi Kingdom. It’s worth noting that the Saudi casualties to Yemin-based terror and the quantities of weapons seized are a drop in the bucket compared to the number of Israeli terror victims and the illegal weapons awash in the Palestinian areas.

February 11, 2004 16:33 By Category : Backspin

European media: Israelis not victims

Ze’ev Schiff in Haaretz questions European coverage of the conflict:

terrorism against Israeli citizens is seen by many abroad, and especially in Europe, as part of a tribal war in a distant land. That accords with one of the conclusions of a study conducted in Germany (published recently in the professional journal Media Tenor) about the way in which German television covers Israel. “In the news, Israel is for the most part seen as the guilty party. Even when covering stories where Israelis suffer from the acts of their opponents, they are not simply presented as victims. Editors often frame suicide attacks as a reaction to injustices committed against Palestinians.” When such a trend continues for years, it’s no wonder that in many places Israel is seen as constituting a threat to world peace, much more so than North Korea or Iran, for example. The researchers say there is a direct link between the negative publicity about Israel and attacks on Jews.

On the other hand, a bigger headline is guaranteed if the Israelis dare to defend themselves determinedly. That has always been the approach, long before Israel began to build the separation fence. There is no point in going to the International Court of Justice in The Hague if Israel cannot succeed in convincing anyone that it is on the defense in the face of mass terror.

Here’s the Media Tenor critique of German coverage of Israel, which Schiff refers to.

February 11, 2004 15:30 By Category : Backspin

Palestinian Opinion Poll

From IMRA: The lastest poll of Palestinian popular opinion shows a sharp drop in support for current methods of anti-Israel violence.

Stefan Sharkansky presents a nice chart of the results, and comments:

I don’t know what I find more remarkable, the stunning drop in support for the Intifada and suicide bombings; or the fact that an equal number of Palestinians assert that the Intifada serves Palestinian interests as admit that it harms their interests… Either way, Sharon and Bush deserve more of the credit for Palestinians losing their appetite for senseless violence, than does the world community of terrorism appeasers.

February 11, 2004 13:41 By Category : Backspin

Rumsfeld on Israeli Nukes

Curiously, we didn’t see this anywhere else, so we’ll translate it from the Israeli news site, Y-Net:

During his visit in Munich, in the framework of the NATO summit, (US Defense Secretary) Rumsfeld was asked: “You speak of nations that are attempting to acquire nuclear weapons, like Iraq, Iran and North Korea. What are you doing with Israel? After all, Israel has more nuclear weapons than all other nations in the region. Why do you continue to be silent regarding Israel?”

Without confirming or denying the claim that Israel has nuclear weapons, Rumsfeld immediately responded to the questioner: “You know yourself the answer. The entire world knows the answer. Israel is a small nation, with a tiny population. Israel is democratic, but exists in a region that wants to see her in the sea. Israel clarified that she does not want to be in the sea, and as a result of that, for many decades, Israel arranged it such that they cannot throw her into the sea.”

UPDATE: Here it is from the US Defense Department

February 11, 2004 0:44 By Category : Backspin

One war

Western media outlets such as the New York Times may differentiate between suicide bombings in Iraq and those in Israel, but this Jordanian woman doesn’t:

February 10, 2004 18:36 By Category : Backspin

Iranian paranoia

A reminder of how deep the anti-Israel paranoia runs in Iranian political culture and media — an editorial in Tehran Times bemoaning an internal leadership conflict concludes:

Undoubtedly, the resentful enemies of Iran, particularly the destructive and racist Zionist regime, are delighted by the current disagreement between governmental officials, small as it might be. They intend to take advantage of the current circumstances and damage the reputation of the Islamic Republic through further mischief.

(Hat tip: Joe Schick)

February 10, 2004 16:20 By Category : Backspin

Approaches to Hasbara

A number of recent articles discussing the best approach to making Israel’s case in the court of world opinion:

? Gideon Meir of Israel’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs says Israel activists should stop using the term ‘hasbara’ (‘explanation’) because:

it has a negative or apologetic connotation and we have nothing for which we have to apologize. We have a strong case.

? The chairman of the Israel Hasbara Committee disagrees with Meir, and believes the main need now is to separate Israeli leaders from corruption:

Only this approach will prevent Israel from being labeled and equated as one of two warring peoples, as if we are on the same level as the corrupt regime of Yasser Arafat. When we really start to get serious on these issues, we will begin to change our fate.

It is said that societies produce leaders they deserve just as water will always find its own level. Leaders reflect the qualities of the masses. All change is made by leaders, not by the masses; and this is equally true of democracies. Once Israel starts to do a little house cleaning, perhaps we can start to make some real progress in our ‘Hasbara’ efforts. So let us not be shallow-minded and naïve and think that change will come about by any other means, such as making a few cosmetic name changes by replacing the word ‘hasbara’. Let us not make this word a scapegoat for our real failings.

? UK Chief Rabbi Jonathon Sacks believes it’s necessary to adjust the message to the audience:

influencing public opinion has ground rules, and they are different in each country. In Britain they require a certain tone of voice: subtlety, the use of nuance and an absence of stridency. This is not always understood by Israelis or members of the Jewish community who sometimes feel that the purpose of a media intervention is to make Jews feel better rather than to persuade the unpersuaded. Shreying gevalt may be good therapy, but it is poor hasbara.

February 10, 2004 15:35 By Category : Backspin

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