Sunday, October 31, 2010

al-Mughrabi perpetuates the myth

As part of its ongoing Palestinian public relations campaign, Reuters stories typically characterize Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a "moderate" even as the agency frequently refers to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "right-winger" and cabinet ministers like Avigdor Lieberman as "ultranationalists".  Beyond this political window-dressing however, is a more sinister effort to conceal from readers, the long-term objectives and strategy acknowledged by Abbas and the Palestinian leadership.

For example, in a story on a rally in Gaza attended by tens of thousands of Islamic Jihad and Hamas supporters, Reuters correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi writes:
President Abbas, however, rules out any return to violence against Israelis in pursuit of Palestinian statehood. He has said he will pursue diplomatic alternatives should the peace talks with Netanyahu collapse definitively.
This is actually false.  As Andrew McCarthy noted in 2008:
Abbas urged a throng of 50,000 Palestinians to re-aim their guns at the “occupation” (i.e., Israel) instead of turning them on each other: “Fatah,” he promised, “will not give up our principles and we have said that rifles should be directed against the occupation…. We have a legitimate right to direct our guns against Israeli occupation….”
And just last week, Abbas revealed that his current feint at negotiations with Israel is — like his mentor Arafat’s similar tactics — a strategic pause at best. He explained to a Jordanian newspaper that he was not pursuing “the armed struggle” at “this present juncture” only “because we can’t succeed in it.” He was quick to add, though, that “maybe in the future things will be different.”
We've not seen any evidence in the last two years, offered by Reuters or any other media source, that would suggest Abbas has altered his thinking in this respect one iota.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Omissions and distortions

On Wednesday of this week, there was a non-violent demonstration by a small group of Israeli Jews in the predominantly Israeli Arab community of Umm El-Fahm to protest against the Islamist movement in the country led by cleric Raad Salah.  As we've noted many times, Reuters regularly distorts or withholds information from its readers which, while contextually vital to an understanding of the story, reflects poorly on the Palestinian Arabs.  Douglas Hamilton's piece on the demonstration in Umm El-Fahm and associated violence by local Arabs represents another such example of Reuters skewed reporting.

Hamilton refers to the Jewish marchers with the pejorative label "ultranationalist" while sanitizing Salah and his activities by writing merely that he was:
jailed by an Israeli court for disorderly conduct and assault after scuffles with police who confronted protesters during engineering work near at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque, Islam's third holiest site in 2007.
There is no mention of Salah's extraordinarily vile history of incitement against Jews and the state of Israel.  In a sermon in 2007 for example, Salah told his Palestinian worshipers:
"They [the Jews] want to build their temple at a time when our blood is on their clothes, on their doorsteps, in their food and in their drinks. Our blood has passed from one 'general terrorist' to another 'general terrorist'... We are not those who ate bread dipped in children's blood."
Furnished with a more forthcoming account of the historical record, readers would have substantially greater insight into the rationale for the protest against Salah.

Hamilton also plays down Arab violence that accompanied the Jewish demonstration:
Israeli police on Wednesday fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse Arabs who were protesting against a rally by ultranationalist Jews in an Israeli-Arab town. 
Riot police, some on horseback, charged about 200 Arabs who threw stones at them before retreating, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Ten masked Arabs were arrested.
Note how Hamilton obfuscates cause and effect, leading readers to believe that Israeli police initially assaulted Arab "protesters" who only then responded with stone-throwing.  This is not merely an inversion of reality, it is a willful perversion of the statement by Micky Rosenfeld who actually said:
“As soon as stones were thrown and policemen were attacked, officers responded, firing stun grenades and tear gas at the rioters. We can confirm that 10 masked suspects were arrested,” Rosenfeld said.
Along the way, Hamilton quotes Israeli Arab residents and MPs rationalizing Arab violence:
Ahmed Tibi, an Arab legislator in Israel's parliament, said the anger displayed by Umm el-Fahm residents was understandable. 
"The unified position of the people of Umm al-Fahm was to repel those (ultranationalists) and the reaction was a natural one to this incursion by the security forces," Tibi said.
While failing to mention that, as a reflection of Israeli democracy, the demonstration by the Jewish group was formally approved by the leftist High Court of Israel.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fabricating history

In a story about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touring a naval base outside Haifa, it takes only 29 words for correspondent Dan Williams to repeat a historical reconstruction, i.e., a fabrication Reuters has been running in its stories for the last five months:
Saying "I salute you," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the headquarters on Tuesday of Israeli naval commandos who killed nine pro-Palestinian Turks aboard a Gaza-bound aid ship in May.
As we've noted several times, there was absolutely no humanitarian aid aboard the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ship where the violence took place.  Thus, Williams is either misleading his audience by using the word "aid" when he actually means political support and money, or he's lying.

Williams then employs a misleading euphemism to describe the passengers aboard who participated in the violence ("activists"), parrots another euphemism to sanitize the offensive nature of that violence ("resisted"), and ignores objective evidence in the form of video footage which categorically rebuts passenger claims:
Activists from the Mavi Marmara have confirmed they resisted the Israeli boarding party but denied provoking lethal violence.

Just another day at the Reuters office for Dan Williams.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Crispian Balmer exhausts the "D" entries in his thesaurus

We would have said that the latest piece from Middle East newcomer Crispian Balmer (yes, that is actually his name) is, even by Reuters standards, egregiously biased but as we suggested in our commentary below, the media giant is now on its deathbed and clearly no longer has the will to honor its Trust Principles or enforce its Handbook of Journalism.

Thus, Balmer wants us to know that things are really, really grim in the Palestinian camp; the Palestinian Arabs are "dismayed", "disillusioned", "disappointed", "destroyed", "disgusted" -- oh, and "fed up" with years of failure in the peace process.  And that unless the United States comes down hard on the Jews to surrender their rights to live in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank"), the Palestinian Arabs will have to consider other options:
But Palestinians believe most countries now support their position and many argue that if these talks do indeed collapse, the time will have come to push the United Nations to recognize an independent Palestinian state, with or without Israeli consent.
What Balmer doesn't explain to his audience is that the United Nations General Assembly has already voted to grant the Palestinian Arabs a state as per UN Resolution 181, the Partition Plan, which also created a Jewish state -- Israel.  The problem for the Palestinians is that they rejected 181 when they went to war with Israel in 1947-48 and lost some of the territory on which their state would have been founded.  And they are still rejecting UN Resolution 181 by refusing to recognize a Jewish state.

Thus, in a story of 663 words, where Balmer feeds readers reams of Palestinian propaganda and violates the Reuters Handbook of Journalism by granting a mere 36 words for Israeli sources to counter the many fatuous Palestinian claims contained in his story, readers never learn that the Palestinians have had it in their power all along to achieve the Arab Muslim state they purportedly wail for -- if only they will agree to accept the Jewish state created by the same resolution.

So, click your heels together Mahmoud Abbas and repeat after me: there's no place like home... there's no place like home... there's no place like home...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Deep-pocketed Jewish donors"

That's how Reuters correspondent Crispian Balmer refers to Obama supporters who may be having, according to Balmer, second-thoughts about funding Democratic politicians due to Obama's policies on Israel:
Israeli media has also reported that deep-pocketed Jewish donors have been reluctant to fund the Democrats this time around and analysts doubt whether Obama will risk antagonizing such a vital constituency ahead of any 2012 re-election bid.
Of course, like all Reuters correspondents writing on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Balmer is careful to deflect responsibility for his personal speculation, bias, and borderline antisemitism onto anonymous "media" and "analysts" (a violation of the agency's Handbook of Journalism).

Why do we say bias?  Well for example, in a story on the impact of interest groups on American politics and the situation in the Middle East, Balmer could have also explained to readers that Obama and Congressional Democrats received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from Palestinian advocates like George Soros and -- not to mention numerous illegal foreign donations like the $29,521 from Palestinian brothers living in Gaza.  And that these contributions may well have influenced Obama's foreign policy decisions with respect to the Middle East conflict.  But Balmer doesn't discuss any of this.

And whereas Balmer refers to Israel's "powerful supporters" in Congress that provide about $2.5 billion a year in aid (70 percent of which, incidentally, must be spent in the US on military equipment), the Reuters correspondent doesn't tell readers that Congress provided 40 percent more than that in aid to Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians.

Nor does Balmer mention that Saudi Arabia, officially at war with Israel, just received Congressional approval to acquire more than $60 billion in advanced weaponry from US manufacturers.

Apparently, Balmer doesn't view or Saudi Arabia as having an interest in the situation in the Middle East, influence in American politics, or "deep pockets".

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reuters myopia

Next to a photo of the self-proclaimed Elders meeting with Hamas in Syria, Reuters captions:
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (2nd R) meets members of The Elders delegation Lakhdar Brahimi, Ela Bhatt, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former Irish President Mary Robinson (L-3rd R) in Damascus October 19, 2010. The Elders are on a tour of the Middle East to build support for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Directly behind Jimmy Carter's head in the photo, you'll note a map of the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank"), and Israel painted in Palestinian colors.

Reuters however, is a bit too myopic to see the irony between the map and their caption.

hat tip: EoZ

The ethnocentric vantage point

Reuters Handbook of Journalism is a collection of ethical guiding principles for its employees.  Contained within it, is a section on social responsibility where Reuters cautions its journalists to provide complete facts, all sides of an argument, and to avoid adopting an "ethnocentric vantage point":
We must be on alert for language that could imply support for one side of a conflict, sympathy for a point of view, or an ethnocentric vantage point. We should, for example, provide the dual names of disputed territories. We must not parrot any loaded expressions used by our sources, except in quotes and official titles. Generic references to a specific country as “the homeland” for example, are unwelcome.
When reporting on the Middle East conflict, Reuters regularly violates these principles.  Take for example, this story with writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan:
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Israel on Friday of choosing "settlements over peace" in a protest over publication of a plan to build 238 housing units in East Jerusalem.
Reuters utterly fails to provide the facts surrounding Jewish communities on this land.  For example, Jews lived in the area for over 3,500 years before being ethnically-cleansed by the Arab Legion in 1948.  Moreover, the never-abrogated Mandate for Palestine grants Jews the right, under international law, to settle there.

Beyond this irresponsible omission of the facts is a transparent embrace by the news agency, of an exclusively Arab vantage point, referring to the fictitious city of "East Jerusalem" seven times and the Arab-designated "West Bank" three times with no equitable reference to the Jewish appellation for the territory, "Judea and Samaria".

Clear, repeated, and unpunished violations of the Reuters Handbook, all.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reuters is dying

Reuters is dying.  Having succumbed to terminal jaundice, the 160-year-old media giant is naked, ashen, and flailing about in its death throes.  Any doubt about its condition or prognosis can be immediately put to rest with a hospital visit to correspondent Dan Williams:
Analysis: "Jewish state" demand complicates intricate equation
On the Middle East carousel of claims, recrimination and evasion, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's call on Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state could be seen as yet more spin.
Floated anew by the right-wing leader on Monday, this time as a condition for Israel extending a West Bank settlement freeze so that peace negotiations might resume, the demand was immediately rejected by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas already accepts coexistence with Israel and should not be expected to endorse its internal constitution, his aides say; and Israel never set such terms for peace with Egypt and Jordan.
The fact Netanyahu, under U.S. pressure for a breakthrough, now seeks to win a core Palestinian concession in exchange for a bureaucratic gesture like another temporary curb on settlement housing starts has many Israeli pundits sharing the skepticism.
Critics accuse the prime minister of indulging in right-wing demagogy and say his move was a hapless attempt at trying to shift the blame for the talks stalemate onto the Palestinians by seeking something he knew the other side would never accept.
The emphasis is ours but really, we could have boldfaced nearly every word in the above diatribe to illustrate the sickness unto death that is Reuters today.

"A Jewish state demand complicates the equation".  But the demand for a "Palestinian Muslim state" does not?

"Netanyahu's call on Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state could be seen as spin".  But Abbas' demand for a Judenrein state is apparently straight as an arrow.

"Israel never set such terms for peace with Egypt and Jordan".  Perhaps that is because Egypt and Jordan never threatened to flood Israel with 6 million of their denizens.

"A core Palestinian concession in exchange for a bureaucratic gesture like another temporary curb on settlement housing starts".  As in a request that the Palestinian Arabs accept that which the international community formally resolved over six decades ago, a Jewish state, while the Jews accept an abrogation of their rights under international law.

And then there are those anonymous "pundits" and "critics" who apparently agree with Mr. Williams that the Israeli Prime Minister is engaged in "right-wing demagogy" and "hapless" blame-shifting.

Reuters, RIP

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Palestinian public relations, courtesy of Tom Perry

If Reuters were true to its lofty Trust Principles and Handbook of Journalism, it would have long ago canned correspondent Tom Perry for his perennial gross violations of the same.

In a story on the Palestine Liberation Organization demanding a "map" of the international borders Israel and the US would like the Palestinians to recognize, Perry employs the propaganda technique of innuendo all the while flouting the Reuters Handbook with unnamed sources, loaded language, a lack of fairness, and the use of euphemisms:
He [Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu] said it would be a "trust-building step," while some Palestinian and Israeli commentators questioned whether the proposal was only a ploy to try to shift blame onto the Palestinians should the peace process collapse. 
The Palestinians ruled out the idea -- something they see as a major concession that would be tantamount to political suicide for a leadership whose credibility has already been badly damaged by the failure of past peace talks.
Note how Perry slyly incorporates anonymous "Palestinian and Israeli commentators" to serve as a beard for what amounts to his own suggestion that Netanyahu is operating in bad faith.  Perry then speaks on behalf of the Palestinians by characterizing what would be their recognition of Israel as a Jewish state -- resolved by the United Nations over sixty years ago -- as a "major concession" while omitting any balanced reference to Israel's unilateral and unprecedented concession to freeze Jewish building in the disputed territories.

Perry recycles his previously-employed euphemistic language to obfuscate Palestinian President Abbas' conditions for negotiations:
Abed Rabbo's demand for a map echoed Abbas's call for clear terms of reference for the peace talks.
As we noted at the time, Abbas' "clear terms of reference" for peace talks consisted of the demand that Israel concede, in advance of those talks, a Palestinian state on all land beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines.

Finally, Perry reports that Israel had in fact, provided the Palestinians with a map delineating borders during negotiations with Netanyahu's predecessor, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert:
Netanyahu's predecessor as prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has said he showed Abbas a map offering him 93.5 to 93.7 percent of the West Bank, with the difference made up by a proposed land swap of 5.8 percent and a safe-passage corridor between the territory and the Gaza Strip.
But in an illustration of the propaganda technique of card stacking, Perry fails to mention that despite that map and an extraordinary settlement offer from Olmert, Abbas and the Palestinians walked away from peace with Israel.

Afforded this information, readers might come away with a greater understanding of why this conflict, and its resolution, are not about "maps".

Saturday, October 16, 2010

So few words, so many transgressions

In a story of just 83 words, Reuters manages to embed two propaganda devices and three violations of its Handbook of Journalism:
Abbas moots US recognise Palestine on '67 borders
RAMALLAH, West Bank Sat Oct 9, 2010 2:59am EDT
RAMALLAH, West Bank Oct 9 (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told Arab leaders he may seek U.S. recognition for a Palestinian state taking in all of the West Bank should peace talks with Israel stay stalled, an aide said on Saturday.
The idea, raised during Arab League deliberations in Libya on Friday, would place new pressure on Israel to extend a freeze on construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied territory, without which Abbas has said peace negotiations cannot continue.
First, note the reference to Israel's "'67 borders" in the headline, a falsehood known as historical reconstruction.  In fact, Israel has no internationally-recognized border to the east because the Arabs rejected the UN Partition Plan creating a Jewish state and launched a declared war of annihilation against the country in 1947-48 ending in a stalemate and temporary armistice lines separating Israeli and Jordanian forces.  These armistice lines are what Reuters mendaciously characterizes here as the "'67 borders".

Second, Reuters refers to the disputed territory between Israel and Jordan as the "West Bank".  This Arab-designated term originated following the 1947-48 war when the Arab Legion conquered the territory and drove the 3,500 year-old Jewish community out of the area.  Israel's name for the area is "Judea and Samaria" and Reuters' failure to provide this alternative appellation reflects a violation of the Social Responsibility guidelines in the agency's Handbook.  Reuters' repetitive use of the term "West Bank" in the dateline, lede, and body of the article so as to drum the Arab-ethnocentric message into readers' minds is another propaganda technique.

Finally, Reuters reports that absent an extension on the freeze in construction of Jewish settlements, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said negotiations "cannot" continue.  Actually, Abbas and Palestinian officials have been quoted numerous times as refusing to continue negotiations unless the moratorium on Jewish building is extended.  By paraphrasing Abbas euphemistically, Reuters is willfully distorting Abbas' explicit position in an effort to relieve him of personal responsibility for terminating peace talks with Israel.  This reflects two further violations of the agency's Handbook, the use of euphemisms and a failure to reflect reality.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A refreshing Reuters headline

Seldom in the last fourteen months that we've been posting have we seen such a straightforward and honest headline from Reuters, one that so succinctly and so well defines over six decades of conflict:
Israel makes settlement offer; Palestinians say no
Note however, how correspondent Jeffrey Heller rationalizes Palestinian Arab rejection of the request by Israel for recognition as a Jewish state:
The Palestinian leadership argues that recognition of Israel as a Jewish state would compromise the rights of Arab citizens of Israel who make up 20 percent of the population. 
Such a move, Palestinian officials say, also would effectively forgo the right of return of Palestinian refugees who fled or were forced from their homes in Arab-Israeli wars to return to territory that is now Israel.
while offering no counterbalancing background on the Mandate for Palestine or UN Partition Plan -- both rejected by the Arabs -- which specifically stipulate, under international law, the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.

How much clearer it would be to readers as to what precisely, keeps this conflict (and Reuters Jerusalem Bureau) rolling along.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Christmas comes early this year

One of Reuters favorite fallacious memes designed to demonize Israeli Jews is the notion that Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank") is the leading cause of Arab Christian emigration from the territory.  Reuters typically runs these stories around the Christmas holidays as part of an effort to suggest that Israel's security measures are spoiling the Christmas cheer.

With 70+ journalists packing the Reuters Jerusalem Bureau, each desperate for a story on a daily basis, Christmas has come early this year as correspondent and serial liar Tom Perry blames -- who else? -- Israel for the declining Christian population in the territories:
Today, Christians make up just 1 percent of the mainly Muslim population of the Palestinian territories, said Hanna Eissa, who is in charge of Christian affairs in the Palestinian Authority's religious affairs ministry.
In 1920, they were a tenth of the population of Palestine -- land where today Israel exists alongside the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians remain stateless.
Decades of conflict, shifting borders and occupation are the root causes of the poor economic situation that is forcing Christians to seek better lives abroad, Eissa said.
Rising Muslim fundamentalism, a trend across the Middle East, concerns some. But most cite Israeli occupation as the prime cause of emigration and the decline of their community.
Perry of course, does not cite a single survey or study to support his assertion that "most" (presumably Arab Christians) blame Israel for the shrinking community, so readers are expected to accept this notion sans evidence save a single interview with one Abu al-Zulaf:
He holds Israel responsible for the departure of Christians. "The occupation is menacing everyone's existence," he said.
In reality however, al-Zulaf is an agnostic with respect to who is to blame for the status quo:
"I am not optimistic because I don't think things are going to change. I don't trust the leadership on either side."
And as we have previously noted, there is another side to this story which Perry dares not tell.

"Take no side, tell all sides"

That's from Reuters Handbook of Journalism, the bible for its correspondents.  Here's the admonition in its entirety:
As Reuters journalists, we never identify with any side in an issue, a conflict or a dispute. Our text and visual stories need to reflect all sides, not just one. This leads to better journalism because it requires us to stop at each stage of newsgathering and ask ourselves “What do I know?” and “What do I need to know?” In reporting a takeover bid, for example, it should be obvious that the target company must be given an opportunity to state their position. Similarly in a political dispute or military conflict, there are always at least two sides to consider and we risk being perceived as biased if we fail to give adequate space to the various parties.
This objectivity does not always come down to giving equal space to all sides. The perpetrator of an atrocity or the leader of a fringe political group arguably warrants less space than the victims or mainstream political parties. We must, however, always strive to be scrupulously fair and balanced. Allegations should not be portrayed as fact; charges should not be conveyed as a sign of guilt. We have a duty of fairness to give the subjects of such stories the opportunity to put their side.
We must also be on guard against bias in our choice of words. Words like “claimed” or “according to” can suggest we doubt what is being said. Words like “fears” or “hopes” might suggest we are taking sides. Verbs like rebut or refute (which means to disprove) or like fail (as in failed to comment) can imply an editorial judgment and are best avoided. Thinking about language can only improve our writing and our journalism.
And here's a brief Reuters story which flagrantly violates the agency's code of ethics:
Arabs to seek alternatives for stalled peace talks

SIRTE, Libya, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Arab leaders will begin drafting alternatives for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process because the current round of talks has stalled, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said on Friday.
"We will meet to formulate the beginning of alternatives within the framework that the negotiations are not bearing fruit," Moussa said after a meeting of the Arab League's peace process follow-up committee in Libya.
"There are no talks at the moment because the position of the Israelis is very, very negative. They are not cooperating in the negotiations," Moussa said.
The committee would meet the Palestinian delegation on Friday night but would not advise Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas what he should do next, Moussa said.
Any reflection of the Israeli side of this issue?  Any line space provided to Israeli officials to "put their side", to counter the charges issued by Moussa that the Israeli position is "very negative" or that Israel is "not cooperating in the negotiations"?

Rhetorical questions.

Prove it.

That's our reply to Reuters latest iteration of this unproven assertion:
The [Jewish] settlements are deemed illegal under international law
appearing in over one-hundred stories on the agency's website.

As we've noted nearly as many times as Reuters has repeated the lie, Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank") are entirely legal as per League of Nations and United Nations resolutions, the pinnacle of international law.

An unsupported assertion is a propaganda technique and a violation of professional journalistic ethics.

"Foreign experts", "analysts", and "security sources"

In its Handbook of Journalism, Reuters specifically forbids its reporters from quoting "analysts" and notes that quotes from anonymous sources are the weakest as they cannot be independently verified.  This advice doesn't dissuade correspondent Dan Williams from building a purely speculative case for Israel's involvement in the reported appearance of the Stuxnet computer worm at Iran's nuclear reactor:
Israel's pursuit of options for sabotaging the core computers of foes like Iran, along with mechanisms to protect its own sensitive systems, were unveiled last year by the military intelligence chief, Major-General Amos Yadlin...
Disclosures that a sophisticated computer worm, Stuxnet, was uncovered at the Bushehr atomic reactor and may have burrowed deeper into Iran's nuclear programme prompted foreign experts to suggest the Israelis were responsible.  
Israel has declined to comment on any specific operations. Analysts say cyber capabilities offer it a stealthy alternative to the air strikes that it has long been expected to launch against Iran but which would face enormous operational hurdles as well as the risk of triggering regional war.
According to security sources, over the last two years the military intelligence branch, which specialises in wiretaps, satellite imaging and other electronic espionage, has set up a dedicated cyber warfare unit staffed by conscripts and officers.
Now, we have no idea whether Israel had a hand in the introduction of Stuxnet.  There has been no hard evidence (actually, no evidence at all) put forward by Iran, any other government, or the press that would implicate the Israelis.  Clearly, there are many other nations running sophisticated intelligence and electronic espionage networks which engage in this type of activity.  And many of these governments have openly declared their opposition to Iran's nuclear program.  Yet, note how Williams employs a series of unnamed sources, red herrings, and innuendo to lead the reader from a report on the introduction of information security technology last year to the foregone conclusion that Israel was behind Stuxnet.

A "stealthy alternative" to real journalism.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The one-armed bandit strikes again

In a story of suspected vandalism to a mosque in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank"), Reuters correspondent Douglas Hamilton flashes lights and rings bells when Jews are alleged to have engaged in activities deemed threatening to the peace process:
BEIT FAJJAR, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinians accused Jewish settlers of setting fire to a West Bank mosque on Monday, an incident that coincided with U.S. efforts to rescue peace talks halted by a dispute over settlement building...
It was the fourth time since December that a mosque in the occupied West Bank had been vandalised in attacks Palestinians blamed on settlers.
An increase in violence could complicate U.S.-led efforts to prevent the collapse of peace efforts which Washington hopes will resolve all major issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within a year.
The peace drive was plunged into crisis last week when a 10-month Israeli moratorium on housing starts in West Bank settlements expired and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resisted U.S. and international pressure to extend it.
The Palestinian leadership said Saturday the negotiations, which began on September 2, could not resume until Israel halted settlement construction completely...
Commenting on the mosque fire, Mohammad Hussein, the Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem, said settlers aimed to increase tension and "push matters to the edge of the precipice."...
Organizations that monitor human rights in the West Bank say attacks by settlers on Palestinians and their property tend to increase when there is a perceived risk to the settlements...
In April, settlers were accused of spraying graffiti on the walls of a mosque in Hawara and, in December, carpets and Korans were burnt in Yasuf. No charges were brought in the incidents.
While we don't apologize for violence or incitement committed by either of the two belligerents in this conflict, we note that whereas Hamilton and Reuters see fit to expend much line space on Jewish transgressions and obduracy, he and his agency are apparently blind, deaf and dumb to the same on the Palestinian side.  Thus:
In the first week of September, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asserted that he would not make a single concession in negotiations with Israel.  No report by Reuters.
In a documentary broadcast on Palestinian television during the religious holiday of Rosh Hashanah, Jewish worship at the Western Wall in Jerusalem was labeled "sin and filth".  No report by Reuters. 
On September 15th 2010, Palestinians fired nine mortars into Israel, two of which contained phosphorus.  No report by Reuters.
On September 19th 2010, the Palestinian Authority affirmed the death penalty for any Palestinian selling land to a Jew.  No report by Reuters.
On September 22nd 2010, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad rejected the concept of "two states for two peoples".  No report by Reuters.
On September 25th 2010, Arab rioters attacked Jewish residents with a Molotov cocktail, burned down a house, and attempted to set fire to a nearby forest.  No report by Reuters.
Blatant one-sided reporting is a powerful propaganda technique known as card stacking.  It also represents a violation of the Reuters Trust Principles and Handbook of Journalism.

Something to think about the next time the one-armed bandit takes your quarter.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"Biblical Past"

As we've noted many times, Reuters has a very short and selective memory of events in the Middle East.  Short, because its correspondents typically cite or allude to 1967 as the year Jews first began to settle in that portion of the Palestine Mandate currently referred to by the Arabs and their acolytes as "the West Bank".  This, despite the recorded history of Jewish cities and civilization on the land going back over 3,500 years.  Reuters memory is selective because whereas the agency tends to ignore that Jewish history, its correspondents have written in detail for example, about the 1,500-year Armenian presence in the same territory.

When Reuters does see fit to mention Jewish ties and claims to the land, it is almost always within the context of the Bible:
About 500,000 Jews have settled on territory where the Palestinians hope to establish their state with East Jerusalem as its capital. To Israel, the West Bank is "Judea and Samaria," where the Jews trace their biblical past.
While this is an improvement over previous stories that, in violation of the Reuters Handbook of Journalism, failed to cite Israel's name for the territory, it relegates the record and evidence of Jewish roots in the land to religious scripture -- a mitigating factor for secularists and anyone who views the Bible as little more than allegory.

There is of course, much other primary source material written by contemporaneous historians -- as well as archaeological evidence -- documenting Jewish origins and history in Judea and Samaria and thus, substantiating the Biblical account.  But in their efforts to devalue that history on behalf of the Arabs, Reuters correspondents appear to have little use for this material.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The one-armed bandit

In a story on the latest attempt to break the blockade at sea, Reuters correspondent Douglas Hamilton embraces and disseminates as fact, the notion that the Palestinian population in Gaza is suffering and seeks to associate that suffering with Israel's blockade.  On the other hand, Hamilton conveys his skepticism that Israel maintains a naval blockade to prevent Hamas from rearming.  Note the distinct rhetorical handling:
The group of nine activists -- from Israel, Britain, Germany and the United States -- set sail from Cyprus on Sunday, intent on defying the Israeli blockade of Gaza and highlighting the suffering of Palestinians who live in the territory...
But Israel maintains the naval blockade in what it says is an effort to stop arms being smuggled to the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007.
For Hamilton, the state of affairs in Gaza (wholesale suffering), the agent responsible for that state of affairs (Israel), and the good intentions of the protagonist (activists) are a given.

Conversely, the state of affairs in Israel (thousands of residents suffering more than 8,000 Palestinian rockets and mortars fired into the country from Gaza), and Israel's intention to protect its people from these attacks, do not merit mention.