Friday, April 30, 2010

Reuters pathologically unwilling to hold Palestinians accountable for their behavior

Read through hundreds of Reuters stories on the Middle East conflict and of the many constitutional biases demonstrated by its Bureau staff, one that features perhaps most prominently is the utter refusal to accord any responsibility to the Palestinians for their own decisions and actions.  As noted by Charles Krauthammer and Elliott Abrams, this infantilizing of the Palestinian Arabs by Western apologists in media and the government serves to reward Palestinian intransigence and perpetuate the conflict.

In a story about a speech by Secretary of State Clinton before the American Jewish Committee, Reuters correspondent Arshad Mohammed once again nursemaids the Palestinians:
President Barack Obama's efforts to revive peace talks have been stymied by a disagreement over Jewish settlement construction that has strained ties between Washington and its close ally Israel and by divisions among the Palestinians.
With his nebulous reference to "divisions among the Palestinians", Mohammed is presumably referring to the split between the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas in Gaza.  Yet, this split is completely irrelevant to Abbas' continuing rejection of negotiations with Israel.  Proof of this can be seen in Abbas' participation in the Annapolis conference in November of 2007 which led to nearly a year of peace talks with Israel under former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and resulted in an extraordinary -- but unrequited -- settlement offer from Olmert.  In the meantime, Hamas continued to howl and Israel continued to build in Jerusalem as well as in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank") and there was nary a peep of protest by the Palestinians under Abbas' authority.

Thus, it's quite clear that the current effort to bring the Palestinians back to the table has been "stymied" not by Jewish settlements nor Palestinian "divisions" but rather by Palestinian obduracy in the face of what they perceive as an opportunity to gain further concessions from the Israelis before the talks begin.

More like the cunning of an old fox than the naivete of a newborn.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Reuters true colors

In what amounts to constitutional racism, endorsement of ethnic cleansing, and a willful effort to assign Title to the Arabs, Reuters reverts to designating the eastern part of Jerusalem as "Arab":  
Jerusalem is a key issue in the conflict. Israel sees the city as its indivisible capital. It captured Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in a move that is not recognised internationally. Palestinians want the city to be capital of a future state and fear that Israeli settlement will hinder the creation of a viable entity.
As we have noted here, here, here, here, here, here and here, there is no such city or city sector as "Arab East Jerusalem".  Like the "West Bank", the term is a fiction and was coined by the Arabs themselves in 1949 following their ethnic cleansing of the entire Jewish community in the eastern part of Jerusalem including the Old City.  Prior to this, Jews had lived throughout Jerusalem for centuries and in the modern era, constituted the majority religio-ethnic group from the middle of the 19th century.

But for the racists at Reuters, it is an article of faith (and propaganda) that Jerusalem was an Arab city, is an Arab city, and should always remain an Arab city.

Jewish Jerusalem prior to and following looting and destruction by the Arab Legion in 1948.

Reuters reconsiders level of violence across Gaza-Israel border

As hundreds of Palestinian rockets and mortars have rained down on Israel since the end of the war with Hamas in early 2009, Reuters correspondents have, in over a dozen articles (including this one from just a month ago), characterized the cross-border violence as infrequent:
Israel launched its three-week Gaza offensive on Dec. 27, 2008 with the stated aim of stopping rocket attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian factions. Such attacks have tapered off since, though there has been sporadic cross-border violence.
In a story today of an accusation that Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian who approached the Gaza border, Reuters correspondents Nidal al-Mughrabi and Dan Williams reconsider the persistence of the violence:
Israel invaded Gaza in a three-week offensive 16 months ago to force an end to rocket fire by Hamas and other groups aimed at towns in southern Israel. But the border remains tense and violent incidents involving troops and militants are frequent.
We think this is a much more accurate characterization of the situation and hope Reuters will apply this language consistently the next time Israel is attacked from across the Gaza border.

Egypt kills Palestinian smugglers; Reuters blames Israel and the US

There are conflicting reports of precisely how the tunnel smugglers died (AP indicates poison gas was used; Reuters reports a bomb was detonated underground) but four Palestinians were killed by Egyptian security forces yesterday.  However, in the second paragraph of its story, Reuters points the finger at who it considers the real culprits:
Under pressure from Israel and the United States, Egypt has tried to stem the secret passages from its Sinai peninsula, which have allowed Palestinians in Gaza to import weapons and commercial goods in defiance of an Israeli-led blockade.
And later in the article:
Many Egyptians sympathise with the Palestinians and the Hamas Islamists who rule Gaza and refuse to forswear violence againt [sic] the Jewish state.
The insinuation being of course, that in killing Palestinian smugglers, the Egyptians are only doing Israel's bidding.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hamas employs psychological warfare; Reuters impressed with artistic approach

In a ploy to pressure Israel on a prisoner exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, Hamas released an animated video depicting Gilad's father, Noam, wandering the streets with an audio track of his son's voice in the background.  The video ends with Shalit's family receiving a flag-draped coffin.

Reuters correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi reports on the animated video -- representing yet another violation, by Hamas, of the Geneva Conventions -- with characteristic cynicism for Israel and characteristic esteem for Hamas:
Wielding art instead of arms, Hamas issued an animated video on Sunday aimed at pressuring Israel into trading hundreds of jailed Palestinians for Gilad Shalit, a soldier held captive in Gaza for almost four years... It marked a departure from Hamas's habitually fiery denunciations of the Jewish state.
But the production of animated propaganda ("cartoons") to incite and humiliate is nothing new for Hamas:

Al-Mughrabi also misrepresents the historical record:
After hinting that the soldier had been killed in Israel's Gaza offensive, Hamas released a first video of him as a goodwill gesture in October.
In fact, Hamas provided the earlier video not as a "goodwill gesture", but in exchange for the release by Israel of twenty Palestinian prisoners who had been jailed for crimes like attempted murder.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Scud shell game continues

As we noted previously, Hezbollah has reportedly admitted taking delivery of Scud missiles from Syria.  Reuters continues to ask everyone about the alleged missile transfer:   
Lebanon's army chief said he is convinced there are no scud missiles in the country...
The commander of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was also quoted as saying he had not seen any Scuds in the southern region bordering Israel...
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit who was visiting Beirut, also dismissed the allegations. "Whoever knows about these rockets, knows that these (allegations) are all laughable lies.
Yes, Reuters asks everyone about the Scuds; everyone, that is, except Hezbollah.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Reuters fuels the myth

One of the most pervasive and pernicious myths associated with the Middle East conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is that if a "two-state solution" were to be realized, Islamic terrorism around the world would assuredly subside.  In a triad of articles and "Factboxes" containing quotes from analysts, academics, and terrorists, Reuters attempts to make the case that a "solution" to the conflict would "hurt al-Qaeda" and "help drain the pool" of potential Islamic terrorists.

Yet for all the psychological power associated with the appeal to authority and bandwagon logical fallacies, it is stunning how utterly devoid of any material support are these assertions.  For example, Reuters quotes British Security Minister Lord West:
Middle East peace "would make a huge difference to extremism; it would change it fundamentally."
And a former coordinator of Swiss intelligence, Jacques Pitteloud:
[there is] no doubt the dispute and the "perceived double standards of Western foreign policy" [are] significant factors enabling jihadist recruitment... "If the issue were solved peacefully it would go a long way to addressing militancy."
But absolutely no evidence is offered for these contentions.  Indeed, the quotes Reuters draws from Osama bin Laden and other Islamic terrorists serve to refute the views of Western "analysts":
1970s - Bin Laden's teenage friend and neighbor Khaled Batarfi, recalling their Jeddah childhood: "We used to go to his (bin Laden's) house and sing religious chants about Muslim youth and Palestine. (His view was) Unless we, the new generations, change and become stronger and more educated, we will never reclaim Palestine."
1994 - In a letter to Saudi grand mufti Sheikh Abdel-Aziz Bin Baz, bin Laden wrote: "The legal duty regarding Palestine and our brothers there ... is to wage jihad for the sake of God and to motivate our umma to jihad so that Palestine may be completely liberated and returned to Islamic sovereignty."
December 2001 - Al-Zawahri writes: "The one slogan the (Muslim) community has understood well, and to which it has responded for the past 50 years, is the call to jihad against Israel."
2005 - UK suicide bomber Shehzad Tanweer says in a video issued posthumously: "The attacks will continue and become stronger until you pull your forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan and until you stop your military support of America and Israel."
Clearly, bin Laden and his acolytes are motivated by much more than the objective of a "two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Indeed, they have told us repeatedly that they will accept nothing less than the complete eradication of a Jewish sovereign in the Middle East and the end to a Western presence in the region.  The global Islamic jihad movement will not be sated with the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel; it is disingenuous or fatuous for Western analysts and the media to suggest otherwise.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Does Hezbollah have Scuds? Reuters asks Syria, not Hezbollah

In the continuing intrigue related to the question of whether Hezbollah has obtained Scud missiles, Reuters fastidiously parrots Syria's denials:
Israeli President Shimon Peres has accused Syria of sending Scuds to Hezbollah. Syria denies the charge and says Israel may be using the accusation as a pretext for a military strike.
But nowhere in Arshad Mohammed's story is the query put to Hezbollah which, according to the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai (cited by the Jerusalem Post), has confirmed receiving the missiles -- with the qualification that they were "old and unusable".

Yes, we're sure Hezbollah is planning on using them as paperweights.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shoe Wars

In previous posts, we have questioned the claims of Reuters correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi when he reported this month that Israel had, for the first time since the start of the Gaza embargo, allowed a shipment of clothes and shoes into the territory for sale by traders.  We noted that photos published by the newspaper Palestine Today late last year showed retailers' racks stock full of apparel.

This would only be possible if either, a) traders were selling goods manufactured exclusively in Gaza, or b) al-Mughrabi was wrong.

The media watchdog CAMERA picked up on our post and, citing the Palestine Trade Center (PalTrade), noted that 3,671 tons of commercial clothes and shoes had entered the Gaza Strip through Israeli crossings in August of 2008 followed by 1,180 tons in September and 1,125 tons in October of the same year.  Clearly, al-Mughrabi was mistaken.

Rather than accept responsibility for the error and correct it openly in compliance with the Reuters Handbook of Journalism, Reuters runs another story today and -- wait for it -- blames Israel for the misinformation:
Israeli military officials said on April 4 that only foreign aid groups had been allowed to import footwear and clothes into Gaza in the previous three years.  On Wednesday, officials repeated that assertion.
Given immense international pressure on Israel to mitigate the Gaza embargo, how likely is it that the Israeli military would, in comments to the press, overstate the restrictions on imports?  We don't suppose this could be a case of Reuters misreporting.  Nah!

Reuters has the biggest bullhorn

In what appears to be a response to those of us who read the statement by the US State Department as an acknowledgment that Syria has indeed supplied Scud missiles to Hezbollah, Reuters screams:
We expect the Obama administration to formally admit Hezbollah has Scuds about the time they are launched.  In the meantime, we're certain Reuters has been heard in Timbuktu.

UPDATE 4:22 PM: On the other hand:
Those "options" seem to have been moved from the Iranian table to the Syrian table.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Did they or didn't they?

In what can only be described as a confused and confusing story, Reuters correspondent Andrew Quinn reports on the apparent transfer of Scud missiles from Syria to Hezbollah cites a statement by the US State Department yesterday:
"The United States condemns in the strongest terms the transfer of any arms, and especially ballistic missile systems such as the SCUD, from Syria to Hezbollah," the statement, issued by State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid, said.
Quinn follows with:
The U.S. statement stopped short of confirming the alleged transfer of long-range Scud missiles to Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, which if true could cast doubt on U.S. President Barack Obama's diplomatic outreach to Syria.
Is it just us, or does the statement by Duguid speak for itself?

And in a related story, Reuters Special Propagandist Correspondent Alistair Lyon runs interference for Hezbollah by suggesting that the Scud is an "unlikely choice" for a "nimble guerrilla outfit".  Lyon cherry-picks quotes from various "specialists" and "experts" who of course, concur -- with no mention of the fact that Hezbollah itself has refused to deny its acquisition of the missiles.  

Lyon then demonstrates his craft:
Israeli warplanes fly daily into Lebanese airspace, although the border has been mostly quiet since the 2006 war, with U.N. and Lebanese army troops patrolling an enclave where Hezbollah has no visible armed presence. Israel complains the peacekeepers do too little to prevent the Shi'ite guerrillas from rearming.
Note the declarative statement of Israeli military surveillance combined with the cagey characterization, "Hezbollah has no visible armed presence" along with a mere allegation ("Israel complains") that UN peacekeepers have failed to prevent Hezbollah from rearming [italics ours].  As the AP reports, Hezbollah itself has admitted rearming to the tune of tens of thousands of missiles aimed at Israel.  The US Pentagon has confirmed the rearming.

Lyon reports out of Beirut so we understand why he might be concerned with a casus belli provided to Israel by Hezbollah and the Lebanese government but that is no excuse for shoddy, partisan reporting.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Douglas Hamilton busted

In our post on Saturday, we noted Reuters correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi's violation of the Reuters Handbook of Journalism when he attempts to cloak Hamas' genocidal aims in the euphemism "armed resistance".  In a story today, Reuters correspondent Douglas Hamilton adopts the same ploy:
Israel's 2005 gamble on a withdrawal from Gaza went sour when power was seized by the Islamist movement Hamas, champions of a policy of armed resistance that has split the Palestinian independence movement to its foundations, and enemies of Abbas.
And with a line that, based on precedence, has almost certainly been written by or borrowed from Reuters correspondent Tom Perry, Hamilton wants readers to believe:
While rejecting any return to organized violence, Abbas will not resume talks suspended for the past 15 months until Israel halts all settlement building...
As we've noted several times, Abbas most assuredly does not reject a return to violence; indeed, he has said (in Arabic) that the only reason the Palestinians under his authority are not presently pursuing it is because they can't succeed with it but "maybe in the future, things will be different".

Nudge nudge; wink wink.  Say no more Doug.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The opinions expressed are his own

When it comes to the Middle East conflict, Arabist and Reuters columnist Bernd Debusmann has a nasty habit of both cherry-picking and blatantly misrepresenting history.  In his latest effort to demonize and paint the Jewish state as a "liability" to US interests, Debusmann focuses on American aid to Israel (a favorite talisman for the anti-Israel crowd) with the suggestion that whereas reducing this sum might work as a lever to get Israel to "behave", cuts are unlikely to occur due to Congressional support for the Jewish state and of course, the all-powerful Israel lobby.  To produce a cogent argument, Debusmann needs to establish first that Israel is indeed a liability to the US and here he turns to remarks by General David Patraeus:
Or is lack of progress on making peace with the Palestinians turning Israel into a liability for its long-term benefactor. In March, in written testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Central Command chief General David Petraeus, listed "insufficient progress towards a comprehensive Middle East peace" as number five on a list of 15 threats to U.S. national security.
Debusmann doesn't cite of course, numbers 1 through 4 on Patraeus' threat list which include, in priority sequence, the Islamic insurgencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the pursuit of nuclear weapons and terrorism sponsoring activities of Iran, the situation in Iraq, and anarchy in Yemen.  Nor does Debusmann mention that at a subsequent press conference, Patraeus called attention to these threats and noted that they included, "a whole bunch of extremist organizations, some of which by the way deny Israel’s right to exist.  There’s a country that has a nuclear program who denies that the Holocaust took place.”

In fact, although all of the situations identified by Patraeus as national security threats are occurring in countries that are hostile to Israel, none of the issues are directly related to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs and none would resolve if the Israeli-Arab conflict were to magically end tomorrow.

Indeed, in a subsequent letter to Congressman Buck McKeon, who had asked for further clarification of his views on Israel, Patraeus wrote:
the issues that keep us up at night are not Israeli-Palestinian relations but rather “militant groups, hostile states, and weapons of mass destruction," along with "the instability in South Asia, the activities and policies of the Iranian regime, the situation in Iraq and the growth of al-Qaeda [in the Arabian Peninsula] in Yemen.”
Debusmann attempts to quantify his view that Israel is a liability to the US by facilely summing foreign aid contributions to Israel over the last 60 years:
Since the end of the Second World War, Israel has been the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign aid, according to the Congressional Research Service, the research arm of Congress. Since 1985, aid to Israel has run at around $3 billion a year, a sizable sum for a country with a population roughly equal to that of New York City.   
But Debusmann would make a lousy accountant for while he glances back at Israel as a presumed liability on America's balance sheet, he fails to account for Israel's ongoing value as an asset to the US.  From an article appearing in BusinessWeek this month:
Under the 2010 U.S. budget, about $75 billion, $65 billion and $3.25 billion will be spent on military operations and aid in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan during this fiscal year, respectively. Israel will receive $3 billion, in military aid only. There is no economic aid to Israel, other than loan guarantees that continue to be repaid in full and on time...
First, it’s important to remember that about 70 percent of the $3 billion aid must be used by Israel to purchase American military equipment. This provides real support for U.S. high- tech defense jobs and contributes to maintaining our industrial base. This helps the U.S. stay at the very top in the manufacturing of our own cutting-edge military munitions, aircraft, vehicles, missiles and virtually every defensive and offensive weapon in the U.S. arsenal -- with the added contribution of Israel’s renowned technical know-how.
Second, the U.S. and Israel are jointly developing state- of-the-art missile defense capabilities in the David’s Sling and Arrow 3 systems. These two technologies build on the already successful Arrow 2, jointly developed by our two countries, which is already providing missile defense security to Israel and U.S. civilians and ground troops throughout the region. The knowledge the U.S. gains from these efforts also has a positive multiplier effect on applications to other U.S. military and non-military uses and U.S. jobs.
Third, given Israel’s strategic location on the Mediterranean, with access to the Red Sea and other vital international shipping and military lanes of commerce and traffic, it is critically important to the U.S. that Israel continues to serve as a port of call for our troops, ships, aircraft and intelligence operations.

Israel also has permitted the U.S. to stockpile arms, fuel, munitions and other supplies on its soil to be accessed whenever America needs them in the region.
Fourth, America’s special relationship with Israel provides the U.S. with real-time, minute-to-minute access to one of the best intelligence services in the world: Israel’s. With Israeli agents gathering intelligence and taking action throughout the Middle East and, literally, around the world, regarding al- Qaeda, Hezbollah, Iran and Hamas, among others, the U.S. receives invaluable information about anti-U.S. and terrorist organizations and regimes.
Fifth, imagine the additional terrible cost in U.S. blood, and the hundreds of billions more of American taxpayer dollars, if Saddam Hussein had developed nuclear weapons, or if Syria possessed them.
Then remember that it was Israel that destroyed the almost- completed nuclear reactor at Osirak, Iraq, in 1981 and Syria’s nuclear facility under construction at Deir-ez-Zor in 2007.
And think about the many operations that Israel’s Defense Forces and intelligence agents have undertaken to foil, slow and disrupt Iran’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapons capability. A nuclear-armed Iran would threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans in the region, all of Iran’s Arab neighbors, the world’s largest oil supplies and those who rely on that oil. It also would provide anti-U.S. terrorists with access to the most lethal Iranian technology and probably set off a nuclear arms race in the region.
For about 2 percent of what the U.S. spends in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan this year, Americans can take pride in the return on our investment in aid to Israel.
And whereas Debusmann focuses obsessively on US aid to Israel as an instrument of foreign policy, he omits any mention of the more than $50 billion in petrodollars the Wahhabi Saudis collect annually from American consumers.  $50 billion that goes, in part, to funding the militant Islamist movements and terrorist facilitation that appear on General Patraeus' list of national security threats and led to the deaths of 3,000 Americans on 9/11.  $50 billion that finances Arab largess to former government officials, academic chairs, and journalists who lobby, advocate, and generally carry water for the Arab states at the epicenter of those threats. 

All facts to consider while Debusmann is doing his "wishful thinking" about the US cutting off foreign assistance to Israel.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nidal al-Mughrabi busted

Per the Reuters Handbook of Journalism:
Euphemism, beloved of bureaucrats, social scientists and the military, seeks to cloak reality, sometimes unpleasant, in innocuous words. Shun it e.g: kill not terminate with extreme prejudice, poor not disadvantaged. Severe storms kill people, not leave them dead.
And per the Hamas Charter:
The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!
But per Reuters correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi:
Palestinian entrepreneurs have smuggled everything from food to fuel to livestock through hundreds of tunnels to Egypt's side of the border, and Hamas has brought in weapons to maintain its armed resistance to Israel, which it does not recognise.
"Armed resistance", mon oeil!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Reuters: Clinton blames Israel 14x more than the Palestinians

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton spoke before the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace yesterday urging both Israel and the Palestinians to take steps for peace.  In a story of 526 words, Reuters devotes exactly 35 to an account of Clinton's admonishments to the Palestinians.  The headline and balance of the story hold Israel to account and reflect Reuters own skewed perspective -- appearing now in scores of stories -- that Israel is to blame for the impasse in negotiations:
The United States on March 3 said Israel and the Palestinian Authority had agreed to indirect peace talks but the U.S.-Israeli settlement dispute appears to have scotched any chance of these beginning in earnest any time soon.
Memo to Reuters: peace talks can begin anytime the Palestinians say: "yes".

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The other news

Though it typically cherry-picks and misrepresents results, Reuters Middle East Bureau often turns to Palestinian opinion polls in an effort to demonstrate that the Palestinian Arabs are genuinely interested in a "two-state solution" and peaceful coexistence with the Jews of Israel.  In the latest poll -- this one unreported by Reuters -- An-Najah National University asked 1,861 Palestinians across the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza questions like:
Do you accept the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with some land exchange as a final solution for the Palestinian problem?
The response:
Yes 28.3
No 66.7
No opinion/I do not know 5.0
Do you support or reject making Jerusalem a capital for two states: Palestine and Israel?
The response:
I support 20.8
I reject 77.4
No opinion/I do not know 1.8
Pretty disheartening stuff when you're trying to feed the public the illusion that if only Israelis would make additional land concessions and share Jerusalem, the Palestinians would allow them to live in peace.  We're not surprised Reuters chose not to run the story.

Another Reuters puff piece on Obama

The last we visited Reuters correspondent Steve Holland in September of 2009, he was positively giddy over Barack Obama's appearances before the UN and Group of 20 summit where, according to Holland, 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."
Seven months later, we're not sure how that framework for global economic growth is going but we do know how meager have been Obama's accomplishments with respect to blocking Iran from consummating its nuclear weapons program.  Holland however, is still jiggling his Obama pom-poms:
Ending an unprecedented 47-nation nuclear security summit, Obama won pledges from world leaders to take joint action to prevent terrorist groups from getting nuclear weapons, steps he said will make the United States and the world safer.
Oh yes, Obama won a pledge from that reckless rogue regime in Canada to return spent nuclear fuel to the US.  But the summit did not produce any enforcement mechanism to prevent terrorist groups from obtaining nuclear materials and on Iran, which of course did not attend the summit, Obama could not even persuade the Chinese to commit to new sanctions.  For Holland, that is less of an issue than the "tangible dividend" of Mexico agreeing to convert a research reactor from highly enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium because after all:
Tehran denies trying to develop an atomic weapon, saying it wants peaceful nuclear power for electricity.
Yes, we've heard that somewhere before.

Reuters repeats calumnies against Israel

On April 4th, 2010 Reuters correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi reported:
Israel allowed a shipment of clothes and shoes for Palestinian traders into the Gaza Strip on Sunday for the first time in its almost three-year-old blockade of the Hamas-controlled enclave.
We noted that based on photos taken in 2009 of Gaza shops stock full of clothes and shoes, it seemed implausible that Israel had been embargoing deliveries of this merchandise for traders.

Al-Mughrabi repeats the claim in a story yesterday:
Israel recently began to ease up on its blockade of the Gaza Strip, allowing in some goods it used to ban, such as clothes and shoes and, this week, wood and aluminum.
So we turned to an Israeli government report appearing on the independent ReliefWeb site last year:
November summary:
Contrary to persistent reports of a "siege" on the Gaza Strip, there is considerable movement of goods and people between Israel and Gaza. In November:
- The amount of merchandise entering the Gaza Strip increased - over 64,000 tons (89% from the private sector and only 11% from the international community) of food, medicines, hygiene products, clothing, agricultural supplies, and cement.
Though it's possible that all of the merchandise on retailers' racks was manufactured in Gaza, the photos appearing in Palestine Today would seem to bear-out the ReliefWeb report and discredit al-Mughrabi's claims.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spetalnick & Co. omit quotation marks, parrot Arab propaganda

In a story on US "concern" over reports of Syria transferring scud missiles to the terrorist group Hezbollah, Reuters correspondent Matt Spetalnick and a host of additional writers quote cite parrot Syria's reply to the report:
But Syria's embassy in Washington dismissed the charge as an Israeli attempt "to divert global attention" from settlement construction, its occupation of Arab land, its assumed nuclear arsenal and its "continuous arming" with U.S. weaponry.
Note the selective quotes around portions of the reply ("to divert global attention") with a quotation mark-free parroting of the Arab rhetoric, occupation of Arab land.  This is a direct violation of the Reuters Handbook of Journalism which specifically proscribes:
We must not parrot any loaded expressions used by our sources, except in quotes and official titles.
For Reuters, it's a given that Israel occupies Arab land so the agency simply parrots this loaded language.

Once again, Reuters blames Israel for Palestinian intransigence

Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority effectively ended peace talks with Israel during the final months of the Olmert government and have refused to resume negotiations since the election bringing Binyamin Netanyahu to power.  Abbas (assisted by President Barack Obama) initially insisted that Netanyahu agree to the "two-state solution".  He did.  Then, it was a demand for further concessions in the form of a settlement freeze.  Netanyahu agreed for everywhere but Jerusalem.  Then it was a request from the US for Israel to release Fatah prisoners and a further easing of travel for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria (also, the "West Bank").  Again Netanyahu complied.  Still, the Palestinians refuse to come back to the negotiating table.

But for Reuters, it is only and always Israel which is responsible for "stalled peace talks":
U.S.-led peace moves have been stymied by a dispute over Jewish settlement construction on occupied land that has strained ties between Washington and its close ally Israel... The Obama administration has tried to get Israel and the Palestinians to launch indirect peace talks but has made scant headway. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave little ground in White House talks with Obama last month.
As for the Palestinians, Reuters correspondent Matt Spetalnick effectively apologizes for their intransigence when he cites "divisions" amongst them as the reason for their refusal to return to negotiations.  Is Spetalnick referring to the even more vociferous intransigence of Hamas?  He doesn't say.  Nor are we told precisely how those "divisions" (Hamas) are preventing Abbas from saying "yes" to negotiations now when he was able to say yes while building was proceeding in Jerusalem under the Olmert government 16 months ago.

So many logical inconsistencies, so few picas -- easier to simply blame Israel.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

They're ba-a-ack!

Well the holiday is over and correspondents from Reuters Middle East Bureau are back with more broken boilerplate.  In a story on a clash between the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian Islamic Jihad on the Gaza border, Reuters reporter Nidal al-Mughrabi embeds language that has been similarly seeded within literally hundreds of Reuters stories over the last 15 months:
Hamas has largely held its fire since a costly three-week war with Israel in the opening days of 2009 in which some 1,400 Palestinians, mainly civilians, and 13 Israelis, mostly soldiers, were killed.
The casualty figures provided are actually disputed, drawn from a war fought over a year ago, and largely irrelevant to al-Mughrabi's story.  Yet Reuters cunningly employs the propaganda technique of repetition to sear the numbers and corresponding allusion to Israeli wantonness into the subconscious of its readers.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Is something afoot at Reuters Middle East Bureau?

Our apologies for the dearth of posts over the last few days but frankly, the Reuters Middle East Bureau has been very quiet over the same period.  Whereas the Reuters websites normally average at least 1-2 stories per day on the Middle East conflict -- nearly all anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian in their content and tenor -- Reuters 70+ correspondents and editors in the region appear to be largely on vacation.  Of course, with the Passover and Easter holidays over the last couple of weeks, that is a distinct possibility.  Still, the quiescence is curious.

Even more curious perhaps, is a subtle shift in Reuters rhetoric embedded in one of the few stories about the conflict to appear on its website:
Netanyahu's decision last week to cancel a planned trip to Washington comes at a time when bilateral ties are strained between Israel and the United States over matters such as Israeli construction in Jerusalem and the disputed West Bank.
A quick search on the Reuters website yields only one previous reference to the disputed West Bank.  By contrast, there are 6,100 references to the "occupied West Bank".  For those unfamiliar with the history of the conflict and UNSC resolution 242 which signaled the end of the 1967 war between Israel and the Arab states, the territory sandwiched between Israel and Jordan -- known to Israelis as Judea and Samaria but renamed the "West Bank" by Jordan following its conquest in the earlier 1948 war -- constitutes the last remaining unallocated parcel of Mandatory Palestine.

Both Israel and the Palestinian Arabs claim the land but as it has not been recognized in the modern era as sovereign to either Jew or Arab, it is most accurately described as "disputed" rather than "occupied".  As noted above however, Reuters Middle East Bureau consistently refers to the territory as the "occupied West Bank", thus prejudging the outcome of negotiations between the belligerent parties.

The Reuters story we cite which describes the territory as "disputed" comes out of the agency's Washington Bureau; that may explain the anomalous handling.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Protecting a sister?

Reuters correspondent Jeffrey Heller reports on the lifting of a media publication ban in Israel associated with the arrest of Anat Kamm for espionage.  Kamm is accused of giving 2,000 classified military documents to Uri Blau, a reporter for the newspaper Ha'aretz.  After suggesting that the ban was lifted following "a public outcry over press freedom", Heller provides a platform for Kamm's spokesman:
A spokesman for Kamm, now a journalist, said she was motivated by moral concerns in leaking the documents.  She could face life imprisonment if convicted of espionage.  "Anat is not a member of any political group and she does not want anyone to use her plight to further their cause," spokesman, Nissim Dwek, told Israel's Channel 10 TV. "State security has not been harmed and there was no intent to harm state security," he said.
By contrast, Heller quotes no Israeli legal, intelligence, or military sources detailing the nature and scope of the documents stolen and leaked by Kamm.  In a more forthcoming and balanced report, the Jerusalem Post cites Israel's security service Shin Bet:
The documents contained top secret information concerning General Staff orders, personnel numbers in the Central Command, intelligence information, information on the IDF doctrine and data pertaining to central sensitive military exercises, weaponry and military platforms. The files also contained details on what the Central Command does in the event of a major escalation – how it deploys forces to the West Bank and where it stations them there.
Hmm... equipped with details omitted by Heller, a reader might draw a somewhat different conclusion as to the motives and damage done by Kamm than the benign notion peddled by Kamm's spokesman Nissim Dwek.

And incidentally, while Dwek insists that Kamm is not a member of any political group and did not intend to harm Israel's security, Dwek himself is a spokesman for the NGO Sikkuy which, as a signatory to the Haifa Declaration, is committed to the abolition of Israel as a Jewish state.

It's a small world.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Non sequitur

In a story that provides pathological liar Saeb Erekat with a soapbox to blame Israel for what has clearly been Palestinian intransigence in refusing to return to negotiations, Reuters correspondents Ali Sawafta and Tom Perry are oblivious to this non sequitur:
Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have expanded steadily since the start of the peace process in the early 1990s. The Palestinians say the settlements, considered illegal by major world powers, will prevent the establishment of a viable state.
If Israeli "settlements" in the eastern part of Jerusalem and the "West Bank" (Judea and Samaria) "will prevent the establishment of a viable [Palestinian] state", why is it that the peace process has proceeded over the last 20 years in spite of them?  Israeli building in and around Jerusalem (which has been effectively quashed by the Netanyahu government) has never dissuaded the Palestinians from engaging in negotiations in the past.  Why now?

In the meantime, illegal Palestinian construction in and around Jerusalem continues apace.

Illegal Palestinian Arab construction in Qalandiya

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Attention shoppers

Reuters correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi who is accurate less often than a broken clock and always a day late and a dollar short catching the news also frequently exaggerates the effects of the Israeli embargo on Hamas-controlled Gaza.  In this, his latest effort to portray Israel in a negative light, al-Mughrabi calls attention to shipments of clothes and shoes being allowed in to Gaza "for the first time in its almost three-year-old blockade of the Hamas-controlled enclave":
An Israeli military spokesman said clothes and shoes had been allowed into the territory on a regular basis as part of humanitarian aid. But this was the first time that privately imported clothing was allowed in for traders to sell on.
Judging from the photos below taken a few months ago, it doesn't appear that Gaza traders have been suffering from a lack of inventory or their customers, starving for selection.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Reuters celebrates April Fools Day with a hoax story about Jerusalem

Well, another religious holiday has arrived and you know what that means: a sordid attempt by Reuters Middle East staff to malign Israel over its control of Jerusalem and associated Holy sites.  Mustafa Abu Ganeyeh, Erika Solomon and Douglas Hamilton handled the festivities last Christmas by having the temerity to quote that great guarantor of religious freedom, the PLO, alleging Israeli security measures had "fragmented" and "stifled" normal life in Bethlehem.  Reuters kingpin propagandist Tom Perry does the honors this year with more of the same calumnies:
But the number of Palestinian pilgrims has fallen to a fraction of its former level. Local Christians warn that centuries-old traditions are at risk of dying out. Israeli security measures, they say, have obstructed their access to Jerusalem and its holy sites, chief among them the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, revered as the site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus... Palestinians argue that such controls on their access to Jerusalem run contrary to Israel's claim that it respects freedom of worship in the city.
As it happens, there is an excellent op-ed appearing in the Jerusalem Post which compares conditions in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria (also, the "West Bank") under Arab control prior to 1967 with the situation today, and considers the sobering implications of dividing the city again:
There is also absolutely no empirical basis to believe that Arab rulers of Jerusalem will maintain the Israeli gold standard of unimpeded religious worship in the city. There is no Arab or Muslim country in the Middle East where Christians or Jews can freely operate religious institutions. Under Palestinian Authority and Hamas rule, Christians in the West Bank and Gaza have been hounded, terrorized and driven out. Christian Bethlehem is, effectively, no more. The Church of Nativity was defiled by Palestinian Muslim terrorists who turned it into an armed refuge in 2002. Who will protect the churches of Jerusalem from the same fate under Islamic rule?
JEWISH SYNAGOGUES and holy sites in Jericho, Nablus and Gush Katif have fared no better – they were burned to the ground while Palestinian police looked on. Under Jordanian rule, Jews were not allowed to reach their holy places in Jerusalem at all, while thousands of Jewish graves on the Mount of Olives were desecrated and the tombstones used to pave streets. How can this be prevented under Palestinian rule?

Read it all; compare with Tom Perry's purportedly impartial piece and decide for yourself whether Perry has an ounce of respect for the Reuters Trust Principles.