Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Douglas Hamilton dons his Sherlock Holmes cap

Arabs are killing Jews again and Reuters correspondent Douglas Hamilton is simply shocked that Hamas would enable the attacks:
Hamas's armed wing, Izz el-Deen al-Qassam, said in a statement it took "full responsibility for the heroic operation in Hebron."

Its claim confounded recent Hamas signals that it would deter militants from resuming attacks on Israel of the sort that triggered the Jewish state's military assault of the winter of 2008-09 in which 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.
We noted yesterday that Hamas had promised a new war against Israel so today's terror attack should come as no surprise to anyone.  Notwithstanding, Hamilton does his level best to confuse readers on culpability for the attack with this tortured bit of circular reasoning from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas:
Abbas said the Highway 60 attack "cannot be considered an act of resistance after Hamas itself has stopped resistance from the Gaza Strip and gone after those who carry it out."
Following which, Hamilton plays Holmes and chases the red herring:
This opened the question of who authorised the killings, and whether Hamas was united behind the attack or was now divided.
Because there is always another front group in an endless stream of front groups for Reuters to blame rather than hold the Palestinians to account for their open hostility to coexistence with the Jews.

Hamilton then repeats the same bit of rhetorical legerdemain deployed by his colleague Tom Perry yesterday:
Tuesday's attack was the most lethal in the West Bank in four years, the army said. In a Palestinian uprising from 2000 to 2007, some 540 Israelis were killed in suicide bomb attacks and more than 4,000 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces.
As we noted, more than double that number of Israelis were killed when all means of terror attacks are included.  Hamilton is clearly more Shyster than Sherlock.

How's that ceasefire going, Tom?

Four Israelis, two men and two women, one pregnant, were murdered today in a Palestinian terror attack outside the city of Hebron.  Hamas claimed responsibility:
A rally in Gaza to celebrate the attack drew about 3,000 people. At the gathering, Hamas military wing spokesman Abu Obeida told The Associated Press: "The Qassam Brigades announces its full responsibility for the heroic operation in Hebron."
This is what Reuters correspondent Tom Perry wrote yesterday:
The group [Hamas] has said it will not use force to derail the negotiations set to begin in Washington Thursday -- a tactic it employed in the 1990s when, less powerful, it frequently interrupted U.S.-backed peace talks with suicide attacks.
Yesterday, we demonstrated Perry's assertion was false with Hamas' own words.  Today, Hamas has demonstrated Perry's assertion was false with its actions.

Thomson Reuters: "The world's leading source of intelligent [dis]information".

On our previous question re: Tom Perry, we think he has answered it

As long as we're on the subject of prevarication, Reuters correspondent Tom Perry continues to mislead on the Palestinian position going into direct talks with Israel:
Their credibility damaged by the failure of past talks, the Palestinians had sought a sense of the shape and size of the Palestinian state Netanyahu has in mind before agreeing to more negotiations.
Nice try Tom but there's a world of difference between having "sought a sense" of what one's adversary has in mind before agreeing to negotiations and demanding to win everything one wants as a condition for those negotiations.  From the New York Times:
Adding to the discord, Mr. Erekat recently raised a new bar for the start of direct talks. Alongside the longstanding demand for a complete freeze in settlement building, including in East Jerusalem, which the Israelis have refused, Mr. Erekat said talks should start from the point at which the last direct negotiations, between the Palestinians and the previous, centrist Israeli government, left off in December 2008.  He also said that Mr. Netanyahu should state his readiness to recognize a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines.
Of course, as a professional journalist bound by the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles and Handbook of Journalism, Perry well understands these distinctions.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jeffrey Heller unconscious for last 10 years as Arab imams have called for death to the Jews

Jeffrey Heller reported yesterday on a sermon by Israeli Rabbi Ovadia Yosef where the latter apparently asked God to strike Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians with a plague so that they might perish from the earth.  Pretty melodramatic stuff and probably worth a column.

In the last line of his story, Heller mentions something else almost in passing:
Netanyahu and Abbas are due to resume direct peace talks in Washington on Thursday, the first such negotiations in 20 months in a peace process that commits both sides to avoid incitement, which has included anti-Jewish sermons by Palestinian clerics.
Yet, one would never know this following Reuters over the last 10 years as the agency has failed utterly to report on these sermons.  Here's a sampling of what you've been missing, Jeffrey.

Can Tom Perry tell the truth?

Writing about the prospects of a third Palestinian terror war against Israel should peace talks fail, Reuters correspondent and serial liar Tom Perry cunningly understates the number of Israelis killed during the second terror war:
Over 500 Israeli civilians died in 140 Palestinian suicide bomb attacks from 2000 to 2007. More than 4,500 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the same period.
Note how Perry includes all Palestinians killed by any means but willfully excludes Israeli security personnel and those Israelis killed by means other than suicide bomb attacks.  When these groups are included, the number of Israelis killed rises to more than double Perry's estimate.  And note how Perry describes the Israelis as having "died" while the Palestinians were "killed".

Perry then goes on to misrepresent both the level of recent violence emanating from Gaza and the violence threatened by Hamas:
Relative, if fragile, stability has even reached the Gaza Strip. Run by the Hamas movement, it remains an "enemy entity" to Israel. But the Iranian-backed Islamists are enforcing a de facto ceasefire that has curbed rocket fire into Israel...
The group has said it will not use force to derail the negotiations set to begin in Washington Thursday -- a tactic it employed in the 1990s when, less powerful, it frequently interrupted U.S.-backed peace talks with suicide attacks.
There have actually been over 200 Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks targeting Israeli communities since the Gaza war ended in 2009.  And Hamas is threatening a full-scale war if negotiations do not go their way.

Tom Perry is either asleep or systematically prevaricating.  Since his pen is moving, our money is on the latter.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chuckle of the day

Somewhat off-topic is a screen-shot from a slick promotional video appearing on the Thomson Reuters website:

Any comment would be superfluous.

Dan Williams fishes for a red herring and catches a non sequitur

In a story on Israeli actors and playwrights refusing to perform in Jewish communities beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines (the "Green Line"), Reuters correspondent Dan Williams explains what he views as the difference in position between those who believe Jews have no right to live outside of the Green Line and those who believe otherwise:
The settlements have been branded as illegal abroad. Many Jews say they have a biblical birthright to live there.
While it's true that many religious Jews living in settlements in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank") feel that the first millennium of the 3,000 year Jewish presence in the area as documented in the Bible constitutes a legitimate ancestral claim to the land, Williams is deliberately omitting a much more contemporary and juridical claim: the Palestine Mandate:
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.
Adopted by the League of Nations and grandfathered across by the United Nations, the Mandate has never been abrogated.  Thus, the relevant and appropriate contrasting view to, "the settlements have been branded as illegal abroad", is not a reference to a "biblical birthright", but rather, "the settlements are viewed as entirely legal in Israel".

Williams of course, will not frame the argument this way because to do so would require him to acknowledge that contemporary international law stands behind Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria -- something the Palestinian advocates at Reuters will never do.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Reuters only cites the UN when it goose steps to Reuters drumbeat

Reuters loves to cite the United Nations and its myriad of departments, committees, agencies, and commissions.  That is, the news agency loves to cite the UN when the august body is passing resolutions or issuing findings that adhere to Reuters' peculiar political ideology and agenda.  When the UN is out of step with this agenda however, Reuters promptly punishes it with a cold shoulder, omitting any mention of the body in its stories.

Take for example, the hundreds of stories Reuters has published on Iran's nuclear program.  Last February, the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declared that it had extensive evidence of Iran’s efforts to develop a nuclear warhead.  Yet whereas Reuters reported on this bombshell at the time (no pun intended), the news agency has since completely vanished the UNs finding:
The West suspects Iran is trying to build bombs under cover of a civilian nuclear program. Tehran denies this, saying it needs nuclear technology to generate power.
No mention at all of the UN and its authoritative position on the matter.  The objective evidence that Iran is seeking the bomb is thus suppressed and the question of Iran's nuclear activities reduced to one of he said/she said between Iran and "the West".

Thursday, August 26, 2010

How many Palestinians are there in Gaza?

No, this is not a tasteless, "how many Palestinians does it take..." joke.  We really want to know: what is the Palestinian population of Gaza?  The reason we're baffled is because Reuters seemingly can't make up its mind as to the correct figure.  On July 5, 2010, Reuters correspondent Ibon Villelabeitia wrote:
Once Israel's closest Muslim ally, Turkey has said several times it wants Israel to apologise over the May 31 raid, pay compensation, agree to a U.N. inquiry into the incident and lift the blockade of 1.6 million Palestinians living in Gaza Strip.
Then, on August 7, 2010, Reuters correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi informed us:
Officials from the Islamist Hamas faction that runs the Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, blamed the disruption on the rival Western-backed government of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad based in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
But three days later, if we are to believe al-Mughrabi, the Palestinian population in Gaza had apparently ballooned by 200,000 souls:
It also aggravates the privations of 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza, many of whom depend on U.N. aid.
Come on guys, do we have to do a headcount?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Far out, man!

Name Calling is a propaganda technique intended to "create fear and arouse prejudice by using negative words (bad names) to create an unfavorable opinion or hatred against a group, beliefs, ideas or institutions [the propagandist] would have us denounce. This method calls for a conclusion without examining the evidence. Name Calling is used as a substitute for arguing the merits of an idea, belief, or proposal. It is often employed using sarcasm and ridicule in political cartoons and writing."

Immediately following his lede, note how Reuters correspondent Jeffrey Heller deploys this technique in an effort to disparage Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and discredit in the minds of readers, anything Lieberman believes or is reported to have said:
"I think there's room to lower expectations and get real," Lieberman, a far-right member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet, told Israel Radio.
According to Heller, Lieberman is "far-right" and obviously, that means his views are -- take your pick of ugly stereotyped allusion: extreme, radical, outrageous, hateful, vicious, fascist, racist, etc, etc, etc.

Heller doesn't label Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in any similar fashion although Abbas:
1) wrote a doctoral thesis denying the Holocaust and claiming collaboration between Zionists and the Nazis,
2) is reported to have financed the Palestinian terrorist attack and murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics,
3) has refused, as per his obligations under the RoadMap, to end incitement against Israel and Jews,
4) has called for the continuation of armed violence against Israel until the Palestinians get everything they want.
Indeed, Reuters usually refers to Abbas in its stories as a "moderate".

A violation of the Reuters Handbook of Journalism and Trust Principles?  You betcha.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Direct peace talks are on. Why did the last talks fail? Reuters won't tell.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been agreed and are scheduled to begin on September 2nd.  The question of when and why they last broke off is an essential one because it speaks to the differences between the negotiating positions of the parties and the likelihood of success this time around.

Over the last 15 months, Reuters has consistently refused to report on what has become common knowledge: the Palestinians ended peace talks in November of 2008 following PA President Mahmoud Abbas' rejection of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's offer of a Palestinian state consisting of Gaza, 97-100 percent of the West Bank (with land swaps), Arab neighborhoods in the eastern part of Jerusalem, and the acceptance of thousands of Palestinians to be resettled in Israel as a nominal recognition of the "right of return".  This offer went far beyond that of any proposal previously made to the Palestinians and gave them essentially everything they had always said they wanted.

As indicated above, Reuters consistently fails to report on the Israeli offer and Abbas' rejection of it.  One can speculate as to why the agency's correspondents are derelict in this regard but hypothetically speaking, if a journalist were a partisan to a conflict and less interested in accurately reporting the facts than in image-making on behalf of the favored combatant, it's clear that any emerging news portraying that combatant in a negative light -- as intransigent, for example -- would be systematically suppressed.  Hypothetically speaking, that is.

Which leaves Reuters correspondents with a dilemma: how to explain the failure of the last round of talks between Israel and the Palestinians (as a result of Abbas' intransigence) while protecting their client's public image.

For many months, Reuters had been attempting to suggest that negotiations broke down as a result of the Gaza war in December of 2008 to January 2009.  But as we pointed out, that notion reflected an anachronism as Palestinian negotiators stopped meeting with their Israeli counterparts well before the outbreak of war when the Quartet refused the Palestinian request to coerce Israel into further concessions following Olmert's settlement offer.

Well, Reuters has now abandoned that alibi on behalf of the Palestinians with an admission that:
... negotiations were suspended before a Gaza war in 2008.
Yet, the agency provides no alternative explanation for the suspension leaving a gaping hole where there should be a cogent account of events leading to the failure of negotiations in 2008. 

This is by design, of course, as any reference to Abbas' rejection of a peace offer so compliant with Palestinian demands would reveal Abbas' intransigence and cost Reuters their significant investment in Palestinian image-making.

Reuters does however, want us to know that the current Israeli Prime Minister is likely to be considerably less compromising than the one prior:
Netanyahu, who had pushed for a move from U.S.-mediated "proximity talks" that began in May to face-to-face negotiations without preconditions, said reaching a peace deal would require both sides to take the "necessary steps."
He did not define them, and the term fell short of the pledge of "painful compromises" his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, voiced at the 2007 Annapolis Conference that launched Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which yielded no deal.
so we know who to blame if and when the new round of talks fail as did the last.  Thanks Reuters!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Palestinian state -- of despair

An appeal to pity is a logical fallacy and propaganda technique designed to evoke and win over the sympathies of an audience when the facts alone fail to convince.  Reuters has employed this technique over many years and in literally hundreds of stories on the Middle East conflict in an effort to manipulate its readers into adopting patronage toward the Palestinian Arabs.

For example, did you know that the Palestinians and their leader Mahmoud Abbas are:
"dejected... hopeless... despondent... pessimistic... crippled... and helpless"?
Sure, just ask Reuters correspondent Tom Perry who explains why the Palestinians are feeling so... well, depressed:
A resumption of Middle East peace talks inspires little hope among Palestinians who say the prospect of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel seems no more than a dream.
And who or what is to blame for this state of despair?  Perry interprets for us:
They say their hopes have been eroded by Israeli policies, the United States' failure to force Israel into concessions and the failings of their own leaders, who have grown ever weaker and more divided since Yasser Arafat's death in 2004.
Perry makes no mention of the unprecedented concessions (quoting Hilary Clinton) issued by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in acceding to a Palestinian state and in establishing a moratorium on Jewish residential building outside the 1949 Armistice Lines (a right enshrined in the Palestine Mandate).  Concessions that were met with intransigence and further demands by Abbas.

Nor does Perry reference any of the multitude of other concessions and good-faith efforts by Israel, the US, the UN, or the British over the last 80 years to facilitate Palestinian statehood.  Efforts answered by the Palestinian Arabs with the most heinous and savage acts of violence.

And note the absence of any semblance of personal responsibility for the failure to achieve statehood.  After all, it couldn't possibly be an embrace by the majority of Palestinians of the rejectionism, antisemitism and terrorism as endorsed by their elected leaders that has delayed Palestinian nationhood, could it? 

In a story of over 700 words (which includes interviews with six Palestinians), Perry devotes a total of 3 words to reporting on Israeli sentiment surrounding the talks:
... despondency reflects deep pessimism among Palestinians, mirrored in Israel, on the prospects for a new round of U.S.-mediated peace talks that are due to begin in September.
And of course, there are no interviews with Israeli Jews who, in Reuters universe, remain ever anonymous, faceless, and mute.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


In a story on the US asking the Israelis and Palestinians to formally resume direct peace talks in September, Reuters correspondents Douglas Hamilton and Andrew Quinn tell us of the dictates imposed on Israel by the Quartet:
The Quartet has repeatedly said Israel should stop building settlements in the West Bank and agree to a Palestinian state within the borders of land it has occupied since the 1967 Middle East war -- points the Palestinians view as a minimum guarantee of the terms of reference for the talks
We've boldfaced the word "within" because over the last several weeks, Reuters has been falsely asserting that the Quartet had insisted Israel agree to a Palestinian state "on the basis of the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war".  A state within those borders (or to be more precise, armistice lines) is obviously a horse of a different color and far nearer to the truth.  As Reuters almost never openly corrects its errors as prescribed by its Handbook of Journalism, we'll accept the new and improved language as an acknowledgment of Reuters being caught-out. 

Regrettably, correcting Reuters is a bit like playing whac-a-mole: dispense with one gnawing rodent and another quickly rears its ugly head.  In this case, note that while Hamilton and Quinn are quite certain of the Quartet's directives to Israel, they apparently haven't a clue as to anything the same world powers have requested of the Palestinians.  

So, let's have our own look at a few things the Palestinians have been asked to do and how they've responded:
Noting the significant progress on security achieved by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, the Quartet calls on the Palestinian Authority to continue to make every effort to improve law and order, to fight violent extremism, and to end incitement.
Improve law and order?  Check.

Fight violent extremism?  Check.

End incitement?  Check.

Yep, nothing -- nothing at all -- for Hamilton and Quinn to report on with respect to expectations the Quartet and the Israelis might have of the Palestinians going into peace talks.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Alistair Lyon, Hezbollah handmaiden

In coming weeks, a UN tribunal is expected to indict key members of the Hezbollah terror group for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.  Anticipation of that event is having a chilling effect on Hezbollah Kingpin Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah as well as many Hezbollah partisans in Lebanon including Reuters special propagandist correspondent Alistair Lyon.

In an attempt to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the tribunal and to inoculate Hezbollah against the fallout of the expected indictments, Lyon suggests that the UN court is seen as:
... a pawn in murky tussles for influence involving Israel, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United States and others. 
Lyon then serves as a mouthpiece for Hezbollah, pleading its case that Israel is actually behind the Hariri murder:
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, responding to reports that the tribunal planned to indict some of his men, has sought to discredit it by showing on television what he said was intercepted Israeli surveillance film of routes used by Hariri.

He also suggested that Lebanese arrested in recent months as spies for Israel, some of whom worked for telephone firms, could have manipulated cellphone evidence gathered by investigators.

Nasrallah, who leads Lebanon's strongest armed force, calls the court an "Israeli project" against Hezbollah and its allies. The possibility that even "rogue" Hezbollah members might face charges seemed so explosive that Syrian and Saudi heads of state jointly visited Beirut in July to calm fears of sectarian tension between Nasrallah's Shi'ite followers and Sunnis loyal to Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the slain statesman's son.

On Wednesday, Hariri welcomed Hezbollah's submission of its data on the assassination and reaffirmed his own commitment to the tribunal as "the adequate body for achieving justice".

Lebanese views on whether that is indeed the case reflect the rifts between those who see the West as a malign handmaiden of Israel and those whose worst fears focus on Iran and Syria.
Lyon doesn't mention that Nasrallah's "evidence" of Israeli involvement was dismissed by prominent leaders in Lebanon to whom it was presented:
Commenting on the evidence that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah presented during his 2 + hours press conference Elias Zoghbi told “BBC:” What has Nasrallah presented was a political case . This is not the kind of concrete and convincing evidence that we expected from him that will prove Israel was behind Hariri’s murder. Nasrallah ’s presentation was interesting …. he acted like a news anchor."
And although Lyon cites Lebanese journalist Michael Young's skepticism that formal indictments will come soon, there is no reference to Young's lambasting, in last weeks Daily Star, of Nasrallah's attempt to frame Israel for the murder:
Marvel at the contempt Hizbullah’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, must feel for us all, that he would expect us to believe his presentation last Monday telling us that Israel was behind the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister. But that contempt may also in some ways be justified, because far too many Lebanese actually believed him, even as they observe the rapid erosion of their slender sovereignty with lethargy...
It would take an awful lot of forgetting to buy into Nasrallah’s theory, but that is precisely what the secretary general is demanding. He wants Lebanon, above all its prime minister, to forget the overwhelming evidence from the past and bury the Hariri tribunal for good. Let’s just blame Israel, Nasrallah is telling us, so that we can all live in amnesic harmony.
Most amusing however, is Lyon's suggestion that had Israel initially been suspected in the assassination:
... few in Lebanon believe an international court would ever have been created.
Because after all, there is never appetite in the international community for scapegoating the Jewish state.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The soft bigotry of low expectations

Reuters Beirut-based correspondent Mariam Karouny pens an ostensibly sympathetic tale of Palestinian Arab refugees living in Lebanon.  Long denied civil and human rights including the ability to work in many professions or even to own an apartment, the descendants of those Arabs who fled Israel in 1948 live in squalid camps and are only now being granted modest opportunities to integrate into Lebanese society:
Palestinians have long been marginalized in Lebanon, where the 1975-90 civil war was sparked by a conflict between Palestinian and Lebanese Christian factions
"The parliament has passed the Palestinian rights (law) which is related to work and (giving them) social security," said lawmaker Nawwaf al-Mussawi after the session. 
The law allows granting refugees work permits without fees and also calls for setting up a fund to cover expenses of work related accidents and end of service pay.
What's interesting about Karouny's story, is how she parrots and rationalizes the Lebanese line on why the children and grandchildren of Arabs who originally lived in what became Israel (most of whom have actually been born in Lebanon) are refused not only citizenship in Lebanon, but basic civil rights as well:
Some politicians in Lebanon argue that granting them [Palestinians] civil rights such as property ownership and work permits would promote naturalization -- an explosive issue which has raised fears of upsetting Lebanon's delicate sectarian balance. 
Can one imagine Reuters treating this type of overt religious discrimination if it occurred in say, Israel or the US, with the same kid gloves?  (Rhetorical question).

Karouny then seeks to make the Palestinians themselves complicit in Lebanon's economic, social and political oppression of its Palestinian Arab population with this utterly absurd generalization:
Palestinians themselves have repeatedly said they oppose plans to settle them in Lebanon, saying they want to go back to the villages their families fled or were forced to flee during fighting which created the state of Israel in 1948.
No scientific survey is offered in evidence for this assertion nor is there recourse to an interview with a single Palestinian living in Lebanon who favors the disenfranchised life of a refugee over the benefits of naturalization (we're certain Karouny could have found one).

Reuters does however, provide proof positive of the Totality of Palestinian aspirations with a photo taken in June of a Palestinian man holding a symbolic key to a house left behind in Israel.

Apparently, case closed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Up to 60 percent of patients who use our product benefit

We've all read or heard specious advertising claims like the one above.  And most of us recognize that it means virtually nothing: "up to 60 percent" of a population can indicate anything from 60 percent, all the way down to 0 percent.

Comes yet another Reuters story on the infamous Gaza tunnels and the hard luck of a smuggler who can no longer compete due to tons of goods flowing across the Israeli-Gaza border:
He has joined the mass ranks of unemployed in a territory with a jobless rate put at up to 60 percent.
The most recent unemployment figure for Gaza we've seen (from July 30th) was 34 percent.  But perhaps unemployment rises to 60 percent on the days Reuters writes its stories.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Misattribution of the day

According to Reuters correspondent Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Hamas opposes direct talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel but: 
Hamas does not rule out peace talks with Israel if they realize what it considers Palestinian rights.
Oweis later offers us a clue as to what he believes Hamas has said those "rights" consist of:
Hamas had said it could live peacefully alongside Israel if Israel withdrew from all Palestinian land it occupied in the 1967 Middle East War.
Actually, Hamas has not said this.  The terror group has offered merely a 10-year "hudna" (cease-fire) if Israel withdraws from all territory beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines.  So where did Oweis get the notion that Hamas had made this statement?  From Jimmy Carter:
Earlier, Carter said that Hamas is prepared to accept the right of Israel to “live as a neighbor next door in peace."
A perfectly understandable conflation of the two.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Errata and omission by design

In a story on Israel's intent to purchase 20 F-35 fighter jets from the US, Reuters correspondent Dan Williams downplays the Iranian nuclear threat:
Israeli leaders have spoken of arch-foe Iran potentially developing a nuclear weapon by mid-decade, suggesting that the F-35s would not be used for any preventive action, but rather to bolster the country's deterrence...
The F-35 is designed to avoid detection by radar and could play a role in any Israeli effort to knock out what it regards as the threat to its existence posed by Iran's nuclear program. Tehran denies Western and Israeli allegations that it is trying to produce atomic weapons.
Er, even by US estimates, which are considerably more conservative than those of Israel, Iran is only one to three years away from building a nuclear weapon.

For accuracy sake, let's rewrite that last sentence for Williams:
Tehran denies Western, Israeli, and UN allegations that it is trying to produce atomic weapons.
There, that's better.

Middle East's Western Media Hypocrisy, Double Standards Out of Control

The following article by Israeli-Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh was published by Hudson New York and permission has been granted to reproduce it here.

Western correspondents and newspapers continue to apply double standards when it comes to covering the Israeli-Arab conflict.
It is much easier for a Western journalist to sit in Israel and write about Israel without having to worry about his or her safety. Why bother travel to an Arab country and risk being arrested or deported for writing a story that reflects negatively on the dictatorship there?
Besides, who said it's that easy to enter an Arab or Islamic country? The foreign reporters need an entry visa to most of these countries - a process that could last for weeks, months and years.
And when the foreign reporters arrives in an Arab capital, he or she are often escorted by "minders" of the Ministry of Information of that country. Then there are the mukhabarat [intelligence] agents who start following the reporters from the minute they arrive and until they leave.
Those who are found "guilty" of writing a story that angers the Arab dictator or any of his confidants should forget about applying for another visa.
Otherwise, how does one explain the fact that the mainstream media in the US, Canada and Europe are turning a blind eye to recent developments in Jordan, where the government has introduced a law that restricts media freedom?
The arrest last week of seven Palestinian university lecturers at the hands of Palestinian Authority security services in the West Bank is yet another example of how the international media functions in this part of the world.
Some Palestinian stringers and reporters offered the story about the arrest of the academics to at least a dozen foreign correspondents and newspaper editors in North America and Europe.
Only one foreign journalist agreed to write about the story. His colleagues gave different excuses for turning their backs on the story.
Some said they were concerned about their personal safety should they report a news item that was likely to anger the Western-funded PA security forces in the West Bank.
Others simply blamed their editors in New York, Paris, London and Toronto for turning down the story as "insignificant."
Earlier this week, a disenchanted Ramallah-based Palestinian journalist decided to put her Western colleagues to the test. She contacted the same group of newsmen and editors who had been offered the story on the academics' arrest with a "new idea" for a news item.
The Palestinian journalist proposed that the foreign press write about a Palestinian university professor who complained that Israeli authorities had turned down his request to visit Israel together with his wife and three children.
The response from the international journalists came almost instantly. All but two said it was a "great story" and expressed readiness to start working on it immediately.
It is worth noting that the Palestinian Authority's General Intelligence Service had warned Palestinian journalists and university staff members not to report about the detention of the academics. Of course the Palestinian media in the West Bank, which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, complied.
The Palestinian authorities even threatened the president of the university not to complain about the arrest of his lecturers. He too complied, and even went as far as to switch off his mobile phone to avoid questions from journalists.
One can only imagine the reaction of the international media had the Palestinian academics been arrested by Israel.
The double-standards approach of the international media is not a new phenomenon. Back in the mid-1990's, many Western correspondents based in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv refused to publish stories about bad government, abuse of human rights and rampant financial corruption under Yasser Arafat's administration.
This hypocritical approach on the part of the media does not only apply to the Palestinians, but to most of the Arab world.
Of course there is no shortage of "great stories" in the Arab world. But for those Western journalists who justify their actions -- or, rather, inaction -- by citing security concerns, the answer is should be: If you are scared, why don't you stop writing about the conflict and start reporting about the weather or environment?
The Middle East is not the right place for journalists who care more about their well-being than the facts and the truth.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Propaganda 101

With hundreds of comments and reams of supporting evidence we've posted since August of last year, it should be apparent to any balanced observer that Reuters is emphatically not an independent and impartial reporter of news in the Middle East.  On the contrary, the agency is very much a partisan in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, promoting a highly tendentious view of that conflict, and employing a host of rhetorical devices including propaganda and logical fallacies to advance its view and influence its audience to adopt the same perspective.  This level of advocacy journalism is both wholly unethical for a professional news organization and a violation of the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Part and parcel of Reuters advocacy journalism efforts on behalf of the Palestinians is image-making.  That is, creating and promoting a public image for an individual or people that is consistent with an agenda of deliberately shaping public perceptions.

Over the last few weeks, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has consistently refused to enter into direct peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, correspondents in Reuters Jerusalem Bureau have systematically sought to portray Abbas as a leader who is "wary of walking into a trap", "doubtful" of Netanyahu's desire to "make an offer the Palestinians can accept", and someone who simply wishes to establish a "clear agenda" for talks before committing.  We've demonstrated -- by quoting Abbas directly -- that his reluctance to enter into talks is actually due to his insistence that Israel be coerced to accept a Palestinian state on all territory beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines.  And that this capitulatory concession by Israel be agreed prior to the start of any direct talks.  Reuters has repeatedly failed to report on this essential fact. 

In the last couple of days, the busy little propagandists in Reuters Jerusalem Bureau led by writers like Douglas Hamilton, have been attempting to suggest that the Quartet proclaimed on March 19th, 2010, that a Palestinian state be created "on the basis of the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war".  In fact, here is what that statement from the Quartet actually said:
Reaffirming the fundamental principles laid down in its statement in Trieste on June 26, 2009, the Quartet welcomes the readiness to launch proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The Quartet emphasizes that the circumstances which made it possible to agree to launch the proximity talks be respected. The proximity talks are an important step toward the resumption, without pre-conditions, of direct bilateral negotiations that resolve all final status issues as previously agreed by the parties. The Quartet believes these negotiations should lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties within 24 months, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors. The Quartet reiterates that Arab-Israeli peace and the establishment of a peaceful state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza is in the fundamental interests of the parties, of all the states in the region, and of the international community. In this regard, the Quartet calls on all states to support dialogue between the parties.
Note the affirmation of talks "without pre-conditions" and reference only to a Palestinian state in the West Bank and GazaThere is absolutely no call by the Quartet for that state to be based on the borders that existed before the 1967 war.  (Indeed, there are no such borders; there are only armistice lines drawn on a map in green ink by world powers which served to separate Israeli and Jordanian armed forces in 1949).  Reuters has fabricated a demand which was never issued.

It is easy to see where Reuters is going with all of this.  First, portray Abbas as a reasonable leader who simply wishes to establish an agenda for direct talks but is doubtful of Netanyahu's good will.  Then, manufacture expectations for talks and falsely assign these expectations to world powers.  Finally, if and when Abbas rejects direct talks, apologize for him and lay the blame on Netanyahu because he failed to meet the fabricated expectations.

This, from a news agency which asserts that it is "dedicated to uphold the Trust Principles and to preserving its independence, integrity and freedom from bias in the gathering and dissemination of information and news."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Reuters running interference for Abbas yet again (updated)

Yes, Generalisimo Francisco Franco is still dead and Reuters is still apologizing for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.  Correspondent Douglas Hamilton, who should be condemned by Human Rights Watch for torturing the English language, tells us that the Quartet is preparing a written statement to usher in direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.  However, according to Hamilton:
Abbas refuses to engage in direct talks unless [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu agrees to a clear agenda. Without one, say the Palestinians, Netanyahu may propose terms for a peace treaty that are completely unacceptable, and leave Abbas looking like a rejectionist when he turns them down.
Abbas' stated dictate, that Israel accept, ex ante, the 1949 Armistice Lines (1967 "borders") as the Israeli frontier, is laundered here to become a "clear agenda" for the talks.  And note how Hamilton speaks for the Palestinians while apologizing, in advance, for Abbas if he doesn't get all of his demands met.  A rejectionist?  Where would one ever get such an outrageous idea?

Hamilton then degenerates from euphemisms to out-and-out lies:
The Quartet says Israel should halt settlement building in the West Bank and reach a full peace agreement with the Palestinians within 24 months, creating a state on the basis of the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war.
The Quartet has absolutely not stated that a Palestinian state be created "on the basis of the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war".  Rather, the group has always left the contour of future borders to be negotiated between the parties.  But as we've demonstrated many times, Hamilton is not known for his veracity.

UPDATE AUGUST 13, 3:10 PM: In another story on US Secretary of State Clinton's efforts to coerce direct talks, Reuters correspondent Andrew Quinn repeats the lie that, per the the Quartet, a Palestinian state should be created, "on the basis of the borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war".  Reuters apparently hopes that by repeating this canard often enough, its global audience will come to believe it -- and blame Israel for not capitulating to a demand which has been fabricated out of whole cloth by the news agency.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Update: terror suspect arrested

In an update to our post in December of last year, a joint operation of the IDF, Israeli border police, and  Israel Security Agency Shin Bet has resulted in the arrest of an Arab man suspected of stabbing a 22 year-old woman from Karnei Shomron near Bethlehem.

In our previous commentary, we noted how Reuters correspondent Allyn Fisher-Ilan sought to apologize for the attack by referring to the victim as a "settler woman" in the "occupied West Bank".  Fisher-Ilan also censored the official Israeli characterization of the perpetrator as a terrorist by substituting the word "militant" and described the attack as occurring "after a mosque was vandalised elsewhere in the West Bank".  We noted that the stabbing actually occurred three days following the act of vandalism.

New video underscores Reuters systematic bias

On July 14th, we commented on a story by Reuters correspondent Allyn Fisher-Ilan sympathetic to Haneen Zoabi, an Israeli Arab MP aboard the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara where the violence between members of the jihadist-linked IHH and Israeli commandos occurred.

At the time, we noted that while Fisher-Ilan cited Zoabi's assertion that she had tried to mediate between the sides before the melee, the Reuters correspondent failed to recount Zoabi's earlier testimony that she had not seen any weapons carried by the Turkish passengers.  We provided an embedded video showing the passengers with clubs, metal bars, and catapults along with Zoabi at or near the same locations on the ship and suggested that it was highly unlikely Zoabi could have failed to notice the weapons.

Now comes a new video again showing the Turkish passengers armed with various "cold" weapons on and under deck, this time with Zoabi in the same frame, interacting with these passengers -- proof positive that she did see the weapons and that she lied in her earlier testimony:

Will Reuters update their earlier hagiography of Zoabi with news of this latest video?  We're not holding our breath.

hat tip: EoZ

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Addicted to lies

As long as we're on the topic of lies which get repeated ad nauseam (see posts immediately below), we might as well point out that despite an admission by the Lebanese army to the contrary, Reuters continues to publish the false assertion that the LAF initially fired only warning shots at IDF soldiers doing maintenance work on the Israeli side of the Blue Line:
Two Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist and a senior Israeli officer were killed in a rare cross-border skirmish on August 3, the worst such violence since a 2006 war between Israel and Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas.
Israel said a Lebanese army sniper opened fire on two Israeli officers as they watched a tree-pruning operation on the Israeli side of a security fence below the U.N. "Blue line." 
The Lebanese army said it first fired warning shots, then Israelis fired at their soldiers. Israeli artillery and tank fire followed.
Again, here's the admission of intent by the Lebanese army:
The Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported that General Chehaitly told the meeting the shooting was the result of a command decision and could be repeated.
"The soldiers received clear orders to open fire. The responsibility is that of the Israeli army which crossed the border," General Chehaitly said.
A senior diplomatic source, who spoke to the Herald on condition of anonymity, said preliminary investigations by UN personnel monitoring the border also indicated the Lebanese army planned the attack.
The source said the UN Interim Force in Lebanon advised Lebanese army commanders early on Tuesday morning that the Israelis would be removing a tree on their side of the border early in the afternoon.
Several hours before the Israelis moved in to begin that work, a senior Lebanese army unit arrived at the Lebanese village of al-Adeisa, which overlooks the site where the tree was to be removed, and took control of the area.
They were accompanied by several journalists linked to media outlets controlled by the radical Shiite movement Hezbollah, which controls southern Lebanon, the source said.
Shortly after 12.15pm, when the Israelis moved a crane close to the border fence to begin removing the tree, a Lebanese army sniper took aim at the commanders who were supervising the operation from a hill on the Israeli side of the border.
"The sniper was aiming for the most senior IDF officers present, not the person operating the crane where the alleged border infringement took place," the source told the Herald.
"These were not warning shots fired towards the area of the crane. Someone took careful aim at the Israeli commanders who were standing several hundred metres away."
One shot hit Colonel Dov Harari in the head, killing him instantly. Another shot caused shrapnel wounds to the chest of a captain, who is in hospital in a serious condition.
There is no question that the Israeli maintenance crew as well as the IDF officer killed in this attack were on the Israeli side of the Blue Line.  There is no question that the Lebanese army planned the attack, took aim directly at the IDF officers, and killed one in cold blood.  The only question is why, when the UN and Lebanese army have confirmed these facts, Thomson Reuters continues to recycle a bald-faced lie.

Monday, August 9, 2010

And another Big Lie

In addition to the canard of "food insecurity" in Gaza, Reuters continues to push the lie that the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara in the flotilla was carrying "aid" for the Palestinians.  We've repeatedly debunked this disinformation each time Reuters republishes it but regrettably, the agency persists:
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the formation of a four-member panel of inquiry last week into the raid at sea in which Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists after boarding their vessel, which was attempting to bring aid to the Gaza Strip.
Again, there was no aid whatsoever on the Mavi Marmara.  Louis Charbonneau can offer no evidence to the contrary because he is lying.

Black propaganda

Reuters correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi, who writes fiction masquerading as news, tries his hand again at persuading readers that shops and market stalls in the Gaza Strip are only now receiving goods following the easing of the embargo:
Ramadan, the Muslim holy month where the devout fast by day and feast at night, is different in Gaza this year thanks to the partial relaxation of Israel's blockade, allowing shops to fill with special items for the occasion.
Colourful lines of candies, dairy products, pickles, dates and snacks crowd market stall and shelves of stores in Gaza City's main market that were scantily stocked last year...
Most of the Mediterranean coastal territory's 1.5 million people rely on U.N. food aid trucked in daily from Israel to sustain life, but this consists of necessary staples only.
It's a testament to the power and persistence of Reuters black propaganda efforts on behalf of the Palestinians, that despite the publication of numerous eyewitness accounts in newspapers and hundreds of photos appearing on websites over the last few years evidencing a plentiful supply of both food staples and specialty items in Gaza, the agency's correspondents make no apology for peddling the lie of destitution.  All of the photos below were taken in Gaza in preparation for the month of Ramadan over the years 2007, 2008, and 2009:

Al-Mughrabi follows this mendacious tale of historical food shortages with:
In addition to being short of cash, Gaza suffers a crisis of electricity. Chronic power shortages make most people wary of stockpiling food in freezers. Fresh food merchants worry constantly about their stock rotting in the summer heat.
It's not until six paragraphs down, in the final line of the story, that we can infer (al-Mughrabi does not explicitly say here but explained last week) that the latest power shortages are due, not to Israel, but to payment disputes between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Reuters reverts to "he said/she said" on border incident

For Reuters, facts are an inconvenient thing.  After initially falsely reporting that Israel had crossed the Blue Line with Lebanon to do its maintenance work, Reuters was forced to backpedal ("clarifying") and eventually admit that the IDF was in Israeli territory when the Lebanese army attacked and killed an officer.

Having lost the border propaganda battle, Reuters has since published a series of stories which attempt to mitigate Lebanese culpability by suggesting that the LAF merely fired "warning shots" at the Israeli maintenance crew leading to an Israeli escalation.  This version of events is not even being advanced by the Lebanese army.  Indeed, Major-General Abdul Rahman Chehaitly of the LAF has admitted to Israel and the UN that the lethal sniper attack was planned and authorized by senior Lebanese commanders:
"The sniper was aiming for the most senior IDF officers present, not the person operating the crane where the alleged border infringement took place," the source told the Herald.
"These were not warning shots fired towards the area of the crane. Someone took careful aim at the Israeli commanders who were standing several hundred metres away."
Reuters correspondent Yara Bayoumy is apparently still confused:
The clash -- in which Lebanon and Israel gave different accounts of what happened -- raised fears of wider conflict. Both countries have since worked to calm tension at the border...
By Israel's account of Tuesday's events, a Lebanese army sniper hit two Israeli officers as they watched a tree-pruning operation on the security fence below the U.N. "Blue Line." The Lebanese army said it first fired warning shots, then Israelis fired at their soldiers. Israeli artillery and tank fire followed.
First, note how Bayoumy takes a factual statement, one which neither side disputes, i.e., "a Lebanese army sniper hit two Israeli officers as they watched a tree-pruning operation on the security fence below the U.N. 'Blue Line'", and demotes it to merely an Israeli "account".

(It would probably be too much to ask for Bayoumy to have clearly written, "on the Israeli side of the U.N. 'Blue Line'" rather than the more opaque "below the U.N. 'Blue Line'").

Bayoumy then reverts to the canard that, "the Lebanese army said it first fired warning shots".  As noted above, the Lebanese army is not asserting this; it has admitted to premeditating the attack and taking aim directly at the Israeli officers as the attack commenced.

For Reuters however, even an open admission of culpability by Lebanon is not enough to distract the agency from its anti-Israel agenda.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Reuters continues to mislead on border incident

In a continuing effort to downplay Lebanese culpability for the unprovoked attack and killing of an IDF officer on the Israeli side of the border, Reuters correspondent Douglas Hamilton obfuscates some facts and fabricates others:
Lebanon's army says it first fired warning shots, then Israelis fired at their soldiers, who shot back in turn.
In fact, Lebanon's army has admitted firing at Israeli soldiers -- first.

Hamilton then quotes an anonymous Israeli military source to suggest that the attack was not intentional:
The incident was "an escalation because somebody made a mistake," said the military source, pointedly refusing to describe it as a deliberate attack.
Conjecture so sensitive apparently, that Hamilton cannot disclose the identity of the source.

The Reuters correspondent then attempts to support this anonymous quote with a statement by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak:
Defence Minister Barak told Israel Radio it was a "provocation," but also declined to call it "an ambush." 
"I don't think they planned this in the general staff of Lebanon. Nor do I think they planned it in Hezbollah. I don't know enough to tell you exactly who gave the order," he said.
Note how Hamilton seeks to suggest the attack was not an ambush because Barak didn't happen to use that specific term.  But while Barak reportedly doesn't believe the attack was planned "in the general staff of Lebanon", he doesn't say it wasn't an ambush and he doesn't say it wasn't planned.  He simply doesn't know who gave the order to attack on the Lebanese side.

The rest is pure rhetorical deception employed by Hamilton to implant doubt in the minds of readers as to Lebanese culpability for the killing of an Israeli officer.

UPDATE 11:20 AM: The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that "Senior Lebanese army commanders planned and authorised the cross-border shooting".

Reuters goes to Hollywood

On the occasion of the reopening of a cinema in Jenin, Reuters creates a few special effects for its audience.  Characterizing it as a former "outlaw city", correspondent Mohammed Assadi portrays Jenin along the lines of a locale one might visit in a spaghetti western:
The big screen is back in Jenin after a 23-year intermission, marking a fresh start for the West Bank city that was a bastion of armed militias at the peak of the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation...
Competing militia groups swaggered around Jenin in their bandoliers during the hardcore days of the second intifada (uprising) that began in 2000. The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat used to call it "Jeningrad".
As Assadi's Hollywood production is rated PG (Palestinian Gratuity), the correspondent edits out any depiction of the bloody atrocities perpetrated by Palestinians who were based in the city alternatively known as the "Martyr's Capital" -- and the 124 Israeli victims of those atrocities:
[Wikipedia] By Israel's count, at least 28 suicide bombers were dispatched from the Jenin camp from 2000–2003 during the Second Intifada.[11] One of the key planners for several of the attacks was Mahmoud Tawalbe, who worked in a record store while also heading the local PIJ cell.[3] Israeli army weekly Bamahane attributes at least 31 militant attacks, totaling 124 victims, to Jenin during the same period, more than any other city in the West Bank.[13]
Prior to the undertaking of the Israeli operation the IDF Spokesman attributed 23 suicide bombings and 6 attempted bombings to Palestinians from Jenin.[14] Major attacks and suicide bombings linked by Israel to Palestinian militant groups in Jenin included the Matza restaurant suicide bombing.[4] The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs attributed attacks to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Fatah.[4]
Assadi does however, direct an appeal to pity on behalf of the Palestinians by focusing his camera lens on the subject of the movie that evening:
Mothballed in the grim atmosphere of 1987, Jenin Cinema was finally reopened on Thursday evening with a screening of "Heart of Jenin", a wrenching documentary that spurred its renovation.

The film tells the story of Ismail Khatib, whose son was shot dead in 2005 by Israeli troops who mistook his toy gun for a real one. The traumatised father, in an unusual gesture of forgiveness, donated the boy's organs to Israeli patients.
A tragedy yes, but one that perhaps could have been avoided if the Palestinians had not declared war on Israel in 2000 and media organizations like Reuters had not fueled that war with sympathetic and lighthearted portrayals of cold-blooded killers.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Was Reuters tipped off?

Honest Reporting wonders why so many Reuters photographers (at least five) were assigned to cover an Israeli tree-pruning operation:
It's reasonable to assume Reuters' picture desk staff and editors knew what was going on. There's no way the picture desk could have been flooded with these kinds of images without higher ups wondering how so many photographers were able to share the same scoop.

Selective amnesia

In a story about continuing insecurity in Iraq due to sectarian violence and the desire of many Iraqis to leave the country, Reuters describes the scope of the crisis:
"Fundamentalists told me over the phone: if you don't quit work we will either kill you or one of your children," said Ahmed, a father of a son and two daughters who said he was afraid to give his full name.

The journalist hopes to join over 4.7 million Iraqis who have left their homes since 2003, in what the United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, calls the worst humanitarian crisis in the Middle East since 1948. Some 700,000 people, half the Arab population of Palestine in May 1948, fled or were forced to flee from their homes after Israel was created.
Note here how Reuters cites a UNHCR reference to the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East in 1948 and amplifies on this by referring exclusively to the Palestinian Arabs who fled their homes in Israel.  Conveniently omitted, is any mention of the even-larger number of Jewish refugees expelled from Arab lands at around the same time: between 800,000 and 1 million Jews -- including 150,000 Iraqis -- were forced to flee their homes due to physical and political insecurity, i.e., persecution, property confiscations, and pogroms.

That these Jews were subsequently welcomed and assimilated into Israel as full citizens (unlike the Palestinians who were forced into camps in Arab countries) does not diminish the tragedy and magnitude of the crisis the Jewish expulsion represented.

Reuters and other standard-bearers for the Palestinians frequently highlight the plight of the Palestinian Arabs following the creation of the state of Israel, yet appear to have completely forgotten history when it comes to Jewish affliction.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Weasels at Reuters still struggling to blame Israel for border clash

In an update to the Reuters story noted in our previous post, Reuters writes:
A Lebanese army official said the military had had prior notice of Israel's planned activity but it had been agreed on condition that it took place under UNIFIL's supervision, adding that said the Israelis had gone ahead without this.
So, there is no dispute that both UNIFIL and the Lebanese army had been notified of the maintenance work in advance.  Given that UNIFIL is based on the Lebanese side of the border, how exactly would routine maintenance on the Israeli side of the border be under UNIFIL "supervision"?  Moreover, the photographic evidence demonstrates that UNIFIL soldiers were embedded with the Lebanese army and carefully observing the Israeli maintenance activity at the time of the attack.

Reuters then sneaks in a suggestion:
The UNIFIL statement did not say whether the Israeli army had coordinated with the peacekeepers.
No, and it didn't say whether Castro had Kennedy killed either.  The UNIFIL statement speaks for itself; it didn't say whether the Israeli army had coordinated with the peacekeepers because the assertion that this had been agreed (or was required) has no basis in reality.  It is simply a red herring tossed in by the Lebanese army to draw attention away from its own culpability.

And Reuters of course, happily takes the bait and feeds it to its readers.

Reuters reports on UN finding regarding border clash; expediently switches photos

In what must be quite distressing for the agency, Reuters has had to acknowledge that, per the UN, Israel was within its own borders when the Lebanese army opened fire killing an Israeli Lieutenant Colonel and critically wounding another officer.  After reporting on this definitive finding however, Reuters returns to its usual "he said/she said" account of the incident with an amusing non sequitur from the Lebanese Information Minister:
Tareq Mitri said the area where Israel's activity took place was south of the Blue Line "but is Lebanese territory".
Makes perfect sense.

On the same URL where Reuters had published a picture of the Israeli army crane with a caption indicating the agency was in the process of "clarifying" the border location, Reuters has now removed the picture and replaced it with a photo of the crying daughter of a Lebanese soldier killed in the clash.  The not-so subliminal message: The Israelis were technically justified in defending against an unprovoked attack by the Lebanese army BUT... look at the pain and suffering they've caused.

Upstanding journalism.

UPDATE 11:20 AM: In an effort to rationalize the non sequitur above, Reuters edits the original story, adding:
Israel and Lebanon dispute parts of the Blue Line.
To be clear, there is no formal dispute with respect to the UN-drawn border at the point where the violence took place.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Reuters backpedaling on border incident

As other bloggers have noted, Reuters ran with a photo and caption following the border clash this morning that suggested Israel had violated the Blue Line with Lebanon.  The photo showed an Israeli soldier on a crane which the Reuters caption stated was in Lebanese territory.


Reuters is now backpedaling:
REFILE - CLARIFYING DISPUTED LOCATION OF BORDER WHERE LEBANESE AND ISRAELI ARMIES GIVE DIFFERENT DESCRIPTIONS OF THEIR COMMON BORDER. An Israeli soldier is seen on a crane along a border fence with Lebanon near Adaisseh village, southern Lebanon, August 3, 2010. Israeli artillery shelled the Lebanese village on Tuesday, wounding two people, after Lebanese Army troops fired warning shots at Israeli soldiers along the usually quiet but tense frontier, witnesses said. REUTERS/Stringer (CIVIL UNREST POLITICS)
But notice that the agency still asserts that the Lebanese army only fired "warning shots" at Israeli soldiers.  And the evidence for this is _________?

We can only hope that once Reuters is finished "clarifying" the location of the border, the arm of the crane in the photo is not extended out a few meters.

UPDATE 6:39 PM: UNIFIL has confirmed Israel's version of events; Israel did not enter Lebanese territory.  Reuters is still clarifying.

He said/She didn't say

There was an exchange of fire along the Israel-Lebanon border this morning resulting in the deaths of several military personnel on both sides.  Details are still coming in but note how Reuters reports on the incident:
"A patrol for the Israeli enemy crossed the technical line on the border ... even though the UNIFIL interfered trying to stop it, it continued its crossing," the Lebanese army said in a statement.
A Lebanese army force then repelled it using rocket propelled grenades. A clash happened in which the enemy forces used machine guns and tank fire targeting army posts and civilian houses," it said, adding casualties were reported.
Those are the 5th and 6th paragraphs of a 25-paragraph story.  Where is the corresponding Israeli statement on the incident?  Stashed down in the 18th and 19th paragraphs:
"Israel views the Lebanese government as responsible for this serious incident and is warning of the ramifications if the violations continue," the ministry said in a statement. 
The Israeli military said its troops were fired upon while engaged in "routine activity" inside Israeli territory, between an Israeli security fence and a U.N.-drawn border line.
Reuters cites a UNIFIL spokesman, the Lebanese President, the Syrian President, the Lebanese Prime Minister -- oh, and a currency dealer -- before finally getting around to reporting on the official Israeli position and then offers scant details of Israel's account of the incident.  Thus, readers are left with an imprint of Lebanon's narrative of what occurred.

And note the classic Reuters sneer with scarequotes around "routine activity".

Here are a few details Reuters omits:
Earlier today Israeli soldiers were fired upon by the Lebanese Army-please note our soldiers were on the Israeli side of the border. There is a gap between the “fence” and the actual border. Our soldiers had coordinated with UNIFIL the ongoing maintenance work on the fence. We were simply clearing some brush and shrubs from the fence area. You are reminded that this was the location of the abduction of several of our Israeli soldiers a few years ago. There was nothing unique about this ongoing maintenance work.Without provocation our soldiers were fired upon by a sniper(s) and we are still gathering intel on this point of the story. The facts are the soldiers doing the clearing work were located in one position and the Israeli commanders who were supervising the activity were located in an another location. It was these commanders that were initially shot at and regrettably a reserve Lt. Col was killed. A second commander , a Captain, was critically wounded and rushed to hospital. No further information available as to his condition.

This was a clear provocation-the soldiers doing the brush work were not initially fired upon, the Lebanese Army fired directly upon our commanders-clearly violating UN Res. 1701. I can confirm that there were no mortars fired onto our northern border. However, we were asked to cease retaliatory fire when our men were hit-we did so in order to allow the enemy to clear away its fallen soldiers (3). Thirty minutes after we honored the cease fire a RPG unit fired on one of our tanks. They missed, we responded and the RPG group went silent.

The border is now quiet, has been for a few hours. Israel is now engaged in more intel information gathering. This was the worst violation of the border since 2006. An evolving story and we thank the IDF for its work.

Reuters tests our brain power

Did you know that human beings use only 10 percent of their brains?  Of course you knew that because you've heard it repeated over a hundred times.  It's actually false.  A popular myth.  An argumentum ad nauseam -- something we've given up refuting because its been repetitively drilled into that 10 percent of our brain we use.

Did you know that the Turkish ship boarded by Israeli commandos was carrying aid for the people of Gaza?  Of course you knew that because you've read it in over one-hundred Reuters stories.  Like this one today:
Already strained by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's repeated criticism of the Jewish state's policies toward Palestinians, relations dived after Israeli marines killed nine Turks aboard an aid ship trying to run a blockade of Gaza on May 31.
Except that, as documented, it's false.  There was no aid for the people of Gaza on-board the Mavi Marmara.  There were Jihadists. There were cold weapons.  (Is this what Reuters means by "aid"?)  But there was no humanitarian aid.  Let us repeat that: there was no aid for the people of Gaza on-board the Turkish ship.

Only 172 more repetitions and we're certain we'll have put a dent in the myth perpetuated by the liars at Reuters.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Stinky journalism 101

Oh dear.  It must be something in the water cooler at Reuters offices.  The agency's "special correspondent" in Lebanon, Alistair Lyon -- whose pieces serve as a case study in media bias -- is at it again.  In today's "analysis", Lyon describes for us the tense situation in the Middle East:
Israel, Hezbollah and its close allies Syria and Iran all say they espouse peace but are preparing for battle. Belligerent talk, even if intended to deter, is fuelling an ugly atmosphere.

Tension over Iran's disputed nuclear ambitions and a sense of despair about prospects for peace between Israel and Syria or the Palestinians also feed war fears in a region where U.S. power to influence events looks increasingly challenged.
And who does Lyon turn to for supporting and impartial analysis on the prospects of war?  Well, the International Crisis Group (ICG), of course.  The ICG is led by former EU Commissioner for External Relations and current Oxford University Chancellor, Chris Patten, along with former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour.  Patten you may recall, rejected an inquiry in 2003 into the diversion of European taxpayer funds to finance Palestinian suicide bombers because he "needed an investigation like a hole in the head".  In recent years, Patten's Oxford has been the recipient of over $300 million in donations from the Saudis.  Arbour is famous for having originally endorsed the wildly antisemitic and oxymoronic Arab Charter of Human Rights while with the UN.  Oh, and did we neglect to mention ICG Executive Committee member George Soros?

In its report on the conflict, the ICG refers to Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hizbollah as "the so-called axis of resistance" (so-called by whom we wonder) and Reuters' Lyon, who frequently parrots Arab rhetoric, is happy to parrot this euphemism as it implies Israel is the aggressor in the conflict.  But while Lyon suggests that:
Hezbollah would almost certainly find itself fighting Israel again in the event of any Israeli strike on Iran.
implying a kind of hazy happenstance, the ICG report offers a little more clear and causal explanation for Hezbollah entering the war:
Meanwhile, as tensions have risen, the so-called “axis of resistance” – Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hizbollah – has been busy intensifying security ties. Involvement by one in the event of attack against another no longer can be dismissed as idle speculation.
For Lyon, Israel may attack Iran for purely strategic reasons:
... to stop it from breaking its own presumed nuclear monopoly in the Middle East. 
with no mention of Iran's pledge to create a Middle East "without Zionists" and many other calls for Israel's annihilation.

Lyon then regresses to the puerile "he said/she said" argument over whether Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons:
Even the United States has acknowledged that it is planning for a possible war on Iran, which denies Western assertions that its nuclear programme has military as well as civilian purposes.
omitting the finding of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran is indeed seeking the bomb.

In an effort to do a little PR work on behalf of Hezbollah, Lyon inanely suggests that the group can legitimately be viewed as:
... a group rooted in resistance to Israeli occupation of Lebanon
Er, that would be the occupation that ended a decade ago, yes?

And how's this for loaded language:
Hezbollah leader Saeed Hassan Nasrallah has vowed to hit back in kind for any Israeli attack on civilian targets.
Because both Nasrallah and Lyon know that Hezbollah's military assets are seeded deep within civilian communities and will become, under international law, legitimate targets when Hezbollah launches missiles from these areas.

Perhaps the most amusing part of the ICG report summarized by Lyon are the recommendations near the end.  Along with numerous admonishments to countries like Israel to "end implicit or explicit threats to harm civilians or damage civilian infrastructure in any future war", is this one solitary piece of advice for Hezbollah:
Make every effort to discourage and prevent hostile action by the civilian population against UN personnel and property.
Soros must have written that bit.