Communique on LA Times, Neumann

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

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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:

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:
Comments to Independent:

December 24, 2003 15:09 By Category : Backspin

Where’s Israel’s Capital?

The Israeli capital is Jerusalem. That’s where the nation’s top legislative, executive and judicial bodies are located, as well as the Prime Minister’s and President’s residences. But as the status of Jerusalem remains a matter of international controversy, most countries maintain their embassies in Israel’s largest city, Tel Aviv.

Some news agencies, however, beyond refusing to call Jerusalem Israel’s capital, or simply reminding us of the controversy, will actually refer to Tel Aviv as if it were the established capital.

Some cases in point:

* Scotland on Sunday (12/14/03): “The Tel Aviv bomb was a failed attempt on the life of crime kingpin Ze-ev Rosenstein, a man at the centre of a criminal underworld saga more familiar to cities like New York and Naples than the Israeli capital.”

* BBC (8/18/03): “However, the agreement has been put under strain by Israel’s killing last week of the group’s Hebron cell commander, a move Tel Aviv says prompted two suicide bombings that left two Israelis dead.”

* LA Times’ Robert Brownstein (5/26/03): “In the last month, President Bush has displayed more commitment and creativity in advancing the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians than at any point in his presidency. And that movement is kicking up swirls of political maneuvering, not only in Tel Aviv and the West Bank, but also in the United States.”

* Guardian (12/23/03): “Bombs, missiles, delivery systems, gases, germs? Tel Aviv has the lot. We only forget to remember because it’s not a suitable subject for polite diplomatic conversation.”

These Western journalists find company in the terrorist-friendly Al Jazeera: “Tel Aviv Considering Operation Against Iran’s N-Capacities” (12/22/03)

When journalists employ shorthand in reporting, for example, “Washington said…” there actually was a US government representative in Washington who delivered that statement. But that is almost never the case for Israel in Tel Aviv. Israeli diplomatic activity and formal statements almost always take place in Jerusalem.

This editorial policy, therefore, can only be understood as a product of ‘journalist activism’ – portraying Israel’s capital not as Israel desires, nor even as a matter of dispute, but rather as Israel’s most determined opponents would portray her.

Comments to The Guardian:
Comments to BBC:

December 24, 2003 0:12 By Category : Backspin

The Guardian Vents

Yesterday Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher was attacked by a Palestinian mob as he was praying at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque. After being shaken up, Maher was whisked away to a Jerusalem hospital, and is apparently OK now.

Why the attack? Maher was in Israel to meet Israeli leaders regarding resuming peace talks, and did not plan to visit Yassir Arafat. The assailants screamed “Traitor!” and threw shoes at Maher – a particularly harsh insult in the Arab world.

Now here’s the spin from The Guardian:

Palestinians vented their frustration for the perceived lack of support by Arab countries in their quest for nationhood by attacking the Egyptian foreign minister when he arrived to pray at Islam’s third holiest site in Jerusalem yesterday.

“Vented their frustration”? Well who could blame the assailants for a little “venting”? And when was there ever a lack of Arab support for Palestinian nationhood? This is the opening sentence of The Guardian’s report – a smoothing over of extremist violence if ever we’ve seen one.

December 23, 2003 17:39 By Category : Backspin

Q and A in Arab News

The Saudi-based Arab News posts this chilling question and answer, hosted by an apparent Islamic expert:

Q. Could you please tell me whether the Sept. 11 attacks were acts of jihad or terrorism? Would those who were killed in them be martyrs? What about other acts such as those done by Hamas and similar groups?

A. I cannot understand how a Muslim could justify boarding a plane, intending to kill all its passengers by flying it into a building used by thousands of civilians. This is simply terrorism and cannot be justified under Islamic law. The operations launched against Israeli occupation are totally different. They are undertaken against occupiers who have turned the local people, Muslims and Christians, from their homes and lands, desecrated mosques and terrorized the population into leaving their land. To resist Israel by all means available to us is justified under divine and human law. It is indeed Israel and its supporters that are engaged in a gigantic and continuous act of terrorism.

When will an international tribunal begin indicting Arab editors for incitement to murder and genocide, as recently occurred in Rwanda? The judges there recognized:

The power of the media to create and destroy human values comes with great responsibility…Those who control the media are accountable for its consequences.

December 22, 2003 23:14 By Category : Backspin