Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

NY Times: Stupid and biased again

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

The decision by a commission of legal scholars, led by retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, that Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria is legal created a storm of protest from the usual quarters.

Today I’m going to dissect one paragraph that epitomizes the misconceptions surrounding Israel’s legal rights in Judea and Samaria. It happens to appear in a New York Times editorial, but that’s really not important (unless you are still awed by the ignorance or malice of the editors of that newspaper).

Here is the paragraph:

Most of the world views the West Bank, which was taken by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 war, as occupied territory and all Israeli construction there as a violation of international law. The world court ruled this way in 2004. The Fourth Geneva Convention bars occupying powers from settling their own populations in occupied lands. And United Nations Security Council resolution 242, a core of Middle East policy, calls for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”

Most of the world

This can’t mean most of the world’s 6.9 billion people, most of whom don’t give a rat’s posterior about Israel. It probably refers to most of the members of the UN General Assembly, where there has been an automatic majority against Israel on every imaginable subject since the 1970s. Is this supposed to add authority to their argument?

view the West Bank

“West Bank” is a term applied to what had previously been called by its biblical names, Judea and Samaria, by Jordan in 1950. Using this expression obscures the historical Jewish connection and suggests that Jordanian control of the area, which lasted only 19 years, was somehow ‘normal’.

which was taken by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 war

This continues the theme that the normal situation was usurped by Israel in 1967. But when Jordanian troops marched into the area in 1948, killing and driving out the Jewish population, they violated the provision of the Mandate that set aside the area of ‘Palestine’ for “close Jewish settlement,” and the one that called for the civil rights of all existing residents — Jewish or Arab — to be respected. It also violated the UN charter which forbids the acquisition of territory by force. Only Pakistan and the UK recognized the annexation of the area (even the Arab League opposed it).

The Jordanian invasion and annexation of Judea and Samaria was, in fact, illegal under international law. Israel’s conquest in 1967, on the other hand, can be seen as a realization of the terms of the Mandate.

as occupied territory

As I wrote yesterday, the concept of a ‘belligerent occupation’ does not apply here. What country owned the territory that Israel ‘occupied’? Not Jordan, which was there illegally, nor Britain, whose Mandate had ended, nor the Ottoman Empire, which no longer existed. The nation with the best claim was Israel, the nation-state of the Jewish people, who were the intended beneficiaries of the Mandate. Judea and Samaria are disputed, not occupied, and the Jewish people have a prima facie claim based on the Mandate.

and all Israeli construction there as a violation of international law. The world court ruled this way in 2004.

This refers to the advisory opinion against the security fence issued by the International Court of Justice. The opinion refers to Israel as an “occupying power” and says that the fence is built on “occupied Palestinian land,” despite the fact that there is no legally delimited border between Israeli and ‘Palestinian’ land.

The Fourth Geneva Convention bars occupying powers from settling their own populations in occupied lands. And United Nations Security Council resolution 242, a core of Middle East policy, calls for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”

Since the land is not ‘occupied’, the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply. And even if it were occupied, legal scholars (including the Levy commission) have made excellent arguments that the Convention was not intended to apply to voluntary ‘transfers’ of population like settlements, but to forced deportations like the Nazi transfer of German Jews into occupied Poland.

According to its drafters, UNSC 242 does not call for the withdrawal from all territories occupied in 1967, leaving room for the states involved to negotiate secure borders as part of a peace agreement:

(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.

Of course no such boundaries have been agreed upon. And if you think any Arab countries or the PLO are interested in terminating claims on Israel regardless of borders, I have a bridge you may be interested in.

So much for the international law experts on the Times editorial board and their statement that the decision was “bad law.” I’ll leave their arguments that it is “bad policy” and “bad politics” for another time.

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Propagandist Phil Reeves changes name, becomes respectable

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
Phil -- er, Philip -- Reeves in his new job as a respectable journalist

Phil — er, Philip — Reeves in his new job as a respectable journalist

by Vic Rosenthal

Remember the “Jenin massacre?”

In April 2002, IDF forces fought with Palestinian guerrillas from the Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad factions for 10 days. After the dust cleared, 23 Israelis were dead along with 52 Palestinians, of whom 5 were judged to be non-combatants.

Immediately thereafter, Palestinian sources claimed that hundreds had died in a monstrous war crime that James Petras, an American academic, compared to the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghettto.

Reports of the devastation multiplied, larded with atrocity stories. A ‘documentary film‘ made by a Palestinian director was full of such charges, including the supposed destruction of a hospital wing by tank shells. Later, it was pointed out that no such wing had ever existed.

Nothing was more gripping than on-the-scene reporting by Phil Reeves of the UK Independent, scant days after the battle ended:

A monstrous war crime that Israel has tried to cover up for a fortnight has finally been exposed. Its troops have caused devastation in the centre of the Jenin refugee camp, reached yesterday by The Independent, where thousands of people are still living amid the ruins.

A residential area roughly 160,000 square yards about a third of a mile wide has been reduced to dust. Rubble has been shovelled by bulldozers into 30ft piles. The sweet and ghastly reek of rotting human bodies is everywhere, evidence that it is a human tomb. The people, who spent days hiding in basements crowded into single rooms as the rockets pounded in, say there are hundreds of corpses, entombed beneath the dust, under a field of debris, criss-crossed with tank and bulldozer treadmarks.

In one nearby half-wrecked building, gutted by fire, lies the fly-blown corpse of a man covered by a tartan rug. In another we found the remains of 23-year-old Ashraf Abu Hejar beneath the ruins of a fire-blackened room that collapsed on him after being hit by a rocket. His head is shrunken and blackened. In a third, five long-dead men lay under blankets.

A quiet, sad-looking young man called Kamal Anis led us across the wasteland, littered now with detritus of what were once households, foam rubber, torn clothes, shoes, tin cans, children’s toys. He suddenly stopped. This was a mass grave, he said, pointing.

We stared at a mound of debris. Here, he said, he saw the Israeli soldiers pile 30 bodies beneath a half-wrecked house. When the pile was complete, they bulldozed the building, bringing its ruins down on the corpses. Then they flattened the area with a tank. We could not see the bodies. But we could smell them.

Reeves never said that he saw the “hundreds of corpses.” But one has to be a careful reader to notice that. In another article, he simply repeated ugly Palestinian stories:

In the first of this article published yesterday we described how even children were not immune from the Israeli onslaught. Faris Zeben, a 14-year-old boy, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers in cold blood. The soldiers in the tank gave no warning, said Faris’ eight-year-old brother Abdel Rahman. And after they shot Faris they did nothing.

Fifteen-year-old Mohammed Hawashin was shot dead as he tried to walk through the camp. Aliya Zubeidi told us how she was on her way to the hospital to see the body of her son Ziad, a fighter from the Al-Aqsa brigades, who had been killed in the fighting. Mohammed accompanied her. “I heard shooting,” said Ms Zubeidi. “The boy was sitting in the door. I thought he was hiding from the bullets. Then he said, ‘Help.’ We couldn’t do anything for him. He had been shot in the face.” In a deserted road by the periphery of the refugee camp, we found the flattened remains of a wheelchair. It had been utterly crushed, ironed flat as if in a cartoon. In the middle of the debris lay a broken white flag. Durar Hassan told us how his friend, Kemal Zughayer, was shot dead as he tried to wheel himself up the road. The Israeli tanks must have driven over the body, because when Hassan found it, one leg and both arms were missing, and the face, he said, had been ripped in two.

There’s more, but you get the idea. Reeves’ ‘reporting’ consisted of a combination of suggestions of terrible hidden crimes, uncritical repetition of Palestinian stories, and an overall tear-jerking emotional tone. He was careful, however, not to explicitly make any false statements that could be checked.

By his series of sensational articles in the Independent, Reeves may have done as much or more than any Western reporter to spread the myth of the ‘Jenin Massacre.’

So where is Phil Reeves now?

Where does he fit, this vicious little whore, this character assassin of the Jewish state, this yellow journalist?

Where else? Reeves — now called ‘Philip’ instead of ‘Phil’, befitting  his new-found respectability as a ‘journalist’, found a spot at that paragon of fairness and professionalism, NPR!

Philip Reeves is an award-winning veteran foreign correspondent who covers Europe out of NPR’s bureau in London…

Reeves joined NPR in 2004, after spending 17 years as a correspondent for the British daily newspaper, The Independent. During the early stages of his career, he worked for BBC radio and television after training on the Bath Chronicle newspaper in western Britain.

If you’re interested, you can find more about NPR here.

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Toulouse and NPR, ideology, and Fayyad

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

The murderous rampage of Mohammed Merah has been weighing on my mind.

It has been widely reported (for example, here) that Merah, the young Islamist terrorist who killed three French soldiers two weeks ago, and four Jews (including three children) at the Otzar HaTorah school in Toulouse this week, murdered Jews “to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children.”

But NPR went one even better, reporting — in the words of “All Things Considered” host Robert Siegel — that “the gunman told officials that he killed his victims in part to avenge slain Palestinian children.”

As far as I can tell, there is no direct quotation available from the terrorist (not ‘gunman’), or even a second-hand report that included an equivalent statement. NPR’s correspondent on the scene, Eleanor Beardsley, said (in the same segment) that

He’s been speaking to police and he told police that he’s angry about children in Palestine, he’s angry at France being in Afghanistan, he’s obviously angry at Jews, he’s angry at fellow Muslims who would wear the French uniform…

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant, who should know what Merah told the police, said that he

wanted to avenge Palestinian children and take revenge on the French army because of its foreign interventions.

Some time after the attack and 24 hours before the police raid in which he was killed, Merah called the newsroom of French TV station France 24, where he spoke to News Editor Ebba Kalondo (video in English here). He gave his reasons for his actions, a litany of Muslim complaints against France, particularly including the ban on Islamic veils. With regard to the Otzar HaTorah murders, she said,

As for the attack on the Jewish School, he was adamant that it was revenge, for the killings of what he termed “my little brothers and sisters, in Palestine.”

In the absence of a direct quotation from Merah, NPR host Siegel could have quoted Kalondo or Gueant — or used a more neutral paraphrase. The phrase “slain Palestinian children” is more than journalistic exuberance: it implies that there is an equivalent, deliberate and vicious, action on the Israeli side to avenge. It suggests the narrative that “both sides are engaged in tit-for-tat violence” that NPR is always at pains to promote.

Although it is a staple of anti-Israel propaganda that Israel deliberately kills Arab children, the proposition is a blood libel and a case of reality inversion, given the long list of Israeli children targeted by Palestinian Arab terrorists. NPR shouldn’t help it along.


Of course, there is also the incredible craziness of the idea of ‘avenging’ the actions of France or Israel by grabbing an 8-year old girl by the hair and shooting her through the temple. The various news reports seem to accept this as expected in the world of Islamist terrorism.

Our administration seems to think that only al-Qaeda shares the ideology that works this way. But what is the ideology behind the random launching of rockets into Israel, a staple of Hamas, Hizballah and other Arab terror groups? What was the ideology of the terrorists that slaughtered the Fogel family, including 4-month old Hadas?

If we are not already numb, there’s this:

Merah, born in Toulouse of Algerian parents, told police negotiators he had murdered three small Jewish children, and a teacher, outside a school on Monday to “revenge Palestinian children”. However, he also, chillingly, told police that he had attacked the school in a random act of frustration after he failed to locate a soldier to continue his series of street killings of off-duty paratroopers.

So we have an ideology in which it makes sense to murder little children to ‘avenge’ actions by other people with whom they share an ethnicity, and the selection of Jews as the default murder victims when the preferred ones are not at hand.

Think about being the default murder victims when you wonder if the government of Israel is paranoid about Iran, for example.


Finally, there is the technocratic Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, so moderate that Hamas would not have him in a unity government, who made  this statement on the murders:

It is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine and to stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life.

Either he is a hypocrite or entirely non-representative of his movement, because the official media of his own Palestinian authority this very month found it appropriate to honor terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who murdered 37 Israelis, including 13 children.

Perhaps the real Palestinian leadership should pay attention to his words.

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Media distort reality of terrorrist rocket attacks

Monday, March 12th, 2012
An Israeli girl in Beersheva examines ball bearings embedded in the wall of a school building damaged by a Grad missile fired from Gaza. The school was closed when the rocket landed, and no one was hurt.

An Israeli girl in Beersheva examines ball bearings embedded in the wall of a school building damaged by a Grad missile fired from Gaza. The school was closed when the rocket landed, and no one was hurt.

While southern Israel hunkers down under a massive barrage of deadly rockets — only effective warning and anti-missile systems have so far prevented any deaths — the usual suspects in the media are pumping out the usual message: Israel is the aggressor, killing Palestinian civilians.

For example, an AP report begins like this:

Israel Airstrike In Gaza Kills 2 Palestinian Militants, Schoolboy

Israeli airstrikes killed two Palestinian militants and a schoolboy in the Gaza Strip on Monday and Palestinian rocket squads barraged southern Israel, in escalating fighting that has defied international truce efforts.

Leaving aside the fact that the 15-year old ‘schoolboy’ was almost certainly not killed by an Israeli airstrike, but rather when an explosive device that he was carrying went off, the emphasis in the article and the headline is placed on Israel’s actions to suppress the attack in which about 240 rockets have been fired at Israel since Friday, and not the attack itself.

This morning NPR broadcast a report from its Jerusalem correspondent. I’ve transcribed some of it and I’ll intersperse my comments:

[Steve Inskeep] …and we’re also reporting on violence on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip: The shooting stretched through the weekend and into today. Israeli airstrikes killed two more people today in Gaza, that Palestinian-held area, bring the total to 20. Israelis have been bombing, Palestinian have been firing rockets into Israel, and NPR’s Lourdes Garcia Navarro has been following the story. Lourdes, what’s the latest?

Note that they take the same approach as the AP, emphasizing defensive Israeli actions against combatant targets and de-emphasizing terrorist rocket attacks against Israeli civilians. ‘People’, not ‘militants’ or ‘fighters’ or (fat chance) ‘terrorists’ were killed.

[Lourdes Garcia Navarro]: Well Steve, this morning we’ve seen more sorties by Israeli aircraft, and multiple strikes inside the Gaza Strip. Medical officials in Gaza confirm two men were killed so far today. The Israelis say they were targeting a team preparing rockets to fire into Israel. Overnight there were rockets successfully fired and landed inside Israel. In fact over fifty rockets were fired in total yesterday. For a second day today Israeli schools have been closed in the area around Gaza and people are staying close to shelters. Around one million people lie within reach of those Gaza rockets.

The reporter begins again by emphasizing Israeli actions and Palestinian casualties. Palestinians ‘confirm’ that two ‘men’ were killed, while Israelis only ‘say’ they were attacking a terrorist rocket squad. Only after this does she mention the rocket attacks themselves.

Inside Gaza, you can hear the sound of Israeli jets circling overhead. There are around 1.6 million Palestinians who live there in densely populated areas. We already know that two civilians were killed yesterday, a young boy and an old man.

She continues, making sure we understand that Israel is deploying massive military force against helpless Palestinians. I rather doubt that ‘jets’ were ‘circling’; more likely helicopters and drones hit the rocket squads, but it sounds so much more frightening. We ‘already know’ — of course, we don’t, really — that two civilians were killed, and the suggestion is that this is just the beginning.

[Inskeep]: There have been rocket firings, many, many of them over the years, along that border. What caused an escalation here?

[Garcia Navarro]: Well, this current flare-up began when Israel targeted and killed the leader of one of the main militant groups in Gaza. Israel said he was planning an attack on Israeli civilians in the Sinai…

So we see that not only is this a story about Israeli violence against Palestinians, Israel started it. But the terrorist that was killed, PRC leader Zuhair Mussah Ahmad Qaisi, was responsible for an attack in southern Israel from the Sinai (not in the Sinai as the reporter incorrectly says) in August 2011 in which 8 Israelis were murdered, and it is quite credible that he was, as Israel says, about to launch another one (Qaisi was also responsible for the attack in which Gilad Shalit was captured in 2005, and also served as a conduit for money and weapons between Hizballah in Lebanon and terrorist groups in Gaza).

After Garcia Navarro talks about the remarkable success of Iron Dome in intercepting so many of the rockets, her partner cuts to the chase:

[Inskeep]: OK, no fatalities in Israel, quite a few of them on the Gaza side, is anyone talking seriously about a cease-fire?

Thus NPR manages to turn what should be a story about terrorism and defense against terrorism into one about the imbalance of power between Israel and the Palestinians, and how Israel initiated fighting which has killed Palestinian civilians (well, maybe one).

There is no mention that the event that began it was a classic case of eliminating a ticking-bomb terrorist, or that despite the density of the population in Gaza, Israel is killing the fighters that are firing rockets without killing civilians.

Only a few lines of the report allude to the massive disruption of the lives of Israelis, who have been running to shelters for four days (read the story of an Israeli schoolgirl here). And there is no comment about the fact that the objective of the Arab terrorists is to kill as many Israelis as possible.

And here is something else you won’t hear about on NPR: despite the fighting, Israel is continuing to supply necessities to the Gaza population! Every day, truckloads of food, goods and cooking gas are supplied to Gaza through the border crossings. Yesterday more than 180 truckloads passed through the crossings. This morning, truck traffic was interrupted for a few minutes, when Palestinian terrorists attacked the trucks with mortars. Think about that.

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The Lie Insertion Key

Thursday, March 8th, 2012
The lie key

The lie key

Here is yet another example of how much of the media are incapable of writing an honest story that concerns Israel.

On my way to the gym this morning I listened to an NPR story about how Christian volunteers are helping out at a Jewish agricultural community called Shilo.

The article by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is entitled “Christians Provide Free Labor On Jewish Settlements,” and mentions pointedly that the volunteers pay their own way. The implication is that this is somehow scandalous. Would they also write “Animal lovers provide free labor at shelters?”

The sixth paragraph of the article delivers the payload. Remember that this is a news story, not an editorial:

The problem is that the world doesn’t recognize this West Bank settlement or any other as part of Israel. The Palestinians and most of the international community view the Jewish settlements in the West Bank as illegal.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast War and has established settlements throughout the territory, which the Palestinians are seeking for part of a future state. The settlements are one of the most contentious issues between the Israelis and Palestinians, and have been a major obstacle in attempts to restart peace negotiations.

This is presented in a matter-of-fact tone — “ho hum, everyone knows this.” In fact, I am certain that ‘journalists’ at NPR, the BBC and the New York Times have a special key on their keyboards to pop this into every article they write on the subject of Israel.

Nevertheless, every line of it is misleading. It is true that the climate of opinion in, say, the UN, tends to be anti-settlement. But it’s an inconvenient truth that a very good case can be made for the legality of Jewish communities in the parts of Mandate Palestine that happened to be occupied by Jordan from 1948-67.

Without going into too much detail, the right of Jews to settle anywhere in Palestine was expressed by the “international community” in the League of Nations Mandate. Security Council resolutions demanded that borders be established by negotiations, which have never succeeded. And attempts to apply the Geneva Conventions to delegitimize such settlements are a very far stretch.

Yes, the Palestinians don’t agree with this, and want the ‘West Bank’ (Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem) — as well as the rest of Israel — for yet another Arab state. But why should we give credit to their racist desire to end Jewish self-determination and ethnically cleanse, for a second time in 63 years, this land? What have they done for the past 100 years to qualify themselves for statehood other than terrorism and murder?

The NPR-BBC-NYT boilerplate says that communities like Shilo are “a major obstacle to the attempt to restart negotiations.” But they are only an obstacle because the Arabs insist that they are. The real major obstacle is that the Arabs want Israel to give them everything — including agreeing to evacuate settlements and a return to 1949 lines — as a precondition to negotiations, rather than an outcome of them.

Note also that it says that “Israel captured the West Bank … and has established settlements.” But Jews lived there before the Arab conquest and ethnic cleansing of 1948. Why shouldn’t they come back? And who did they ‘capture’ it from? Jordan, who had grabbed it in 1948 contravening the UN partition resolution — not the ‘Palestinians’ who claim it!

There are many motivations for journalists, academics and politicians to push the settlements-are-illegal line. Some of them are ideological, because you just can’t be ‘progressive’ today if you don’t support the (in truth) very reactionary Arab cause. Some are payoffs — European politicians concerned with oil, or academics who get Saudi money (Georgetown University, from which NPR’s reporter Garcia-Navarro graduated, got $20 million of it in 2005).

Regardless of the reason, the insertion of the very partisan Arab point of view into ‘news’ stories as background is universal today in the left-of-center media. And regardless of the reason it is bad, biased journalism.

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