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: letters@guardian.co.uk
Comments to BBC: newsonline@bbc.co.uk

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

Palestinian General in Saddam’s Army

The LA Times today has a profile of a Palestinian, Ahmed Rahal, who rose to a prominent position in Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army and is now a totally crushed man:

He cast his lot with a ruthless dictator, and did his bidding. He followed Hussein because he was the only leader who fostered the hope that a pan-Arab movement would create a Palestinian state and welcomed Palestinians to Iraq while they awaited his grand plan’s fulfillment.

Now that plan lies in ruins.

These days, Rahal, bitter and without remorse, sits alone in his darkened Baghdad house — the generator turned on as little as possible to save money….

Even now he refuses to admit Hussein did anything wrong.

“He never stole anything — the palaces were open to the people. They could line up one day a week and visit them,” he said.

It’s a long piece, but worth it, for it illustrates the “Saddam dimension” of Palestinian identity. The former Iraqi dictator threw his stature, influence and cash behind the most horrific and ultimately self-defeating expressions of Palestinian nationalism: terrorist efforts to destroy Israel.

We would hope Rahal’s personal story represents a bookend to a dark period of Palestinian history. But just today another young Palestinian who went to Iraq to fight the U.S. was reported dead- the 18-year old perpetrated a Dec. 11 suicide bombing against a U.S. military base outside of Baghdad.

December 22, 2003 22:58 By Category : Backspin

Worth Reading Today

* An internal BBC email tells its reporters not to refer to Saddam as a dictator. From the Daily Telegraph:

“An email has been circulated telling us not to refer to Saddam as a dictator,” I’m told. “Instead, we are supposed to describe him as the former leader of Iraq. Apparently, because his presidency was endorsed in a referendum, he was technically elected. Hence the word dictator is banned. It’s all rather ridiculous.” The Beeb insists that the email merely restates existing guidelines. “We wanted to remind journalists whose work is seen and heard internationally of the need to use neutral language,” says a spokesman.

* Tatiana Menaker, a student at San Francisco State University, reports on the anti-Israel film festival held there recently:

I don’t know what was scarier for me: the images on the screen or the atmosphere in the auditorium…Watching these films, I saw that Palestinian Arabs have become professional victims and actors in the “Israelis-and-Jews-Are-Horrible-Child-Murderers” series. These films are constantly shown in Europe and especially in the Middle East due to heavy demand and plentiful funding.

* George Bush tells an Israeli correspondent to Washington, “We must get rid of Arafat.”

* Dan Diker on the unfortunate consequences of Israeli humanitarian gestures:

Rabbi Dr. David Appelbaum, a global authority on emergency medicine, and his daughter Nava, who was to have been married the following day, were murdered at Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem on September 9, 2003, by a Palestinian who had been released from detention on February 2, 2003, as a “gesture.” Israeli gestures in the absence of Palestinian security measures have had proven lethal consequences for Israeli civilians and soldiers alike. Improving the economic situation of the Palestinians is important, but the precipitous removal of security measures can cost lives. This point should be remembered before Israel is asked again to undertake similar risks in the future.

* Ze’ev Begin argues that all of the peace plans being bandied about today, including Ariel Sharon’s unilateral moves, will not bring tranquility to Israel.

December 21, 2003 13:36 By Category : Backspin

AP’s Photos of the Year

Here come the photos-of-the-year compilations.

The Associated Press’ version is out today – would you believe that AP couldn’t find any images of Israeli victims of Palestinian terror?

But there’s no lack of pro-Palestinian images — see these dates:

Feb. 11
March 14
April 19
June 24
Aug 6
Oct 1

Comments to: feedback@ap.org

December 21, 2003 12:46 By Category : Backspin

Saudi Arabia Bans Cuddly Toys

You might think this little guy is harmless, but he actually represents a pernicious threat to the moral fiber of Arab civilization.

From the AP wire:

Saudi Arabia has banned the importation of female dolls and teddy bears, giving merchants three months to dispose of such stock, a state-guided newspaper reported Wednesday.

Interior Minister Prince Nayef ordered the ban which was relayed around the country by the national Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Al-Riyadh said.

The daily gave no reason for the ban, which could not be confirmed with government officials Wednesday.

The ban singled out stuffed-animal toys and dolls of brides. It made no mention of male dolls and it was not clear if these were banned as well.

Male teddy bears – out. Groom dolls – in.
Crown Prince Abdullah imitates The Onion.

It will be exceedingly difficult for the West to establish a common ground with such a culture.

December 18, 2003 14:36 By Category : Backspin

Islamic Jihad Using Grossman Photo

HonestReporting’s “Photo that Started it All” is the Sept. 2000 AP picture of bloodied teenager Tuvia Grossman, miscaptioned across the world as a Palestinian victim of Israeli police brutality, when Grossman was in fact a victim of unprovoked Palestinian brutality.

As we note in our article on the event, a number of Arab groups actually adopted Grossman’s photo to use in their own propaganda campaigns, passing him off as a Palestinian victim. For example, an official Egyptian government website is still using the Grossman photo on its “Photo Gallery.”

Now it seems that none other than Palestinian Islamic Jihad has begun using Grossman’s photo. In this a section of the brutal terrorist group’s banner graphic on their homepage, note the Grossman photo on the left:

Note also the map of “Palestine” — no two-state solution there. This genocidal plan is regularly whitewashed by Reuters (the ignominious winner of the 2003 Dishonest Reporting ‘Award’) as an “uprising for independence.”

(Hat tip: I.A.C.)

December 17, 2003 20:33 By Category : Backspin

Worth Reading Today

* With the capture of Saddam Hussein, the IDF has lifted its ban on reporting a planned 1992 assassination attempt on the former Iraqi dictator: “Elite IDF Sayeret Matkal unit trained for Saddam hit in 1992″

* Israeli military analyst Elliot Chodoff writes that though Saddam’s ouster is a positive for Israel, it would be “foolishly oversimplistic” to believe that Israel no longer has signficant security threats – the position articulated by NY Times columnist Tom Friedman in a recent opinion piece. Says Chodoff:

It would be nice to see the Middle East as having been thoroughly transformed by the American campaign, but it is simply not the case. True, Saddam is out of the picture, and this has had a positive effect on Israel’s security. But there are more than a few leaders out there vying to replace him as a threat to Israel’s security, and some of them are in the east: Syria and Iran, to name a couple.

* Barry Rubin on the endangered species of Arab liberals:

The Middle East has been more effective at exporting authoritarianism than the West has been in exporting democracy…There is no great liberal theorist or reform advocate who galvanizes people in the Arab world. There is no major original book which provides a manifesto for moderation, and no powerful political party or movement pushing for democratic change.

* An informative article on Christians living in the disputed territories:

Despite…the general atmosphere of conflict during the last few years, the Christian communities continue to thrive. According to Israel’s English-language daily, the Jerusalem Post (November 18, 1994), the number of Christians living in Israel has trebled since the re-establishment of the State in 1948. Whether they are praising political actions of the Israeli government or criticizing them, Israel’s Christian population continues to experience freedom of speech, religion and movement.

Sadly, the same cannot be said about Christian communities living under Palestinian Authority (PA) rule. Here, they struggle for a place and a voice in a largely Moslem, non-democratic society.

December 16, 2003 13:19 By Category : Backspin

Happy Hanukkah to You, Too

A Hanukkah advertising flier, distributed to thousands of homes in the Dallas area, included this page:

According to ADVO, the company that printed the advertisement, a graphic artist working on the ad had left his desk for a moment, and a co-worker changed the text on the ad as a “joke.”

The graphic artist didn’t notice the change and the ad went to print.

According to NBC-5 in Dallas:

ADVO representatives in Dallas said they are mortified by the oversight and that they are trying to figure out why the error was never caught.

An ADVO employee had this to say over at LGF:

While the news story for the most part is true I can add the following TRUE information. First, ALL of ADVO’s employees were mortified by this incident. “CC” is the nickname of the artist that was working on the copy version when a co-worker thought it would be funny to add the comment that I won’t even mention again. This worker has already obviously been fired.

And another:

I also work for Advo and I also happen to be Jewish and many of my clients (I’m in sales) are Jewish too. Imagine my anger and embarrassment when I heard about this story. Our CEO had a nationwide conference call to alert everyone of the incident and EVERYONE was outraged by it. We too (including our management) can’t imagine how this got by everyone without being noticed and they are looking into it to ensure that it never happens again. This isn’t the way our company runs their business…it was a stupid employee who’s been fired and has caused our company a lot of humiliation and money.

(Hat tip: LGF)

December 16, 2003 10:43 By Category : Backspin