Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Filling in gaps

"A humanitarian gesture".

So quotes Reuters' Nidal al-Mughrabi of an Egyptian source involved in the agreement announced today for Hamas to provide a recent video tape of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit in exchange for the release of 20 female Palestinian prisoners.

Al-Mughrabi writes:

"Israeli officials said none of the women had been directly involved in killings and none was serving a sentence of longer than two years."

What al-Mughrabi fails to tell us is that two or three of the women have apparently been indirectly involved in the murder of Israelis.

UPDATE: Haaretz is now reporting that the list of prisoners to be released does not include any "with blood on their hands" but the rap sheet is nonetheless, appalling.  

In the second to last paragraph of his story, al-Mughrabi adds:

"Shalit has not been visited by the International Committee of the Red Cross and only a few letters and an audio cassette from him have been sent to his family, which has waged a vocal campaign to get him freed."

Reuters' readers may be left wondering if this was due perhaps, to some dereliction demonstrated by the Red Cross; however, the ICRC explains that Hamas has refused all efforts by the humanitarian group to visit Shalit, to deliver letters from his family and friends, even to ascertain his condition.

The ICRC writes:

In the case of Gilad Shalit, we deplore the fact that political considerations have outweighed humanitarian concerns, and respect for basic humanitarian principles, making it virtually impossible to help him or his family.

A little (otherwise) missing information goes a long way toward facilitating public understanding of the respective values and morality of the parties to this conflict.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Reuters in need of Jerusalem points-of-interest guide, remedial grammar lesson

In a follow-up story to its report yesterday on violence at the Temple Mount/al-Aqsa mosque compound, Reuters' Alastair Macdonald quotes the Palestinian Authority and a variety of other Palestinian sources warning of a third intifada (violent uprising) and accusing Israel of using the incident as a pretext to foil peace talks.

In describing the location where the violence occurred, Macdonald adopts an exclusively Arab Muslim narrative and refers only to the Muslim sites at the compound:

"Muslim holy site"
"al-Aqsa mosque"
"Islam's third holiest site"
"Dome of the Rock"
"the mosque compound"
"al-Aqsa mosque" (again)

Macdonald also employs the factually incorrect, historically misleading, and racially-loaded phrase "Arab East Jerusalem" which we have discussed at length here.

Nowhere in his story does Macdonald refer to the religious site with the term denoted by Jews, "Temple Mount", nor does he mention that it is the Jewish people's holiest shrine. This is not a trivial point nor is it an issue peripheral to the story as Macdonald, Reuters' Bureau Chief for Israel, in all probability understands. For while Israel has granted administrative management of the site to the Waqf (Islamic Religious Authority), Israel maintains sovereignty and the governing parties have agreed to accommodate Jewish visitors who wish to ascend the Mount.

Thus, the stone-throwing and rioting by Muslims yesterday represents both a violent attack on innocent Jewish congregants (and police) as well as a violation of agreed principles. One would never know this reading Macdonald's heavily biased piece.

In describing yesterday's violence, Macdonald reports:

"In Sunday's incident police fired tear gas and stun grenades at hundreds of Palestinians who had gathered in anticipation of such a move by groups associated with Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Stones, chairs and other objects hit police."

Macdonald may wish to consider enrolling in a remedial grammar class as his paragraph implies that Israeli police initially assaulted Palestinians followed by inanimate objects acting violently, and apparently unaided, against police. What Macdonald meant to write of course, is that Palestinian Arabs hit police with stones, chairs and other objects; police responded by firing tear gas and stun grenades.

Reuters correspondents do appear to have difficulty holding Palestinians responsible for their actions, while chairs seem to take on a life of their own.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Reuters referees clash at Temple Mount... Final score: Palestinians 234, Israel 15

Those figures represent the number of copy words Reuters apportions to the Palestinian and Israeli sides respectively, to present each perspective on the violent clash today in Jerusalem.

After devoting two paragraphs to unsubstantiated claims and implicit threats of violence by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, Reuters then editorializes:

"Sharon's presence at al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, triggered the second Palestinian uprising and dealt the biggest setback to peace efforts in years."

Although frequently parroted by Reuters, this notion has been demonstrated false; Yasir Arafat had been planning the intifada for months prior to Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount.

In the 5th paragraph of the story, Reuters' writers finally get around to admitting:

"The reasons behind Sunday's clash were disputed,"

and then proceed to quote the views of more Palestinian sources!

It's not until the 11th paragraph that Reuters graciously grants Israel its 15 words:

"Israeli police said it began when religious Palestinians angered by immodestly dressed tourists grew violent,"

which is then summarily dismissed by Palestinian sources in the next paragraph.

We then read:

"There was no further comment from Israeli authorities, who were observing the Yom Kippur silence."

Truly a dream come true for Reuters' correspondents. If they hurry, they might be able to run several more one-sided hit pieces before the end of the Jewish holiday.

Reuters AWOL

Further to our previous post on president Obama's refusal to bring Iran's latest violation of the NPT before the UN Security Council and Reuters' embarrassing and misplaced adulation of Obama, we learn that French president Nicolas Sarkozy was not similarly enamored with Obama's complacency at the UN (Hat Tip Israel matzav):

President Sarkozy (spoke in French): France fully supports your initiative to hold this meeting, Mr. President, as well as the efforts you have made with Russia to reduce nuclear arsenals. However, let us speak frankly. We are here to guarantee peace. We are right to talk about the future. But the present comes before the future, and the present includes two major nuclear crises. The peoples of the entire world are listening to what we are saying, including our promises, commitments and speeches. But we live in the real world, not in a virtual one.

We say that we must reduce. President Obama himself has said that he dreams of a world without nuclear weapons. Before our very eyes, two countries are doing exactly the opposite at this very moment. Since 2005, Iran has violated five Security Council resolutions. Since 2005, the international community has called on Iran to engage in dialogue. A proposal for dialogue was made in 2005. A proposal for dialogue was made in 2006. A proposal for dialogue was made in 2007. A proposal for dialogue was made in 2008. And another was made in April 2009. President Obama, I support America’s extended hand. But what have those proposals for dialogue produced for the international community? Nothing but more enriched uranium and more centrifuges. And last but not least, it has resulted in a statement by Iranian leaders calling for wiping off the map a Member of the United Nations. What are we to do? What conclusion are we to draw? At a certain moment, hard facts will force us to take decisions. If we want a world without nuclear weapons in the future, we must not accept violations of international rules. I completely understand the differing positions of others. But all of us may one day be threatened by a neighbour that has acquired nuclear weapons.

If we may characterize, a remarkable dressing-down and urgent plea by an allied world leader ignored by president Obama and completely unreported by the Obama cheerleaders at Reuters.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

For Reuters, only Israel plays football

In a story today on the disclosure and accompanying political fallout (no pun intended) associated with Iran's uranium enrichment plant near Qom, Reuters quotes reactions from a variety of prominent international figures. Here's a list of those mentioned:

US President Barack Obama, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Head of Iran's atomic energy organization Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's Head of the office of Supreme Leader Mohammad Mohammadi-Golpayegani, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the Foreign Minister of Israel Avigdor Lieberman.

Of all those cited, only one is characterized by Reuters in terms of his/her political leanings (as branded by Reuters of course). Can you guess which one? Here's a hint:

"The disagreement (on whether Iran is developing military nuclear capability) has been done away with," right-winger Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio."

By the way, we particularly like this quote from Mohammadi-Golpayegani:

"This new [nuclear] plant, God willing, will soon become operational and will make the enemies blind."

Perhaps Reuters should have tagged him as goalkeeper.

Reuters and its Obama pom-poms

In a fawning puff piece, Steve Holland of Reuters writes:
"President Barack Obama scored twin diplomatic coups on Friday, seizing the world stage to forge a new allied call for action against Iran and a framework for global economic growth."
"From the United Nations in New York to a Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh, it was all Obama all the time."

While Holland hyperventilates with Obamania, Politico reports that the Obama administration was only forced to announce the latest example of Iranian violations of the NPT when it learned (probably via the Associated Press) that Iran had just sent a letter to the IAEA acknowledging existence of its uranium enrichment facility near Qom.

Whereas Holland describes the intelligence data as "fresh", AP indicates that the US, French, and British have actually known about the facility for years. Notwithstanding, Obama specifically chose not to place Iran in the dock by refusing to bring the matter before the UN Security Council when he had a golden opportunity to do so as recently as Thursday.

Why? Well, rather than taking effective action to prevent a regime which threatens its neighbors with destruction from obtaining nuclear weapons, perhaps what is important to this president (as Holland inadvertently suggests) is "dramatic effect" and "shoring up his standing among Americans".

At least we know the strategy is working on the cheerleaders at Reuters.

Friday, September 25, 2009

More cherry-picking from Reuters

Reuters' writers love to cherry-pick poll results in an effort to prop up their perspective on the Middle East conflict as we documented here, and following his recent pessimism that Obama will be able to achieve a peace agreement with a snap of his fingers, Douglas Hamilton displays a newfound, albeit tentative, optimism based on a poll conducted by the International Peace Institute.

First, some introductions are in order. The president of the IPI is none other than Terje Roed-Larsen who has a long history of official and semi-official diplomatic involvement in the Middle East conflict going back to his role in the ill-fated Oslo Accords in the early 1990s. Roed-Larsen is perhaps best known for famously describing Yasir Arafat as someone who "embodies Palestinian identity and aspirations". Ouch!

Moving along, the first figure from the poll which stands out (but goes unmentioned by Reuters) is that contrary to the heavily promoted clamor for a Jewish settlement freeze, only 7% of Palestinians actually feel that halting settlement building activity and house demolitions would advance the peace process. So much for that notion.

While the IPI finds that a majority of Palestinians now support a "two-state" solution, Reuters erroneously reports this as being based on the 2003 Road Map when in fact, the two-state solution envisioned by respondents is one based on the Arab Peace Initiative. (See poll results).

As a reminder, the "Arab Peace Initiative" calls for Israel to withdraw from all land liberated in the 1967 war, the creation of a Palestinian state on that land, and a return of Palestinian refugees (and their descendants) consistent with UNGA resolution 194, i.e., to their former homes in Israel. In other words, the Palestinians are willing to agree to two states as long as they obtain 100% of the disputed territories and the right to flood Israel with several million 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation denizens. Not exactly an embrace of Obama's call for "two states for two peoples".

Moreover, a majority of Palestinians reject dividing Jerusalem where Jewish neighborhoods, the Jewish Quarter, and the Western Wall would go to Israel. Apparently, Reuters correspondents felt this result too trivial (or too disheartening) for their readers so they decided to omit it from their report.

Also unreported is the fact that while 44% of Palestinians consider internal political divisions to be their biggest problem, only 30% consider the "Israeli occupation" as such and just 23% identify the "blockade of Gaza". (It would be interesting to measure this result against the relative number of articles Reuters devotes to each concern).

Reuters does report however, Terje Roed-Larsen's breathless conclusion that:

"Palestinians as a people are ready to be a peace partner for Israel."

We think Roed-Larsen (and Reuters) ought to have a closer look at his poll results.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Missing ingredients

Compare this paragraph:

To all but the terminally obtuse, the chances of a deal right now are about zero. Even if Obama could deliver a freeze on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank that Abbas has again demanded and Netanyahu has again refused, Miller says, the fact remains that the Palestinian national movement is divided and Israel "still doesn't know what price it's prepared to pay" for peace,

with this one:

To all but the interminably obtuse, the prospects of a conflict-ending solution between this Israeli government and this Palestinian Authority are slim to none. And the way to get there (if there is a way) isn’t through the confidence-building measures that the administration has pursued since the spring. Even if Obama were to succeed in delivering these (a partial settlements freeze and partial normalization by the Arabs toward Israel), it would likely have little effect on the galactic task at hand: negotiating an agreement on borders, security, Jerusalem and refugees between a divided Palestinian national movement (a Palestinian Humpty Dumpty, really) and an Israel that still doesn’t know what price it’s prepared to pay to end its conflict with the Palestinians.

The first paragraph was written by Reuters' Douglas Hamilton paraphrasing Aaron David Miller in Politico. (Hamilton doesn't link). The second is drawn from Miller's original piece. While the theme of Reuters' story is the pessimism surrounding the ostensible failure of early round discussions between Abbas, Obama and Netanyahu, notice that Hamilton chooses to omit the portion of the Miller quote which argues that even if it were possible for the parties in power to end the conflict (which Miller doubts), Obama's demand for a settlement freeze is not the way to Oz.

Miller's point is that the issue of Jewish settlements is actually inconsequential (we would say a red herring) in achieving a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Which, while Reuters has been elsewise pounding the table here, here, here, and here, is exactly what Netanyahu has been saying all along.

Don't know much about history; don't know much about geography...

We're big fans of Sam Cooke and nobody covers him better than Reuters. In an effort to elicit sympathy for the Palestinian Arabs while demonizing Israel, Joseph Nasr, Mustafa Abu Ganiyeh, Douglas Hamilton, and Jon Boyle deploy the classic propaganda techniques of appeal to poverty and appeal to pity and in the process, manage to completely mangle history and geography.

The Reuters' team suggest that Jewish "settlement began after Israel seized the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war" and refer to "five Israeli settlements on the nearby ridges and hilltops south of Jerusalem".  We wonder if they're referring to the Jewish community known today as Gush Etzion which was originally founded in 1927 by a group of Yemenite Jews and where residents were repeatedly victimized by Arab violence culminating in 1948, with a massacre at the hands of the Arab Legion.

Or perhaps their reference to Jewish "settlements" refers to Hebron, a town Reuters decribes as "proud to be considered a stronghold of Palestinian nationalism", but where history has recorded a Jewish community for more than 3,000 years -- interrupted in 1929 by the massacre of scores of Jews in Arab riots and which, under threat of further Arab violence, was evacuated of its remaining Jews by British troops in 1936.

Reuters, acting as arbiter, has also it appears, unilaterally determined the fate of Jewish communities east of the 1949 armistice lines asserting that these towns would either, "have to be handed over to a new Palestinian state or bought in land swaps elsewhere on the borderline".

No, they don't know much about history or geography but how fortunate for the Palestinians that Reuters correspondents fancy themselves as experts in international law.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A distinction with a difference: update to our post "Lost in Translation"

In our previous post, "Lost in Translation", we pointed out that Reuters had gotten it wrong when they quoted Russian president Medvedev as saying that Israeli president Peres had "promised" that Israel would not attack Iran.

In an interview on Monday, Reuters asked Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon about Peres' alleged "guarantee". Ayalon replied:

It is certainly not a guarantee. I don't think that, with all due respect, the Russian president is authorized to speak for Israel and certainly we have not taken any option off the table.

As importantly, Reuters backs off from their previous story containing the misquote (which included a thunderous but fallacious headline) and provides a correct translation of what Medvedev actually said:

"Israeli President Peres said something important for us all: Israel does not plan to launch any strikes on Iran, we are a peaceful country and we will not do this."

This is essentially identical to our earlier translation from the Kremlin transcript.

Some of our readers have argued that although Medvedev did not use the word "promise" or "pledge", Reuters' characterization as such is essentially a distinction without a difference. We disagree. Although we don't know exactly what Peres said to Medvedev in their meeting (nor does Reuters), we do know what Medvedev said to CNN and there was clearly no explicit reference to a "promise", "pledge", "covenant" or other synonym. Reuters has now implicitly acknowledged this by dropping their earlier misrepresentation in subsequent articles on the matter.

As we suggested in our original post, representations of an Israeli covenant -- subsequently violated -- made with a Head of State and member of the UN Security Council would provide added fuel to an effort, perhaps by Russia, to whip up international support for sanctions following an Israeli strike on Iran. It could also provide diplomatic cover and justification for Russia to intervene in any ensuing military conflict.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lost in translation II

Iran held a military parade today to commemorate (celebrate?) the 29th anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq war. Amongst the troops, artillery, jet fighters, and Shahab-3 long range missiles proudly on display were trucks carrying banners which read, "Down with Israel" and "Down with America". At least that's according to Reuters' translation. AFP on the other hand, has a somewhat different reading of the banners:

During the parade, Iranian military pick-up trucks were seen sporting large banners proclaiming, "Death to Israel" and "Death to America."

We're still perusing pics from this year's parade but here are a couple from last year:

While the English reads "Down with Israel", the Persian/Arabic reads "Death to Israel".

The former for Reuters' consumption; the latter for everyone else.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lost in translation

Reuters ran a story yesterday following the broadcast of CNNs interview with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev. The story was quickly picked up by newspapers and agencies all over the world because it quoted Medvedev as saying that Israeli president Shimon Peres had promised that Israel would not launch an attack against Iran. There's only one problem: Medvedev never said that.

We watched the full interview on CNN and noted that the interpreter did not use the word "promise", "pledge" or any equivalent synonym during the section where Medvedev discusses his previous conversation with Peres. Given the discrepancy between what we heard and what Reuters reported, we decided to have Medvedev's comment (as it appears in the transcript provided by the Kremlin) translated.  Here's what Medvedev actually said:

When Peres was in Sochi, he said a very important phrase for all of us: Israel does not intend to attack Iran. We are a peaceful country and we're not going to do this.

Now why would Reuters run, as Huckleberry Finn might say, a "stretcher", i.e., inserting the embellishment, "Israel promised" into its headline and lead paragraph? Well, looking ahead, if Israel does indeed strike Iran, Reuters will be able to return to their previous exaggerated storyline and argue that Israel had failed to keep its promises to the international community. Propaganda of this type could be instrumental in helping to turn international opinion against Israel and to incite for sanctions in the UN Security Council.

Of course, we're just speculating.

"Sporadic exceptions"

That's the way Reuters' Nidal al-Mughrabi and Alastair Macdonald allude to the more than 200 rockets and mortars fired at Israel by Palestinian terror groups since the Gaza "ceasefire" in January.

An average of nearly one rocket or mortar per day = "sporadic exceptions". George Orwell must be rolling over.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's cherrypicking season

In a "Q+A" published on Reuters' website today, Alastair Macdonald asks the question that everyone from Russian president Dmitri Medvedev to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is asking: could Israel strike Iran over nuclear concerns?

As evidence that Israel might not attack Iran, Macdonald cites a poll taken in June that, "showed Israelis would not expect a nuclear Iran to attack".  Though he provides no numbers, the poll to which Macdonald refers also indicates that 21% of Israelis believe "Iran would attack Israel with nuclear weapons with the objective of destroying it".

The poll further indicates that a nuclear-armed Iran would drive 11% of Israelis to consider emigrating.  Of a Jewish population numbering about 6 million, that figure represents over 600,000 people.  The political, social, and economic upheaval associated with this level of mass exodus would clearly be devastating for Israel. For some perspective, consider the impact on the US if over 30 million people suddenly chose to flee the country. 

And of course, the poll in question was taken in June.  As Iran approaches nuclear mastery, it is probably safe to assume that the number of Israelis wishing to leave the country will rise -- particularly as Iran would soon be free to order its terror proxies, Hamas and Hizbullah, to attack Israel with the impunity provided by a nuclear umbrella.

Macdonald suggests that Israelis would have to weigh several risks before deciding to strike Iran: 1) military retaliation by Iran, Hamas, and Hizbullah, 2) economic and diplomatic retaliation by the US and/or Europe, and 3) the possibility of mission failure accompanied by numbers 1 and 2.

Yet the poll cited found that 59% of Israelis would support a pre-emptive attack on Iran should Western diplomacy fail to curb its uranium enrichment (this too, goes unmentioned by Macdonald). If Reuters has considered the risks associated with an Israeli strike, it is likely that Israelis have as well and notwithstanding, they overwhelmingly support pre-emptive defense.

The one-sided match

Imagine for a moment you're watching the Wimbledon tennis championships broadcast by the BBC.  The camera is focused intently on Maria Sharapova as she dives to return an ace service traveling at 125 mph.  On the next serve, we see Sharapova successfully return; the ball then comes back to her as a wicked cross-court which she manages to drive across the net with her inimitable two-handed backhand.  The ball once again crosses the net toward Sharapova, this time as a lob to the backcourt.  The camera follows her as she falls back, allows the ball to bounce, and smashes a winner down the line.  All the action captured in breathtaking fashion by the BBC except for one missing element: the opponent.

This is the way Reuters typically covers the Middle East conflict.  Hamas or one of the other Palestinian terror groups in Gaza will fire rockets at Israeli communities.  There may or may not be a direct hit; there may or may not be casualties (although there will always be a terrorized civilian population), yet there will be no mention of the attack on Reuters' website.  Then, perhaps 12 to 24 hours later, Israel will retaliate with a military strike in Gaza and within minutes, Reuters will be reporting prominently on the incident. At this point, the preceding Palestinian attack will sometimes be mentioned (but downplayed), sometimes not.

The intent of this pattern of selective reporting is of course, to draw attention away from acts of aggression by the Palestinian Arabs while highlighting Israeli military force in response. The cumulative effect is an audience which is anesthetized to Palestinian homicidal violence and hypersensitive to a nation defending against it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The deceptive use (or absence) of quotes

Skim through a series of Reuters articles on the Middle East conflict and you will notice a decidedly asymmetrical use of quotation marks. When Reuters writers and editors wish to create an aura of credibility for an individual or hold the same view as the speaker, remarks made by the person will be cited absent quotation marks -- as if the statement was one of indisputable fact. Conversely, when Reuters disavows the speaker's view or wishes to invite reader skepticism, its writers will invariably employ quotes around the citation.

In a story on Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas meeting with Egyptian president Mubarak, Reuters' Alastair Sharp begins by informing us:

Failure to agree a settlement freeze inhibits the resumption of peace negotiations with Israel...

Almost as an afterthought, Sharp adds:

...Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Egypt's Hosni Mubarak on Saturday, according to state media.

Note that the statement by Abbas is cited declaratively (as fact) sans quotation marks and with attribution only provided at the end of the paragraph.

Sharp repeats this device later in the story:

Negotiations could not resume because Israel would not consider including Jerusalem in any settlement freeze, nor would it stop building in settlements to accommodate natural growth, MENA quoted Abbas as saying.

Now compare Sharp's treatment of Abbas' statements with those of Israeli officials:

Israel has blamed Abbas for the impasse, saying Palestinian negotiators "showed no flexibility while Israel did".

Here, Sharp uses quotation marks around a truncated statement to assign clear ownership of the statement to Israel and to characterize it as an allegation rather than (as with Abbas' qualitatively equivalent allegations) a fact.

As evidence of Reuter's deliberate use of this device to validate and promulgate Abbas' position blaming Israel, note that in this excerpt from Sharp's story:

Abbas has said he would not agree to renewed negotiations with Israel unless it agreed to a total freeze on settlement expansion and stressed that the United States must push Israel to comply with the 2003 "road map" call for a cessation of all settlement-building.

Sharp fails to inform the reader that the Road Map also calls for the Palestinians to comply with conditions like:

Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption,

which they have utterly refused to do.

Rather than provide a balanced report on the impasse in negotiations, properly and even-handedly citing the positions, allegations, and obligations of each party, Reuters embraces the Palestinian line and constructs a guileful and misleading partisan piece to affix blame to Israel.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Reuters' reversal of reality

In a story appearing on the Reuters' website today, Sylvia Westall reports on a non-binding resolution passed by the UN nuclear assembly urging closer scrutiny of Israel's nuclear program. Pakistan and India, which like Israel are non-signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, are not included in the measure nor is Iran -- currently under UNSC sanctions for refusing to terminate its uranium enrichment program. Only Israel is singled out for special treatment.

Near the end of the article, Westall makes this stunning assertion:

Arab diplomats point to an imbalance of power in the Middle East caused by unchecked Israeli might and say it breeds instability and spurs others to seek mass-destruction weapons.

Apparently, this is not a direct quote so Westall is either paraphrasing the Arab position or summarizing her own view. In either case, the notion is stated uncritically as fact when in reality, it is pure nonsense.

As documented in the CIA World FactBook, while Israel is sixth in military expenditures as a percentage of GDP, the five countries which precede her and thirteen of the top twenty countries in the table are Arab and/or Muslim. Eleven of these countries do not recognize Israel as a state and several are officially at war with Israel. This includes of course, Saudi Arabia, which alone, spends two to three times more on weapons than does Israel.

Arab troops outnumber that of the Israel Defense Forces by a conservative factor of 20:1. As the US has increasingly supplied technologically advanced weapons to the Saudis and Egyptians while Russia has done the same for Iran and Syria, Israel's traditional qualitative military advantage has also been eroded.

That Israel has defied the odds by emerging victorious in all previous wars with the Arabs may have led to the perception of the country as a comparative military giant but that is no excuse for Reuters to parrot ludicrous Arab propaganda or to disseminate its own.  If there is an "imbalance of power" in the Middle East, the advantage in troops, materiel, natural resources, and money lies clearly with the Arabs.  And Iran is not seeking weapons of mass destruction because Israel's military strength "breeds instability".  Iran is inherently unstable and is seeking WMDs to achieve its goal of eradicating a Jewish sovereign.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reuters serving as mouthpiece for discredited HRW

Following their usual tidy disclaimer,

Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone,

Reuters acts as a mouthpiece for the corrupt and Nazi-infatuated rights "experts" at Human Rights Watch by publishing an HRW press release which urges the UN to implement the recommendations of the Goldstone report on the war in Gaza.

We won't fully critique the Goldstone report which despite its 575 pages has, within hours of publication, already been stripped of all credibility by other readers 1) here, 2) here, 3) here, and especially comprehensively 4) here, 5) here, 6) here, 7) here, 8) here, 9) here, 10) here, 11) here, and 12) here.

We do however, need to point out a couple of inanities in the press release by HRW which as a result of its partnership with Reuters as an AlertNet member, obtains free and unfettered publishing rights on the Reuters/AlertNet website.

The essence of the press release is to urge the US government, "not to stand in the way of the recommended Security Council action that would for the first time address the conduct of both Israel and Hamas". HRW goes on to aver that:

The Human Rights Council alone is no substitute for the Security Council because Israel has dismissed the council as biased and because the Security Council can refer the situation in Gaza to the International Criminal Court (ICC)... The ICC, the only permanent international criminal court, is the obvious international tribunal for war crimes committed during the Gaza conflict.

Of course, the International Criminal Court has no power whatsoever to successfully prosecute Hamas leaders for war crimes who after all, represent an outlaw terror group -- not a state -- and are answerable to no international body or legal authority. Thus, only Israeli military officials and/or government leaders would be subject to the prosecution for which HRW bays.

Even Arab states traditionally ignore the ICC. Remember Sudan's president, Omar Al-Bashir? While he tours the Arab/Muslim world freely, the ICC is still trying to enforce the warrant it issued for his arrest on war crimes and crimes against humanity. Good luck arresting Hamas' Khaled Meshal; we're sure the Syrian authorities will be right on the case.

The UN Security Council is similarly helpless to punish Hamas for war crimes as any international sanctions aimed at ejecting them from power would almost certainly impact negatively on the Palestinian population in Gaza. We wonder if the United Nations, assisted by HRW, would then accuse itself of "collective punishment" and "crimes against humanity" as Goldstone has labeled the Israeli blockade.

HRW then goes on to promote some of its previous accusations of war crimes against Israel, like "shooting civilians who were waving white flags".

Yes, we remember that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The elephant in the room

A particularly insidious propaganda tactic employed by the media when the news does not fit their agenda is to simply ignore it. When the elephant in the room is too big and mighty to flatten, distort, disguise, or otherwise hide from public view, just pretend it isn't there and carry on with other stories in the hope that the public won't notice and with time, the elephant will walk away.

A perfect illustration of this is Reuters' failure to report, as AFP has, on a statement made by French President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday:

"We cannot let Iran acquire nuclear weapons because it would also be a threat to Israel, Sarkozy said during a meeting at the Elysee presidential palace with lawmakers from his conservative UMP party. It is a certainty to all of our secret services. Iran is working today on a nuclear (weapons) program," he said."

One might consider a bold assertion by the French president with enormous implications for the entire world to be of sufficient import to report (along with a story on president Obama's appearance on a late-night talk show) but apparently, Reuters felt it too trivial.

Viewed generously, this omission by Reuters reflects incredibly poor news judgment. Viewed with a bit more cynicism, one might think the agency was deliberately trying to play down both the gravity of the situation -- particularly for Israel -- and the strength of conviction demonstrated by France with respect to Iran's nefarious intentions.

Now, why would Reuters, bound by its Trust Principles, opt for the latter?

We can only speculate, but the elephant has yet to leave the room.

BREAKING UPDATE: As of 2 hours ago, AP is reporting that according to officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran "has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is on the way to developing a missile system able to carry an atomic warhead". One guess as to which news agency has not seen fit to report on this mega-story yet.

UPDATE II: Here's the full story from AP.

Reuters "trenchant" analysis

In a story on the latest meeting between Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and US envoy George Mitchell, Jeffrey Heller is interpreting body language:

"A photo opportunity at the start of the meeting appeared to speak volumes. After a stiff handshake for the media, Netanyahu turned his back on Mitchell with scarcely a word and strode into his office, leaving Obama's envoy to follow behind."

We'd be speculating of course, but perhaps the Israeli PM had politely suggested that Mitchell follow him into his office. Nah! That would be just so jejune for Reuters.

Heller can barely conceal his contempt for Netanyahu:

"Mitchell has been trying to work out a deal with a defiant Netanyahu over Washington's demand that he halt construction in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank."

Yes, Benjamin Netanyahu is just a rebellious teenager audaciously defying the will of The President of the United States of America while the Palestinian Arabs (who have refused to even talk to the Israelis) are maturely setting conditions:

"Abbas has made a resumption of peace negotiations with Israel, suspended since December, conditional on halting settlement activity as stipulated by a U.S.-backed 2003 peace "road map" charting a course toward Palestinian statehood."

No word from Reuters on how well the Palestinians are doing in meeting their stipulated obligations in the Road Map.


"Obama also wants Arab nations to take steps toward recognising Israel. They have so far expressed reluctance."

Uh-huh, "reluctance".

Heller finishes with the usual flurry of Reuters boilerplate falsehoods: "Arab East Jerusalem"; "illegal settlements"; yada-yada et al.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Just the facts?

Following our post yesterday and right on cue, Reuters updates its "FACTBOX" on Israeli settlements. Let's see how Reuters views the "facts":

"Some 300,000 Israelis live in more than 100 settlements Israel has built in the West Bank, and another 200,000 live in Arab East Jerusalem..."

There's that historically inaccurate and racially-loaded sop to Arab aggression again.  Jews living in their historic birthplace -- where they have had a presence for 3,000 years -- are "settlers".  Got that?

"Abbas cites a 2003 U.S. and European-backed peace "road map" that calls for a stop to settlement building alongside parallel steps by the Palestinians to curb violence against Israel."

Reuters again willfully and woefully misrepresents the obligations of the Palestinian Arabs as we discuss here.

"Benjamin Netanyahu, a right-wing prime minister who took office in March backed by a coalition of pro-settler parties who want Israel to keep much of the West Bank under any peace deal."

We see; Netanyahu is "right-wing" while PA president Mahmoud Abbas is "moderate".  And let's not forget that Netanyahu's coalition also includes the "left-wing" Labour Party led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak who offered the equivalent of 97% of the West Bank to Yasser Arafat nine years ago at Camp David.  For Reuters, a trifling detail unworthy of mention.

"The World Court deems settlements as illegal under international law, including the Geneva Conventions, a ruling Israel disputes."

Er, as we pointed out yesterday, the World Court has no binding authority to decide whether Jewish settlements are illegal and its advisory opinion was just that: an advisory opinion. Perhaps that's why Israel disputes it.

"The United States and European Union have commonly viewed the settlements as obstacles to peace and urged their cessation."

Then why haven't they submitted the matter for a vote in the UN Security Council? This is the $64,000 question which neither Reuters nor any of the other Palestinian advocacy groups wish to address. If Jewish settlements in the disputed territories are "illegal" why not simply put the question before the UNSC and vote to effectively reverse the terms of the Mandate for Palestine?

The answer of course, is that to reverse a cornerstone of international law like the Mandate for Palestine would be to open a Pandora's box of other legal campaigns and establish a precedent for overturning other UN resolutions -- including those that created modern Syria and Lebanon, for example. We're not certain the Syrians, the Lebanese, the US or Europe would relish this prospect.

Better to leave international law as it stands and simply bring intense political pressure to bear on the Jews to surrender their rights.

"Netanyahu insists the settlements are not the "heart" of the conflict, and wants Palestinians to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state before they may achieve statehood."

Given all of the above, one might think Reuters and its readership would see the logic of Netanyahu's position.

Misplaced authority

In a story appearing on the Reuters website yesterday, Jeffrey Heller repeats the "Arab East Jerusalem" canard we commented on in our previous post and then avers:

"The World Court calls the settlements illegal and Palestinians say the enclaves could deny them a viable state".

Heller's mention of the World Court is actually a reference to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice in 2004 that the Israeli security barrier -- which has saved countless lives from the ravages of Palestinian terrorism -- be removed.

As the Palestinian Authority does not represent a state, the matter was submitted to the court by the UN General Assembly and the court's decision is non-binding. Still, the opinion is often cited by Palestinian advocates as evidence that Jewish settlement-building in the disputed territories is "illegal". Heller clearly falls into this group.

While the World Court does not have authority to decide in binding fashion on the matter of the legality of Jewish settlements, there is a body which does: the United Nations Security Council. And it has spoken definitively. Article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine adopted by the League of Nations and grandfathered across as a United Nations resolution, stipulates:

The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency, referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews, on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.

The Mandate for Palestine -- granting Jews the right to settle anywhere in historic Palestine -- is the last governing document on the matter, has never been successfully challenged or revoked, and is still in effect.

Notwithstanding Jeffrey Heller's facile appeal to authority, it is the UNSC, not the World Court, which has the authoritative and binding say on Jewish settlements.

Monday, September 14, 2009

There he goes again...

Jeffrey Heller of Reuters is at it again, adopting the biased, historically inaccurate, and racially-loaded lexicon of Arab invasion forces which ethnically cleansed thousands of Jews from Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967. Heller writes:

"Some 500,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank, land which Israel captured in a 1967 war and Palestinians seek for a state, and Arab East Jerusalem, which Israel has annexed as part of its capital in a move not recognized internationally.

When Heller employs the phrase, "Arab East Jerusalem", he is conveniently choosing to ignore 3,000 years of history during which time Jews have lived in the Old City of Jerusalem ("East Jerusalem"), well over a century of a Jewish majority in the city in modern times, and the situation today where Jews comprise approximately 42% of the population of the eastern portion of the city.

More cynically, Heller is deliberately bifurcating Jerusalem across racial lines which were coerced through invasion and ethnic cleansing. Can one imagine Reuters taking the same editorial stance with respect to say, the ethno-religious conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina? Would Reuters have had the chutzpah to proclaim "Muslim Sarajevo"?

In formally designating the eastern portion of the city as "Arab East Jerusalem", Reuters is clearly violating its Trust Principles and singling out Jews for special (discriminatory) treatment.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The artful use of the adjective; the verbose use of the verb

Yesterday, we commented on the highly politicized NGO press releases appearing on Reuters AlertNet website. Digging into the "related articles" section of the Palestinian territories portion of the site, we find this whopper propaganda piece from June written by Katie Nguyen. (Note that Nguyen is not an aid worker but a Reuters AlertNet correspondent based in London).

A revealing and informative way to analyze Reuters' handling and perspective on the conflict is to simply list the descriptive terms employed by the writer to advance her story. Let's have a look.

For Nguyen, Israel:


while the Palestinians:


and are:


In an article of over 800 words, Nguyen devotes five -- "militants firing rockets into Israel" -- to contextualize the war in Gaza which was actually preceded by more than 3,000 rockets and mortars launched against Israeli civilian communities by Palestinian terrorists in 2008 alone.

We can think of a few adjectives to describe that side of the story.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

World Vision hitches a ride on Reuters' global wings

We have previously noted how Reuters collaborates with various NGOs, providing them with a publishing outlet on the Reuters' AlertNet website for press releases, appeals for donations, and "reports".

This symbiotic relationship benefits the member NGO which gets royalty-free photographs, free advertising for job vacancies and training programs, and most precious of all, free international publicity for its agenda and campaigns. Reuters, in return, receives compelling content for its website and discharges its charitable duties associated with its Foundation.

Whilst all of this may seem like a worthy philanthropic partnership, we have noted that NGO content published on the AlertNet website is often highly politicized and partisan. As an illustration, we cited a human interest story written by Jennifer Chiodo of World Vision that sought to demonize Israel for a decision by the Israeli High Court to evict Arab squatters in Jerusalem due to their failure to pay rent.

In another article appearing on the Reuters AlertNet website, World Vision promotes an appeal for Israel to provide "full and unrestricted access for spare parts and materials critically needed to restore Gaza's water and sanitation services". One would think this plea would be more aptly directed to the governing terror group Hamas which steals building materials for bunker and rocket production in Gaza.  Even more ironic however, is World Vision's effort to bolster its appeal by averring that:

"Under human rights law all people have the right to an adequate standard of living and the highest attainable standard of health."

For those unfamiliar with the minutia of "human rights law", that assertion is drawn from Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document which has been roundly rejected by the Islamic states of the OIC and Hamas.  Israel being an enlightened democracy is on the other hand, expected to comply with such entreaties despite the obvious danger of providing building materials which are confiscated by her enemies and converted to war materiel.

Reuters expressly disclaims responsibility for the views of its AlertNet NGO partners yet provides them with free and unfettered opportunities to broadcast highly tendentious reports that often have less to do with philanthropy than the politics of demonizing Israel. While we have no issue with Reuters offering its global media platform to worthy charities, we believe it is incumbent upon their editors to demonstrate a commitment to the Reuters Trust Principles by monitoring and moderating NGO content for bias and political advocacy.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hugo Chavez uses the "G"-word, Reuters reports with all sobriety

Taken from an interview with French magazine La Figaro, Reuters quotes Hugo Chavez:

"The question is not whether the Israelis want to exterminate the Palestinians. They're doing it openly... What was it if not genocide?"

According to the CIA World Fact Book for 2009, Gaza has a population growth rate of 3.35% (the fifth fastest in the world); life expectancy of 73.42 years, approximately equal to that in Venezuela; and a death rate of 3.44 per 1,000 population (one-third lower than that of Venezuela).

If Israel is attempting to "exterminate" the Palestinians, it's doing a lousy job.

Perhaps for their next article, Reuters will call attention to Hugo Chavez' genocide of the people of Venezuela.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Arab East Jerusalem"

In previous posts, we have noted Reuters' repeated use of the racially loaded epithet "Arab East Jerusalem" to describe the eastern part of the city of Jerusalem. We have pointed out that it is factually incorrect to refer to the area this way as, 1) there is not today and never has been a distinct city formally recognized as "East Jerusalem", 2) depending on the data source, 42-44% of the population in the eastern part of the city is Jewish, and 3) the Jewish population in this area would today likely be even greater had the Jordanian army not killed or ethnically cleansed many thousands of Jews living in the eastern part of the city when it invaded in 1948. In fact, the phrase "Arab East Jerusalem" originated as a result of that ethnic cleansing to describe the situation on the ground.

Now a disclaimer: we are not big fans of the British Broadcasting Corporation as their reporting on the Middle East Conflict is often as biased or more so than that of Reuters. For example, the BBC too, employs the (capitalized) term "East Jerusalem" in its online stories which we feel is a misnomer for the reasons stated above. It's interesting however, that following a 2006 investigation into the impartiality (or lack thereof) of BBC coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the BBC Governors advised their correspondents to:

Avoid the phrase "Arab East Jerusalem", too, unless you also have space to explain that Israel has annexed the area and claims it as part of its capital. East Jerusalem is sometimes referred as Arab East Jerusalem, partly because it was under Jordanian control between 1949 and 1967.

Thus, even the BBC Governors recognize that the phrase "Arab East Jerusalem" is both artificial and anachronistic -- referring to a period which lasted only 18 years -- and should be omitted from BBC reporting.

Will Reuters own up to its use of an ahistorical and racially loaded misnomer and follow suit?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Insinuate and inflame

In our post yesterday which looks at Reuters' story on the death of Ghazi al-Zaaneen, we noted Reuters' fatuous claim that Israeli-Palestinian violence in Gaza has been "minimal" since the war ended in January. As demonstrated, the Palestinians have in fact, fired over 200 rockets and mortars at Israeli civilian communities since that time.

Currently featured prominently on the front page of Reuters' AlertNet Middle East website (dedicated to "alerting humanitarians to emergencies") is a highly emotive photo of a young Palestinian girl crying. The caption reads:

"The sister of Palestinian boy Ghazi al-Zaaneen cries during his funeral in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip September 5, 2009. Al-Zaaneen, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy, died on Saturday after being wounded in a shooting incident involving Israeli soldiers in the northern border town of Beit Hanoun, Palestinian medical workers said. A military official, who declined to be named, said soldiers had fired warning shots in the Beit Hanoun area on Friday night after spotting Palestinians approaching Israel's border."

Though the loss of a 14-year-old is always tragic, it's fascinating to watch Reuters string together nothing but innuendo in an effort to affix blame to Israel for his death. Note the equivocal language in the caption above: "a shooting incident involving Israeli soldiers"; a "military official who declined to be named"; "soldiers had fired warning shots in the Beit Hanoun area". Reuters actually tells us nothing conclusive about the incident but of course, there is plenty of guilt by association accompanied by an inflammatory photo which betrays an appeal to pity.

If we were reporting on this incident, we would want to know if al-Zaaneen was armed. We would try to determine if he had approached or breached the Israel-Gaza border. We would investigate whether there were other armed Palestinians in the area at the time. If so, we would want to know whether those Palestinians had also fired shots. We would ask the Palestinian medical workers who examined al-Zaaneen to identify the caliber of the bullet which killed him. In other words, we would investigate and report, rather than insinuate and inflame.

But then, we don't work for Reuters.

More Reuters errata

In the article discussed just below, Jeffrey Heller continues in the fine Reuters tradition of misrepresenting the obligations of the warring parties as specified in the Road Map:

"Netanyahu, who holds further talks on the settlement issue later this week with U.S. envoy George Mitchell, has resisted a total freeze stipulated by a U.S.-backed 2003 peace "road map" that also commits the Palestinians to reining in militants."

See our criticism of Reuters' handling of this crucial point in Reuters' broken boilerplate.

Heller also awards the Arabs sovereignty over the eastern portion of Jerusalem with a factually incorrect and racially-loaded epithet:

"Some 300,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and another 200,000 in Arab East Jerusalem..."

See our post: Reuters continues to advocate for evicted Palestinian squatters.

Peace talks impasse: Reuters absolves Palestinians

When someone has the power to do something but chooses not to and then abdicates responsibility for his decision, we may hear him say he "cannot" when the truth is, he will not.

"I cannot get up in the morning."
"I cannot stop overeating."
"I cannot stop beating my wife."

You get the idea.

In our previous post, Reuters blames Israel for talks impasse, we noted that while Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly offered to resume peace talks with the Palestinians, PA president Mahmoud Abbas has refused, adopting as an excuse, Israel's decision to resist a complete moratorium on settlement-building. Reuters of course, sides with Abbas.

In an article today, Jeffrey Heller of Reuters continues as apologist for the Palestinians:

"The settlement issue is a major obstacle in the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process... Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said peace talks suspended since December and which Washington seeks to restart, cannot resume without a [settlement] freeze."

There's that slippery "cannot" again.

Now imagine if Netanyahu refused to engage in negotiations and similarly abdicated responsibility for his rejectionism. "Peace talks cannot resume without...

... Arab governments agreeing to cease their funding of illegal construction in Jerusalem.

... Arab governments agreeing to end their boycott of Israel.

... Arab governments agreeing to full diplomatic relations with Israel.

... The Palestinian Authority dismantling all terrorist infrastructure.

... The Palestinian Authority ending all incitement against Israel.

... The PLO and Fatah renouncing their Charters to liquidate Israel."

Would Reuters uncritically adopt and promote Israel's rationale for refusing negotiations? Somehow, we think not.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Reuters: violence is only violence when Israel defends

In a story today about the death of a Palestinian teenager in Gaza, Reuters wants us to know that:

"Israeli-Palestinian violence in the Hamas-controlled enclave has been minimal since Israel ended a military offensive there in January."

There have of course, been over 200 Palestinian rockets and mortars fired at Israel since that time, but who's counting? Clearly not Reuters.

Thanks to Elder of Ziyon, who is (counting).

Friday, September 4, 2009

Reuters' broken boilerplate

Peruse almost any Reuters article on the Middle East conflict where the Road Map peace plan is discussed -- like here, here, and here -- and you will find virtually the same boilerplate used to describe the responsibilities of the Israelis and Palestinians, respectively. Per Reuters, Israel is required to definitively "end all settlement activity" while the Palestinians are merely asked to "crack down on militants" or "rein in attacks". Let's see how well this represents the reality as specified in the Road Map.

Dusting off a copy of the 2003 plan, we read in the overture:

As a performance-based plan, progress will require and depend upon the good faith efforts of the parties, and their compliance with each of the obligations outlined below.

Taking a look at what is required of the parties in the first phase of the plan:

GOI [Government of Israel] immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001. Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).

Fair enough; Reuters seems to capture the Israeli commitment with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Although to be precise, Israel is actually only required to "freeze" not "end" all settlement activity. Now, let's compare the Reuters' translation of Palestinian commitments above with their actual obligations as stipulated in the Road Map:

Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption.

Hmm, "rein in attacks" in Reuters' parlance doesn't exactly equate to "dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure". In fact, it's not even in the ballpark. As for confiscation of illegal weapons, or a security authority free of association with terror and corruption, well, Reuters is silent on these Palestinian commitments.

By repeatedly misrepresenting Palestinian obligations in each of its relevant articles, Reuters is clearly engaged in an effort to drum into the minds of its readers a false understanding of the facts and diminish public expectations of Palestinian performance while holding Israel to a strict, and much higher, standard.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What's missing from this list?

Food, cement, medicine, cattle, sheep, refrigerators. No sign of weapons smuggling, apparently. And this coming from a Reuters photojournalist who was close enough to snap the more attractive end of the cow.

(Where is the outrage from PETA?)

UPDATE: The Reuters stringer responsible for the pics and story linked above is none other than Suhaib Salem, arrested on suspicion of terrorism by Israel in 2002 (for having a hand grenade in his car) and brother to Salah Salem who was one of the men involved in the kidnapping and killing of Israeli soldier Cpl. Nachson Waxman in 1994. Tom Gross notes that Reuters' report on the matter failed to mention the hand grenade. Must have been an oversight.

Seven years on and it's still a beautiful friendship between Salem and Reuters.

UPDATE II: Here's a report from CAMERA in 2001 discussing a Salem photo and accompanying caption distributed by Reuters (scroll down to bottom). The photo depicts a Palestinian woman tossing bullet shell casings in the air; the Reuters caption dubiously refers to "empty Israeli bullet shells inside her house" followed by the incongruous, "five Palestinian families said this week that they are homeless after Israeli army forces demolished their houses in Rafah". CAMERA rightly questioned why Israeli troops would be firing from within a Palestinian house. Reuters refused to correct the error.

With Hamas boasting about replenishing their arsenal of rockets and other weapons following the war with Israel last January, is it credible that Salem would not have witnessed evidence of weapons smuggling during his time in the tunnels?

Reuters: Israelis are racist, gun-toting thrill-seekers (but we didn't say it)

Reuters Middle East correspondents frequently pen “human interest stories” in an effort to peddle their own point of view without having to declare their work as an op-ed. We have previously linked to several examples of such stories clearly intended to paint the Palestinian Arabs as oppressed victims of Israeli aggression and inequity and to elicit sympathy from the reader.

While Reuters’ consistently fails to report on the culture of violence endemic in Palestinian Arab society and ingrained in Palestinian children, its correspondents diligently pursue opportunities to portray Israeli society in this light from a variety of angles including the human interest format.

In "Terrorist" targets popular at West Bank gun range, Erika Solomon tells the tale of an Israeli anti-terrorism course in Gush Etzion where Israelis, Americans, and Europeans learn to shoot “everything from handguns to M-16 combat rifles”.

Through her storytelling, Solomon wants the reader to buy several notions she is peddling. First, that Israel is teaching its children to use violence:
“Sharon Gat… steadies a little girl who comes up to his gunbelt. They're holding a rifle almost as big as she is.”
Second, that Israelis are racists. Here, Solomon cherry picks a quote from one of the participants:
"It could indoctrinate children with racist beliefs. It was sad to hear young kids express such racism."
Next, is an association between Zionism and the use of violence:
“… Gat says his course is not just about shooting guns; it also teaches "Zionist values."
Finally, that the Israelis consider this a lot of fun:
"Gat says his anti-terrorism theme is mostly for excitement."
Conspicuously missing from Solomon's story on the weapons training at Gush Etzion is any account of the devastating history of that community which amongst other appalling events, includes the massacre of 240 Jewish residents who had surrendered to an Arab army in May of 1948.

Perhaps the significance -- and irony -- is lost on her.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The incestuous relationship between Reuters and anti-Israel NGOs

Attention was recently focused on the NGO Human Rights Watch with news of that organization's visit to Saudi Arabia to solicit money while boasting of their condemnatory reports on Israel and their political battles with "pro-Israel forces".

This has raised questions again on the integrity and objectivity of various NGOs in their fundraising, reporting, and lobbying activities.

It is perhaps not widely known that Reuters maintains a non-profit trust, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, registered as a charity in the UK and US. According to the foundation's website:

"The charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, it leverages the skills and expertise across the corporation to increase trust and access to the rule of law, to save lives through the provision of trusted information and to improve the standards of journalism."
[charity begins at home, as they say]

In addition to a host of other projects, the Thomson Reuters Foundation created and manages a news network and website called AlertNet which:

"... was started in 1997 to place Reuters' core skills of speed, accuracy and freedom from bias at the service of the humanitarian community."

The Foundation claims a network of 400 contributing humanitarian organizations and "content partners who make use of the AlertNet channel to give their content a wider audience."

Unfortunately, that content is often highly politicized as in the case of this blog post written by World Vision and this finely tuned propaganda piece from Oxfam appearing on the AlertNet website.

(Our focus is not on examining World Vision material but note that in their piece, they refer to the evicted Arab families as being "resettled in Sheikh Jarrah [in 1948] under the protection of the Jordanian government and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency". That would be the same Jordanian government which in 1948, had just invaded and ethnically cleansed Jerusalem of its Jewish inhabitants. How charitable of them and the UN to resettle Arab families in homes from which Jews had been forced out).

Reuters expressly disclaims responsibility for the content of partner material appearing on the AlertNet website but it is notable that these articles are not simply linked; they are fully integrated into the site. Reuters is clearly exercising editorial control both by embracing these organizations as contributing members and in accepting their pieces for publication.

What was that about "accuracy and freedom from bias"?