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Media Critique #41: Misreporting Terror

Media Critique #41: Misreporting Terror

Suicide bombers are coming from Arafat's Fatah Al-Aqsa Brigade, even as Arafat meets with U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni to pledge his devotion to peace.


Courtesy of

Muhammad Hashaika, the homicide bomber who blew himself up March 21 on Jerusalem's King George Street had been arrested by the PA after possessing a belt filled with explosives which he planned to explode at a Ra'anana shopping mall.

But then the bomber was released from a Palestinian prison last week, according to Israeli and Palestinian security officials.

The bomber belonged to the Al-Aksa Brigades, part of Arafat's own Fatah faction. This week, the U.S. State Department added the Al-Aksa Brigades to its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).

Matthew Kalman of USA Today (March 14) reported that most members of the Al-Aqsa Brigade receive salaries from Arafat's Palestinian Authority. And USA Today quoted Maslama Thabet, a leader of the Al-Aqsa Brigade, who said: "The truth is, we are Fatah itself... Our commander is Yasser Arafat himself."

Hussein A-Sheikh, a Fatah leader in the West Bank, seems insulted when USA Today asked whether the Al-Aqsa Brigade is under Arafat's control. "Of course, there is control. What do you think? That we are just a bunch of gangs?"

On March 22, Associated press reported seeing a document with Arafat's signature personally approving a payment to Atef Abayat, a leader of the Al Aqsa Brigades responsible for the murder of at least 5 Israelis. The payment is noted on one of the 100,000 documents seized from Orient House last August.

Despite this clear evidence of Arafat's ties to terror, following the King George massacre the media trumpeted Arafat's hypocritical and oft-stated promise to arrest "those who stand behind it. We will not save any effort in doing so." Monitor your local media to see if they are reporting both sides of the story.

===== (2) GERALDO'S NEW IDENTITY =====

Fox News' Geraldo Rivera's made an emotional outburst regarding Israeli operations against terrorist bases last week. Speaking on Brit Hume's "Special Report" (March 13), Geraldo proclaimed:

"When you use tanks and F-16s, and these sledgehammers against thickly populated civilian towns and cities, that's not fighting terrorism. That is inflicting terrorism... I have been a Zionist my entire life. I would die for Israel. But watching the suffering of the Palestinian people, I'm also becoming a Palestinian-ist..."

As an afterthought, Geraldo added: "Maybe the comparison is not precise."

Reference to Geraldo's remarks and quotations can be found in a column written by The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz at:

In response, Arutz Sheva editor Nissan Ratzlav-Katz questioned in what way Geraldo identifies as a Palestinian-ist. Is he like the 87.4% of Palestinians in a recent poll who support continued suicide bombings of Jewish civilians?

Is he like the woman who appeared on Geraldo's own Fox News with her son, prior to his massacre of five Jewish civilians in Gaza, saying: 'I wish I had 100 sons like him, so as I will sacrifice all of them for the sake of Allah'?

Or does Gerardo identify with the thousands of Palestinians who celebrated the attack on the World Trade Center?

Of course, we don't accuse Geraldo of such identification. But Geraldo's comments do demand clarification.

Send your own comments to:

===== (3) MSNBC & "TERROR" =====

We recommend two honest and thought-provoking columns by MSNBC's ombudsman Dan Fisher on "How to define a terrorist."

Fisher, who once served as a Middle East correspondent, wrote on March 11 that, "as a reporter in the Middle East I referred frequently to 'terrorist' attacks, and I think it's appropriate to do so now. Suicide bombings at night clubs, pizza parlors, or wedding celebrations, are 'terrorist' attacks in my book. So is the ambush of a civilian bus, nationalist-inspired kidnapping and murder, or the placement of a bomb in a schoolyard. I think it's inherently inconsistent to refer, as an Mideast story did on March 7, to 'militants killing civilians.'"

The ombudsman added: "I also believe could do a better job of providing background on groups like Hamas or Islamic Jihad in its news stories. That background should include their stated goals, the fact that they have claimed responsibility for suicide bombings, and that they are considered by the United States to be terrorist organizations."

By March 20, Fisher had to back-pedal. His earlier column claimed that MSNBC has no specific rules of its own about use of the term "terrorist." But then Fisher discovered that MSNBC "reporters and producers have been instructed not to use [the term 'terrorism'] in news reports on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict except in direct quotations."

Fisher responded: "I disagree with blanket rules that disallow the use of the terms in any context. I don't think it's a violation of journalistic impartiality to describe certain acts targeting civilian non-combatants as "terrorism... For the moment,'s senior producers and I are clearly in disagreement on this issue."

Read Fisher's columns at:

You can send comments to Fisher at:

===== (4) DETROIT NEWS & TERROR =====

Nolan Finley, editorial page editor of The Detroit News, emphasized the evil intention of Palestinian terrorists in his March 17 op-ed entitled, "Israel's children are the target of Middle East terror campaign." Finley charged:

"The ugly little secret of the Middle East conflict is that a favorite target of Palestinian terrorists are the children, teen-agers and young adults of Israel. They appear to be intentionally killing Israel's kids. The slaughter is carried out by cold-hearted murderers who search for bar mitzvahs, high schools, teen discos, wedding parties, family restaurants -- any place likely to draw young people -- before touching off their suicide bombs."

Pro-Arafat advocacy groups were furious and launched an attack on Finley. They were particularly incensed by Finley's judicious observation: "Certainly, Palestinian children are dying as well. And while there is a clear moral difference between intentionally targeting children for killing and accidentally killing children in a military engagement, a dead child is a dead child. The parents mourn equally. Though it is difficult to understand how Palestinian parents can grieve over children killed by Israeli gunfire, while celebrating the deaths of children they themselves brainwash and turn into human bombs."

Read Finley's full column at:

Send comments to the following Detroit News addresses (as printed by pro-Arafat groups):

March 23, 2002

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Visitor Comments: 7

(7) victor lopez-veira, September 15, 2003 12:00 AM

use of term "terrorist"

Terror is "intense fear" accordin to Webter´s. Therefore, anyone whose actions are designed to cause intense fear among civicilians is a terrorist.

The difference between the Israel´s actions and the Palestinians that blow themselves up is that the latter do so to cause precisely intense fear among the population while the Israely helicopters aim at destroying terrorists and cause intense fear among nearby innocent civilians, even death, BUT that it is not the intention of the Israeli pilots. Besides, the Israeli reaction is in RESPONSE to the action of the Palestinian terrorists.

(6) Anonymous, May 16, 2002 12:00 AM

BBC bias encapsulated in definition of terrorists

The BBC, once known for its objective reporting in all areas, has long since emerged as one of the most biased anti-Israel media outlets. Reporters such as Orla Guerin, its Middle East correspondent, feed the British public a stream of anti-Israel propaganda day after day, and complaints to the BBC are rejected routinely. This biased reportage can also be seen on BBC News Online. This bias, which highlights the sufferings of Palestinians and ignores that of Israelis, and lets antisemitic attacks on Jewish institutions in Europe go unreported, is symbolized by a remark of BBC reporter Barbara Plett three days after the World Trade Center atrocity: "...Palestinian militants - the violence they wage is not considered terrorism by most people in the world - most people see it as resistance to occupation". Indeed, the BBC always refers to Palestinian terrorists in and outside Israel, including suicide bombers and killers and mutilators of civilians, as "militants", yet IRA terrorists are referred to as "terrorists". This use of the word "militant" is followed by all BBC reporters and anchorpersons because they are instructed to do so. The BBC Producers' guidelines, Section 2, Impartialty and Accuracy, is contravened repeatedly where Israel is concerned. The BBC is as anti-Israel as the Guardian newspaper. Congratulations on your website.

(5) Mary Wuellenweber, April 22, 2002 12:00 AM


I reeled in shock after watching an Arab uprising in Germany in protest of the conflict. An arab father held up a 4 yr.old little girl with fake bombs attached to her chest and tummy.It made me sick and I felt angry ,that Mr. Arafat did not come out and say "stop sending our arab children to suicide bomb the Israelis." Would it be o.k. for
Mr. Arafat will send his little daughter to do his dirty work? And, if mrs. Arafat is so supportive of these bombings, would she send her daughter? Please note she is safe in Paris. Why can't they love their children more than they hate us? G-d forgive them...

(4) Anonymous, April 6, 2002 12:00 AM

I couldn't agree more

I completely agree with your first piece about the media's failure to clearly depict Arafat as the commander in chief of most terrorist activities in the West Bank and Israel, and therefore as a hard-core terrorist himself. I myself have been especially dismayed and dissatisfied with The New York Times and their complete failure to disclose these facts. For many people, the New York Times is a major source of information, and yet this newspaper is denying its readership of critical facts about Arafat and his pivotal role in the terrorist activities in the Middle East. I think that for those of us who read the New York Times, it is very important to write to the editors and voice our criticism as to these important omissions. The New York Times should realize that a large portion of its readership gets its news from several sources, and that undereporting or misreporting on the part of the Times will cause it to lose credibiltiy in the eyes of its readership. I myself have sent a letter to the Times to this effect, and I would recommend that those who read the NY Times and share this feeling do the same.

(3) Anonymous, March 28, 2002 12:00 AM


Wake up! Don't get your news from people who say the same thing at the same time! ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC and CNN etc. When was the last time you questioned someone at an accident scene that saw the same thing you did?

Logic dictates, you don't. Everyone sees things differently, not EXACTLY the same way.

The current holy war started when Prime Minister Sharon went to the temple mount (which WAS announced to the Palestinian authorities) in October of 2000. This was before Bush was in office. So the fight began when? A better question to ask is, "Why are the liberal media treating Israel so poorly when it comes to fair reporting?".

Have you seen CBS' 60 Minutes II lately? "Hamas has grafitti, IDF has bullets" one CBS reporter stated. They show Jews protesting in the streets waving flags saying Palestinians must
leave, but they don't show Palestinians using children as shields or guns or anything, like throwing rocks for example.

They show clips from a documentary called "Promises" which portrays interviews with children back in
1998 and just a few weeks ago.

Then CBS shows a sweet girl named
Sanabel who is willing to be a suicide bomber to make it look normal and her duty. The only other point that gets made is done by a disgruntled Jewish boy.

Quoting the Jewish boy:
"They are repulsive to look at -
disgusting. They are humans - oops sorry I called them humans.
They are animals, most of them. I'd rather not meet them and I
would prefer to [stay] with the society that we have here, with the Jews, the Israelis."

Taken from:

The little girl however miraculously gets to explain her side of the story.

Quoting CBS reporter: "Have you been involved in clashes with Israelis?", she was asked. "Has any of her friends been injured or killed?". Sanabel says, "To tell the truth, I haven't participated in any clashes with the Israelis, but I have a friend, a dear
friend, who participated in the clashes and was shot. He became a martyr. His name is Kifach Abeit and he was one year younger than me, but was a very dear friend, and he gave up his life for our homeland. The Jews killed him with a bullet." It was Sanabel who
convinced her Palestinian friends to invite the Israeli twins to the camp. Would she be willing to meet the twins now? "No, I am not willing to see them. I am not willing to see any Jewish
person. I'll repeat that a hundred times. I am not willing to meet any Jewish person because they are all the same. They are all racists. They are all evil." She continues: "When I hear
about a bombing I get so happy that I feel that I am part of the operation. And I wish that I was the suicide bomber. I feel that if I did that I would be a part of our county's liberation. I start wondering how I can become a suicide bomber. How I as a
girl can blow up a place in Netanya or Jaffa street, or anywhere else. I want to be with them and die as a martyr for the sake of my homeland."

She gets time on liberating her non existent country. He gets to
call people less than human. That's what they call fair reporting. If you get your views from people who are SO one sided, I'm afraid that you tend to become one sided in your views as well.

Israel has never been the aggressor in all 4 wars they have fought. They have a historical right to there land, archeology proves this. People need to stop telling Israel what to do. How many modern countries would tolerate suicide bombers and NOT go to war? Israel is told to have restraint and she does so. Using rubber bullets, not using children as human shields as the Palestinians do. I'm afraid that history is repeating itself here and more people should speak up for Israel, especially the Christians.

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