Monthly Archives: December 2002

Media Bias

Media bias on the Middle East conflict is claimed by both sides. The Palestinians are sure that the world, or America, is closer to Israel, while Israelis view the world as a hostile place.
I myself cannot find any bias against the Palestinians, and I have been looking. On the other hand, a series of articles and headlines in the New York Times have rid any doubt that the Media goes to great lengths to make Israel the bad-guy.
I will not even comment on the “human interest” piece the New York Times published on December 28th for lack of a better story, as a chance for James Bennet to further advance his ideology using a Palestinian boxer as his pawn.
Instead, here is one very simple example that isn’t usually caught due to its normalicy: two back-to-back headlines in the New York Times. On December 27th, the Times reported that Israeli Raids Kill at Least 8 Palestinians, and on December 29th, according to the Times Gunmen Kill 4 Inside Yeshiva in West Bank.
The devil, as the saying goes, is in the details.
The first headline, “Israeli Raids Kill at Least 8 Palestinians” makes it pretty clear to the casual glancer that Palestinians, assumed to be civilians, were killed by Israel in an aggressive action (a “raid”). The other headline, however, is much more confusing. “Gunmen Kill 4 Inside Yeshiva in West Bank”–Palestinians live in the West Bank, so if one did not know what a Yeshiva was–say a non-Jew read the headline–you could think that Israeli gunmen killed another four supposed civilians.
But the facts are exactly the opposite: the Palestinians killed were mostly terrorists from the Islamic Jihad, and not civilians, but you wouldn’t know that until you read through the entire article. Those bystanders regretfully hit were put in danger by the terrorists themselves. And yet those killed in the Yeshiva were unarmed Jews, civilians in every sense of the word.
Why are “at Least 8 Palestinians Killed” but “Gunmen Kill 4” when it comes to Jews? Aren’t Jews or Israelis people too? Why does it matter that the murder was in a Yeshiva? Is it more justifiable or understandable that the “gunmen” murdered the Jews in a Yeshiva then, say, if they were Palestinian terrorists?
What if the headline read “Palestinian Attack Kills At Least 4 Israelis” and “Gunmen Kill 8 Inside West Bank”? Or how about “Terrorists Kill 4 Unarmed Israeli Civilians” and “IDF Confronts Terrorists in West Bank; 8 Killed.”
But it wouldn’t. The New York Times would never dare to join with the rest of the world community in calling the Islamic Jihad a terrorist organization, nor would it call those who live in the West Bank human beings. Hey, this is the New York Times–it cannot make moral judgments, can it?

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas for the Muslims in Bethlehem

Probably the most ridiculous thing the press has been interested in these days–and almost every service carried a story about this–is Israel’s ban of Arafat from Bethlehem. Although I personally do not see a reason for Arafat not to go to Bethlehem if he so wishes, I also do not see a reason why he would want to.
Let’s face it, the Palestinian Authority is waging and underground war against the Christians in their midst. As the British Daily Telegraph reported, the Bethelem Christians do not dream of Arafat but of a Green Card.
As the Telegraph reports, “the Christians are fewer than 50,000 among more than three million Palestinians and they are leaving at an estimated 500 to 1,000 a year. With a long tradition of emigration and smaller families, they have lost the demographic race with the Muslims. They made up 17 per cent of the population in the 1940s but are now an insignificant minority of 1.7 per cent.”
“Fr Peter Madros, a Roman Catholic priest in Bethlehem, said all Palestinians were victims of the “cruel and absurd” armed uprising which, he said, had destroyed the economy. But Christians felt particularly abandoned: Muslims had the financial support of Arab and Islamic states and Jewish Israelis were supported by America and Diaspora Jews…there is a new mentality which says Palestine is Islamic, making us second-class citizens.'”
As Dr Bernard Sabella, another Palestinian Christian fears that, “without a strong Christian community, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will worsen: ‘By our presence, we insist on secularisation, pluralism and democracy,’ Dr Sabella said. “If you leave out the Christian element, it will become a religious war between Jews and Muslims, not a political conflict, and that is courting disaster.'”
And then this is the clincher: in an AP story Bassam Bannoura, pastor of the Shepherd’s Field Baptist Church, was quoted as saying that “hardships caused by Muslim fundamentalism and by Israel were causing Christians to leave the Holy Land.” Later, after the Palestinian Authority was aware of the story, and it probably sent its thugs to threaten Pastor Bannoura and AP reporters, the AP made sure to clarify in another post that “Bannoura says he was referring to ‘the rise of fundamentalism’ of all kinds, political and religious, not just among Muslims but also among Jews and others.”
Since anyone who has worked with wires like AP or Reuters knows that retractions are rarer than Unicorns, I have to say that this is another case of muscle induced media bias, just like the video-taping of the Lyching in Ramallah.

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Palestinian Elections

Palestinian Elections

Europe has never been a very good judge of character (remember appeasement in the ’30s) and the situation in Iraq is a good example, but the best modern example, naturally, is Europe’s relationship with the Palestinian Authority and Yassir Arafat.
We should separate Europe’s feelings for Arafat from their feelings for Israel–the two are connected, needless to say, but in this case we should look at them as individual relationships in order for us to understand the depth of their self-delusion.
The cases of undue respect and trust are too numerous to name–although Terje Roed-Larsen’s account of Jenin comes to mind–but the latest and greatest is the belief that the Palestinian Authority is a Democracy.
Reuters’ recent publication that “Palestinians Call Off January Election” shows the utter dream-world in which the Western world lives: they actually believed that there would be elections. One would think that the years of Arafat’s brutal reign would have hinted toward the thought that, just maybe, he doesn’t even intend on stepping down, or giving his people the democratic right for self-representation.
When I worked on a peace-project in Israel/Palestine in 1998 I had a partner named Basel Abu-Said from Gaza. Those were the days of Oslo, and he was a student in Kturah, a kibbutz in Israel’s south, so he would go in and out of the Gaza Strip. He told me once that as he entered he was detained by Arafat’s police and questions for hours about his contacts with me and other Israelis. His story made it clear to me then, in the middle of the Oslo process, that Arafat has no desire to allow peace to exist, since peace, and the democracy that would follow, would undermine his authority.
Back to the Reuters story, the most remarkable thing is the excuses they give. “Palestinians decided on Sunday to postpone indefinitely a general election scheduled for January, saying it was difficult to hold a vote while Israeli forces continued to occupy West Bank cities. ‘Due to the Israeli reoccupation, obstruction and closures, it is impossible to convene the election on January 20,’ cabinet minister Saeb Erekat told Reuters after a Palestinian government meeting on the vote.”
Right–as if there was really a meeting during which the ministers decided. Reuters does not mention that Arafat’s cabinet resigned only two months ago, while Arafat restocked his cabinet with rubber-stamp cronies. Also, why wouldn’t Reuters mention that Israel is holding its elections during a brutal campaign of terrorist attacks–a danger made apparent during the attack carried out on the day of the Likud primaries.
The most incredulous thing is that Reuters reports that “Ordinary Palestinians welcomed the postponement of the vote. ‘This is the right decision because how can people move while tanks are in towns? How can candidates move freely,’ asked Nael Arar, a teacher from the West Bank city of Ramallah.'” Please. That’s like Reuters asking the people of Iraq whether Saddam should be president for another six years.
When will Europe wake up? In the end, their dream-world only perpetuates the persecution of the Palestinian people.

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Asad in London

Asad in London

The confluence of two separate headlines in one day regarding Syria struck me as interesting.
One, on Bashir Asad’s roadtrip to London, entitled “What Syria’s Leader Wants from the West,” speaks about how boy-king of Syria was greeted with open hands by Tony Blair. PM Blair even goes to say that “young Bashar is ‘determined to bring about real change in Syria and there are encouraging signs. There is new legislation to enable foreign banks to operate and moves to reform public administration.'”
Interesting, especially when “Syria remains one of the worst state-sponsors of international terrorism, providing a haven for leaders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas,” as noted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
But the second headline is what strikes me most. Blair, who is busy trying to convince the British people that Saddam is the bad-guy and must be done away with, has not mentioned that Syria remains Iraq’s closest aid through the smuggling of Iraqi oil. As the London Times notes, “Syria has expanded its oil-smuggling operation with Iraq by opening a second pipeline between the two countries, according to intelligence based on recent satellite photographs.”
Or, as the headline reads, “Syrian pipeline helps Iraq evade UN oil sanctions.”
Blair’s avoidance of the issue of Syrian complicity in international terror makes me question Thomas Friedman’s judgement in his nomination of Blair for President.

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British Boycott Continues and

In continuation of the British boycott issue, the British newspaper, the Telegraph, reports that the boycott could cost lives:
“Lady Greenfield, who is also a professor of pharmacology at Oxford University and a council member of the foundation which regulates the Weizmann Institute, a prestigious cancer research centre, issued a warning last night, however, that it could put the well-being of the British public at risk.
“She said: ‘The obvious implication of the boycott is that if this is stopping medical research from being propagated, then the development of treatments and people’s lives could be affected.
“‘If it continues it will harm people in every sphere but in medical research lives are potentially at risk. What are they trying to achieve by doing this? It is a situation where everyone loses.'”
What I wonder is how the British can justify boycotting Israel while the British still occupy Ireland?

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Various Types of Anti-Semitism

The Daily Report notes an article in the British Newspaper, The Guardian: British academic boycott of Israel gathers pace by Andy Beckett and Ewen MacAskill. In short they find that:
“Evidence is growing that a British boycott of Israeli academics is gathering pace as British and Israeli academics list various incidents in which visits, research projects, and publication of articles have been blocked. Professor Paul Zinger, outgoing head of the Israeli Science Foundation, said: “Every year we send most of our research papers abroad for reference. We send out about 7,000 papers a year. This year, for the first time, we had people writing back, about 25 of them, saying ‘We refuse to look at these’.”
This is not an anti-Israel since it has no bearing on the politics of the academic, and the fact that this goes on shows the ugly side of Europe’s politicized Academia–one of the many reasons that European Academics have fallen behind.
The most revolting thing is the way the British have abandoned the idea of the free exchange of ideas, which is the bastion of an effective academia, and instead opted for homogeneity. The following example makes me furious:
“Dr Oren Yiftachel, a left-wing Israeli academic at Ben Gurion University, complained that an article he had co-authored with a Palestinian was initially rejected by the respected British journal Political Geography. He said it was returned to him unopened with a note stating that Political Geography could not accept a submission from Israel.
“Mr Yiftachel said that, after months of negotiation, the article is to be published but only after he agreed to make substantial revisions, including making a comparison between his homeland and apartheid South Africa.” [emphasis added]
If this is how the British are acting, I wonder what stories are hidden in France and Denmark.

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Europe Is At It Again

One of the most revolting discoveries of the past two years is the degree of anti-Semitism still inherent in European society. One would think that the Holocaust got it out of their system, but I guess not. My friend David Levitz, who has been working in Denmark, has experienced this rise in anti-Semitism personally, and has been shocked by the complacency of the majority of the Danish people.
An article that has come out recently on this is by Jeffry V. Mallow, President of the Labor Zionist Alliance. I highly suggest you read all of it, and have included a part of the text below.
[from Save European Jewry?]
“Following two suicide bombings in September, for which Hamas and Islamic Jihad took credit, Israel again isolated Yaser Arafat in his Ramallah compound. This move, yet another act of desperation by Prime Minister Sharon, was both unwise and counterproductive, doing nothing to encourage Palestinian moderates and everything to strengthen radicals. And, predictably, it had to be undone.
But even more predictable, and discouraging, was the European response. For two days, starting with the first of the two suicide bombings and continuing through the second, deafening silence. As soon as the Israeli retaliation began, there was the European Union’s statement of condemnation. As usual, it contained a nod to Israel’s “legitimate security needs” — in the context of how the retaliation did nothing to secure these. True, but coming from those who said nothing between the bombings and the retaliation, the concern rings a bit hollow. And it is in keeping with the previous behavior of the EU: its selective morality, its collective amnesia on the Barak offer and the Arafat rejection, its admission that it knew that some of its funds to the Palestinian Authority were going for arms. What is the effect of all this? The EU is doing precisely that of which it accuses Sharon: undercutting Palestinian moderates and encouraging radicals. And it is also undercutting Jewish moderates and encouraging radicals.”
* * *
“There is no daylight between the behaviors of the best and worst of Western European nations. I fear that the mission of American and Israeli Jews over the next years may be to rescue European Jewry. Not that there are no positive signs. France in the last weeks has apparently put a halt to physical attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions. (Why did it take two years? And why did it only happen when non-Jewish state institutions also came under attack?) A French delegate to the European Parliament has demanded an accounting of EU monies used by the Palestinian Authority to purchase weapons, and has called for appropriate sanctions. Some Danish Muslims have spoken out against attacks on Jews. Non-Jewish Danish friends have tried to reassure me that “native Danes” are not anti-Semitic, and that there is no reason for Jews to emigrate. Perhaps. Perhaps Europe is at a crossroads and may still choose the right path. Or perhaps it is already too late.”

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