Posts on the topic of "Media Bias"
I wrote here how the media reported that the controversial film, "Innocence of Muslims," was made "with Jewish money, by a Jewish filmmaker" – an Israeli, in fact, trying to "help his native land."
We now know that the filmmaker is really an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. Yet Associated Press and others failed in this most basic obligation to fact-check.
Not surprisingly, the Muslim world has continued this theme, blaming the Jews for producing the inflammatory anti-Islam film.
This cartoon appeared in the newspapers Ar-Raya (Qatar) and Ash-Shuruq (Algeria).
The caption reads: "The Killing of the US Ambassador in Libya." Note the stars of David on the filmmaker's shirtsleeves.
Tragically, these lies are more than just factual inaccuracies or a PR issue. These myths remain firmly engraved in Arab lore, fomenting an atmosphere of mistrust that will linger for decades, and that ultimately undermine the possibility of peaceful coexistence.
HT: Tom Gross
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Last Thursday night, some Jewish teens were hanging out in Jerusalem looking for trouble. Emotions escalated and they viciously beat some Arab boys, leaving one in critical condition.
I, as well as the entire State of Israel, am outraged. Rabbis, educators and politicians across the spectrum have denounced this vile act. A special police committee is investigating, arrests have been made, and those responsible will assuredly be punished to the full extent of the law.
The Jewish people pride ourselves in being different. Violence is not the Jewish way – especially not targeting someone due to their nationality. This troubling incident indicates that we are not doing a sufficient job educating our children in the ways of tolerance.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forcefully declared:
"This is something that we cannot accept – not as Jews, not as Israelis. This is not our way; this goes against our way, and we condemn it in word and deed. We will quickly bring to justice those responsible for this reprehensible incident.
"We say as clearly as possible: The State of Israel is a democratic and enlightened state in which when we come across acts such as these, the entire state and all of its leaders come out together against such phenomena, and we will continue to do so. This is what makes us unique in the environment around us and this will continue to make us unique. I hope that one day our environment will change as well. But we will be persistent in our complete opposition to racism and violence."
On the flip side, the fact that all sectors of Israeli society have so strongly condemned this outrageous act shows that even in our errant moments, our moral compass remains acute.
As Ruthie Blum writes in Israel Hayom, a society is not judged by immorality in its midst, but rather by the response of its leaders, educators and the general public to it.
Blum compares the current crime to another lynch that took place in October 2000, when two Israelis took a wrong turn and ended up in Ramallah by accident. A mob of 1,000 Palestinians attacked – choking, stabbing, disemboweling, and setting the Israelis on fire. One of the murderers proudly stood at an open window and displayed his bloody hands to the cheering crowd. In the aftermath of the lynch, the Palestinian Authority made no arrests, and uttered no condemnations. (Indeed, Palestinian police helped facilitate in the lynching, and the Palestinian Authority's primary concern was to prevent video footage of the atrocity from getting into the hands of Western media outlets.)
This is no way justifies or excuses Jewish acts of violence. Yet can we see the difference?
Palestinian society today is rife with rhetoric that vilifies Jews and encourages murderous violence against them. Suicide bombers are elevated to the pinnacle of Palestinian society – lionized with poems and immortalized with dozens of schools, roads and sporting events named in the bombers' honor. In a popular Palestinian children's program, a Mickey Mouse look-alike calls on children to "annihilate the Jews" and "commit martyrdom." Ahlam Tamimi, the woman who helped carry out the gruesome Sbarro Pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem that killed 15 civilians and wounded 130, is treated like a rock star in the Arab world.
These are just a few of the thousands of examples.
To make matters worse, the Western media downplays it all: The New York Times characterized Palestinian calls to genocide as merely an "insult to Jews" ("Hamas's Insults to Jews Complicate Peace Effort," April 1, 2008). And the Christian Science Monitor quoted a Palestinian TV director that encouraging kids to jihad "isn't for teaching hate. It's for teaching children to think in the right way, to socialize them in our culture's way of life." ("Hamas's Approach to Jihad: Start 'em Young," August 20, 2007)
For peace to exist, all parties need to accept the idea of tolerant, peaceful coexistence. A sincere condemnation of violence is a crucial first step.
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We're now in the period of the Jewish calendar called the "Nine Days" leading up to Tisha B'Av, commemorating the repeated attempts to obliterate Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish people.
How apt, therefore, that this week the BBC – the world's largest broadcaster – has taken aim at this very same idea.
In its high-profile Olympic Games website, BBC left out any reference to the Israeli capital – while listing "East Jerusalem" as the capital of "Palestine." (Following complaints, BBC amended the site, coldly listing Jerusalem as the "Seat of Government.")
We wrote previously in this blog about the media's proclivity for denying the fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel – an honor it has held continuously for over 3,000 years.
Although clear historical facts cannot be erased in one fell swoop, the media has an incremental effect by planting seeds of doubt. London's Daily Telegraph ("Middle East Peace Process 'in Danger of Collapse,'" October 25, 2009) referred to "the Temple Mount, where the two Jewish temples of antiquity are believed to have been built," and Time magazine identified the "Dome of the Rock, where Jews believe Solomon and Herod built the First and Second Temples." Not an indisputable fact of history; just something that "Jews believe."
Jerusalem is mentioned 500 times in the Bible, though not once in the Muslim Koran. And yet, the media downplays the Jewish connection by promoting the Arabic names of holy sites. In referring to the Temple Mount, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, et al, typically cite the Muslim-Arabic name – "Haram al-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary." But did you ever see the Temple Mount referred to by its Hebrew name, "Har Habayit"? A Lexis-Nexis search of tens of thousands of mainstream news articles relating to Jerusalem revealed – aside from direct quotes – just one single reference to "Har Habayit."
Over the millennia, many wars have been fought over Jerusalem. All told, the city has been destroyed and rebuilt no less than nine times – with each conqueror further attempting to obscure the glorious Jewish past. But the Jewish people have never abandoned Jerusalem – praying in its direction thrice daily, invoking Jerusalem at every wedding ceremony, and concluding both the Passover Seder and Yom Kippur services with the yearning cry, "Next year in Jerusalem!"
And now, in an outrage of Olympic proportions, thousands of years of uncontested history are being brazenly erased on news sites everywhere.
What's a good response? Perhaps we should all stop referring to London as the capital of England, calling it instead "the seat of track and field."
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The attack against Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria – six killed and 36 injured – was the worst suicide bomb attack in the European Union since the London transport bombings of July 2005.
Commentator Tom Gross notes the weak coverage of the tragedy by the Western media.
• AFP, the leading French news agency, downplayed the terrorists' intention by scare-quoting the word "attack" in its headline: "Three Dead in 'Attack' on Israelis at Bulgaria Airport."
• BBC News described the bombing as an "awful accident" (long after it was clear to all that this was a bomb attack, not an accident).
• Never to be outdone, the New York Times reported how "bellicose adversaries, Israel and Iran, have a long history of accusing each other of terrorist attacks." Apparently the Times regards the deliberate murder of Israelis on vacation, with the elimination of an Iranian scientist working to produce a nuclear bomb for an Iranian regime that has threatened to wipe Israel off the map.
Journalists have long tried to minimize Arab terror by taking the focus off the Israeli victims. Associated Press noted that "357 bystanders have been killed" by Palestinian suicide bombings (Jason Keyser, "Suicide Bombing on Jerusalem Bus, Seven Killed"), and the New York Times wrote that "a barrage of four Palestinian attacks killed nine bystanders" (James Bennet, "Israel Pulls Back From Peace Plan After 4 Attacks"). In common usage, a "bystander" is peripheral to the central event – e.g. a bystander injured in a bank robbery. By describing Israeli terror victims as "bystanders," the media obscures the basic fact that Israeli civilians are the intentional target of these bombers.
Meanwhile, Israel endures another round of funerals, mourning and rehabilitation.
Last week Hamas fired over 100 rockets at Israeli towns before agreeing to a ceasefire.
On Friday, following some more cross-border action, Reuters posted this headline:
Israeli Air Strike Kills Gaza Militant, Breaks Truce
According to Reuters, Israel broke the truce. That would be correct, if not for two key pieces of information:
1) The militant killed in the air strike was, according to Palestinian sources, preparing to fire a rocket at Israel from Gaza. Doesn't that count as "breaking the truce"?
2) As Reuters reports in the body of the article, the Israeli strike followed the firing of two rockets at Israel earlier in the day from Gaza. If Israel was responding to rocket fire, how exactly does Reuters conclude that Israel "broke the truce"?
Particularly in online news where users get their fix by scanning a list of links, it is imperative that headlines be clear and direct, leaving no confusion over "who did what."
I recall a few years ago when Associated Press issued this headline: "Rockets Hit Lebanon Despite Cease-Fire." Readers would presume that Israel had broken a cease-fire by attacking Lebanon. Only those bothering to read the article, however, discovered that the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah had fired 10 Katyusha rockets that accidentally fell short, landing in southern Lebanon – hence the technically-true-but-wildly-deceptive headline, "Rockets Hit Lebanon Despite Cease-Fire."
Even Israel's basic counter-terrorist measures are blamed for causing hostilities. When Israel stopped Hamas from building tunnels designed to ferry lethal weapons and kidnap IDF soldiers, the New York Times cited this as evidence of Israel breaking the truce and driving "the cycle of violence to a much higher level." ("A Gaza Truce Undone by Flaws May be Revived by Necessity," December 18, 2008)
It's a world turned upside-down, where Israel is blamed in knee-jerk fashion. Sometimes I think the solution is just to ignore the sophomoric condemnations and do whatever is needed to defend the citizens of Israel. Because if we're anyway damned if we do, and damned if we don't... why not "do"?
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Today marks the 45th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem. Israel designated Jerusalem as its capital in 1950, yet most countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv due to ongoing political debate with the Palestinians. This has given rise to an unprecedented situation whereby a sovereign state – Israel – is denied the diplomatic right to choose the location of its capital city.
The U.S. Congress sought to reverse this travesty with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, passed by overwhelming bipartisan majority in both the House and Senate. The act states that "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999."
Since then, a parade of U.S. presidents have promised to uphold this pledge. But since the congressional act allows the President to implement a waiver at six-month intervals, that's exactly what has happened every six months since 1995.
This has created a situation whereby politicians, the media, and the world at large routinely ignore the fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Last month, the Washington Post printed this ditty:
Similarly, the Wall Street Journal has referred to Israel's capital as Tel Aviv, noting the "strains between Washington and Tel Aviv" ("U.S., Israel Spar in Public, But Defense Ties are Strong," May 4, 2010), while CNN referred to "an explosion in the Israeli capital of Tel Aviv" ("Blast in Israeli Capital," January 22, 2006).
This one really takes the prize: The London Guardian correctly referred to Jerusalem as Israel's capital - but then printed this retraction/correction:
I'm not sure what can be done about all this, but one young man has taken the fight to court, and just last month the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that American citizens born in Jerusalem can list their birthplace as "Israel."
Even Republican candidate Ron Paul, long known as a critic of Israel, made this recent statement:
In the meantime, with or without "international approval," the city that King David designated as the capital of Israel and the Jewish people is 45 years unified, 3,000-plus years Jewish, and still going strong. Check out this cool panorama view of modern Jerusalem.
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With the U.S. government releasing 175 pages of documents seized in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, two things caught my attention:
(1) Fatah, the governing faction of the Palestinian Authority (Abbas and Fayyad) offered money to al-Qaeda "towards the purchase and manufacture of weapons." Al-Qaeda records state that the Palestinian leadership "has offered us funds, purportedly to [support] jihad, but there is another reason, namely their fear of becoming targets of our swords."
Israel has long contended a Palestinian-Al Qaeda connection, and the media has long tried to deny it. When an al-Qaeda cell was discovered in Gaza, Palestinians claimed that the Israeli Mossad had set it up as a fake. BBC trumpeted the Palestinian version with this headline: "Israel 'Faked al-Qaeda Presence.'"
(2) Another amazing thing to emerge from the confiscated papers showed how bin Laden himself pondered the merits of working with the American media. Bin Laden singled out his affinity for CBS, which he concluded was "close to being unbiased." Another al-Qaeda operative praised the CBS program, 60 Minutes, for its "good reputation."
Aish.com has documented the bias of 60 Minutes against Israel. But in al-Qaeda's eyes, they're doing a fine job. How's that for a ringing endorsement?
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One of the strongest bastions of support for Israel is the evangelical Christian community, which holds strong pro-Israel political views and donates untold millions of dollars toward pro-Israel causes. Fundamentalist Christians act in accord with Isaiah's prophetic imperative that "For Zion's sake I will not keep silent; for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet" (Isaiah 62:1) ― taking seriously the biblical promise that the Holy Land belongs to the Jews as an everlasting possession.
For those seeking to weaken support for Israel, a primary tactic is to drive a wedge between the Jewish state and the pro-Israel Christian community.
And so, in the run-up to Easter, the media mice are scurrying to do their damage. Last time, under the headline, "In Holy Land, Easter Not What it Was," Reuters described "a big drop" "in Easter week ceremonies."
This year, the Washington Post took its turn with a report, "A Dark Easter for Palestinian Christians," spouting the false claim that Israel prevents "the vast majority of Christians living in the West Bank" from attending Easter ceremonies.
Besides the fact that the Washington Post got the numbers wrong, media monitors dug into microfilm archives to reveal the truth of whether Easter participation is unfairly restricted under Israeli rule. News reports from the era when Jerusalem was under Jordanian control (1948-1967) show a total of 5,000 pilgrims in Jerusalem for Easter festivities ― a fraction of the permits that Israel has allotted to Palestinians alone. ("Easter Procession in Jerusalem," Glasgow Herald, April 9, 1955)
Similarly, when Jerusalem was under British control (1917-1948), only a few thousand pilgrims would come every year. ("Holy Fire Ceremony at Holy Sepulchre," Palestine Post, April 28, 1940) Things were even worse during the pre-1917 Ottoman era, when Easter services in Jerusalem would often turn violent. So despite the fact that Easter participation has significantly increased under Israeli rule, the media cannot resist ascribing anti-Christian motives to Israel.
And yet, Washington Post writer Richard Stearns laments: "While the ancient Christian communities around Jerusalem await the miracle of the Holy Fire this week, I pray for another miracle ― one that would give full religious freedom to the Christians in the West Bank and Gaza."
All this ignores the fact that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population has increased since 1948 ― having risen by more than 400 percent, and continues to rise every year. (The Christian population in Israel was 34,000 in 1949, 73,000 in 1972, and 153,000 in 2008. See Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, 2009.)
By contrast, the rest of the Middle East ― Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and Syria ― is characterized by widespread "de-Christianization." Turkey, regarded as a moderate Islamic state, has seen its Christian population decline 100-fold in the last century ― from 20 percent in the early 20th century to 0.2 percent today. In Saudi Arabia, the practice of Christianity is plain illegal.
But for the media, Easter is just another opportunity to vilify Israel.
As Jews around the world prepare for Passover ― the celebration of Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt ― Palestinians are working overtime to rewrite history by presenting Moses as "the great Muslim leader who liberated Palestine."
On Palestinian Authority television, Dr. Omar Ja'ara, a lecturer at Al-Najah University in Nablus, declared:
This outrage is the latest Palestinian effort to dismiss Jewish nationhood, a corollary to the repeated denial of any Jewish connection to the Holy Land. "The claims of historic and religious ties between Jews and Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history," reads the Palestinian National Charter (Article 18).
When archaeologists in Jerusalem discovered a small golden bell, possibly from a tunic worn by a high priest during the Second Temple period, Palestinian officials angrily said this "underlines the efforts of the occupation and the extremist Jewish groups to falsify history and plant Jewish history forged in the region." And following the release of an iPhone app that sends prayers to the Western Wall, Palestinians immediately went into protest mode, insisted that "the Wailing Wall is an integral part of the al-Aqsa Mosque, and it is exclusively Islamic… and non-Muslims have no right to it, even to the dust of the Wailing Wall." (Palestine News Network, January 4, 2011)
This deceit goes straight to the top: In the words of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, the Jewish people "claim that 2,000 years ago they had a Temple. I challenge the claim that this is so." (Kul Al-Arab, August 25, 2000) The Palestinian ambassador to Washington, Maen Rashid Areikat, claimed that historically the Jewish presence in Israel "never was in Jerusalem, it never was on the coast, it never was in Hebron."
As detailed in my book, David & Goliath, it's all part of an ongoing deligitimization campaign ― aided by a willing media. Le Monde, the French newspaper of record, quoted PA cabinet minister Yasser Abed Rabbo: "Looking at the situation from an archaeological standpoint, I am sure there is no temple."
Even canonized Jewish writings, accepted for millennia by billions of people worldwide, are targeted for revision. Speaking on Palestinian TV, researcher Dr. Hayel Sanduqa claimed that the well-known verse from Psalm 137, "If I forget thee, oh Jerusalem," is not a Jewish source at all, but rather words uttered by a Christian Crusader, now "falsified in the name of Zionism." And when the iconic 1970s disco group Boney M played a concert in Ramallah, Palestinian organizers demanded that the band not perform one of its biggest hits, "Rivers of Babylon." Why? Because the song's chorus quotes from the Book of Psalms which ― in a brazen act of Zionist propaganda! ― refers to the Jewish yearning for the land of Israel.
Follow the steps: First, Palestinians claim that Moses was a Muslim leader and that Jews never lived in Israel. Then before you know it, standard media references to the Jewish Temple ― accepted as historical fact by every legitimate archaeologist and scholar ― is deemed debatable. London's Daily Telegraph referred to "the Temple Mount, where the two Jewish temples of antiquity are believed to have been built," and Time magazine identified the "Dome of the Rock, where Jews believe Solomon and Herod built the First and Second Temples." Not an indisputable fact of history; just something that "Jews believe."
Beyond the problem of factual inaccuracy, these media manipulations can actually impede the peace process. Invariably, the starting point in any negotiation is whatever is defined in common terms as "normative." With these outrageous pro-Palestinian views reinforced in the media, Palestinians sense the momentum predisposed in their favor, and harbor the illusion of bringing these demands to the negotiating table. Inevitably, Palestinians get a rude awakening every time that Israel ― secure in their 4,000-year history and connection to the land ― refuses to allow these skewed perceptions to dictate terms of an agreement.
Looking at the bright side, this is surely a good conversation starter for this year's Passover Seder.
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I just heard this BBC interview with Dr. Mona El-Farra, vice president of the Red Crescent in Gaza. The world’s largest broadcast corporation gave her a forum to spout the bald-faced lie that there have been no recent rocket attacks from Gaza:
“Let me tell you that for the last four months there were no rockets against Israel and Palestinians respected the cease-fire.”
Listen here (fast forward to 3:00)
For truth-seekers, here's the lowdown on rockets fired toward Israel from Gaza over the last four months:
- December 2011 - 42 rockets
- January 2012 - 18 rockets
- February 2012 - 30 rockets
- March 2012 - 200 rockets
The BBC are masters at aiding this duplicitous Palestinian cover-up game. A few years back, when Israeli soldiers searched Palestinian homes and found disturbing photos of children wielding machine guns and babies strapped with explosive belts, BBC quoted Palestinian spokesliar Yasser Abed Rabbo dismissing it as "cheap Israeli propaganda." In a later interview, BBC put this loaded question to an Israeli spokesman: "The Mossad has the most amazing forgery capabilities in the world. Why should we believe this is real?"
It also reminds me of the time that Palestinians claimed the Israeli Mossad had set up a fake al-Qaeda cell in Gaza. Israeli spokesmen dismissed it as sheer nonsense, but BBC’s headline trumpeted the Palestinian accusation as if it were undisputed fact: “Israel ‘Faked al-Qaeda Presence.’”
Which raises a serious question: If Palestinians repeatedly use the media to promote outright lies, why do journalists continue to take them seriously? In dealing with totalitarian regimes, Western journalists know to treat spokesmen with due skepticism. (Think of the Iraqi Minister of Information, whom the media dubbed Comical Ali, announcing from Baghdad that hundreds of American troops were committing suicide at the city's gates.) So why are corrupt Palestinian groups not held to those same standards? Even more, shouldn't there be a policy to blacklist those spokesmen who are caught lying?