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Eye On The PostARCHIVE NOV 06 TO JUNE 07

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The "T" Word 
The Post Won't Use It In Describing Palestinian Terrorists, But They Will Quote A Palestinian Terrorist Calling A Palestinian Terrorist A Terrorist

Who could fail to see the humor and irony of the Post's unwillingness to use the "T" word in describing Palestinian terrorists (as opposed to their willingness to use it in describing terrorists in other regions of the world) juxtaposed against one of the financers of the Munich Massacre using it to describe his brethren?

"Abbas harshly criticized Hamas in a speech Wednesday, saying that 'there was no dialogue with those murderous terrorists.'" (Israel Allows Some Palestinians to Leave Gaza, Military Battles Gunmen In Strip and West Bank, 6- 21-07,  A12)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Credit Where Credit is Due, But Hamas's Violent Nature Shouldn't Have Been Airbrushed For So Long

For a very long time our letters and Alerts have noted that Washington Post Middle East correspondent, Scott Wilson, tells only 1/2 and 1/4 truths when he describes Hamas as simply an Islamic group that doesn't recognize Israel or an Islamic group that advocates a Palestinian state on land that includes Israel. We've pointed out that Mr. Wilson's choice of terminology eliminates all suggestion or hint of Hamas's daily advocacy and incitement of the use of violence to destroy Israel. 

For whatever reason, Scott Wilson has just decided to tell 3/4 of the truth, rather than only 1/2 or 1/4. Perhaps in the face of Hamas's violent elimination of Fatah from Gaza he has come to the realization that the Hamas he felt was not so bad is actually.... so bad. 

The following are examples of Mr. Wilson's improved terminology in three different reports over the past week. Note the difference:

"Their broader ideological differences have made their struggle irreconcilable so far: Fatah, a secular movement that recognizes Israel, favors negotiations to achieve a Palestinian state; Hamas, formally known as the Islamic Resistance Movement, which the United States, Israel and the European Union consider a terrorist organization, advocates Israel's destruction." (Hamas Bolsters Its Hold In Gaza, Fatah Is Pressed To Abandon Posts, Thursday, June 14, 2007; Page A01)

"The two parties have different visions of a future Palestinian state, with Fatah favoring peace with Israel and Hamas advocating its eradication...." (Palestinian Battles Raise Fears of Coup And Civil War, Wednesday, June 13, 2007; Page A01)

"Hamas, an armed Islamic movement that does not recognize Israel, and Fatah, a secular party that does, have fought periodically since Hamas defeated Fatah in January 2006 parliamentary elections. .... Ideological differences have also proved intractable .... Abbas has called for peace talks with Israel, while the Hamas charter calls for the Jewish state's destruction." (Abbas Dissolves Government As Hamas Takes Control of Gaza, Friday, June 15, 2007; Page A01)

Why did it take a violent coup by Hamas against Fatah to shake Mr. Wilson into reporting the truth about the violence that suffuses all of Hamas's activities. Why did Mr. Wilson for so long sanitize his treatment of Hamas in his reports? Regardless of the reasons, he should be commended for finally reporting more accurately on the parties involved in the Arab Israeli conflict.

Also of interest is Wilson's reporting of Iranian backing of Hamas, a fact that Wilson has previously withheld and is now reporting, however briefly, for the very first time on the pages of the Washington Post:

"The conflict is complicated by U.S. and Israeli efforts to help Fatah contain Hamas, which is supported by Iran." (Palestinian Battles Raise Fears of Coup And Civil War, Wednesday, June 13, 2007; Page A01)

Would it be too much to ask Mr. Wilson, or if he's not willing, another reporter at the Washington Post, to provide more information on the Iranian backing of Hamas? Isn't this something readers are entitled to know?

Monday, May 28, 2007

To The Post Israeli Deaths By Hamas Rockets Not Worth Much Attention

The deaths of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis get headline attention at the Post, but the deaths of Israelis by Hamas rockets (rockets that the Post loves to depict as not much of a threat and not worthy of an Israeli military response) are worth about.... 2 sentences. On Sunday an Israeli in Sderot was killed by a Hamas rocket, the second Israeli to die in the past week as a result of the Hamas bombardment of Sderot with over 200 rockets during the same period. In Monday's paper the Post relegated the Israeli death to the "World in Brief" section, giving it only these few words:

A Hamas rocket fired from the Gaza Strip killed an Israeli, the second to die in fighting in a week. Oshri Oz, 35, was killed while driving in Sderot.

Of course, Mr. Oz was not involved in "fighting." He was minding his own business, driving in Sderot, when he was hit by the Hamas rocket. Much more could have been said about him. He was the father of two, the husband of a pregnant wife (who learned of his death on the internet) and a friend to many. None of it was important to the Post, whose correspondent doesn't visit Sderot and who has no stringers on the ground in Sderot, as it does in Gaza. And most importantly, Oz was a civilian deliberately targeted by Hamas rockets. How much space and attention would the Post give it if Israel started deliberately trying to kill Palestinian civilians in Gaza? 

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Scott Wilson Deserves Slight Credit Where Credit Is Due - Still Not Enough

We've criticized Scott Wilson and the Post in the past for: 

  • using terminology to describe Hamas with the violence stripped out of it, i.e., "an extremist Islamic movement" that "does not recognize Israel's right to exist" or a group "whose charter calls for the creation of a future Islamic state across territory that now includes the Jewish state."

  • refusing to use the words terrorists or terrorism where they are applicable, and, instead, euphemizing them by referring to terrorists as "gunmen," even (absurdly) when no guns at all are involved.

  • Deliberately burying Hamas's rocketing of the Israeli town of Sderot toward the end of his articles, while giving early and prominent placement to Israeli airstrikes, thereby giving the erroneous impression that Israel's airstrikes against Hamas are aggressive, belligerent and unprovoked, rather than a response to more than 100 Hamas rockets launched at Israel during a period of time in which Israel refrained from responding.

Perhaps someone is starting to get the point, and we should give some credit where credit is due. In Sunday's report by Wilson he added the word "armed" to his description of Hamas as an "armed group that denies Israel's right to exist." (Israeli Airstrike Kills Five Hamas Gunmen, 2nd Palestinian Cabinet Minister Seized, 5-27-07, A22) This half-hearted improvement still doesn't tell the whole truth by noting that Hamas advocates and actively incites Palestinian men, women and children to violently seek the destruction of Israel. However, it's a slight improvement and, hopefully, a beginning.

In this report Mr. Wilson for the first time clearly described Hamas's rocketing of Sderot as the provocation and motivation for Israel's airstrikes, noted that it "terrorized residents of several border towns" and elevated Hamas's rocketing to paragraph two:

"A 10th day of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza and the arrest of Wasfi Kabha, the Palestinian minister of state, underscored Israel's determination to end Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza that has terrorized residents of several border towns in southern Israel."

It's unfortunate that the Post's headline writer doesn't also desist from depicting Israel's military response in isolation and out of context from the rocketing that provoked it. A more appropriate headline would have been "Hamas Rockets Continue, Israel Kills Five Hamas Militants, Seizes Cabinet Minister." 

In addition, it shouldn't be much of a logical jump for Mr. Wilson, who described the Israeli civilian victims as having been "terrorized," to understand that deliberately terrorizing a civilian population solely for the sake of political aims is "terrorism" and the folks that launch the rockets are "terrorists." 

However, this was a more balanced report by Mr.Wilson, and we hope it continues.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Post Continues To Employ Language Casting Israel As The Aggressor In Responding With Airstrikes To Hamas's Round The Clock Rocketing

This was the Washington Post's headline of a Sunday article on the continuing Hamas rocketing of Israel and Israel's response:

Israeli Airstrikes Leave 7 Palestinians Dead

Couldn't the Post have just as easily written the headline as follows? 

Hamas Rocketing and Israeli Response Leave 7 Palestinian Suspects Dead

And this was the opening sentence of the Post article:

"Israel killed four Palestinians Saturday in airstrikes targeting Hamas fighters as it tried to stop makeshift missiles being fired from the Gaza Strip. On Sunday, Israel killed three suspected Hamas fighters in one of four pre-dawn airstrikes in Gaza."

Couldn't the opening sentence have just as easily been written: 

"Hamas fighters continued to launch rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip on Saturday, resulting in Israeli airstrikes that killed 4 suspected Hamas fighters on Saturday and three on Sunday in one of four pre-dawn airstrikes in Gaza." 

Why do Post headlines and articles always cast Israel as the aggressor?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

To The Washington Post and Scott Wilson, It's Always About Israel - Even As Palestinian On Palestinian Violence Rages Out Of Control, They Continue To Blame Israel, Soften Hamas's Image, Focus Spotlight On Israel's Air Strikes In Gaza, And Downplay Hamas's Rocketing As The Provocation For Israel's Response

It's always about Israel. The story this week was internecine fighting among Palestinians in Gaza, with Israel only a marginal participant after it was forced by Hamas's incessant rocketing to launch defensive air strikes. The Post, however, sought to focus readers' attention on Israel. This effort was taken to a ridiculous extreme on Thursday with a photograph accompanying an article written by the Post's correspondent in Israel, Scott Wilson. Wilson's article dealt exclusively with the fighting in Gaza. Nothing at all about the West Bank was even mentioned, because it was, essentially, quiet. (Gaza Fighting Intensifies, Leaving at Least 21 Dead, Israel Attacks Hamas After Rocket Strikes, 5-17-07, A10) Yet the Post accompanied this article with a close up, front view photograph of a Palestinian mother and her two children cowering in fear as they peered around a corner at something not in the picture. For all the reader knows it could have been Palestinians in the streets of Gaza fighting each other. Yet, despite the absence of any mention at all of the West Bank in the article, and despite the absence of any news at all from the West Bank, the caption stated: "Palestinians watch Israeli soldiers carry out operations in the West Bank."

Wilson continues to deliberately soften the image of Hamas by describing the group in euphemistic terms that hide its dedication to the violent elimination of Israel. To Wilson Hamas is nothing more than "an extremist Islamic movement" that "does not recognize Israel's right to exist" or a group "whose charter calls for the creation of a future Islamic state across territory that now includes the Jewish state." It's bad enough that the Post and Wilson will not use the word "terrorist" to describe what these people really are. However, note the absence of any suggestion of violence in Wilson's descriptions of the terrorists. Wilson actively hides Hamas's advocacy and incitement of violence; incitement that appears in its charter, in the every day speeches of its leaders, and in the education of its children. 

Furthermore, with Wilson depicting Hamas as the party of the poor and downtrodden, it has little need for its own propagandist. This is how Wilson describes Hamas: "Hamas's militant brand of Islam has given it dominant political standing in impoverished Gaza, where many of its leaders were born or arrived as refugees, while Fatah remains strong in the wealthier and more secular West Bank."

Again trying to make Israel the lead story and insinuate Israel into the fighting between Hamas and Fatah, the Post on Friday featured a front page Scott Wilson article trumpeting Israel as having "allowed" Fatah fighters to pass from Egypt into Gaza. (Fatah Troops Enter Gaza With Israeli Assent, Hundreds Were Trained in Egypt Under U.S.-Backed Program to Counter Hamas, 5-18-07, Page A01) He complains about the "increasingly partisan role that Israel and the Bush administration are taking in the volatile Palestinian political situation." In the fourth paragraph of this article Wilson reports Thursday's Israeli air strikes and resulting Palestinian deaths as if they were unprovoked, conveniently forgetting at this early point in the article to mention the week during which Hamas ratcheted up its rocketing of Israel: 

"Israel on Thursday also carried out a series of airstrikes against Hamas targets across Gaza, killing at least six gunmen. [Additional airstrikes early Friday killed four people, doctors in Gaza told the Associated Press.]"

It isn't until well off the front page and into the interior of the paper that Wilson remembers the Hamas rocketing and Israeli injuries that spurred the Israeli response.

And again on Saturday Israel was the focus of the Post's reporting, with Palestinian factional fighting depicted as of secondary importance and Israeli strikes against Palestinians, without any mention of the provocation, being featured by the Washington Post in its headline. (Israel Hits Gaza as Factions Battle, Hamas Accuses Fatah of Collusion, 5-19-07, A13) The headline, however, wasn't the only distortion. Scott Wilson's report itself was skewed. This was his opening sentence:

"Israeli aircraft pounded border posts, headquarters buildings and cars across the northern Gaza Strip on Friday, killing at least seven Hamas gunmen as they confronted their armed rivals from the Fatah party in the streets."

We can give Wilson the benefit of the doubt on the ambiguity in that sentence that makes it appear that Israeli forces are fighting Palestinians in the streets of Gaza. However, note the absence of any mention of Hamas rocketing as the provocation for the Israeli air strikes. Why the silence in the opening paragraph Scott? 

Again, in paragraph five Wilson reports that "at least 19 Palestinians, all of them apparently Hamas gunmen, have been killed in Israeli airstrikes" without mentioning anything about the provocation for the air strikes. Why the silence here Scott? 

In fact, it isn't until the closing paragraphs of the article that there is any mention at all of the Hamas rocketing of Israel that preceded Israel's air strikes this week.  When Mr. Wilson finally gets around to mentioning those rockets - over 100 of which were fired during a five day period of time - he strips his comments of any suggestion that Hamas's rocketing provoked the Israeli response. 

What is the matter with a reporter who reports in the opening paragraph of his article that Israel attacked and killed Palestinians but waits until the very end of the article to say why?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Post Continues Its Agenda to Downplay and Minimize Threat of Middle East Islamicization

It is no wonder Washington Post reporter Anthony Shadid would be honored by an Arab American propaganda group and would attend and address such a group. Mr. Shadid traveled the countryside in South Lebanon throughout the Israel-Hezbollah war last year filing slanted report after slanted report depicting Israel harshly and Hezbollah and its extremist Shiite civilian support infrastructure in South Lebanon in sympathetic terms. He downplayed Iranian backing for Hezbollah and Hezbollah's provocative and warlike conduct toward Israel. Now he has been sent by the Washington Post to Turkey to file one-sided, glowing, front page analyses (not labeled as such) of the Islamicization of the Turkish government and questioning the wisdom of the popular demonstrations of recent times by millions of Turks opposed to desecularization. (Ruling Party Charms a Turkish City With New Take on Secular Heritage, 5-12-07, A01) At the same time, the Post is downplaying the sheer magnitude of those demonstrations by relegating reports of 1.5 million poster and flag carrying protestors to tiny blurbs in the World in Brief section of the paper. One need only read Mr. Shadid's report about Turkish desecularization to see an agenda at play. He would appear to be an excellent choice for the role of the Post's roving ambassador to Islam.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Post Ignores Incessant Palestinian Rocket Attacks On Israel - Issues Reports Only When Israel Retaliates - Headline and Lead Paragraph Refer to Palestinian Terrorists Targeted By Israel As Only Palestinians - Downplays Impact of Terrorist Rocketing On Israelis - Accepts Without Question Palestinian Witness Accounts and Downplays Israel's Account

From: Leo Rennert
Sent: Sunday, April 22, 2007
To: Washington Post Executives and Ombudsman
Subject: Washington Post's Skewed Reporting Overlooks Palestinian Violence -- Against Israelis and Palestinians

After ignoring for the last several months an almost daily barrage of Qassam rockets fired from Gaza against southern Israeli communities, the Washington Post suddenly woke up in its Sunday, April 22, editions to report, you might have guessed it, a rare counter-strike by Israel. (At Least 6 Palestinians Killed in Israeli Strikes, World In Brief, 4-22-07, A21)

Putting as usual the monkey on Israel's back, the Post reported that Israeli forces killed "at least six Palestinians, including one in an airstrike in the Gaza Strip, IN THE WORST FLARE-UP IN ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN FIGHTING IN MONTHS."

Never mind that the worst flare-up, unbeknownst to Post readers, has occurred without let-up since last November -- with ceaseless Palestinian cross-border attacks against Israel. Back in November, you may recall, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, in return for an Israeli cease-fire on the Gaza front, pledged that ALL Palestinian factions would desist from Gaza-based attacks on Israel. Since then, while Israel has continued to show great restraint, SEVERAL HUNDRED QASSAMS have been fired from Gaza at Sderot, Ashkelon and other southern Israeli targets -- a pattern of Palestinian aggression missing from the Post's daily coverage.

The Post's blindness to the Qassam war against Israel has taken place despite the fact that these rockets, cavalierly dismissed by Post correspondent Scott Wilson as "crude" and "inaccurate," have in fact become increasingly accurate. Sderot residents have been killed and wounded; schoolyards have been hit; Ashkelon industrial areas have borne the brunt of some of the Qassams; kibbutzim in the Negev have been struck. In Sderot especially, because of its proximity to Gaza, the constant blaring of sirens which give residents only seconds to take cover have inflicted incalculable traumas, notably on children.

Wilson, however, consistently has refused to embed himself for several days in Sderot to report on what life is really like there. His agenda is finding news that puts Israel in a bad light.

In Sunday's incident, the Post merely reported that "makeshift" rockets were fired at Sderot, "hitting a house." The Post did not, however, report that six civilians were treated for shock; the NY Times did. The effect of Qassam strikes on real people doesn't interest the Post.

Just think for a moment how the Post would report daily rocket barrages fired by a renegade group from Tijuana at San Diego and its environs, killing and wounding Americans, especially after the president of Mexico ("unoccupied," as is Gaza) had pledged a total cease-fire but did nothing to stop the attacks emanating from his territory. Would the Post not send reporters to San Diego? Would the Post wait for a U.S. counter-strike before surfacing with some coverage? Would the Post commiserate with the president of Mexico and give him the benefit of the doubt? I don't think so.

Yet, in Sunday's editions, this is exactly what the Post has done with regard to Mahmoud Abbas and the incessant Qassam attacks from Gaza. Turning the culprit into a victim, the Post reported that a top Abbas aide, speaking on his behalf, criticized the ISRAELI ACTIONS for jeopardizing "Abbas's efforts to expand the FRAGILE TRUCE from Gaza to the occupied West Bank as part of a U.S.-led peace push." FRAGILE TRUCE? Tell that to the folks in Sderot and Ashkelon. And Abbas, the Post's peacemaker, who has tens of thousands of security personnel under his command but fails to take any steps against Palestinian terrorists? Far be it from the Post to reveal the real Abbas to its readers.

As for the remaining five Palestinians killed on Saturday, the Post reported that 3 were "armed fighters" driving in the West Bank city of Jenin. What the Post DID NOT REPORT, and the NY Times did, is that the 3 men fired first and that 2 rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade were found in their car. 

As for another of the Palestinian casualties, the Post said a Palestinian policeman "was shot and killed by Israeli forces, Palestinian witnesses said." Further exculpating the "policeman," the Post said said these same unidentified witnesses claimed that he was not involved in any way in the fighting but was shot when he just "peered out his window." Only then, as an afterthought, the Post adds that, according to the Israeli army, this same "policeman" was an "armed militant firing from the top of a building." The Post, of course, failed to mention, that Palestinian police and security services are riddled with members who moonlight as terrorists. Instead, the Post puts its credence in the words of anonymous Palestinian witnesses.

By now you get the drift of the Post's typical coverage -- portray Israel as a brutal aggressor, while ignoring or minimizing Palestinian terrorism against Israel.

But that's only the half of it when it comes to the Post's selective coverage with a glaring anti-Israel agenda. The other half consists of the Post's consistent downplaying and/or ignoring of Palestinian on Palestinian violence.

To wit: During the same news cycle covered by the Post's Sunday editions, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about Palestinians bombing and torching the American International School south of Gaza City. This was a private school, run entirely by Palestinians, which received $160,000 this year from the State Department for scholarships for needy students. The masked gunmen who overwhelmed the school's two guards told them, "We are Al-Qaeda in Palestine and our swords will be directed at the throats of the infidels."

Nor was this an isolated incident in "unoccupied" Gaza, where Palestinian security services have free rein to enforce law and order. In recent months, there's been a wave of bombings against Internet cafes, music stores and other recreational centers. The attacks have all the earmarks of a Taliban-style war to enforce a medieval sort of Islamic rule, determined to wipe out all signs of modernity.

You would think that the Post might pay some attention to this worrisome development in Palestinian society and the emergence of Al-Qaeda-type terrorists alongside more traditional Palestinian terrorists. But you would be wrong. Oh yes, the NY Times covered the attack on the American International School in full detail. The Post's coverage was ZILCH.

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Washington Post Depicts Israel As Recalcitrant on Peace Talks For No Apparent Reason - Eliminates Any Mention of Israel's Objection To Recent Formation of Palestinian Unity Government Led By Hamas

It's difficult to understand how the Post could justify the complete failure to provide any context or background for a major part of Glenn Kessler's report yesterday on the Middle East peace efforts of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. (Arab Ministers Agree To Revive Initiative For Mideast Peace, March 27, 2007, A07) The second half of Mr. Kessler's article consisted of six paragraphs depicting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as resisting peace talks. Mr. Kessler employed terminology that effectively  portrayed Israel as obstructing Secretary Rice's mission. He noted Olmert's "refusal to negotiate on core issues of the conflict, such as borders, control of Jerusalem and the settlement of refugees" and that Olmert was "balking at the 'parallel' format and at the scope of the issues Rice wanted to raise." Mr. Kessler commented on Olmert being "noticeably cool to the notion of a new approach," and he even noted that Olmert seemed to be trying to distance himself from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, while relying on President Bush as an active participant in the process. Yet the article said nothing at all about the reasoning behind the policy of Olmert and the Israeli government. The article didn't mention Israel's objection to the recent formation of the Palestinian Unity government with Hamas, the terrorist organization dedicated to Israel's destruction, at its helm. Even if Mr. Kessler doesn't agree with Israel, he should report Israel's reasons. The phrase "unity government" wasn't mentioned. There wasn't even a reference to Hamas. The result was the depiction of Israel as recalcitrant in the peace process for no apparent reason. The failure to address the question "why" was certainly poor journalism. The Post has been repeatedly faulted for this failure to provide background or context that would enable readers to understand Israeli policy and actions. This is a continuation of the same pattern of one sided journalism on subjects relating to Israel.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Washington Post Uses Its World In Brief Section As A Pretext to Publish Distortions and Half Truths About Israel

"A half truth is a whole lie." ~ Yiddish Proverb

"Beware of the half truth. You may have gotten hold of the wrong half." ~ Author Unknown 

Post editors have become adept at taking jabs at Israel by the use of half truths in their "World in Brief" section. They use that section to distort news about Israel by eliminating facts that explain or even work in Israel's favor, while at the same time maintaining the cover that this section is intended for only snippets of news. They publish a few sentences from wire service reports depicting Israel negatively and trim anything positive, explanatory or contextual from the remainder of the report. However, the World in Brief section has never been limited to tiny scraps of news. The same editors never fail to use the same section to publish two or more column inches of news on a particular subject - even the column we're writing about today led with a somewhat larger piece - so the one or two sentence half truths and distortions noted below by Leo Rennert from the March 15, 2007 print edition cannot be justified.

From: Leo Rennert
To: Editors and Publisher of the Washington Post
Date: March 15, 2007
Subject: Washington Post Moves From Spin To Glaring Bias Against Israel

The days when the Washington Post spun or slanted news about Israel are long gone. They've been followed by outright distortion and bias that make a mockery of fair, even-handed journalism. In recent days, the Post's anti-Israel animus has reached new peaks that jump out at you in not just one, not just two, but as many as THREE stories in the same edition. Here are THREE EXHIBITS from the Post's supposed "news" pages in the March 15 edition:

1. In a Jerusalem dateline story, the Post reports that a team of U.N. experts called on Israel to halt excavations near Temple Mount -- "Jerusalem's most sacred site to Muslims" -- and proceed only under international supervision. Israel's archeological excavations, the story adds, "have sparked protests across the Muslim world." AND THAT'S ALL THE POST TELLS ITS READERS, WHO ARE FED A BALD LIE ABOUT THE ACTUAL U.N. REPORT.

THE REAL STORY AS REPORTED EXTENSIVELY IN OTHER MEDIA: A team of UNESCO experts, after inspecting the dig outside Temple Mount that is part of construction of a replacement ramp to reach the plateau, concluded that the excavation work DID NOT THREATEN NOR POSE ANY HARM TO AL-AQSA MOSQUE ATOP THE TEMPLE MOUNT. The UNESCO team lauded Israel for the transparency of its work (a webcast of the dig is available on the Internet) and said the work was properly documented and in compliance with international standards. In view of the inciteful lies spread throughout the Muslim world that have already caused a riot and set off a wave of new jihad threats against Israel, the UNESCO findings obviously would be the lead any story written by a reputable newspaper. BUT OBVIOUSLY NOT THE POST, WHICH TOTALLY OMITTED THE FINDINGS OF THE UNESCO INVESTIGATION. And, remember, UNESCO isn't noted for taking pro-Israel positions. So why did the UNESCO team also call for a suspension (not a "halt") of excavation, followed by resumption of the work with international monitors. Two reasons: In true bureaucratic fashion, UNESCO wanted to cut itself in on the project, but also it seems to believe that international supervision might counter incendiary Muslim fabrications that Al-Aqsa is in any way being threatened. On the other hand, by ERASING THE REAL LEAD OF THE STORY, the Post makes it appear that the call for international supervision suggests that the excavation work may not be on the up-and-up -- THE VERY OPPOSITE OF THE REPORT'S FINDINGS. THE POST'S INSATIABLE APPETITE FOR ISRAEL BASHING COMPLETELY TWISTS THE UNESCO REPORT.

2. In a second Jerusalem-dateline piece, the Post reports that ONE THIRD of Israeli settlements in the "occupied" West Bank are built on land privately owned by Palestinians, according to a report by Peace Now. AND THAT'S ALL THIS REPORT TELLS READERS. There is no attempt to provide rebuttal from officials from either Jewish community in Judea and Samaria or from Israeli government spokesmen or from media monitoring groups that provide ample documentation about the political agenda of anti-Israel NGOs masquerading as "human rights" organizations. Claims of widespread "settlement" occupancy of privately owned Palestinian land, as regularly issued by organizations with headings like Peace Now or B'tselem, have been consistently disproved as wild exaggerations and distortions of what are lands in public or private ownerships. For example, the Associated Press just reported that B'Tselem charged last November that 86 PERCENT OF MA'ALE ADUMIM, a Jerusalem suburb of 30,000 inhabitants -- one of the largest in the West Bank -- was built on privately owned Palestinian land (based on a supposed leak from a government data base) BUT, ACCORDING TO THE AP, IT NOW TURNS OUT THAT THE DATA BASE SHOWS ONLY ONE HALF OF ONE PERCENT OF MA'ALE ADUMIM IS BUILT ON PRIVATE PALESTINIAN LAND. Just think: whether it goes under the title of Peace Now in Israel or B'tselem, either way such outfits are in the business of ginning up big headlines against "land-grabbing" Israelis -- EVEN IF THE REAL FIGURE OF ONE HALF OF ONE PERCENT IS MAGNIFIED INTO A FICTITIOUS 86 PERCENT! It's bad enough when the Post gives such "human rights" NGOs a false aura of dispensing unassailable gospel truth instead of probing the real agenda of these groups, which turn out to be heavily subsidized by European governments that are not particularly fond of Israel; it's even worse, much worse, when the Post turns its back completely on any data -- whether from the Israel government or from NGO critics -- that show Israel in a better light and raise some questions about the reliability and accuracy of these NGOs. Whatever happened to reporting both sides of a story?

3. Bear with me: We're still examining the March 15 Post edition. On the top of the front page, the paper has a lengthy story about confessions by Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, during interrogations at Guantanamo. If you read the entire story, you will find that the Post referred not once but SIX TIMES to his kind of actions as the work of TERRORISTS. Yes, the Post on its own, not in quotes attributed to someone else, actually uses the 'T" word half a dozen times in this article. And the Post is absolutely right in using the T word when it comes to 9/11 and other Al Qaeda attacks. As Mohammed himself admits, he knew he would kill innocent kids, but what the hell it was in a good political cause -- the exact dictionary definition of terrorism. WHAT MAKES THE REPEATED USE OF THE 'T' WORD IN THIS CONTEXT SO NOTABLE IS THAT THE POST WILL NEVER -- BUT NEVER -- USE THE 'T' WORD IN REPORTING TERRORIST ATTACKS ON ISRAEL. When it comes to Israel, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups are MILITANTS, GUERRILLAS, FIGHTERS, ETC. BUT NEVER TERRORISTS. Palestinian terrorists, when they kill children and other innocent civilians, are treated with special kid gloves by the Post and euphemistically transformed into more acceptable members of society. Yet, when you stack up the lethal blows sustained by the U.S. from 9/11 and by Israel from Palestinian terrorism over the last six years -- as measured by the size of their respective populations -- Israel has been hit much harder by terrorism. On a population per capita scale, 9/11 killed ONE OUT OF EVERY 100,000 AMERICANS. THE LATEST PALESTINIAN INTIFADA HAS KILLED ONE OUT OF EVERY 7,000 ISRAELIS. Yet, even so, at the Post, a terrorist individual or group that strikes at the World Trade Center, is a terrorist, but terrorist groups that fire rockets into Israeli schoolyards and playgrounds or set off bombs in discos, pizza parlors and school buses are NEVER TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS. At the Post, innocent Israeli blood, it seems, doesn't count as much as innocent American blood.

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Washington Post Publishes Full Wire Service Article In Its World News Section About Sexual Conduct of Israeli Ambassador to El Salvador - Makes Observation That This Is Only One of Several Embarrassing Incidents Involving Israeli Diplomats

What is one to say about a newspaper that often deliberately fails to publish vitally important hard news involving Israel and the Palestinians but goes out of its way to publish a full wire service article about the Israeli ambassador to El Salvador being recalled due to an embarrassing sexual incident? (Israeli Envoy Recalled Over Nude Exploit in El Salvador, 3-13-07, A13) Note the use of the word "Nude" and "Israeli Envoy" in the headline. Wouldn't want to risk not grabbing the attention of all readers to this important news, would we? This was an article that went on to observe and list several other embarrassing incidents involving Israeli diplomats ... an article that specifically commented: 

"The embarrassing incident was one of several involving Israeli diplomats in recent years." 

Does the Post publish full articles in its World News section about embarrassing sexual incidents involving other nations' heads of state, officials, or diplomats? Of course not. What is one to say about such a newspaper as the Washington Post? No laws were broken. It was simply embarrassing to Israel. And that is precisely why the Washington Post, shameful, anti-Israel rag that it is, published the story.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Front Page Post Article Blames Israel For Internecine Palestinian Fighting - Slams Israel for Isolation and Economic Decline of Gaza - Minimizes and Conceals Palestinian Aggression and Terrorism As Causes

The Post ran another one-sided slap at Israel on the front page Saturday about the widening split between the Fatah dominated West bank and the Hamas dominated Gaza Strip. (Under Pressure, Palestinian Territories Pull Apart, Fracture Lines Are Political, Cultural, Economic, 3-10-07, A01) The headline was fair enough, and if the article had not sought to blame Israel for most of the Palestinians' problems and downplay (and conceal) Palestinian aggression and terrorism as root causes, it would have been reasonable journalism. However, it did blame Israel, and it wasn't reasonable journalism. It was just one more in a long series of Scott Wilson and Washington Post agenda driven attacks on Israel. 

The surest way to get the attention of and sway the largest number of readers is with a photo and caption. This article was accompanied by a front page photo of a bus crammed full of Palestinians (with their luggage) sitting both inside and all over the top of the bus. The caption stated:

"Palestinians waited to pass from the southern Gaza strip into Egypt after the Rafah border crossing was reopened Tuesday. The crossing is mostly kept closed by Israel, whose policies are effectively isolating Gaza from the rest of the world, including the West Bank." 

Nowhere was there an explanation that Israel is no longer present at the Rafah crossing or even in Gaza, and that whatever control they are permitted to exercise over the crossing is being done from a distance as part of a procedure negotiated at the time of withdrawal to protect Israel's security interests. Egypt, the PA and EUBAM-R (European Union Border Assistance Mission - Rafah) are the only ones present at the crossing, and if there were not legitimate security concerns over specific terrorist activities or smuggling during any given period of time, Israel would not be able to insist upon periodic closings. Have Egypt or the European monitors raised legitimate complaints that Israel is requesting closing of the border crossing arbitrarily or capriciously? We certainly would have read of such complaints in the Washington Post if they existed, because it doesn't miss a chance to criticize Israel.

The article opens with three folksy paragraphs about Ali Hussein, a Palestinian making a lot of money from video conferencing. Then, beginning with the very first sentence on the widening gulf between Gaza and the West Bank, this anti-Israel article lays the entire blame for the separation at the feet of Israel:

"Since withdrawing from Gaza a year and a half ago, the Israeli government has severed this coastal strip from the West Bank." 

The Gaza Strip is geographically separated from the West Bank by a large expanse of Israeli land, so it is not Israel that has "severed" the coastal strip from the West Bank. This is tendentious and misleading rhetoric by its Palestinian sympathizing author. Wilson would claim he is referring to travel restrictions imposed by Israel between the two geographically separate regions, but it is clearly a deliberate effort on his part to mislead uninformed readers into thinking the two regions are physically joined but divided by some sort of Israeli barrier. In addition, Wilson's assertion is bereft of context, because nowhere in proximity to the biased statement does he even allude to the reasons for imposition of these travel restrictions. He doesn't note that the very crossing points from Gaza into Israel that Palestinians would have to use to get from Gaza to the West Bank have themselves been bombed by terrorists in Gaza. He doesn't mention the numerous foiled plots to bomb the crossing points and the numerous suicide bombers captured trying to cross into Israel from Gaza.

And in the sixth paragraph, also beginning on the front page, Wilson states: 

"Long the poor provincial cousin of the West Bank, Gaza has been further impoverished in the past year by Israeli border restrictions and an international aid embargo." 

Wilson conspicuously avoids mentioning the reasons for the border restrictions or the aid embargo, i.e., ongoing daily attempts by the terrorist organizations to infiltrate Israel from Gaza and a radicalized Palestinian population that elected a terrorist organization devoted to the destruction of Israel to lead it. And he fails to mention that international aid has continued to be funneled to non-Hamas controlled recipients during this same period. And of course he doesn't mention that several hundred million dollars in aid that actually went to the Hamas controlled government cannot now be accounted for and is, for all intents and purposes, lost. (Palestinian minister admits aid millions lost, Sunday Telegraph, 11/03/2007) While this story was just published in the Telegraph, does anyone want to bet that the factual basis for it has been known for some time to any reporter who would want to write about it and that it will never see the light of day in the Washington Post?

Wilson's accusatory comments blaming Israel for Palestinian misfortunes were injected into the lead, front page paragraphs of this article, without providing any context about the continuing terrorism emanating from Gaza. It isn't until the 11th paragraph, well into the interior pages of the print edition, that the more than 1700 terrorist rocket attacks on Israel from within Gaza subsequent to Israel's withdrawal from Gaza are even briefly mentioned, and nowhere in the entire article is there any mention of (1) the cross border attack and kidnapping by Hamas of an Israeli soldier, (2) large numbers of terrorist tunnels being dug on an ongoing basis, or (3) large scale weapons smuggling operations. 

Scott Wilson and most of the Washington Post's reporters and editors view and report the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians through a distorted prism, and they make little to no effort at fairness or objective reporting. Theirs is a campaign to influence the reading public, even if doing so requires deception, sleight of hand and sometimes outright lies. Anyone who cares about fair reporting or about Israel should not continue to subscribe to this agenda driven newspaper.

Leo Rennert's letter below further amplifies the many omissions and distortions of this article:

To: Scott Wilson and Washington Post Editors and Publisher
From: Leo Rennert
Subject: Washington Post Blames Israel For Gaza's Misfortunes
Date: March 10, 2007

In its Saturday, March 10, editions, the Washington Post carries a lengthy, front-page article on the growing political, social and economic estrangement between the West Bank and Gaza. The article's principal focus, however, is on the plight of Palestinians in Gaza -- with Israel as the main culprit.

Correspondent Scott Wilson begins enumerating the reasons for Gaza's ills in PARAGRAPH 4. Right off the bat, Israel becomes his primary target: "Since withdrawing from Gaza a year and a half ago, the Israeli government has severed this coastal strip from the West Bank."

Wilson then mentions, but only in very cursory fashion, that Palestinians have "fractured politically," there's a "power struggle," and Gazans have embraced Hamas, without giving readers any real notion why these antiseptically phrased factors might account for Gaza's downward spiral.

But when it comes to Israel, Wilson is not shy about being specific. Take PARAGRAPH 6: "Gaza has been further impoverished in the past year by Israeli border restrictions." Gaza's roads are "cratered by Israeli artillery shells and neglect." For good measure, Wilson also takes a poke at the international community for freezing aid to the Palestinians.

Israel again becomes Wilson's target du jour in PARAGRAPH 9 for reneging on its 1993 pledge in the Oslo accords to treat the West Bank and Gaza as "a single territorial unit" with guaranteed safe passage for Palestinians between the two. Why didn't Israel carry out this obligation? Well, it happened with the start of "the second Palestinian uprising" in 2000. An "uprising"? Yes, that's the Post's Orwellian euphemism for a sustained war of terror that continues to this very day. In the Post, of course, there is no such reality as Palestinian TERRORISM -- the deliberate attempt to murder innocent civilians in pursuit of a political agenda. In reporting on Palestinians, the dictionary doesn't count at the Post.

In PARAGRAPH 10, Wilson piles on still more blame on Israel, which is portrayed as welshing on a deal brokered by Secretary of State Rice to allow bus convoys between Gaza and the West Bank. Why didn't Israel follow through? According to Wilson, Israel had "security concerns." Duh!

It is not until PARAGRAPH 11 (when many readers may already have gone on to other parts of the paper) that Wilson briefly allows a glimmer of reality to intrude into his article. Citing Shin Bet, he reports Palestinians "fired 1,726 crude rockets from Gaza last year -- more than 4 times as many as in 2005. Two Israelis were killed and 163 were wounded." Doesn't sound like such "crude" rockets, especially when you factor in the fact that these daily rocket barrages terrorize tens of thousands of residents in southern Israel, whether they hit their targets or not -- something Wilson does NOT report. Sderot has been left with massive numbers of serious trauma cases -- again something that singularly disinterests Wilson.

In the same paragaph, Wilson writes that Israel has been unable to stop these attacks "despite several intensive military forays into the strip last year that killed nearly 400 Palestinians." Notice the double pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel spin -- Wilson carefully omits the fact that Palestinian terrorists and their active supporters in continuing attacks on Israelis accounted for the bulk of these 400 fatalities. It's just Palestinians who got killed, not terrorists. And he fails to tell readers that Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas agreed on a total Gaza cease-fire last November on the explicit assurances of Abbas that ALL Palestinian factions would abide by the cease-fire. And that furthermore, while Israel immediately ended its forays into Gaza, daily cross-border rocket barrages from Gaza continued right to this very day -- while Israel continues to turn the other cheek. Since last November, not a single Palestinian in Gaza, terrorist or otherwise, has been killed by any Israeli forays, because there haven't been any.

Wilson, however, is not only spectacularly off-base by what he writes and by his selective use of history to tar Israel; he's just as adept at mangling history by what he omits. HERE ARE JUST SOME OF THE FACTORS THAT DIRECTLY ACCOUNT FOR GAZA'S GROWING MISERY THAT ARE NOWHERE TO BE FOUND IN HIS ARTICLE:

--When Ariel Sharon completely withdrew all Israeli military forces and all Jewish residents from Gaza 18 months ago, Palestinians had a golden opportunity to turn the territory into a prosperous, self-governing entity. International donors -- governments and private investors -- were ready to pour in hundreds of millions of dollars in direct aid and for start-up business and agricultural enterprises. Israel stood ready to give Gaza access to the world by sea and air once it no longer was used as a base for killing Israelis. Instead, Palestinians turned Gaza into a launching pad for intensified attacks on Israel.

--Left behind by Jewish farmers were many greenhouses, which produced valuable market crops. Instead of turning them into cash cows, Palestinians destroyed many of them.

--Gazans didn't endear themselves to Israelis by desecrating and destroying evacuated synagogues in the strip and using a couple of them as launching sites for Qassam rockets -- not exactly confidence-building moves.

--Nor is there a single mention in the article of Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group sponsored and financed by Iran, which has been directly responsible for the rocket attacks and which, like Hamas, insists on Israel's elimination as its chief objective.

--There is no mention whatsoever of a cross-border raid by Hamas and other terrorist groups into Israel that resulted in the kidnapping of Cpl. Gilad Shalit and the murder of two other IDF soldiers last June. To this day, there's no word about Shalit's condition or whereabouts. This was a major provocative attack, which occurred about 9 months after Israel's complete pullout from Gaza.

--Wilson, while depicting Gaza's economic deterioration, utterly fails to point out that -- despite continued Palestinian aggression -- Israel released $100 million in frozen Palestinian tax and customs money on the explicit assurance from Abbas that this money would go entirely for humanitarian purposes. Abbas and the Hamas-run Palestinian Authority instead diverted the money from humanitarian relief to some unclear purposes. Another example of Israel trying to help needy Palestinians, who then get screwed by their own leaders!

--While the European Union, the chief foreign donor for the Palestinians, suspended all direct aid to the Hamas-run Palestinian government because of its refusal to renounce terrorism and to recognize Israel's right to exist, the Europeans have continued to pour equal, by some counts even greater, amounts of money to alleviate need in the West Bank and Gaza through non-governmental Palestinian channels. The NY Times, on its web site, recently reported that 2006 foreign aid to the Palestinians actually topped 2005 levels. So where did all that money go?

--Wilson doesn't write a word about widespread destruction by Fatah of a Hamas university in Gaza and widespread destruction by Hamas of a Fatah university. If you're writing about economic deterioration in Gaza, wouldn't it be relevant to mention how Palestinians sacked high-tech equipment and other instructional resources at these universities which potentially could have been a path for many young Gazans toward a more prosperous future?

--While finding plenty of reasons to blame Israel, Wilson doesn't write a word about the massive influx of advanced weapons, explosives and terrorist cadres from Egypt into Gaza via tunnels and Palestinian-controlled crossings -- a clear sign that Hamas (which Wilson himself describes as the real power in Gaza) is intent on waging an even wider war on Israel from Gaza.

These are just some of the Wilson omissions of highly pertinent causes of Gaza's misfortunes which didn't make it into his article. I'm sure you can lengthen the list with your own examples.


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

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Post Continues To Strip News Reports Of Factual Context In Order To Depict Israel In Negative Light - Today Reported That Israel Raided Nablus And Placed It Under Curfew, But Failed To Report Israel's Reasons, i.e., The Discovery Of A Bomb Factory And Israeli Troops Coming Under Attack

Our Alert yesterday dealt with the Post having altered an AP report about Jimmy Carter and his book to eliminate from the AP report information about Carter's critics and their criticism. As Leo Rennert's letter reveals, the Post today published in its World in Brief section a single, solitary sentence reporting that Israel raided Nablus yesterday and placed the city under curfew, without providing any context or explanation of Israel's reasons.

From: Leo Rennert
To: Washington Post Editors, Publisher and Ombudsman
Date: February 25, 2007
Subject: Pro-Palestinian, Anti-Israel Mindset Of Washington Post Editors

The Washington Post's endemic anti-Israel spin is not only evident in selection and pursuit of major stories. It seeps even into the smallest news items. Take, for example, the Post's Sunday, Feb. 25, editions. On page A19, under a "World In Brief" roundup, you will find a single-sentence dispatch datelined: Nablus, West Bank. Here's the entire item:

"Dozens of Israeli jeeps and armored vehicles raided the West Bank city of Nablus Sunday and placed the city under curfew."

The impression left with readers is clear: Here's Israel's all-powerful military swooping down on Palestinians in one of their major cities -- an example of Israel's harsh "occupation" practices. Thousands of Palestinians are locked in their homes.

But hold on. There's something important missing from this news item: WHY DID ISRAEL CONDUCT THIS RAID? The Post doesn't give readers a clue. Yet, the answer was widely available to Post editors from wire dispatches [dispatches that actually ran on the Post's web site], if not from its own correspondent, Scott Wilson, who has ready access to same-time information from Israeli media and IDF announcements.

In sharp contrast to the Post, the New York Times did not hesitate to let its readers in on this secret. Here's how the Times reported the Israeli raid in its Sunday editions:

"Israeli forces discovered a bomb-making factory in the West Bank city of Nablus during an overnight operation that ended Saturday, an army spokesman said. "Five pipe bombs, two gas balloons, materials for bomb making and large quantities of shrapnel were found in the factory, situated in the Old City market area. Palestinians threw a grenade and opened fire on the soldiers, and one member of Islamic Jihad was arrested, the spokesman said."

If you read the Times, Israel was conducting a legitimate defensive operation to protect the lives of its citizens against terrorist preparations in the West Bank. If you read the Post, Nablus was a target of an Israeli raid and its citizens were barred from leaving their homes -- for no discernible reason.

Actually, so inbred is the Post's anti-Israel spin that it's not confined to even the smallest news items, You can also find it in what the Post DOESN'T REPORT AT ALL. Omission of important developments is as symptomatic of the Post's pro-Palestinian bent as what's actually carried in the paper. Again, look at the Sunday, Feb. 25, editions of the Times and the Post.

In the Times, you will find a report that "two Qassam rocket were launched from the Gaza Strip in the direction of Israeli communities across the border...That brings the number of Qassam rockets launched from Gaza in the past week to 12, according to the Israeli army, despite a cease-fire that was declared in November."

What did the Post report? NOTHING. And with the Post, that's par for the course. Since Abbas and Olmert concluded the Gaza cease-fire in November, Palestinians have kept up an incessant, daily barrage of rockets aimed at Sderot, Ashkelon and other Israeli towns and kibbutzim in southern Israel (At the start of the cease-fire, Abbas gave Olmert his personal guarantee that ALL Palestinian factions would desist from further Qassam attacks -- so much for Abbas as a reliable peace negotiator). Since Israel dismantled all its settlements and pulled out from Gaza in the summer of 2005, more than ONE THOUSAND rockets have been fired from Gaza, with some hitting their Israeli targets and all of them terrorizing local populations when sirens give only a few seconds notice of an incoming strike.

Yet, the Post has studiously abstained from reporting these grossly provocative and aggressive Palestinian actions. It is only when Israel, after demonstrating the kind of forbearance and restraint that no other country would show under similar circumstances, finally takes defensive actions that the Post shows any interest -- and then only to leave readers with the impression that Israel might be overreacting!

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

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Washington Post Publishes On Page 2 AP Story About Jimmy Carter Speech Defending His Anti-Israel Book, But Crops Portions Of AP Story Detailing Criticism Of Book

On Thursday, February 22, 2007 Jimmy Carter delivered a speech at Emory University in Georgia. He defended his book and himself against charges of anti-Israel bias. Carter has been doing that since the book's release almost 4 months ago, so there was nothing at all new or newsworthy in this speech. However, for the Washington Post it was an opportunity to slam Israel by publishing on page 2 of the print edition an account of the speech that was limited from top to bottom to Carter's contentions and was devoid of any reference to the many critics of the book and the bases of their criticism. (Carter Says Book's Critics Should See Territories, 2-23-07, A02) That the Post would even feature such a story on page 2 of the print edition, after the controversy over Carter's book had already peaked and declined, is itself revelatory of the Post's anti-Israel agenda. But the Post did not just seize an opportunity to prominently display an already pro-Carter article. The AP story was balanced until the Post's editors got their hands on it. The Post, in pursuit of its activist anti-Israel agenda, culled out paragraphs from the original AP story that set forth some of the critics and criticisms of Carter and his book. The untrimmed version of the AP story can be viewed here: http://www.macon.com/mld/macon/16763325.htm

The Post eliminated from the AP story facts that would have caused readers to question Carter's fairness and objectivity. For instance, the Post eliminated the following from the AP story:

  • that Carter declined to debate former Mideast Envoy Dennis Ross;

  • that 11 Emory University faculty members wrote a letter of protest over the Carter appearance;

  • that Carter previously refused to debate Alan Dershowitz at Brandeis University;

  • that Kenneth Stein, the Carter Center's first executive director and founder of its Middle East program, resigned from the Carter Center, saying Carter's book was one-sided and filled with errors; 

  • that 14 members of an advisory board of the Carter Center also resigned in protest over the book;

  • that 25 students in the Emory auditorium wore black T-shirts that said "What's Jimmy Afraid Of?"

  • that students in the audience stated that Carter still dodged the issue of having a debate on his book, and one student was quoted as saying "'He still refuses to debate a book written without footnotes and without citing any research other than his own.'"

This wire service article appears to have been too honest, balanced and accurate for the likes of the Washington Post. Unfortunately, Washington Post readers were, once again, treated to another dose of the Post's agenda based journalism. We have no way of knowing if this type of deliberate pruning of context in order to propagandize against Israel is the handiwork of one or two editors or the entire staff, but if the Post wants to staunch the outflow of its reputation as a quality news source, some action from upper management would work wonders.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Post Publishes Biased Front Page Article Critical of Israel for Financing Jews (Who the Post Calls Settlers) In Purchasing Homes (Which Post Calls Altering The Skyline) In Arab Quarter Of Old City, But Conceals Deep In Article Crucial Facts That There Was No Judenrein Arab Quarter prior to 1949 And That Thousands Of Jews Were Expelled From The Arab Quarter By Jordan At The End Of The War Of Independence

Scott Wilson, in carrying out the Washington Post's anti-Israel political agenda, has again crafted a distorted, out of context and historically deficient swipe at Israel. (Jewish Inroads in Muslim Quarter, Settlers' Project to Alter Skyline of Jerusalem's Old City, 2-11-07, page A01) In an article reserved by the Post for a day and page where it would do the most damage to Israel's image, the front page of Sunday's print edition, Mr. Wilson slams Israel for financing projects to build homes and a synagogue in the Arab quarter of the Old City, turning a blind eye to the history and demographics of the Old City prior to it having been violently altered by Arabs at the time of the Israeli War of Independence. For Wilson, the history of the region didn't begin until Israel took control of the Old City in 1967, after it was attacked by Jordan. However, as he always does, Mr. Wilson tries to hide the fact that Jordan attacked Israel in 1967 and describes it simply as: 

"Israel seized the Old City, the adjacent valley known as the Holy Basin and the rest of East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war, later annexing them."

The article is huge. It continues from the front page into an entire interior page with a large, blaring headline saying: 


Prior to 1949 thousands of Jews lived in the Arab quarter of the Old City, but they were expelled by Arabs when Jordan captured it in the War of Independence. Prior to 1949 there was no clearly identified and Jew-free Arab Quarter. Indeed, Jews made up a majority of the entire population of the Old City as early as the 1844 census. Following the War of Independence Jordan ransacked 57 synagogues in the Old City, destroying 12 of them. Jewish gravestones were used as paving for Arab roads. Wilson conceals these facts deep in the article so that he can early in the article accuse Israelis of what he calls an "accelerated campaign...to change the ethnic and physical character of this city's oldest Arab neighborhoods." The conduct being criticized by Wilson is the voluntary sale by Arabs and the voluntary purchase by Jews of land and homes, which Mr. Wilson sees as a nefarious plot that shouldn't be allowed. Twenty apartments are to be built - not apartment buildings, but individual apartments that Jewish people will live in. In addition, one synagogue will be built. Not the 57 that were ransacked and/or destroyed by Arabs following the War of Independence, but one. 

At the heart of Mr. Wilson's condemnation is the racist notion that Jews shouldn't live among Arabs, and Arabs shouldn't sell their homes to Jews. In staking out this racist position, Mr. Wilson and the Washington Post would impose upon Israel the continuation of an unwise apartheid separation created by Jew-hating Arabs when they attacked the nascent Jewish state. Mr. Wilson sees charm in the "ethnic and physical character" of a Judenrein Arab quarter. He subtly argues for exclusive Arab entitlement by furtively injecting comments about Arab roots into his story whenever possible. He tells the reader that an Arab neighbor to the proposed Jewish apartment building was "born 63 years ago in the house he inherited from his father." At another point he notes that the synagogue would be built above "the thick stone walls of a 600-year-old Arab neighborhood" - without mentioning that a Jewish neighborhood might lie below the 600 year old Arab walls. And at another point he goes out of the way to note that "Adnan Husseini, the Jerusalem director of the Waqf, the Islamic land trust that has authority over the al-Aqsa mosque complex, traces his Palestinian family's Jerusalem roots back 800 years." The only relevance of any of this information about Arab roots is to support Mr. Wilson's deceptive argument for Arab entitlement. Needless to say, he scrupulously avoids any mention of the more deeply embedded Jewish roots throughout the Old City.

One wonders what this Israel baiting reporter would say if Israel sought to keep Arabs from buying homes in Jewish neighborhoods in order to preserve what Wilson calls the "ethnic and physical character" of these neighborhoods. 

The following reader letters by Leo Rennert, Adam Glantz and Emily Rose further expose Mr. Wilson and the Post's hatchet job for what it is.

From: Leo Rennert
To: Scott Wilson and Editors and Publishers of The Washington Post
Date: February 11, 2007
Subject: Washington Post Falsifies Ancient And Recent Jewish History Of Jerusalem

Your efforts -- and those of the Washington Post -- to paint Israel in the darkest possible colors reached a new peak with your tendentious article about Israel's supposed threat to the Old City of Jerusalem's character and skyline. By picking out tiny bits of history that suit your anti-Israel agenda and ignoring far more important ones -- an exercise in historical cherry-picking and revisionism if there ever was one -- you ignore, minimize and deny continuous Jewish roots in Jerusalem's Old City that stretch back more than a couple of millennia, so as to make it appear that Muslims are its rightful possessors.

Let's start with the inflammatory headlines splashed on the front page and the jump page, for which you bear at least partial responsibility, since they clearly reflect what you wrote:

"Jewish Inroads in Muslim Quarter -- Settlers's Project to Alter Skyline of Jerusalem's Old City

and on the jump page: 


Given Jerusalem's history, I find the term SETTLERS as applied to Jewish families buying a few parcels of land in the Old City not just misleading, but simply odious. And JEWISH ALTERATION OF ARAB JERUSALEM is a slanderous and hostile attack on Jews whom you and the Post malign as intrusive outsiders trying to dislodge Arab natives.

Complete historical context suggests exactly the opposite of what you wrote. If any group has the deepest roots in Jerusalem, it's Jews. And, as recently as the 20th Century the salient pattern was ARAB ALTERATION OF JEWISH JERUSALEM -- the exact opposite of the import of your story and headline. And that ARAB ALTERATION still is reflected today in the skyline and demographics of the Old City.

Before going into specific criticisms of your piece, let me stress that I have no problem with you, the Post, or anyone else writing about a controversy involving the purchase of Muslim-owned land parcels by Jews in the Old City -- as long as you provide some fair, comprehensive and accurate context. As long as you get the Old City's history right, especially since you're stretching to portray a fairly miniscule real estate transaction as emblematic of something far bigger and graver -- trying to make Post readers believe that Jews are taking over Jerusalem! (If that were the case, it still would be like Catholics taking over the Vatican).

Your first and most grievous historical error is to use as the basic timeline for your article the day before the 1967 war when Israel -- after vainly pleading with Jordan not to attack -- captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City. That's when you freeze the Old City's history as if its physical and demographic character during the Jordanian occupation (1949-1967) constitutes its genuine, authentic and immutable identity.

Why do you pick 1949-1967, without telling readers the vast Jordanian transformation of the Old City during this period? Because Jordan made the Old City during that period JUDENREIN. Your selective time frame is the one time in more than 2,000 years when there were no Jews in the Old City. So any change from that becomes a JEWISH ALTERATION. The brief JUDENREIN interlude in the long history of the Old City is your preferred frame of reference.

Never mind that Jews were a continuous presence in Jerusalem for more than two millennia before 1949. Never mind that from the 1840s until the 1940s, Jews were the predominant group in Jerusalem, including the Old City. That doesn't count with you and the Post.

Never mind that, during its occupation of the Old City, Jordan expelled THOUSANDS of Jews from the Old City whose families had lived there for centuries. Never mind that from 1949 to 1967, Jews were not permitted to pray at their holiest shrine, the Western Wall. That doesn't figure in your equation.

Never mind that during the Jordanian occupation, hundreds of ancient Jewish graves on the Mt. of Olives were destroyed and used for pavement and latrines in Jordanian military camps. Never mind that more than 50 synagogues were destroyed or ruined -- not just a pair of synagogues that you incidentally mention way down in your story. Never mind that some of these synagogues were used by the Jordanians as stables and chicken coops.

If you were to rely on real, not ultra-selective, history, the JEWISH ALTERATION OF ARAB JERUSALEM headline would strike readers as a gross historical libel.

Contrast for a moment Jordan's behavior (1949-1967) with Israel's behavior (since 1967) in the Old City. Adherents of all three monotheistic religions today are free to worship at their shrines (Christians are not barred from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or Muslims from Al-Aqsa Mosque). Jews, by your own count, remain a small minority in the Old City -- no brutal ethnic cleansing a la Jordanian performance 1949-1967. Palestinian merchants prosper along the souk.

By no stretch of the imagination has Israel for the last 40 years when it has controlled the Old City restored it back to its pre-1967 character and skyline.

But all this is ignored by you and the Post as you manufacture a fictitious threat to a fictitious Arab right to the Old City out of a controversy involving a change in ownership of a few parcels of land. And if a synagogue were to be built on one of these parcels, that still would leave more than 50 other destroyed synagogues that haven't been brought back to life.

So I ask you and the Post: In the full light of Jerusalem's entire history, ancient and modern, which group -- Arab or Jewish -- bears responsibility for the biggest ALTERATION of the Old City's character and skyline?

You and the Post have it exactly wrong: You've stood history on its head.

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

From: Adam S. Glantz
To: Editors of The Washington Post
Date: February 11, 2007

Dear Editor,

I'm troubled by the timing and tone of Scott Wilson's article on Jerusalem. At a time of tension over the mere restoration of a damaged walkway, why would you splash the provocative words "Jewish Inroads in Muslim Quarter" on page 1 of your Sunday edition? Is the Post going out of its way to make an inflammatory situation even worse?

I'm also disturbed by the lack of context in this would-be expose of Israeli designs on the Old City. This doesn't mean I dispute Wilson's facts. But the way they are related is akin to an understated conspiracy theory. The cocktail of Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva, Jewish settlers, Israeli money, the boycott of the Hamas Government mix together into a sinister subtext.

As an alternative, let's look at the facts. Much of the money pouring into Jerusalem is earmarked for Islamic shrines. The Haram ash-Sharif got a new mosque in 1996, a restored minbar this year, and will soon have a fifth minaret, thanks to Jordan and Saudi Arabia. And Jewish sites? Hurva Synagogue was destroyed sixty years ago by Arab troops and the Western Wall plaza was a slum until Israel was able to restore it in 1967. If there's a plot against the Old City, it seems to be an attempt to destroy or preempt any visible Jewish presence in what is a multi-confessional city. Thank you.


Adam S. Glantz

From: Emily Rose
To: Editors, The Washington Post
Date: February 11, 2007

One thing that can be said for Mr. Wilson...he is consistent. No matter what topic he writes about, he blames Israel, the Jews or both. Comparing Israel to South African apartheid is absurd. Jimmy Carter was a moral man, who wrote an immoral book. As far as Mr. Wilson's article is concerned, it amazes me how he connects the Flower's Gate project to the Mugrabi Gate bridge reconstruction. Instead of trying to dampen the Arab rioting, he inflames it:

Here are the facts:

The work carried out by Israeli professional authorities on the Mugrabi Gate is completely transparent, which is why the excavations are open to the press. 

All activities are being carried out in a location that is under Israeli sovereignty in an area under the responsibility of the Jerusalem municipality and the Government of Israel. 

The new bridge and the Mugrabi Ramp are located entirely outside of the Temple Mount complex and are not part of it. 

The aim of this process is to replace the old ramp which collapsed due to natural causes. Building the new bridge will not harm any religious feelings and/or interests. 

All operations are in cooperation with UN officials, Palestinian officials and other member of the international community and are completely transparent to them.

Shame on you Mr. Wilson, for continuing to flame the fires of violence against Jews and Israel.

Emily Rose

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Post Reporter Files Slanted and Misleading Report on Arab Rioting at Temple Mount in Old City - Implies Israel May Have Started the Rioting - Implies Israel Is Jeopardizing Arab Holy Site - Fails to Report That the Site Is At Least Equally As Holy To Jews - Fails to Report Arab Incitement Throughout the Middle East for Days Leading Up To The Rioting - Downplays Safety Concerns Prompting The Israeli Construction

The above summary describes the slanted report filed by Post reporter Scott Wilson on the Palestinian rioting on the Temple Mount on Friday. (Palestinians Riot at Jerusalem Shrine, Protests Also Erupt In Cairo, Elsewhere Over Israeli Digging, 2-10-07, A12) Three readers' letters, one by Judge Herbert Grossman, one by Stephen Silver and the third by Emily Rose discuss at length the problems with Mr. Wilson's report:

From: Judge Herbert Grossman
To: Scott Wilson and Editors of The Washington Post
Date: February 10, 2007 

To the Editor:

In "Palestinians Riot at Jerusalem Shrine" (news, Feb. 10), Scott Wilson has reached a new low in his reporting from the Middle East. He manages to make it appear that Palestinians hurled rocks in response to Israeli police pouring into the Temple Mount, rather than vice-versa as actually happened, and omits the critical, and clearly observable, fact that the Israeli excavation is hundreds of feet away from the mosques that Arabs claim might be damaged by the work, their fallacious rationale for instigating the violence, although he prominently repeats their bogus claim.

In addition, he dredges up two similar, and also bogus, claims that Arabs used in the past to instigate religious violence against Israel, without disclosing their fabrications: Ariel Sharons's visit to the Temple Mount that he had actually cleared in advance with Muslim authorities; and a tunnel excavation also a considerable distance from Muslim holy structures that the Palestinians claimed would be damaged.

It would be bad enough if Wilson were just too lazy to measure the distance between excavation and mosques or research the bogus nature of the prior Arab justifications for jihadist violence, but he appears to have a political agenda that interferes with honest reporting. Can't The Post do better than that?


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]

To: Scott Wilson and Editors of The Washington Post
From: Stephen Silver
Date: February 10, 2007

Dear Mr. Wilson, 

I know you sincerely mean well, but there are so many things wrong with your article "Palestinians Riot at Jerusalem Shrine" (Feb. 10) that it is difficult to know where to begin. Here's a "Top 13" list of examples of either misstatements or inadvertent suggestions of bias in your article: 

(1) The article fails to state the actual distance between the construction work Israel is performing and the Muslim shrines, implying Israel's work is much closer to the shrines than it is; 

(2) The article states that the 1996 riots began over the opening of a tunnel, when in fact Israel merely opened an entrance to an already-existing archaeological tunnel; 

(3) The article fails to note that the 1996 riots spread because Arafat and other Arab leaders intentionally stirred up passions by publicly claiming that Israel was digging UNDER the Muslim shrines -- a claim that was false and which they knew to be false; 

(4) The article gives primacy to the "Haram al-Sharif"'s status as one of the most revered Muslim holy sites over its much later references to the site's status as the most important site to Jews; 

(5) The article refers to Israel "seizing" the Old City from Jordan in 1967, when in fact Israel did not initiate the conflict with Jordan -- it was Jordan that initiated the Israel-Jordan front in the Six-Day War by bombing Israeli West Jerusalem, including firing missiles at Israel's Knesset (parliament) Building, Israel's Prime Minister's residence and various Israeli civilians in communities as far west as the outskirts of Tel Aviv, all before Israel had fired a single shot against Jordan or sent a single troop across the border into Jordanian-held East Jerusalem; 

(6) Nor does the article mention that when Jordan besieged and captured the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem in 1948, it ethnically cleansed the city of all of its Jews, destroyed all but two of its ancient synagogues, used ancient Jewish grave markers to make roads and latrines, and thereafter barred Jews from setting foot anywhere near the Western Wall or Temple Mount until Israel recaptured them in 1967; 

(7) The article does not include any mention by anyone of the fact that Israel's actions will have NO effect on the physical condition of the Muslim shrines until the 10th paragraph; 

(8) By contrast, in the article's 7th paragraph, it includes a false and inflammatory quote by an Arab individual with no actual knowledge of Israel's archaeological work who says: "I think they want to change the view of the al-Aqsa mosque so when anyone looks at it from the outside they will see only Jewish tradition."

(9) By contrast, the article makes no mention of the very real and very damaging digging under the Temple Mount by the Muslim Waqf that has caused severe damage to the site, including a bulge in the wall of the Temple Mount itself that many fear could presage a collapse of the site (which the Waqf will then doubtless blame on Israel); 

(10) The article does not note that while the Waqf has conducted very damaging construction work right at the holiest site in Jerusalem, Israelis have not rioted or attacked Arabs over the Waqf's actions; 

(11) The article blames Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount for the Second Intifada, ignoring the fact that Arafat's close aide Imad al-Faluji admitted long ago that "The Intifada was planned in advance, ever since President Arafat's return from the Camp David negotiations," and that the Sharon visit was merely used as a pretext for initiating the riots; 

(12) The article fails to mention that Israel has given the Muslim Waqf de facto sovereignty over the site since Israel first captured it in 1967, including complete religious autonomy. 

(13) The article did not mention that Israel is considering providing online 24-hour surveillance of the construction activities so as to assure Arabs that they can monitor the fact that Israel's construction activities are nowhere near the Muslim shrines and will not damage them. 

Please consider these concerns in writing future articles on the subject. 

Stephen Silver

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Post's Scott Wilson Finally Covers Palestinian on Palestinian Violence - Leaves Out Up Close And Personal Profiles of Palestinian Victims That He Includes In Reports on Israeli-Palestinian Violence - Continues Refusal to Report That Hamas Seeks the Destruction of Israel - Post's Glen Kessler On Same Page Says Hamas's Goal is to Destroy Israel

Hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, are being injured and killed by the internecine warfare now taking place between the Palestinian terrorist groups.  For months EyeOnThePost and other critics of the Post's anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian slant have, in a steady stream of letters to Post editors at all levels, complained that the Post and its reporter stationed in Israel, Scott Wilson, are failing to provide adequate coverage of this Palestinian on Palestinian violence. Today, Mr. Wilson finally provided an adequate report on the Gaza fighting, albeit from Jerusalem and lacking any of the up close and personal emotion that he injects into his reports about Palestinian injuries and deaths sustained in fighting with Israel. (18 Palestinians Killed in Gaza Fighting, Violence Among the Worst of Year-Long Struggle Between Fatah and Hamas Movements, 2-3-07, A10) In fact, although Mr. Wilson notes in the opening paragraph of his article that two Palestinian children were among the 18 dead in internecine fighting yesterday, the reader would have to wait until the very last sentence of the entire article to learn that the two Palestinian children killed were 5 and 7 years old. Does anyone recall Mr. Wilson saving such information for the end of any article he has ever written about Palestinian deaths as a result of Israeli military action? Mr. Wilson typically races to Gaza and interviews family and friends of the children and their families in order to report intimate details that will tug at the heart strings of readers. And Mr. Wilson's editors typically search for and publish photographs of wailing parents or bodies being held aloft in funeral processions. However, the sympathy Post reporters and editors routinely convey for Palestinian suffering is reserved for suffering they blame on Israel. The reader can judge whether this sympathy is genuine or merely a cynical effort to turn public opinion against Israel.

Despite many complaints to the Post and Scott Wilson directly about his definition of Hamas, Mr. Wilson's soft pedaling of Hamas's image continues. He often describes Hamas simply as an organization that refuses to recognize Israel, leaving out any reference to Hamas's admitted goal to violently destroy Israel.

It would be instructive to compare 2 descriptions of Hamas on the same page of the Post's print edition today. Here's Mr. Wilson's description:

"Hamas, a radical Islamic movement that does not recognize Israel's right to exist, deposed Fatah in January 2006 parliamentary elections that were supported by Israel and the United States."

Here's a description by the Post's Glen Kessler from an article (Russia Clashes With U.S. on Mideast Policy, Official Urges Role for Syria And End of Hamas Isolation, 2-3-07, A10) directly beneath the Wilson article:

"The United States has led an international boycott of the Hamas-led government in an effort to persuade it to abandon its pledge to seek the destruction of Israel."

Post editors, in safeguarding the right of Post readers to be fully informed, should discourage Mr. Wilson's agenda driven refusal to report the whole truth about Hamas.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Washington Post Continues Support Of Terrorist Organizations - Post Reporter Ridicules President Bush for Calling Hezbollah A Terrorist Organization - Says Hezbollah Has "Evolved" And Is Now Just An "Anti-Israeli Militant Organization"

According to Washington Post reporter Glen Kessler, President Bush isn't giving Hezbollah the respect it deserves. (President's Portrayal of 'The Enemy' Often Flawed, 1-24-07, A13) A group known to be responsible for multiple bombings, kidnappings, hijackings and murders, including attacks on a US embassy (17 dead), Marine barracks (241 Americans killed), and the 1992 and 1994 car bombings of the Israeli Embassy and Jewish Cultural Center in Buenos Aires (124 dead between the two bombings) has, in Mr. Kessler's estimation, "evolved." Now, Mr. Kessler says, it's just an "anti-Israeli militant organization:"

"Similarly, Bush asserted that Shia Hezbollah, which has won seats in the Lebanese government, is a terrorist group "second only to al-Qaeda in the American lives it has taken." Bush is referring to attacks nearly a quarter-century ago on a U.S. embassy and a Marine barracks when the United States intervened in Lebanon's civil war by shelling Hezbollah strongholds. Hezbollah has evolved into primarily an anti-Israeli militant organization -- it fought a war with Israel last summer -- but the European Union does not list it as a terrorist organization." 

Note Mr. Kessler's use of the phrase "nearly a quarter-century ago" to advance his opinion that Hezbollah has been rehabilitated. He even seeks to justify Hezbollah's US embassy bombing and bombing of the Marine barracks by blaming the United States for bringing on the attacks when it "intervened in Lebanon's civil war by shelling Hezbollah strongholds." What Mr. Kessler mischaracterizes as "intervention" by the US was actually the US's membership in the Multinational Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon in which the US, France, Italy and Britain sent troops to Lebanon in an effort to bring about an end to the civil war. Mr. Kessler forgets to mention that a French army barracks was also bombed by Hezbollah 20 seconds after the US Marine Barracks, killing 58 French soldiers. 

The car bombings of the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish Cultural Center in Argentina were only 12 and 14 years ago, not a quarter century ago, so Mr. Kessler simply ignores them. And he conveniently forgets to mention that this past summer's war between Israel and Hezbollah was started by the unprovoked cross border attack, kidnapping and killing by Hezbollah of Israeli soldiers in Israel.

Mr. Kessler is quick to observe that the European Union has not listed Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, but he fails to inform readers that in a March 10, 2005 Resolution (NOT "nearly a quarter-century ago") the European Parliament voted 473-33 to blacklist the entire Hezbollah organization as terrorist. 

Should Post readers trust anything Washington Post reporters say when they advance their agenda with nonsense such as this?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Post Reporter Writes About Palestinian Hummus Restaurant - Ladles On Propaganda and a Dollop of His Political Agenda

Scott Wilson, the Post's correspondent in Israel, spends little time these days traveling within Israel to report news. For events in Gaza and the West Bank he relies mostly on Palestinian stringers. Despite the steady stream of rockets the terrorists have been launching at the Israeli town of Sderot outside of Gaza, we cannot recall the last time Mr. Wilson showed any interest in taking the short drive to report live on the Israeli damage. Most of his time is spent interviewing and reporting the position of so-called "human rights" activists and serving in the role of propagandist for the Palestinians. This week Mr. Wilson wrote an entire article about a tiny Palestinian hummus restaurant on the edge of the Old City of Jerusalem. From top to bottom this article sought to depict Palestinians as the peaceful, humble, Godly, loving, laboring class of Israel. (Its Decor Is Humble, Its Hummus First-Class, 1-18-07, A16) Lest any reader conclude that Mr. Wilson's normal agenda driven reporting was absent from this article, he made a point of calling the Jerusalem location of the restaurant "Palestine" and noted that the family who owns the restaurant have been restaurateurs since before the founding of Israel:

"Before sunrise, the restaurant appeared as an Edward Hopper painting set in Palestine." 

"Jerusalem restaurateurs since before Israel's founding nearly six decades ago...." 

An observant reader might ask why Mr. Wilson is explicitly comparing the length of time this Palestinian family has been in the restaurant business to the length of time the nation of Israel has been in existence. Is it relevant to the point of the article? It is if Mr. Wilson's real point in writing this quaint little restaurant review was to subtly depict Palestinians as having deeper cultural roots and, therefore, a morally superior claim to the region than Jews. 

Quite apart from this exercise in propaganda, Mr. Wilson is still protecting the image of Hamas, and his editors are still accepting his slanted reporting. He refuses to tell readers that Hamas's goal is to destroy Israel. A year ago we published an exchange with Mr. Wilson in which he tried to defend his effort to airbrush Hamas's violent goals by saying only that it "does not recognize Israel" or that it "seeks the creation of a Palestinian state on land that now includes Israel." This was his rationale:

"I am not disputing that Hamas' charter calls for the destruction of Israel, only that I am glossing over this point. Saying that Hamas wants to create a state on land that now includes Israel is, in my view, saying the same thing in a more useful way for readers, who might otherwise be left asking without it: Destroy Israel for what? But I will keep your valid opinion in mind." (EyeOnThePost Alert 2-27-06

Nothing has changed. Within the past few weeks we've seen Mr. Wilson on two occasions (1-4-07, 1-20-06) describe Hamas as "a radical Islamic movement that does not recognize Israel."

Other news outlets and even Post reporters have, during the same period, been far more truthful when describing Hamas. The AP, in an article published on the Post's web site but not in the print edition, stated: 

"But Washington, along with Israel and the European Union consider Hamas, which is committed to Israel's destruction, a terrorist group." (Hamas Pledges to Boost Forces in Gaza, 1-6-07)

Glenn Kessler, a Post reporter, described Hamas as follows:

"Abbas is battling against Hamas, which won legislative elections a year ago and refuses to renounce its goal of eliminating Israel." (Rice Seeks Backing Abroad for Iraq Plan, Trip to Middle East, Europe Also Aims to Revive Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, 1-12-07 A14)

Mr. Wilson could take a lesson in truthful reporting. Half truths and less seem to be his specialty.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Post Reporting Again Shown To Be Inferior - Buries Mahmoud Abbas's Declaration of Hamas's Militia As Illegal And Hamas's Response - Fails to Report Murder of Prominent Anti-Hamas Muslim Preacher - Misrepresents Hamas's Goal To Destroy Israel As Refusal to Recognize Israel

On Saturday Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority and leader of Fatah, declared that Hamas's militia in Gaza is illegal. Hamas's response was to defiantly declare that it will double the size of the militia. The tension and violence is increasing. This was recognized as significant news to most of the world's media outlets. An above-the-fold, front page headline and AP article on the subject was featured in the Washington Times. Articles explaining the background, the why, the response, the impact, and the possible ramifications were published in virtually every news outlet in the world. These included Bloomberg, LA Times, International Herald Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Boston Globe, Reuters, The China Post, Pakistan Times, Guardian, Baltimore Sun, and The Irish Times.

The Washington Post, whose editors publicly express great pride in having a correspondent (currently Scott Wilson) stationed in Israel and the disputed territories, gave it two sentences in its World in Brief section today:

"Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared Hamas's militia in the Gaza Strip illegal. The Islamic movement responded with plans to double its paramilitary unit."

On Friday a prominent anti-Hamas Muslim preacher was gunned down in Gaza. The Washington Post didn't report it, while other media outlets around the world did. 

Where is Scott Wilson? Was this story buried by Mr. Wilson or the Post because it didn't afford an opportunity to depict Israel in a negative light or Palestinians in a positive light?

We've commented previously that the Post should reconsider the pride it takes in having its own correspondent in the region when the net result is news reporting that is inaccurate and unfair. We noted that the AP often provides superior reporting. Take a look at Mr. Wilson's description of Hamas compared to the AP's description of Hamas, and decide which you think is more accurate:

AP Description: 

"But Washington, along with Israel and the European Union consider Hamas, which is committed to Israel's destruction, a terrorist group."

Scott Wilson's Description:

...Hamas, a radical Islamic movement that does not recognize Israel...."

What good is it to have a correspondent stationed in the region when he fails to report significant news reported by the wire services and reported by every other major news outlet around the world? What good is it to have a correspondent stationed in the region when his reports, in comparison to wire service reports, are agenda-driven, misleading and unfair?

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Washington Post Correspondent Continues to Distort Israeli Palestinian Violence, Uses Descriptions that Depict Israelis as Aggressors, Misrepresents Palestinian Combatants As Civilians or Demonstrators - Interjects Description of Christmas Lights In Palestinian Town Where Clash Occurred - Continues to Downplay and Underreport Palestinian Rocket Attacks on Israel and Violence Against Their Own People

Washington Post correspondent Scott Wilson is back from an extended absence over the holidays, and as the following letter by Leo Rennert shows, he continues to selectively highlight and distort Israel's response to Palestinian incitement, misrepresents the civilian status of Palestinians attacking Israelis and downplays the number of casualties caused by internecine violence among Palestinians, violence that is taking a far greater toll than the conflict with Israel:

To: Scott Wilson, Washington Post Editors and Ombudsman
From: Leo Rennert
Subject: Washington Post's Focus On Christmas Lights In Israeli Raid To Capture Top Terrorist
Date: January 5, 2006

I found it quite interesting and revealing to read what you did -- and did not -- write about an Israeli raid in Ramallah to capture a top Palestinian terrorist. (Israeli Arrest Raid in West Bank Kills 4 Palestinians, In Gaza, Hamas-Fatah Clashes Leave at Least 6 Dead; Olmert, Mubarak Meet, 1-5-07, A11) To wit:

  1.  In terms of detail, you found it important to highlight the fact that the commercial district where much of the fighting occured was "festooned with Christmas lights" (nice touch, but would you care to explain the relevance?). However, in identifying the Palestinian target of the raid, you somehow omit a detail I would consider at least as relevant as the Christmas lights in Ramallah -- i.e. that he was a central figure in organizing terrorist attacks against Israel and thus was on its most wanted list.

  2. You take Olmert to task for not yet having come through with his pledge to turn over to Abbas some of the frozen Palestinian tax funds and to dismantle some of the Israeli security checkpoints in the West Bank. Fair enough. But since Olmert made this pledge, there has been no let-up in Qassam rocket attacks on Israel (only today, one Qassam hit a house in Sderot and another hit a kibbutz). In fact, about 75 Qassams have been fired from Gaza since the phony "truce" went into effect. Yet, your story fails to take Abbas to task for not having carried out his pledge to Olmert that ALL Palestinian factions had agreed to suspend all violence against Israel from Gaza. Why mention only Israel's unfulfilled pledges, but not Abbas's?

  3. You write that at least three civilian men were killed in the Israeli raid in Ramallah (out of a total of 4 Palestinian fatalities). How do you know this? You weren't there. You covered the story from Jerusalem. Yes, you had a "special" correspondent, identified as Sufian Taha, in the West Bank, who presumably talked to the anonymous "Palestinian witnesses and hospital officials" to whom you attribute the "civilian" designation of 3 of the Palestinian fatalities. But how come you didn't get their names and ages? The NY Times did. They were all young men in their 20s, just like the scores of young men and youths who poured into the streets to throw Molotov cocktails and stones at the Israeli troops, or who threw all kinds of projectiles from apartment balconies at the Israeli forces. The NY Times refrained from calling any of the Palestinian victims "civilians" once it got their identities. Did your "special" correspondent overstep his/her bounds and simply trust the hearsay of Palestinians intent on painting Israelis in the worst possible light? In any event, you got the "civilian" bit third-hand -- an insufficient evidence base to jump to the "civilian" conclusion.

  4. You found it important to mention that the Israeli forces left behind "damaged cars and streets strewn with stones and debris." Again, a nice detail. But no details on the fact that Israeli forces came under sustained attack from Palestinians using mortar fire, or a refrigerator thrown from a building, or all sorts of projectiles launched against the Israeli raiding party, to say nothing of firebombs hurled by youths with remarkably identical IDs to your "civilian" fatalities. Didn't you watch the BBC's footage?

  5. Finally, on the same day, as your story points out, six people were killed in intra-Palestinian carnage between Fatah and Hamas. But the fact that three dozen Palestinians also were wounded, including 8 CHILDREN, is nicely hidden in the very last paragraph of your story. I guess Palestinian casualties from Palestinian-on-Palestinian violence don't count as much as Palestinian casualties resulting from an Israeli security raid to apprehend a terrorist kingpin.


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

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

News the Washington Post Keeps From Its Readers - Palestinian Legislative Council Formally Condemns Execution of Saddam - Just Released Cable Shows Yasser Arafat, Nobel Peace Price Winner Of 1994 and Darling of Leftist Media, Directly Authorized Attack Upon and Murder of US Diplomats In Khartoum in 1973

Would Post readers want to know that The Palestinian Legislative Council formally condemned the execution of Saddam Hussein, stating that "the execution of President Saddam Hussein was an awful crime against Islamic and Arab nations" and that "the timing of the assassination was well-studied to harm Arabs and Muslims." If so, they won't learn it from the Post. Instead, certain editors and reporters at the Post prefer to keep the true character of the Palestinian agenda from its readers and routinely fail to report information that casts a negative light on Palestinians. (The MediaLine, 1-1-07)

We also wonder whether Post readers would want to be informed that the US State Department has actively concealed Yasser Arafat's personal participation in the 1973 brutal attack on and murder of the Charges d'Affaires of the US Embassy in Sudan, George Curtis Moore, US Ambassador Cleo Noel, and Belgian Charges d'Affairs Guy Eid. A personal communication by Arafat authorizing the murders was intercepted by the NSA and cabled to the State Department. The cable was just released. Over the 33 years since the murders strong campaigns have been mounted, including a letter from 44 US Senators, urging that Arafat be charged with murder. The Justice Department launched an investigation. Arafat denied involvement. State Department officials lied, claiming they had no evidence of Arafat's direct involvement. (IMRA, Independent Media Review and Analysis, reprint: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, 1-1-07) Readers won't find this news in the Washington Post ... or any other mainstream media for that matter. But the Post is supposed to be a leader among the nation's media ... isn't it?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Misleading Headline Displays Post's Anti-Israel Bias - Falsely Depicts Israel as Dragging Its Feet in Releasing Palestinian Prisoners

Yesterday we wrote that wire service reports often present a less biased account of news from Israel than Washington Post correspondent, Scott Wilson, stationed there. But the Post's anti-Israel bias does not infect just its reporters. Unfortunately, it exists at every level of the publication. Today's AP story was fair, but the headline written by Washington Post personnel distorted the substance of the story itself. It's well known that a large percentage of readers do nothing more than scan the headlines of stories. The importance of headlines in influencing readers cannot be underestimated. Yesterday Israel announced that it had decided not to release Palestinian prisoners first in the absence of a quid pro quo in the form of a release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped in a cross border tunnel raid by Hamas back in June. The Post's headline distorted this as a decision by Israel to delay or move slowly in carrying out a prisoner release. (Israel Won't Rush To Free Prisoners, 12-30-06; Page A18) Compare the headline with the first sentence of the article and it is readily apparent that the headline writer put his/her own distorted, anti-Israel spin on the news:


"Israel Won't Rush To Free Prisoners"


"Israel rejected Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's request for a quick release of prisoners to bolster nascent peace moves, saying Friday that Palestinian fighters first must free a captured Israeli soldier."

A Further Distortion By The Post's Web Site: To make matter's worse, the Post's web site further distorted the distortion to make Israel appear to be frustrating peace efforts. The teaser/link to the article on the home page of the Post's web site stated:

                       "Israel Slow to Free Prisoners"

A teaser/link on the home page of the web site is like a headline without a body. The only readers who will ever see the article itself are those who click on the teaser. During a time when hundreds of thousands of readers are abandoning the print edition in favor of the Web site, teaser links on the Post's home page containing anti-Israel distortions leave a huge number of people with a false impression of what is taking place between Israel and the Palestinians. Are there no editors in the chain of command at the Post with even a scintilla of concern for the Post's reputation for truthful and fair reporting? If so, where are they?

Friday, December 29, 2006

With Its Correspondent Away, The Post Uses Wire Service Reports - Improvement Noted

One of the Post's foreign editors, David Hoffman, in defending the Post against charges of anti-Israel bias, has expressed great pride in the Post using its own correspondents in various regions of the world, rather than relying on wire service reports. With Scott Wilson away, the Post has had to rely upon wire service reports. The result on several occasions has been a dramatic improvement. In today's report by AP writer Mark Lavie, the agenda driven, anti-Israel reporting we've come to expect in Scott Wilson's news reports is noticeably absent.(With Israeli Approval, Egypt Sends Arms to Abbas's Fatah Movement, 12-29-06, A23) The Post would do well in the future to take pride in this type of high quality and guileless reporting.

Monday, December 25, 2006

According to the Washington Post, Israel "Assassinates" Terrorists, But The US Just Kills Them

Perhaps someone can tell us why when Israel targets and kills terrorists instrumental in the murder of innocent Israeli civilians, editors at the Washington Post allow their reporter, Scott Wilson, to repeatedly call the targeted killings "assassinations," (Israeli High Court Backs Military On Its Policy of 'Targeted Killings' 12-15-06, A01) but when the US targets and kills members of the Taliban instrumental in Al Qaeda's murder of innocent US civilians, the language of bias is stripped, and the killings are referred to simply as "killings." (Taliban Figure Killed in Airstrike, U.S. Says, Militia Disputes Report On Bin Laden Associate, 12-24-06, A14) Virtually all definitions of the word "assassination" include descriptions of viciousness, treacherousness and murder. In readers the word evokes thoughts of the vile murders of Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Here are several examples of Mr. Wilson's deliberate use of the word "assassination" to depict Israel in a harsh light. The first listed example clearly shows that Mr. Wilson chose to depart from the terminology employed by the Israeli government and the Israeli high Court ("targeted killings") and use, instead, the harsher word "assassination:"

"The unanimous decision departs little from guidelines the military says it already follows in carrying out "targeted killings," the terminology used by the government and by the court in its ruling...."

"Israel's high court upheld Thursday the military's right to assassinate members of groups the state defines as terrorist organizations...."

"...investigation to follow each assassination...."

"...existing policies regarding assassinations...."

"...before ordering an assassination...."

"...challenging the state's right to assassinate members of Hamas, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and other armed groups fighting the Jewish state."

"The practice of targeted assassination...."

"But many of the assassinations have been conducted by Israeli attack helicopters...."

"Israeli security forces have assassinated 210 intended targets...."

"...military commanders responsible for ordering assassinations...."

It's not as though Mr. Wilson, in venting his animus to Israel, is oblivious to the parallel between the US's use of targeted killings and Israel's use of the same technique. So, how does he explain this parallel? Why, by blaming Israel for leading the U.S. astray, of course:

"Following Israel's lead, the U.S. military and intelligence agencies have also used drones to carry out assassinations, including a November 2002 strike on a car in Yemen that killed six suspected members of al-Qaeda." (Israeli High Court Backs Military On Its Policy of 'Targeted Killings' 12-15-06, A01)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Conspicuous Silence - The Washington Post Ignores Palestinian Rocket Attacks in Violation of the Cease Fire

The Washington Post continues its conspicuous silence on the steady stream of rocket attacks on Israel from within Gaza. These rocket attacks are violations of the cease fire between Israel and Palestinians that has been in effect for the last several weeks, a cease fire that prompted Israel, in a demonstration of good faith, to immediately remove its military forces in their entirety from Gaza. The rocket attacks are a daily occurrence now, but the Post is silent. 47 rockets have been launched at Israel since the cease fire went into effect. Pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Olmert to renew military action to put a stop to the rocketings has been mounting. Some ministers and military advisers have been urging an end to the policy of restraint. Israel has issued warnings to the Palestinians that its patience is wearing thin. Residents of Sderot prepared a Petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice to compel the government to take action. Rockets have landed in residential neighborhoods, in school yards and misfired rockets have landed within Gaza, injuring two Palestinian infants and causing a Palestinian woman to suffer a miscarriage. 

The cease fire is in danger of collapse because of continued attacks by Palestinian terrorists. 

Still, The Washington Post is silent.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Bad Day for Anti-Israel Activists and Reporters - Post Reporter Falsely Reports That Israel's Targeted Killings Policy is Directed At All Members of Armed Groups, Regardless of Whether They Have Blood On Their Hands - Manipulates Wording to Convey False Impression That Israel Barred PA-Hamas Prime Minister Haniyeh From Returning to Gaza - Conceals Assassination Attempt By Fatah Against Haniyeh

Thursday was a bad day for Israel bashers. Disappointment over the Israeli Supreme Court decision upholding targeted killings of terrorists and Israel's refusal to allow PA-Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh to cross from Egypt into Gaza with multiple millions of dollars packed in suitcases dealt a double blow to their agenda. The Post's reporter in Israel, Scott Wilson, was among the disappointed yesterday, and his two news reports showed it. In his front page report on the Israeli Supreme Court's decision, he lashed out at Israel and misrepresented to readers that Israel's "assassination" policy targets not just terrorists with blood on their hands but all "Palestinians who are influential or active figures in armed groups." (Israeli High Court Backs Military On Its Policy of 'Targeted Killings,' 12-15-06, page A01) In his report on the Haniyeh border incident, he (supported by the headline on his article) employed broad terminology seeking to convey the misleading impression that Israel barred Haniyeh from returning to Gaza, rather than that Israel simply prevented Haniyeh from entering Gaza with suitcases full of millions of dollars in cash. (Palestinian Premier Barred at Border; Israel Acts to Stop Cash Influx; Crossing Follows Gaza Standoff, 12-15-06, Page A28). Note  how the lead sentence of the article starts out by saying Haniyeh was "stranded" and was "barred" from entering Gaza and only adds as an afterthought the qualifying language "with millions of dollars in cash." Wouldn't it have been fairer for Mr. Wilson to have stated that Mr. Haniyeh was not permitted to enter Gaza with millions of dollars in cash in his suitcase, rather than employing the more tendentious and accusatory language?

"Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was stranded for much of Thursday in the Egyptian Sinai after Israel barred him from entering the Gaza Strip with millions of dollars in cash, a standoff that prompted armed demonstrations by his Hamas movement and gunfire as his convoy crossed the border hours later without the money."

Mr. Wilson then offered a few biased opinions of his own. He asserted that part of Israel's motivation for stopping the cash influx was that Hamas officials carrying cash into Gaza in the past "has embarrassed Israeli officials." Mr. Wilson never questions allegations, accusations and explanations from Palestinians, but when Israelis issue official explanations for their conduct, Mr. Wilson oozes doubt:

"Israeli security officials said that Haniyeh was carrying 'a few tens of millions of dollars' and that it was 'very likely to be used for terrorist activities.' They did not offer evidence to support the assertion." 

However, the most egregious example of Mr. Wilson's agenda driven reporting was his continued effort to soft-pedal the Palestinian on Palestinian violence that has been dramatically mounting. The incident at the border involving Haniyeh was most noteworthy, not for what happened when Haniyeh sat around for a few hours when Israel wouldn't let him carry the cash into Gaza, but for the assassination attempt on Haniyeh by Fatah after he decided to leave the cash behind and enter Gaza. His bodyguard standing next to him was shot and killed and his son was wounded. The world's press widely reported it as an assassination attempt. Hamas asserted that it was an assassination attempt. Mr. Haniyeh himself said he knew who his attempted assassins were. Mr. Wilson refused to report even the allegation that it was an assassination attempt. The incident isn't described until paragraph 9 and even then it's only one brief and uninformative sentence completely omitting any reference to an alleged assassination attempt and making it appear as if Haniyeh's group simply wandered into crossfire:

"But Haniyeh's convoy was allowed to pass into Gaza just before 11 p.m. amid gunshots in the area of the crossing terminal that killed his bodyguard and lightly wounded his son and a political adviser."

The following letters were written in the wake of the two slanted articles in yesterday's paper:

To: The Editors and Publisher of The Washington Post
From: Robert G. Samet
Subject: False Report About Israel's "Targeted Killings" Policy
Date: December 15, 2006

Scott Wilson displays blatant anti-Israel animus in falsely reporting in his front page article in today's paper that Israel launches targeted killings against any member of a terrorist organization simply because they are, in his words, "influential or active figures," without drawing any connection to the role those targeted play in originating, abetting or otherwise participating in the terrorist operations that kill innocent Israelis. (Israeli High Court Backs Military On Its Policy of "Targeted Killings" 12-15-06, A01) Mr. Wilson would deceive his readers into believing that Israel's targeting of specific terrorists is arbitrary and capricious and requires only a membership card and reputation. Has Mr. Wilson no respect for truth or fairness in his reporting? 

Robert G. Samet
EyeOnThePost, Inc.

To: Scott Wilson and Washington Post Editors
From: Leo Rennert
Subject: Washington Post Re: Palestinians -- See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil
Date: December 15, 2006

Rarely have I seen a worse juxtaposition of events in a single article where the writer buries by far the most important and compelling event, while highlighting and leading with less important and compelling stuff. Yet, that's exactly what you and the Post managed to do with your article about the mayhem on Thursday at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

Palestinian PM Haniyeh's long wait to get back into Gaza and the clashes between Hamas gunmen and Egyptian security personnel pale in comparison with the real shocker that occurred just before 4 PM, Washington, DC, time, by your account. It was at that point that Haniyeh, after being held up for several hours on the Egyptian side so he couldn't bring in millions of dollars from Iran to finance Hamas's terrorist agenda, was allowed back into Gaza -- minus the cash. Once on the Gaza side, Haniyeh's convoy came under intense fire. His body guard was killed right next to him. Haniyeh's son was wounded. So was a political adviser. Hamas immediately ACCUSED Fatah of trying to ASSASSINATE the prime minister.

Amid growing clashes and violence between Fatah and Hamas that edged toward civil war in recent days, I would think this was the real lead. In fact, when any prime minister gets shot at, any journalist or newspaper worth their salt would make that the lead. But not you and the Post.

The near-assassination of Haniyeh mind-bogglingly merits only a brief sentence at the end of the NINTH paragraph. And there is absolutely no mention of Hamas charges against Fatah that they were trying to assassinate the prime minister. All this happened well before Post deadlines, as your own story attests.

Yet, you and the Post chose to lead with earlier developments which are not nearly as headline-worthy as the near-killing of Haniyeh. Your lead and following paragraphs focus instead on how Haniyeh was held up until he agreed to leave behind his suitcase of money and how Hamas gunmen clashed with border security guards. You even toned this down, not mentioning that at least 18 people were wounded or that innocent civilians in the crossing terminal dived to the floors to avoid being killed.

By leading with the secondary developments, however, you were able to put the monkey on Israel's back, suggesting it violated some crossing rules that do permit passage of people with lots of money and dismissing Israeli concerns that Haniyeh's treasure trove might be used to finance Hamas terrorism.

So even during a crescendo of self-inflicted Palestinian violence, anarchy and near civil war, it's more important for you and the Post to find an angle to gig Israel than to report promptly and fully Palestinians trying to kill the Hamas prime minister.

A classic example of stretching to find the mote in Israel's eye, while keeping true to your agenda about coverage of the Palestinian side, especially Hamas: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.


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

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Washington Post Report on Palestinian Murder of 3 Palestinian School Children Omits Many Details Reported By Other News Media - Where Are The Photos of Wailing Palestinian Mourners?

The details omitted from the Washington Post's report of the internecine murder yesterday of 3 Palestinian school children in Gaza are striking. (Three Children Of Palestinian Intelligence Official Slain, 12-12-06, A22) A comparison of Scott Wilson's report on behalf of the Washington Post with that of the Associated Press' report on the shooting shows the Post's omission of the following detail:

  • The shooting took place on a street crowded with school children, with 9 schools lining the street.

  • School bags and a small plastic bag with a sandwich covered in blood were left at the scene. The car was soaked in blood.

  • The Post report states merely that dozens of bullets were fired but doesn't note that they were fired into the car containing the children. While the AP report quotes Palestinians saying Hamas was responsible along with Hamas's denial, the Post quotes a witness saying Hamas policemen chased away the gunmen, an assertion not contained in the AP report.

  • The bodies of the children were carried by family members into a mosque, still dressed in their school uniforms. One child had 10 bullet holes in his head.

  • The father of the children, who was the target of the attack, was quoted by the AP: "I have no words. Words stop at the extent of this crime" "I am a father who has lost his children."

  • The mother of the children was dressed in black and was described as choking back tears and asking: "What did the 3-year-old do or see in his life to deserve this?"

  • A mass funeral procession took place at which thousands of angry Fatah supporters fired rifles, burned tires, blocked roads and shut down the commercial market.

  • Gaza's mufti issued a fatwa calling for a death sentence against the killers.

  • The Post's article erroneously states that the children ranged in age from 6-9, while the AP article gave their correct ages as 3, 6 and 9.

The Washington Post does not always omit detail of the type omitted by Scott Wilson in this particular article. When reporting on Palestinian deaths resulting from Israeli fire, Post reporters race to the scene to gather the type of intimate detail we see in the AP report. The goal is to make Israel look as brutal and blood thirsty as possible. The Post bends over backward to feature photographs of wailing Palestinian mourners. Where are the photos of the Palestinian mourners accompanying this report? When Israelis die as a result of Palestinian fire, we often see the type of comparatively indifferent and distant reporting exhibited in this Washington Post article. Readers should remember that the trip from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv to Gaza or Sderot is less than 2 hours. The difference is in the agenda of the Post's reporters and editors. Detailed reporting of the type provided in the above AP report would depict Palestinians, in particular Hamas, as brutal and blood thirsty, even against their own  people. That depiction is not part of the Post's agenda.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Carter Center Colleague of Former President Jimmy Carter Resigns in Protest Over Carter's Exaggerations, Fabrications and Inventions in His Book

While EyeOnThePost's direct mission is to address the slanted reporting of the Washington Post on events in Israel and the disputed territories, we and our readers have a larger concern with historical accuracy in reporting events in the Middle East. The following posting from the Power Line Blog is informative. 

Professor Kenneth Stein, Director of the Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel and a Middle East fellow of The Carter Center of Emory University, has resigned his long time position at the Carter Center in protest of former President Jimmy Carter's book on Israel, the title of which he says is "too inflammatory to even print" and the substance of which he says is "replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments." His criticisms go further, and include his contention that former President Carter misstated what Professor Stein's notes show took place at meetings they both attended. He states: "Being a former President does not give one a unique privilege to invent information or to unpack it with cuts, deftly slanted to provide a particular outlook." The full Power Line Blog posting, including Professor Stein's resignation letter, follows:

December 05, 2006
Errors, Omissions, Inventions and Falsehoods

A reader writes that he received the email message below sent by Professor Kenneth Stein of Emory University and the Carter Center. Professor Stein's expertise lies in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Our reader writes that when he was an undergraduate student at Emory in the mid-1990's, Professor Stein was one of the most revered, respected professors on campus, and that Professor Stein had a long-standing association with the Carter Center in his capacity as an expert in Middle East politics and history.

Professor Stein is apparently terminating that association, solely as a result of Carter's new book, Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid. The reaction of Professor Stein -- a formerly close associate and collaborator of Carter -- to Carter's new book is, as our reader thought it would be, of great interest to us: 

This note is to inform you that yesterday, I sent letters to President Jimmy Carter, Emory University President Jim Wagner, and Dr. John Hardman, Executive Director of the Carter Center resigning my position, effectively immediately, as Middle East Fellow of the Carter Center of Emory University. This ends my 23 year association with an institution that in some small way I helped shape and develop. My joint academic position in Emory College in the History and Political Science Departments, and, as Director of the Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel remains unchanged.

Many still believe that I have an active association with the Center and, act as an adviser to President Carter, neither is the case. President Carter has intermittently continued to come to the Arab-Israeli Conflict class I teach in Emory College. He gives undergraduate students a fine first hand recollection of the Begin-Sadat negotiations of the late 1970s. Since I left the Center physically thirteen years ago, the Middle East program of the Center has waned as has my status as a Carter Center Fellow. For the record, I had nothing to do with the research, preparation, writing, or review of President Carter's recent publication. Any material which he used from the book we did together in 1984, The Blood of Abraham, he used unilaterally. 

President Carter's book on the Middle East, a title too inflammatory to even print, is not based on unvarnished analyses; it is replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions, and simply invented segments. Aside from the one-sided nature of the book, meant to provoke, there are recollections cited from meetings where I was the third person in the room, and my notes of those meetings show little similarity to points claimed in the book. Being a former President does not give one a unique privilege to invent information or to unpack it with cuts, deftly slanted to provide a particular outlook. Having little access to Arabic and Hebrew sources, I believe, clearly handicapped his understanding and analyses of how history has unfolded over the last decade. Falsehoods, if repeated often enough become meta-truths, and they then can become the erroneous baseline for shaping and reinforcing attitudes and for policy-making. The history and interpretation of the Arab-Israeli conflict is already drowning in half-truths, suppositions, and self-serving myths; more are not necessary. In due course, I shall detail these points and reflect on their origins.

The decade I spent at the Carter Center (1983-1993) as the first permanent Executive Director and as the first Fellow were intellectually enriching for Emory as an institution, the general public, the interns who learned with us, and for me professionally. Setting standards for rigorous interchange and careful analyses spilled out to the other programs that shaped the Center's early years. There was mutual respect for all views; we carefully avoided polemics or special pleading. This book does not hold to those standards. My continued association with the Center leaves the impression that I am sanctioning a series of egregious errors and polemical conclusions which appeared in President Carter's book. I can not allow that impression to stand.

Through Emory College, I have continued my professional commitment to inform students and the general public about the history and politics of Israel, the Middle East, and American policies toward the region. I have tried to remain true to a life-time devotion to scholarly excellence based upon unvarnished analyses and intellectual integrity. I hold fast to the notion that academic settings and those in positions of influence must teach and not preach. Through Emory College, in public lectures, and in OPED writings, I have adhered to the strong belief that history must presented in context, and understood the way it was, not the way we wish it to be.

In closing, let me thank you for your friendship, past and continuing support for ISMI, and to Emory College. Let me also wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday season, and a healthy and productive new year.

As ever,

Dr. Kenneth W. Stein,
Professor of Contemporary Middle Eastern History, Political Science,
and Israeli Studies,
Director, Middle East Research Program and
Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel
Atlanta, Georgia

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Post Continues Its Blackout of Palestinian Breaches of Cease Fire

The Post continues its failure to report on Palestinian breaches of the cease fire in Gaza that took effect a week ago. Although the Post's web site was offering this Reuters story - ("Rocket fired at Israel from Gaza despite truce") - about the latest terrorist rocket launchings into Israel from Gaza by 11 PM Eastern Time Saturday night, plenty of time for the deadline for Sunday's print edition, Sunday's paper was silent on these latest Palestinian breaches.

Washington Post Front Page Story Seeks to Cast Hezbollah's Effort to Take Over Lebanon As A Morally Equivalent Dispute Between US Backed Lebanese Government and Iran Backed Hezbollah

The front page of Sunday's Post featured as its lead a story by Anthony Shadid that was typical of the Washington Post's effort to romanticize and bolster the Iranian and Syrian backed terrorists of Hezbollah. (At Barricades in Downtown Beirut, Lebanon's Fault Lines Grow Deeper, 12-3-06, A01) Shadid describes them as "the fervent young men of Hezbollah."  He depicts their effort to topple the Lebanese government as a morally equivalent tug of war between the US and Iran. Note the misleading reference in the opening paragraphs to US made M-16 rifles, suggesting that the US is somehow involved in military support of the Lebanese government against Hezbollah:

"On one side of coiled barbed wire and metal barricades were armored personnel carriers manned by soldiers in red berets toting U.S.-made M-16 rifles and guarding the colonnaded, stone government headquarters where Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and other ministers have taken up residence. On the other were the fervent young men of Hezbollah and its allies, who have turned a downtown tailored for the rich into the site of an open-ended protest to force the government's fall."

And again in the sixth paragraph:

"In today's crisis, those fault lines tell the story of the struggle underway between the country's two camps, divided by past and present, with vastly different visions of Lebanon's future: on one side Hezbollah, supported by Iran and Syria, and on the other the government, backed by the United States and France."

There is a clear distinction between the US in its diplomatic support (without intervention) on behalf of a Lebanese government under attack and Iran and Syria's direct intervention, including financing, equipping, training and counseling of a terrorist organization seeking to topple a sovereign government. Mr. Shadid's deceptive manipulation of the wording of his report to draw a non-existent parallel between the conduct of Iran and Syria on the one hand and that of the US and France on the other is typical of past efforts of Post reporters to bolster the image of Mid East terrorist organizations.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Once Again, Important News About Israel, Ignored By Post Reporters and News Editors, Surfaces On Its Editorial Pages

Once again we have the unseemly spectacle of the Post's editorial writers reporting for the first time important news about Israel that its news reporters and editors conspicuously ignored. 

For days we've been noting the Post's failure to report Israel's peace gestures toward Palestinians. Prime Minister Olmert's major speech on Monday offering large concessions to Palestinians in return for peace has been completely ignored. Not a single word about this speech was reported in the pages of the Post. The cease fire that went into effect early Sunday morning with Israel completely evacuating its military from Gaza has held because of Israeli restraint in the face of continued Palestinian rocket attacks, yet the Post has failed to report on it.

The blackout imposed by the Post's reporter in Israel and its foreign editor ended today with an excellent editorial discussing Prime Minister Olmert's speech and the events of recent days. (Israel's Offer, Ehud Olmert has made clear what Palestinians have to gain by forming a new government, 11-30-06, A22)

This isn't the first time this has happened. We've noted instances in the recent past when the Post's news reporter in Israel ignored news that reflected positively on Israel or poorly on Palestinians, with the absurd result that its editorial writers ended up reporting the news for the first time on the pages of the Post. It happened with the October speech by Hamas's Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in which he declared to a huge Hamas rally that Hamas would never recognize Israel. (See "The Disconnect Between the Washington Post's Anti-Israel, Pro-Arab News Reporting and Its Editorial Pages - Washington Post Editorials Provide News Its Reporters Are Unwilling to Report")

But these are only instances in which readers are fortunate enough to receive the news on the editorial pages, and we can therefore point out the absurdity of news appearing there for the first time. How many readers don't read the editorial pages? How many deliberately buried news stories never come to the attention of Post readers? Why should Post readers have to get their news for the first time from the editorial pages or, in many instances, not at all? Post readers have a legitimate right to complain about agenda driven judgments that filter out news stories favorable to Israel or harmful to the image of Palestinians.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Post Suppresses News About Israel's Peace Efforts, The Cease Fire, Israel's Withdrawal From Gaza and Israel's Restraint In The Face of Continuing Rocket Attacks

Time after time the Post has shown that if events in Israel cast a positive light on Israel, the Washington Post will distort, downplay or ignore them in their entirety. Prime Minister Olmert delivered a major policy address on Monday saying Israel would make serious concessions for peace with Palestinians. The Post didn't report it. Since Sunday, when the cease fire went into effect, the Post has reported just one sentence in the World in Brief Section. Israel completely withdrew its military from Gaza. Palestinian terrorist groups continue to launch rockets into Israel - 12 since Sunday - with one from Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah/Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades landing in the Sderot cemetery yesterday. Reports of the terrorists using the lull in fighting to rearm are being ignored. Israel has continued to show restraint in the face of continuing rocket fire, but Prime Minister Olmert told European diplomats yesterday that Israel cannot continue to do so indefinitely. How can the Post justify a stony silence in the face of these events? What will the Post report when the cease fire breaks down after having kept its readers in the dark about events leading up to the breakdown? The Post's silence paves the way for it to later blame Israel. Keeping its readers in the dark on events showing Israel to be in search of peace is just one of the Post's techniques for slanting the news. Leo Rennert's letter elaborates: 

To: Washington Post Executives and Editors
From: Leo Rennert
Date: 11-28-06
Subject: Israel's Peace Initiative Gets Zero Coverage In Washington Post

On Monday, November 27, Ehud Olmert outlined a specific, multi-point plan for a peace agreement with the Palestinians. In the most important policy speech of his tenure as prime minister, Olmert committed Israel to the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state spanning all of Gaza and 90 percent-plus of the West Bank.

As interim steps, he pledged that upon formation of a new Palestinian government that would recognize Israel, end all violence and release Cpl. Gilad Shalit, Israel would release huge numbers of Palestinian prisoners, including many sentenced to long terms, sharply reduce security roadblocks in the West Bank, improve ingress and egress from Gaza, and unfreeze $500 million in tax revenues Israel has collected on behalf of the Palestinians but withheld since the formation of a Palestinian government controlled by Hamas terrorists.

Yet, the Washington Post did not devote a single inch of type to Olmert's peace offensive. Here is a newspaper that devotes reams of copy to Tony Blair's agenda about a Mideast peace focused on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to pressure from Jordan's monarch and other Arab leaders for greater Washington involvement in peace-making, to European and U.N. pronouncements critical of Israel, and to internal Bush administration debates and tensions about support for Israel, but when one of the two main players in the conflict -- i.e. Israel -- steps forward with its own peace initiative, the Post is silent. It prints nothing. Nada.

On the same day that Olmert advanced his peace proposal, a shaky Gaza cease-fire went into its second day, again marred by Palestinian violations. While Israel kept its word and withdrew all its troops from Gaza BEFORE the cease-fire went into effect Sunday morning, NINE Qassam rockets were fired from Gaza on Sunday AFTER the cease-fire went into effect and another two Qassams were fired on Monday.

In other words, just as Israel offered Palestinians a hand of peace, Palestinians -- blindly following their terrorist Pied Pipers -- again opted to jump over the cliff.

Story of the day: Israel doing the right thing; Palestinians unable to wean themselves away from violence. No wonder the Post was mute in its Tuesday, November 28, editions. The events of the preceding 24 hours just didn't fit the paper's pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel agenda. One wonders if this is a new pattern of blanking out news that can't be spun against Israel? A day earlier, in its Monday editions, the Post carried only a totally inconspicuous single paragraph about the start of the cease-fire -- again leaving most of its readers in the dark about this new turn in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Whatever the reason, there has been for a long time as much omission of positive news about Israel as negative articles about Israel in the Post's overall coverage. The last two days simply reinforce this pattern.

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

BBC Strips Anti-Semitism Out of News Report on Vicious Anti-Semitic Attack in Paris - Washington Post Doesn't Report The Incident At All

This comes from Melanie Phillips' blog. It is primarily about the BBC's whitewashing of anti-Semitism out of its news report on a vicious anti-Semitic attack in Paris on fans of the Israeli soccer team, Hapoel Tel Aviv. But it is also about the Washington Post, which ran the AP reports on its web site but didn't consider the event sufficiently newsworthy to mention in the print edition. The following is quoted in its entirety from Ms. Phillips' site:

November 24, 2006 
The Famed Objectivity of the BBC

There has been a vicious racist and antisemitic attack in Paris after a football game in which the Israeli team Hapoel Tel Aviv beat Paris-Saint Germain. A black plainclothes police officer came to the defence of a French Jewish Hapoel supporter after he was attacked by PSG fans. The officer shot dead one PSG fan and wounded another.

Here is how the Associated Press reported the incident:

‘They were shouting “filthy Jew” and when they saw our colleague, who comes from the Caribbean, they also yelled, “filthy black, we’re going to get you,” said a police union official, Luc Poignant. Police said the two men who were shot were members of PSG’s far-right fan base that has a notorious violent and racist history. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said some PSG fans shouted ‘Death to the Jew’ as they attacked the Hapoel fan, whom officials said was French. The police officer first responded with tear gas, but was knocked to the ground by a blow to the head and kick to the stomach, Sarkozy said. He then drew his gun and opened fire… Paris prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin said the PSG supporters had made Nazi salutes and shouted, ‘Le Pen, president,’ a reference to Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the extreme-right National Front party.The National Front later accused the prosecutor of ‘complicity in defamation’ and warned the party would sue anyone who links it with the events.

Here is how Agence France Presse reported it:

Five fans were in police custody Friday morning and face possible charges for ‘racist and anti-Semitic insults’, police said. ‘Four young people presumably from the Jewish community were rounded on by a group of supporters of PSG. They decided to separate, and one of them Yanniv Hazout was chased by attackers … The mob grew to some 100 people,’ said state prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin… A hard core of PSG supporters — dubbed the Boulogne Kop — is known for its far-right allegiance, and several have been banned from the club’s matches.

And now here is how the BBC reported it:

A French football fan has been shot dead by a plain-clothed police officer after a European football match. The officer reportedly fired tear gas, then live ammunition in an effort to disperse a fighting crowd near Paris’ Parc des Princes football stadium. The group of 150 Paris Saint Germain supporters were surrounding a fan of the Israeli team Hapoel Tel Aviv, who had beaten PSG 4-2 in the Uefa Cup. An investigation has been launched into the shooting, police said. 

Paris Saint Germain fans have a reputation for violent incidents, with the club disciplined over their behaviour several times in the past. The skirmish broke out by the Parc des Princes in the aftermath of PSG’s defeat. The police officer, who has not been identified, threw tear gas to break up a group of Paris fans surrounding the Israeli. 

The officer was then chased towards a McDonald’s restaurant nearby, holding the crowd at bay with his firearm before firing at least two shots, reports said. Police union official Luc Poignant told the AFP news agency that the officer ‘had no choice but to defend himself and protect another person’. There was an atmosphere of high tension among Paris fans immediately after the game, which continued a poor run of form for the team. AFP quoted witnesses describing a climate of ‘extreme confusion’ in the streets. Police reinforcements were sent to the area in an effort to calm the violence in the moments after the Paris fan was shot.

The BBC has excised all references to the anti-black and antisemitic nature of the attack, all references to the far right and all references to the racist pedigree of the PSG fans. Wrongly identifying the Hapoel supporter as an Israeli rather than a French Jew, it gives the impression this was merely a fight between rival supporters of two nations’ football teams. 


Sunday, November 5, 2006

Washington Post Reporter's Slip Is Showing - Anti-Israel Bias Evident In The Doubts He Expresses - Even the New York Times Acknowledges That Terrorists Are Smuggling Weapons on a Large Scale Into Gaza Via Tunnels, But Not Scott Wilson and the Washington Post

For the Post's Scott Wilson there is a double standard in the proof required of Israel versus that of Palestinians. Unless Israel produces what Mr. Wilson considers to be "tangible evidence" of a fact, even one that for most people would be apparent, he comes right out and expresses his doubt. When he cites Palestinians, even when what they are saying is counter intuitive and illogical, he does so without question. The following letter by Leo Rennert illustrates this double standard in the Post's coverage and compares it to noticeably different coverage in the NY Times:

To: Washington Post Executives and Editors
From: Leo Rennert
Date: 11-5-06
Subject: A Comparison of Two Major Newspapers On The Terrorist Buildup Of Advanced Weapons In Gaza

Have Palestinian Terrorist Groups Smuggled Anti-Tank Weapons Into Gaza Since Israel's 2005 Withdrawal?

New York Times Says: Definitely Yes.

Washington Post Says: Not Proven, Doesn't See Them.

Same topic, 2 opposing views:

November 4 Washington Post Article By Scott Wilson:

"The Israeli military has presented little tangible evidence to support the claim. Palestinian officials say the military is citing the tunnels to argue for a large operation in Gaza that could help rehabilitate its reputation after the Lebanon experience."

Citing comment from a Fatah official: 

"The ability of the groups here to bring weapons through these tunnels is very weak."

Citing comment from a Hamas spokesman: 

"If we had these anti-tank weapons they talk about, why wouldn't we be using them right now?"

An Israeli spokeswoman: 

"Anti-tank weapons have also arrived." 

But reporter Wilson remains very skeptical: 

"She declined to say where they came from, calling the information secret." (Note that while Wilson casts doubt on an Israeli report, he cites unquestioningly Palestinian denials about the presence of anti-tank weapons.)

Nov. 5 New York Times Article By Steven Erlanger:

"Another Hamas fighter was killed in a gun battle with Israeli forces after firing an antitank rocket near Beit Hanun."

"The houses the Israelis destroyed contained weapons, the army said, including antitank missiles, automatic rifles and grenades."

"Israeli forces have also been active in southern Gaza trying to destroy tunnels to Egypt used for smuggling contraband including weapons, antitank missiles, ammunition and explosives."

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

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Washington Post Reporter Scott Wilson Continues to Reveal Anti-Israel Bias - Seeks To Cast Doubt on Israel's Claim Of Large Scale Terrorist Weapons Smuggling Into Gaza Via Tunnels

Given that he conspicuously ignored the discovery over the past month of more than 15 terrorist tunnels leading from Egypt into Gaza and the many statements of Israel's civilian and military leadership that Hamas is smuggling weapons into Gaza from Egypt on a grand scale in an effort to emulate Hezbollah, it was surprising to see Scott Wilson's article today start out by discussing these topics at length. (In Wake of War, Israel Steps Up Effort Against Gaza Tunnels, 11-4-06, A16) Mr. Wilson's coverage was even fair ... for the first eight paragraphs, that is. Then Mr. Wilson's anti-Israel tilt surfaced and his real goal to cast doubt on Israeli claims of a weapons smuggling threat was laid bare. Take, for example, this comment by Wilson himself:

"The Israeli military has presented little tangible evidence to support the claim."

Mr. Wilson's personal opinion casting doubt on Israel's claims is completely misplaced. It is misplaced first, because evidence of the type to substantiate Israeli intelligence reports would in many instances reveal clandestine intelligence sources and would not logically be of the type that Israel would reveal in public and second, because Mr. Wilson's personal opinion has no place in what is supposed to be objective reporting. Mr. Wilson often accepts the most ridiculous assertions by Palestinians without injecting a personal comment to the effect that no evidence to support the claim was presented. His expressions of doubt are reserved for Israelis.

Mr. Wilson reveals his opinion about the tunnels by peppering his article with both his own comments and quotes of Palestinians denying significant weapons smuggling through the tunnels. Here is an example of Mr. Wilson bending over backward for an explanation of the tunnels that would minimize Israel's claim that they are being used for large scale arms smuggling:

"In addition to being an avenue for arms, the tunnels have long served as routes for contraband cigarettes, electronics and other items. They have proved particularly useful at a time when Israel has frequently closed crossing points between the strip and the outside world, citing security concerns."

15+ tunnels have been discovered in the last several weeks, and Mr. Wilson would have his readers believe they were dug for cigarettes and electronics? That's a lot of Marlboros and cell phones. Note that when Mr. Wilson says that Israel closed crossing points between the strip and "the outside world," he refers to Israel as "the outside world." The border crossings that were closed were crossings from Gaza into Israel itself. The border between Gaza and Egypt has never been closed by Israel during the year since Israel evacuated Gaza in its entirety.

This is a reporter with an agenda. Mr. Wilson injects as many Palestinian quotes minimizing the purpose of the tunnels as conduits for arms as he is able to gather. He quotes Palestinians at length trying to distinguish Hamas's situation from Hezbollah's situation in terms of the ease of using tunnels to smuggle weapons. His quotes range from the easily rebuttable - "'If we had these antitank weapons they talk about, why wouldn't we be using them right now?'" - Ummm... maybe because you're stockpiling them for a larger campaign akin to the Israel-Hezbollah campaign? - to the ignorant: "'If the tunnels are now the real problem, why are Israeli tanks in Beit Hanoun, where we don't have any?'" ... as if he doesn't know that the terrorist rocketing of Israeli settlements from Beit Hanoun in the north of Gaza is also a severe problem plaguing Israel.

Leo Rennert's letter discusses further the anti-Israel tilt of Mr. Wilson's reporting:

To: Scott Wilson & Washington Post Executives and Editors
From: Leo Rennert
Date: 11-4-06
Subject: Washington Post Belittles Major Palestinian Weapons Buildup in Gaza

At first blush, I was pleased to see what I thought might be a thoughtful article about the proliferation of smuggling tunnels that Hamas and other terrorist groups use to import huge amounts of explosives and weapons from Egypt into Gaza. ("In Wake of War, Israel Steps Up Effort Against Gaza Tunnels," Nov. 4, page A16).

But as I began reading through it, I discovered that this is instead a piece that primarily seeks to debunk Israel's claims that it now faces a strategic threat as a result of a massive Palestinian buildup of ever more lethal weapons of increased potency and range, while Egypt looks the other way, and Palestinian terror groups committed to Israel's destruction turn Gaza into another Hezbollahland.

While you briefly mention Israel's concerns, your story is replete with Hamas denials, some of them laughably absurd, capped by your own skeptical view of the danger Israel faces, or as you put it: "The Israel military has presented little tangible evidence to support the claim" of major weapons transfers through the tunnels.

So let's examine Israel's brief in this case, starting with a torrent of videos of thousands of Hamas and other terrorist "gunmen" parading though Gaza, armed to the teeth, firing off thousands of rounds. Plus ample evidence of widespread use of explosives to mine roads and other strategic points. Or Israeli intelligence reports, garnered from air and ground surveillance as well as tip-offs from Palestinian collaborators, of the quantity and quality of weapons that have flooded into Gaza since Israel's complete withdrawal more than a year ago. Given Israel's high rate of success with strikes against terrorist bomb factories and weapons caches, I wouldn't so cavalierly dismiss its intelligence-based reports of the overall scope of the weapons buildup in Gaza.

Yet, all this is shunted aside by you, starting with the very specific testimony presented by Shin Bet domestic security chief Yuval Diskin on August 28 to the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, when he called the Palestinian weapons buildup in Gaza a "strategic problem" and graphically detailed its scope: About 20 tons of weapons and explosives have been smuggled from Egypt into Gaza over the last year, including 15,000 light weapons, 4 million rounds of ammunition, guns, rockets, dozens of anti-tank missiles and launchers, 15 tons of explosives, rocket-propelled grenades, Katyusha missiles with a 20-kilometer range (a major improvement over the shorter-range Qassams) -- "anything apart from tanks and planes." (See attached Haaretz story of Aug. 29). Diskin followed up with a similar warning on Sept. 26. All duly reported in the Israeli media, including Haaretz, the Post's favorite Israeli newspaper because of its strong liberal, anti-government bend.

Yet, while you accord ample space to Hamas denials and your own skepticism, you conspicuously shunt aside the very detailed and specific disclosures of Israel's top domestic security chief. Instead you quote Hamas Prime Minister Haniyeh as he gives his world-upside-down view -- "Israel has made Gaza a target." Since you went right to the top of the Palestinian government, why not let Post readers also know what the highest echelons of Israel's government are saying about the tunnels and the weapons smuggling. Why not also quote Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rebutting Haniyeh with a quote that "Hamas terrorist have made Israel a target from heavily fortified Gaza"?

Instead, you bury a brief comment from a low-level Israeli spokeswoman about an "unknown" quantity of military-grade explosives, while much higher-level officials easily could provide you with very specific "known" quantities. And when she refers to smuggled anti-tank weapons, you immediately knock down her statement with a denial by a Hamas spokesman.

In the fog of war, it's fine to give readers views of both sides -- but one side shouldn't be accorded far greater prominence, and thus credibility, than the other.

As to your dismissive comments about Israel having presented "little tangible evidence," what more would you have insisted on besides Diskin's detailed report, which you ignored anyway? Would you have been satisfied if Diskin had invited you to accompany him on a stroll through weapons caches and arsenals in Gaza, depending of course on whether Palestinian Prime Minister Haniyeh would have given the two of you safe passage and led you to all the stacks of hidden ammo and weapons so you could take a complete inventory? Or would you have been satisfied if Diskin had laid out for you Israel's intelligence methods and sources that furnished details about all the weapons smuggling so that you could let your readers, including Palestinian terrorists, in on Israel's most valuable and sensitive intelligence information? 

I'm not asking you to believe Diskin's claims -- or for that matter any of the claims of Hamas and other terrorist groups. But in the absence of directly verifiable evidence -- one way or the other -- it's not your job to play judge or referee and come up with your own verdict as to who's more believable, unless you can catch one side or the other in a patently obvious and demonstrable propaganda lie.

You may personally doubt or remain unsatisfied with Israel's evidence, but as a reporter, where is your evidence to the contrary?

On the other hand, why not challenge the Hamas spokesman when he tells you with a straight face that his group is building up its military capabilities in Gaza "to resist this occupation, especially since there is no effective international pressure on Israel to end it." What "occupation," you might or should have asked in view of Israel's complete withdrawal from all of Gaza over a year ago and Israel's total disinclination to reoccupy it, as long as Hamas and the other terror groups put a permanent halt to their rocket attacks (about 1,000 this year, or nearly 3 a day). Why print unchallenged a demonstrably misleading statement by a Hamas spokesman about "occupation" of a non-occupied area? Or was the Hamas spokesman referring to Israel's "occupation" of Tel Aviv, Haifa and the rest of Israel, in which case why not have made that clear to your readers?

Bottom line: If you're going to be a skeptic, why not be an equal-opportunity skeptic? Why confine your skepticism to Israeli declarations; why not apply it also to statements of Palestinian terrorists, whom you so profusely and uncritically quote?


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

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