The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Dear Honest Reporting Member,

THE “GOOD”

(1) In Michael Kelly’s column (The Washington Post – August 15), “Mideast Myths Exploded,” he demolishes “the great falsehood of relative morality” in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and presents the “indisputable” facts:

“One: The Palestinians are the aggressor; they started the conflict, and they purposely drive it forward with fresh killing on almost a daily basis.

“Two: The Palestinians regard this second intifada not as a sporadically violent protest movement but as a war…

“Three: As a tactic in this strategy, the Palestinians will not fight Israeli forces directly but instead have concentrated their efforts on murdering Israeli civilians…

“Four: Israel has acted defensively in this conflict; and while Israeli forces accidentally killed Palestinian civilians, their planned lethal attacks have all been aimed only at Palestinian military and terror-group leaders.”

In response, Arab organizations immediately mobilized to attack Kelly. According to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee: “There are so many distortions and outrages in Kelly’s column that no one should have any trouble composing original letters to the Post condemning it.” The ADC charges: “This is without doubt the most irresponsible column to have appeared in the Post in many years.”

Comments can be sent to:
letters@washpost.com

or to:
Letters to the Editor
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street NW
Washington, DC 20071

* * *

(2) USA Today’s Jack Kelley doesn’t cover the Middle East on a regular basis, but when he does, his articles cut through the distortions and report the facts as they are. Last week, Kelley was meters away from the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem when a suicide bomber killed 15 Jews and wounded 100 more. In his article, “Explosion, then arms and legs rain down,” Kelley doesn’t sugarcoat the terrorist act.

Read Kelley’s column at:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2001/08/10/blast-usat.htm#more

Comments to:
editor@usatoday.com

* * *

(3) The editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch was in Jerusalem on the day of the pizzeria bombing. In a touching editorial entitled “In Jerusalem,” he wrote:

“…Jews died because they were Jews. The victims were families who only moments before had been enjoying a noontime break. The world’s outrage endured for several hours at least… Diplomats recommended restraint. Palestinians rejoiced in the spilling of innocent blood. Israelis mourned the dead, succored the wounded, comforted the grieving, and rededicated themselves to Zionism’s just cause… Later that same Thursday a lovely young Israeli bride entered a hotel for her wedding. The seven blessings of the ceremony — the sheva b’rakhot — include one for the couple’s happiness in a restored Jerusalem. O Jerusalem! No one who visits Israel can forget the sweet courage of a nation ever always under siege.”

You can commend the editor at:
letters@timesdispatch.com

or:
Letters to the Editor
Richmond Times-Dispatch
Box 85333
Richmond, Va 23293

* * *

(4) Even the British press offered some sympathetic words. The Telegraph, in its editorial, “Blame Arafat, not Israel,” wrote:

Even as the dazed Israelis were still collecting the pieces of the 16 people who died in last week’s suicide-bomb attack in Jerusalem, it became apparent that among certain sections of the British media Israel itself, and not the Palestinian bomber, was being held to blame…

As the toll of violence mounts in the Middle East, many people in the West seem tempted to draw a moral equivalence between the Israeli security forces and the fanatical members of groups such as Hamas. That temptation should be resisted.

Comments to:
stletters@telegraph.co.uk

* * *

THE “BAD”

(1) On August 11, The Washington Post’s Lee Hockstader filed “Palestinians Find Heroes in Hamas,” a profile of the terrorist organization that dispatches suicide bombers against Israeli targets. Hockstader paints the organization in moderate shades: “The group’s goal is an independent homeland in at least the West Bank and Gaza Strip — and, Israelis fear, on the territory of the Jewish state.”

Hockstader has been around long enough to know that the destruction of Israel is one of Hamas’ main tenets and not just a figment of Israel’s fears. The Hamas covenant clearly states, “There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad.” The U.S. State Department’s annual terrorism report defines Hamas’ goal as “establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel.”

* * *

(2) On August 12, Hockstader reported on the suicide bombing near Haifa, in an article entitled, “Terror Resurfaces In Israeli Cafe Blast.” He wrote: “Also today, Israeli soldiers fatally shot an 8-year-old Palestinian girl in the head and wounded 12 other people during an exchange of fire with Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank city of Hebron, news agencies reported.”

An HonestReporting member wrote to The Washington Post’s ombudsman, complaining that Hockstader’s report suggested that Israeli soldiers deliberately shot the girl. Both BBC and CNN reports indicated that the girl was shot inadvertently during an exchange of fire. [CNN: She "was shot in the head and killed Sunday in her house in the West Bank town of Hebron during a gunfight nearby." BBC: The "Palestinian girl was killed in crossfire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen."]

The Post’s ombudsman responded: “Good point. The TV did handle this better. I’ll point it out in my internal critique.”

HonestReporting finds this response unsatisfactory. Readers want corrections to be public, not “internal.”

* * *

THE “UGLY”

(1) Last week, The Washington Post’s “Camera Works” posted a photographic collection from the pizzeria bombing. One poignant photo showed young women crying as they lit memorial candles, accompanied by the following caption: “Jerusalem Bombing Aftermath — An Israeli woman cries at the scene where a suicide bomber blew himself up.”

Outrageous! The woman was not crying “at the scene where a suicide bomber blew himself up” — she was crying “at the scene where 15 innocent civilians were murdered!”

* * *

(2) Some newspapers feel a perverted sense of duty to put a human face on the perpetrators of suicide bombs and other heinous crimes. The Washington Post did so last month when it profiled the owner of the bloody hands from the infamous Ramallah lynch. This week, The Sunday Times (UK) presented a profile of the pizzeria bomber, Izzedine al-Masri:

“Outraged Israelis painted Masri as a murderous fanatic and vowed vengeance… his family said they remembered him only as an impressionable and immature young man, eager for approval.” The Sunday Times then adds its own pop-psychology: “Each day when he went to Jenin to work, Masri passed the mangled remains of a car. The three occupants, all members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, were killed when the vehicle was blown apart by Israeli missiles and the twisted wreck has been turned into a shrine. This and other Israeli attacks in the area would have fuelled his hatred and rage.”

Read the Sunday Times article, “Anonymous zealot made the perfect walking bomb,” by clicking on the “world” section of http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/

You can respond to the Sunday Times at:
letters@sunday-times.co.uk

Or at:
Sunday Times
1 Pennington Street
London E98 1ST, United Kingdom

* * *

(3) Meanwhile, an HonestReporting member visited the grieving family of one of the bombing victims this week. The family reported that a BBC reporter had called wanting to write a profile contrasting the family of the suicide bomber with the families of the victims. The bereaved father refused to cooperate with such an obscene comparison, but not before the BBC reporter asked if his “attitude had changed toward suicide bombers over the last few weeks.” As if Israelis only care when their own relatives get blown up?!

HonestReporting hopes that this vile phone call was a hoax, but we will be monitoring BBC to see if they dare broadcast such depraved journalism.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias. And may the days of peace come soon to Israel.

HonestReporting.com

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