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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Post Correspondent Scott Wilson Again Shown to Have Concealed Vital Facts in Front Page Article Attacking Israel

On Sunday October 21 the Post ran another of Scott Wilson's huge, front page feature articles lashing out at Israel. (On the Road to Nowhere, Merchants Pay the Toll, Fence Cuts Lifeline of West Bank Town, 10-21-07, P. A01) The article is about a West Bank town, Mas-Ha, that at one time prospered with Israeli shoppers. As the headline itself reveals, the  article blamed Israel's security fence for cutting off the economic lifeline of a Palestinian town that "once provided a rare meeting place for two peoples." Wilson employs hyperbolic language critical of Israel and sympathetic to Palestinians in describing "Israel's abrupt economic break." He says that now Israelis and Palestinians "are living increasingly estranged lives in the land they are unable to share." Wilson bemoans "the isolated Palestinian economy" that he says "has imploded while Israel's has thrived on increased trade with Europe and the United States." Wilson's description of the fence belittles Israel's contention that security was and still is the main purpose of the fence. In tendentious language that parallels the Israel haters' claim that the fence is an apartheid fence, Wilson calls the fence "the $2.5 billion barrier Israel is building to separate Jews from the Palestinians of the West Bank." 

The caption of a photo that ran with the article states:

"Once-thriving businesses along Route 505 in Mas-Ha, West Bank, have all but collapsed since the arrival of the $2.5 billion, 456-mile separation barrier."

A video on the Post's web site bears the following caption:

"The village of Mas-Ha, once a hub on a highway between Israel and occupied Palestinian territories, has lost its economic base since construction began on a 456-mile barrier Israel is building in the West Bank."

What Wilson doesn't tell readers is that this town, Mas-Ha, lost its economic base before the fence was erected, when  it became a base for terrorist activities. Between 2000 and 2004, Mas-Ha was a focal point for three terrorist operations in which two innocent Israelis were murdered. It was not surprising that fear would drive away shoppers. The following letter to the editor amply demonstrates how Mr. Wilson deliberately concealed facts necessary to place events in Israel or the disputed territories in proper context:

Why a Palestinian Village Is Struggling
Wednesday, October 24, 2007; A18

The Oct. 21 front-page article "On the Road to Nowhere, Merchants Pay the Toll" omitted vitally important context surrounding the shuttered storefronts in the Palestinian village of Mas-Ha.

For many years, hordes of Israeli shoppers spent their money in Mas-Ha, helping to contribute to a thriving local Palestinian economy. But consumers began to forgo Mas-Ha once it became a staging ground for terrorist acts against innocent Israeli civilians.

On Oct. 2, 2000, an Israeli who came to a garage in Mas-Ha for auto repairs was killed in cold blood.

On Aug. 12, 2003, a Palestinian terrorist entered Israel via Mas-Ha and blew up a supermarket, killing a 43-year-old father.

On July 14, 2004, Palestinian terrorists attempted to smuggle a bomb into Israel hidden in a sofa from one of Mas-Ha's furniture shops.

With Mas-Ha a source for attacks on Israel, it is not surprising that consumers looked elsewhere to shop.

Israel's separation barrier has drastically reduced the number of Palestinian suicide bombings such as the ones originating from Mas-Ha. The article implied that the separation barrier is the primary cause of the economic downturn in Mas-Ha, whereas the barrier was constructed as a defense against constant Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. And that is what's bad for business.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Post Uses Letters to the Editor to Advance Its Own Anti-Israel Agenda

Saturday's edition of the Post featured in the middle of the Letters section a 2 sentence letter, boxed for emphasis, with the headline: "Settlers Must Go." The words "Settlers Must Go" were the Post's words and not those of the author of the letter. A photograph of a tractor with housing in the background accompanied the letter, with a caption stating: "Construction of a new neighborhood in the West Bank's biggest Jewish settlement, Maale Adumim, in March 2005." 

This letter in its raw simplicity clearly demonstrates how the Post uses letters as a transparent expression of its own anti-Israel agenda. Here's what the letter said:

"Jackson Diehl's Oct. 22 op-ed, 'The Deal on the Table,' stated that the likely Israel-Palestine agreement would 'allow most of the Jewish settlers in the West Bank to be annexed to Israel.'

All the settlements in the occupied territory violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying power from settling its people on land obtained through aggression."

That's the entirety of the letter. Nothing more. Land obtained "through aggression?" Make no mistake about it. Regardless of who wrote the letter, it is abundantly clear from the Post's use of a border, photograph and the headline that this was the Washington Post's anti-Israel message to its readers.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Washington Post Worries Only About Suffering In Gaza -- Ignores Qassam
Barrages At Sderot
By Leo Rennert

For the last several months, the Washington Post has imposed a virtual blackout on news about near-daily Qassam rocket barrages from Gaza aimed at kibbutzim and southern towns in Israel, including Sderot and Ashkelon. The Post's Jerusalem correspondent, Scott Wilson, has studiously avoided taking a look at Sderot's terrorized population as Qassams kill, wound and traumatize its residents, especially youngsters, but also adults who frequently have to be treated for shock as rockets hit schoolyards and homes.

But now that the Israeli government, after concluding that pinpoint strikes against rocket launchers have not halted cross-border missile and mortar fire, is carefully moving toward selective, relatively minimal power and fuel cutoffs to Hamas-ruled Gaza, the news department of the Washington Post seems to have suddenly woken up that Gazans finally may feel a bit of pain for the terrorism practiced by their rulers. As usual, Palestinian pain rates much higher coverage priority than Israeli pain at the Post.

So let's take a look at a short article in the Post's Oct. 25 issue that is emblematic of the paper's consistent anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian bias. The headline reads: "Military Plans Gaza Power Cuts to Curb Attacks."

The three-sentence article informs Post readers that Israel has completed plans for gradual electricity and fuel cutoffs to the Gaza Strip in response to ongoing rocket fire from the Palestinian territory. It also notes that Israel provides more than half of Gaza's electricity and "any power cutoff is "sure to make life more difficult to residents."

Two problems in the first two sentences and the headline: The first problem is obviously the fact, as noted earlier, that the Post hasn't similarly reported the daily missile attacks from Gaza and is only interested when Israel decides to respond. The second problem is that the Post fails to point out that Israel, to show utmost restraint, plans electricity cutoffs, in spread-out, two-hour segments, only to the Beit Hanoun area, which abuts Israel and is the main staging ground for Qassam launchings. The lights will still go on in Gaza City -- a rather important aspect of Israel's response that is totally missing from the Post's dispatch.

No surprise since the Post has no interest in spotlighting Israeli restraint. Just the opposite. It goes on to convict Israel before any power cutoff has even taken place. "The (Israeli) move is also certain to draw international condemnation," the article asserts.

And there you have the Post's ingrained animus against Israel. For one thing, the prediction of "international condemnation" is not attributed to any source whatever. It's the Post's own value judgment that Israel will rate international condemnation for trying to protect itself against Qassam attacks terrorizing its population. The Post also doesn't tell its readers that far from being condemned by the entire "international" community (a construct without any reality), whatever criticism Israel may encounter is bound to come only or mainly from the usual suspects -- the Palestinians, naturally; the Arab League, naturally; the UN bureaucracy, naturally; Jimmy Carter, obviously; the NY Times editorial page, reliably; "human rights" groups with pacifist political agendas which would leave terrorists free to pummel their victims while denying the victims any right to defend themselves; and the news pages of the Washington Post, of course.

The agenda of the Post's news section has been all too obvious for a long time -- defend or overlook Palestinian terrorism and atrocities, while shaping its coverage on the premise that Israel, unlike any other country, enjoys no right of self-defense, or at least the kind of self-defense that actually may protect its citizens.

[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Washington Post In Full Anti-Israel Propaganda Mode - Post Correspondent Exhibits Animus to Israel - Conceals and Distorts Facts, Manipulates Terminology, Reports Out of Context

To: Scott Wilson, Washington Post Correspondent
From: Leo Rennert
Date: 10-21-07

In recent weeks, several Post readers have noticed the absence of your by-line and wondered what happened since you didn't seem to be around as Fatah and Hamas continued killing each other in Gaza, while West Bank Palestinian terrorist cells kept up efforts to infiltrate Israel and kill civilians there. But no need to wonder anymore. You're back with a blazing piece on the front page this morning that, if anything, outdoes your previous exercises in anti-Israel bias. (On the Road to Nowhere, Merchants Pay the Toll, Fence Cuts Lifeline of West Bank Town, 10-21-07, page A1)

The piece, which takes up a full half page's worth of copy, plus a color map, plus 2 color photos, is headlined over a big spread on page one "On the Road to Nowhere, Merchants Pay the Toll -- Fence Cuts Lifeline of West Bank Town." On the jump page, there's another, more cryptic headline, "In West Bank, Israeli Fence Cuts Village's Economic Lifeline."

As for your personal contribution, it can't objectively be called an article or a newspaper story. It's more of a dark fairy tale where the big, bad wolf (Israel) has the upper hand over innocent Little Red Riding Hood (the Palestinians). It goes something like this: There once was an economic paradise in a Palestinian village with "a largely shared economy whose shops, factory floors and restaurant terraces provided a rare meeting place for two people." But this idyllic Eden is no more because it has been swept away by a big, bad ''SEPARATION BARRIER" that cuts off the village's main road. As a result, the village has gone into an economic tailspin and Israelis and Palestinians are left to live "increasingly estranged lives."

The tragedy of shuttered stores in your fairy tale is entirely the fault of Israel, which has imposed over the last seven years "stiff restrictions on Palestinian trade, permission to work inside Israel and movement among West Bank towns and cities."

While your tale includes a profusion of quotes from Palestinian merchants and factory owners devastated by the advent of the "SEPARATION BARRIER," there is hardly even a hint of why Israel would be building this barrier (the reason for my capitalizing those two words, SEPARATION BARRIER, is that you use them as a sort of Greek chorus to drum into Post readers the notion that the real culprit is Israel's decision to separate Israelis from Palestinians. As in your fanciful tale, the front-page map, for example, mentions not once but 3 times "SEPARATION BARRIER." With that kind of repetitiveness and by never calling it a SECURITY BARRIER, it doesn't take much imagination to realize that, in effect, you're just using SEPARATION BARRIER as a synonym for APARTHEID BARRIER -- the preferred nomenclature of the most rabid anti-Israel propagandists).

So why a barrier? Well, it seems to be part of Israeli restrictions "since the September 2000 start of the MOST RECENT PALESTINIAN UPRISING." Has this uprising been peaceful (like Burma in recent days) or violent? You're not saying. Has this "uprising" caused any Israeli casualties? You're not saying. Have innocent civilians been deliberately murdered? You're not saying. Have there been more than 1,000 Israelis slaughtered and many more wounded by Palestinian terrorists who infiltrated from the West Bank? You're not saying. Is your idyllic village on the seam between the West Bank and Israel in an area where countless actual and would-be suicide bombers have begun their bloody missions? You're not saying. Is the village within easy hiking distance from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other parts of Israel's heartland? You're not saying Has the barrier helped to cut down significantly terrorist attacks? You're not saying.

What you do say is that, according to the Israeli government (not according to you), the barrier and other restrictions it has taken "help ensure Israel's security IN THE ABSENCE OF A PEACE DEAL." I seriously doubt that Israeli officials would give "absence of a peace deal" as the reason for the barrier. In their view, the real purpose is to ensure Israel's security against MURDEROUS TERRORISTS. And we know that the "T" word is never part of your vocabulary.

In any case, you make it clear that you don't believe anything these big, bad Israelis might say since you immediately refute your garbled version of what they supposedly said. "But Palestinian officials argue," you point out "that the impoverishing effects of the economic SEPARATION spawn unrest in the territories and INCREASE THE POTENTIAL FOR ATTACKS INSIDE ISRAEL."

And that's the real crux of your tale. It's not Israelis at all who are victims of a Palestinian war of terror; it's Israel's DEFENSIVE measures that propagate all this Palestinian violence. In your fairytale world, the victim is the aggressor! When it comes to how you choose words, it's Alice in Wonderland redux.

To reinforce your theme of a villainous Israel inflicting pain on poor, little Palestinians, you trot out a plethora of statistics -- the barrier costs $2.5 billion. It is 456 miles in length. There are 550 military checkpoints, roadblocks and other obstacles within the West Bank. The Palestinian gross domestic product per capita has shrunk 30 percent to $1,129. All this statistical ammunition is obviously designed to buttress your case against those big, bad Israelis.

But what about any statistics about any big, bad Palestinians, which appear nowhere in your fairy tale? How many Israeli buses were blown up by Palestinian suicide bombers? Why no statistic on that? How many cafeterias, pizza parlors, restaurants, and banquet halls have been littered with bloody body parts? Why no statistics on that? Why no statistics on overall Israeli casualties? Why no statistic on released Palestinian prisoners who resumed their terrorist ways?

Well, you and I know the answer. You would have been unable to spin your grim fairy tale if you had supplied answers to these questions.

Then, from the West Bank, you go on to commiserate with Hamas-ruled Palestinians in Gaza, again putting the blame on Israel and not on their terrorist masters. "The commercial obstacles are even more severe in Gaza, which Israel recently declared a 'hostile entity,'" you write. Why would big, bad Israel do that? Your answer: "Persistent rocket attacks originating there." Have any of these rockets wounded Israelis? You won't say. Have any of these rockets killed Israelis? You won't say. Have these "persistent" attacks on Sderot terrorized the population of that southern Israeli town and inflicted PERSISTENT trauma on its children, as rockets kept falling in schoolyards and homes? You won't say.

And finally, you come up with a double howler that tops all the preceding anti-Israel propaganda of your fairy tale.

Having put Israel in the dock for choking off the economy of the West Bank, you suddenly make a 180-degree turn and write in PARAGRAPH NO. 26, way down in your tale, that Israel in recent months "is ALLOWING MORE PALESTINIAN TRADE AND EMPLOYMENT INSIDE ISRAEL AND ITS SETTLEMENTS" in the West Bank. That doesn't become you, Scott. If you're going to regale Post readers with a pro-Palestinian fairy tale, you've got to keep it simple -- all black and white. Why credit Israel with anything at all -- even if it's tucked inconspicuously in just one sentence? 

But never mind this little stumble, since you recover quickly and continue on your merry road to blacken and delegitimize Israel. "The restrictions," you tell Post readers, "are being eased only for the West Bank -- NOT FOR GAZA -- EVEN THOUGH ISRAEL ONCE PLEDGED TO TREAT THE REGIONS AS A 'SINGLE TERRITORIAL ENTITY' PENDING THE CREATION OF A PALESTINIAN STATE."

Now, you've nicely bounced back with solid, predictable Scott Wilson fiction. Was Israel's so-called pledge or commitment perhaps tied in some way to Yasser Arafat's 1993 pledge to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that henceforth ALL PALESTINIAN TERRORISM WOULD PERMANENTLY CEASE? No mention of that in your tale. And weren't similar assurances repeated by the Palestinian side during the hopeful days of Oslo and even thereafter? No mention of that, either. Why report only Israeli pledges but not Palestinian ones?

Well, we know the answer by now. You and your editors, in covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, have a PERSISTENT agenda of bashing Israel for everything that goes wrong and ignoring or making allowances for any wrongdoing on the Palestinian side.

That's not conveying the real world, Scott. That's stuff for Halloween fairy tales.

So, have a Happy Halloween. I can't wait for the next installment in your trick-or-treat bag.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Taste of Things To Come - The Post Is Ramping Up Its Biased News Coverage of Israel in Preparation for the Annapolis Peace Talks

The Post's reporting this week provided a preview of the sort of anti-Israel, slanted coverage we will soon be regularly seeing when the Post covers the Annapolis peace talks. Every Palestinian complaint and demand will be give prominence in news reports. Every Israeli position will be either completely ignored or given the briefest mention and deeply buried within otherwise distorted news reports. Israel's security needs will be given short shrift. Post reporters will attempt to paint a picture of a recalcitrant Israel standing in the way of Palestinians seeking nothing more than peace and their own homeland.

On Tuesday Post correspondents Scott Wilson and Michael Abramowitz reported on Secretary Rice's visit to the region. (Rice Draws on 'Spiritual Passion' in Push for Peace, Egyptians, Arab League Lay Aside Skepticism After Talks With Envoy, 10-17-07, A12) In the very first paragraph, on the topic of Secretary Rice's meeting with Christian, Jewish and Muslim representatives, Abramowitz and Wilson tell readers of grievances over "the failure of Israeli authorities to recognize the Greek Orthodox patriarch" and the complaint of "a top Muslim cleric's lack of access to Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque." They don't mention any of Israel's grievances in this paragraph or anywhere else in the article. Are readers to believe that although Jewish representatives were present, no Israeli concerns or grievances were expressed, or is it much more likely that these authors deliberately avoided referring to the Israeli grievances? 

The article discusses at length Palestinian complaints and worries about the current period leading up to the peace conference, all the while ignoring Israeli concerns:

"The Palestinian side and supporters in the Arab world are pushing Rice to lean on the Israelis to be as specific as possible in writing this document. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit urged Rice on Tuesday to insist on a firm deadline. 'We cannot negotiate and carry on negotiating until the end of history,' he said after Rice met with him and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.

Wilson and Abramowitz then suggest Israel is resisting Palestinian pressure to make concessions in advance of negotiations solely to preserve his governing coalition:

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, by contrast, is resisting such timetables and details, nervous that making too many compromises at this point could bring down his shaky government."

By attributing Israel's actions solely to Prime Minister Olmert's effort at political survival, the Post ignores serious and substantive concerns on the part of Israel's leadership. The article completely ignores Israeli concerns over the continuation of terrorism. There is no mention of continued Palestinian rocketing of Israel from within Gaza or of Mahmoud Abbas's failure to exert control over the terrorists in the West Bank. The article ignores Israeli concerns over Abbas's weak leadership in the West Bank and his doubtful ability to deliver a quid pro quo for Israeli concessions. Palestinian insistence on a timetable and advance concessions follows a familiar pattern of Arab demands in which they condition peace talks on prior concessions while making  no commitments of their own. However, the article doesn't question this Palestinian demand for advance concessions and strikes a disapproving tone at Israel's resistance. To attribute Israeli reluctance only to fear on the part of Ehud Olmert that his government will fall belittles Israel's motives and security concerns. 

While the article in one deeply buried sentence touches briefly upon the huge problem posed by Hamas being in total control of Gaza, it immediately passes over that vital topic and goes on to yet another complaint about Israeli recalcitrance:

"Bush and Rice are also facing deep skepticism among Palestinians and in the Arab world that they will press Israel to make necessary compromises." 

On the other hand, skepticism by Israelis and the non-Arab world over whether Palestinians are willing to abandon violence, accept Israel and live in peace is not mentioned. Where is the balance?

The Post's reporters parrot the erroneous message of Israel's enemies that Israel is at the root of turmoil throughout the Middle East. They quote Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat saying: 

"There has also been a realization by the [US] administration that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the core of many of [the US] problems in the Middle East" 


"I think she [Secretary Rice] realizes that American interests in the region can no longer be served by backing Israel alone."

 The Post's agenda to spotlight Palestinian grievances against Israel while ignoring Israeli grievances against Palestinians resulted in another heavily biased article on Thursday, this one authored by Abramowitz alone. (Rice Hears Palestinians' Grievances, After Her Visit to Bethlehem Church, Civic Leaders Cite High Stakes of Peace Effort, 10-18-07, A19) Virtually everything in this article depicts Israel negatively and Palestinians positively. Israel is reported to be resisting concessions for peace. Palestinians are depicted as victims of Israeli repression. And a Palestinian return to violence is threatened if the US does not pressure Israel into making concessions sought by the Palestinians. The Israeli position on its security needs brought about by incessant Palestinian terrorism is given virtually no coverage. 

The very first paragraph notes that Secretary Rice heard "from prominent Palestinians that failure of her new peace initiative could worsen their conflict with Israel." This theme of the threat of renewed violence if Palestinians don't get their way is repeated in the article. Palestinians are quoted as saying:

"'Everyone agreed that if the process does not lead to concrete results, the region will go to a worse escalation of violence....'"


"'We can't afford another failure of the peace process.'" 


"The United States is responsible for the peace process ... This is the most important request from us, that they have a successful conference.'"

Throughout the article Israel is depicted as the oppressor of Palestinians. Complaints about Israel's security fence are given prominence by Post reporter Abramowitz:

"To reach the church, Rice crossed through a section of the 456-mile security barrier Israel is building around and within the West Bank. The limitations of movement imposed by the barrier, and the area's dire economic conditions, came up during a subsequent meeting Rice held with Palestinian business and civic leaders, according to participants."


"Bethlehem residents require work permits to travel into Jerusalem. Samir Hazboun, the Chamber of Commerce president who was present at the Rice meeting, said that the number of area residents going to work in Israel has declined from 12,000 to 3,000."

Later in the article Abramowitz notes that Secretary Rice defended Israel's need for the barrier, but he employs language that implies she may have done so only to be diplomatic: "She refused to be drawn into criticizing Israel over the barrier." 

Abramowitz notes with sympathy that "residents of Bethlehem are deeply frustrated by the economic devastation their small city has suffered since previous peace-making efforts collapsed and Palestinian violence surged. Tourism has declined precipitously." 

"Violence surged" is a passive and inaccurate way of describing the terror war launched against Israel. And as for the economic impact of Palestinian violence, Abramowitz fails to note that Jerusalem's economy was virtually brought to a standstill during the Palestinian terror war against Israel. It was only the security fence and the policy of targeted killings of terrorist leaders that reversed Israel's economic suffering.

And of course, Abramowitz again tries to depict Israel as resisting peace:

"Yet after meeting Rice in Ramallah for a second time in three days, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas complained that the Israelis were hindering progress toward writing a joint negotiating document that would help launch a U.S.-hosted peace conference later this fall."

Note Abramowitz's choice of words in describing the document Israel is resisting as a "document that would help launch a U.S.-hosted peace conference later this fall."

Israel's needs and aspirations for the upcoming talks are completely absent from this article. This week's reporting by the Washington Post from Israel was little more than Palestinian propaganda, and the Post would do well to inject more balance into its news coverage. Unfortunately, we'll probably be seeing a lot more of this type of slanted coverage between now and the completion of the Annapolis conference.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Where Do The Washington Post And Other Media Obtain Validation For Their Distorted And Dishonest News Coverage Of Israel? Why, From Ha'Aretz, A "Leader" Of The Israeli Media, Of Course.

The upcoming peace talks in Annapolis are likely to bring a wave of anti-Israel reporting from the world's press. As Andrea Levin, the Executive Director of CAMERA, notes in the following article, one of the leaders among this group who sets an example for the rest is the Israeli newspaper Ha'Aretz.

Ha'Aretz, the Lie of the Land

by Andrea Levin

(IsraelNN.com) In a familiar syndrome, many otherwise impartial American journalists, newly posted in Israel, slip quickly in their reporting into unmistakably hostile views of the country. Why?

One factor is their sources in the Israeli media. As Eric Weiner, former Jerusalem bureau chief for National Public Radio, told a Palestinian media symposium, every working day began with scanning local papers for stories. He relied especially on what he termed the "very respectable [Israeli] newspaper" Ha'aretz. Like NPR, countless other media cite Ha'aretz writers regularly, while a global audience reads the paper's English Internet edition online.

Although Ha'aretz bills itself as "an independent newspaper with a broadly liberal outlook," many of the opinion writers and some reporters espouse views of the extreme left, and factual accuracy is often sacrificed to their political predilections. Reporter Amira Hass, for example, has just been ordered by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court to pay $60,000 in damages to the Jewish community of Hebron for her false and incendiary report that Jewish residents there had abused the corpse of a dead Arab shot by Israeli Border police in a violent incident. The allegations were disproved by multiple televised accounts of the event.

The same reporter's stories, replete with distorted and inaccurate charges that Israel is an "apartheid" state, steals Palestinian water, callously targets Palestinians over the age of 12 with sniper-fire, and generally subjugates Arabs out of sheer viciousness, are posted on countless anti-Israel websites. The commentaries of Hass and a score of other Ha'aretz writers (Gideon Samet, Gideon Levy, Akiva Eldar, Baruch Kimmerling, Ze'ev Sternhell, Joseph Algazy, Danny Rubenstein, Moshe Reinfeld and many more) appear alongside those of Noam Chomsky, Hanan Ashrawi, Edward Said and other favorites of such websites (eg: cesr, pmwatch, globalsolidarity, liberate-palestine).

Indeed, a look at such sites and the content of the Ha'aretz articles posted suggests that Ha'aretz writers are in the vanguard of those making the Palestinian case against Israel.

Hass and the extreme among her colleagues are also eagerly quoted by the most virulent anti-Israel commentators in the American media. The Orlando Sentinel's Charley Reese, a syndicated writer obsessed with supposed Israeli iniquity, praises Hass for writing "poignantly of this practice [of targeting Palestinians over 12 with sniper-fire] in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz."

A ferociously anti-Israel writer at Connecticut's Hartford Courant, Amy Pagnozzi, warmly endorses the observations of veteran Israel-basher Robert Fisk from Britain's Independent newspaper, who said: "In particular, coverage in the Israel newspaper Ha'aretz 'outshines anything' reported in the States...The Israeli paper's Gaza correspondent, Amira Hass, recently reported on an Israeli Defense Forces sniper whose orders were to shoot anyone over 12 as fair game."

In addition to the Reeses, Pagnozzis and Fisks who seize on the strident anti- Israel voices at Ha'aretz, more mainstream American reporters and commentators routinely reflect the less radical but still harsh views of others at the paper (as well as carrying, at times, the views of less ideologically driven and more factually accurate Ha'aretz reporters). These, for instance, are a few of the Ha'aretz observations conveyed to millions of Americans.

Danny Rubenstein told National Public Radio listeners in October 2000 that Jews do not value the land of Israel the way Arabs do, since Jews are urban dwellers. He blamed Israel for not having dismantled "even one settlement since the Oslo agreement" as though Oslo had stipulated such measures.

Rubenstein is the same journalist who reported as fact, and without including the IDF's vehement refutation of the lie, that Israel was using poison gas against Palestinians (Ha'aretz February 15, 2001).

Doron Rosenblum, another favorite with the American mainstream media, often provides ridicule of Israeli leaders. An Associated Press story quoted a December 2000 Rosenblum observation that prominent Israeli figures Ariel Sharon, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu are, "a bunch of junk satellites that continue to orbit the earth even after their mission is over, an eternal beehive of has-beens and schemers..."

Akiva Eldar too, despite a record of factual sloppiness and twisted interpretation, is often cited. A May 23, 2001 New York Times story quoted him declaring that Ariel Sharon's "shelling of Jibril Rajoub's house removes any remaining doubts. Ariel Sharon has decided to turn the Palestinian Authority into the enemy." Thus eight months into an unprecedented mini-war launched by Arafat's PA, Eldar points the finger at Sharon.

Like many of his colleagues, Eldar joins the outside world in continuously wagging its collective finger at the Jews. A Washington Post story (July 21, 2000) quoted him saying that Israeli public opinion against the division of Jerusalem is indicative that, "there is something about Jerusalem that addles the brain."

Another Israeli journalist based at a different newspaper, Yediot Ahronot's Nahum Barnea, wrote in November 2000 in a publication of The Israel Democracy Institute that there are Israeli reporters who do not pass the "lynch test." These are journalists who could not bring themselves to criticize the Palestinians even when two Israelis were savagely murdered by a Palestinian mob in Ramallah. Which journalists? Gideon Levy, Amira Hass and Akiva Eldar of Ha'aretz. Barnea wrote: "And then the lynch test came, and before it the test of the shooting and fire bombs of the Tanzim fighters, and before it the test of the violations of the Oslo Agreement by Arafat, and it turns out that the support of some of the prominent reporters [for Palestinian positions] is absolute. ...They have a mission."

The ultimate political effects of prestigious Israeli media disseminating continuous and often inflammatory anti-Israel misinformation in English in the era of the Internet should not be underestimated.

Andrea Levin is the Executive Director of the Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (www.camera.org)

Friday, August 3, 2007

Land Ownership And History Omitted From Post's Story On Hebron - "Jews Hold Valid and Recorded Deeds" to Much More Land Than That On Which They Currently Reside

To: Letters, The Washington Post
From: Jonathan C. Javitt, M.D., M.P.H.
Date: July 26, 2007
Subject: Scott Wilson's Article on Hebron, July 26

In describing the Jewish claim to the right to live in Hebron, the Post's Scott Wilson acknowledges the 4,000 year old religious claim to the city as the burial site of the Jewish patriarchs and the location of Judea's first capital city. (In Divided Hebron, a Shared Despair,
Palestinians and Jewish Settlers in West Bank City Struggle for Existence, Thursday, July 26, 2007, A01
) However, he somehow forgets to mention the far more recent and legally-enforceable Jewish title to land in Hebron. The city was settled in 1492 by Jews fleeing the Spanish inquisition, who purchased vacant land and built the entire downtown tract from a tolerant Moslem regime. The Jewish community grew and thrived for centuries under Ottoman rule as Jews (including members of my family) fleeing the pogroms of Eastern Europe settled there and lived in peace with their Arab neighbors. Ironically, they refused the protection of the emerging Jewish defense forces, relying on the continued tolerance of those neighbors. Radical Islamic forces arose during the British mandate and made Hebron their first target, staging pogroms that murdered 67 members of the Hebron community and which resulted in the forced evacuation of the remainder by the British. The properties currently occupied by Jewish settlers represent a fraction of those to which Jews hold valid and recorded deeds, dating back to the Ottoman empire. The Post owes its readers both sides of any story.

Jonathan C. Javitt, M.D., M.P.H.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Another Huge, One-Sided Front Page Feature Article By Scott Wilson, This Time Distorting The History And Religious Significance Of Hebron And The Relationship Of Its Jewish And Arab Communities

The Washington Post has again published a huge, distorted, front page feature article by Scott Wilson depicting Israelis in a negative light. (In Divided Hebron, a Shared Despair,
Palestinians and Jewish Settlers in West Bank City Struggle for Existence, Thursday, July 26, 2007, A01
)  CAMERA describes the Post's spotlighting of this article as "show-case placement and near-magazine length." The following letter by David Wilder, spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Hebron, effectively demonstrates some of the ways in which Scott Wilson, the Post's correspondent in Israel and the disputed territories, habitually slants his reporting and misleads his readers. The Post has already issued one minor correction of the article, but a reading of this letter shows that others are warranted. Following Mr. Wilder's letter is a letter by Leo Rennert further demonstrating Mr. Wilson's one sided, agenda driven presentation:

Friday, July 27, 2007

To the Editors
Caroline Little
Chief Executive Officer and Publisher
Jim Brady
Executive Editor 
The Washington Post

Re: In Divided Hebron, a Shared Despair
by Scott Wilson

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dear Sirs,

Considering the Post's reputation, I was quite surprised by the number of factual errors in the above article, not to mention the immense bias portrayed in the feature. 

1. "Within Hebron, the separation is enforced not only by Israeli barriers but also by military checkpoints and curfews…"

There has not been a curfew in Hebron in years.

2. "Securing the small Jewish minority has a potent impact on the lives of the city's 150,000 Arabs...."

Exactly 10 years ago Hebron was divided into two zones. In an official agreement with Arafat, Israel transferred over 80% of Hebron to The Palestinian Authority. There is no proof of the number of Arabs who live in Hebron, but for the sake of argument, should there really be 150,000, ten years ago at least 130,000 came under the sole control of the P.A. Presently, the number of Arabs in P.A. controlled Hebron would be in the vicinity of 90%. Where then does Israel's presence in less than 10% of the city have a 'potent impact on the lives of the city's 150,000 Arabs?' 

3. "In recent months, the Israeli army has helped the Hebron settlers expand eastward to a hilltop home near the settlement of Kiryat Arba…"

The Hebron Jewish community purchased a 35,000 square foot building for over $700,000. The Israeli military had nothing to do with the purchase and did not 'help the Hebron settlers expand.' They fulfill their function by offering the necessary protection at the site, as the military does throughout Israel. There are no restrictions on Arabs living in the vicinity of the building. 

4. "'There is no future for Arabs and Jews together in Hebron,' said Noam Federman, 37, a settler from Beit Hadassah...."

Noam Federman never lived in Beit Hadassah. He and his family have lived in Kiryat Arba for the past year and a half. His statements do not represent anyone or anything except his own personal views. 

5. "… Behind him trailed a small group of men and boys, who at Shuyukhi's instruction were attempting to defy the enforced division of their city that has virtually emptied its most important historic, religious and commercial areas of Palestinians." 

a) According to the Hebron accords, the entire city is supposed to be open to both Jews/Israelis and Arabs. However, Jews are forbidden from entering the "Arab/Palestinian" side of the city, whereas Arabs are permitted to enter the Israeli-controlled side of the city. 

b) As above, virtually all of the commercial areas of Arab Hebron are located within the area controlled by the P.A. This is not cut off from the Arabs. In addition, no Arabs have been forced to leave their homes, or move out of the Israeli-controlled side of the city. 

6. "The post bars Palestinians from entering Shuhada Street, a once-thriving commercial strip closed by the Israeli military more than a decade ago to protect the two Jewish settlements and a yeshiva along its route. The U.S. Agency for International Development spent $2 million in 1997 to renovate the street as part of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement to reopen it for Palestinians. But Israel has since refused to do so."

a) The area closed off to Arab traffic is approximately two blocks long. Alternate routes have been provided. This, in comparison to 80% of the city, closed off to Jews. 

b) It is not true that Israel refused to open the street. It was open to vehicular and foot traffic following completion of the construction by US AID. However, the Israel Defense Forces demanded it be closed following the outbreak of the second intifada in October, 2000, when Hebron Arabs began shooting at Jews from the surrounding hills, hills which had been transferred to the Palestinian Authority as part of the Hebron Accords. 

7. "…there are 100 Israeli-constructed fences, gates, concrete barriers and military checkpoints within the roughly one-square-mile historic center." 

These fences and barriers have been constructed to prevent infiltration of terrorists and to prevent easy escape routes for terrorists following perpetration of terror attacks. 

8. "… The area included the Jewish Quarter until 1929, when Arabs killed more than 60 Jews living there. The survivors fled."

In 1929, 67 Jews were raped, tortured and killed by their next door neighbors. Seventy were wounded. The survivors did not flee. They were expelled by the British. A group returned in 1931 and remained until 1936 when again they were expelled due to Arab inciting. 

9. "Hemmed in and harassed, the Palestinians are fleeing today. Nearly half the homes in and around the Israeli-controlled Old City of Hebron have been vacated, the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem recently reported." 

a) Who is hemmed in and harassed? Arab terrorists shot at Jews for two years, killing and wounding. Dozens of Israelis have been killed in and around Hebron since the signing of the Oslo Accords. 

b) B'Tselem is a radical left wing organization, whose facts and statistics are very much in question.

10. "'The Ibrahimi Mosque is ours, not theirs.'"

The 'Ibrahimi Mosque' – otherwise known as "Ma'arat HaMachpela," the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, is the second holiest site to Jews in the world. The site was off-limits to Jews and Christians for 700 years – from 1267-1967. This despite its sanctity to Jews, and despite the fact that the building above the caves was built by Herod some 2,000 years ago, six hundred years prior to Muhammad's birth. Since Israel's return to Hebron in 1967 the site has been accessible to all people of all faiths. However, Moslems refuse to accept freedom of worship, claim that it's a mosque and declare that should they ever again control the site, it will be off-limits to anyone not Moslem. (The site, nor the city of Hebron is mentioned anywhere in the Koran.) 

11. "The 50-yard walkway took months to complete because each night the bricks were uprooted. It opened this year."

The walkway has been used by Arabs for years. A sidewalk was paved last year.

12. "During the three-month period ending Jan. 31, the observer group received 35 complaints of settler violence and harassment, ranging from beatings to throwing debris. Over the next three months, 71 cases were reported.

'The pattern you see is that you have settlement and then violence around it,' Lignell said. 'And you see this project inching forward.'" 

a) TIPH – Temporary International Presence in Hebron – is supposed to be an observer force. What is the legitimacy of "received complaints?" Such 'complaints' may, or may not be true. An 'observer force' is supposed to do just that – observe – and not base conclusions around 'complaints received' which have no proof backing them up. 

TIPH is an extremely anti-Semitic organization, made up primarily of Scandinavian human rights workers, who know virtually nothing about the Jewish history and tradition of Hebron, and who are notorious for one-sided 'observations.' 

b) According to recent reports issued by the IDF and the police there has been a tremendous decrease of violence by Israelis in Hebron over the past year, with very few cases being brought to the attention of the police. 

13. "Palestinian patrons, who have watched anxiously as the settlement project recently swelled beyond the city center under the protection of Israel's military, whose strategic goals frequently coincide with the settlers'." 

a) Foreign governments, primarily Germany, France and Spain, have invested huge amounts of money in various parts of Hebron, including the Casba. Why is it legitimate for Arabs to renovate property, yet when Jews do such it is deemed illegitimate? Why can Arabs build, buy and sell, while the same activity by Jews is considered negative? 

b) The IDF does not and never has been involved with 'strategic planning' with civilians in Hebron. The military is under the direct rule of the Defense Department, i.e. the Defense Minister, the Prime Minister and the Israeli government. There are times when our aims coincide but also many times when they clash. 

14. "'The town is divided, it is deserted, and in many ways like a prison for us,' said Khaled Osaily...."

As written earlier, 80% of Hebron is under total PA control. The entire city was open until the beginning of the second intifada, during which time a homicide bomber exploded and killed a couple from nearby Kiryat Arba. 

15. "David Wilder, originally from New Jersey, is the spokesman for the Hebron settlers. He largely dismissed public relations until Goldstein opened fire."

This is totally inaccurate. I began working for the Hebron Jewish Community in an administrative capacity in May of 1994 and did not begin work as a spokesman for about 2 years following that, with the advent of the Hebron Accords. My employment had nothing to do with Baruch Goldstein. 

[EyeOnThePost: Mr. Wilson could also be asked why he NEVER comments upon the HUGE amount of resources Palestinians devote to public relations, with many spokesmen readily available to the media on virtually any topic and escorts being provided for media representatives throughout the disputed territories a commonplace occurrence.]

16. "Wilder, who like many settlers here wears a pistol on his hip…"

This is true. We are licensed to carry a weapon for reasons of self-defense. I have never needed to use it, thank G-d. I know people who are alive today because they had a weapon. 

17. "[He] does not agree with what he calls the Israeli military's 'concept of using walls as a means of security, of building barriers and saying, 'Now you are safe.' '

'The problem here is not so much that people can't make a living; it's a political one,' Wilder said. 'The Arabs want a presence here. If they have it, they own it, de facto. And if not, they don't.' 

These two paragraphs are total non-sequiturs, making no sense in the context of the article. It is clear that they were inserted: 1) to include a Hebron representative in the article, and 2) to make me look foolish and unintelligent. 

18. "On a hilltop less than a mile's trip along streets secured by Israeli soldiers sits a four-story house, which a group of settlers occupied the evening of March 19." 

This building was not 'occupied;' rather it was purchased for over $700,000. Why, when an Israeli purchases property he is an 'occupier', but when an Arab buys property and moves in, he is a legal resident? 

19. "...the military government in the occupied territories, contends that the settlers did not arrange for the permits Israelis need to buy and move into property in the West Bank." 

1) Why does the Washington Post use language 'the occupied territories' as opposed to Judea and Samaria, or the West Bank? 

[EyeOnThePost ... or at least the "disputed territories."]

2) The permits were requested and denied for political reasons, not for any legal reason. The entire transaction will be proven to be legal and legitimate.

20. "…and the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the caves beneath the Ibrahimi Mosque."

Why is the site called the "Ibrahami Mosque?" Why isn't it written that there are also a number of synagogues in the building, which again, was not built by Herod as a mosque? 

21. "'We don't know the people who come and go from there,' said Jabari, 22, a bespectacled middle school chemistry teacher. 'We try to stay inside now as much as possible.'" 

Arabs in the neighborhood continue to walk the streets freely. They are not restricted in any way, and no incidents initiated by Jews have been reported in the area since Hebron residents moved in. 

22. "One tried to snatch a soldier's gun, Israeli military officials said, and the officer opened fire."

The article concludes with such a sorrowful scene. However, would it have ended the same way had the Arab been able to take the soldier's gun and open fire on the Israelis at the scene? When you play with fire, you get burned. 

This article does not attempt, in any way, to portray an accurate portrait of life in Hebron. It clearly portrays the Arabs as the oppressed and the Jews as the oppressors; the Arabs as the victims and the Jews as the culprits. 

Within the article on the Washington Post web site are three featured videos: One with the Arab mayor of Hebron, one calling for expulsion of Jews from Hebron, and one featuring an extreme left-wing Israeli. Why aren't their three videos featuring Hebron Jewish residents? 

A graphic map of Hebron – "Detailed map of Hebron and area surrounding shows locations of checkpoints, roadblocks and settlements.," is totally inaccurate, making it look as if almost all of Hebron is under Israeli rule. This is misleading and false, being that an overwhelming majority of Hebron is under the rule of the P.A.

It is unfortunate that the Washington Post should see fit to print Wilson's shabby, one-sided, biased piece of yellow journalism.


David Wilder
The Jewish Community of Hebron

From: Leo Rennert
To: Scott Wilson, Washington Post Editors and Ombudsman
Date: July 26, 2007

Hi Scott,

Your lengthy, front page article, "In Divided Hebron, a Shared Despair," doesn't exactly set a standard for fair reporting. While you describe the difficult living conditions of both Palestinians and Jews, you heavily tilt the scales against the latter. You describe Jewish residents as "settlers," neglecting to give readers an insight into the lengthy Jewish presence -- about 3,000 years or more -- in Hebron. Nor do you fairly deal with the respective religious claims of Muslims and Jews.

Let's start with history -- old and new -- that's absent form your article:

Hebron is the oldest Jewish community in the world. It was Israel's first capital. King David was anointed there and reigned there for seven years before he proceeded to Jerusalem. The Jewish presence in Hebron precedes the advent of Islam by eons. There was an almost continuous Jewish presence in Hebron for about 2,000 years AFTER the Roman conquest -- right on through the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke and Ottoman periods. Hebron did not become "Judenrein" in modern times until a series of pogroms culminating in an especially brutal mass murder of 67 Jews in 1929 when what remained of the Jewish community was forced to flee. Israel's victory in the 1967 war restored a relatively brief absence of Jews in Hebron.

Now, let's deal with religious claims to Hebron, which you and the Post badly mangle and misrepresent:

The key shrine in Hebron is the Cave of the Patriarchs. The Book of Genesis gives a very detailed account of the first real estate transaction in biblical history. Abraham, the patriarch of both Jew and Muslims, bought it from a Hittite landowner, cash on the barrelhead, as a burial ground for himself and HIS JEWISH DESCENDANTS.

What you fail to point out is that the Cave of the Patriarchs is far more sacred to Jews than to Muslims. Why? Because there are 3 generations of patriarchs and matriarchs buried there -- all of them progenitors of the Jewish people. Muslims trace their tie to Abraham through his son Ishmael. Ishmael is NOT buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs. But besides Abraham, the cave contains the tombs of five more exclusively Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs, none of whom bear any connection to Muslims. They are Abraham's wife Sarah (a matriarch only to Jews; Ishmael was born to Hagar); Abraham's son Isaac, his wife Rebecca, Isaac's son Jacob, and his wife Leah. No wonder that the Cave of the Patriarchs is Judaism's second holiest shrine (after the Western Wall in Jerusalem) but does not rank anywhere near the top of sacred Muslim shrines (it's certainly not in the same league as Mecca, Medina or the Temple Mount in Jerusalem).

But you and the Post brush all this biblical history aside and actually make it seem that the Cave of the Patriarchs is HOLIER TO MUSLIMS THAN TO JEWS! For one thing you give precedence to Muslim religious claims when you refer to it as the Ibrahim Mosque and, in the only reference to why this is such a holy place, you write that it's "sacred to MUSLIMS AND JEWS (note the sequence), who believe Abraham, Isaac and other biblical figures are buried in grottos beneath it." Muslims might disagree with you when you toss Isaac into the equation since he's NOT part of their family tree.

The denigration of pre-eminent Jewish religious claims is even more pronounced in the front-page graphic of Hebron, which pinpoints the location of this holy shrine in bold letters as the "Ibrahim Mosque" and in less eye-catching type as the "Tomb of the Patriarchs." Thus, as far as the article and the graphic are concerned, you and the Post relegate Hebron's sacred status for Jews into a second-class, rear-of-the-bus category.

Given the precarious and often hostile co-existence of Israelis and Palestinians in Hebron, the implicit message of your article is that, since there are so many more of the latter than the former, it's the Jewish "settlers" who are the basic problem and getting them out of Hebron (so it would again become Judenrein) is the only solution. Not going to happen.

Any realistic solution has to start with Hebron's transcendent religious significance -- to both sides, but more so to Jews.

Clinton and Netanyahu tried to solve the problem with a division of the city as a mainly Palestinian place with a small, protected Jewish enclave -- AND WITH SEPARATE AND EQUAL ACCESS TO JEWISH AND MUSLIM WORSHIPPERS AT THE CAVE OF THE PATRIARCHS.

That it hasn't worked as well as one might have hoped, I grant you. But the real obstacle, which you totally ignore, is that there is a long history of Arab and Palestinian intolerance when it comes to Jewish religious shrines. From 1949 to 1967, when Jordan ruled both Hebron and the Old City of Jerusalem, Jewish worshippers were denied access to the Western Wall and the Cave of the Patriarchs. During the same period, Jordanian forces desecrated several centuries-old synagogues in Jerusalem, using some of them as barns for their cavalry horses. Jordan dug up Jewish tombstones on the Mt. of Olives and used them to pave a road. Palestinians in the 1990s during the Oslo heydays when they had control over major cities in the West Bank desecrated Joseph's Tomb in Nablus and used Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem for target practice. With that kind of history, is it any great surprise that a major IDF presence is needed in Hebron to protect Jewish access to the Cave of the Patriarchs? Widespread anti-Semitic incitement in Palestinian media also doesn't help generate confidence that a Palestinian takeover of all of Hebron would allow unimpeded Jewish access to the Cave of the Patriarchs.

But instead of getting to the nub of the problem, you prefer to tilt your article toward the plight of the Palestinians, ending with an up-close, personal description of a Palestinian funeral of a 67-year-old shepherd shot by IDF forces as they came looking for his son and were attacked ("accosted" as you put it) by family members, one of whom even tried to snatch a soldier's gun. Why the IDF wanted this 18-year-old you never bother to inform readers, although it might put the incident in a more objective light. Instead, you prefer to play on reader's emotions with a final paragraph of poetic empathy for Palestinians, which you seldom if ever show for Israeli Jews:

"Men and boys bore Yehiya's wooden stretcher up the hill, pausing to allow mourners to kiss his face. Some held Hamas flags, and the angry chants celebrating martyrdom carried down to the soldiers at the settlers' new home. Then, after tipping the body into the dry ground, the men wandered back down the hill into the divided city."

Perhaps one of these days, you'll find time to do a similar, heart-breaking article about mourners in Sderot after some of the thousands of Qassam rockets that have rained down on this Israeli town kill a few more of its residents. Your Hebron piece conspicuously points up your persistent disinterest in the pain and personal tragedies of Israeli families.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Use Of The Op-Ed Pages As A Pretext for Advancing A Newspaper's Agenda - Reader Points Out False Statement of Fact in Robert Novak Column - Post Bends Over Backward To Defend The Statement

When the Washington Post and New York Times recently published an op-ed piece by a prominent Hamas official, Ahmed Yousef, a furor was raised over the journalistic impropriety of publishing opinion columns replete with propaganda by terrorists. An Eye On The Post representative was interviewed along with officials of various other organizations for a piece in the Jerusalem Post on the subject. ('Times' Slammed Over Op-Eds By Hamas Official, Jerusalem Post, 6-23-07) We noted that apart from the extremely valuable publicity and support this gives to extremist organizations, it improperly allows these organizations to spread blatant falsehoods. This is not the first time the Post has published articles by leaders of terrorist organizations. The newspaper improperly turns a blind eye to the lies contained in these screeds, ostensibly because they are opinion pieces. However, a lie isn't any less a lie when embedded in an opinion piece, and the reality is that publishing such propaganda pieces often serves to advance the agenda of the paper itself. The Washington Post seeks to insulate itself from such criticism by offering columns by Charles Krauthammer, an Israel supporter, and rare pieces by other prominent Israel supporters, but those articles are published much less frequently than pieces by Israel's enemies, and they don't contain blatant falsehoods.

We recently received an interesting email exchange between Stephen Silver, a long time reader and critic of the Post's reporting about Israel, Autumn Brewington, the Post's Assistant Editorial Page Editor, and Deborah Howell, the Post's Ombudsman. The topic of the exchange was a column by long time Israel basher, Robert Novak. 

To: Eye On The Post, Inc.
From: Stephen A. Silver
Date: June 29, 2007

My exchange with Post Assistant Editorial Page Editor Autumn Brewington : 

Here's the exchange: 

This is regarding Novak's April 9, 2007 column, in which he stated that "most" of Israel's security barrier is a "big, ugly and intimidating wall." I pointed out that:

"In Robert Novak's April 9 column "Worse Than Apartheid?" he falsely states that the Israeli-West Bank 'separation barrier in most places is a big, ugly and intimidating wall, not merely a fence.' This is false. In fact, 95 percent of Israel's security barrier is a fence, not a wall. Only five percent is a wall -- a far cry from 'most.'

This outrage comes just days after another Novak column, "Missed Opportunity for Peace" (April 5), in which Novak falsely stated that Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert rejects 'any discussion of a return of Arab refugees to greater Palestine.' His choice of words was mystifying. Either Mr. Novak was trying to fool his readers into believing that Olmert rejects the settlement of Arabs in a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank -- which is patently false -- or by 'greater Palestine,' Novak specifically meant Israel and Israel alone, which would mean he was denying Israel's very existence. 

As the late U.S. senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) famously said, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." When Mr. Novak has to fabricate facts in order to support his views, he is no longer expressing opinions. Post readers deserve better! 

Stephen Silver"

Assistant Editorial Page Editor Autumn Brewington wrote me to ask: 

"Do you have concrete evidence [ironic choice of words! - Stephen] that the Israeli security wall is in fact a fence in 95 percent of its area?" 

I responded that I did, and supplied citations including the official Israeli government web site for the security barrier, an Israeli Supreme Court opinion, and a Wikipedia entry. 

Brewington initially ignored me, so I followed up with another letter to ombudsman Deborah Howell, copied to Brewington, in which I reiterated the complaint as well as pointed out Brewington's failure to respond to my reply to her earlier letter. This elicited a response from Brewington, who tersely stated that my citation to Wikipedia was "not reliable," ignored my other citations, and added that I should write her if I had "credible evidence," but otherwise to drop it. 

I responded with the following letter (this time incorporating additional citations generously provided to me by CAMERA's Lee Green, Gilead Ini and Ricki Hollander): 

"Dear Ms. Brewington, 

When an opinion writer falsifies facts to bolster his views, he is no longer expressing an opinion. 

Mr. Novak falsified a fact in his April 9, 2007 column when he stated that 'the separation barrier in most places is a big, ugly and intimidating wall, not merely a fence.' In fact, only 5 percent -- a far cry from 'most' -- of the barrier is a wall; 95 percent is a fence. Since you do not accept the Wikipedia, Israeli government, and Israeli Supreme Court citations I provided as reliable evidence, let me offer the following additional sources which I hope do meet your high standards: 

(1) According to a May 19, 2006 Associated Press story by Josef Federman: 

'Almost all of the barrier consists of 3-meter (10-foot) electronically monitored fences sandwiched between patrol roads, razor wire and ditches. The remainder, about 5 percent, is made of huge concrete slabs roughly 8 meters (25 feet) tall.'

(2) And writing about the separation barrier in The New York Times (April 16, 2006), Steve Erlanger, Jerusalem bureau chief for the Times, wrote: 

'only 5 percent is concrete wall' 

(3) And according to a law review article in the Northwestern University Journal of Human Rights titled "The Applicability of the Regime of Human Rights in Times of Armed Conflict and Particularly to Occupied Territories: The Case of Israel's Security Barrier": 

'Of the approximately 130 miles which have been completed, more than ninety-five percent of Israel's barrier is chain-link fence, while some segments of concrete wall, consisting of about five percent of its length, were placed along some inter-city highways to deter terrorist sniping at passing Israeli civilian vehicles as has been taking place for years, and in some populated places to minimize the amount of land that must be used to construct an antiterrorist barrier. [Citations omitted]'

I could provide additional sources, but I believe I have made my point. The inescapable fact remains that you have before you evidence that one of your most prominent writers, Robert Novak, falsified a fact in his April 9, 2007 Washington Post column in order to smear an entire people, and you appear to be perfectly content not to say or do anything about it. 

If you do not consider the citations I have provided -- which now include the AP and New York Times -- to be credible sources, you are perfectly welcome to do additional research yourself. Somehow, I suspect that was just an excuse, and that you will do nothing about this. I hope I am proved wrong. 

I await your response. 

Stephen Silver "

On April 16, 2007, I received the following reply: 

" Mr. Silver,

We're looking into your concerns and will get back to you."

However, on April 19, 2007, Brewington replied (dismissively): 

"I raised your concerns about Robert Novak's recent column with him, and he said that 'the significant part of the Israeli security barrier in Jerusalem and its environs is a nearly continuous high concrete wall.' 

He also said that: 'The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs asserts that most of the barrier in Jerusalem and other populated areas (such as Qalqilya) is a concrete wall.' 

Thank you for writing."

On April 19, 2007, I replied: 

"Dear Ms. Brewington, 

Mr. Novak's 'clarification' is not responsive to the concern I raised. 

You 'explained' that Mr. Novak told you that 'the significant part of the Israeli security barrier in Jerusalem and its environs is a nearly continuous high concrete wall.' 

But Novak's April 9 column stated that the Israeli-West Bank 'separation barrier in most places is a big, ugly and intimidating wall, not merely a fence.' He mentioned this after noting that Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey took a tour of Jerusalem, but he DID NOT SAY that the separation barrier is mostly a wall MERELY IN JERUSALEM -- rather, he said that the 'SEPARATION BARRIER IN MOST PLACES is a big, ugly and intimidating wall.' 

The clear implication from Novak's column is that the ENTIRE BARRIER is mostly wall, when in fact 95 percent of it is a fence, not a wall, as I have gone to great lengths to inform you. Even read in the most generous light possible, Mr. Novak's column is extremely deceptive. More to the point, taken in the way most readers will absorb the statement in question, it is outright false. 

At a very minimum, I would think the responsible thing for you to do would be to clarify this point for your readers, preferably in Mr. Novak's column, or at least in the corrections section and/or in Ms. Howell's column. I am deeply disappointed that it appears you have instead decided to do nothing. 

Incidentally, I have never heard anything about my earlier complaint concerning another recent Novak column, "Missed Opportunity for Peace" (April 5). In that column, Novak stated that Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert rejects 'any discussion of a return of Arab refugees to greater Palestine.' 

As I previously noted, Novak's choice of words was mystifying. Mr. Olmert was an architect of Israel's Gaza withdrawal initiative and campaigned on his plan to withdraw unilaterally from most of the West Bank. The only place where Olmert rejects the return of Arab refugees is Israel itself, not the West Bank or Gaza. So either Mr. Novak was trying to fool his readers into believing that Olmert rejects the settlement of Arabs in a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank -- which is patently false -- or by 'greater Palestine,' Novak specifically meant Israel and Israel alone. 

As with the April 9 statement about the barrier, Mr. Novak's April 5 statement about Olmert's views was, at its most generous, extremely deceptive. And here, too, Novak's statement, taken in the way most readers will absorb it, was either a gross misrepresentation of Mr. Olmert's well-documented moderate views or a grossly offensive rejection of Israel's very existence as an independent state. 

It is deeply disappointing that the Post does not seem to be concerned with clarifying the facts when it comes to Mr. Novak's false and deceptive comments about Israel. Yes, Mr. Novak is a columnist, and can express whatever opinions he wishes to spout. But when he uses the Post's editorial page to spread false statements or make grotesquely deceptive attacks on the Jewish state, the Post ceases to be a source of information and becomes instead a propaganda tool. 

As someone who grew up reading (and occasionally helping my then-best friend deliver) the Washington Post, I care deeply about this newspaper's integrity. When I read false and deceptive pieces like the recent outrageous and offensive columns by Mr. Novak, I take that offense personally. I believe that Post readers deserve better.

I continue to await a satisfactory response to either of my complaints about Mr. Novak's recent columns." 

On April 20, 2007, Brewington responded: 

"My e-mail to you yesterday noted that Robert Novak responded to your questions by saying: 'The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs asserts that most of the barrier in Jerusalem and other populated areas (such as Qalqilya) is a concrete wall.' Unless you have proof that this is incorrect, that the U.N. office does not in fact say that or that the U.N. office is wrong, I will not look into this matter further. 

I will, however, ask Mr. Novak about your concern with language in his April 5 column." 

That same day, I replied: 

"Dear Ms. Brewington,

I am not disputing what Mr. Novak told YOU about the U.N. Office's assertion. Rather, I am disputing what Mr. Novak said in his COLUMN. Mr. Novak's column DID NOT say the security barrier is mostly a wall ONLY around Jerusalem and in populated areas. Rather, he said that the Israeli-West Bank 'separation barrier in most places is a big, ugly and intimidating wall, not merely a fence.' 

Therefore, regardless of what he told YOU, the fact remains that his COLUMN was factually incorrect. I refer you to the citations I have previously provided you. 

Unless you have evidence that the New York Times, AP, and other sources I provided are wrong, and Mr. Novak's COLUMN is correct, I will continue to pursue the correction Mr. Novak's false assertion clearly requires.

Thank you for looking into my other complaint as well."

Brewington never did write back.

I have since written both Ms. Brewington and Post Ombudsman Deborah Howell (the entire correspondence was cc:'d to Ms. Howell) several times regarding this matter. All of my e-mails on this subject since April 20 have been ignored. 

Stephen Silver

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Washington Post Correspondent's Opinionated Articles Are Inconsistent on Their Face, But Unifying Theme Is His Advocacy of Any View That Blames Israel

Seeking to avoid accusations that his news reports contain direct expressions of his opinion, Washington Post correspondent Scott Wilson utilizes selective quotations of others to express his own thinly veiled and often inconsistent, pro-Palestinian agenda. Before Israel vacated Gaza, he laced his articles with quotes blaming Israel's occupation of Gaza for all of the ills of Gazans, ignoring the complete impoverishment of the Gaza Strip from time immemorial. When Israel proposed to vacate Gaza, he dusted his articles with quotes opposing doing so without negotiating the evacuation, as if there was anything to negotiate in a complete and total exit. After Israel vacated Gaza, he either completely ignored, downplayed or disseminated quotes of others blaming Israel for the continuing violence that Palestinians instigated against Israel from within Gaza. When in response to that continuing violence Israel declined to open up the terrorist floodgates by allowing open crossings from Gaza into Israel, Wilson broadcast quotes of others arguing that Israel was adding to the economic hardship of Gazans. When Hamas was voted to power, he quoted others to argue that rather than showing support for the violence of Hamas, the vote was a rejection by Palestinians of the corruption and inefficiency of Fatah and a vote in favor of the social programs of Hamas. He now inconsistently quotes others to argue that this vote was a show of support for Hamas for driving Israelis out of Gaza. Now that Hamas has violently ejected Fatah from any presence in Gaza or participation in the governing of Gaza, Wilson quotes others to argue that Israel is at fault for radicalizing the Palestinian population. And in a front page article this past Saturday, Wilson pulled from his grab bag of blame-Israel quotations the absurd argument that even though Israel has absolutely no military or civilian presence in Gaza, it is still occupying Gaza and has a moral responsibility for the welfare of the Palestinians in Gaza. (With Hamas Takeover, Tough Calls for Israel, New Military, Human Questions in Gaza, 6-30-07, A01

It is important to note that this is much more than an argument for the moral responsibility of all mankind to help alleviate the suffering of fellow human beings. This is an argument that Israel still occupies Gaza and, therefore, owes the Palestinians in Gaza a moral duty to provide for their well being ... even as they bombard Israelis with rockets, smuggle weapons into Gaza to use against Israelis and plot the murders of Israeli civilians.

 "The United Nations still classifies Gaza and the West Bank as Israeli-occupied territory."

"'Israel, as the occupying power, is responsible for the health and welfare of the occupied population in Gaza,' Kennedy said. 'Whether they do it on their own or have someone else do it for them, that's another matter.'"

 Judge Grossman's letter below illustrates the one consistent aspect of Mr. Wilson's agenda driven reporting - that it always finds and offers its readers arguments that criticize and blame Israel, regardless of their merits, and it rarely, if ever, points out the opposing Israeli position. How hard would it have been for Mr. Wilson to find an Israeli to address the ridiculous notion that Israel still occupies Gaza and owes a duty to the people who support and harbor those who daily attack it?

To: Washington Post Editors and Publisher 
From: Judge Herbert Grossman 
Date: July 2, 2007 

To the Editor: 

Someone told reporter Scott Wilson that Mahmoud Abbas, then completely in charge of the pre-Hamas Palestinian government, who had been demanding an Israeli withdrawal from the disputed territories for decades, warned Israel against withdrawing from the Gaza Strip. Wilson duly reports this and blames Israel for the subsequent Hamas takeover, in "With Hamas Takeover, Tough Calls for Israel" (front page, June 30). 

Someone also told Wilson that Israel's closure of border passages because of security concerns is what caused Gaza’s new economy to collapse, and he reports that, too. 

And someone also told him that, even with Israel's total withdrawal from Gaza, it is still the "occupying power" and responsible for the health and welfare of its population. 

Wilson also tells us that the Saudi "peace plan," which would require Israel to admit over four million jihadist Palestinians to Israel proper (and undoubtedly cause its immediate destruction), is a "just" solution to the Palestinian refugee problem. 

Hey, Scott, global warming is all Israel's fault, too! So are earthquakes, hurricanes, poverty, and illness, and it is Israel's responsibility to cure them. 

Please spell my name correctly when you report this. 


Judge Herbert Grossman
[Herbert Grossman, author of the book "J'Accuse the N.Y. Times and Washington Post: Biased Reporting from the Middle East," is a full time Federal Administrative Law Judge]

Monday, July 2, 2007

Post Continues To Refine Its Euphemisms For Palestinian Terrorists - Previously They Were "Militants" - Now They Are "Fighters" - And In Headlines Reporting Terrorist Deaths, Just Plain "Palestinians"

Even the standard Washington Post euphemisms for the word terrorist, "militant" and "gunman," no longer meet the Post's needs in crafting headlines to distort the news. Selective and highly pinpointed airstrikes on Saturday by the IDF against terrorists in Gaza in which only terrorists were killed, resulted in the following Washington Post headline in Sunday's paper:

"Seven Palestinians Die In Israeli Strikes On Gaza"

And it wasn't just the headline that was designed to mislead readers. The article in the World in Brief section that featured the above headline contained the following statement describing Israel's defensive purpose in striking at the terrorists in Gaza:

"Israel's six successive attacks, aimed at increasing military pressure on the Hamas-ruled territory it wants to isolate, came three days after an offensive in which 12 Palestinians were killed in the territory."

Israel's purpose is described as aggressive and unprovoked, with no context provided of the steady stream of rockets being launched from Gaza into Israel, the smuggling of weapons into Gaza to use against Israel, the manufacture of terrorist bombs to blow up Israelis and the plotting of terrorist suicide attacks on innocent Israeli civilians. Readers are being told that Israel is doing this simply to create pressure on Gaza and Hamas.

A bit of additional research reveals the Post's effort to soften the image of Palestinian terrorists. The article is almost a word for word version of the first four paragraphs of a Reuters article that ran on the Post's web site, but not in the paper. The only significant change was that wherever Reuters called the terrorists "militants," the Washington Post substituted "fighters." 

Reuters: "Israel killed seven Palestinians in a series of air strikes in Gaza on Saturday, including three senior Islamic Jihad militants...."

Post: "Israel killed seven Palestinians in a series of airstrikes in Gaza on Saturday, including three senior Islamic Jihad fighters...."

Reuters: "An Israeli military spokesman confirmed three aerial attacks in Gaza, among them one that targeted a car of Gaza militants...."

Post: "An Israeli military spokesman confirmed three aerial attacks in Gaza, including one that targeted a car carrying fighters...."

Reuters: "Palestinian security sources and witnesses said the three militants killed in the first strike in the town of Khan Younis were commanders of the Islamic Jihad group in Gaza."

Post: "Palestinian security sources and witnesses said the three fighters killed in the first strike were commanders of the Islamic Jihad group in Gaza."

In judging the appropriateness of the Post's use of the term "fighters" to describe Saturday's IDF targets, it is important to remember that they included a bomb maker and a car carrying terrorists who plotted a previous suicide bomb attack. Perhaps the Post editor responsible for the change in terminology from "militants" to "fighters" was seeking to convey a broader impression from use of the term "fighters" ... As in "freedom fighters" perhaps?

And we weren't surprised to see that the Post didn't include this item from the same Reuter's report: 

"Hamas rejected Abbas's call for the deployment of international troops in Gaza, vowing to attack them like other 'occupation forces.'"

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