Worth Reading Today

* Relative Calm Watch : Israel’s only dealing with 54 terror alerts, according to the Jerusalem Post.

* Top Ten Media Blunders of 2003

* Good staff-ed in the Washington Times. The upshot: Disengagement is a sea change for Sharon because it highlights an end to ideology of “Greater Israel,” and if the Palestinians would wake up and smell the coffee, they could have a state of their own, even though they blew previous opportunities.

* Khaled Abu Toameh reports that Palestinians Still Side With Saddam:

Saddam Hussein is still seen by some Palestinians as a hero and a symbol of defiance against Israel and the U.S. Saddam’s picture appears at protests against the separation fence, at rallies for Palestinian prisoners, and at funerals of activists. Saddam’s sympathizers can be found in almost all the Palestinian factions, including Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. The Palestinian branch of the dissolved Iraqi Ba’ath Party, known as the Arab Liberation Front (ALF), remains active in several Palestinian cities and villages.
In the past three weeks, the ALF and “Saddam’s friends” have published two paid front-page advertisements in the Palestinian daily al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, condemning the U.S. for apprehending Saddam.

* J Post editorial on Fence-Building Anarchists:

The complaint of the Palestinians and their fellow travelers generally boils down to “it all started when he hit me back.” Want to help the Palestinians? Tell them to stop attacking Israel, and the record shows that Israel will quickly reciprocate by easing its onerous security measures. It is Palestinian terrorism that is building the fence, with the help of its supposed friends.

* Barry Rubin, in Is There an Alternative to Arafat’s Leadership?, says “the bottom line is: Arafat will not make a deal. Therefore, either an alternative to Arafat is found or we will have to out-wait him, in order to achieve peace.”

December 30, 2003 14:46 By Category : Backspin

Bungled Headline of the Day

From The Age (Melbourne):

Sharon Prepares for Failure

Failure of what? You have to read this Reuters report to find out Sharon appointed Giora Eiland to prepare for disengagement in the event of the failure of the road map.

December 30, 2003 14:41 By Category : Backspin

P-I ‘Enrichened’ by Rachel

Perhaps with this, Rachel Corrie — run over while obstructing the destruction of Palestinian buildings used to smuggle weapons from Egypt — will finally be laid to rest.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran an article on notable deaths in their region this year. Among basket-weavers and lifetime child advocates was none other than Ms. Corrie:

They changed the way we worked, played, lived. They made us see the world in different ways. They made us smile. Sometimes, they made us cry. Whether their lives were long and full, or tragically shortened, they became a part of the fabric of who we all are in the Northwest. Here are just some of those who died this year, leaving our lives a little richer for having known them…

Rachel Corrie, 23, an activist from Olympia who was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer while protesting the destruction of Palestinian homes in the Rafah refugee camp. After its internal investigation, the Israeli military said the driver of the bulldozer could not see Corrie. Corrie’s parents were not satisfied with the Israeli explanations, and in September they called for an independent U.S. investigation of her death. Corrie died March 16.

LGF reminds us this is the person whom the P-I feels ‘left our lives a little richer,’ burning the US flag before Palestinian children:

One wonders what Richard Redmayne here would think of Corrie’s inclusion alongside him:

Richard Redmayne, 84, one of 316 men who survived the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during World War II by clinging to a life raft for five days in the Pacific Ocean. Japanese torpedoes sank the heavy cruiser on July 30, 1945, about halfway between Guam and the Philippines. Redmayne died April 21.

It isn’t the first time the Seattle paper compared American soldiers with the flag-burning radical — back in June a P-I editorial compared Corrie, “a young woman of uncommon compassion,” to Pvt. Jessica Lynch, the American soldier who was captured by Iraqis and later rescued. Lynch, says the Post-Intelligencer, “put her life on the line for something larger than herself, as did Corrie.”

Comments to P-I: editpage@seattlepi.com

December 29, 2003 23:49 By Category : Backspin

Communique on LA Times, Neumann

We have released a communique to our subscribers on the issue below – view it here.

To subscribe to HonestReporting, so you’ll receive communiques as they’re released, go to the HR homepage.

December 29, 2003 15:54 By Category : Backspin

Serious Opinion at LA Times

The following passage was written in the LA Times by a philosophy professor who believes that anti-semitism is not a problem today:

Myself, I’d feel a bit embarrassed saying to a homeless person on the streets of Toronto, much less to the inhabitants of a Philippine garbage dump: “Oh yeah? You think you know suffering? My grandmother died in a concentration camp!”

This was intended to be a serious opinion piece on the matter of anti-semitism?

UPDATE: It seems that the author, Trent University (Canada) professor Terry Neumann, has a history of inane and downright hateful statements. A BackSpin reader sent us the following:

Trent University professor Michael Neumann recently carried on an email correspondence with an antisemitic web site called the Jewish
Tribal Review, in which he wrote:

“My sole concern is indeed to help the Palestinians, and I try to play for keeps. I am not interested in the truth, or justice, or understanding, or anything else, except so far as it serves that purpose…I would use anything, including lies, injustice and obfuscation, to do so. If an effective strategy means that some truths about the Jews don’t come to light, I don’t care. If an effective strategy means encouraging reasonable anti-Semitism or reasonable hostility to Jews, I don’t care. If it means encouraging vicious racist anti-Semitism, or the destruction of the State of Israel, I still don’t care.”

When these remarks came to light, Neumann was forced to apologize.

And the LA Times runs an opinion piece by Neumann on the topic of anti-semitism being “overblown,” without acknowledging his stated commitment to “encourage vicious racist anti-Semitism” as a means to a political end?!

Neumann is the man who wrote, in the far leftist CounterPunch:

Given the crimes to be laid at the feet of Zionism, there is another simple syllogism: anti-Zionism is a moral obligation, so, if anti-Zionism is antisemitism, antisemitism is a moral obligation.

Was this person qualified to pontificate on the “overblown” phenomenon of anti-Semitism?

In CounterPunch, Neumann went so far as to not only compare Israel to Nazi Germany, but to actually indict the entire Jewish people for Nazi-like support:

[A]t present, the case for Jewish complicity seems much stronger than the case for German complicity. So if it is not racist, and reasonable, to say that the Germans were complicit in crimes against humanity, then it is not racist, and reasonable, to say the same of the Jews.

December 28, 2003 15:46 By Category : Backspin

Media Blunder of the Week

AFP and other news agencies reported that British Prime Minister Tony Blair “extended Christmas greetings to Palestinian President Yassir Arafat.” The greetings “included the wish that Palestinians ‘realise their hopes in establishing an independent Palestinian state’.”

But a spokeswoman for Blair denies any such greeting was sent. It seems the official PA news agency, WAFA, just made it up, and once again took the world media for a ride.

December 28, 2003 15:24 By Category : Backspin

Palestinian Authority Sermons 2000-2003

The ever-diligent people at MEMRI have assembled an overview of three years of PA-funded and PA-broadcast Friday sermons.

Under-reported by the media, these highly disturbing sermons regularly foment and incite terror against Israeli civilians and other Western targets. One example:

Palestinian Mufti Sheikh Ikrimeh Sabri also praises martyrdom in his sermons: “We tell them: in as much as you love life – the Muslim loves death and martyrdom. There is a great difference between he who loves the hereafter and he who loves this world. The Muslim loves death and [strives for] martyrdom. He does not fear the oppression of the arrogant or the weapons of the blood-letters. The blessed and sacred soil of Palestine has vomited all the invaders and all the colonialists throughout history and it will soon vomit, with Allah’s help, the [present] occupiers.”

The MEMRI report finds the following ‘common themes’ in the speeches:

- Calls for the Destruction of the U.S.
- 2003: The Year the American Crusader War Against Islam Began
- Shahids & the Rewards of Martyrdom
- Educating Children to Martyrdom
- Antisemitism and Calls to Kill Jews
- Re-conquering Palestine

Read the full report, and please encourage your local editor to write an editorial on this topic. This is one of the root causes of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Diplomats should therefore be placing far greater pressure on the PA to end this weekly incitement to murder.

December 28, 2003 11:17 By Category : Backspin

Christians in Bethlehem

Today’s communique addressed media blame of Israel for the dour Christmas in Bethlehem this year. (To receive communiques as they’re released, sign up on the HR homepage.)


December 25, 2003 17:28 By Category : Backspin

Terrorist Trading Cards

From the Associated Press today: Palestinian kids trade ‘baseball cards’ — of their favorite terrorists:

Palestinian children are collecting cards showing gunmen and soldiers the way kids in the US trade baseball cards, and some educators are concerned that the hobby is helping to breed a new generation of militants…The collectable cards depict real-life Middle East action figures familiar to the children: An Israeli soldier shooting a large gun, a soldier forcing Palestinians off their land, a small Palestinian child dressed in militant’s clothing holding a toy gun and Palestinian boys throwing stones.

The albums are sold in cardboard boxes shaped like Israeli tanks and include a dedication from Nablus governor Mahmoud Alul. A child who fills an album with all 129 pictures can win a computer, a bicycle, a watch or a hat.

Adds the AP: “The card craze reflects reality in the West Bank…” Does it really, or is it constructing an extremist, homicidal reality for the next generation?

Comments to: feedback@ap.org

December 25, 2003 0:08 By Category : Backspin

BBC, Independent on Maher Assault

As noted below, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher was attacked by a Palestinian mob on Monday while he was praying at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque.

An HonestReporting subscriber wrote an letter to the BBC regarding their coverage of this issue, which caused the Beeb to adjust their article. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

The article notes that Mr. Maher “declined Israeli protection” whilst on the Temple Mount, and that he was accompanied by Egyptian and Palestinian guards. Yet the article reports that “the BBC’s Jill McGivering, in Jerusalem, says the incident is sure to cause some embarrassment for the Israelis.” There is no further explanation of this remark, or description of how an attack by Palestinian Muslim Arabs against the Foreign Minister of a nation whose majority is Muslim and Arab while being protected by Arab and Muslim body guards in a part of Jerusalem where Jewish Israelis are prohibited from visiting except on rare occasions is an embarrassment for Israel.

My assumption was that the article contains a typographical error, meaning to state that the incident is an embarrassment for Palestinians. If not, readers such as me would like a further explanation of how this incident in any way can be seen to embarrass Israel.

Thank you, M.S., Cincinnati, OH

M.S.’ critique caused BBC to change their article, which now reads “the incident is likely to prove embarrassing for the Israeli and Palestinian authorities, as well as Egypt.”

The Independent had a similar line: “The mayhem embarrassed Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Although the Muslims control the mosque compound, known by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, the Old City is under Israeli rule.”

Neither the BBC nor Independent have clarified why they declare (that is, make) this episode an “embarrassment” to Israel, which had no responsibility for Maher’s security at the site of the assault.

Comments to BBC: newsonline@bbc.co.uk
Comments to Independent: letters@independent.co.uk

December 24, 2003 15:09 By Category : Backspin