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Eye On The Post ARCHIVE JULY-SEPT 2005

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Post's Headline Fails to Mention, and Lead Paragraphs Gloss Over, Hamas Rocket Attacks That Prompted Israeli Retaliation - Suggest Israel Is The Aggressor and Responsible for Violence in Gaza

Few people read newspapers in depth. Biased coverage of the news often is accomplished by the use of headlines, photographs and lead paragraphs, because reporters and editors know most readers won't read an article through to the finish. Today's article by the Post on yesterday's Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza and Israel's military response to that attack are an excellent example of this technique. (Israeli Missiles Kill 2 Hamas Members in Gaza, 9-25-01 A29) Someone who simply scans headlines and photographs or reads only the first paragraph or two of news articles, would have come away from this article with the impression that Israel was the aggressor in yesterday's violence.

First, there is the headline: "Israeli Missiles Kill 2 Hamas Members in Gaza." No subheadline or secondary headline was employed, something the Post frequently uses when the headline itself doesn't adequately cover the content of an article. Nothing in this headline reveals that the Israeli missile attack was spurred by a barrage of rockets launched by Hamas into Israel in which five Israelis were wounded. 

The real news yesterday was that even after Israel pulled out of Gaza, Hamas continues to launch missiles from Gaza into Israel itself. Yet the Headline completely fails to convey that context. The headline should have read "Hamas Launches Rocket Barrage From Gaza, Wounding 5 Israelis, Israel Responds with Missile Attack, Killing 2 Militants (using the Post's own euphemism)." Or, if there was limited space, perhaps: "Hamas Launches Rocket Barrage Into Israel From Gaza, Israel Responds with Missile Attack." The New York Times seems to have understood this with its headline: "Israel Strikes in Gaza After Hamas Rocket Fire." 

The point is that quality journalism would not have left out the context.

We're trying to focus on how this article misled its readers through the headline and lead paragraphs, but it should also be noted that Hamas' ostensible reason for bombarding Israel was to cover up its own fault in causing one of its own trucks laden with rockets to blow up, killing 17 and wounding 120 of its own people at a rally in the Jabalya refugee camp Friday. Even if one reads through the article, that fact was glossed over and treated as if the cause of the explosion was a simple matter of disputed versions between the parties. Although reporter Scott Wilson notes that Israel denied it was involved in the explosion and the PA said it was an accident, he nowhere reports that the PA itself pointed out that the huge crater normally left by Israeli missile strikes was nowhere to be found. He doesn't even note that these rockets were in a pickup truck driven into the rally for display. And he doesn't note that the PA has heavily criticized Hamas for not accepting responsibility for the explosion. Instead, he provides quotes from Hamas calling the explosion a "massacre" by Israel and from the PA issuing pleas to the world to get Israel to stand down.

The first sentence of the article, like the headline, places the cart before the horse by leading off with Israel launching missiles into Gaza, hitting two cars, killing two Palestinians and wounding 9 others. The reporter briefly adds as an afterthought ... one that a casual reader could easily pass over or even miss ... that hours earlier a barrage of rockets were launched into Israel. And of course, there was no mention in this paragraph of the five Israelis who were wounded by the earlier Palestinian rocket attack. Here's the lead paragraph:

"Israeli military aircraft fired missiles Saturday at two cars in the northern Gaza Strip, killing two Palestinians and wounding nine others, hours after a barrage of rockets was fired from Gaza into Israel. The Palestinians who died were members of the radical group Hamas, according to leaders of the group in Gaza." 

The second paragraph provides us with a clear view of the Post's slanted agenda and why it places the cart before the horse in both the headline and lead paragraphs of this article. Rather than note that Hamas started the violence and is threatening what little peace remains in the region, the Post ignores the actions of the terrorist group and shamefully places the blame squarely on Israel. This is the second paragraph:

"The airstrike marked the first fatal Israeli military operation in Gaza since Israel completed its withdrawal from the strip this month and brought with it the threat of an escalating clash as Israeli tanks, artillery batteries and infantry units gathered along Gaza's northern border throughout the day."

The balance of the article is a confused jumble of quotes and traded accusations, with a few facts not provided earlier, but by then most readers have long since left this article with the erroneous impression that Israel is on the offense in Gaza and is jeopardizing peace in the region. And to reinforce that message, the Post placed next to this article a photograph of a peace rally in Israel with someone holding up a "Peace Now" sign.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Washington Post Editorial Fairly Portrays Near Anarchy In Gaza, But Where Are The News Reports? 

The Washington Post, in a refreshingly fair editorial yesterday, recognized that the Palestinian Authority has an obligation to take control of Gaza, that it is failing in that obligation, that Gaza now teeters on the verge of anarchy, that Egypt has failed to fulfill its agreement to control the border of Gaza with Egypt and has, since Israel's withdrawal, allowed wild and uncontrolled border crossings of thousands of Palestinians, including members of the terrorist organizations smuggling weapons from Egypt, and that the need to confront and disarm terrorist groups is becoming ever more apparent since Israel withdrew from Gaza. (Bad Start in Gaza, Thursday, 9-15-05, A32)

But where are the news reports about what is going on in Gaza? Apart from the occasional 2 or 3 sentence blurb in the World In Brief section, the Post's news coverage of these events in Gaza has been virtually non-existent. Post readers experienced daily, in depth coverage of Israel's evacuation of Gaza. Now that the evacuation by Israel is over, part of the same story is the Palestinian committment to control Gaza after Israel's departure. The editorial notes that Palestinians are failing in this committment. Yet news coverage has been spotty at best. 

The Post's editors in their public appearances boast of the fact that the Post has its own correspondent on the ground in the region and does not have to rely upon wire service reports, but where are the news reports? Unfortunately, it appears the Post follows a "speak no evil" policy when it comes to reporting news that shows Palestinians failing to fulfill their side of the peace equation. Readers should not be learning of a serious problem in the region - a problem that the editorial recognizes jeopardizes future peace efforts - from an editorial.

Monday, September 5, 2005

Hamas Swears Its Goal Is To Destroy Israel, But The Washington Post, In Its Ongoing Effort to Soften Hamas' Image, Reports That Hamas Has Simply Failed To Date To Recognize Israel's Right To Exist

Today's article by the Post (Israeli Pullout Creates Political Opportunity, Shift of Gaza Land and Assets to Palestinians Sharpens Hamas-Fatah Rivalry, 9-5-05, A25) is, through and through, typical of the Post's long time effort to soften the image of Hamas as a terrorist group. But one particular turn of phrase stands out as bizarre, even by the Post's own standards. The Post's reporter describes Hamas as follows: 

"Hamas, which has yet to recognize Israel's right to exist ...."

The following letter by Leo Rennert discusses this misleading and inaccurate characterization. We suspect Hamas itself would object to the Post's soft pedaling of its agenda. 

The letter that follows by Judge Grossman is directed toward one of the underlying themes of the article, the foolish notion that Israel's presence in Gaza repressed the Palestinian economy and that now that Israel has withdrawn, economic prosperity is just around the corner. If only it were true.  

To: The Editor of the Washington Post:
From: Leo Rennert
Subject: What Kind of An Outfit Is Hamas?

Why is the Post reluctant to tell readers the true nature and mission of Hamas? Your usual way of evading an accurate definition is by calling it the "Islamic Resistance Movement," a worthless label. Worse yet, you rely on misleading definitions such as: "Hamas, which has yet to recognize Israel's right to exist." As if Hamas could be on the verge of a miraculous metamorphosis! ("Israeli Pullout Creates Political Opportunity" Sept. 5).

To say that Hamas may yet accept Israel is the equivalent of defining al Qaeda as a group that has yet to embrace non-violence. Hamas's core agenda is the elimination of Israel by any and all means. Unlike the Post, Hamas doesn't seek to disguise its fundamental objectives and tactics, but proudly boasts about them. If Hamas were to recognize Israel's right to exist, it would cease to be Hamas. So why does the Post engage in semantic pussyfooting when Hamas itself is crystal-clear about what it is and what it wants?

Leo Rennert

To: The Editor of the Washington Post:
From: Judge Herbert Grossman
Subject: Gaza Pullout Creates Opportunity

In "Israeli Pullout Creates Political Opportunity" (Sept. 5, 2005, p. A25), your new Middle East reporter Scott Wilson appears to have swallowed the Palestinian propaganda claims that, after the 1967 war, Israel seized the best agricultural land for its settlers in Gaza and deprived Palestinians of sanitation and electrical services, along with economic opportunity, in general. Wilson has also bought into the line that, now that Gaza is again cleansed of Israelis, its economy will only have a chance to grow if it has a link to the West Bank.

The reality is that the now-vacated settlement land was so arid that it was uncultivated and uninhabited until Israelis redeemed it from desert by innovative drip-irrigation techniques; that Israel's Gazan agricultural projects employed thousands of Palestinians in addition to the 150,000-plus Palestinians employed in Israel proper, until the terror attacks made Israel's employment of Palestinians impossible because of security concerns; that Israel initiated and supplied Gaza with electricity and sanitation services that were previously lacking when it was under Egyptian control; and that Gaza, governed by Egypt, and the West Bank, governed by Jordan, were historically isolated from each other, from 1948 until Israel took control of them in 1967. 

The Palestinians' intifada and current great "victory" in Gaza have obliterated their ties with Israel's productive economy, their only hope for economic viability. With more such great victories along those lines of cutting themselves even further off from Israel, the Palestinians will sink deeper and deeper into unemployment, impoverishment and lawlessness, with only an increasing international dole to sustain them.

Enlisting gullible reporters to blame Israel for their past and almost certain future economic failures may feed the Palestinians' political cause, but it won't do much for their empty stomachs or the integrity of the press.


Judge Herbert Grossman

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Post's Opinionated Reporting Continues  to Give Abbas Free Ride On Disarming Terrorists and Continues to Place Onus on Israel For Peace

Scott Wilson's article today in the Post on the subject of Israel's construction in Ma'ale Adumin in the West Bank is opinionated, one sided and places virtually all of the burden of future peace moves on Israel, while giving emphasis to the view that Mahmoud Abbas still should not be expected to confront and disarm terrorist groups. (In West Bank, Israel Sees Room to Grow, Government Moves Swiftly to Capitalize On Pullout From Gaza Despite Criticism, August 28, 2005, A17

The article suggests that Israel is taking advantage of goodwill generated by the Gaza withdrawal to grab more land in the West Bank. 

Throughout the early and middle paragraphs of the article the author says nothing about the Palestinian obligation to confront and disarm terrorists, and he says nothing about terrorism as a continuing threat to peace. Rather, he describes Israel as the potential threat to peace. He quotes Palestinian official Saeb Erekat as saying "I hope Israel is not going to use the fact it has done something right in withdrawing from Gaza in order to do a lot wrong regarding settlement activities, the wall and other matters." 

Mr. Wilson then follows up on this quote by inappropriately injecting his own opinion that Israel is, even after the withdrawal from Gaza, still responsible for keeping up the momentum toward peace. He states: "The fate of these hilltops in the coming months will likely determine whether Israel's withdrawal from Gaza refreshes the peace process or generates new friction." 

When in the 15th paragraph Mr. Wilson finally gets around to noting that Israel and the US place the onus on the Palestinians to move against the terrorists, he misrepresents both the Israeli and US positions as expecting only that the Palestinian Authority "control its armed groups." 

In fact, President Bush in his radio address on Saturday 8-27-05 stated that the "Palestinians must show the world that they will fight terrorism .... We will continue to help the Palestinians to ... defeat the terrorists .... We demand an end to terrorism and violence in every form because we know that progress depends on ending terror." 

And Israel has never wavered from its position that the Palestinians must confront and disarm the terrorists and not merely "control" them.

Mr. Wilson's blurring of the distinction between simple "control" and confrontation and disarmament is not a minor error. Mr. Abbas says he can and will merely "control" the terrorists. Israel and the US insist upon ridding the region of the potential for violence that can disrupt nascent peace efforts. Indeed, the so called "roadmap," by its very words, explicitly requires that the terrorist infrastructure be dismantled. It literally requires "confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption."

But Mr. Wilson doesn't believe Mahmoud Abbas is capable of confronting terrorist groups, and he again lets the reader know his opinion. After misstating the US and Israeli positions, he opines: "To do so, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, will need help of his own to build an economy capable of sustaining Gaza's 1.3 million residents and to improve the position of his mainstream Fatah political movement before Jan. 25 parliamentary elections."

So, despite US, Israeli and "roadmap" expectations that Mahmoud Abbas begin to disarm the terrorist groups, Mr. Wilson is of the view that Mr. Abbas should be given a pass on confronting terrorism until others help him build the economy in Gaza.

In the 19th paragraph of this article Mr. Wilson notes briefly that Mr. Abbas has actually made a decision not to confront the terrorist groups: "But Abbas has decided not to disarm Hamas or Islamic Jihad, a smaller radical group." In an effort to justify Abbas' decision, Wilson then devotes 4 paragraphs to quotes of Michael Tarazi, not an official in the Palestinian government, but rather, the Palestinian Authority's paid US lawyer and lobbyist. This is quite a revealing and inappropriate selection of sources to explain Mr. Abbas' decision to reject the roadmap requirement that the terrorist groups be confronted. It amounts to using a paid propagandist as a source. 

And what is the justification Mr. Tarazi offers for Mahmoud Abbas deciding not to confront the terrorists? He says "moderate Palestinians who favor negotiations have insufficient support to move against radical groups." Needless to say, this doesn't come close to saying it would not be possible to confront and crack down on terrorists, but Mr. Wilson does not follow up or note this apparent admission that the refusal to crack down on terrorists is a political decision, rather than a decision based on ability.

What better way to conclude an opinionated and agenda-driven news report than to allow Tarazi, the paid Palestinian propagandist, to sum up the slanted message this article seeks to convey to Post readers? Tarazi says: " 'Israel's strategy continues unabated, and that strategy is simple: to take as much Palestinian land as possible with as few Palestinians as possible," Tarazi said. 'Once you understand that, you understand everything that is happening on the ground.' " And that is the slanted message the Washington Post seeks to convey to its readers.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Post Contends Israel Obliged to Ease Palestinian Access Into Israel From Gaza - Downplays Palestinian Obligation to Stop Terrorism

The Post brought in an additional reporter during the period of disengagement, Karl Vick, and assigned him to report from the streets of Gaza, leaving Scott Wilson reporting from the settlements that are undergoing evacuation. Mr. Vick appears to be carrying out his Gaza street assigment as a mandate to provide slanted, pro-Palestinian propaganda, rather than objective reporting. Today the Post published an article by Mr. Vick in which he complains at length that following disengagement from Gaza Israelis will continue to control checkpoints important to growth of the Gaza economy. (After Pullout, Gaza Checkpoint Will Still Hinder Access to Outside World, 8-21-05, A15)

The thrust of the article is exactly what the headline pejoratively states - that Israel will continue to "hinder" the Palestinians even after withdrawal. Ayoub Jabda's oranges are perishable, and they will not get to the market on time. Mr. Jabda is not happy. Mr. Vick downplays, as though it is unimportant, that the hindrance he describes takes place in Israel itself at checkpoints located at Israel's national borders leading from the Gaza Strip into Israel proper; not disputed territories, but Israel itself. Note Mr. Vick's avoidance of any reference to the fact that this checkpoint leads into Israel itself when he describes "the notoriously inefficient, often unpredictable cargo checkpoint that Palestinian goods must pass through in order to reach the markets beyond." 

Mr. Vick nowhere notes that the checkpoints whose slowness he decries exist solely because of the severe security threat posed by Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza exporting their terrorism over the Gaza borders into Israel. He nowhere notes that as recently as the last several days Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza have continued to launch rockets and have vowed to continue their operations against Israel. He doesn't report that Mahmoud Abbas, in a speech just two days ago, credited Palestinian "martyrs" with bringing about the evacuation of Gaza ... which is to say that the elected leader of the Palestinian people has himself, in the language of jihadists, signaled support for continued terrorist operations. Mr. Vick goes so far as to disingenuously suggest that the terrorists (who he calls "fighters") have changed their ways over the last week when he states: "... Palestinian fighters continue to refrain from attacks, as they have so far during the settlement pullout." 

As an afterthought the article does note that Israel is planning to upgrade the checkpoint to improve the movement of cargo and recognizes that Palestinian prosperity is to its advantage, but that's a far cry from suggesting, as the article does, a moral obligation on the part of Israel to help Palestinians improve the Gaza economy, even before Palestinians themselves show a willingness to confront and shut down terrorist activity. 

No country has an obligation to open its borders to provide quick passage into its interior by its enemies. If Palestinians need to enter and traverse Israeli territory, they have the obligation to first demonstrate to Israel that it is safe to allow them to do so. Mr. Vick skips that step. He provides little to no factual information from which readers could accurately conclude that now that Israel will be out of Gaza, true responsibility for Gaza's economic future rests with Palestinians themselves. In Mr. Vick's and The Washington Post's world of pro-Palestinian propaganda, Israel is responsible for the future prosperity of Gaza, and that's the skewed message of this article.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Post Refuses To Call Palestinian Terrorists "Terrorists," Yet Calls Israeli Settlers "Shock Troops"

The Washington Post will not call Palestinian "terrorists" what they are, terrorists. To the Post they are just "militants," a word so mild that it utterly fails to communicate to readers the murderous nature of the acts being committed and the innocence of its targets.

"Militant" is a word that could rightly be used to describe the members of the settlement movement who register their opposition to disengagement by flattening tires on IDF jeeps or putting dish washing soap on their windshields. So, what does the Post's foreign correspondent, Scott Wilson, call these militant members of the settlement movement? He calls them "shock troops of the religious settlers' movement." (Eviction Notices Are Served in Gaza, As Pullout Begins, Israeli Army Blocked From Entering Some Settlements, 8-16-05, A01) That's right... "shock troops," the English translation of the German word stosstruppen, stoss = shock + truppen = troops, meaning soldiers specially chosen, trained, and armed to lead an attack. (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition 2000)

Mr. Wilson, how dare you?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Middle East History 101 For Washington Post Columnists

To the Editor:

After all his years of misreporting on the Middle East, Jim Hoagland now tells us the source of his anti-Israel bias, in "A Peace Matrix At Hand" (Outlook, Aug. 14). Incredibly, he believes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is rooted in the chronologically-impossible fact that Jewish victims of the Holocaust dispossessed an indigenous Arab Palestinian people.

Apparently, Hoagland does not know that the Palestinian Arab riots of 1936-39, directed at forcing the Jews out of Palestine, the Palestinian Arab leadership's participation in the planning and execution of the Holocaust, and the invasion of the newly-created State of Israel by five Arab armies in cooperation with the Palestinian Arabs, with the publicly-stated intention of driving the Jews into the sea, all came before Jewish refugees from the Holocaust settled en masse in Israel. Apparently, he also does not know that the Palestinian Jews accepted the United Nations' Partition Plan in 1947, before the Arabs rejected it, and that it would not have dispossessed anyone. And, apparently, he does not know that Palestinian Arabs were dispossessed during and as a result of the 1948 war of annihilation that they began, and that the war didn't begin because they had been dispossessed earlier, which they hadn't.

Before the Post permits its journalists to report on the Middle East, it should give them a rudimentary lesson in history.


Judge Herbert Grossman

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Post Buries Story Of Palestinian Terrorists Misfiring Rockets Intended For Israelis and Killing And Wounding Palestinian Children

Yesterday Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot. The rockets missed their mark and killed and wounded numerous Palestinian women and children in Gaza. The Post buried the report in one tiny paragraph in the World in Brief section. Leo Rennert's letter below points out the miniscule coverage given by the Post to Palestinian deaths at the hands of Palestinian terrorists compared with the Post's prominent coverage of Palestinian deaths at the hands of Israeli forces. 

This rocketing of Sderot is often a daily occurrence. When terrorists fire these rockets at Sderot they're firing on Israelis in an Israeli town. Yesterday a demonstration of settlers happened to be taking place in Sderot, and who did the Post say the terrorists were firing on? "Palestinians fired rockets at Israeli settlers gathered for a massive protest...."

One other oddity was found in this tiny report. The terrorists who launched the rockets at Sderot were called "gunmen." The sentence read: "Witnesses said gunmen fired three rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot." A rocket is hardly a gun, but if the author was not allowed to call them terrorists, what's left? Perhaps "militants" is becoming hackneyed. How about rocketeers?

From: Leo Rennert
To the Editor of the Washington Post:

In the latest intifada tragedy, Palestinian terrorists fired rockets from the Gaza Strip toward a nearby Israeli town, hoping to hit a peaceful protest rally against Israel's disengagement plans. One of the rockets misfired and instead crashed into a house inside the Gaza Strip, killing a 3-year-old Palestinian boy and wounding nine other Palestinians, including the boy's brother and four children of another family and their mother.

Yet, the Post buried this story in one brief paragraph tucked inside a "World In Brief" column that most readers probably never saw. There was no mention at all of the terrible impact on two families, which accounted for seven of the casualties. Had the same set of circumstances occurred as a result of a stray missile fired by Israeli forces against a terrorist leader, the Post undoubtedly would have given it more prominent and extensive coverage, including interviews with surviving relatives and friends.

One can only conclude that Palestinians killed or wounded by Palestinian terrorists matter less to the Post than those caught in cross-fires with Israeli defense forces. A rather strange double standard.

Leo Rennert

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Post Features Another Propaganda Piece By A Palestinian Author on the Op-Ed Page

The Post loves to run op-ed pieces by Palestinians. Exaggerations, lies and distortions depicting Israel in a cruel light flow freely in these propaganda pieces, and with the excuse that they are opinions, the Post considers itself immune from criticism. Israeli writers explaining the Israeli position are rarely featured. Today the Post published another such piece, this time by Laila El-Haddad, a female Al Jazeera Journalist living in Gaza. (Disengagement From Justice, 7-28-05, A25) The Post, always willing to lend a helping hand to Palestinian propagandists, tacked on to the article a sympathetic photo of an unidentified Palestinian woman with two toddlers, sitting on a blanket on the ground, waiting at a checkpoint. They look tired and distressed.

The author of this article, Ms. El-Haddad, gives us the typical exaggerated complaints about the horrors and humiliations of being delayed and denied entrance into Israel. She points out that she went to Harvard and has a 16 month old son, so how could she appear to be a threat. She apparently forgets the female terrorist recently arrested trying to cross into Israel from Gaza to blow up Soroka Medical Center in Beer-Sheva. That woman also didn't appear to be a threat. She was receiving humanitarian medical treatment at Soroka for severe burns and scarring on her neck. She had a permit to pass through the checkpoint on her way to receive medical treatment in Israel. Who would be less likely to blow up the hospital? Guess again. She was wearing 20 pounds of explosives. She said she wanted to kill as many as 50 Jews, including babies.

Ms. El-Haddad's complaints then wander into the fact that even after withdrawal from Gaza Israel will be maintaining control of the borders as well as the air and sea. 

She conveniently fails to mention that Israel is on the verge of completing an arrangement for Egypt to control the border of Gaza with Egypt. She doesn't tell us who better than Israel should control Gaza's border with Israel. 

Ms. El-Haddad's article is entirely devoid of any mention of a threat of terrorism to Israel, yet she complains that Israel's control of the borders will make Gaza into the "the world's largest open-air prison, with 1.5 million Palestinian inmates." And then she concludes that "it becomes painfully clear how little Sharon's much-lauded Gaza disengagement plan will change the lives of ordinary Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank." This is one of the few accurate statements in her article. Jewish settlers and settlements in Gaza did not disrupt the lives of Palestinians in Gaza, so their exodus will have little impact. It was Palestinian terrorism that shut down what had previously been a relatively free flow of Palestinians from Gaza into Israel. It was Palestinian terrorism that brought Israel's defensive military response to Gaza. If terrorism continues after withdrawal, borders will remain tightly controlled, and Israel will continue to do what is necessary militarily to defend itself against the terrorists.

Date: 7-28-05
From: Judge Herbert Grossman

To the Editor:

In "Disengagement From Justice" (op. ed., July 28), Laila El-Haddad, a Palestinian journalist, rails against Israel for denying her entry as a security threat while considering her as a Palestinian first and a journalist second, much as she verifies their opinion by forsaking journalistic objectivity to embrace Palestinian canards against Israel.

Although Ariel Sharon promotes his disengagement plan as strategic in nature, he never stated or even implied that the strategy of disengagement was to stop a negotiated peace in its tracks, as she accuses. Sharon has made it clear from the first that he would welcome a negotiated peace and that disengagement from Gaza should further the prospects for it, but that that step alone, a sacrifice by only Israel, will bring a measure of peace if the Palestinians will not enter into a peaceful negotiation for a full one.

Conspicuously absent from her diatribe against Israel’s continuing to control the lives of Palestinians in Gaza is any recognition that the present control was necessitated by Palestinian attacks against Israel and that any future control would be for the same reason, as is the West Bank barrier that she also denigrates. That they have been extremely successful in thwarting those attacks may well be contributing to the frustration evident in el-Haddad’s vitriol that is unbecoming one wishing to be viewed as a journalist first and Palestinian second, especially a militant one.

Judge Herbert Grossman

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Post Underreports and Buries Latest Terrorist Attack Against Israel

Palestinian terrorism continues to threaten what little chance for peace remains. The Post's familiar pattern from the past is to completely fail to report or to hide ongoing Palestinian terrorism until Israel is forced to respond. Then, after all Hell breaks loose, the Post, in headlines, trumpets the breakdown of peace and blames it on Israel. An example of this can be seen in the article on which we issued an alert on July 18, 2005. Sunday we saw the continuation of this pattern by the Post. 

On Saturday, Palestinian terrorists shot and killed an Israeli husband and wife, Dov and Rachel Kol, in their car traveling to visit their children in a Gaza settlement. Sunday, buried deeply in an article about the visit of Condoleezza Rice to the region, the Post gave Saturday's terrorist attack only three sentences, with no headline to draw attention to it. (Rice Mediates Gaza Disputes Israel, Palestinians At Odds on Issues Related to Pullout, 7-24-05, A19) The article stated: 

"A few hours after she departed, however, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on a car traveling from a Gaza crossing point into Gush Katif, the largest Jewish settlement bloc in the strip. Israeli military officials said two Israeli civilians, a husband and wife, were killed in the attack, which occurred on a fence-lined road that runs inside the southern Gaza settlement area. 

Following the attack, Israeli soldiers returned fire and killed one of the gunmen."

No names. Few details. Little respect to the victims of terrorism. 

By way of comparison, The New York Times considered this continuing Palestinian terrorism important enough to give the story its own healine and article. (Palestinian Gunmen Kill Israeli Couple, 7-24-05) The Times provided complete details of the terrorist attack, followed by details of another terrorist bombing that was narrowly averted Friday night when Israel captured and disarmed a terrorist bomber. The times correspondent, Steve Erlanger, freely uses the word terror and its derivatives throughout the article. This honesty is refreshing to a reader accustomed to the Post's sterilized accounts of the murderous antics of Palestinian "fighters" or "militants." 

Readers of the New York Times have a right to complain about some aspects of the Times' reporting on Israel, but on this occasion the New York Times' journalism was clearly superior to that of the Washington Post.

Friday, July 22, 2005

No Lessons Learned From Jenin - Lies And Corrections - Lies And Corrections - Fool Me Once, Shame On You, Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me

Item 1

Two days ago EyeOnThePost noticed that in Scott Wilson's report this past Saturday (July 16) on the Israeli killing of 4 Hamas members in Gaza he asserted that according to Palestinian hospital officials "more than a dozen bystanders were also killed," but in his report the very next day (Sunday, July 17) from the funeral of the 4 Hamas members, he was silent on the bystanders who had supposedly been killed. We noted that since Mr. Wilson was at the cemetery for the funerals of the Hamas members the very next day, he surely must have noticed the absence of any funerals or even dead bodies of bystanders, yet he was conspicuously silent on the subject. We wrote an alert pointing out the probable false news report, and we disseminated it to our readers by email. We also sent it to all the appropriate officials at the Washington Post. 

We were right. Today, on page A2, in the corrections section (as opposed to the World News section) the following brief correction was noted: 

"A July 16 article incorrectly said that a dozen bystanders were killed during an Israeli rocket attack in the Gaza Strip. The bystanders were wounded."

Does the word "credibility" have any meaning over there?

Item 2

Yesterday we noted that the Post, relying on a false Reuters account, had reported on Thursday that Jewish settlers attacked and stabbed to death a 12 year old Palestinian child. The Reuters report was based on unnamed Palestinian witnesses. It was soon discovered that the murder was committed, not by Jewish settlers, but by a Palestinian as part of a clan feud. We pointed out that the report had already been retracted by Reuters and that an arrest had already been made of a Palestinian. But the Post had been so captivated by a story making settlers appear to be murderers, even a story based on unnamed Palestinian witnesses, that it wasn't willing to wait even a short time (until an investigation that the Reuters report said was underway was completed) before publishing the libelous story.

Here is the Post's reaction upon learning that it had repeated what amounted to the equivalent of a blood libel. In today's "World in Brief" section (for some reason the World in Brief section didn't make it to the Post's Web site, or we'd provide you with the URL) the following news item appeared: 

"Palestinian security forces arrested a Palestinian on suspicion of stabbing a 12 year old boy to death in the West Bank, after saying earlier that witnesses had blamed Jewish settlers. 

The suspect was from a family involved in a feud with the dead boy's family, police said."

That's it. No mention that the Post had published the false story the day before and had left it up on their web site the entire day, uncorrected. No apology. No commitment to be more careful in the future. No explanation for why they had so quickly accepted the false account based on unnamed Palestinian witnesses without giving Israel a reasonable chance to look into it and respond. The damage done by the publication of this type of scurrilous libel cannot be undone. Although more effective steps than that taken by the Post can be employed to attempt to mitigate the damage, many readers will be left with the indelible impression that Israeli settlers are savages.

Palestinian sources lying to the media is an untold story in itself. Reporters and editors repeatedly publishing those stories knowing full well that there's a very good chance that they are lies is an untold story in itself. Twice in one week the Washington Post was fooled by the lies of Palestinian witnesses. But we must ask whether they are really ever fooled, or whether it simply suits their purpose to publish these lies, even when they themselves have reason to doubt their veracity. If the Post will not learn a lesson from the repeated instances of being spoon fed lies by unreliable sources, it will continue to lose readership. Readers will conclude: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Post Repeats False Story That 12 Year Old Palestinian Boy Was Stabbed To Death By Jewish Settlers

Palestinians falsely told a Reuters reporter that Jewish settlers stabbed and killed a 12 year old Palestinian boy yesterday. Other media outlets with a history of being quick to report stories that cast Israelis in a negative light repeated it. The NY Times and Washington Post were among them. It turns out that the boy was actually killed by other Palestinians in a clan feud. Reuters backed off the story, and now a Palestinian suspect has been arrested

No lessons were learned from Jenin. The Reuters report relied upon by the Post  was based on unnamed Palestinian witnesses. On stories that cast Israel in a negative light the Post continues its pattern of being among the quickest to put the story in print, regardless of the reliability of sources. The Reuters story itself bore other indicia of unreliability with its anti-settler/anti-Israel tone.  Post editors would have been well advised to temper their enthusiasm for the story that made settlers look ugly by waiting for the results of further investigation, which the article itself said was taking place.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Post Repeats What Appears To Be Another False Report of Palestinian Deaths Attributed to Israel

On Saturday, July 16 the Post's correspondent in Israel, Scott Wilson, reported that a day earlier seven Hamas members were killed by Israeli forces, 3 in the West Bank and four by an Israeli drone in Gaza. (Israeli Strikes Kill 7 in Hamas As 5-Month Truce Comes to End, 7-16-05, A10) His article went on to state: "More than a dozen bystanders were also killed, according to hospital officials here." But was that true, or was it another fabrication by Palestinians that was accepted without question by a reporter all too eager to spice up his report with more bloodshed to blame on Israel?

The next day, Sunday, July 17, Mr. Wilson reported on the funerals of the 4 Hamas members killed in Gaza, with a vivid description of the scene at the cemetery, along with descriptions and quotes from angry Palestinians. (Israel Arrests 30 Palestinians In Raids in West Bank Cities, Hamas Vows to Avenge Members' Deaths in Earlier Strike, 7-17-05, A17) His report also contained a detailed recap of events over the past week, including the number of arrests, the number of attacks and the casualties. Details were not spared. Curiously, there is no mention anywhere in Mr. Wilson's report of any additional deaths of bystanders or of the funerals for them. We wonder whether Mr. Wilson bought into another fabrication by Palestinians adept at manipulating the media. Considering that Mr. Wilson was present at the cemetery in Gaza the very next day, we wonder whether he noticed at the time the absence of any funerals for dead bystanders, and, if so, whether he will correct the report from the day before.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Washington Post's Unprincipled Refusal To Use The "T" Word In News Reports Emanating From Israel And The Disputed Territories, While Unhesitatingly Using It Everywhere Else

On July 16 Colbert King, the Post's Editorial Page Deputy Editor, in a column about terrorism, referred to "suicide terrorists from Iraq to Israel." (Homegrown Hatred, 7-16-05, A17) We applaud Mr. King for telling it like it is.

On Sunday, July 17 the Post ran a front page, above the fold feature article about Suicide Bombing. (Suicide Bombs Potent Tools of Terrorists, Deadly Attacks Have Been Increasing and Spreading, 7-17-05, A01) The lead sentence of the article stated: 

"Unheard of only a few decades ago, suicide bombings have rapidly evolved into perhaps the most common method of terrorism in the world, moving west from the civil war in Sri Lanka in the 1980s to the Palestinian intifada of recent years to Iraq today." (emphasis added)

Also found within the article is the following: 

"But in addition to the death toll, a key objective of such bombings is clearly to sow terror by violating deeply held cultural and religious taboos against suicide, experts say."

The headline of this article acknowledges that suicide bombings are acts of terrorism. The substance of the article further defines suicide bombing as terrorism. The article directly points to Palestinians as using suicide bombing as a form of terror. The article is co-authored by the Post's foreign correspondent in Israel, Scott Wilson, although he is identified in the byline as simply a staff writer. We applaud Mr. Wilson's willingness in this feature article to accurately describe terrorism for what it is. Yet he never uses the words terror, terrorist or terrorism in any of his news articles from Israel and the disputed territories unless he's paraphrasing or quoting someone else. What possible justification is there for a discriminatory policy of calling terror for what it is everywhere in the world except in news reports emanating from Israel and the disputed territories? And we ask this question at a time when both Israel and Mahmoud Abbas would be benefited by a little honest talk from the world's media in pointing the finger at the major deterrent to peace between the Palestinian people and Israel, the terrorist organizations.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Terrorists Last Week Kill 5 and Wound 50 With Bombing in Netanya - Launch More Than 100 Rockets at Israelis - Kill 22 Year Old Israeli Woman Sitting On Porch With Boyfriend - Yet The Washington Post Blames Israel for Ending the Cease Fire

Last Tuesday a terrorist bombing in Netanya killed 5 Israelis and wounded more than 50 others. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. On Thursday, two days later, a rocket killed a 22 year old Israeli woman as she sat on her porch with her boyfriend. Hamas and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (part of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party) asserted joint responsibility for that terrorist attack. Over 100 rockets had been fired at Israelis over the preceding several day period. The next day, Friday, Israel launched two air strikes killing 7 Hamas members. The lead sentence of Post reporter, Scott Wilson's Saturday report stated: 

"The Israeli military killed seven members of Hamas on Friday in rocket strikes that renewed Israel's policy of assassinating militant Palestinian leaders and effectively marked the end of a five-month truce." (Israeli Strikes Kill 7 in Hamas As 5-Month Truce Comes to End, 7-16-05, A10)

It would appear that as long as only Israelis were dying under a steady stream of terrorist attacks, Mr. Wilson and the Post were content to report the truce as still in place. As soon as Israel responded, the so-called truce was declared at an end, and Israel's conduct was blamed for ending it.

Leo Rennert's letter illustrates the pro-Palestinian slant permeating the Post's recent reports.

From: Leo Rennert
To: Leoard Downie, Donald Graham, Bo Jones, Keith Richburg, Scott Wilson
Date: July 16, 2005 

On Thursday, the chief Palestinian terrorist organization, Hamas, claimed responsibility for firing a rocket from Gaza into Israel, killing an Israeli woman and wounding her boyfriend. So did another terror group, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an outfit affiliated with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas's political party. So where did the Post play this story on Friday, particularly since the Israeli fatality was the 11th since a phony truce was proclaimed by the Palestinians back in February? Post readers might be forgiven for not seeing it. No front-page mention. No major by-line story by the Post's new Jerusalem correspondent, Scott Wilson. No, just a brief piece, a few paragraphs, in a "World In Brief" wrapup inside on page A15 where the Post shoehorns news it considers of tertiary importance. But even in this tiny story with Wilson's name tucked at the end, Wilson takes great pains to defend the Palestinian murder of this Israeli woman. He quickly notes that the rocket attack followed the Israeli killing of an al Aqsa commander in Nablus (his way of describing a terrorist kingpin on Israel's most-wanted list for involvement in repeated terrorist attacks against Israel). In Wilson's view, the lives of a murderous terrorist commander and an innocent woman are of equivalent importance and value. But Wilson's Palestinian apologia didn't stop there. The Israeli woman, he informs Post readers, was killed in Israel (he couldn't quite deny something so obvious) but he immediately adds that Palestinian leaders have said her "village should be part of a future Palestinian state." So you see, she was just killed as part of an act of liberation; so that's really OK. Of course, tomorrow when Tel Aviv or Haifa get hit, Wilson will inform us that some Palestinian leaders also want those places to become part of a Palestinian state. Hamas certainly does. And its leaders these days are as much representative of Palestinian leadership as Abbas.

Now move forward 24 hours to Saturday's editions of the Post. Much more visible coverage this time. A "teaser" on the front page heralding a big story inside proclaims "Mideast Truce Appears at End -- Israel launched rocket attacks that killed seven Hamas members. The day of violence left a five-month cease-fire in tatters." Notice that this summary makes absolutely no mention of any Palestinian violence -- nothing about dozens of continuing mortar and rocket attacks, nor about the 11 Israelis killed during this phony truce. When you look inside at the full story, Wilson and the Post continue to put the blame on Israel for ending what they call this period of "relative calm." The headline over the story: "Israeli Strikes Kill 7 in Hamas as 5-Month Truce Comes to End." It's all the fault of those darn Israelis is the obvious message. The story itself is not much better. The first two paragraphs make no mention at all of all those Palestinian attacks that killed 11 Israelis during the "truce," wounded others, inflicted property damage in Israeli communities, as Palestinians repeatedly had to be halted at checkpoints on their way to blowing themselves up in cafes and malls in Israel. It's not until the third paragraph that Wilson deigns to mention Palestinians mortar and rocket firings.

When Wilson gets around to discussing Palestinian obligations under the "truce," he writes that Abbas was supposed "to move against armed groups opposed to Israel's right to exist." Pure Orwellian nonsense. He was supposed to dismantle terrorist organizations, once and for all. But on his own hook, Wilson absolves Abbas of any real responsibility. "It is a difficult task," he tells readers. And he whitewashes Hamas; it "operates a network of social services as well." So that gives it a Kosher seal of approval from Wilson and the Post.

And that's just the latest installment in the Post's increasingly more blatant pro-Palestinian coverage.

Leo Rennert

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Post Downplays Netanya Terrorist Bombing,  Softens Islamic Jihad's Image and Suggests Israel Provoked the Bombing

In reporting on the terrorist bombing in Netanya yesterday, the Post continues its pattern of slanting the news to soften the image of Palestinian terrorist groups, and, to the extent possible, downplay the severity of this particular bombing, while suggesting that Israel provoked it.  (Suicide Bomber Kills 3 In Israel, Attack in Netanya Is First of Its Kind In Nearly 5 Months, 7-13-05, A13)

First, the article itself was placed on page A13. The Post rarely hesitates to use the front page for articles favorable to terrorists or critical of Israel. At a crucial time six months into an informal cease fire, one month before disengagement, and only five days after the London terrorist bombings, major terrorist activity in Israel seeking to disrupt peace efforts should have received more prominent coverage. 

In addition, this article contains the ever present semantic contortions engaged in by the Post when seeking to avoid the use of the word "terror" or its derivatives. Paradoxically, Mr. Wilson in paragraph 2 of the article quotes "Palestinian leaders" as using the T word (it was actually Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president, who said it, but this is hidden until the very last paragraph of the article), but cannot bring himself to do so, even when no other word can adequately convey his precise meaning. Leo Rennert's letters below demonstrate the comedic effect of this type of stilted writing.

The Netanya bombing yesterday killed 3 Israelis and injured almost 50 other people, yet the injured are almost entirely ignored in Mr. Wilson's article. It isn't until the sixth paragraph that there is any mention at all of the fact that there were people injured in addition to the three dead, and even then it is only a small part of one sentence.

The article falsely implies that terrorism has been rare since the commencement of the unofficial cease fire in February. It does this by counting only suicide bombings in which Israelis have been killed, while avoiding other acts of terrorism over the last five months that have either been foiled or were not suicide bombings, such as terrorist shootings and other violent attacks. The lead sentence states this was the "first suicide bombing in Israel in nearly five months." Later, the article states: "The attack was the first suicide bombing in Israel since Feb. 25." Even the headline contains this misleading slant when it states: "Attack in Netanya Is First of Its Kind In Nearly 5 Months."  The article was crafted to give the impression that there has been a period of quiet. But what about the female terrorist who was arrested on her way to blow up Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba only 3 weeks ago? The Post never reported the details of that foiled terrorist attack, but readers of other news sources may recall that that terrorist had received months of humanitarian medical treatment at Soroka Medical Center in Israel for burns received in a fire in her home in Gaza, and when interviewed after she was arrested, she said she wanted to kill as many Israelis as she could, preferably children. What about the Israeli killed and his stepson injured when they were ambushed on their way to work on June 20? What about the numerous terrorist rocket launchings, one of which killed 3 greenhouse workers in early June? Is Mr. Wilson forgetting the dual bombing of Jerusalem that was narrowly avoided when the terrorist cell (Islamic Jihad) planning them was broken up only days before the target date? These are only a few of the terrorist acts and foiled attempts. There have been many more since February.

Mr. Wilson conceals Islamic Jihad's raison d'etre when he says only that it "refuses to recognize Israel," and fails to note that it is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. 

The article further misleads by suggesting that Israel provoked Islamic Jihad into these bombings by a disproportionate response on Israel's part to recent attacks. He does this by downplaying the nature of Islamic Jihad's recent acts of terrorism when he says only that "Islamic Jihad gunmen have attacked West Bank settlers and Gaza soldiers in recent weeks." He doesn't note that these attacks killed those who were targeted. The Israeli civilian ambushed and killed (and his stepson injured) on his way to work on June 20 noted above were killed by Islamic Jihad terrorists. Islamic Jihad participated in the launching of the rocket barrage that killed the three greenhouse workers noted above. Furthermore, the terrorists arrested on June 20 while planning the twin Jerusalem bombings were members of Islamic Jihad. 

After downplaying Islamic Jihad's recent terror activities, Wilson's very next sentence notes that Israel's actions in response resulted in a huge number of arrests and the death of an Islamic Jihad leader. And, as if to suggest causation, the very next sentence quotes the deceased terrorist's taped assertion that Israel violated the cease fire. Here's the paragraph: 

"Islamic Jihad gunmen have attacked West Bank settlers and Gaza soldiers in recent weeks. Israeli forces have arrested more than 300 of the group's members and killed one of its leaders near the city of Jenin. The Reuters news agency reported that Khalil, the bomber, said in a videotaped farewell that he was carrying out the attack because of Israeli violations of the cease-fire."

There is no place in responsible news reporting for this sort of subtle shading of the truth in order to convey an opinion.

Leo Rennert's letters follow:

From: Leo Rennert 
To: Leonard Downie, Donald Graham, Bo Jones, Keith Richburg, Ombudsman 
Cc: Scott Wilson 
Date: July 13, 2005 

My attached letter is self-explanatory. But I'd like to parse Scott Wilson's article about the Netanya bombing in somewhat greater detail for you to show you how far you've strayed from objective journalism and how you've turned yourselves into a laughing stock with many readers.

Wilson, in his and the Post's fierce determination to avoid the T-for terrorism-word when it comes to Palestinian terrorists, accords the Netanyah bomber the antiseptic label of "man" in the lead. What a strange, pallid description for a deliberate killer. Did Wilson want to make sure, right off the bat, that readers had to be reassured it wasn't a woman?

But it's the second paragraph that is really redolent with the Post's semantic pretzling exertions to avoid the dreaded T-word. It starts off by identifying Islamic Jihad as a "militant" group, then immediately quotes Palestinian leaders as calling it a "terrorist" attack, then flips back to its familiar evasive vocabulary by falsely reporting that Israeli officials complained about the Palestinian Authority's refusal to fight "various armed groups opposed to Israel." Now, the Post knows and Wilson knows that Israeli officials would never describe Islamic Jihad as merely an "armed group opposed to Israel." They would call it a terrorist group committed to the destruction of Israel. So, in one single paragraph, the Post hops from a misidentification of Islamic Jihad, to a correct report of Palestinian leaders using the T-word about Islamic Jihad, to a misrepresentation of statements by Israeli officials about Palestinian terror groups. Even for the Post, that must be some kind of a record.

Then, in the fourth paragraph, the Post again uses its inaccurate description of the intifada in familiar, routine boilerplate fashion as an "uprising that began in September 2000." An "uprising" by whom? The Palestinian Authority? Of course not. Both under Arafat and Abbas, the PA always has been "shocked, shocked, shocked" whenever terrorists have struck against innocent Israelis. So who's left behind this uprising? Well, we have Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other similar groups. But theirs is not an "uprising" but a terror campaign. Would the Post have called the IRA's murderous attacks merely an "uprising"? Or would the Post describe the London bombings as part of an "uprising"? Of course not. Then why use this word to prettify a bloody terror war?

But the Post this time isn't just content to sprinkle semantic perfume on Palestinian terror groups. No, it also feels the need to go out of its way to actually give Hamas, the biggest of all Palestinian terror groups, a certificate of redemption. "While Hamas has been moving into mainstream Palestinian politics," Wilson writes, Islamic Jihad remains outside the political process and "refuses to recognize Israel." So there you have it. According to the Post's everything-is-relative scorecard, Hamas is a good group, Islamic Jihad not so good. Nowhere does Wilson identify both groups as still espousing an agenda calling for the total elimination of Israel.

Then, just to be doubly fair to Islamic Jihad, Wilson points out that Israel recently arrested 300 of its jihadist members and killed one of its leaders. No mention that this leader was implicated in the Feb. 25 terrorist bombing of the Stage Club in Tel Aviv that killed five people, or that those arrested are suspected of participating in Islamic Jihad's ongoing terrorist campaign against Israel.

Finally, in the last paragraph, Wilson reports that Mahmoud Abbas, "speaking to reporters" denounced the Netanya bombing as not just a terrorist or criminal act, but an untimely one. "No one with any sense in his mind could be behind an act like this just before the Israeli withdrawal" from Gaza and 4 settlements in the West Bank, Abbas remarks. Since Abbas was speaking with reporters, did none of these supposedly estimable journalists have the sense to ask him: "Mr. Chairman, but would such an attack be all right AFTER the Israeli withdrawal?" (Interesting also that the Post didn't use Abbas's more pungent description of the bombing as "IDIOTIC" in view of Israel's imminent disengagement).

Leo Rennert

From: Leo Rennert 
To: Letters to the Editor
Sent: Wednesday, July 13, 2005

To the Editor:

On July 8, a day after the suicide bombing attacks in London, the Post accurately described the carnage in its news section as the work of "terrorists." But only five days later, reporting the suicide bombing in Netanya that claimed the lives of three Israeli women, the Post once more exhibited familiar Orwellian gymnastics by using various cosmetic euphemisms to describe the Palestinian perpetrators.

The Netanya bomber was just a "man"; his terrorist organization merely a "militant" group. Any word apparently will do at the Post, except the accurate "terrorist" term, to convey exactly the same kind of deliberate murder of innocent civilians in pursuit of a political agenda as the world witnessed five days earlier in London. And, to compound its error, even when Palestinian leaders themselves denounced the Netanya bombing as a "terrorist" attack.

One is left to wonder: In the eyes of the Post, are Israeli lives less valuable than British lives? Or American lives on 9/11? Or Spanish lives in Madrid? Or Indonesian lives in Bali? Or any lives snuffed out by terrorism anywhere in the world, except Israeli lives?

Leo Rennert

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Post Uses Euphemisms to Romanticize Terrorists  - Then Tries To Rewrite History Of Intifada To Eliminate Wave Of Terrorism That Provoked Israel's Operation Defensive Shield

In writing about the difficulty the PA faces in trying to recruit terrorists into its security services, the Post's new correspondent in Israel, Scott Wilson, today produced yet another feature article sympathetic to Palestinian terrorists. (In Jenin, Police Force Has Little to Offer Recruits, Palestinian Gunmen Reluctant to Abandon Uprising as Israel Weighs Pullout, 7-3-05, A21) In this article Mr. Wilson completely fails to note that the PA is obligated under the "road map" to confront and dismantle terrorist groups, something they are not doing when they engage in gentle efforts to cajole terrorists into becoming policemen. Mr. Wilson shamelessly portrays the terrorists as young and romantic activists, by employing euphemisms such as "young gunmen at war with Israel," "hard young men of the uprising," and "street fighters" engaging in the "grim allure of guerrilla warfare." And to Mr. Wilson, terrorist organizations are merely "armed groups." The problem of getting the terrorists to give up terrorism and become policemen is depicted as a simple recruiting problem of having "little to offer" them. 

Equally egregious, however, is Mr. Wilson's distortion of the history of this latest Palestinian intifada. It is a distortion that should leave readers angry and his editors blushing. 

The most recent intifada began in September, 2000, but for the first eighteen months, Israel's military remained outside Palestinian towns. It was in the Spring of 2002, leading up to and including the Passover holiday, that terrorist groups launched a wave of bloody bombings. The last five of these bombings were during a five day period of the Passover holiday itself. One was a bombing of a huge Passover seder in a hotel ballroom containing hundreds of people. The following is the history of these bombings:

  • February 16 - suicide bomber - pizzeria in town of Karnei Shomron- Three children dead, over 30 wounded

  • March 2 - suicide bomber - group of women with baby carriages waiting for husbands to come out of synagogue - ten people dead, including five children.

  • March 20 - suicide bomber - bus near town of Umm al-Fahm - seven people dead, 27 wounded.

  • March 21 - suicide bomber - Jerusalem, King George Street, crowd of shoppers - 3 dead, 86 injured

  • March 27 - suicide bomber - Netanya - Park Hotel - Passover Seder in hotel ballroom - 30 dead, 140 injured.

  • March 29 - suicide bomber - Jerusalem supermarket - 2 killed, 27 injured 

  • March 30 - suicide bomber - Tel Aviv - "My Coffee House" café on Allenby Street - 29 injured, six seriously.

  • March 31 - suicide bomber - Haifa - crowded restaurant called Matza - 14 dead, 30 injured

  • March 31 - suicide bomber - Efrat - Magen David Adom medical station - injured 4 people, one critically 

In the wake of these bombings Israel launched what it called "Operation Defensive Shield" in which it activated 20,000 reservists and sent troops into Palestinian villages to root out the terrorist infrastructure. Jenin was one of those villages, widely regarded as the launching point for many terrorist acts.

Mr. Wilson's revision of the history of the intifada completely eliminated these terrorist bombings and implied that Israel, without provocation, ramped up the fighting in the Spring of 2002. Here is what he wrote:

"The spring of 2002 was the high-water mark of the Palestinian uprising, or intifada. Israel sent armored vehicles rolling through the narrow streets of the Jenin refugee camp in some of the heaviest fighting of the intifada."

Was this a deliberate omission? We can't say, but it would take an incredible ignorance of the events of the time to not know about the wave of bombings that provoked Israel's Operation Defensive Shield. Furthermore, it is curious that only a few weeks ago another Post correspondent tried to assert that an Israeli attack on a Palestinian police station in February, 2002 had provoked the wave of Palestinian suicide bombings and Israel's response to those bombings. (See our analysis of Glenn Frankel's article of 6-11-05). So, this is not the first time the Post has sought to rewrite the history of this period to alter what was in reality a provoked and strictly defensive response by Israel to a wave of terrorism directed against its citizens.

Leo Rennert's letter to officials at the Post provides us with an excellent analysis of the pro-Palestinian slant apparent in Scott Wilson's article:

To: Editors and Publishers, Washington Post

If you want a classic illustration of how the Washington Post, because of its pro-Palestinian blinkers, finds itself unable to grasp basic realities bedeviling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, look no farther than the July 3 article by Scott Wilson about the refusal of terrorist groups in Jenin to abandon their old ways and enlist in the Palestinian Authority police force. However, while this is what the article is really about, Wilson and the Post go through marvelous semantic contortions to make sure that this is kept a total secret from the paper's readers and so the taboo word "terrorist" never appears in the article.

The Post's Orwellian reversal of reality starts right off the bat with the sub-head over the story: "Palestinian GUNMEN Reluctant to Abandon Uprising as Israel Weighs Pullout." And who are these "gunmen"? We're not given even a bare hint as to their group identity until the ELEVENTH paragraph when they are erroneously described as the "al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a MILITARY WING of Fatah," Mahmoud Abbas's political party. In reality, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is a terrorist organization which, taking its cue from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, has been doing its darndest to kill Israeli civilians in pursuit of its irredentist agenda. It is no more the "military wing" of Fatah than the IRA is the "military wing" of Sinn Fein. Both are terrorist groups.

Wilson, however, doesn't wait to lose his way in Jenin until the 11th paragraph. Right from his first paragraph, we're treated to a benign description of the beleaguered Palestinian police chief in Jenin "with gray hair" striving to create order in "this unhappy city" after making the transition from "radical" (read terrorist) to "mainstream" a decade ago.

In the second paragraph, Wilson continues his whitewash of terrorists by referring to the "current generation of STREET FIGHTERS." There hardly have been any real Palestinian street fighters in Jenin since 2002 when Israel, responding to the Passover massacre, moved in to clean out terrorist cells -- at great cost of life to Israeli forces because Israel wanted to do as little harm as possible to the city's civilian population. Since then most of these "street fighters" have joined the terror war against Israel under the al-Aqsa banner.

In the second and third paragraphs, Wilson goes on to shed a tear for the poor police chief having to work from a compound reduced to "rubble" by Israeli forces and having to sleep in a "primly made cot in the corner of his office." And Wilson leaves it at that, instead of asking the police chief two obvious questions that any reporter worth his salt would ask: Why was the police compound reduced to rubble? (The answer Wilson and the Post don't want to hear is, of course, that it was a haven for terrorists) And the second question: Since most of Jenin's houses that were damaged in the 2002 battle have been rebuilt with millions of dollars in aid from the United Arab Emirates (a fact Wilson acknowledges in his 10th paragraph), why wasn't some of this money used to rebuild the police compound? (The answer Wilson and the Post don't want to hear, of course, is that Abbas and Palestinian leaders want to keep it as a ruin to show to Western reporters like Wilson as fake evidence of their supposed impotence to act against the terrorist groups in their midst. Wake up, Mr. Wilson, you're being sold a Potemkin Village!

In the fourth paragraph (yes, virtually every paragraph features the Post's own brand of Orwellian journalism), the police chief starts musing about why these "street fighters, armed groups, guerrillas" (but God forbid never terrorists) don't want to morph from their terrorist ways to become regular cops. "These people are not used to a regular routine, a lifestyle we have in the military," he remarks. "What are the intentions of these people? I don't really know." Well, duh. Is he really that dumb? Of course, not. Even Wilson, as a reporter, could easily challenge his see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil attitude because later on in the story he himself points out, again with Post circumlocutions, that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs crowd is not the only terrorist (my description) group in town, but there are also plenty of Hamas and Islamic Jihad folks there as well "who will remain largely outside the new security arrangement." In Postspeak, this means that the terrorists won't change their stripes and are telling Abbas and the Jenin police chief to go fly a kite because they're determined to have the ability to resume their terrorist war whenever they feel like it. But Wilson again won't ask the obvious questions any good reporter would because he's in Jenin to sympathize with the police chief, not to challenge his answers.

Wilson, who by now has tied himself in pro-Palestinian knots, then gives readers a hint that the police chief, while claiming to know nothing really does have some inkling after all about his recruiting difficulties. In the EIGHTH paragraph, he tells readers that the police chief doubts that "hard young men" (Wilson's term) would trade the "grim allure of guerrilla warfare for the drudgery of walking a beat" (again Wilson's terminology) And you've got to give Wilson points for his euphemistic description of terrorism -- "the grim allure of guerrilla warfare." That alone ought to be worth a bonus at the Post.

As Wilson gropes his way farther through his self-constructed Orwellian maze, he widens his lens in the TENTH paragraph to Jenin itself -- finding its streets clean with new homes free of strident graffiti. "Suicide bomb attacks originating in the area have stopped," he reports. No mention that Israel's security barrier has thwarted a lot of attempted attacks or that in recent days and weeks, Israeli forces have intercepted a string of would-be suicide bombers with explosive belts at security checkpoints. In Wilson's roseate view of the Palestinian side, everything there is hunky-dory as far as Israel's security goes.

Unfortunately, his reporting sinks even further as the story proceeds. In the 11th and 12th paragraphs, we're treated to a real howler. Wilson gets hold of the real police chief in Jenin, the local terrorist leader of the Al-Aqsa Brigades, Zakaria Zbeida, who has regularly humiliated Abbas's envoys when they tried to show their faces on his turf and run them on the town (a rather important fact not mentioned by Wilson). Wilson quotes Mr. Zbeida as saying, "We've been the ones who have fulfilled the responsibility of the police force" in Jenin and then Wilson notes that Mr. Zbeida's face "bears permanent scorch marks from a bomb he was making that exploded prematurely." And here's the real kicker: Wilson by now is so entranced with the terrorist "police chief" that he doesn't ask him the obvious questions that he should have been taught in Journalism 101: "Mr. Zbeida, if you're the real police chief in Jenin, as you claim, what in the world where you making a bomb for? To catch car thieves?"

Toward the end of his article, Wilson casually mentions that there has been a bit of lawlessness in Jenin -- but don't expect him to document the full depth and breadth of the Palestinian anarchy that has gripped the place. Sometimes, he says, occasional gunfire comes from car thieves. Other times, it represents a "political challenge to the Palestinian Authority." But ever the understanding, sympathetic observer, Wilson immediately finds it necessary to bestow absolution on these anti-PA outlaws because "many gunmen view (the PA) as corrupt." So it's really Abbas's fault. Never, never the terrorists' fault.

Wilson ends his story with a final bit of commiseration for the nominal police chief who tells him, "The situation is very difficult." If Wilson had only informed Post readers why that is really so!

Leo Rennert

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