Kelley on Israeli ‘vigilantees’

Now that reporter Jack Kelley is leaving USA Today (after the paper found Kelley fabricated sources in at least one story, and Kelley attempted a cover-up), we are really wondering about this story of Kelley’s – from 9/4/01:

Israeli Extremists Take Revenge on Palestinians

The critique of this story in IMRA notes that none of the purported vigilantees described by Kelley could be found.

January 14, 2004 12:59 By Category : Backspin

Palestinian journalists pledge loyalty

Palestinian reporters, including some employed by the international media, gathered at the Ramallah Muqata to pledge loyalty to Yasser Arafat by reading speeches and poetry in his honor:

Some 100 Palestinian journalists converged on the presidential headquarters in Ramallah on Tuesday – not to interview Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, but to pledge allegiance to him.

The journalists, who included representatives of international new organizations, did not trouble Arafat with any difficult questions.

Three of the journalists who attended said no one dared to ask Arafat about recent attacks on Palestinian correspondents in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Instead, they read poetry and delivered emotional speeches in his honor before they lined up to have their pictures taken alongside their leader.

We’d like to know which Western news services had people in their employ participating.

January 14, 2004 12:30 By Category : Backspin

PA Intimidation of the Press

While the PA is pressuring Arab journalists to call dead terrorists ‘martyrs,’ this is what happened to an Arab journalist who didn’t toe the PA party line on another matter:

Last week, masked men assaulted and beat Seif A-Din Shahin, a reporter for the Alarabia satellite television network.

A few days after the attack, it emerged that the perpetrators were members of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Brigades, and that the assault had followed Shahin’s live broadcast on the thousands who took part in Fatah’s anniversary celebrations two weeks ago. The report infuriated PA officials, who had expected Shahin to report that tens of thousands participated in the event.

But it’s good to see some protest at least:

Dozens of Palestinian journalists Monday held a demonstration in Gaza to protest the beating of a reporter by Fatah activists.

The demonstrators held a vigil opposite the offices of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza to protest what they termed the attempts of the Palestinian Authority to “terrorize the media.”

As Stefan from Sharkblog asks, ‘How much play will this episode receive in the American media? Please, no wagering.’

January 13, 2004 21:24 By Category : Backspin

BBC double standard

As the Robert Kilroy-Silk affair unfolds, the Telegraph and a British parliament member question the BBC’s double standard on the viciously anti-Israel Tom Paulin:


Tom Paulin

Tom Paulin, the poet and Oxford don, has continued to be a regular contributor to BBC2’s Newsnight Review arts programme, despite being quoted in an Egyptian newspaper as saying that Jews living in the Israeli-occupied territories were “Nazis” who should be “shot dead”.

Andrew Dismore, the Labour MP, said he found it hard to understand why the BBC had moved against Mr Kilroy-Silk but had not taken any action against Mr Paulin.

“I am not defending anything Mr Kilroy-Silk has said, but I was greatly upset by what Mr Paulin said, and I think the rules should apply to people equally,” said Mr Dismore. “Mr Paulin said awful things about Israel and Jewish people. He should have been kept off BBC screens while his own comments were investigated. I was surprised that that did not happen. It smacks of double standards on the part of the BBC.”

Mr Paulin made his comments in the Egyptian weekly newspaper Al-Ahram almost two years ago, saying that US-born settlers in the occupied territories should be shot dead. “I think they are Nazis, racists. I feel nothing but hatred for them,” he said, adding: “I never believed that Israel had the right to exist at all.”

Within days of the article appearing, a number of academic institutions, including Harvard, cancelled planned readings by the poet. The BBC, however, did not seek to remove him from Newsnight Review.

More on Tom Paulin:

- Here’s a poem of Paulin’s – ‘Killed in the Crossfire’:

To me the Zionists, who want to go back to the Jewish state of 70 AD (destruction of Jerusalem by Titus), are just as offensive as the Nazis. With their nosing after blood, their ancient ‘cultural roots’, their partly canting, partly obtuse winding back of the world, they are altogether a match for the National Socialists. – Victor Klemperer, 13 June 1934

We’re fed this inert
this lying phrase
like comfort food
as another little Palestinian boy
in trainers jeans and a white teeshirt
is gunned down by the Zionist SS
whose initials we should
- but we don’t – dumb goys -
clock in that weasel word crossfire

(Printed: February 18, 2001)

- In in the infamous al-Ahram interview, Paulin had this to say about Palestinian suicide bombers:

I can understand how suicide bombers feel…It is an expression of deep injustice and tragedy. I think — though — that it is better to resort to conventional guerrilla warfare.

- In Oct. 2001, Paulin attacked journalist Ian Baruma for not revealing his ‘Zionist credentials’ to readers.

- In November 2002, when Harvard first withdrew its invitation to Paulin, BBC News commented:

“Now his polemical, knockabout style has ruffled feathers in the US, where the Jewish question is notoriously sensitive.”

The ‘Jewish question’?

- In Jan. 2003, the ZOA encouraged Columbia University not to re-hire Paulin, due to his encouragement of murder of Israelis. Columbia did not re-hire Paulin.

- In May 2002, Jerusalem Post London correspondent Douglas Davis commented on Paulin and the BBC’s encouragement of anti-Semitism: “Wittingly or not, I am convinced the BBC has become the principal agent for reinfecting British society with the virus of anti-Semitism.”

See also this blog: Biased BBC, and leave comments at the site of the BBC’s official charter renewal.

(Hat tip: LGF)

UPDATE: Columnist Mark Steyn weighs in on the double standard.

January 12, 2004 21:29 By Category : Backspin

Photo caption, or editorial?

A caption from a recent Reuters photo of Yassir Arafat:

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat is pictured at a Fatah movement rally at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, January 8, 2004. Israel’s unilateral plan to absorb chunks of the occupied West Bank if peacemaking stays frozen leaves Palestinians little chance of salvaging their dream of a viable state. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

First of all, Sharon’s unilateral plan by no means ends hope for a viable Palestinian state in the future. But what is this editorializing doing in a photo caption anyway?

Comments to: editor@reuters.com

January 12, 2004 21:14 By Category : Backspin

USA Today reporter stepping down

Reporter Jack Kelley, who once received a commendation from HR while reporting from Israel, is quitting his job with USA Today surrounded by controversy.

A vaguely written report in USA Today refers to questions of accuracy, an investigation by the paper, allegations but no specifics. Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post, however, elaborates on one aspect of Kelley’s trouble:

In an effort to prove that he had spoken with a human rights activist in Yugoslavia, Kelley said in an interview, he encouraged a translator who was not present during the 1999 sit-down to impersonate another translator who was there. The woman who agreed to help Kelley called the USA Today journalist assigned to investigate the matter last fall and verified Kelley’s account as if she had been there.

Among other points noted by Kurtz:

-USA Today has confirmed that Kelley was indeed outside a Jerusalem pizzaria (Sbarro’s?) when it was blown up by a suicide bomber, as Kelley claimed. This was also apparently disputed.

-Kelley once wrote a story about Jewish settlers planning and carrying out attacks on Palestinians. Many HR readers questioned the story and went so far as to ask HR to revoke Kelley’s commendation. The Kurtz article mentions this ‘scoop’ of Kelley’s, but nothing further.

-USAToday doesn’t plan to issue any corrections or retractions.

- It seems Kelley is joining Jayson Blair (former NY Times reporter, let go under similar circumstances) in another way: he’s now writing a book about it all.

UPDATE (1/13):

- In an updated piece, Wash Post’s Kurtz now notes:

On another Kelley story examined by the newspaper — a 2001 piece recounting Israeli settlers opening fire on a Palestinian taxi while shouting such comments as “Muslim filth” — USA Today said its reporter Mark Memmott “could not find anyone with first-hand knowledge of the attack.”

- USA Today is also more forthcoming in today’s report on Kelley’s dismissal.

January 12, 2004 21:02 By Category : Backspin

Death Knoll for EU?

The Palestinian Authority has announced that the European Union is its ‘ally of choice.’ Blogger Stefan Sharkansky reminds us:

The Europeaser Union joins the distinguished company of the Palestinians’ earlier “allies of choice”, which have included: Adolf Hitler, Gamal Nasser, the Soviet Union and Saddam Hussein. Being selected by the Palestinians as an “ally of choice” would seem to be the kiss of death. I’d say the long term prospects for the Europeaser Union are looking pretty grim.

January 11, 2004 16:57 By Category : Backspin

Victims of stone-throwing

Last week we issued a communique on the media’s misrepresentation of the dangers of Palestinian ‘stone-throwing’.

We received this personal account of a harrowing stone-throwing assault from an HR reader:

I went through this “stone throwing” stuff myself in late November
1998 !!

We had gone back and forth to Jerusalem 4 different times but there were a few things I hadn’t seen. This little car that we were renting usually had my son driving with me also in the front. My husband, daughter and youngest son rode in the back. This day as we were going to Jerusalem it was just my son driving and me, with no one in the back seat.

As we were coming around the Damascus Gate we got caught in traffic and there were police on horseback. Lots of people on the sidewalks and there seemed to have been trouble sometime before we got there with broken glass all around. We couldn’t go anywhere but stay in this traffic !! Then, all of a sudden we had something go through our rear window and brush the side of my head. It scared me very much.

(more…)

January 11, 2004 16:41 By Category : Backspin

Hitching a ride

An AP photographer caught this scene in Jenin on Friday:

It’s important to remember this the next time Israel’s accused of harming an ‘unarmed Palestinian’ or ‘Palestinian child.’ If the guy in the white shirt were to be shot, in the legitimate fear that he’s about to drop a grenede into the tank, how would that death be characterized by the media? ‘Unarmed Palestinian killed in Jenin’ ?

From car swarm to tank swarm…

January 11, 2004 13:26 By Category : Backspin

Islamophobia at BBC

The BBC has suspended a TV program host for making an anti-Arab commentary:


Robert Kilroy-Silk

The Kilroy programme will be taken off air immediately following comments made by Robert Kilroy-Silk in a newspaper article, the BBC has announced.

The presenter branded Arabs “suicide bombers, limb amputators, women repressors” and asked what they had given to the world other than oil.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) described the piece written by the discussion show host in last week’s Sunday Express as a “gratuitous anti-Arab rant”.

Mr Kilroy-Silk’s article included comments saying the toppling of despotic regimes in the Middle East should be a war aim, and questioned the contribution of the Arab nations to world welfare and civilisation.

He said Arabs “murdered more than 3,000 civilians on 11 September” and then “danced in the streets” to celebrate.

Interesting how quickly and decisively the BBC reacted to criticism from Muslim groups. The BBC defines ‘Islamophobia’ as the growing problem of ‘fear or intolerance of Muslims because of their religion.’ If Kilroy-Silk expressed intolerance, BBC just showed its fear.

Kilroy has now apologized for his comments. British Libertarian Perry de Havilland asks the right question:

my point is not to defend Kilroy-Silk, of whom I am not a particular fan but rather to wonder why it is that Robert Fisk and John Pilger can make equally sweeping and egregiously collectivist statements about Israel and the United States without so much as a murmur from the Guardian reading classes?

It seems that vilifying Israel is always fair game for mainstream-to-leftist British reporters, but make a derogatory statement about Arabs and media execs will show you the door. That’s what passes for enlightened journalism in those UK circles these days.

(Hat tip: Tim Blair)

January 11, 2004 9:55 By Category : Backspin