Saturday, July 31, 2010

Nidal al-Mughrabi picks up the lie and runs with it

Yesterday, we wrote about Reuters mendacious coverage of the explosion of a Palestinian Grad rocket in Ashkelon, Israel.  Today, in a story on Israel's military response to the attack, correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi picks up where Amir Cohen and Douglas Hamilton left off, parrots some of the same propaganda and injects some of his own:
The militant group [Hamas] has a rocket arsenal of crude, homemade projectiles and longer-range rockets smuggled in through tunnels under the border with Egypt.
For years and in scores of stories, Reuters has sought to minimize the danger and devastating effects of Palestinian rockets by referring to them as "crude, homemade".  As Hamas has been able to acquire and launch rockets with increasing range and lethality from countries like Iran, Reuters is less able to dismiss these attacks with loaded language but as seen above, that doesn't prevent propagandists like al-Mughrabi from trying.

No one was injured by the blast [in Askelon], which police said was caused by a 122mm, Chinese-made Grad rocket. But the attack ended over a year of calm for the Israeli city closest to Gaza... The [2009 Israeli] offensive largely ended rocket fire into Israel from the Gaza Strip.
No one was injured by shrapnel, but several Israelis were treated for shock.  And as we documented in our previous post, the assertion of "over a year of calm" is a bald-faced lie.  As is the notion that the 2008-09 Gaza war "largely ended rocket fire into Israel".

Friday, July 30, 2010

The levitating unemployment rate

Reuters correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi who is accurate less often than a broken clock tells us just how grim things are economically in Gaza:
DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - A group of Palestinian women is breaking new ground in the Gaza Strip by working as ditch-diggers to support their families.
Some 300 women have signed up to dig reservoirs on Gaza farms in a project organized by the internationally funded Union of Agriculture Work Committees, UAWC officials said Thursday.
Although Gaza women have traditionally worked on family farms, picking fruit and vegetables, this is the first time they have hoisted shovels for a job usually reserved for men in the conservative enclave, where unemployment is 60 per cent.
The CIA Factbook reflects Gaza unemployment at 40 percent as of 2009.  And the latest data we've seen, published in today's Firas Press, reports unemployment at 33.9 percent.

From where does al-Mughrabi get his 60 percent figure?  He doesn't say.

Perhaps from the same place as his Gaza export data.

hat tip: EoZ

Reuters provides platform for Jew-obsessed UNHRC; conflates Gaza with West Bank; misconstrues UN Covenants (again)

Fabricator Stephanie Nebehay of Reuters files a report on a statement by the (Zionism = Racism) UN Human Rights Committee insisting that Israel lift its naval blockade of the Gaza Strip and protect the rights of Palestinian Arabs living in the disputed territories under the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  Note first how Nebehay conflates the "West Bank" -- which may or may not be considered "occupied" under international law depending on whether one accepts the rights of Jews to settle in the territory as per the never-abrogated Mandate for Palestine -- with Gaza, which, by any definition, has not been occupied since Israel evacuated its communities and soldiers in 2005:
Israel maintains that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights does not apply to the occupied West Bank and Gaza, although it says that the treaty does apply to Jewish settlers there, committee member Christine Chanet said.
Now, let's look at the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  Article 1 of Part 1 states:
The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.
Article 2 of Part 2 of the Covenant states:
Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
As Gaza is governed by Hamas and not a part of Israel's territory, Israel is clearly correct that the country has no obligation to uphold the UN Covenant there.  (We won't comment on Chanet's reported silence on the question of whether Hamas is honoring the principles of the UN Covenant in Gaza).

As for the West Bank, those areas and peoples under Israeli administrative control, i.e., Jewish and Arab residents, do benefit from Israel's observance of the UN Covenant.  Those areas and peoples under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority as per the Oslo Accords are alternatively the responsibility of that Authority.  (Again, no comment apparently from Chanet on the PA's adherence to the principles of the UN Covenant).

Nebehay adds:
"In Israel's written responses to the committee, one could see a total discrimination in the sense that settlers benefited from the pact," she [Chanet] told a news briefing.
which makes perfect sense given the prescriptions of the Covenant.

UPDATE JULY 30, 12:28: Stephanie Nebehay makes a quick, undisclosed edit in her original story inserting this paragraph to follow the tripe we highlight above:
  There are no Israeli settlers in Gaza itself.
Thanks for the clarification, Stephanie.

Palestinians attack; Reuters lies

When Palestinians launch an attack against Israel, one can be certain that Reuters will either ignore it or downplay it.  A Grad missile fired from Gaza hit a residential area in Ashkelon today shattering windows in nearby cars and buildings.  It was followed by the firing of two Palestinian mortar shells.  Reuters reports only on the missile strike and predictably misleads on the level of violence directed by Palestinians against Israel:
The rare attack on the southern city, which was likely to elicit a military response from Israel, came after months of quiet following Israel's launch of a three week military campaign in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in late 2008...
There has been sporadic rocket fire since the [Gaza] war, mostly in the direction of smaller Israeli towns closer to the border and none of it lethal. But Israeli forces usually respond by striking at militant targets inside Gaza.
As documented, there have actually been several hundred Palestinian rockets and mortars fired at Israel between the end of the Gaza war in 2009 and 2010.  Reuters continues to prevaricate about this onslaught.

UPDATE JULY 30, 12:03: Get a load of this headline and story update from Amir Cohen and Douglas Hamilton:
Gaza rocket ends quiet year for Ashkelon
"No one was injured in the blast. But the attack ended over a year of calm for the city closest to the enclave ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement and it was likely to trigger a military response by Israel.
As a reminder for Amir and Doug, here's what that "year of calm" has seen:

Jan 7, 2010
A Katyusha rocket launched from the Gaza Strip landed in an open field south of Ashkelon.

February 12, 2010
A Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in an open area between Shaar Hanegev Regional Council and Ashkelon Coast Regional Council.

March 18, 2010
A Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip slammed into a greenhouse in Netiv Haasara, a cooperative agricultural community in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. Manee Singmueangphon, a 33-year-old Thai agricultural guest worker,[23] was killed in the explosion, and 50 additional Thai workers suffered from shock.

March 20, 2010
Four Qassam rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip, causing the Color Red alarm to sound several times and forcing residents in southern Israel to take cover in secure rooms. The first rocket landed in an open area in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

March 21, 2010
In the evening, a Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip struck an open field in a kibbutz south of Ashkelon, in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

March 23, 2010
A Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip exploded near a parking lot in the heart of a populated zone in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

April 1, 2010
At night, a Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in an open area in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, near Ashkelon, causing damage but no injuries

May 8, 2010
A Qassam rocket fired from the northern Gaza Strip exploded south of Ashkelon, in an open area in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council.

May 19, 2010
In the evening, at the end of the Shavuot holiday, a Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed near Ashkelon, hitting an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council.

May 25, 2010
Two mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip at the Netiv Ha'asara area, near Ashkelon.

May 26, 2010
In the late evening, a Qassam rocket fired at Israel exploded in an open area in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council.

June 1, 2010
Overnight, a Qassam rocket exploded among greenhouses in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council, damaging a greenhouse.

June 3, 2010
Around 9 pm, two Qassam rockets exploded in an open area south of Ashkelon. Another rocket landed in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council, near a kibbutz.

June 24, 2010
Eight mortars and one rocket were fired at Israeli communities. Around 1:30 pm, three mortar shells exploded in open areas in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council.

And today.

Thomson Reuters: no Principles, no Trust.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Reuters couch

If there were a school of psychoanalysis created specifically for reporters, Reuters Jerusalem bureau correspondents would keep the shrinks busy for years.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has apparently just informed Reuters that he will formally reject direct talks with Israel when he meets with the Arab League tomorrow.  Why?  Because:
"We [the Palestinians] continue to insist that any negotiations with Israel be based on recognition of 1967 as the future borders of the Palestinian state."[1]
"Israel must accept that the Palestinian territory in question be that of the 1967 borders and with the presence of a third party [on the eastern border]."[2]
This is what Abbas has actually been quoted as saying to Fatah[1] and to the Jordanian newspaper al-Ghad[2].  Neither condition has been agreed in advance by Israel.

Note, the above quotes are not us speaking on behalf of Abbas, paraphrasing him, divining what he is feeling or thinking, sharing our own hopes and dreams for what Abbas should say or acting as his public relations entourage.

One would be hard-pressed however, to understand Abbas' stated reason for rejecting direct talks when trying to follow the vague, contrived, irrelevant, and biased rhetoric of correspondents Ali Sawafta and Tom Perry:
Resisting U.S. pressure, the Palestinian leader has said he first wants indirect talks to make progress, specifically on the issues of the security and borders of a Palestinian state he aims to found on land occupied by Israel since 1967...
Abbas, a central figure in years of negotiations aimed at creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel, is seen as wary of face-to-face talks with a right-wing Israeli leader he doubts is willing to make an offer the Palestinians can accept
If Ali and Tom are ready to get in touch with their subconscious aggression towards the Jewish state, we'll pay for the couch.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The art of the paraphrase

In a story on a meeting today between Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu and Jordanian King Abdullah where the two discussed direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Reuters correspondent Suleiman al-Khalidi writes:
Netanyahu has publicly stated he wants direct talks to start as soon as possible. [Mahmoud] Abbas wants to know in advance what shape and size of a future Palestinian state Israel is prepared to discuss, and whether it is ready to withdraw from the Jordan Valley and entrust security there to a third party.
As we've noted several times, this is classic Reuters obscurantism intended to shield us from the harsh reality of Abbas' actually very clear dictate:
"We continue to insist that any negotiations with Israel be based on recognition of 1967 as the future borders of the Palestinian state".
In other words, with respect to the shape and size of a future Palestinian state, for Abbas there is nothing to "discuss".

So, we'll make it easy for Reuters correspondents.  The next time they decide to paraphrase Abbas on the subject, just cite him as saying "my way or the highway".  That will be far closer to the mark.

Reuters' Perry blames Israel for Gaza woes, evokes Yasser Arafat and Marshall Plan

In an inadvertently amusing piece of pro-Palestinian propaganda, Reuters correspondent Tom Perry pens a tale of destitution and depression in Gaza following the Israeli lifting of the embargo:
Jamal Basala once employed 20 people on his fishing trawler. Today, his access to the sea restricted by Israel, he employs four. He used to earn $5,000 a month. Today, he accepts assistance from aid agencies and can't afford his son's university fees. "I suffer depression," he said.
In the scores of stories Perry has written about the conflict over the last year, we have yet to see him refer once, to the economic distress or psychological trauma suffered by residents of Israeli border communities like Sderot.  Residents who were bombarded by thousands of Palestinian rockets precipitating the Israeli embargo on the Gaza Strip.  Perry fails to even mention the rockets as a factor in the embargo.
Mahmoud al-Hindi, a civil engineering graduate, once hoped for a career in a respected field. Today, more than a year since he graduated, Gaza's decaying economy has yet to provide him with his first job. "You find all the roads closed in your face," he said. "We have lost hope."
Obviously, Mahmoud was not on the Hamas-funded construction teams which recently completed the luxurious Grand Palace Hotel, a two-story shopping mall, the enchanting "Roots" restaurant, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, or the Al Mat-haf Museum and Cultural Center.  That's regrettable for Mahmoud but of course, not Israel's fault.

But where Israel is really to blame, according to Perry, is in making the late great Yasser Arafat into a liar:
The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat pledged to turn Gaza into Singapore on the Mediterranean. Today, four years of sanctions have turned it into something quite different.
Ah yes, because after all, Arafat selflessly devoted his life and European taxpayer wealth to building a Great Society for his people.

Perry then quotes a Palestinian economist who suggests a solution for Palestinian poverty:
"Gaza needs a Marshall Plan," said Palestinian economist Omar Shaban, referring to the U.S. aid plan that jumpstarted Europe's economy after World War Two.
Shaban and Perry apparently don't recall that the Marshall Plan came after the Nazis were defeated -- a triumph which has yet to be duplicated in Nazi-inspired Gaza:
Therefore, you can see them making consistent efforts [in that direction] by way of publicity and movies, curricula of education and culture, using as their intermediaries their craftsmen who are part of the various Zionist Organizations which take on all sorts of names and shapes such as: the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, gangs of spies and the like. All of them are nests of saboteurs and sabotage. Those Zionist organizations control vast material resources, which enable them to fulfill their mission amidst societies, with a view of implementing Zionist goals and sowing the concepts that can be of use to the enemy.
Still, one can always hope for change.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Reuters provides propaganda soap box for HRW

As we've noted previously, Reuters maintains a website (AlertNet) providing a free and unfettered platform for scores of NGOs to publish stories on "humanitarian" issues written by the organizations' directors or public relations departments.  Although Reuters expressly disavows responsibility for the content of these stories, the material is frequently highly politicized and partisan and is published unedited via a feed system Reuters makes available to participating NGOs.

One of the more prolific contributors to Reuters AlertNet is Human Rights Watch (HRW) and its Middle East director, Sarah Leah Whitson.  Due to a number of scandals in recent months, HRW has been effectively discredited as an impartial source of critical research on humanitarian issues related to the Israeli-Arab conflict.  First, there was news in July of 2009 that HRW had been trolling for dollars in that "mecca" of human rights, Saudi Arabia.  Then in September, HRW was forced to suspend its senior military analyst, Marc Garlasco, when bloggers discovered he was a Nazi military history enthusiast and collector of Nazi memorabilia.  The following month, the founder of HRW excoriated the organization for its anti-Israel obsession and bias in an op-ed published in The New York Times.

HRW continues to plug away however and today, Reuters AlertNet publishes a 1,552-word screed by Whitson railing against legislation the Israeli Knesset is considering that would, amongst other things, provide greater transparency into the funding and political activities of Israeli NGOs financed by foreign governments:
It appears to be on an accelerated track, now scheduled for both discussion and first reading on August 16, during the summer recess. Although it no longer would strip organizations of tax-exempt status, the version published on July 16 now imposes onerous reporting requirements on any group that receives any amount of funding from a "foreign political entity" such as the EU or the US Agency for International Development, assistance most Israeli civil rights and human rights organizations rely on.
On top of existing annual reporting requirements, groups would have 30 days to report these grants to the Registrar of Associations, including all "undertakings" made to the grantor, whether oral or written, to be published on the Justice Ministry website. Any grant from a foreign government aid agency for a "specific publicity campaign" must be publicized by the organization as part of the campaign.
Note that for HRW, transparency is definitely a bad thing -- a sentiment one can understand coming from an NGO operating freely in Israel even as it receives a portion of its funding from foreign actors and governments officially at war with Israel and hostile to the very existence of the state.

But according to Whitson:
These kinds of proposals could put Israel in a league with so many of its neighboring governments, who strive to silence their critics rather than protect their right to speech.
This is of course, an utterly bizarre comparison to draw between Israel and the surrounding despotic Arab states but we think the point is made most eloquently by HRW's founder, Robert L. Bernstein, in his reply to HRW following his original op-ed:
I believe that Israel should be judged by the highest possible standard and I have never argued anything else. What is more important than what I believe, or what Human Rights Watch believes, is that Israelis themselves believe they should be held to the highest standard.
That is why they have 80 Human Rights organizations challenging their government daily. Does any other country in the Middle East have anything remotely near that? That is why they have a vibrant free press. Does any other country in the Middle East have anything remotely near that? That is why they have a democratically elected government. That is why they have a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political societies, etc etc etc.  I have argued that open societies , while far from perfect, have ways to correct themselves and that is particularly true in the case of Israel.  Millions of Arabs, on the other hand, live in societies where there is little respect for or protection of human rights.
Hear, hear.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pretzel logic

Reuters correspondents continue to tie themselves into knots to apologize for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he continues to refuse to enter into direct talks with Israel.  After cherry-picking material from Abbas' interview last week with the Jordanian newspaper al-Ghad, Tom Perry returns today along with Ali Sawafta to explain:
Abbas is wary of more direct talks with the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he believes is not ready to make peace on terms the Palestinians can accept.
Note again how Reuters conveniently divines for us what Abbas is feeling and thinking, rather than report on what he is actually saying and doing.  From the Jerusalem Post:
Abbas complained that Obama recently sent him an oral message urging him to launch direct negotiations with Israel unconditionally.

According to the PA president, Obama’s message was “unclear and ambiguous.”

Abbas was quoted as saying: “With all due respect to the American president, his message was not clear. We want to clear answers to questions we presented to the Americans, especially regarding security, borders and the status of Jerusalem. We continue to insist that any negotiations with Israel be based on recognition of 1967 as the future borders of the Palestinian state.”
So despite US President Obama's appeal to Abbas to enter into peace talks with Israel on an unconditional basis (as Netanyahu has been requesting), Abbas continues to insist that the Palestinians receive unambiguous guarantees from the US in advance of talks.  And that those guarantees include a commitment to coerce Israel to accept a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, i.e., the 1949 Armistice Lines.

Note also that this is the same guarantee the Palestinians demanded from the Quartet in November of 2008 following Abbas' rejection of former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert's peace offer.  A demand that was respectfully declined by the Quartet.

Things are so much clearer when reporters report rather than propagandize.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Trust Principles? What Trust Principles?

The Reuters/Palestinian propaganda machine is out in full force today.  In a story with accompanying slideshow about the death of a member of the terrorist group Islamic Jihad (affiliation unmentioned by Reuters) who had been preparing to fire a rocket into Israel, Reuters correspondents Saleh Salam, Tom Perry, and Allyn Fisher-Ilan report:
Cross-border violence has abated on the Israel-Gaza frontier since a major Israeli offensive in early 2009, but Israel has staged periodic assaults which it said were in response to rocket and mortar fire by militants in the coastal territory.
Note that while Reuters reports on attacks and injuries suffered by the Palestinian Arabs as a matter of fact, the antecedent rocket and mortar attacks perpetrated by the Palestinians are reported (when they are reported) merely as claims by Israel.

Apparently, a news bureau with 70+ journalists stationed in Jerusalem is completely unable to do its own fact-checking when it comes to Palestinian aggression.

Or to honor its Charter and Code of Ethics.

'Hezbollah-land' attracting jihad tourists

ABC news reports that the jihad terror group Hezbollah has opened a family amusement park in Lebanon with the theme of "resistance".  Dubbed "Hezbollah-land", the park is designed to be the centerpiece of a massive tourist development:
At Hezbollah's "Museum for Resistance Tourism" on the mountain stronghold of Mleeta, war is celebrated, glamorized, and fashioned into an interactive display...
“We’re going to build motels, playgrounds, camping areas, even spas or swimming pools so that all of the visitors — especially our people — can come here and spend their weekends or vacations,” the guide says.
Reuters correspondent Yara Bayoumy appears to have missed this hot spot in her recent promotional travelogue for Lebanon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Allyn Fisher-Ilan obfuscates religious significance, lies about history and resorts to racism

In a story about a visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by Israeli Parliamentarian Danny Danon, Reuters correspondent Allyn Fisher-Ilan mangles religious and historical significance, revives an old canard, and parrots a racist trope.  She writes:
Under armed police escort, Danny Danon, a deputy parliament speaker, toured the site of an ancient Jewish temple, a plaza home to the al-Aqsa mosque, one of Islam's holiest sites, and said he thought Jews should be permitted freer access there... Danon told reporters at the nearby Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site...
Fisher-Ilan attempts here to belittle the religious significance of the Temple Mount for Jews (the site of King Solomon's Temple and the second Herodian Temple) by referring to the shrine with a common noun while she identifies and venerates the Muslim shrine atop the same ground.  This of course, to delegitimize Israeli claims to the area while fostering Arab claims to the same.  And it is the Temple Mount, not the Western Wall, which is Judaism's holiest prayer site -- even if Jews are frequently prevented from praying there due to Muslim "sensibilities".

Fisher-Ilan continues:
Past visits by senior Israeli officials to the site at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute have sparked violence, notably in 2000 when a visit by Ariel Sharon, then an opposition leader, set off a Palestinian uprising and years of bloodshed.
As we have documented many times, this is a canard which even the Palestinians have corrected but Reuters republishes the lie ad nauseam so as to absolve the Palestinians for their terror war which was actually planned months in advance of Sharon's visit and killed over 1,000 Israeli civilians.

Then comes the racist trope:
Israel considers Jerusalem as its capital including Arab East Jerusalem, which it captured in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as capital of a future state.
Again, as we've noted many, many times, the term "Arab East Jerusalem" originated with the ethnic cleansing of all Jews from their communities in the eastern part of Jerusalem by the Jordanian-commanded Arab Legion in 1948.  Prior to this extirpation, the Jews had a continuous presence in the Old City for three millennia and in the modern era, were the majority religio-ethnic population from the middle of the 19th century.  Thus, Fisher-Ilan's use of the term "Arab East Jerusalem" is racist, ahistorical, and endorses that act of ethnic cleansing.

Jewish families evacuating the Old City of Jerusalem through Zion's Gate. June 1948. John Phillips, LIFE Magazine.

Monday, July 19, 2010

For Reuters, Iran says "potāto"; the West says "potäto"

Reuters loves to frame the Iranian nuclear debate as a "he said/she said", i.e., the "West" says Iran is working towards nuclear weapons; Iran says it is only seeking nuclear power for electricity generation.  Here's an example from a story appearing today on Iran's call for a new global negotiating body, presumably to replace the United Nations Security Council:
Iran says the [nuclear] program is only for peaceful purposes, but Western powers believe it is trying to produce nuclear weapons.
Of course, it's not simply "Western powers" that believe this.  As reported in The New York Times last February, it's also the official position of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA):
The United Nations’ nuclear inspectors declared for the first time on Thursday that they had extensive evidence of “past or current undisclosed activities” by Iran’s military to develop a nuclear warhead, an unusually strongly worded conclusion that seems certain to accelerate Iran’s confrontation with the United States and other Western countries.
Reuters ran a similarly-worded story on the same day as the Times article but has since abandoned any mention of the IAEA findings in its coverage of the nuclear standoff.  Instead, we get the banal boilerplate seen in Robert Evans' story linked above.  This obfuscates both the evidence of, and near universal agreement that Iran is vigorously pursuing nuclear weapons.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Lost in translation

Reuters correspondent Tom Perry has in recent days, written a number of stories apologizing for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as the latter continues to reject direct peace talks with Israel.  While Perry has divined for us what Abbas fears and believes ("Abbas is wary of negotiating directly with an Israeli leader [Netanyahu] he believes unwilling to settle the Middle East conflict on terms acceptable to the Palestinians"), Perry has consistently failed to inform readers that Abbas summarily rejected former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's capitulatory settlement offer in 2008.

Today, Perry "clarifies" Abbas' terms for entering into direct talks with Israel.  Translating from an interview in Arabic Abbas provided al-Ghad newspaper, Perry writes:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel must agree to the idea of a third party guarding the borders of a future Palestinian state before direct peace talks can begin.
... Abbas said Israel must also agree in principle to an equitable land swap that would compensate the Palestinians for West Bank land absorbed by Jewish settlements in any peace deal.
Going beyond the question of direct talks with Israel, here are a few other things Abbas stated in the interview which Perry fails to disclose:

On the previous settlement offer from Olmert, Abbas admits rejecting the offer and then blames Netanyahu for not agreeing to begin negotiations where they ended, i.e., acceding to all of Olmert's concessions and "bridging the gap" from there.

In their reconciliation talks, the Palestinian Authority is not asking Hamas to accept a two-state solution, i.e., "it is not required of Hamas to agree to any political view different from the vision".  The vision, indeed.
We do not link between reconciliation and negotiations, despite the importance of issues, but we believe that reconciliation is essential for the establishment of a Palestinian state on all Palestinian occupied territories.
Note that for Abbas, reconciliation with Hamas is essential for a Palestinian state to include Gaza but Hamas' acceptance of two states -- one Palestinian, one Israeli (Jewish) -- is not a condition for reconciliation.  We wonder how Abbas expects Israel to agree to a two-state solution when he holds no similar expectation for his own reconstituted government.

And by the way, with respect to assistance for the Palestinians from their Arab brethren:
Arab countries have not paid a penny of financial support allocations decided at the Sirte summit of 500 million dollars.
We're glad Abbas has now clarified his demands for direct talks with Israel and that Reuters' Tom Perry can actually report on what Abbas says rather than what Perry believes Abbas believes.  But to understand the full implication of Abbas' words, the full story should be reported -- not just what Perry wants us to know.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A report and its patrons

Question: what do you do when you have highly partisan political views you wish to impose on your audience but your public Charter demands that you act at all times with "integrity, independence and freedom from bias"?

Answer: you interview and cite similarly-minded individuals and groups, letting them do the talking for you.

So goes it with Reuters.

Correspondent Adrian Croft pens a feature story on a report by the Oxford Research Group which comes out strongly against an Israeli attack on Iran.  Summarizing the findings of the report Croft writes:
- An Israeli attack on Iran would be the start of a protracted conflict that would be unlikely to prevent the eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran and might even encourage it.
- It would also lead to instability and unpredictable security consequences for the region and the wider world.
- It might take three to seven years for Iran to develop a small arsenal of nuclear weapons if it decided to do so... there was no firm evidence such a decision had been taken by the Islamic Republic.
- Any Israeli strike would be focused not only on destroying nuclear and missile targets but would also hit factories and research centers and even university laboratories to damage Iranian expertise... this would cause many civilian casualties.
- Iran's responses to an Israeli attack could include withdrawing from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and immediate action to produce nuclear weapons to deter further attacks.
- They could also include missile attacks on Israel, closing the Strait of Hormuz to push up oil prices and paramilitary or missile attacks on Western oil facilities in the Gulf.
- After a first strike, Israel might have to carry out regular air strikes to stop Iran developing atom bombs and medium-range missiles... Iranian responses would also be long-term, ushering in a lengthy war with global as well as regional implications.
We're not sure where the author of the report, Paul Rogers, derives his information suggesting it "might" take Iran up to seven years to acquire a "small" nuclear arsenal; all of the intelligence forecasts we've seen summarized suggest that at the current pace of Iran's nuclearization, this outcome will occur much sooner, but let's not quibble with the time line for the moment.

The report certainly makes for grim reading and we don't doubt that an attack on Iran -- by any nation -- will lead to loss of life and other unintended consequences.  The more salient question of course, is what will be the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran if sanctions fail and the West refuses to take military action in time to prevent this.

To that implicit question, the Oxford Group replies:
Accept that Iran may eventually acquire a nuclear capability and use that as the start of a process of balanced regional de-nuclearization.
In other words, have faith that Iran will be open to negotiating away its nuclear weapons in exchange for Israel doing the same.  (Any further comment here would insult the intelligence of our readers).

What's most interesting about the report that Reuters has chosen to feature -- as compared to dozens of reports on the issue by other think-tanks -- is who stands behind the authoring group which Croft characterizes as "promoting non-violent solutions to conflict".

Well, a quick glance at the "Patrons and Advisors" page reveals some surprising expertise.  In addition to the likes of those we might expect to support a group committed to negotiated solutions to conflict like Desmond Tutu, Human Rights Watch London Director Tom Porteous, former Ambassador Dan Kurtzer, and Amira Dotan (an advocate of the Geneva Initiative), is... Azzam Al-Tamimi, a vocal supporter of Hamas who told the BBC that he was prepared to be a suicide bomber if the opportunity arose, Khaled Hroub, author of Hamas: A Beginners Guide, and Alastair Crooke, who about Islamists famously wrote:
We do diverge on a few values, but the overwhelming bulk of Islamists and Muslims support elections, good governance and freedom (more so than in some European states, the polls show).
If Reuters wishes to be taken seriously as an independent and unbiased source of news, we think the agency can do better in its decisions as to which think-tanks to promote in its stories.

MORE more apologies for Abbas

As we noted here, here, here, and here, Reuters has been on a tear apologizing for Palestinian intransigence in their refusal to enter into direct peace talks with Israel.  Correspondent Tom Perry continues in this vein with a story today on Fatah urging Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to sit tight:
The Palestinian president's Fatah party said on Thursday there should be no move to face-to-face Middle East peace talks sought by the United States without progress in the indirect talks it is mediating.
From the perspective of a partisan reporter who writes as if he were a spokesman for the Palestinians, here is the money line in the story:
But Abbas is wary of negotiating directly with an Israeli leader he believes unwilling to settle the Middle East conflict on terms acceptable to the Palestinians.
This notion hearkens back to Perry's previous story where he made what amounts to the same argument, i.e, Abbas will not enter into negotiations unless he is guaranteed to have all of his demands met in advance of those negotiations.  And if the Israelis have their own terms which conflict with Palestinian demands?  Well of course, those must be surrendered for Abbas to agree to talk.

In other words, the Palestinians are seeking not compromise, but capitulation.  And a guarantee of that in advance.
The Palestinian leader has been a central figure in years of fruitless diplomacy aimed at negotiating the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
No quibble there.  But of course, the more relevant question is why precisely, that diplomacy has proved fruitless.
Abbas says the indirect talks should make progress towards agreement on the borders of the state the Palestinians aim to establish alongside Israel on land it occupied in a 1967 war and security arrangements for the "two-state solution.
Actually, what the Palestinians are demanding is that negotiations begin where the last negotiations ended: an Israeli offer of a Palestinian state with all of Gaza, 97 percent of the West Bank, Arab neighborhoods in the eastern part of Jerusalem, and recognition of a "right of return" for Palestinian refugees.  That extraordinary offer, which represents essentially all of what the Palestinian Authority says it wants in a peace settlement, was summarily rejected by Mahmoud Abbas in 2008.

Perry completely omits mention of this history but does conjure up one of his favorite "go-to" Palestinian sources for an analysis of the situation which we think comes close to hitting the mark on why Abbas and the Palestinians will never make peace with Israel:
"The main issue is how to go back to direct negotations without completely losing face."
Because for the Arabs, the fear of losing face, i.e., accepting a Jewish sovereign in the Middle East after years of failed wars, takes precedence over burying the hatchet and benevolently ending a century-old conflict that has cost both sides thousands of lives and untold suffering.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Reuters continues to suppress news of Hezbollah rearmament

As Lebanon continues to violate UNSCR 1701 by facilitating the massing of tens of thousands of Hezbollah missiles throughout the country, UNIFIL, the United Nations security force charged with assisting the Lebanese government in its obligation to prevent this rearmament continues to look the other way.  And the largest global news agency, Reuters, continues to run interference for Lebanon, UNIFIL, and Hezbollah by downplaying news of the rearmament and UNIFILs complicity in the same. 

Reuters is however, on the job when it comes to reporting on personal relations between UNIFIL and the modest folks in south Lebanon: 
Villagers in south Lebanon have blamed French peacekeepers for the recent confrontations in the south, saying their patrols had become provocative and intrusive, including taking photographs of people inside their houses. Some Western diplomats say Hezbollah was involved, which the group denies.
Not to worry however, we are now assured that things have been patched up and all is well:
A U.N. envoy to Lebanon said on Wednesday he believed trouble between U.N. peacekeepers and villagers in south Lebanon that has led to confrontations in recent weeks had now been sorted out...
"I can confirm that the situation in the south is now much better, that I believe that calm and stability have been returned," special coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams told reporters after briefing the Security Council.
(Williams you may recall, was formerly UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's personal representative to the PLO.)

Glad we got that little misunderstanding cleared up.

The other news

In a previous post, we noted the irony and dubious news judgment demonstrated by Reuters as the agency reported on a visit to Hollywood by Jordan's Queen Noor to promote a new documentary on the dangers of nuclear proliferation while turning a blind eye to news of her stepson, King Abdullah, racing to master the nuclear fuel cycle against the wishes of the United States.  Reuters finally reported on this development three weeks after The Wall Street Journal originally ran the story.

Now comes word that the US has threatened to cut aid to Jordan if Abdullah doesn't coordinate his nuclear program with Israel -- which he has thus far refused to do:
The American threat comes after Amman rejected Israeli demands to participate in extraction and enrichment of uranium, and Jordan's failure to obtain US approval for its nuclear plan, despite talks between the two parties, which lasted six months.
According to reports, the ultimatum was probably given to Amman days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judah.
Reuters has yet to pick up this important story.

Birds of a feather

Reuters correspondent Allyn Fisher-Ilan reports on the Israeli parliament voting to remove certain diplomatic privileges from Arab MP Haneen Zoabi (also "Zuabi") for her participation in the Gaza flotilla.  Fisher-Ilan provides a platform for Zoabi's political views, devoting over one-third of the story content to quoting or paraphrasing her and focusing on red herrings like Israeli Arab rights:
Israeli Arabs enjoy full citizenship rights, though many complain of discrimination and poorer funding for their towns. 
Most are descended from Palestinians who stayed in what is now Israel when hundreds of thousands were driven out or fled during fighting in the late 1940s.
On the attempt by passengers to lynch the Israeli commandos who boarded the ship, Fisher-Ilan ignores the video evidence and twists the incident into a "he said/she said":
Israel says troops acted in self-defence when activists set upon troops with knives and iron bars, and defended the blockade as a measure to prevent weapons from reaching Hamas Islamists in charge of Gaza. Activists aboard the ship disputed that account.
And while Fisher-Ilan cites Zoabi's recent account of her role in the incident:
Zoabi had earlier told Reuters she did make efforts to mediate between the sides.
The Reuters correspondent fails to note Zoabi's previous risible testimony on what she did (or didn't) observe on board the ship:
"All of us didn't hold anything in our hands; there was no weapons; nothing at all."
The following video footage was shot on the Mavi Marmara traveled by Zoabi.  Beginning at 3:32, note the batons, bars and slingshots held (and used) by passengers on the lower deck where Zoabi was stationed during the battle.  At 5:00, note the passenger carrying the blue metal rod walking down the stairs to the lower deck.  And at 10:37, note Zoabi waving off the camera operator as she traverses the deck.

We're not quite certain who is more oblivious to the facts: Haneen Zoabi or Allyn Fisher-Ilan.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jeffrey Heller, Palestinian advocate

Serial liar Jeffrey Heller reports on the razing of a Palestinian Arab home in Jerusalem due to its having been built without a city permit.  Referring to the fictitious city of "East Jerusalem", Heller writes:
Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, say it is impossible to obtain construction approval from Israeli authorities.
But as we noted here, Israel has in fact approved 36,000 permits for Palestinian housing in Jerusalem --  enough to accommodate population growth through 2020.

In the service of his Palestinian advocacy agenda, Heller conceals this information and simply parrots false Palestinian claims.

UPDATE July 14, 2010: Arutz Sheva reports that there are 20,000 illegal Arab structures in Jerusalem.


The term "settler" as it pertains to Jews who live beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines originated with the Mandate for Palestine which stipulated that the Administration:
shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.
The Mandate was adopted by the League of Nations in 1922, grandfathered across to the United Nations, and has never been abrogated.

We introduce this to illustrate the way in which the term "Jewish settler" has been decontextualized and distorted over the years to use as a cudgel against Israel and to trample on absolutely legitimate Jewish rights and aspirations to live in the territories of Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank").

Reuters is one of the worst offenders in this line of attack.  Not only is the news agency pathologically obsessed with Jews living beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines (googling "Jeffrey Heller settlements" yields 2,200,000 results), but their correspondents portray even those Jews whose families owned homes and lived in the Old City of Jerusalem for centuries as "settlers".

Take this Reuters story about the dispute over the Holy City:
Jerusalem is a core issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel has annexed East Jerusalem as part of its capital in a move not recognized internationally, and Palestinians want the area as capital of a future state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The conflict has erupted lately into weekly protests by Israelis and Palestinians, mostly in the predominantly Palestinian areas of Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, where Jewish settlers have been moving in.
Correspondent Allyn Fisher-Ilan artificially bifurcates the city into two based on the Green Line which separated the Israeli and Jordanian armies in 1949 but even the Palestinians today do not officially recognize a distinct city called "East Jerusalem".

And the "Jewish settlers" who are "moving in" to Jerusalem neighborhoods like Sheikh Jarrah (Shimon HaTzadik) are actually recovering, via petition to the Israel High Court, property titled to their families going back to the Ottoman era -- decades before they were driven out by the Jordanian Arab Legion in 1948-49.

We wonder if Fisher-Ilan would similarly characterize efforts by African-Americans to recover their homes in East St. Louis after being violently purged by whites following the Civil War:
At times, Loewen notes, communities drove out their black residents over a period of months or years by creating an atmosphere of unrelenting hostility, usually accompanied by sporadic threats of violence and brutal police harassment. Often, however, some precipitating event—usually the accusation that a black person had assaulted a white man or raped a white woman—sent the white community into a frenzy. Mobs lynched the accused and then systematically drove all African Americans from their homes, often with only the clothes on their back.
Substitute "Jewish" for "black" and "Arab" for "white" in the above paragraph and you will have an historically faithful account of the insecurity, pogroms, and ethnic cleansing suffered by Jews at the hands of Arabs in the city of Hebron during the 1920s and in Jerusalem, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

So before Reuters correspondents deploy the term "settler" as a pejorative to suggest that Jews are moving into "Palestinian areas", they should be quite sure who lived in those homes and who populated those communities prior to the Palestinian Arabs.

                                 The Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, 1870

Monday, July 12, 2010

Reuters forgets a little something IV

Reuters reports that Germany has banned the International Humanitarian Relief Organization (IHH) from operating in the country due to its funding for Hamas.  What Reuters doesn't report is that the passengers on the Turkish-flagged ship Mavi Marmara who attempted to lynch the Israeli boarding party with knives and metal rods were members of the IHH.  

In over 500 stories published on its website since the incident, Reuters has maintained a strict blackout on the linkage we noted here, between the IHH and Islamic terror groups.  This, in a palpable effort to conceal the identity and true motives of the "activists" on board the ship.

Reuters neglects to mention something else:
Germany has staunchly supported Israel following the Nazi genocide of European Jews in World War Two and has strongly criticised Hamas, which Israel considers to be a terrorist organisation.
Hamas is of course, also classed as a terrorist organization by Germany and the rest of the EU.

UPDATE July 13, 2010: Reader Shai notes a Haaretz story asserting that IHH of Germany has "no connection to the Turkish group that organized the flotilla"; however, the Canadian Press reports that the two chapters were originally a single organization formed in Freiburg Germany.  The US State Department has confirmed that the Turkish IHH has links to Hamas and the organization is currently under review for designation as a terrorist group.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

If it's Sharia, it can't be abuse

Reuters picks up a report from the official Iranian news agency indicating that the government there has decided to temporarily suspend the stoning of a woman convicted of adultery.  Reuters correspondent Parisa Hafezi reminds readers:
Murder, adultery, rape, armed robbery, apostasy and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Iran's sharia law, enforced since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Hafezi's story ends with this mind-boggling non sequitur:
The Iranian authorities routinely dismiss charges of rights abuses, saying they are following Sharia.
Well yes, we suppose that if Sharia law calls for adultery to be punished by stoning, by that standard a stoning fulfilled wouldn't reflect an abuse of rights. Leave it to Reuters to straighten us out on that.

A Reuters staff meeting

One can almost see a Reuters staff meeting in its Jerusalem bureau offices at the start of the work week.  Editor-in-charge Jeffrey Heller is leading the meeting.  Douglas Hamilton, Ali Sawafta, Dan Williams, Tom Perry and Ori Lewis are all present.  Allyn Fisher-Ilan is going to be a bit late as she had to pick up a copy of The National Enquirer to check her horoscope for the day.  White House correspondent Matt Spetalnick is on the video link.  Former Bureau Chief Alastair Macdonald sends his regards via a text from Dubai.

The lead topic for today's meeting: how to spin Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' refusal to enter into direct peace talks with Israel so that the Palestinians will not be viewed as intransigent.  The game plan: Hamilton and Sawafta will take the "Abbas is wary of walking into an Israeli trap" angle.  Spetalnick offers to pretend that the Palestinians suspect Israel may be building kindergartens in the disputed territories.  Tom Perry will suggest that Abbas is vulnerable to "domestic criticism" for negotiating with Israeli "right-wingers".  And now we learn that Jeffrey Heller will argue that Abbas is just being prudent as he awaits further concessions from Netanyahu:
Netanyahu promised publicly in Washington to take "concrete steps" within weeks to persuade the Palestinians to upgrade the peace talks.  Palestinians have said they would wait and see what those measure entail before agreeing to direct talks.
Allyn Fisher-Ilan wants to make sure her moon is in the right position before she decides on a strategy.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

More apologies for Abbas

Good grief.  In the third Reuters story in as many days to apologize for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' intransigence in refusing to enter into direct peace talks with Israel, kingpin propagandist and serial liar Tom Perry digs up yet another excuse for Abbas:
But Abbas faces heavy domestic criticism over the failure of past negotiations and is wary of agreeing to more direct talks with Netanyahu's right-wing government.
Right, because the Palestinians will only enter into peace talks if they are guaranteed to get everything they demand prior to the start of negotiations.

Isn't that the way all negotiations work?

Reuters in a time warp; repeats the Big Lie

In a story about the latest "aid" ship to head for Gaza -- financed by Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi's son -- Reuters is still characterizing the Strip as "blockaded".  This despite the fact that all manner of goods other than weapons and war materiel are moving freely across the Israel-Gaza border.

More appalling, is Reuters continued reliance on the Big Lie:
The United Nations says the blockade has led to a humanitarian crisis for the territory's 1.5 million people, of whom about 1 million depend to some extent on regular supplies of U.N. and other foreign aid brought in overland after Israeli inspection.
The United Nations has absolutely not asserted that there is a "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza; indeed, it has stated just the opposite.

Perhaps the people of Israel should consider filing suit against Reuters for damages associated with the agency's unremitting blood libels.

Does Reuters read the news?

Reuters continues to run interference for the Palestinians as the latter continue to reject direct peace talks with Israel.  In the same mold as the transparent PR piece we discuss just below, correspondent Matt Spetalnick apologizes for Palestinian rejectionism:
Palestinian leaders remain wary because of Israeli settlement activity on land they want for an independent state and what they see as a insufficient progress in slow-moving "proximity" talks.
Memo to Spetalnick: there is no Israeli "settlement activity" occurring anywhere outside of the 1949 Armistice Lines.

Try a subscription to Haaretz.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Palestinian public relations

If Reuters correspondents Douglas Hamilton and Ali Sawafta are not already being paid to handle PR for the Palestinian Arabs, PA President Mahmoud Abbas should seriously consider signing them up for the role.

In a pure public relations play laden with errors of commission, errors of omission, outright falsehoods, and the parroting of Palestinian positions and propaganda, Hamilton and Sawafta apologize for Palestinian rejectionism on peace talks -- a tactic employed by Reuters since Israel first offered direct negotiations shortly after Benjamin Netanyahu took power in 2009.  At the time, Reuters ran dozens of stories arguing that peace talks "could not proceed" (as if it were an immutable law of physics) until Israel was coerced to halt all construction in Judea and Samaria, aka the "West Bank".  The truth of course, was that the Palestinians simply refused to enter into talks.  But Reuters correspondents could not bring themselves to report that reality.

Now, following eight months during which time Israel has suspended building in all disputed areas including a de facto freeze on new residential construction for Jews in Jerusalem, the Palestinians continue to reject peace talks with Israel and Reuters continues to apologize for them:
U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu want direct talks soon on a Middle East peace treaty, but Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is wary of walking into a trap.
Note that the Palestinian President is not being quoted here, nor even paraphrased; Hamilton and Sawafta are actually representing and doing the talking for Abbas.  And keep in mind that this story isn't identified as an op-ed or "Analysis" (as Reuters opinion pieces are by policy, deceptively labeled); rather, the material is astonishingly presented as straight news.

Further details of Palestinian recalcitrance and further Reuters' apologies for that recalcitrance follow:
The Palestinians note they have had a "peace process" for the best part of 17 years, yet remain under Israeli occupation.
They say they have cooperated with three U.S. presidents with differing levels of commitment to the process, but with the same result. So they are wary of being pushed into a negotiation where they can be made to look like rejectionists.
No, they wouldn't want to look like rejectionists, particularly after they have rejected every offer of nationhood facilitated by those three US presidencies including the most recent package presented by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert consisting of a Palestinian state with all of Gaza, 97 percent of the West Bank, Arab neighborhoods in the eastern part of Jerusalem, and a nominal "right of return" for Palestinian refugees.  It was Abbas' rejection of this near capitulatory offer as well as unrequited Palestinian demands for further concessions from both Israel and the Quartet that led to the de facto end of negotiations in 2008 -- not the Gaza war as Reuters' correspondents now suggest.

Next, Hamilton and Sawafta blatantly misrepresent the data appearing in a report issued by B'Tselem:
A report this week by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem says more than 300,000 Israelis now live on 42 percent of the West Bank land where the Palestinians want to establish their future country in a "two-state solution" with Israel.
This is false.  The study acknowledges that Jewish communities reside upon only 1 percent of land in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank").  There is an allegation that due to the classification of territory in the West Bank as state land, 42 percent of it is controlled by Jewish councils.  But even this claim has been rejected by the Chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities who puts the figure at 9 percent.

Hamilton and Sawafta then quote? paraphrase? parrot? fabricate? an assertion by Abbas' aide Nabil Abu Rdainah:
In talks mediated by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice the Israelis acknowledged that occupied land means the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Arab East Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley, Abu Rdainah said.
Note the absence of quotation marks with the attribution only tacked on at the end, so as to give the assertion greater authority.  Hamilton frequently deploys these type of rhetorical tricks to empower Palestinian claims.  And the assertion is actually false.  Israel does not consider Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank"), any part of Jerusalem or Gaza "occupied".  And only the racists at Reuters and the Arabs themselves refer to the eastern part of Jerusalem as "Arab East Jerusalem".

Hamilton and Sawafta really should consider giving up their day jobs at Reuters and joining Nabil Abu Rdainah as official spokesmen for the Palestinian Authority.  They would be infinitely more suited to the role.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Reuters forgets a little something III

Reuters correspondents leap at the opportunity to identify the Israel Supreme (High) Court and quote Justices by name when legal decisions taken by the Court comport with correspondents' personal political views and advocacy agendas.  Conversely, when High Court rulings are viewed as an affront by these same correspondents, readers are rarely informed that the ruling was handed down by the highest Court in the land nor are Justices identified.  In this way, Reuters' correspondents laud and promote decisions they like and devalue decisions they hold in contempt (no pun intended).

Caught in the act once again, are Reuters correspondents Tom Perry and Allyn Fisher-Ilan who report:
An Israeli court on Wednesday rejected a request by a Palestinian woman from the Gaza Strip to study in the Israeli-occupied West Bank despite Israel's recent moves to relax the Gaza blockade.
Er, yes that was the Israeli High Court.  Note how, by comparison to this Reuters article on Highway 443 where the High Court ruled in favor of Palestinians and correspondent Jeffrey Heller proudly trumpets the decision with all fanfare, the ruling in the more recent case has gone against a Palestinian and Reuters slaps the decision by demoting the Israel High Court to common subordinate status, only anonymously citing the Justices.

Proving once again, that for Reuters, the (Israeli) law is an ass when it disagrees.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Lancet hyperbolizes; Reuters parrots

Reuters reports on a series of articles to be published in the Lancet medical journal tomorrow examining the impact of the Gaza war and blockade on the health of Palestinians living in the Strip.  We've not read the journal issue yet but here are some observations based on Reuters' summary and excerpts of the material.

Correspondent Kate Kelland writes:
Around 1,400 people were estimated to have died and many more injured during the Israeli attack on the occupied Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip between December 2008 and January 2009. The health experts described the destruction of infrastructure, including homes, as "unprecedented."
Er, wake-up call for Reuters: Gaza was not "occupied" in December of 2008 and is not occupied now.

"Unprecedented" destruction.  Please.  The obliteration of Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Romans accompanied by the killing of over 1 million Jews was unprecedented.  Sherman's scorched earth policy during the American Civil War might be considered unprecedented destruction of civilian property.  One could certainly make a case that the instantaneous destruction wrought by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was unprecedented.  But the Gaza war???  This is simply hysterical hyperbole.

Kelland continues:
Almost a third of the sample population was displaced during the war, while 39 percent of their homes were either completely or partly destroyed.
If we read that paragraph correctly, the Lancet is claiming that, based on its "random sample", about 13 percent of homes in Gaza were either completely or partly destroyed.

Yet, according to this article appearing in the UAE newspaper The National, a total of 3,425 homes were destroyed in the war.  How many more were "partly destroyed"?  We haven't seen any hard figures but let's say the number is over three times that of homes completely destroyed, or another 11,000.  That would make a total of just over 14,000 homes sustaining some level of damage.  Reuters is fond of reminding us that Gaza has a population of 1.5 million Palestinians.  With an average family household size of 6.5 individuals, there are approximately 230,000 housing units in Gaza.  14,000 homes represents about 6 percent of this total, less than half of what the Lancet is claiming.  Their sample data would appear to be significantly skewed.

Kelland continues:
Kholoud Nasser from the Ministry of Education in Ramallah, looked at Palestinian children's diets and the knock-on effects for their health and education.
In a study of around 2,000 children and adolescents, she found that one in four misses breakfast -- the main indicator of healthy eating habits -- while one in 10 is anaemic, and one in 17 is stunted. Around 2 percent are underweight and 15 percent are either overweight or obese.
Sounds devastating until you realize that in the US, studies show that more than one in three children misses breakfast.  And according to the United Nations, Palestinian children are among the healthiest in the Middle East.  Only Qatar has a lower rate of stunting across the Arab states and the Palestinian rate actually fell from one in 10 between 2003 and 2008 to one in 17 based on Nasser's more recent study. 

The pernicious propaganda continues unabated.

Spin, slant, and sucker

Reuters publishes another one of its infamous "Factbox" series on the Middle East conflict, this time focusing on political risk for the region.  There are so many gross mischaracterizations in this slanted piece, so much misleading and loaded language, it would take a lengthy critical monograph to fully address all of its fatal flaws.  For the time being, we'll simply paste an excerpt with emphasis added followed by our own "clarifications":
Peace prospects look bleak, with a rightwing Israeli government dominated by advocates of Jewish settlement on occupied land, the Palestinians weak and divided, and few signs of progress in U.S.-mediated, indirect talks that began in May. Israel deeply angered one-time Muslim ally Turkey when its naval commandos killed nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists on May 31 in a melee on board an aid ship running an Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, territory run by Hamas Islamists. Turkey's robust rhetoric and downgrading of ties with Israel won it many friends in the Arab world, underlining Ankara's growing diplomatic and economic clout in the region.
- "a rightwing Israeli government dominated by advocates of Jewish settlement on occupied land"

Reuters consistently characterizes the current Israeli government this way as if it were extreme or unique in its view on the future of Israeli communities beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines.  But the fact is, by a large majority, Israelis of all political stripes support settlement construction and even the relatively left-wing Kadima party advocates for a united Jerusalem.  And of course, the current Israeli Defense Minister (and de facto Foreign Minister), Ehud Barak, is a member of the even more extreme left-wing Labour party which itself supports retaining major settlement blocs in the disputed territories.

- "the Palestinians weak and divided"

As an appeal to pity, this facile characterization forms the core of Reuters Palestinian advocacy agenda.  The Palestinians are perpetually portrayed and consequently perceived by the global community as weak, destitute, divided, and oppressed by the Israelis who are alternatively painted as mighty and rapacious, intent on stealing land and keeping the Palestinians disenfranchised.  This false narrative must be maintained at all costs or thousands of journalists, UN agency bureaucrats, and "human rights" jobbers would be plunged out of work.

- "pro-Palestinian activists on May 31 in a melee on board an aid ship"

As is now well-known, dozens of passengers on the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara were armed members of the jihadist group İnsani Yardım Vakfı (IHH).  They had planned violence, prepared weapons, and embraced martyrdom.  The ship itself, carried no humanitarian aid whatsoever.  It's time to end the charade about "activists" and "aid".

-  "Turkey's robust rhetoric"

Nice euphemism; the Turkish Prime Minister has referred to Israel as "a festering boil in the Middle East".  But the Turkish government, which, if it did not dispatch, certainly permitted the Mavi Marmara to sail despite Israel's many exhortations to interrupt it, is clearly complicit in the violence and deaths that resulted from the attacks on the Israeli boarding party.  Yet, in more than 500 stories on the incident appearing on its website, Reuters has yet to even broach this subject.  Perhaps the news agency doesn't wish to arouse Turkish ire.  One never knows what "robust rhetoric" Erdogan might dream up for Reuters correspondents.

Reuters forgets a little something II

In a story on the arrest of one of the Hamasniks who has been ordered by the Israeli High Court to leave Jerusalem, Reuters correspondent Dan Williams calls attention to Israel's detention of other members of Hamas since the terrorist group took power in Gaza:
Abu-Teir was among dozens of Hamas politicians from Jerusalem and the West Bank that Israel rounded up in 2006 after the Islamist group, which rejects Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's peacemaking strategies, swept a legislative election.
Williams also cites Palestinian President Mahoud Abbas' indignant reaction to the prospect of the expulsions:
The plan to deport Abu-Teir, Attoun, fellow Hamas lawmaker lawmaker Muhammad Totah and former Hamas cabinet minister Khaled Abu Arafeh has been condemned by Abbas
What Williams doesn't say, is that Abbas' security forces have jailed without trial, nearly 1,000 Hamas supporters in "East Jerusalem" and the "West Bank" during the same period.  Many were tortured.

A part of Reuters' continuing effort to portray Israel as a brutal oppressor while neatly sanitizing Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.