Saturday, July 30, 2011

Palestinian image-making

Integral to Reuters' long-standing propaganda campaign on behalf of the Palestinian Arabs is the depiction of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as a perennial peace-loving diplomat.  If Reuters provided an accurate historical portrayal of Abbas, i.e., as a Holocaust-denying protege of Yasser Arafat who arranged financing for the terror attack and massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Munich Olympics, the agency's Western audiences might come away with a very different perception of Abbas' motives and strategy in previous negotiations with Israel.

In a story on Abbas calling for Palestinians to increase "resistance" in anticipation of their statehood bid at the United Nations in September, Reuters kingpin propagandist and serial liar Tom Perry continues with the sham image-making:
Long an opponent of violence by Palestinians, Abbas has faced domestic criticism for appearing hesitant to support other forms of activism such as protests and marches, part of what Palestinians call "popular resistance."
Perry doesn't tell readers that as recently as 2008, Abbas told interviewers:
“At this present juncture, I am opposed to armed struggle because we cannot succeed in it, but maybe in the future things will be different [...]  I had the honor of firing the first shot in 1965 and of being the one who taught resistance to many in the region and around the world; what it’s like; when it is effective and when it isn’t effective; its uses, and what serious, authentic and influential resistance is….  It is common knowledge when and how resistance is detrimental and when it is well timed….  We [Fatah] had the honor of leading the resistance and we taught resistance to everyone, including Hizbullah, who trained in our military camps."
Perry attempts to dupe his audience into believing that Abbas is hesitant to call even for peaceful protests and marches when the historical record demonstrates that Abbas actually defines "resistance" on a much grander scale, i.e., armed violence, and openly boasts that he has spearheaded violence in the past, served as a model for the use of violence by other terror groups, and may encourage his people to turn to violence again in the future, when the time is right.

Faithful reporting on this point would of course, undermine Perry's entire advocacy campaign so instead, we are fed fictions.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cheerleading for war

Reuters Jerusalem correspondent Dan Williams hosts a personal Twitter account called:
Last we checked, there was no war in the Middle East, nor was war imminent. 

What does a personal social network with this title tell us about Williams' mindset?

What does it tell us about his motivations?

What does it tell us about the lean of his reporting?

What does it tell us about the news agency he works for which has as its advertised core values, independence, integrity and freedom from bias?


Because after all, Reuters correspondents might have to join the ranks of the unemployed if peace became a permanent fixture in the Middle East.

They sell us the president the same way
They sell us our clothes and our cars
They sell us everything from youth to religion
The same time they sell us our wars 

-- Jackson Browne, Lives in the Balance

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chicanery, thy name is Reuters

Reuters correspondents, who are obliged to uphold the Reuters Trust Principles of bias-free reporting, have a nasty and highly unethical habit of using sources to give voice to their (the correspondents) own views.  They do this a couple of different ways: first, they typically choose to interview or cite only those officials who share their views.  Second, when citing officials who hold contrary views, they fabricate, actually putting words in the mouths of the source.

In a story on the Israeli army's preparations for a possible September breach of the country's borders by Palestinian "refugees" comparable to what occurred in May and June, Dan Williams quotes cites manufactures language drawn from an interview with an Israeli officer:
TEL AVIV, July 19 (Reuters) - Israel will reinforce its border defences in anticipation of protests by supporters of a Palestinian state in September and could target protest leaders with live ammunition, a military commander said on Tuesday.
Palestinians hope the United Nations will vote in September to recognise a Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip but Israel has lobbied against the move and it could face a U.S. veto in the Security Council.

The officer said there must be no repeat of the events of May 15, when scores of Palestinian refugees and sympathisers, some hurling rocks, crossed a fenced and mined armistice line on the occupied Golan Heights.

"It is the military's duty to defend the country's borders and sovereignty, and that is what we will do," said the commander, who declined to be identified.

Although the officer said Israel did not know how ordinary Palestinians might react in September, he envisaged a scenario of "mass-disturbances resulting from dismay at this-or-that U.N. decision not being felt on the ground".

Israeli soldiers killed 13 people during the May 15 protest and Syria accused Israeli forces of killing 23 others on June 5 when protesters surged against the fortified boundary fence on Syria's Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Troops were now being equipped and trained with "less lethal" means for use on the boundaries with the Syrian Golan, Lebanon, occupied West Bank or Gaza, the commander said.
Did an Israeli officer actually refer to the "Syrian Golan" or the "occupied West Bank"?  We don't think so.  That would be a bit like an American military official referring to the "Mexican Rockies" or "occupied Tejas".

It's far more likely that Williams has simply fabricated this citation in an effort to reinforce, in the minds of his readers, these loaded characterizations and lead his audience to believe that Israelis view these territories the same way he views them, i.e., as sovereign to the Arabs.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Slippery Dan Williams, caught lying repeatedly, tries new tack

Reuters correspondent Dan Williams, who has repeatedly prevaricated on the nature of the Mavi Marmara, the Islamist-sponsored and manned ship where İnsani Yardım Vakfı (IHH) operatives attempted to lynch Israeli marines, employs some cheap sophistry to deceive his audience while adapting his previous story lines:
(Reuters) - Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday he would not quit the coalition government if it decides to apologize to Turkey for killing 9 Turks aboard a pro-Palestinian activist ship last year.
Lieberman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's most powerful and hawkish political partner, has publicly scorned meeting Ankara's demand that Israel atone for storming the Mavi Marmara as it led an aid flotilla toward the blockaded Gaza Strip.
So the claim is no longer that the Mavi Marmara was itself an aid ship; Williams now tells us that it was merely leading an aid flotilla.  A small step back, although Williams refuses to atone for his previous false reporting with a formal retraction of his claims that the Mavi Marmara was ferrying aid to Palestinians in Gaza.  This failure to correct his "error" openly is, at a minimum, a serious violation of the Reuters Trust Principles and Handbook of Journalism.

And of course, that carefully contrived phrase, "as it led an aid flotilla" (was the Mavi Marmara first in the queue of six vessels?), is clearly designed to give readers the false impression that the Mavi Marmara had as its raison d'etre, the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza -- a notion proven false by its empty cargo bays, heavily armed passengers, and a standing Israeli invitation to deliver aid through other channels.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Reuters: Hamas "conservative" but caring

Reuters correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi writes of the plight of battered women in the Gaza Strip and the safe-house which shelters them:
(Reuters) - Most safe-houses in the Gaza Strip are meant to provide protection for armed militants on Israel's target list. Now Gaza is offering protected shelter to battered Palestinian women.
Its lone women's safe-house, opened two months ago, has had eight clients, all guarded by police from the Islamist Hamas movement that runs the enclave and enforces a conservative though not radical Muslim religious code.
So-called 'honor killings' are rare but not unknown among religious Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank, and like every society it is not immune to wife-beating.
Even in a piece ostensibly written to call attention to social problems in Gaza, al-Mughrabi attempts to sanitize the oppressive nature of Hamas and its brand of Islam.  Hamas enforces a "conservative" not radical Muslim religious code?

We beg to differ.  As, we're certain, does the male hairdresser arrested for cutting a woman's hair.  And the women who have been banned from dancing, riding behind men on motor scooters, or arrested for walking on the beach with a man.  Not to mention the woman who was jailed for committing adultery with her husband when she couldn't produce a marriage certificate for the morality police.  Or the man who has been in prison for more than a year because he is gay.  The list goes on and on: banned books, imposed dress codes, beatings and detention for those who resist.

In Reuters upside down world, a "conservative" code.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Propaganda? What propaganda?

In a carefully contrived propaganda campaign intended to coerce their readers to view the city of Jerusalem as belonging to the Palestinians (Arabs) rather than the Israelis (Jews), Reuters correspondents artificially bifurcate the city and systematically refer to the eastern portion, including the Old City, as either "East Jerusalem" (capital "E") or with the ahistorical and racist misnomer, "Arab East Jerusalem".

In fact, Jerusalem is a single city with a Jewish-majority population, founded and built by the Jews more than 3,000 years ago, and only divided into eastern (Arab) and western (Jewish) precincts for 19 short years when the Arab League invaded, conquered, and occupied the Old City, ethnically cleansing the Jewish community from the area in 1948.

As evidence of Reuters propaganda campaign and systematic bias against Jewish interests, note how mendacious correspondent Allyn Fisher-Ilan characterizes the western portion of Jerusalem:
There were no immediate reports of any injuries or arrests in the protest that disrupted a section of predominantly Jewish populated western Jerusalem.
So you see, in Reuters Orwellian universe, the eastern portion of Jerusalem is a separate and distinct city sovereign to the Arabs ("Arab East Jerusalem") whereas the western portion of the city is merely "predominantly Jewish populated western Jerusalem".

No bias here.

Reuters pulling its handbook from public view?

Reuters publishes online, a 500+ page "Handbook of Journalism" which lays out the agency's guiding ethical principles for its journalists:
Everything we do as Reuters journalists has to be independent, free from bias and executed with the utmost integrity. These are our core values and stem from the Reuters Trust Principles. As a real-time, competitive news service whose reputation rests on reliability, we also value accuracy, speed and exclusivity. The way in which we, as Reuters employees, live these values is governed by the Reuters Code of Conduct. That code, with a few notable exceptions that apply specifically to journalists, governs the behaviour of all Reuters employees and is essential reading. As journalists, however, we have additional responsibilities if we are to fulfil the highest aspirations of our profession - to search for and report the truth, fairly, honestly and unfailingly.
We frequently refer and link to relevant sections of the Handbook to demonstrate how Reuters correspondents fail miserably to honor their own professed standards and values.

For nearly a week, the Handbook has been unavailable online with the following glitch message appearing for all links:
Parse error: syntax error, unexpected T_NAMESPACE, expecting T_STRING in E:\webs\handbookofjournalism\includes\Namespace.php on line 44
For those readers wishing to reference the Reuters Handbook, it is cached by Scribd here.

We shall be linking to the cached version until Reuters corrects its "parse" and "syntax" error.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Arab nations welsh on aid commitments to Palestinians; Reuters asserts Palestinians are being punished for statehood quest

We linked to a story last month about Arab nations welshing on their promises of financial aid to the Palestinians.  That story went unreported by Reuters but this month, correspondent Tom Perry wants readers to believe that the Arab states are reneging on their aid commitments in order to pressure the Palestinians not to apply for statehood at the United Nations:
Palestinian Authority employees, who received only half wages in July, are getting a taste of what could be in store if their leaders defy Washington and follow through on plans to take their statehood quest to the United Nations in September.
Dependent on aid from Europe, the United States and its Arab allies, some of which has not been forthcoming this year, the Palestinians are facing a financial crisis which a senior official linked directly to their decision to go on the diplomatic offensive at the United Nations General Assembly.
"It's part of the pressure on us to take the wrong decisions," Nabil Abu Rdainah, a senior aide to President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters.
"We saw this film with Yasser Arafat several times. You either say 'yes' or you face hunger," he said, referring to the late Palestinian leader. "They will not pay you and will not let the others pay you."
Perry doesn't provide a shred of evidence for his assertion that financial aid is being withheld by donor nations due to the Palestinian statehood drive.  Nor does he mention that the Arab states have failed to meet their financial commitments to the Palestinians not just this year, but over a multitude of years.  Nor, by the way, does Perry report that the Arab League is entirely supportive of the Palestinian effort to enlist the United Nations to wrestle land away from Israeli control and should therefore, happily fund it. 

In fact, Perry's entire story is a red herring, designed to conceal the fact that the Palestinian Authority is flat broke, not due to the U.S. applying pressure to donor nations, but due to mismanagement, corruption, and the diversion of foreign aid to Hamas and the terrorists on its payroll.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Jeffrey Heller forgets a little something

The Israeli parliament passed legislation today allowing parties to sue for financial damages when they are injured by boycott campaigns. In an eleven-paragraph story on the bill, Reuters Jerusalem Bureau Editor-in-Charge Jeffrey Heller devotes seven paragraphs to citing opponents of the bill, two paragraphs violating the Reuters Handbook by refusing to provide the dual names of politically disputed territory at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Judea and Samaria/the West Bank), and one paragraph attempting to portray the Israeli government as extremist by employing a cheap political label.

What Heller fails to do in all eleven paragraphs, is report the truth. He tells readers:
Supporters of the bill said its reference to boycotts based on "geography" was aimed at countering calls in Israel and abroad for cultural and economic boycotts against settlements in the West Bank, occupied land Palestinians want for a state.
But the legislation has been written to protect not just those who are financially injured by boycotts aimed at settlements in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank") but also those who are injured by boycotts aimed at Israelis in Israel.  Absent such legal protections, Israelis would have little recourse against those who seek to eradicate the Jewish state via Nazi-inspired economic and cultural boycotts.

Heller misses the point of these boycotts -- and wants his readers to miss the same point.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A revealing admission and a revealing question

On Thursday, we linked to a video of the 2009 Reuters-hosted symposium on media in the Middle East, which excluded any Israeli participants.

At 28:15 of the video, Nakhle el Hage, Director of News and Current Affairs at Al Arabiya, notes that by and large, Arab media takes a short-term approach to winning audiences:
We tell people what they want to hear.  If they want to see pictures of massacres, we show them.  If they want us to tell them that any Arab or Muslim killed in any part of the world, even if he or she are terrorists, are martyrs, also we can win the people.
Later, at 40:53, el Hage goes on to explain that Arab media has a "big problem" in that their audience is "very emotional" and has been "trained" since the time they were children to adopt a cause, to have an enemy and to believe that the media should be part of the political campaign against that enemy.  He notes that Arab audiences watching conflicts like the 2006 war in Lebanon and the 2008 war in Gaza behave like spectators at a football match who want to see more blood and more fighting and that media firms which offer this, like Al Arabiya, successfully increase the size of their audience.  To this, Caroline Drees, currently Reuters Managing Editor for the Middle East and Africa, asks:
Why is it a problem?  Who are we to educate the audience of what they should want?
El Hage is compelled to explain to Drees that they are in the news industry and should give people the news, not football matches.

Judging by the bias and cheerleading endemic to Reuters Middle East reporting, it's obvious Drees wasn't listening.

"We're not antisemitic, just anti-Israeli"

With propaganda, writer and editor choose their words very carefully in an effort to covertly influence the reader to embrace a biased message.  Take for example this story by Reuters correspondent Robert Evans on the latest scandal involving U.N. official Richard Falk:
GENEVA, July 8 (Reuters) - The United States said on Friday it has called on the U.N. human rights investigator for the Palestinian territories to resign after he published a cartoon on his blog which he later withdrew as "anti-semitic".
The U.S. diplomatic mission said its ambassador to the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, Eileen Donahoe, had made the call in lodging a "strong protest" with the world body about the investigator, 80-year-old U.S. academic Richard Falk.
Falk, long a controversial figure, has himself apologised for running the cartoon showing a dog wearing a blue-and-white Israeli skullcap and a body-warmer marked USA chewing on human bones while urinating on a figure representing justice.
Note that the specific allegation made by the United States and acknowledged as true by Falk is that the cartoon is antisemitic.  And a quick glance at the cartoon -- a dog wearing a wrap labeled "USA" and Jewish yarmulke, chewing on a bloody skeleton while urinating on Lady Justice -- will be interpreted by any impartial observer as clearly antisemitic, i.e., a slur against Jews.

Indeed, there is no such thing as an "Israeli skullcap".  Yet, Evans deliberately mischaracterizes the yarmulke as "Israeli" so as to manipulate readers into perceiving the cartoon as one that is anti-Israeli rather than antisemitic.  This is the same trope and defense employed by those who wish to disguise their (socially unacceptable) antisemitism as (socially acceptable) anti-Israeli sentiment.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Reuters fictionalizes nature of 2010 Gaza flotilla, attributes fantasy to "anonymous" Israeli official

One year and over 100 story iterations later, Reuters is still peddling the fantasy that the Mavi Marmara, the ship where dozens of Turks allied with the Islamist group İnsani Yardım Vakfı (IHH) attempted to lynch Israeli marines, was merely trying to ferry "aid" to Palestinians in Gaza.  And this time, correspondent Dan Williams attributes his fictionalized account to an anonymous Israeli official:
(Reuters) - A U.N. report on Israel's bloody seizure of a Turkish ship trying to carry aid to Gaza will be published on July 27 after delays to enable talks between Israel and Turkey, an Israeli official said on Thursday.
As we've noted too many times to recount, inspection of the Mavi Marmara cargo bays following the incident revealed no humanitarian aid on board.

The notion that the ship was carrying aid is a myth, a misrepresentation, a canard, a fabrication, a crude piece of wartime propaganda, a bald-faced lie.  And the attempt to subtly shift responsibility for that bald-faced lie to an anonymous source, an Israeli source, is also highly unethical and a violation of both the Reuters Trust Principles and Handbook of Journalism.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Reuters: no Jews allowed

At the 2009 World Economic Forum, Caroline Drees, formerly Reuters Middle East Editor and now Managing Editor for the Middle East and Africa, hosted a symposium entitled "Race for an Audience; Media in the Middle East".  On the symposium panel were media executives and analysts from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, and Dubai.  Note that although the symposium did not specifically reference the Arab media, Drees' panel contained no Israeli industry executives or analysts.

According to this interview with Qatar Today in 2010, Drees has lived in the Arab Middle East for over 25 years:
“I have greatly enjoyed discovering the complex fabric of this diverse region,” she said. “Since my first taste of the Arab world when my family moved to Sudan in 1986, I've been lucky enough to work and travel in most Arab countries, learning about the history, heritage and culture of places from Morocco to the Arabian Peninsula.” She also notes the Middle Eastern countries as being “extremely hospitable with a wide variety of great food.”
On her stint in running editorial operations through some difficult times both in Gaza and Tehran, Drees says, “One of the fantastic things about working for Reuters is the people. We have excellent reporting teams in both Gaza and Tehran, and their work during these momentous stories was outstanding. Many other media outlets struggled to report on these events because they weren't present on the ground. But Reuters has reporters based in Gaza and Tehran – and throughout the Middle East – all the time, so we are able to tell the world first-hand about the unfolding news. We were there long before, during and after these events, allowing us to bring true expertise to bear. Thanks to our hard-working and courageous reporters, we were able to give our subscribers news with unparalleled insight and free from bias, in line with the Reuters Trust Principles.
Needless to say, our nearly 600 posts over the last two years evidence a very different type of "news" product delivered to Reuters subscribers than that described by Drees.

Moreover, by virtue of her senior management positions with Reuters in the Middle East, Drees is perhaps most singularly responsible for Reuters correspondents' abject failure to uphold the Reuters Trust Principles and refusal to comply with the agency's Handbook of Journalism in their reporting on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Given her quarter-century living and working in Arab countries and the cultural insularity, racial and religious intolerance endemic to that region, we're frankly not surprised Drees chose not to invite an Israeli to participate in the panel discussion.

Let's just be very clear on Reuters' policy of apartheid.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Today's Orwellian Prize

Today's Orwellian Prize for Journalism goes to Reuters kingpin propagandist and correspondent Tom Perry who pens a feature story on Algerian singer Souad Massi performing in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank") on Tuesday.  Perry writes:
The songwriter and guitarist acclaimed for her extraordinary voice predicts no quick end to the popular uprisings that are reshaping the Middle East.
And she thinks it is only matter of time before the Arab Spring reaches Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, where she performed at a sell-out concert on Tuesday.
"What would have been a miracle in the past, can today happen," said Massi, whose latest album, released in October, includes three songs on the theme of revolution. They include "Let Me Be In Peace," a duet with British star Paul Weller.
The track, she says, is dedicated to the Palestinians, who have waged two major Intifadas, or uprisings, against Israel in the last three decades.
Apparently lost on both Massi and Perry is the irony of a songtrack entitled "Let Me Be in Peace", dedicated to a society which popularized aircraft hijackings and suicide bombings and murdered over 1,000 people, mostly civilians, earlier last decade.

Moving on however, we wonder whether Massi has considered whether she would be welcomed performing songs in the Flamenco style in a Palestinian state where Shari'a is the main source of legislation

Perhaps, but we're guessing she'd have to change her stage costume.

Reuters downplays international recognition of Hamas as a terrorist group

In a story on the Greek government arresting and then releasing the captain of one of the ships originally bound for Gaza in the latest attempt to breach the Israeli weapons embargo of the territory, Reuters correspondent Renee Maltezou writes:
Israel says its blockade of Gaza is aimed at stopping weapons from reaching the enclave's rulers, Hamas -- an Islamist group that is branded a terrorist group by some Western nations.
Quite apart from the Reuters compulsory "we-have-to-provide-an-official-Israeli-explanation-but-it's-just-an Israeli-claim-so-don't-you-believe-it" citation on the purpose of the maritime embargo, Maltezou attempts to subvert nearly universal recognition of Hamas as a terrorist group by asserting that only "some" Western nations have adopted this view.  So let's review the current list of Western nations that see things this way:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bugaria, Canada, Cypress, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the US...

all officially classify Hamas as a terrorist group.

There is of course, Norway, which does not consider Hamas a terrorist group and regularly meets with its leaders but then, the Norwegians are known for mass-murdering defenseless, intelligent sea creatures so we can hardly expect more from them.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Reuters correspondents reach for the Xanax

Correspondents in Reuters Jerusalem Bureau are clearly depressed: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks likely to finish his term in office:
Now, for the first time since Menachem Begin's right-wing government completed its 1977-1981 term, another Likud party leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, appears to be on course to defy the odds, riding on strong economic indicators.
Past the mid-way point after a 2009 election, Netanyahu's Likud-led bonding of religious and right-wing parties as well as legislators who broke away from center-left Labor, shows few signs of fracture before the next vote due in 2013.
With U.S.-backed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks frozen, relative quiet along Israel's borders and a strong economy, there has been little to jolt the coalition or the electorate.
A paucity of opinion polls in the third year of the Netanyahu government is arguably one of the clearest signs that Israelis are not about to bid farewell to 'Bibi' any time soon.  A rare poll last week forecast that if elections were held now, Likud would win 32 of parliament's 120 seats -- up from 27 in the 2009 vote but still short of a governing majority -- compared with 29 for the main opposition centrist Kadima party.
Assuming Netanyahu could keep his current coalition partners, he would emerge from the ballot with about 66 parliamentary seats, the same number his government now controls, according to the survey.
One can sense the utter dismay dripping from the words of Editor-in-Charge Jeffrey Heller as he acknowledges that Netanyahu and his Likud Party are even more popular today than when they came to power in 2009.

What?  You mean Israelis by and large, support a negotiated peace with the Palestinians that would include their recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and a united Jerusalem affording all faiths the freedom to worship?  Oh, the inhumanity!

Yet unsurprisingly, Heller is always able to find those anonymous "critics":
Critics accuse him of pandering to ultranationalists in the coalition, mainly his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, to keep the alliance together rather than pursue peace compromises.
What Heller really meant to write was:
[We at Reuters] accuse him of pandering to [those we slander as] ultranationalists in the coalition, mainly his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, to keep the alliance together rather than pursue [what we consider] peace compromises [but are too pusillanimous to admit in our op-ed].
After dozens of stories where Reuters refused to report that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had offered nearly all of Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank") to the Palestinians to settle the century-old conflict, Heller finally acknowledges the historical record:
He [left-wing writer Aluf Benn] was referring to Olmert's offer to the Palestinians of an Israeli pullout from much of the occupied West Bank and territorial swaps in exchange for major Jewish settlement blocs.
Yet even here, Heller cannot bring himself to inform readers that the Palestinians obdurately refused to accept Olmert's extraordinary offer.

Heller is indeed disheartened that Netanyahu cannot be broken:
With Obama plagued by domestic economic woes and wary of alienating U.S. Jews strongly supportive of Israel, there appears to be little incentive for tough pressure on Netanyahu to bend in the run-up to the president's 2012 re-election bid.
But as is Reuters' long-standing tradition of bias, never a suggestion that that "tough pressure" might be justifiably applied to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his constituency.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Reuters never certain of provocations against Israel; always certain of Israel's culpability

In a story about the Quartet issuing a statement formally discouraging other flotillas from attempting to breach the Israeli naval embargo of Gaza, Reuters correspondent Megan Davies demonstrates, with two paragraphs, everything amiss with the agency's coverage of the Middle East conflict:
In May of last year, Israeli marines intercepted a six-ship flotilla in international waters and killed eight Turks and a Turkish-American aboard one vessel, the Mavi Marmara, owned by a Turkish Islamic charity.
Israel said its marines were attacked by activists wielding metal bars, clubs and knives, but organizers of the convoy denied that. The incident led to a breakdown in already strained ties between Turkey and Israel.
Note that Davies is absolutely certain Israeli marines killed nine passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara but offers only Israel's allegation, rebutted by flotilla organizers, that the marines were attacked by passengers wielding weapons.

This raises essential questions for any journalist, but particularly for a Reuters journalist:
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?”
Despite the presence of overwhelming photographic, video, physical, and eyewitness evidence available to Davies attesting to the assault by passengers on the Israeli marines, the Reuters correspondent apparently cannot say the assault even took place.  Rather, she ignores all of the evidence and twists the incident into a disputed he said, she said, citing anonymous convoy "organizers" to cast doubt on the historical record.

At the same time, the truth is that Davies doesn't know with any certainty whether passengers were killed by the Israeli marines.  In its report for example, the Turkel Commission found that passengers used firearms against soldiers boarding the ship.  Given nighttime conditions, the ensuing melee, and in the absence of any other evidentiary report, it's entirely within the bounds of possibility that one or more of the fatalities were the result of "friendly fire" by the passengers.

As Reuters has consistently done over the past year, Davies also refers innocuously to the Mavi Marmara as being owned by a "Turkish Islamic charity".  This, to suggest a mission with humanitarian intent.  Employing the propaganda technique of card stacking, Davies fails to inform readers that there was no humanitarian aid on board the Mavi Marmara and that the "charity"sponsoring the ship, İnsani Yardım Vakfı (IHH), has a long history of documented ties to Islamist terror groups around the world.  Afforded that information, readers might come away with a somewhat different view -- one contrary to that being peddled by Davies -- of the nature and objectives of the flotilla last year.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Is that a hammer or a power wrench?

As an application of truth in labeling, news organizations that publish opinion pieces by their staff writers invariably identify those pieces as op-eds.  Not Reuters.  The largest news agency in the world, one that promotes itself as committed to the highest standards of truth and accuracy, refuses to provide the simple disclaimer that writer opinion pieces are just that -- opinions.  Instead, we get the oblique "Analysis" discreetly attached to the story on Reuters' website.  This, in a deliberate effort to magically transform the material from personal conjecture to scientific study and enable syndication of an opinion piece that would otherwise be rejected by most news outlets.

In one of those "Analysis" pieces on U.N. indictments associated with the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, Reuters correspondent Mariam Karouny demonstrates why Reuters' refusal to identify an op-ed as such only invites public scrutiny of the company and allows watchdog groups like yours truly to expose the gap between Reuters proclaimed ethical standards and actual practice.

Karouny's basic premise is that:
Indictments by a U.N.-backed court seeking the killers of statesman Rafik al-Hariri, which Lebanese officials say accuse Hezbollah members, will widen the country's political rift and increase sectarian tension.
Only a few months ago, Karouny was parroting the absurd notion that Hezbollah, a Shiite terrorist group which has fought Sunnis and is committed to genocide of the Jews, might not be considered sectarian.  Acknowledging that the Hezbollah indictments will increase sectarian tension in Lebanon is a step in the right direction for the Reuters correspondent.

Unfortunately, Karouny is still a prisoner to her own prejudices and prominently displays these when she sanitizes Syrian oppression of Lebanon:
Tiny Lebanon, with around four million people, has always been a battleground for bigger regional powers. Syria, which had a military presence for 29 years until 2005, remains the most influential external player in Lebanon's sectarian politics.
As we've previously noted, Syria did not simply have a "presence" in Lebanon for nearly three decades; the Assad family controlled all aspects of political decision-making and sovereignty in Lebanon via a brutal military occupation responsible for the killing of approximately 100,000 Lebanese and the flight of about a half a million people (mainly Christians) from the country.  Hezbollah's grip on Lebanese politics today guarantees a continuation of that Syrian domination.  Karouny skates by these facts.

At the same time, Karouny conveys, uncritically, Hezbollah's view of Israel's role in the U.N. investigation:
But officials allied to Hezbollah, which say the tribunal is an Israeli tool, said they were alarmed by the timing of the indictments which were handed over as Mikati's cabinet, which was formed just two weeks ago after months of wrangling, met to agree its policy statement.
Is that a hammer or a power wrench?  Karouny is clearly betraying her own bias here (and violating the Reuters Handbook) by parroting, sans quotation marks, Hezbollah's flippant assertion.

Because Reuters refuses to identify pieces like Karouny's as an op-ed, the agency can be held fully responsible for her failure to uphold the Trust Principles.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Reuters quietly renounces earlier libel

In a recent story about Israel closing the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza following a successful Palestinian attempt to murder Israeli school children with an anti-tank missile, Reuters correspondents Nidal al-Mughrabi and Allyn Fisher-Ilan openly libeled Israel by suggesting, falsely, that basic medicines in Gaza were lacking due to the border closure.  We pointed out that the chronic shortage of medicines was due, not to Israeli policies, but rather to ongoing disputes between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

In a new appeal to pity about living conditions in Gaza, al-Mughrabi, assisted by current Jerusalem Bureau Chief Crispian Balmer and former Bureau Chief Alastair Macdonald, corrects Reuters' previous libel -- well, sort of:
Mahmoud Daher, the Gaza office director of the World Health Organisation (WHO), said shortages of medicine and medical equipment were at an "unprecedented" level, forcing the cancellation of some operations and evacuation of patients.
However, this problem cannot be blamed directly on Israel.
Daher said the two main reasons were a failure by the Palestinian authorities to pay suppliers on time and a lack of cooperation between health authorities in the West Bank and Gaza, which are governed by rival Palestinian movements.
With this story, Reuters has abandoned its previous calumny against Israel but, in violation of its Trust Principles and Handbook of Journalism, fails to openly retract the earlier false allegation.