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Monday, March 28, 2005

Multiple Personality Disorder at the Post - Editorial Commends UN Report Condemning Palestinian Terrorism, But News Reports Won't Even Call it By Its Name: Terrorism

In an editorial today The Washington Post commends the recent report of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on reform at the UN, because it explicitly points to "terrorism and weapons of mass destruction" as key threats to world peace and because it took to task Middle East governments "that refuse to condemn terrorism explicitly." (The Annan Report, 3-28-05, A16) The Post editorial favorably comments on Annan's "clear reference to terrorism targeting Israel." Here are the Post's comments:

"The report from Mr. Annan moves the ball a little farther. It agrees with the Bush administration that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction are among the prime threats of the new century. It disagrees with governments (notably Middle Eastern ones) that refuse to condemn terrorism explicitly. "The right to resist occupation . . . cannot include the right to deliberately kill or maim civilians," the report says, in a clear reference to terrorism targeting Israel."

The Washington Post deserves praise for taking an editorial stance supportive of the Secretary General's report directly addressing Palestinian terrorism. But it's almost as if we're witnessing a case of multiple personality disorder at The Post. Doesn't someone upstairs know their reporters and foreign editors are doing exactly the same thing this editorial commends Annan for criticizing, i.e., refusing to explicitly call terrorism for what it is; terrorism? Words have meanings. In the Post's news reports, readers do not read about "terrorism" against Israel, unless it's in the quoting or paraphrasing of Americans and Israelis. They read that "militants," "activists," "gunmen," "fighters" or "guerrillas" are targeting Israel. No one would expect news reports to overtly express an opinion condemning terrorism, but neither should they do the opposite. By whitewashing these crimes as acts of mere militancy, resistance or activism, they signal their tacit approval. It should stop.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Washington Post Soon To Be Alone In Its Refusal to Call Palestinian Terrorists by What They Are: Terrorists 

Letter to Post Editors and Management

To The Washington Post:

The Washington Post's stubborn refusal to describe as "terrorist" Palestinian groups which engage in terrorism leaves its editors, reporters and publisher on an increasingly tenuous course. When you look around, the Post is in fast-shrinking company when it insists that it would be a journalistic faux pas to tag people who deliberately murder innocent civilians in pursuit of a political agenda with a pejorative adjective like "terrorist," and instead prefers to substitute Orwellian euphemisms like "guerrilla," "fighter" or "militant" to sanitize Palestinian terrorist organizations.

Let's take for example Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement as you prefer to call it, and Islamic Jihad. For quite a few years, the U.S. Government has labeled them as "terrorist" groups. But the Post news pages, which occasionally refer to this U.S. Government description, is not about to take its cue from American officials.

Fine. But in more recent times, the European Union -- a bastion of political correctness -- also has tagged Hamas and Islamic Jihad as "terrorist" organizations.

Even more recently, Daniel Okrent, the public editor of the New York Times, urged reporters to skip silly circumlocutions and call a terrorist a "terrorist."

And, lo and behold, in today's Washington Post, readers are informed that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a sweeping plan to update the aims and policies of the world body, recommends a treaty that would define terrorism as "any act that is intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or noncombatants to intimidate a community, government or international organization." Fits Hamas and Islamic Jihad like a glove.

Of course, some Arab delegates oppose Annan's move, because it would include Palestinian "militants" (your word, not Kofi Annan's) who they argue deserve a semantic exemption because suicide bombers who blow up cafes, pizzerias, night club or school buses are really fine fellows fighting for "national liberation."

But there you have it: Kofi Annan, the embodiment of multilateral wisdom, the ombudsman of the NY Times, the politically correct EU, the U.S. Government, to say nothing of anyone who respects the English language, are now all lined up on one side. And who's left on the other side? The Washington Post and Arab apologists of terrorism when the target is Israel.

Interesting company you keep. I prefer mine.

Leo Rennert

Monday, March 14, 2005

Another Instance of the Post's Molly Moore Skewing Her Reports Against Israel by Omitting Important Contextual Information

To the Washington Post:

Molly Moore's March 14th report on Israel's cabinet decision to remove 24 settlements (Israel Delays Action on Settlements, Probe of Illegal Outposts Referred to Committee, 2-14-05, A13) takes a strikingly different -- and vehemently anti-Israel -- slant from that taken by the Associated Press and New York Times. My brief analysis notes three key points where Ms. Moore's report is false or deceptive AND differs substantially from BOTH the Times and AP.

First, Ms. Moore's report implies that the road map requires Israel to dismantle 105 outposts. This is false. The road map requires Israel to dismantle all outposts built since March 2001 -- a fact noted by the Associated Press but omitted by Ms. Moore. According to the recently released report that was the subject of the cabinet discussion, a total of 24 outposts are affected by the road map -- not 105, as Ms. Moore implies. Even Peace Now, an organization opposed to the settlements, suggests only 50 outposts have been built since March 2001, as reported in the New York Times.

Second, Ms. Moore utterly fails to mention the real news story of the day -- that Israel's cabinet committed to dismantling all of the 24 settlements it is required to dismantle by the road map. By contrast, both the New York Times and Associated Press noted this fact in their respective lead paragraphs, with the Times reporting that Israel's "cabinet decision was the strongest public commitment to remove at least some of the more recent settlement outposts." Ms. Moore's cynical spin of Israel's decision to dismantle outposts also appears unfair when contrasted with the Post's nonjudgmental reporting of Syria's far more dubious recent announcement of its plans to withdraw troops from Syrian-occupied Lebanon.

Third, Ms. Moore fails to report the reason Israeli officials provided as to why they are delaying immediate implementation of their plans to dismantle the outposts: that Israel wishes to give priority to the Gaza withdrawal, which will itself require considerable political and military capital in order to implement. The Associated Press and New York Times included this key fact in their reports. But Ms. Moore, all too typically for her, declined to include the Israeli perspective in her story.

It has long been clear that Ms. Moore is utterly incapable of being fair in her reporting on the Middle East. To the contrary, her anti-Israel bias consistently infects her slanted reporting, as is the case yet again today.

It is time to stop pretending that Ms. Moore is a serious news reporter, and start recognizing that she is an agenda-driven anti-Israel propagandist. At a minimum, her articles should at least be given the warning label "opinion" to advise Post readers not to regard them as unbiased news.

The longer the Post continues to ignore Ms. Moore's agenda-driven anti-Israel biased reporting, the more it undermines and destroys the public's trust in its credibility.

Stephen Silver

Saturday, March 12, 2005

NY Times Ombudsman Criticizes Avoidance of Term "Terrorism" -  Will The Post's Ombudsman See the Light? 

Although it's old news by now, we cannot avoid noting the difference between the NY Times' ombudsman (they call him their "Public Editor") and the Washington Post's ombudsman. Approximately one week ago Daniel Okrent, the Times ombudsman, wrote a column in which he noted the absurdity of the Times' unwillingness to call Palestinian terrorism by the word that most accurately describes exactly what it is, i.e., terrorism. (The War of the Words: A Dispatch From the Front Lines, NY Times, 3-6-05) On the other hand, the Post's Ombudsman, Michael Getler, has over the years steadfastly defended the Post on this as well as many other instances of Post reporting that sanitizes the misconduct of some Palestinians. The following letter to Mr. Getler about Mr. Okrent seeks a similar refreshing show of honesty and independence on the part of Mr. Getler in reviewing his as well as the Post's past position in refusing to describe terrorism by what it is:

Mr. Getler:

I call your attention to today's (March 6) column by Daniel Okrent, your counterpart at the NY Times, in which he calls on the Times to stop hiding behind euphemisms and call a terrorist "A TERRORIST." Let me cite Okrent's words:

"In some instances The Times's earnest effort to avoid bias can desiccate language and dilute meaning. In a January memo to the foreign desk, former Jerusalem bureau chief James Bennet addressed the paper's gingerly use of the word ' terrorism.'

' The calculated bombing of students in a university cafeteria, or of families gathered in an ice cream parlor, cries out to be called what it is,' he wrote. 'I wanted to avoid the political meaning that comes with 'terrorism,' but I couldn't pretend that the word had no usage at all in plain English.' Bennet came to believe that ' NOT TO USE THE TERM BEGAN TO SEEM LIKE A POLITICAL ACT IN ITSELF.'

"I agree. While some Israelis and their supporters assert that any Palestinian holding a gun is a terrorist, there can be neither factual nor moral certainty that he is. BUT IF THE SAME MAN FIRES INTO A CROWD OF CIVILIANS, HE HAS COMMITTED AN ACT OF TERROR, AND HE IS A TERRORIST. My own definition is simple: AN ACT OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE COMMITTED AGAINST PURELY CIVILIAN TARGETS IS TERRORISM; attacks on military targets are not. The deadly October 2000 assault on the American destroyer Cole or the devastating suicide bomb that killed 18 American soldiers and 4 Iraqis in Mosul last December may have been heinous, but these were acts of war, not terrorism. BEHEADING CONSTRUCTION WORKERS IN IRAQ AND BOMBING A MARKET IN JERUSALEM ARE TERRORISM PURE AND SIMPLE."

For several years many Post readers have made exactly the same argument and offered exactly the same definition of terrorism to you and to top editors and executives of the paper, only to be ignored or summarily rebuffed. You yourself wrote several columns stoutly defending the Post's use of such Orwellian euphemisms as 'MILITANT' to describe clear-cut acts of terrorism in Israel -- even when the paper saw fit to use ' TERRORISM ' when describing similar acts in Spain, Russia and, of course, about 9/11. Each time you would pretzel yourself into semantic knots trying to justify the unjustifiable.

Now, the public editor of the NY Times, appointed in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal, has come out forthrightly and told Times reporters and editors to knock off euphemisms like "MILITANTS" or "GUERRILLAS" when "TERRORIST" is clearly called for and is the proper word to describe specific events and specific perpetrators. Even before Okrent took this position, several Times reporters (Bennet, Erlanger and others) already had broken ranks and used "TERRORIST" in their stories.

Of course, you and Post editors still may cling to and enforce politically orthodox and patently biased wordings to avoid using "TERRORISM" when Israelis, not others, are victims. But it would be interesting if you rose to the occasion and explained to Post readers why you are right and Okrent is wrong. (words in caps are for emphasis, badly needed in this instance).

Leo Rennert

Monday, March 7, 2005

The Post Again Calls Israel An Occupier, While Describing Syria As Having A Mere "Presence" in Lebanon

In our 2-18-05 Alert we published a letter to the editor noting the semantic double standard employed by the Washington Post in its refusal to call the Syrian presence in Lebanon an "occupation," calling it instead a "continued Syrian presence," all the while regularly calling Israel an "occupier" of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 

Some may have argued that this was merely an unfortunate but  inadvertent choice of words. They would have been wrong. Today we again find The Post referring to Syria's "presence" in Lebanon, while in the very same article inexplicably referring in two places to Israel's former "occupation" of southern Lebanon. Today's article states: 

"Nasrallah appeared after what he called an 'emergency meeting' of more than 30 political parties aligned with the Syrian government, which is facing international pressure and a popular uprising here to end its 30-year presence in Lebanon." (Hezbollah To Protest U.S. Stance On Lebanon, 3-7-05, A01

Yet the very same article uses the words "occupation" and "occupied" in referring to Israel. It states: 

"With an extensive social services network and an armed wing celebrated here for helping end the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah is perhaps the most formidable player in the power-sharing system among religious-based parties."

... and again:

"Under the 1989 peace accord that ended Lebanon's civil war, Hezbollah was allowed to keep its arsenal of small weapons and rockets because Israel at the time still occupied parts of southern Lebanon."

Same region. Same context. Both are references to the presence of one nation's soldiers in another nation over a prolonged period of time. Yet The Post describes them differently. This is a very clear example of how the Washington Post subtly uses pejorative terminology to describe the conduct of Israel and goes out of its way to employ neutral and nonjudgmental terminology to the conduct of Israel's opponents.

Saturday, March 5, 2005

For The Second Time This Week The Post Leaves Its Readers In The Dark On Two News Stories

The Post's inadequacy as a source for international news is becoming more apparent every day. Two stories were widely reported today in the World's mainstream media, but not by The Washington Post. The Post reported no news at all from Israel or the disputed territories.

First, the Palestinian Authority's inability to control terrorist groups continued yesterday. In Nablus, approximately 13 Fatah terrorists took up positions outside a PA police station and opened fire on the station, wounding three people. This story was widely reported in The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Chicago Tribune, ABC News, CBC News, The San Francisco Chronicle, Reuters, BBC, AP, The Washington Times, Newsday, etc... but not The Washington Post.

Incidents involving armed struggle between terrorist groups and the PA cast serious doubt on Mahmoud Abbas' ability to negotiate a real peace with Israel. This is the second such confrontation this week that The Post ignored. Is the Post seeking to downplay or conceal the PA's unwillingness or inability to control terrorists?

The second story The Post failed to report involved London's anti-Semitic mayor, Ken Livingstone. He was in the news recently for likening a Jewish journalist to a Nazi concentration camp guard. Yesterday, in responding to accusations that he is an anti-Semite, he called Ariel Sharon a "war criminal" who should be in prison and not in office and accused Israel of engaging in "ethnic cleansing." He also accused Israel of engaging in terrorism against Palestinians and of endangering Londoners by fomenting worldwide anger. This story was reported in most major news outlets, including The LA Times, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, The BBC, ABC News, AP, Newsday, CBS News, etc. 

With anti-Semitic violence in London and all over Europe on the rise, why would The Washington Post not report this story?

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Once Again, Post Readers Must Look Outside The Post For Important News - Post Fails to Report Two Important Stories

The Post conspicuously failed to report two important stories from Israel yesterday that would have depicted the efforts by terrorist groups to prevent peace. 

First, with the massive death and destruction of the Beirut and Iraqi terrorist car bombings so fresh in the news, one would have thought the discovery by the Israeli military of a 1,000 pound car bomb outside of Jenin would have drawn the attention of the Post. It didn't. The letter to the editor set forth below criticizes the Post's failure to report the ongoing attempts by terrorists to attack Israel and frustrate peace efforts.

The second story the Post didn't report was the armed confrontation in Jenin between terrorists, led by Zakariya Zubeidi, the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades commander in Jenin, and the Palestinian Authority Interior Minister, Nasser Youssef.  (Gunmen Shoot At Pa Minister's Motorcade, Jerusalem Post, 3-2-05) Youssef was visiting Jenin to instruct PA security forces on how to crack down on Islamic Jihad, the group responsible for the terrorist bombing in Tel Aviv last Friday. In yesterday's confrontation, the terrorists fired shots in the vicinity of Youssef and demanded he leave. Zubeidi, their leader, in complaining that the visit wasn't cleared through him, was quoted as saying: "Every Palestinian city has a gate and Youssef did not enter Jenin through the proper gate." Youssef initially ordered the arrest of Zubeidi but then backed down. Before backing down, he was quoted as saying: "We're not leaving Jenin before we arrest these criminal gangsters." But he did fire the PA security chief for the area, Fayez Arafat, for failure to control Zbeidi, and he has not yet backed down from that decision.

This story was widely reported by CNN, AP, Reuters, Salon and dozens of other news outlets around the world. The Post, on the other hand, didn't even report this story in its "World in Brief" section, which is usually reserved for snippets picked up off the wire services.

Readers will recall that last August the Washington Post featured a front page story by Molly Moore lionizing Zbeida as the "de facto sheriff" and "unofficial mayor" of Jenin. We criticized the fawning and laudatory tone of that report as being inappropriate to describe someone who is a terrorist and vigilante. (Another Front Page Terrorist Propaganda Piece by Molly Moore - She Says The Terrorist is Really Just The "De Facto Sheriff" and Mayor of Jenin, EyeOnThePost, 8-23-04) Now that Zbeidi is attacking the PA in its efforts to crack down on terrorists, the Post is silent. The story is all the more important today, at a time when there is a power struggle going on between the terrorist groups and a democratically elected Palestinian leadership. Peace hangs in the balance. Unfortunately, this type of selective reporting of the news is typical of the Washington Post.

To the Editor:

Why is the Post failing to report continuing terrorism attempts against Israel, while other mainstream media outlets, such as the Associated Press and BBC, are reporting these events. Just yesterday a car loaded with over 1,000 pounds of explosives was discovered by Israeli security forces. To quote the BBC: "Israeli forces destroyed the bomb in a controlled explosion in an area between the towns of Jenin and Tulkarm. The officials say this makes the bomb the largest explosive device used by Palestinian militants in four years. Israeli forces destroyed the bomb in a controlled explosion in an area between the towns of Jenin and Tulkarm. Israeli army Col Oren Avman the officer who discovered the car bomb had prevented a huge disaster. Even an armoured vehicle or bus could not withstand such a huge bomb, he told Israel Army Radio".

At at time when insufficient efforts are being made by the major powers to get the Palestinian Authority to dismantle the terrorist organizations, rather than merely trying to persuade the terrorists to participate in a cease fire, the discovery of this car bomb by the Israeli military and the catastrophe that was narrowly averted, was an important story. Other media outlets understood the importance of the story and reported it. Why didn't the Post? It should not be necessary for Post readers to seek alternative sources for their news. 

Warren A. Manison

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Mahmoud Abbas Uses The Term "Terrorists" - The Washington Post Holds Out

Javier Solana, European Union High Representative, called the Tel Aviv bombing an act of terrorism: "I strongly condemn the terrorist attack that took place last night in Tel Aviv."

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called the perpetrators "terrorists" in asking Israel and the PA to "...work together to ensure that the terrorists do not succeed."

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan referred to the bombing as a terrorist act: "This terrorist act should not be allowed to undermine the recent positive steps taken by both sides.

President Bush called the Tel Aviv bombing a "vicious act of terrorism...."

The United States government, in its official laws and policy (all of which enjoy bipartisan support), has never hesitated to call terrorists what they really are.

And now Mahmoud Abbas, the elected Palestinian President, calls them "terrorists."

How shocked John Ward Anderson, one of the Washington Post's Middle East correspondents, must have been when he heard that Mr. Abbas had used the "T" word. Anderson noted in today's article: "He referred to the perpetrators of the Tel Aviv attack as 'terrorists,' a term Palestinians rarely use to describe other Palestinians." (7 Arrested in Tel Aviv Bombing, Syrian-Based Leaders of Islamic Jihad Assert Responsibility, 2-27-05, A20) If he were being candid, he would have added "and in sympathy with the Palestinian cause, the Post has similarly refused to use the term." 

Mr. Anderson, however, still finds that the term doesn't fit his conception of what these Palestinian terrorists (remember, the Post doesn't hesitate to call non-Palestinian terrorists such) are, so in today's article he refers to the terrorist groups as "militant groups" and the terrorist himself as the "bomber," an "observant muslim," and a "university student." This is reminiscent of the Post's calling the now deceased Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the co-founder and mastermind of Hamas, its "spiritual leader" in the very same news article that quoted the wild eyed Yassin issuing threats to spill Israeli blood in the streets.

With the United Nations, Europe, the US and the Palestinian Authority itself now calling them "terrorists," perhaps it's time for the Post to reconsider its slanted policy of refusing to call them by the word in the English language that most appropriately describes their activities, i.e., terrorists.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The Post's New Euphemism for Terrorists .... "Palestinians"

To the Post's John Ward Anderson (and presumably his editor too), Palestinian terrorists have not only ceased to be "terrorists," but they're no longer "militants," "guerrillas," "radicals" or even "activists."  They're just plain "Palestinians." (Israeli Cabinet Backs Pullout Plan, 2-21-05, A20) Here's what he says in today's report: 

"Israel has also said that it has stopped targeting senior Palestinian leaders for assassination and demolishing the homes of Palestinians involved in deadly attacks against Israelis."

Needless to say, "Palestinian leaders" have never been targeted by Israel. The Post's use of the pejorative term "assassination," even in connection with the killing of terrorist leaders, was always questionable, because almost any dictionary definition of the term assassination includes the word "murder," something few unbiased people would use to describe the defensive targeting of terrorist leaders. But the use of the term "assassination" side by side with the suggestion that Israel targeted Palestinian leaders for assassination, is downright obnoxious. 

With the Post's long term effort to depict terrorists as a normal, legitimate and mainstream part of Palestinian society, it would be naive to think this type of semantic error was inadvertent. Rather, it would appear to be another subtle and somewhat underhanded attempt by the Post to influence its readers.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Post Calls Israel an "Occupier" But Not Syria

Dear Washington Post Staff:

How come you refer to a "continued Syrian presence" in Lebanon [Blast Kills Ex-Premier In Lebanon - February 15, 2005, p. A01] while using the more derogatory term "occupier" when referring to Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza?

If the Post wonders why many of its readers view the Post as skewing coverage against Israel, here is a prime example. I look forward to a reconsideration of Washington Post coverage of Israel.


Michael Berenhaus

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Another Washington Post Euphemism for Terrorists

In our February 6, 2005 Alert titled "The Post Euphemizes Its Euphemisms" we wrote about the Post's transformation of its euphemism, "militant," into the phrase "militia members" to describe terrorists, and we wondered how long it would be before the Post would simply call them "soldiers." The Post's creative effort to avoid calling terrorists what they really are continues, as this letter to the editor reveals:

Letter to the Editor:

I am intrigued by the title of the Feb. 15 Washington Post front page story - "Top Iraq Rebels Elude Intensified U.S. Raids." Using the term "rebels" instead of "terrorists" is misleading. In Iraq, they are (incorrectly) called "insurgents," while in other Middle East conflicts, they are called "militants" or "gunmen." Saudi Arabia correctly used the "terrorist" word during their international counter-terrorism conference they hosted only last week.

The redefinition of "terrorism" is contrary to definitions issued by several world bodies. In 2001, the UN Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism - A/C.6/56/L.9 - defined terrorism to occur when: a person commits an offence causing death or injury whose purpose is to intimidate a population or to compel a Government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act. In 2003, the EU added to this definition - seriously destabilizing or destroying fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures through kidnapping, hostage-taking, manufacture or possession or transport of weapons or explosives. In 2003, a paper presented at a meeting of the American Political Science Association added to the definition of terrorism as follows - "Terrorism is a politically motivated tactic involving the threat or use of force or violence in which the pursuit of publicity plays a significant role."

The use of "rebels" or other words to describe "terrorists" is contrary to what world bodies are defining as the scourge of civilized behavior. Perhaps the Washington Post will correct its use of misleading words and call terrorism, in all its gradations, what it really is. To do otherwise is to glorify acts of terrorism.

Warren A. Manison

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Post Failing to Report News that Doesn't Fit Its Agenda - Palestinian Security Forces Will Not Follow Abbas' Orders to Crack Down on Terrorists

The Washington Post's web site is under different management than the newspaper, and sometimes that provides a window into how the newspaper is filtering the news according to the agenda of its foreign reporters and foreign editor. The web site often provides wire service reports of important news that the Post's foreign reporters and editor ignore, and yesterday we were provided with an example. 

Yesterday the Associated Press ran an excellent article showing that the Palestinian Authority's security forces have divided loyalties. No matter how many Palestinian policemen are sent into Gaza, they don't have the will or intention to confront or disarm terrorists or even to simply arrest those terrorists who continue to attack Israel and disrupt the peace process. This wire service story was reported on the Washington Post's own web site. (Palestinian Cops Can't Stop Militants, 2-14, 2005) Yet it didn't make it into today's newspaper.

Those inclined to play devil's advocate might argue that due to space restraints, there are a lot of news stories that can't be reported, and with other stories on other days, that argument would, undoubtedly, be true. Today, there was virtually no news reported about Israel or the disputed territories, save for a few lines in the World in Brief section. This was an important story and one would have to be naive to think the Post's foreign editor missed it. It is something that the Post's reporters in Israel should have been reporting for some time now. What good is it to have correspondents on the scene who are unwilling to ask and provide an answer to the simple question of whether the Palestinian police forces in the field have any intention of carrying out Mahmoud Abbas' orders to crack down on terrorists? 

The Post's anti-Israel slant is prompting it to position itself to blame Israel when the current lull in violence breaks down. The Post does not want to report anything that shows Abbas as completely unable to deliver on his promises to control the terrorists. The Post continues to report gestures by Abbas, such as his recent firing of approximately 10 commanders of his security forces, as effective responses to continued terrorist activities, rather than a public relations gesture of a leader with no real power to deliver peace. In this instance, despite having correspondents in place, the Washington Post's reporting is decidedly inferior to that of the wire services in terms of reporting the truth.

Friday, February 11, 2005

CAMERA Alert Exposes Distortions in John Ward Anderson Article on Israeli Government Land Policy in Jerusalem

CAMERA provided a detailed and excellent Alert revealing the distorted and one-sided journalism of John Ward Anderson in this week's article titled "Israelis Act to Encircle East Jerusalem, Enclaves in Arab Areas, Illegal Building Projects Seen Intended to Consolidate Control." (2-7-05, p. A15) With gratitude to CAMERA, we are reprinting the Alert here:

The Washington Post's February 7th article by John Ward Anderson, "Israelis Act to Encircle East Jerusalem" is a highly distorted look at construction in Jerusalem. A number of the claims require time to investigate but a preliminary review of the story finds obvious problems.

  • Mentioned only in passing by someone he interviewed, but totally unexamined by Anderson, is the key fact that Arabs are engaged in large-scale building in eastern Jerusalem, both legal and illegal. Why focus only on Jewish building as the Post reporter does? Arab construction has actually occurred at a faster rate than Jewish building since 1967. And land purchases have received funding by outside sources in the case of both Jews (American funders) and Arabs (Saudi and other foreign Arab funders).

  • Anderson repeatedly quotes Daniel Seidemann, a lawyer and critic of Jewish building in eastern Jerusalem, but fails to interview at length any experts on Arab building in Jerusalem. Two well-known sources are Israel Kimhi, former Jerusalem city planner and currently with the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, and Justus Reid Weiner of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (author of "Illegal Construction in Jerusalem; A Variation on an Alarming Phenomenon"), authorities on Arab and Jewish construction in Jerusalem and the territories. Kimhi, in "Arab Building in Jerusalem: 1967 - 1997," noted that Arab housing construction in Jerusalem grew at a rate of 122 percent, compared to 113.5 percent for Jewish construction. Weiner has documented a wave of illegal Arab building in the city, subsidized by the Palestinian Authority and other Arab governments, despite the fact that Israeli authorities have issued housing permits to more than meet the Arabs' housing needs.
    He notes in his recent book (http://www.jcpa.org/jlmbldg.htm):

  • Illegal [Arab] construction has reached epidemic proportions. A senior Palestinian official boasted that they have built 6,000 homes without permits during the last 4 years, of which less than 200 were demolished by the city.

  • This frantic pace of illegal construction continues despite the fact that the city has authorized more than 36,000 permits for new housing units in the Arab sector, more than enough to meet the needs of Arab residents through legal construction until 2020.

  • Arab residents who wish to build legally may consult urban plans translated into Arabic for their convenience and receive individual assistance from Arabic-speaking city employees.

  • Both Arabs and Jews typically wait 4-6 weeks for permit approval, enjoy a similar rate of application approv of application approvals, and pay an identical fee ($3,600) for water and sewage hook-ups on the same size living unit.

  • The same procedures for administrative demolition orders apply to both Jews and Arabs in all parts of the city, as a final backstop to remove structures built illegally on roadbeds or land designated for schools, clinics, and the like.

  • During the last few years, the great majority of illegal structures demolished by the Jerusalem Municipality were in the Jewish sector.

  • The Palestinian Authority and Arab governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an intentional campaign to subsidize and encourage massive illegal construction in the Arab sector, seeing this as part of their "demographic war" against Israel.

  • Many large, multi-story, luxury structures have been built by criminals on land they do not own, frequently land belonging to Palestinian Christians living abroad.

    The closest Anderson comes to this key context is to paraphrase an Israeli's reference to "thousands" of Palestinian homes built without permits. But he then cites "Seidemann and other activists" in rebuttal, claiming that "the difference ... is that illegal Palestinian homes often are demolished by the Israeli government,” 330 since 2001. Yet Weiner's detailed research shows in recent years "the great majority of illegal structures demolished by the Jerusalem Municipality were in the Jewish sector."

  • Anderson includes a quote noting that the land was the property of the Jews until they were forced out of eastern Jerusalem by violent Arab pogroms: "Daniel Luria, a spokesman for Ateret Cohanim, one of the most prominent private groups involved in moving Jews into Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, said a main focus of his organization was returning Jews to property their ancestors had abandoned during Arab riots in the 1920s and '30s." And later in the article: " 'This empty land is all that remains of a Jewish neighborhood that was meant to be built in 1924' by a group of Jews who purchased about 150 acres but abandoned the land during the Arab riots, Luria said."

    Anderson fails to examine this important context. If the Jews owned it and never sold it, and others built on it in the meantime, what does the law say about who the real owner of this property is? Anderson gives us no information about this legal question.

  • Andeson writes: "...Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli lawyer...has fought numerous court battles against Jewish takeovers of Arab-owned houses and land."

    "Jewish takeovers"? Anderson notes in the article that "...five Jewish families from Ateret Cohanim moved into two homes...The Arab owner of one of the houses, Khalid Radwan, 62, said Ateret Cohanim gave him $650,000 and told him that the land he had bought and built upon 28 years earlier was, in fact, owned by Jews..."

    Is Anderson implying that Jews paying an Arab $650,000 for a home is a "takeover"? Most people would simply call this "purchasing a home." When a Jew buys the home of a Muslim in America, would Anderson call it a "takeover"? When African-Americans buy homes in a predominantly white neighborhood, would Anderson label it a "takeover"? Does Anderson advocate an eastern Jerusalem ethnically cleansed of Jews, akin to the Jordanian occupation of eastern Jerusalem (1948-1967) when they killed or expelled all the Jews who had been living there?

  • As noted above, there is mention of Israelis returning to eastern Jerusalem property Jews had been driven from by Arab violence in the 1920's and ‘30s. But the scope of the anti-Jewish ethnic cleansing that made eastern Jerusalem "overwhelmingly Arab" -- including the Jordanian conquest and destruction of much of the Jewish quarter of the Old City in 1948 -- is not covered.

  • Anderson writes: "About 2 1/2 miles away is the most conspicuous landmark in Jerusalem's Old City: the golden Dome of the Rock. Next to it is al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third-holiest site. They sit atop a plateau that Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary; Jews refer to the spot as the Temple Mount, revered as the place where King Solomon built the First Temple in the 10th century B.C."

    Why mention that the mosque is Islam's third holiest site without mentioning that the Temple Mount is Judaism's number one holy site? Or that the Temple Mount was the site of the second Temple, built in the fifth century BCE and expanded in the first century BCE?

My thanks go to Julie Weingrad of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, CAMERA members Leo Rennert and Judge Herbert Grossman, and EyeOnThePost chair Robert Samet for their comments about and critiques of “Israelis Act to Encircle East Jerusalem.” 

Eric Rozenman
Washington Director

Monday, February 7, 2005

More Anti-Israel, Pro-Palestinian Propaganda From John Ward Anderson and Molly Moore

Today's article by John Ward Anderson (contributed to by wife, Molly Moore) is as vicious a one-sided and unfair attack on Israel as we've seen from this duo to date. (Israelis Act to Encircle East Jerusalem, Enclaves in Arab Areas, Illegal Building Projects Seen Intended to Consolidate Control, 2-7-05, A15) The following two letters to the Editor demonstrate the Post's omission of important historical facts, distortion of Israeli policy and lack of balance in failing to report long term Arab efforts to exclude Jews from territory in which they predominate:

To the Editor:

In 1948, for the first time in its history, Jerusalem was divided. The invading Jordanian army conquered the eastern portion, expelled all its Jews, denied Jews the right to worship there, and desecrated their holy sites, in this city holiest to Judaism. 

In the 1967 war, which Jordan entered by shelling Israel after rejecting Israel’s entreaties to remain neutral and retain its seized territory, Israel expelled the Jordanian army from Jerusalem and opened it to worship for all religions, including that of the previous Muslim occupier. Since then, it has scrupulously maintained Jerusalem’s openness.

In “Israelis Act to Encircle East Jerusalem” (news, Feb. 7), John Ward Anderson makes it appear as though division of the city is the historical norm and that Israel’s policy of settling Jews in strategic locations to ensure its control over the city is sinister and devious.

To the contrary, Israel’s openly-stated policy of maintaining Jerusalem as an undivided city is in accordance with historical practice and consistent with even the United Nations’ Partition Plan of 1947. Moreover, in contrast to the prior occupation by Jordan, it is in the best interests of the free practice of all religions.

Israel’s retention of control is in furtherance of tolerance and inclusion, as opposed to repression and expulsion, which would again be the norm in a severed eastern portion of the city if Israel were forced to relinquish it. Israel should be applauded, not condemned, for not allowing that sorry episode in history to be repeated.

Judge Herbert Grossman

To the Editor:

The Post's focus on Israel's efforts to strengthen its grip on Jerusalem is a classic example of selective journalism ("Israelis Act to Encircle East Jerusalem" Feb. 7). The still unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict has been going on for decades, but the Post pays little or no attention to Palestinian counter-efforts to consolidate their grip in areas without internationally recognized borders.

Where are Post "exposes" of Palestinians building thousands of illegal homes in East Jerusalem? Or Palestinians attempting to "cleanse" Jews from Hebron, one of Judaism's four holy cities, ultimately threatening access to Jews wishing to worship at the Biblical Cave of the Patriarchs? Or repeated Palestinian sniper attacks to prevent Jewish access to Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem?

As long as this conflict festers, one side or the other -- or both -- will seek some interim territorial advantage. The obvious solution is a two-state agreement with permanent, verifiable cessation of terrorism and mutual respect for holy sites. In that endeavor, Israel has been far ahead of Arab and Palestinian leaders, the Post's coverage notwithstanding.

Leo Rennert

Sunday, February 6, 2005

The Post Euphemizes Its Euphemisms

From an article by Glenn Kessler in today's Washington Post: 

"Administration officials believe that money can be used to help relieve Palestinian poverty and persuade militia members to retire."

"The money would also be used to create a retirement fund for militia members."  (U.S. Plans Low-Key Approach in Return to Mideast Role, 2-6-05, A17

First they transformed terrorists into "militants." Now the "militants" have become "militia members." How long before "militia members" become "military members" or even "soldiers" in the Post's lexicon?"

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Another Instance of The Post Reporting a False Accusation Against Israel and Then Remaining Silent When The Truth is Revealed

After publishing this article (Killing of a Palestinian Girl Sparks Retaliation at Israel, 2-1-05, A14) on Tuesday suggesting the possibility that Israeli fire killed this little 10 year old Palestinian girl, wouldn't it have been appropriate for The Washington Post to report on Wednesday or even Thursday that a Palestinian was arrested for killing the little girl? The arrested man was among a group of Palestinians shooting their guns while returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca. (PA Arrests Suspect In Girl's Murder, The Jerusalem Post, 2-1-05) In the aftermath of the killing Palestinians wrongly accused Israel of the shooting, and terrorists launched more missiles at Israelis. Yet the Washington Post was silent when the truth came out about the killing. Does anyone believe The Post would have been silent if an investigation had shown it was, in fact, Israeli fire that killed the little girl?

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Another Molly Moore Effusive, Front Page Profile of A Jailed Palestinian Terrorist's Wife

From the glowing front page profile Molly Moore paints of this newly elected mayor of a town in Gaza, you would never know Fathiya Barghouti Rheime is the wife of a terrorist. (Democracy's New Face: Radical and Female Palestinian Mayor Embodies Both Tradition and Change in Middle East, 1-29-05, A01) Her husband was one of the murderers of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi, and it was he who, from his Israeli jail cell, encouraged her to run for office. But regular readers of Ms. Moore know she often constructs sympathetic profiles of terrorists and the friends and family of terrorists, and her editors don't hesitate to publish them on the front page. According to Ms. Moore, the fact that Rheime is the wife of a terrorist makes her all the more attractive to Palestinian voters, and from the approving tone of this article, to Ms. Moore as well. Ms. Moore tells the reader Rheime is young, a mother of two young children, a High School teacher, very religious, "wears the hejab, a scarf wrapped tightly over her head," "does not shake hands with men," and "has a soft voice, gentle laugh and luminous green eyes.

But this article by Ms. Moore is more than just a slavering sketch of a winning candidate for municipal office. It would appear from the tone of this article that these are heady days for Ms. Moore, with Hamas candidates experiencing election victories in many towns in Gaza. Ms. Moore sees this as a repudiation of George Bush's vision of democracy in the Middle East. Note her sarcasm in referring to George Bush in the opening sentence, when she states: "Fathiya Barghouti Rheime sees herself as the new face of Islam in the democratic Middle East espoused so fervently by President Bush." She then opines: "Rheime's victory exemplifies the contradictions between Western views of democracy and its actual practice in a Middle Eastern environment."  In fact, there is no such contradiction. Those who have advocated democracy for Palestinians recognize that the process may not always result in preferred candidates winning. Over time, however, voters tend to vote for candidates who will support their interests and are not likely to return to office candidates that bring down upon them the destruction of their homes, businesses and economy. Ms. Moore seems to have missed that point and, instead, appears to gloat over her misperception that Hamas' victories in municipal elections are an "in-your-face" to George Bush. 

And to give credit where credit is due, we remember how uncritically supportive Ms. Moore and the Washington Post always were of Yassir Arafat and the PLO. Had the Washington Post (along with a number of other influential media outlets) not gone to such great lengths in years past to protect and foster the image of Yassir Arafat and his corrupt cronies, their time in power may have been cut short well before the Palestinian people accepted extremist groups such as Hamas as the only viable alternative to a corrupt PLO. Even in today's article she gushingly refers to Arafat as the "longtime Palestinian leader and icon."

This article also contains another of Ms. Moore's signature hit and run slaps at Israel, in which she provides only a snippet of information casting Israel or Israelis in a negative light, and moves on without providing any background or context. In her recitation of the support radicals and terrorists obtained from Palestinian voters in the recent municipal elections, Ms. Moore states: "One Islamic candidate ran -- and won -- from his Israeli jail cell. Another winning Islamic councilman was arrested at his house by Israeli troops three weeks after the election. Both are being held without charge under administrative detention, according to fellow council members." She never tells the reader why these people are in Israeli jails. She doesn't provide their names so that we might research the reasons for their arrest and detention. For all the reader knows, they may well be murderers. This type of opinionated reporting designed to bolster the image of Palestinians and detract from the image of Israelis has, unfortunately, become par for the course from Ms. Moore and the Washington Post.

Here's a letter to the Post about today's article:

To the Editor:

Molly Moore evidently was so taken by the "soft voice, gentle laugh and luminous green eyes" of Fathiya Barghouti Rheime, the first elected Palestinian woman mayor, that she forgot to ask a basic Journalism 101 question: "Do you feel proud of your husband for driving the getaway car of terrorists who murdered Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi?" ("Democracy's New Face: Radical and Female" Jan. 29)

In her effusive embrace of this new Palestinian politician, Moore also seems to have lost her geographic bearings -- not just her journalistic ones. It came a bit as a surprise to this reader that Rheime's West Bank hometown is now an island in the Mediterranean -- located in Moore's report "20 miles WEST of the skyscrapers of affluent Tel Aviv."

I suppose when a reporter becomes smitten with her subject, journalistic and other lapses are bound to occur.

Leo Rennert

Friday, January 28, 2005

Post Reporters Find Subtle Ways to Omit Key Facts and Distort the News 

On its surface, today's article by John Ward Anderson of the husband and wife team of John Anderson/Molly Moore reporting from Israel for the Washington Post, seems innocuous enough. Local elections in Gaza have given Hamas some victories and Israeli and Palestinian leaders seem to be moving toward peace. (Thousands Vote in Gaza as Peace Hopes Rise, 1-28-05, A20) But even in a simple article reporting good news from the region Anderson and Moore find subtle ways to leave out important facts, slant the news and revise history.

Two weeks ago, following the Palestinian election of Mahmoud Abbas as president of the Palestinian authority, a Palestinian terrorist attack (admittedly a joint operation by all three major terrorist groups, including The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Abbas' Fatah party) killed six Israelis at a border crossing in Gaza. Israel immediately announced it would suspend contact with the Palestinian Authority, because Mahmoud Abbas was not taking sufficient measures to stop terrorism. Israel resumed contacts with the PA this week, because the PA last week took concrete steps to curtail terrorism by deploying hundreds of Palestinian security officers and by actively seeking an agreement on the part of the terrorist organizations to begin a unilateral cease fire. In addition, a PA order was signed banning possession of weapons by civilians. But Anderson doesn't want readers to know there were good reasons for Israel cutting off contacts with the PA two weeks ago and for resuming those contacts this week. So, in today's article he conveniently omits those historical facts from his report in order to depict the severance of contacts two weeks ago as a capricious act by Ariel Sharon and the resumption of contacts this week as Sharon becoming more flexible. Here's Anderson's version from today's article: 

"Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who this month suspended contacts with the Palestinians for two weeks and complained that their new president, Mahmoud Abbas, was not doing enough to combat terrorism, reversed course in an interview published Thursday in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth. 'I am very satisfied with what I am hearing is happening on the Palestinian side, and I am very interested in advancing processes' with Abbas, Sharon was quoted as saying.

Notice the absence of any mention of the reasons for the termination of contacts two weeks ago. Notice how the termination of contacts is depicted as an act by Ariel Sharon alone, when only two weeks ago, on the front page, Anderson repeatedly characterized it as the act of the Israeli government. (Israel Cuts Contact to Palestinian Authority, 1-15-05, A1) Finally, notice how Anderson provides none of the actions of the PA over the past two weeks that prompted the resumption of Israeli contacts... no mention of the deployment of hundreds of PA security forces and no mention of Abbas working toward a cessation of terrorism. 

Also in this article, Anderson recounts the voting results from Beit Hanoun, and just as in yesterday's report, he injects an out of context notation about the destruction caused by last year's Israeli military operation in Beit Hanoun, without mentioning anything about the reason for that military operation, the repeated terrorist shelling of Israelis from that town. Here's Anderson's comment: "According to exit polling by the Center for Palestinian Research and Studies, voters in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, which has been devastated by Israeli military operations, awarded Hamas six seats, while Fatah, the political movement of Yasser Arafat, came in second with three." Anderson doesn't want readers to remember why Israel conducted military operations in Beit Hanoun. He wants readers to perceive Israel as engaging in gratuitous destruction. 

This reporter has an agenda. He is deliberately omitting key facts. He is not reporting fully and truthfully. This is unethical journalism, but it's what Post's editors apparently want from their reporters.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Post Correspondents Look for Places to Prominently Insert Anti-Israel Propaganda In News Reports

The Post's husband and wife team of reporters in Israel, John Anderson and Molly Moore, are always on the lookout for ways to take a swipe at Israel. They often insert sentences or whole paragraphs completely off topic to an article, solely to express their opinions critical of Israel. Molly Moore shamefully inserted an off topic opening sentence in an article on January 8 of this year, and we wrote about it here. We called that effort by Ms. Moore a hit and run. Today, John Anderson also took a hit and run slap at Israel. In an article devoted to upcoming municipal elections in Gaza, the opening two paragraphs of the article are devoted not to those elections, but rather, to a slanted and out of context summary of Israel's military operations in Beit Hanoun last year, complete with a collection of misleading statistics. (Embracing the Vote in Gaza, Militant Groups Join Political Process in Territory's First Local Ballot, 1-26-05, A14) Beit Hanoun is one of those Gaza towns that will hold elections this week, and the article then goes on to discuss the upcoming elections. But Anderson's primary goal to criticize Israel is transparent not only from the placement of these off-topic paragraphs at the beginning of the article but also from the absence of any relationship between the June, 2004 Israeli military operation and the upcoming election. It is so obviously unrelated that Anderson is forced to rely upon the following weak transitional sentence in order to move on to the real topic of the article, the elections:  "Today, the battered and oft-besieged town of 32,000 is a different sort of battleground.

Equally as disturbing is that the substance of Anderson's hit and run, the Israeli military action last year in response to terrorist missile attacks from Beit Hanoun, is not treated fairly or accurately, as the following letter to the editor reveals:

 To the Editor:

As usual, John Ward Anderson tells only half the story, the deceptive Palestinian half in Embracing the Vote in Gaza (news, Jan. 26).

The Israeli incursion into Beit Hanoun was not in response to the firing of only the four rockets that killed two Israelis in June, but to the hundreds fired from Gaza within the past year. Contrary to the import of the article, the Israeli response was not disproportionate to the task of stopping the firing, which is still continuing with the apparent approval of the residents of Beit Hanoun, notwithstanding their supposed hardships. To protect its citizens, Israel, perhaps, should intensify its counter-attacks.

Nor should a good journalist end the article by quoting a Palestinian who blames the rocket attacks on occupation, without asking further, What occupation? Under the Oslo Accords, Israel had withdrawn from all Palestinian-inhabited areas in Gaza in the mid-1990s, at least six years before it began mounting limited incursions into them in response to Palestinian attacks under the current intifada. At the Camp David and Taba conferences in 2000-2001, Israel offered also to withdraw from Israeli-inhabited areas and is now unilaterally withdrawing from them in their entirety.

Palestinian attacks, by rockets or otherwise, are gratuitous -- for the sake only of killing and terrorizing Jews. They jeopardize the prospects of an Israeli withdrawal, not enhance them, and cannot truthfully be blamed on occupation.


Judge Herbert Grossman

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Another Display of Opinionated and Agenda Driven Reporting by Molly Moore

Sometimes bias speaks for itself. Today, in a report by Molly Moore on the election of Mahmoud Abbas, we find a statement by Ms. Moore that leaves the reader with little doubt of Ms. Moore's skepticism over the US and Israeli position that Yassir Arafat was not a sincere negotiating partner: "As Abbas, known as Abu Mazen, prepares to take office, the United States and Israel are now in a position where they can no longer claim they do not have a negotiating partner." (Abbas Is Declared President-Elect, Bush Extends White House Invitation, 1-11-05, A10) Again we ask, where is the editorial oversight?

Saturday, January 8, 2005

Molly Moore Takes Another Out of Context and Gratuitous Slap at Israel

Molly Moore is at it again. In an article devoted exclusively to coverage of the Palestinian presidential election and otherwise devoid of any suggestion that Israel has actively interfered in that election, she begins the article with the following inflammatory sentence: "In his campaign for the Palestinian presidency, Mustafa Barghouti has been dragged through the dirt, detained at gunpoint and arrested by Israeli security forces." (Rocking the Vote in Gaza, West Bank Campaigns Fire Up Palestinians for Presidential Poll, 1-7-05, A10) Having thus effectively maligned Israel in the very first sentence, she commits a hit and run and moves on to a general discussion of the campaign, the candidates and the issues. The article never again touches on this topic. Ms. Moore doesn't attempt to explain the circumstances of the incident or the arrest. She doesn't tell the reader why Mustafa Barghouti was arrested. Never mind that Barghouti's brief detention was for a permit violation and that other candidates have obtained the appropriate permits, with no difficulty from Israeli authorities. Was Barghouti really "dragged through the dirt," or is Ms. Moore unquestioningly accepting and repeating hyperbole from the candidate himself, who she quotes on an unrelated subject later in the article? Nothing we could find in the news reports supports the description "dragged through the dirt." The fact that Ms. Moore begins this article with this out of context and gratuitous slap at Israel reveals this anti-Israel reporter's transparent mission to smear Israel as often as she is able. But where is the editorial oversight?

Also In This Article... Mahmoud Abbas According to the Washington Post

In this same article Molly Moore says Mahmoud Abbas was "visibly uncomfortable" at a recent rally in Jenin when he was hoisted onto the shoulders of terrorists. A NY Times reporter had a completely different take on Abbas' reaction to the enthusiastic support of terrorists. The following letter to the editor of The Post says it all: 

To the Editor:

On Jan. 7, writing in the New York Times from the Palestinian territories, Helene Cooper reported that front-running presidential candidate Mahmoud Abbas was "smiling" when Al Aqsa Brigade terrorists proclaimed him their champion and hoisted him triumphantly on their shoulders during a campaign stop. On the same day, the Post's Molly Moore and John Anderson assured readers that, to the contrary, Abbas is a "staunch critic of Palestinian violence" and looked "visibly uncomfortable" when he was held aloft by the local "militant" leader.

The Post's correspondents, brimming with optimism about big changes on the Palestinian side, also quoted a Gaza college student as predicting that the elections would mark "the beginning of the end for the glorification of (Palestinian) leaders." The poor chap obviously is not a Post subscriber.

Leo Rennert

Monday, January 3, 2005

Post Fails to Report Secretary of State Colin Powell's Criticism of Recent Statements by Mahmoud Abbas

Yesterday  we commented on The Post's failure to report on Mahmoud Abbas' Saturday, January 1, 2005 statements that he not only would not clamp down on terrorist groups if elected but would protect them. Thank goodness US Secretary of State Colin Powell has other sources of news, because yesterday he reacted with alarm to these recent statements by Abbas, indicating that a much different type of conduct toward terrorists would be expected of Abbas once elected. Needless to say, The Post ignored this story too. In fact, in today's paper the only news about Israel and the disputed territories reported by The Post was a statement by Abbas yesterday asking terrorists to stop shelling Israelis from northern Gaza right now, "because this is not the proper time for such actions." Even though this story was placed in the World in Brief section, The Post's editor responsible for this section saw fit to place it as the lead story in the section and give it its own mini-headline. (Abbas Urges Militants To Stop Firing at Israel, World in Brief, 1-3-05, A14

Once again, we hope the recent hard line statements by Abbas are merely campaign rhetoric, but they may not be, and that is not the issue. The issue is responsible journalism. The Post continues to deliver only half the news - the part that is either in derogation of Israel or Israelis or complimentary of Palestinians. Below is a letter to the editor nicely summarizing the Post's continued slant in its reporting on events in Israel and the disputed territories:

To The Post:

On Sunday, Jan. 2, Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered the first public U.S. rebuke to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for embracing Palestinian terrorists while campaigning for the chairmanship of the Palestinian Authority and for pledging that, come what may, he would protect them against Israeli attempts to apprehend or kill them. Powell said that he found Abbas' statements and suddenly cozy relations with terrorists "disturbing." (In diplomatese, that's a step up from "troubling"). The secretary also declared that once the elections are over and the terrorists continue to wage a violent intifada, Abbas would have to conduct "operations against them" -- something Abbas has flatly rejected.

Yet, not a word about this in the Post. For that matter, the Post hardly provided any real coverage of Abbas' honeymoon with terrorist groups in the run-up to the elections. But just imagine if Powell had used similar criticism of Ariel Sharon and publicly advocated a course of action diametrically opposed to Sharon's actions and policies, would the Post have remained silent? Far from it. The story would have been given front-page treatment.

So here's further evidence not only of bias in the Post's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also in its non-coverage of the conflict.

Leo Rennert

Sunday, January 2, 2005

The Post Fails to Report Mahmoud Abbas Saying He Will Protect Terrorists and Will Not Crack Down on Terrorist Groups

The Washington Post has exhibited a long standing pattern of suppressing statements and conduct by mainstream Palestinian officials showing support of terrorism and terrorists. They did it with Yasser Arafat. They are doing it now with Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), lead candidate for Palestinian president in the upcoming election. Hard line statements by Abbas are evoking concern among Israelis. The latest statements by Abbas came Saturday when he proclaimed that he will protect terrorists and that he does not intend to crack down on the terrorist groups, as Israel and the US have insisted, and as the so-called "roadmap" requires. These statements were widely reported in the world's press today (N.Y. Times: Abbas Sees Duty to Shield the Militants, 1-2-05), but they did not appear in this morning's Washington Post. These statements may be empty campaign rhetoric by Abbas. We all hope so. Regardless, the Post has an ethical obligation not to suppress them and to report what may yet turn out to be Abbas showing his true colors.

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