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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Another Feature Article by the Post Solicitous of Hamas, Downplaying Its Terrorism and Faulting Israel for Hamas's Political Successes

There are a number of views as to the reasons for Hamas's political successes in some West Bank and Gaza elections. One view credits the culture of anti-Israel hatred that permeates Arab society, causing the majority of Palestinian Arabs to be less interested in peace and their own economic rehabilitation than in the continuation of their battle (jihad?) to destroy Israel. Another view blames Hamas's successes on years of ineffectual and corrupt leadership by the Palestinian Authority during a period when Hamas, rather than the PA, was providing much needed welfare services to the Palestinian Arab population. 

A third view was given center stage in an article by the Post's new reporter in Israel, Scott Wilson. The Washington Post never saw an opinion blaming Israel that it didn't like and wouldn't repeat, and, as a result, this tendentious article echoes Palestinian propaganda faulting Israel's defensive security measures, including the Security Fence - adopted by Israel to defend itself against terrorism - for Hamas's political success. (In Politics, Hamas Gains in the West Bank, Some in Qalqilyah Say Frustration With Israeli Wall Weakened Fatah, 6-29-05, A11) The article selectively quotes Palestinians (one of whom is a member of Hamas who served a jail term in Israel) and one unnamed Israeli source in support of this notion that Israel's own conduct in defending itself has radicalized the Palestinian population, as if it wasn't radicalized already when terrorists launched six bombings in seven days over the Passover holiday in the year 2002. Here are some quotes from the article: 

  • "But he said the wall, which Israeli officials said they built around the city for security reasons, has enhanced Hamas's standing more than ever and helped the group's members get elected."

  • "Some Palestinian officials say the economic hardship that has resulted from Israeli military operations in the West Bank, many of them designed to prevent attacks, has disillusioned former Fatah supporters and strengthened a radical movement that refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist."

  • "Mahmoud Abdul Khalil is one of an estimated 17,000 people from Qalqilyah and its surrounding villages who lost jobs in Israel because they can no longer secure permits to cross into the country. He supports the new Hamas-linked leadership."

  • "'The wall made Qalqilyah famous, but it has had an extraordinarily negative effect on the city,' said Hashem Masri, the new Hamas deputy mayor, sitting behind his large, tidy desk in city hall. 'The wall was a factor in our election, generating the anger from the Palestinian people who are so much in need.'"

We have no doubt that the reasons for Hamas's political successes are complicated and may involve a number of factors. Palestinian anger at being frustrated in their efforts to kill more Israelis may even be one of them. Mr. Wilson should have noted that many would interpret the complaints of those Palestinians he quotes as bitterness over terrorism having been rendered largely ineffective by the Security Fence in Northern Israel. It would have been far more astute and better journalism for this reporter to have given equal coverage and attention to terrorism as the cause of Israel's security measures, rather than seeking to bury or downplay it.

The following letters by Judge Herbert Grossman and Leo Rennert focus on a number of additional problems with this article:

To: The Washington Post
From: Judge Herbert Grossman

There is something lacking in Scott Wilson's value system when he can view the economic effect on Palestinians of the barrier around the city of Qalqilyah in the West Bank as the main concern and the loss of Israeli lives from suicide bombing attacks by Palestinians from Qalqilyah, frequent before the barrier was built, as only an incidental one. True, as his article "In Politics, Hamas Gains in the West Bank" (news, June 29, 2005) discloses, he interviewed mainly convicted Palestinian terrorists and they do not put a premium on human lives, especially Jewish ones. But, presumably, Wilson has a less barbarous background, in Western civilized society, and should have absorbed some of its humanity.

But even in the context of purely economic and political considerations, it is inexcusable for Wilson to simply repeat criticisms of Israel by Palestinians on "occupation," loss of jobs in Israel, and not benefiting from the peace process, without acknowledging that Qalqilyah was freed of Israeli occupation from 1994 until the middle of 2002 under the peace process and that over 150,000 Palestinians had daily jobs in Israel until that latter time, when Israel moved back into Palestinian-inhabited areas in the West Bank, began building the barrier, and closed its own doors, to successfully stem the wave of suicide bombings.

Palestinians should put the blame for their economic hardships where it belongs -- on themselves. And it will not relieve their plight to elect to public office Hamas candidates dedicated to the annihilation of Israel's Jews, who will only perpetuate the self-inflicted conflict that destroyed their economy.

Judge Herbert Grossman

To: The Washington Post
From: Leo Rennert

Scott Wilson's piece about the political inroads of Hamas in the West Bank is flawed on two important counts: It fundamentally errs in giving readers too roseate a picture of who and what Hamas actually is and it lacks balance in describing the pros and cons of Israel's security barrier and its effects on people on both sides. Let me explain:

Wilson describes Hamas as a "radical movement that refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist." True, but at the same time off the real mark. Hamas is much more. It is a terrorist organization that to this very day claims all the lands from the Jordan to the sea for the Palestinians and actively pursues its stated objective of eliminating Israel. So there's far more to Hamas than just some theoretical rejection of Israel; its entire purpose and strategy is to get rid of the Jewish state.

Furthermore, after all the deliberate murders of innocent Israeli civilians, Hamas is also demonstrably not just a "radical" group but a "terrorist" group. Generically it is as much a terrorist group as Al Qaeda, which also murders innocent civilians for its own political purposes. Whenever your ombudsman, Michael Getler, has tried to square the circle -- differentiating in kind al Qaeda from Hamas -- he's had to resort to all sorts of convoluted semantics that underscored the fallacy of his argument. So it's not enough, as Wilson reports, for him to cite that the U.S. and the EU tag Hamas as a terrorist group; Wilson and the Washington Post fall into all kinds of journalistic falsification and denial when they resort to such euphemisms as "militant" or "radical" to avoid describing Hamas as what it really is (unlike the NY Times whose departing ombudsman, Daniel Okrent, urged Times reporters to call terrorists by their real names -- and some Times reporters now regularly use the term).

Wilson's story, in its attempt to camouflage the terrorist nature of Hamas, loses further credibility by differentiating between Hamas's political wing and its "armed wing." "Armed wing" is more than just another Orwellian euphemism. The assumption that Hamas is composed of two totally separate, independent wings is patently untrue. The people at the top direct all of Hamas's activities -- political and terrorist. Do Wilson and the Post really think that the two "wings" have totally separate budgets and finance their operations from totally different sources? For many years, the same semantic perfume was spread by supporters of the IRA and Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland. They also accepted Gerry Adams's claim that there were two totally separate wings and that Sinn Fein had nothing to do with the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by the IRA. Until evidence just kept mounting that the two were completely intertwined. Are Wilson and the Post also going to wake up too late with regard to the political and terrorist "wings" of Hamas?

When it comes to describing the barrier and its impact on people on both sides, Wilson's piece again lacks balance and perspective. While he gives U.N. figures about the separation of 1,500 Palestinian families from their land, he omits Israeli figures that, in light of the Israeli Supreme Court's decision that the barrier must provide maximum regard for the daily lives of Palestinians, only 6 to 7 percent of the West Bank will end up on the Israeli side and, more important, so will only ONE PERCENT of the entire Palestinian population of the West Bank. But even this encroachment, Palestinians argue, upsets many lives. True. But the other side of the coin is that, after four bloody years of a terrorist intifada against Israel, the barrier has proven itself as a very effective antidote against infiltration by would-be suicide bombers. And that's true to this very day. While Wilson provides some statistics about how many Israelis were killed by suicide bombers from Qalqilyah, he makes it sound as if the barrier now is obsolete. Not true. There's hardly a day that's gone by in recent weeks when attempted infiltrations by snipers and suicide bombers haven't had to be thwarted by Israeli security forces and the protection of the barrier -- something Wilson and the Post fail to report. So it's all well and good for Wilson to bemoan Israel's "irksome permit system" which delays Palestinian movement. But that sounds hollow when he fails to report the "irksome" fatalities on the Israeli side the barrier of dire necessity still needs to prevent today.

Finally, Wilson quotes a Palestinian who tries to explain Hamas's political success in local elections by blaming Israel for providing "no help whatsoever" to the civilian population in the West Bank. If you're going to report that kind of an accusation -- and I have no problem with doing that -- fair journalism requires that you also put it in some balanced context. In other words, Wilson should also have gotten at least one Israeli rebuttal that might have pointed out how Israel actually helped raise Palestinian educational opportunities in the West Bank, launched several universities, created health clinics, provided specialized care in its hospitals for Palestinians, etc.

Here's hoping you'll take a second, sober look at Wilson's story and take some long-overdue steps to provide a modicum of fairness and balance in your coverage of the Mideast conflict.

Leo Rennert

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Post Suggests Israel Contributed to the Scuttling of Abbas-Sharon Summit By Making Strident Demands That Abbas Confront Terrorists, Yet Fails To Note Recent Dramatic Increase In Terror Attacks Right Up To The Summit

The Post habitually downplays and completely fails to report ongoing Palestinian terrorist activity, all the while filing misleading reports suggesting that the terrorist groups are sincerely participating in a cease fire. Today's front page article about the failure of the summit yesterday between Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas blames that failure in part on Ariel Sharon and Israel, by noting that "Sharon spoke angrily at times" and that, according to the Palestinians, "it was dominated by Israeli demands that Abbas disarm the militant groups." (Mideast Summit Ends in Acrimony, Sharon, Abbas Fail To Reach New Deals On Pullout, Violence, 6-22-05 A01) Post readers with no other source for Middle East news were left to wonder why Sharon would suddenly be so forceful in demanding that Abbas start confronting the terrorist groups. The article not only fails to mention that the "road map" itself requires Abbas to disarm the terrorists, but more importantly, the article nowhere mentions the spate of recent foiled and successful terrorist attacks, including daily missile launchings by terrorists in Northern Gaza. The following is the context missing from the Post's report of yesterday's summit.

  • On June 1 multiple arrests were made of an Islamic Jihad terrorist cell planning to detonate two bombs in downtown Jerusalem that week. 

  • On June 7 a Palestinian terrorist rocket hit a greenhouse in Ganei Tal killing 3 workers.

  • During the week of June 12-19, multiple missile launchings took place from Northern Gaza on Israeli targets, including the town of Sderot. 

  • On Sunday, June 19, during the visit by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, (only two days before yesterday's summit) a group of terrorists used anti-tank missiles to attack and kill a soldier and a civilian doing engineering work in Southern Gaza. 

  • On Monday morning, June 20 (only one day before the summit) a civilian was killed and his stepson injured when terrorist gunmen ambushed their car on their way to work. 

  • Later the same day a female Palestinian terrorist was arrested trying to enter Israel from Gaza on her way to bomb Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. She was a member of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, a branch of Mahmoud Abbas Fatah party. She said she was trying to kill 40-50 people, preferably young people. 

These last two terrorist activities took place the day before the summit, yet the Washington Post filtered out this news of recent Palestinian terrorist activity. 

In light of the failure to mention the dramatic increase in recent terror activity, it was even more audacious for this article to report that: "Just minutes before the meeting, the Israeli air force fired a missile into the northern Gaza Strip in an apparent strike against Islamic Jihad fighters. No one was reported injured. Earlier, Israeli forces arrested 52 members of Islamic Jihad in the largest raid on the organization in the West Bank since March, when the group agreed to cease attacks temporarily." Specifics of Israeli military action against terrorists were fair game for the Post, because they created the impression that Israel was violating a truce, but the terrorist activity that prompted that military action was off limits. 

By not so much as mentioning the recent escalation in violence by the terrorist groups, the Post stripped its report of context and deliberately gave its readers the erroneous impression that Ariel Sharon is an obstructionist to peace efforts.

But there was more wrong with today's article, as the following letter of Leo Rennert demonstrates:

To: Washington Post Editors and Management
Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2005 12:27 PM

Scott Wilson's front-page article about the disagreements at the Sharon-Abbas summit are a perfect illustration of the Post's pro-Palestinian tilt. I ask you to focus on the second paragraph, which sets the stage for the entire piece. This paragraph doesn't quote anybody. It's entirely Wilson's view of where the conflict is today and, more importantly, how to solve it.

In the first sentence of the second graf, he writes that the leaders clashed over 3 points -- Abbas's EFFORTS (my emphasis) to "confront" militants, release of more Palestinian prisoners and reopening the Gaza airport. If only those issues could have elicited agreement, he goes on, this could have bolstered the 4-month truce.

Essentially this paragraph, especially the last 2 very specific points of releasing more prisoners and reopening the airport, reflect the Palestinian agenda. No such specific mention of the reciprocity demanded by Israel that terrorist groups be broken up, as required by the road map.

As to the first point raised by Wilson, what in the world does he mean by "Abbas's efforts to CONFRONT (my emphasis) militant groups"? The average reader naturally would assume that Abbas is making an effort to confront Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the other terrorist groups. And that perhaps Sharon might have been complaining that Abbas's "efforts" fell short. But Abbas is making NO CONFRONTATIONAL EFFORTS WHATSOEVER. Don't take my word for it or Israeli pronouncements. Abbas himself has repeatedly stated that he has NO INTENTION TO CONFRONT MILITANT GROUPS, because this would result in a Palestinian civil war. Instead, he's trying to cajole these groups to turn to politics and to, please, stop killing more Israelis -- with no visible results.

Israel's insistence that these groups be dismantled and permanently put out of business as terrorist organizations represents its sine qua non for political progress. Wilson may not like that. The Post may not like that. But since Wilson is quite willing to highlight Palestinian demands, why not by the same token and with equal measure and emphasis highlight Israel's demands? And incidentally, those demands represent nothing more than the precedent set by the universally acclaimed Good Friday agreement for Northern Ireland -- no political progress toward power-sharing without the IRA putting down the gun -- permanently and transparently.

Having tilted the article toward the Palestinian narrative, Wilson then goes on with what the Palestinians had to say and what the Israelis had to say (mostly putting first the Palestinian statements). But by then, the damage has been done and all the "they said" versus "the other side said" can't restore balance to the story.

Leo Rennert

Monday, June 13, 2005

Post Alters AP Dispatch About Palestinian Executions In Order to Blame Israel, Again Demonstrating Its Anti-Israel Bias

On Saturday 4 Palestinians, reportedly guilty of murder, were executed by the Palestinian Authority after Mahmoud Abbas gave his approval. The AP (Associated Press) covered the executions, and hundreds of news outlets around the world used the AP's version to report on the executions. Below are links to several such reports -- by ABC News, The Houston Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, The Globe and Mail, and The Sidney Morning Herald. The Washington Post changed the language of the AP report. We challenge the reader to spot which of the following sentences is the Washington Post's own, unique alteration of the AP dispatch, designed to disparage Israel whenever possible.

  1. "Abbas has made public order a top priority, but his forces have been weakened by internal rivalries, a lack of resources and years of fighting with Israel."
    Click here to see article...

  2. "Abbas has made public order a top priority, but his forces have been severely weakened by internal rivalries, a lack of resources and years of fighting with Israel."
    Click here to see article... 

  3. "Abbas has made public order a top priority, but his forces have been severely weakened by internal rivalries, a lack of resources and years of fighting with Israel."
    Click here to see article...

  4. "Abbas has made public order a top priority, but Palestinian security forces have been severely weakened by Israeli attacks, internal rivalries and a lack of resources."
    Click here to see article...

  5. "Mr. Abbas has made public order a top priority, but his forces have been severely weakened by internal rivalries, a lack of resources and years of fighting with Israel."
    Click here to see article...

  6. "Mr Abbas has made public order a top priority but his forces have been severely weakened by internal rivalries, a lack of resources and years of fighting with Israel."
    Click here to see article...

By now the reader has guessed it's number 4. Note how The Post made two changes to the AP report. Not only was the phrase "Israeli attacks" inserted by The Post, but The Post also changed the order of the factors leading to the weakening of Palestinian security forces, placing Israel first, rather than last.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Israel Is, Once Again, In The Post's Crosshairs - Another Front Page, Above-The-Fold Feature Article Critical Of The Conduct Of Israelis And Giving Palestinians A Virtual Free Pass

Today the Post again ran a front page, above-the-fold feature article critical of the conduct of Israelis and giving Palestinians a virtual free pass. 

The topic ... an attack in February 2002 by Israeli soldiers on a Palestinian police station following the ambush and killing of six Israeli soldiers by Palestinians earlier the same evening at a checkpoint. (Israelis Recall a Night of Death and Revenge, Ex-Soldiers Decry 2002 Reprisal Killings, 6-11-02, A01) Three former Israeli soldiers, now affiliated with a group of activist ex-soldiers called "Breaking the Silence," say that the Palestinian policemen who were killed had nothing to do with the terrorist attack on the soldiers earlier in the evening and were killed solely out of vengeance. The article itself notes that the group "Breaking the Silence" is not just a group of ex-soldiers taking issue with the conduct of the Israeli military, but rather, is a group opposed to Israel's presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is common for the Post to rely upon agenda-driven, activist groups as sources.

The article itself may contain a kernel of truth, but as usual, the Post's coverage has a number of problems, including (1) its complete lack of any balance in setting forth the facts necessary for a reader to evaluate the relative moral positions of the participants, (2) its effort to bury facts deep within the article in the hope that they will be missed or ignored, and (3) the opinionated and wholly unjustified conclusion the author attempts to draw from these events. Furthermore, the very fact that the Post is somewhat obsessive in running front page, above-the-fold feature articles critical of Israel, while rarely, if ever, examining the morality of the conduct of Palestinians, even on its interior pages, leads many of its readers to justifiably conclude that the Post has Israel in its crosshairs.

First, even if what these three soldiers now allege is true, the article virtually forgets the immorality of the immediate provocation, a terrorist ambush and killing by Palestinians of six Israeli soldiers earlier the same night. We are given sympathetic descriptions of the Palestinian policemen who died in the Israeli attack ... "He was like a 50-year-old guy with a mustache, a chubby little guy. Didn't have a gun" ... but we get nothing of the sort about the Israeli soldiers whose murder just hours before sparked the Israeli attack. And that night's terrorist provocation wasn't isolated. It was the proverbial straw, although it isn't until the 22nd paragraph of the article that the author gets around to telling us that the killing of the Israeli soldiers earlier that night was just "the latest in a series of attacks that had killed 14 soldiers, an Israeli policeman and three civilians over a 10-day period.

And what of the Palestinian police's role in aiding terror? It isn't until the 26th paragraph that we learn that "Israeli officials repeatedly charged that the police were either failing in their duty to stop terrorist attacks or in some cases aiding the attacks." While one bad act cannot justify another, incessant news coverage focusing the spotlight on the morality of one side's conduct to the exclusion of the other's, is unbalanced and unfair. Where are the Washington Post articles interviewing Palestinians who dissent from the terrorism of their brethren? Are there no such dissenters? Why hasn't The Washington Post ever sought out those Palestinians for interviews and front page, above-the-fold coverage?

Second, what these three soldiers are now alleging and the manner in which the Post presents their allegations, may not be the unvarnished truth. Only one of the three soldiers was willing to be named, although the author of the article doesn't hesitate to quote the other two anonymous soldiers when what they have to say is more damaging to Israel. The named soldier, Shahar Levi, was quoted as saying: " 'Some of them could have been terrorists and some of them could not -- we didn't care, actually ....' " The author of the article apparently didn't care either, because he appears to have refrained from following up on Levi's admission that there may have been terrorists among the Palestinian police officers, and doesn't even mention this admission until the ninth paragraph of the article. 

In the tenth paragraph the reader is provided a clipped version of Israel's official position on the attack. "The spokesman's office of the Israeli army, in response to questions, issued a statement saying Palestinian policemen were targeted that night because they had 'facilitated the passage and actively assisted the terrorists who passed through these checkpoints to carry out murderous attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers.' " The Post article glosses over the fact that during the Oslo period and into the second so-called intifada the Palestinian police themselves have often been recruited from the ranks of terrorists, were frequently involved in terror attacks on Israelis or even used their positions to facilitate or assist terror attacks, a trend which dated back at least to the mid-1990's and continues to this day.

And it isn't until the 46th paragraph of this article (4 paragraphs from the end of the article) that the reader learns that most of the men in the same squadron as these now guilt ridden soldiers "still believe the operation was proper and justified." Why did the author, Glenn Frankel, bury this important bit of information so deep in the article? Why didn't he ask or elaborate upon why these other men believe "the operation was proper and justified?"

Perhaps most disturbing about this article is the author's malevolent effort to suggest cause and effect - in essence, blame - on this operation by Israel for the multiple terrorist Passover bombings in March, 2002 and the resulting launch of Israel's Operation Defensive Shield, in which Israel was forced to enter Palestinian towns to fight the terrorist infrastructure. This is what Mr. Frankel stated (only six paragraphs into the article, we might add):

"In the bloodstained chronicle of the Palestinian uprising that began in September 2000, that night marked a turning point. Two elite Israeli army units, retaliating for the surprise attack on the six soldiers, swooped down on four Palestinian checkpoints and killed nine policemen -- the first time the Israeli army had openly targeted Palestinian police, who until then had generally not been deemed combatants. An additional nine Palestinians died overnight in other attacks.

The violence of that night was soon overshadowed by more intense conflict. Palestinian suicide bombers escalated their attacks on Israeli civilians, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the army to reoccupy major cities in the West Bank.

The suggestion that these attacks on Palestinian police that were preceded and provoked by two years of escalating Palestinian terrorism (facilitated by the Palestinian police) caused Palestinian terrorists to launch the March 2002 Passover Bombings and Operation Defensive Shield, is quite a stretch. Unfortunately, the author's zeal to give this incident significance and thereby justify the extensive coverage, has led him to engage in what could be described as historic revision.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Post Reports Death Tuesday Of Islamic Jihad Official In Shootout During Attempted Arrest But Says Nothing About Last Week's Foiled Islamic Jihad Plot To Detonate Two Bombs In Jerusalem

In our alert last Friday we noted the Post's failure to report anything at all about the terrorist twin bombings planned for Jerusalem but thwarted by Israeli police last week. You can see our alert by clicking here. The bombing was planned by terrorists from the group Islamic Jihad. Arrests were made of the key participants, including the proposed bombers themselves.

On Tuesday of this week Israeli police attempted to arrest the Islamic Jihad leader of Jenin. When his house was surrounded, he threw a grenade and an accomplice opened fire on the Israeli soldiers attempting to arrest him. Both terrorists died in the ensuing exchange of fire. Later the same day Islamic Jihad terrorists, in retaliation, launched mortars at a Jewish settlement in Gaza, killing two Palestinian workers and one Chinese worker. 

The Washington Post's reporter, Glenn Frankel, reporting on Tuesday's violence, left out any reference to the Israeli breakup of last week's Islamic Jihad terrorist bombing plot. (Violence Shakes Mideast Truce, Islamic Jihad Official Among Six Killed in West Bank, Gaza, A13 no link available - article not posted to Washington Post web site). Deep into the article he reported that an Israeli army spokesperson stated that this arrest operation was undertaken because Israel had discovered the terrorist leader was organizing a future major terrorist attack on an Israeli city. No details were provided. So, while Mr. Frankel reported this week's attempted arrest as a preemptive operation by Israeli soldiers, he failed to place the operation in context by noting the extreme and imminent danger faced by Israeli citizens demonstrated by last week's foiled terrorist bombing plot planned for Jerusalem by the very same terrorist group, Islamic Jihad. Readers were left with the impression that Israelis were starting trouble by going into Palestinian cities to arrest terrorist leaders with their sole basis being a claim of some vague future terrorist operation being planned. 

Once again, Washington Post readers get only half the news, and even that is presented without the context necessary to fairly present Israel's side of the conflict.

Friday, June 3, 2005

Post Fails To Report Double Terrorist Bombing Thwarted In Jerusalem This Week 

Israeli police authorities on Wednesday uncovered and arrested a group of Palestinian terrorists who were planning a double suicide bombing in Jerusalem this week. Five Islamic Jihad terrorists were arrested earlier in the week, and now the two suicide bombers themselves have been arrested. The bomb packs that were to be used were seized and detonated. The terrorists made multiple unsuccessful attempts to infiltrate Israel from the West Bank. The bombings were planned for a synagogue, cafe or bus in Jerusalem City Center and another in the Ramot neighborhood.

This apparently is not newsworthy to the Post, even though it prides itself on having two correspondents on the ground in Israel. The NY Times reported this story.

Thursday, June 2, 2005

French Court Finds Three Le Monde Journalists And Publisher Guilty Of Anti-Semitism - The Washington Post Fails To Report This As Well As Other Instances Involving The Growth Of Worldwide Anti-Semitism

There is no better way to show our readers what the Washington Post will not report than to show you what the Wall Street Journal did report. The article follows. This French court verdict was extremely important. In the face of accusations of anti-Semitism, the French government has repeatedly protested that the French people are not anti-Semitic. When Israeli Prime Minister Sharon last year commented that French Jews who perceive themselves threatened by French anti-Semitism ought to consider emigration, French President Jacques Chirac whipped up a diplomatic furor. Now, a French Court, an organ of the French government, has found the authors and publisher of an article in a major French publication guilty of "'racist defamation' against Israel and the Jewish people." This is only one recent incident. The following article details anti-Semitism in the media throughout Europe. The media is uniquely capable of creating an environment of intolerance. It is not enough to blame the anti-Semitic vandalism and violence in the streets of France and other European countries on Muslim thugs. Beatings of Jews in the street take place because the perpetrators perceive that their hatred is shared and tolerated by the society in which they find themselves. Anti-Semitism in the media contributes to this atmosphere of hatred, and the silence of other media outlets around the world allows it to flourish. The Washington Post owes its readers news of the growth of worldwide anti-Semitism, but it is not providing it.


June 2, 2005
Wall Street Journal

A French court last week found three writers for Le Monde, as well as the newspaper's publisher, guilty of "racist defamation" against Israel and the Jewish people. In a groundbreaking decision, the Versailles court of appeal ruled that a comment piece published in Le Monde in 2002, "Israel-Palestine: The Cancer," had whipped up anti-Semitic opinion.

The writers of the article, Edgar Morin (a well-known sociologist), Daničle Sallenave (a senior lecturer at Nanterre University) and Sami Nair (a member of the European parliament), as well as Le Monde's publisher, Jean-Marie Colombani, were ordered to pay symbolic damages of one euro to a human-rights group and to the Franco-Israeli association. Le Monde was also ordered to publish a condemnation of the article, which it has yet to do.

It is encouraging to see a French court rule that anti-Semitism should have no place in the media -- even when it is masked as an analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The ruling also makes it clear that the law in this respect applies to extremist Jews (Mr. Morin is Jewish) as much as to non-Jews.

Press freedom is a value to be cherished, but not exploited and abused. In general, European countries have strict laws against such abuse and Europe's mainstream media are in any case usually good at exercising self-censorship. Responsible journalists strenuously avoid libelous characterizations of entire ethnic, national or religious groups. They go out of their way, for example, to avoid suggesting that the massacres in Darfur, which are being carried out by Arab militias, in any way represent an Arab trait.

The exception to this seems to be the coverage of Jews, particularly Israeli ones. This is particularly ironic given the fact that Europe's relatively strict freedom of speech laws (compared to those in the U.S.) were to a large extent drafted as a reaction to the Continent's Nazi occupation. And yet, from Oslo to Athens, from London to Madrid, it has been virtually open season on them in the last few years, especially in supposedly liberal media.

"Israel-Palestine: The Cancer" was a nasty piece of work, replete with lies, slanders and myths about "the chosen people," "the Jenin massacre," describing the Jews as "a contemptuous people taking satisfaction in humiliating others," "imposing their unmerciful rule," and so on.

Yet it was no worse than thousands of other news reports, editorials, commentaries, letters, cartoons and headlines published throughout Europe in recent years, in the guise of legitimate and reasoned discussion of Israeli policies.

The libels and distortions about Israel in some British media are by now fairly well known: the Guardian's equation of Israel and al Qaeda; the Evening Standard's equation of Israel and the Taliban; the report by the BBC's Middle East correspondent, Orla Guerin, on how "the Israelis stole Christmas." Most notorious of all is the Independent's Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk, who specializes in such observations as his comment that, "If ever a sword was thrust into a military alliance of East and West, the Israelis wielded that dagger," and who implies that the White House has fallen into the hands of the Jews: "The Perles and the Wolfowitzes and the Cohens...[the] very sinister people hovering around Bush."

The invective against Israel elsewhere in Europe is less well known. In Spain, for example, on June 4, 2001 (three days after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 21 young Israelis at a disco, and wounded over 100 others, all in the midst of a unilateral Israeli ceasefire), the liberal daily Cambio 16 published a cartoon of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (with a hook nose he does not have), wearing a skull cap (which he does not usually wear), sporting a swastika inside a star of David on his chest, and proclaiming: "At least Hitler taught me how to invade a country and destroy every living insect."

The week before, on May 23, El Pais (the "New York Times of Spain") published a cartoon of an allegorical figure carrying a small rectangular-shaped black moustache, flying through the air toward Mr. Sharon's upper lip. The caption read: "Clio, the muse of history, puts Hitler's moustache on Ariel Sharon."

Two days later, on May 25, the Catalan daily La Vanguardia published a cartoon showing an imposing building, with a sign outside reading "Museo del Holocausto Judio" (Museum of the Jewish Holocaust), and next to it another building under construction, with a large sign reading "Futuro Museo del Holocausto Palestino" (Future Museum of the Palestinian Holocaust).

Greece's largest newspaper, the leftist daily Eleftherotypia, has run several such cartoons. In April 2002, on its front cover, under the title "Holocaust II," an Israeli soldier was depicted as a Nazi officer and a Palestinian civilian as a Jewish death camp inmate. In September 2002, another cartoon in Eleftherotypia showed an Israeli soldier with a Jewish star telling a Nazi officer next to him "Arafat is not a person the Reich can talk to anymore." The Nazi officer responds "Why? Is he a Jew?"

In October 2001, the Web site of one of Italy's most respected newspapers, La Repubblica, published the notorious anti-Semitic forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," in its entirety, without providing any historical explanation. It did suggest, however, that the work would help readers understand why the U.S. had taken military action in Afghanistan.

In April 2002, the Italian liberal daily La Stampa ran a front-page cartoon showing an Israeli tank, emblazoned with a Jewish star, pointing a large gun at the baby Jesus in a manger, while the baby pleads, "Surely they don't want to kill me again, do they?"

In Corriere Della Sera, another cartoon showed Jesus trapped in his tomb, unable to rise, because Ariel Sharon, rifle in hand, is sitting on the sepulcher. Sweden's largest morning paper, Dagens Nyheter, ran a caricature of a Hassidic Jew accusing anyone who criticized Israel of anti-Semitism. Another leading Swedish paper, Aftonbladet, used the headline "The Crucifixion of Arafat."

If the misreporting and bias were limited to one or two newspapers or television programs in each country, it might be possible to shrug them off. But they are not. Bashing Israel even extends to local papers that don't usually cover foreign affairs, such as the double-page spread titled "Jews in jackboots" in "Luton on Sunday." (Luton is an industrial town in southern England.) Or the article in Norway's leading regional paper, Stavanger Aftenblad, equating Israel's actions against terrorists in Ramallah with the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Grotesque and utterly false comparisons such as these should have no place in reporting or commenting on the Middle East. Yet although the French court ruling -- the first of its kind in Europe -- is a major landmark, no one in France seems to care. The country's most distinguished newspaper, the paper of record, has been found guilty of anti-Semitism. One would have thought that such a verdict would prompt wide-ranging coverage and lead to extensive soul-searching and public debate. Instead, there has been almost complete silence, and virtually no coverage in the French press.

And few elsewhere will have heard about it. Reuters and Agence France Presse (agencies that have demonstrated particularly marked bias against Israel) ran short stories about the judgment in their French-language wires last week, but chose not to run them on their English news services. The Associated Press didn't run it at all. Instead of triggering the long overdue reassessment of Europe's attitude toward Israel, the media have chosen to ignore it.

Mr. Gross is a former Jerusalem correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph and the New York Daily News.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Video Now Available With Subtitles of Official Palestinian Authority Sheik's Sermon Calling for Extermination of Jews - Post Still Silent on This And Other Evidence of Continued Palestinian Incitement of Hatred

The Post has continued its failure to report anything about Palestinian Authority Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris's fiery sermon on official Palestinian Authority TV on May 13 in which he called for Muslim conquest of all Western nations and the extermination of all Jews. Click here for our May 18 Alert on this subject.

A video of this horrifying sermon with English subtitles is now available online, courtesy of MEMRI. For anyone tempted even for a moment to think there is nothing to fear from such sermons, it is powerful and should be viewed.  Click here to view the video.

Peace will never be possible as long as Palestinian leadership continues to sponsor and encourage hate, and the "roadmap" recognizes this by imposing an obligation on the PA to take steps to end incitement. The Post doesn't hesitate to regularly trumpet on the front page what it perceives to be Israeli failure to adhere to its "roadmap" obligations with regard to construction in settlements, yet the Post continues its abject silence in the face of Palestinian sponsorship and encouragement of hatred.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Post Uses Headlines, Placement and Selective Reporting and Concealment of Statements By President Bush to Place Positive Spin on Mahmoud Abbas' Visit and Negative Spin on Prime Minister Sharon's Visit 

Leo Rennert's letter below about the Post's coverage of Mahmoud Abbas' visit with President Bush this week demonstrates The Post's propagandistic treatment of all things Palestinian. The pro-Palestinian spin is also clearly evident when a comparison is made between the Post's disparate treatment of Prime Minister Sharon's visit with President Bush in April and Mahmoud Abbas' visit this past week. 

Sharon-Bush Visit

Abbas-Bush Visit

Headline: "Bush Prods Sharon on Peace, President Opposes New Israeli Settlements, Endorses Pullout Headline: "Bush Offers Palestinians Aid, Visiting Leader Abbas Is Praised as 'a Man of Courage' "
Placement: Page A17 Placement: Front Page, Above the Fold, Upper Left
Opening Sentence: "President Bush told Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Monday that the United States opposes Israel's plans to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank and prodded him to stick to the U.S.-backed vision for peace in the Middle East." Opening Sentence: "President Bush offered an unstinting vote of confidence and $50 million in direct aid to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas yesterday in an attempt to bolster his newly elected government and reinvigorate the Middle East peace process."

In the table above, for the sake of brevity, we note only the first sentence of each article, but the tone set by those first sentences can be seen throughout each article. In our analysis of the Post's negative reporting about Prime Minister Sharon's visit back in April we noted the Post's deliberate effort to conceal positive statements by President Bush about Ariel Sharon and statements by President Bush forcefully reiterating the Palestinian obligation to "dismantl[e] terrorist organizations" and engage in "sustained, effective operations to stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure." Those statements weren't reported. The Post featured in its headline on the front page this week President Bush calling Mahmoud Abbas "a man of courage." In April President Bush made the following statement about Ariel Sharon:

"Prime Minister Sharon is showing strong visionary leadership by taking difficult steps to improve the lives of people across the Middle East -- and I want to thank you for your leadership. I strongly support his courageous initiative to disengage from Gaza and part of the West Bank." (White House Press Conference 4-11-05)

Not only was there no headline treatment of the compliment to Prime Minister Sharon, the only mention of those favorable Presidential comments was nine paragraphs into the article with a brief note that Bush applauded Sharon's "courage" for undertaking the Gaza disengagement. Click here to read our April 12 analysis. 

Leo Rennert's letter below about the Post's treatment of the Abbas visit this past week demonstrates how the Post concealed statements by the President to place a positive spin on the Abbas visit.

To: Leonard Downie, Donald Graham & Post Ombudsman
Date: 5-27-05

As my Letter to the Editor below points out, by use of selective reporting the Post again showed its pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel colors in its coverage of the Bush-Abbas summit. Reading your article one would think that the Post is nominating Abbas for sainthood!

Here are some of the things Bush actually said that the Post somehow overlooked:

  • "Hamas is a terrorist group, it's on a terrorist list for a reason." (In fact, there's no mention at all of Hamas in your story)

  • "You cannot have a democracy based upon the rule of law if you have armed bands of people who will use their weapons to try to achieve a political outcome. We discussed this with the President (Abbas). He can give you his own views." (That hardly sounds like a congruity of views or a warm embrace of Abbas's refusal to disarm Hamas).

  • "We continue to remind our friends, the Israelis, about their obligations under the road map just like we remind President Abbas about the obligations under the road map that the Palestinians have accepted. SO NOTHING HAS CHANGED" (emphasis added).

Also missing from your story was Bush's insistence that the peace process has to proceed sequentially -- with Gaza disengagement the immediate priority, then followed by the various stages stipulated in the road map. That's a clear rejection of Abbas's push to go immediately to final-status negotiations.

But had Bush's entire comments made it into the story, they naturally would have run counter to the effusive lead and the gushing pro-Abbas tenor of the entire piece. So they had to be censored out. I suppose that's what happens when you practice agenda journalism.

Leo Rennert

From: Leo Rennert 
Letter To The Editor
Date: May 27, 2005
Subject: Did Bush give Abbas "unstinting" support

To the Editor of the Washington Post:

The Post's report that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas received "unstinting" support during his visit to the White House meeting doesn't square with President Bush's insistence that the Palestinians still have to meet their obligations under the U.S.-sponsored road map.

Specifically, the article fails to point up President Bush's insistence that there cannot be a Palestinian state if Hamas is permitted to assume a dual role as a political party and an armed terrorist group. In fact, the story makes no mention at all of Bush's strong condemnation of Hamas, which has yet to be dismantled as the road map requires.

By omitting Bush's reminder to Abbas that the Palestinian leadership also needs to move up to the plate, readers are left with the inaccurate impression that the president's "unstinting support" amounted to an unqualified endorsement of Abbas and that the burden now rests only on Israel to do its part. Not so. As Bush made clear, the administration keeps reminding both sides of their responsibilities. The suggestion that Abbas's visit ushered in a "tilt" toward the Palestinian side is unfounded. As Bush himself put it: "Nothing has changed."

Leo Rennert

Monday, May 23, 2005

update to this Alert Saturday, 5-28-05: Three letters to the editor were published today all cheering the op-ed piece by Aaron David Miller.  The three letter writers consisted of an endorser of the AIPAC 2005 Protest (along with former Congressman Paul Findley, International Solidarity Movement, and Neturei Karta), a contributing author to the UCC Palestine Security Campaign and a Syrian residing in the US. No letters were published critical of the piece.

The Post As An Advocate for Palestinians - Op-Ed Piece Urges Increasing Pressure On Israel

The Post's selection of op-ed pieces and authors for publication often reveals the same pro-Palestinian agenda that so infects its news reporting. Today The Post published an op-ed piece from a retired State Department employee opining that the US has, for many years, "acted as Israel's attorney" and should stop doing so. (Israel's Lawyer, 5-23-05, A19) The Post's timing in running this piece just before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' visit with President Bush transparently demonstrates the Post's agenda. The following letters from Judge Herbert Grossman and Leo Rennert address the false portrayal of past events as well as the flawed reasoning of this op-ed piece.

To the Editor:

In "Israel's Lawyer" (op-ed, May 23), Aaron David Miller, who had been a Middle East negotiator for the State Department for 25 years until the current administration, contends that American officials should change their policy of acting as Israel's attorney, as he now claims to have done, to bring peace to the region.

Except for the facts that Miller is not an attorney (as he admits), has never catered to Israel as he now contends he did, and is arguing for a continuation (not reversal) of his former failed policy, his claim and recommendations might appear to be reasonable. But for too long, Miller has used his Jewish background to masquerade as a friend of Israel while promoting a policy that is inimical to its survival and to peace in the region.

That policy, of appeasing Arabs at Israel's expense, led to the failure of the Oslo process, in which the death blows were finally administered by Yasser Arafat at the Camp David and Taba conferences in 2000-01, and to the current intifada, which Arafat initiated in between those conferences. Arafat acted when he was finally cornered into choosing between peaceful coexistence on extremely favorable terms, which he then rejected, or continued jihad, a choice that Miller had wrongly convinced himself Arafat had already made in favor of peaceful coexistence years before. 

If the State Department had been more resolute in Miller's years in discouraging the Arab vision of Israel's destruction, by insisting on the Palestinians' taking concrete measures to cease violence and eliminate their terrorist infrastructure before offering them substantial assistance, as is the current administration's policy, there might now be peace in the Middle East.

Becoming an "honest broker" between those seeking their adversary's annihilation and their intended victim, even if it did not offend our conscience, is no recipe for a just peace. We should not return to Miller's failed and immoral policy.


Judge Herbert Grossman

To the Editor of the Washington Post:

Aaron David Miller grossly maligns the last two U.S. presidents when he criticizes them for being "Israel's lawyers" rather than even-handed advocates for a Mideast peace ("Israel's Lawyer" op-ed column, May 23).

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still nursing bruises from arm-twisting by the Clinton White House that forced him to make unpalatable concessions to the Palestinians. At Camp David and Taba in 2001-2002, President Clinton didn't just rubber-stamp Prime Minister Ehud Barak's generous offers to Yasser Arafat, but helped shape them into a package eminently fair to the Palestinians. More recently, President Bush put on the table his own "road map" to a Palestinian state, which requires Israel to freeze all settlement activity as a first step -- hardly a made-in-Israel provision.

Since Camp David, where Miller served as a second-tier U.S. adviser, he has sought to minimize Arafat's responsibility for scuttling the summit and to put undue blame on Clinton and Barak. What Miller, however, doesn't tell us is how much more he would have sweetened the deal for the Palestinians and why his Solomonic formula would have been fairer to both sides.

Leo Rennert

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Protocols of the Elders of Zion Found on Official Palestinian Authority Web Site - Removed After Vigorous Protest - Post's Conspicuous Silence On PA Incitement Continues

To the Editor:

In the past week, the Palestinian Authority broadcast a television sermon calling for the enslavement of Christians and the extermination of all Jews worldwide because they are “a virus like AIDS,” and its web site published a link (subsequently deleted after public protest by the Anti-Defamation League) to the infamous “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a 19th century forgery by the Russian secret police purporting to detail a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. 

Not a word of either was mentioned by the Washington Post, which did find space, however, to run full-length articles about the terror organization Hamas’ civic endeavors, such as cleaning streets in Gaza, and allegations about an Israeli ambassador’s mistreatment of her help.

You might say in defense that the sermon and link were not “news” in that the PA regularly broadcasts sermons calling for the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of the Jews, and the media throughout the Arab world feature the “Protocols,” even running serials and faux television documentaries on it. But it would have been news to most of your readers, as you have never informed them of any of this!

Imagine the media reaction if Israeli television had broadcast a call to exterminate the Arabs (if it is even possible to imagine Jews advocating such an atrocity). You would be running front page articles, news analyses, columns and editorials castigating Israel and demanding sanctions (and you would be rounding up the usual suspects to write op-ed pieces that do the same).

Why the silence now?


Judge Herbert Grossman

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Post Is Silent on Continuing Palestinian and Muslim Incitement to Hatred of Jews and Israelis

While the Washington Post doesn't hesitate to publish front page feature articles about settlement expansion and what it perceives to be Israeli non-compliance with the so called Road Map, it rarely says anything about Palestinian Authority non-compliance with its obligations under the Road Map. Mahmoud Abbas' failure to do anything to begin dismantling the terrorist organizations and his explicit statements that he has no intention to do so, are violations of the Road Map, but the Post never reports them as such. The PA is under a Road Map obligation to end Palestinian incitement in schools and media to hatred of Israelis and Jews. It is necessary if there is ever to be a real peace. The Post gave coverage to Mahmoud Abbas' early statements claiming to have taken steps to put a stop to incitement, yet the Post now fails to report on evidence that those steps were only cosmetic.

On a broader scale, as anti-Semitism outside of the Middle East has grown, the Post has provided little coverage of Muslim incitement to hatred of Jews throughout Europe and elsewhere.

The latest example of the Post's silence in the face of Palestinian/Muslim incitement to hatred is being witnessed this week. The Palestinian Authority has its own TV station, PA TV, and the PA pays all its employees, including Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris, its official television preacher. Last Friday the PA sheik delivered one of his most vile sermons to date. One would be naive to think this paid Palestinian Authority sheik can say anything on official Palestinian Authority Television without vetting it first with his PA superiors, so this official incitement should have raised the eyebrows of Post correspondents in Israel. News of this sermon has spread around the world via the internet and other news sources. The Simon Wiesenthal Center is calling for the Sheikhs firing. Yet on a day when the Post devoted a major amount of space to at least 3 articles on the false Newsweek story about supposed disrespectful treatment by US soldiers of the Koran, the Post is silent on this latest example of Palestinian incitement against Jews and Israelis. Leo Rennert's letter on the subject set forth below speaks volumes about the Post's selective reporting:

To The Publisher, Editors And Ombudsman Of The Washington Post:
Re: Why Total Media Silence When Jews And Judaism Are Reviled?
May 17, 2005

A false report in Newsweek about U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo flushing the Koran down the toilet sets off deadly riots in the Muslim world and the Post and other media quite rightly treat this as important news. There's immediate and perfectly understandable outrage that such desecration might have occurred, whether this particular story was true or not, and the Western world is quick to denounce it in the strongest terms. So far, journalistic response has been right on the mark.

But just as these events were unfolding, Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris, a paid employee of the Palestinian Authority, delivered a genocidal sermon calling for the extermination of all Jews on the Palestinian Authority's television channel that somehow has gone totally unnoticed by Post reporters and editors. Here's some of what he said:

"With the establishment of the state of Israel, the entire Islamic nation was lost, because Israel is a cancer spreading through the body of the Islamic nation, and because the Jews are a virus resembling AIDS, from which the entire world suffers. 

"You will find that the Jews were behind all the civil strife in this world. The Jews are behind the suffering of the nations. 

"Ask Britain what it did to the Jews in the early sixth century. What did they do to the Jews? They expelled them, tortured them, and prevented them from entering Britain for more than 300 years. All this was because of what the Jews did in Britain. Ask France what it did to the Jews. They tortured them, expelled them, and burned their Talmud, because of the civil strife the Jews wanted to spark in France, in the days of Louis XIX. Ask Portugal what it did to the Jews. Ask Czarist Russia, which welcomed the Jews, who plotted to kill the Czar - so he massacred them. But don't ask Germany what it did to the Jews. It was the Jews who provoked Nazism to wage war against the entire world, when the Jews, using the Zionist movement, got other countries to wage an economic war on Germany and to boycott German merchandise. They provoked Russia, Britain, France, and Italy. This enraged the Germans toward the Jews, leading to the events of those days, which the Jews commemorat today. 

"But they are committing worse deeds than those done to them in the Nazi war. Yes, perhaps some of them were killed and some burned, but they are inflating this in order to win over the of the media and gain the world's sympathy. The worst crimes in history were committed against the Jews, yet these crimes are no worse than what the Jews are doing in Palestine. What was done to the Jews was a crime, but isn't what the Jews are doing today in the land of Palestine not a crime?! 

"Look at modern history. Where has Great Britain gone? Where has Czarist Russia gone? Where has France gone - France, which almost ruled the entire world? Where is Nazi Germany, which massacred millions and ruled the world? Where did all these superpowers go? He who made them disappear will make America disappear too, God willing. He who made Russia disappear overnight is capable of making America disappear and fall, Allah willing. 

"We have ruled the world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we will rule the entire world again. The day will come when we will rule America. The day will come when we will rule Britain and the entire world – except for the Jews. The Jews will not enjoy a life of tranquility under our rule, because they are treacherous by nature, as they have been throughout history. The day will come when everything will be relieved of the Jews - even the stones and trees which were harmed by them. Listen to the Prophet Muhammad, who tells you about the evil end that awaits Jews. The stones and trees will want the Muslims to finish off every Jew."

Sheik Mudeiris's incendiary sermon against Jews was just as offensive as the purported desecration of the Koran. Yet, the Post totally ignored it? What accounts for such an omission? Does it indicate that because Jews didn't take to the streets and engage in deadly riots, his sermon doesn't matter? Or is there a double standard at work here that rates an offense against Muslims higher than an offense against Jews?

Whatever the reason, do you see any justification for why the Post would ignore this sermon, which is but the tip of the iceberg of widespread anti-Semitic incitement throughout the Muslim world?

To double-check my report on Sheik Mudeiris's sermon, please consult the transcript provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute.


Leo Rennert

Monday, May 16, 2005

Moore Propaganda from the Post in Support of Terrorist Groups

The Post today provided its readers with yet another Molly Moore propaganda piece extolling the virtues of Hamas. As usual, it gave only lip service to the fact that Hamas remains a terrorist organization, suggesting by its choice of language that this is only the perspective of Israel and the US, rather than the truth. (In Gaza, New Hamas-Dominated Council Attends to Basics, Public Services Win Praise of Residents, 5-16-05, A14) A streetlight or two and a little asphalt is all it takes to make Ms. Moore almost forget, or, we should say, try to make her readers forget or ignore that these groups are still, fundamentally, organizations that continue to support, advocate, finance, plan and carry out terrorist acts against innocent civilians. The article ignores that Hamas' principal goal, admittedly, remains the destruction of Israel and goes on at great length to blame the widespread destruction in Gaza over the past two years on Israel, rather than on the terrorist groups whose actions made Israel's defensive military campaign necessary. The article credits Hamas' appeal to the Palestinian electorate to its public service but is dishonest in ignoring polling data showing a large portion of the Palestinian population agreeing with Hamas' campaign of terrorism against Israelis and its goal of destruction of Israel.

Consistent with the Post's ongoing role in dishing up propaganda in support of Palestinian terrorist groups, in another article in today's Post, comments by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice critical of Syria's support of Palestinian terrorist groups are distorted to such a degree that her point is almost unrecognizable. (Rice Makes A Surprise Trip to Iraq, Bodies of 34 Iraqis Found at Three Sites, 5-16-05, A01)

The following three letters, two by Leo Rennert and one by Judge Herbert Grossman, ably illustrate the Post's slanting of its news reports to soften the image of terrorist groups:

May16, 2005
To: David Hoffman, Donald Graham, Bo Jones, Leonard Downie, Michael Getler

The attached letter again points up a continuing Post pattern of toning down Palestinian negatives -- even if this requires mind-boggling semantic distortions. The Post's Orwellian stretch to sanitize Hamas ironically appeared in the same edition as Molly Moore's laudatory piece about how Hamas, after winning local elections, is busying itself fixing potholes, street lights and paving roads. Her praise of Hamas is so effusive that the Post might want to import these folks to fix rutted roads and potholes in the Washington area. What's missing, unfortunately, is any mention that Hamas also has been busy lobbing mortar shells and missiles on Israeli communities in Gaza and Israel proper. Why wouldn't Molly Moore take her notepad to Hamas mortar and rocket launching sites and conduct detailed interviews with those members of the organization? I know, fat chance. So no surprise, right?

Leo Rennert

Letter To the Editor:
May16, 2005

Subject: Orwellian Description Of Palestinian Terrorists

In your coverage of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's trip to Iraq, you mention her denunciation of Syria's support of "Palestinian rejectionists," whom you define as "residents of the West Bank and Gaza who oppose continued peace talks with Israel." (Rice Makes A Surprise Trip to Iraq, Bodies of 34 Iraqis Found at Three Sites, 5-16-05, A01) Unfortunately, these are not the kind of folks Rice had in mind. She was referring instead to terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad which oppose the existence of Israel -- pure and simple. They may even occasionally accept dialogue with Israel as long as it's part of a strategy to destroy the Jewish state.

Don't take my word for it. Ask Rice herself and find out if she accepts the Post's Orwellian makeover of these "rejectionists" or prefers my definition.

Leo Rennert

May16, 2005
To the Editor:

How like Molly Moore to sing the praises of Hamas, the terrorist organization responsible for some of the deadliest suicide bombings against Israeli Jews, for cleaning streets, erecting streetlights, and providing bus service. (In Gaza, New Hamas-Dominated Council Attends to Basics, Public Services Win Praise of Residents, 5-16-05, A14

On December 31, 2001, in “School May Be Out in West Bank,” she praised a Hamas school whose academic program and extra curricular activities were devoted to encouraging suicide bombings and conquering Israel because it had a good English department.

On April 19, 2004, in “Hamas Chief Mourned By Thousands In Gaza,” she co-authored an article that quoted Palestinians heaping effusive praise on the assassinated master terrorist and ultra-hard line leader of Hamas, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, responsible for many deadly terror attacks, for his once having been a pediatrician that cured victims (rather than created them).

And, on July 19, 2004, in “In Jenin, Seven Shattered Dreams,” she sympathized with seven terrorists killed while perpetrating deadly attacks against Israelis, because they had once been part of a child acting troupe led by an Israeli Jewish couple sympathetic to Arabs.

But Moore was born in the wrong era. Had she been reporting in the 1930s, she could have joined those heaping praise on Hitler and Mussolini for making the trains run on time.

Judge Herbert Grossman

Sunday, May 15, 2005

An Ombudsman With An Agenda - Organized Letter Writing Campaigns Are OK With Post Ombudsman If They Are Anti-Iraq War But Not If They Challenge Unfair Media Treatment of Israel

Dear Michael Getler:

You're absolutely right in your Sunday column when you sharply criticize the Post for failing to report in timely and comprehensive fashion a pre-war British government document leaked to London media that shows the Bush administration was preparing for war months before the invasion and was ready to fiddle with intelligence reports to make its case. As you point out, this is somewhat of a smoking gun because investigations to date have focused on poor intelligence but tiptoed around the question of how this intelligence was used or misused by policy-makers. So I applaud you for taking the Post to task for not jumping on this revelation right away.

But I also found it highly ironic when you point out to Post readers that you became aware of this report in the British press through massive, organized letter-writing campaigns protesting its non-appearance in the Post. While you say that you ordinarily look upon such organized campaigns with a jaundiced eye, you acknowledge that it's your job nevertheless to look into the substantive questions raised by readers via such campaigns. But Michael, that's not the tune you sang in the past when many Post readers bombarded you with specific evidence of Post bias in Mideast reporting -- especially the non-reporting or softening of Palestinian terrorism and anti-Israel incitement. In those instances, you were quite dismissive of organized letter-writing campaigns, pointing to them as reason why you didn't put much stock in the content of their letters.

So in the case of Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, you rightly investigated the Post's negligence in not reporting a major new development -- never mind that it came to your attention via massive letter-writing drives backed by various groups. But in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, you've hidden behind the use of similar campaigns to brush aside complaints about the Post's coverage.

What am I to conclude from this? Simply that you do your job not as a fair journalistic critic but as a guy with his own political agenda. Because you've been a strong opponent from the war right from the start, you've repeatedly pounced on what you construe as the Post's inadequate challenge of pre-war intelligence and the administration's subsequent conduct of the war. Most of your criticism was actually well founded, although I've felt that at times you were unfair to the Post -- Monday-morning quarterbacking whether a story belonged inside or up front; whether a story should have been played above the fold on the front page or below the fold; or overlooking the fact that virtually all intelligence and WMD monitoring agencies (British, French, U.N. and U.S.) were convinced that Saddam was hiding WMDs. So you've used your soapbox not only to challenge Post coverage you deemed inadequate (sometimes rightly so; sometimes not) but to advance your personal agenda that this war is terrible and the news sections of the Post should slam it at every turn. And as you point out in today's column, if your agenda is supported by an organized letter-writing campaign, what the heck, that's also material for your ideological grist.

What a contrast with your Panglossian view of the Post's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict! In this instance, it's clear that your personal agenda tilts against Israel and in favor of the Palestinians and that you'll go to great lengths (some quite absurd when you kept defending the Post's use of "militant" when Israeli kids were blown up, while the paper used "terrorist" to describe similar outrages in Spain or Russia) to manifest your agreement with such bias. In the case of Mideast reporting, you made a special point of criticizing organized letter-writing campaigns protesting the Post's bias instead of addressing their substantive arguments and evidence.

If the war in Iraq requires the Post to raise the bar very high in scrutinizing administration behavior, why shouldn't you as the ombudsman pester and prod the paper to raise it equally high in examining Palestinian terrorism and virulent anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement? Especially since the Post raises the bar very high indeed (as it should) in pouncing on Israeli shortcomings.

What other answer is there but that you've used your position as ombudsman to advance your own personal agenda, instead of looking at all stories of the paper with the same critical eye?

Leo Rennert

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Post Spins Warm and Friendly Visit Between Prime Minister Sharon and President Bush Into A Rebuke of Sharon

The dilemma facing the Post on Tuesday in reporting on Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's visit with President Bush was how to take a warm visit among friends and spin it into a rebuke of Israel by Bush. (Bush Prods Sharon on Peace, President Opposes New Israeli Settlements, Endorses Pullout, 4-12-05, A17) 

The headline itself reveals this negative spin. Compare it to The NY Times headline: "Bush Supports Plan by Sharon for a Withdrawal From Gaza." 

The sub-headline of the Post article, "President Opposes New Israeli Settlements," falsely implies there are new settlements, when in fact, all that is at issue is the addition of housing to Ma'ale Adumim. Furthermore, Ma'ale Adumim has not yet been expanded. At issue is the approval of construction of housing units to be added to Ma'ale Adumim in the future.

True to form, the Post ignored the President's forceful statements that the Palestinians must "dismantl[e] terrorist organizations" and must engage in "sustained, effective operations to stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. Building true security for Israelis and Palestinians demands an immediate, strong and sustained effort to combat terrorism in all its forms." (White House Transcript of Press Conference)

The President also repeated more clearly than ever that the large Israeli settlement blocks will have to stay. The Post article tries to conceal that part of the President's comments by calling the large settlement blocks "some West Bank areas" ... as in the article's brief note in passing that the President "repeated his assurance that Israel would not be expected to surrender some West Bank areas." Isn't that a nice euphemism for at least one city of more than 30,000 people... "some West Bank areas?" This is what the President actually said:

"As I said last April, new realities on the ground make it unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will be achieved only on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities. That's the American view. While the United States will not prejudice the outcome of final status negotiations, those changes on the ground, including existing major Israeli population centers, must be taken into account in any final status negotiations."

All of this leaves objective observers, which obviously excludes the Washington Post, wondering whether what is really going on is the President giving lip service to the US opposition to expansion of Ma'ale Adumim, all the while recognizing that the Palestinians are not themselves living up to the road map by dismantling the terrorist infrastructure and that Israel ultimately will be denied territorial contiguity if it is allowed to keep Ma'ale Adumim without being able to connect it to the rest of Israel. 

The following Letter to the Editor by Judge Grossman concisely reveals the Post's slanted portrayal of Monday's visit.

To the Editor:

It is amazing how the anti-Israel press can turn a very friendly meeting between President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon into one of bickering, in which President allegedly “prodded” and “cautioned” the Israeli leader about expanding settlements, as in “Bush Prods Sharon on Peace” (news, April 12).

The main news, downplayed by the press, was Bush’s continued support for Israel’s maintaining the bulk of its settler population in the West Bank as part of the final negotiated settlement. 

It is true that Bush has some limits beyond which he cannot go in supporting Israel publicly, but he has moved those limits well beyond the ethnically-cleanse-all-Jews-from-the-territories policy of his immediate predecessors and their advisors. 

And he has no reluctance to embrace an Israeli leader in public who has the gumption to stand up for Israel’s rock-bottom positions -- not merely those who are caving in to misguided U.S. pressure to make unwarranted concessions to Palestinians that will only embolden their terrorist enterprise.

Judge Herbert Grossman

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A Comparison of Washington Post and New York Times Coverage of Israeli Shooting of Teenage Palestinian Weapons Smugglers Shows Post Story to be Slanted and Journalistically Inferior

On Saturday Israeli troops spotted five Palestinians crawling on their stomachs in a closed military zone at the border between Gaza and Egypt, far from any housing, in an area that has a history of being the site of Palestinian weapons smuggling operations. They then stood up and made a run for the border. Warning shots and calls to stop were ignored. Three of them were shot and killed by Israeli forces. Two survived. As it turned out, they were teenagers. The survivors admitted to Palestinian security personnel that they had been involved in an attempt to smuggle weapons.

By comparing the Post's story on this incident with that of the New York Times, we can see the difference between a news report that makes an effort at full and fair reporting and a news report that leaves out important facts and is designed to portray Israel in a negative light. (Israelis Kill 3 Teenagers In Gaza Strip, Military Says Troops Fired Warning Shots, Sunday, 4-10-04, A20)

First, the headlines. The Post's headline says nothing about the shooting having taken place in a buffer zone at the border. The New York Times, on the other hand, places this fact right in the headline. (Israeli Troops Kill 3 Teenagers in Buffer Zone at Gaza Border, April 10, 2005)

Studies show that most readers don't read beyond the headline and introductory paragraphs of news articles. The Post's introductory paragraph says nothing about the shootings having taken place at the border. It says only that "Three Palestinian teenagers were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers Saturday in the southern Gaza Strip." The second paragraph also fails to report the location of the incident. So does the third. The New York Times, on the other hand, repeats in the opening paragraph that the shooting happened at the border.

The Post article, in paragraph four, finally gets around to telling the reader this happened "near the Egyptian border area in southern Gaza," but parrots, without question, the Palestinian version alleging that the victims "were playing soccer in the Rafah refugee camp" and then quotes a witness saying "the troops fired for no reason." It then goes on to give the names and ages of the teenagers. This goes well with the photograph accompanying the article showing the brother of one of the victims with an expression of agony on his face and being restrained. The caption of the photograph asserts that it depicts the brother at the moment he learns of his brother's death. We are expected to believe that the Reuters photographer (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa) was right on the scene as it happened. After all, it would be very cynical to think the photograph may have been staged. Interestingly, the Post and Times accounts of the names and ages of the perpetrators don't all match up.

Up to this point the Post article contains nothing to indicate there are vastly differing versions of what happened. The relatively small number of readers still reading at this point have been led by the Post reporter to believe this was an unprovoked, out-of-the-blue shooting of innocent, playful teenagers. 

It is only in paragraph five that the reader is told of the existence of an Israeli version, but even this part of the report leaves out crucial facts and is skewed on others. John Ward Anderson, the Post's correspondent, never gives the report of the Israeli commander who stated he was told by Palestinian security officials ... yes Palestinian security officials ... that the surviving teenagers admitted to them that they were involved in a weapons smuggling operation. The New York Times and other media outlets report this. 

Mr. Anderson doesn't report that not only were warning shots fired, but the Israeli troops called out to the perpetrators to stop. The New York Times reports this. 

Mr. Anderson refers to the area in which the perpetrators were shot as an area "where Palestinians are not allowed to be." The New York Times calls it a "closed military zone."

While Mr. Anderson does quote the Israeli spokesperson as saying this happened far from any houses, he doesn't note the actual distance from any inhabited area. It was some 300 yards (3 football fields for those who have difficulty conceptualizing distances) from any inhabited area. The New York Times reports this important fact.

This is inferior reporting by the Post. It is slanted, and it fails to fully and fairly report all of the known facts, thereby enabling readers to draw their own conclusions. Mr. Anderson seeks to conceal that Palestinian terrorists are using teenagers in their operations, and he seeks to depict Israelis as cold blooded killers. That is his agenda, and it drives his journalism.

The following letter to the Post amplifies the inadequacies of Mr. Anderson's reporting:

To The Editor:

How is it that the Washington Post, in “Israelis Kill 3 Teenagers in Gaza Strip” (news, April 10, 2005), is alone among major news sources in failing to report Israel’s statement that the surviving two members of the group that the Palestinians claimed were shot while playing soccer admitted to Palestinian authorities that they had been engaged in an arms-smuggling operation when fired on by Israeli troops guarding the border with Egypt?

It is despicable that the Palestinian terror groups have increasingly been using children for weapons-smuggling and direct terror attacks. It is no less so for the Washington Post to encourage the practice by giving the terrorists favorable publicity even when the military aspects of the missions fail.

Judge Herbert Grossman

Friday, April 1, 2005

Post Tries to Bury That Arafat's Muqata Housemates Were Ramallah Rampagers - Takes Another Hit and Run Slap at Israel, Blaming It For Rampage

Terrorists are still vying for control of the streets in the disputed territories. Thursday, a group of terrorists who Arafat had protected by allowing them to live in the Muqata in Ramallah for several years, were expelled on the instructions of Mahmoud Abbas. They then went on a rampage, shooting and burning stores in the town. The Post's John Anderson in "Palestinian Gunmen Rampage in Ramallah" (April 1, 2005; Page A22) subtly tries to conceal who these terrorists were by first failing to mention the Muqata or Arafat and by suggesting their identities were unknown. Only in the tail end of the article does he reveal that they had been identified by security officials and members of Fatah. 

In his opening paragraphs he states: 

"The identities of the gunmen were unclear, but several reports indicated they were Palestinian security officers and militants affiliated with the Fatah political movement -- the party of the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas -- who had been expelled from his headquarters.

This statement was at best a half truth, and it was immediately followed by a terrorist denial that the terrorists were terrorists. 

"A spokesman for the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, denied the men were members of the group, saying they were common thugs. Some government officials described the fracas as a street brawl among criminals."

It isn't until the closing paragraphs of this article that we learn that they were not just street thugs. They were the very same terrorists wanted by Israel that Arafat had protected for years by allowing them to stay in the Muqata. News articles over the years describing the Muqata frequently mentioned the terrorists Arafat was shielding in the compound.

Sandwiched between Anderson's opening deception and the revelation he strategically placed at the end of the article is the following gratuitous slap at Israel: 

"The incidents underscored the challenges Abbas is facing as he tries to assert control over the numerous Palestinian security agencies. His efforts are being closely scrutinized, and often criticized, by Israeli officials, who have pledged to return police responsibilities in the West Bank to the Palestinians but only if they prove they can handle the job to the Israelis' satisfaction."

So, there you have it - another of the out of context hit and runs that have become the trademark of the Post's husband and wife team of reporters in Israel, John Anderson and Molly Moore. This incident did not involve Mahmoud Abbas trying to take control of security agencies. Israel did not prevent Palestinian security officials from attempting to quell the rampaging terrorists. And this incident did not involve Israel at all, yet this reporter could not resist an opportunity to express his antipathy toward Israel. 

Exactly how inferior this reporting by the Post is compared with other news outlets is illustrated by the following letter to upper management at the Post:

To The Washington Post:

I am sending you the NY Times version of the Wild West doings in the West Bank so you can compare it with your own John Ward Anderson's non-report of the same incidents. While Steve Erlanger of the Times did what a reporter is supposed to do -- go to the scenes, bear witness, interview bystanders, describe conditions in Ramallah under the so-called Palestinian Authority -- Anderson evidently was sitting at his desk in Jerusalem cobbling together various second-hand reports into a paltry piece that doesn't begin to give readers a thorough account. What's your excuse this time? Isn't it obvious that if similar anarchy had broken out in any part of Israel, the Washington Post would have been all over the event and reporting it in the minutest detail?

Leo Rennert

Post's Multiple Personality Disorder Continues With Inconsistent Editorial and News Reports  - Headline Trumpets Annan As Cleared While Editorial Says Not Exonerated

On March 29, 2005 a Washington Post headline announced: "Kofi Annan Cleared In Corruption Probe

Despite this headline, in an editorial in today's Post we find the following statement: "Nevertheless, the report does not, as Mr. Annan claimed this week, amount to an "exoneration." (UNacceptable, 4-1-05, A26

If Mr. Annan was audacious in calling the report an "exoneration," the Post was no less audacious in trumpeting in a headline that he had been "cleared."
Not all newspapers felt the need to do so. The Washington Times headline on the same day stated: "Probe faults Annan."

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