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Eye On The PostARCHIVE JULY, 2004

Thursday, July 29, 2004

When Is A Correction Not a Correction At All? When it Contains Another Falsehood.

Last week we wrote and challenged The Post's ridiculous assertion in a July 23 article that settlers occupy 40% of the land area of Gaza. While "correcting" this egregious error, The Post managed to make it worse. Here's what they printed (Corrections, 7/28/04, p. A2):

"A July 23 article misstated the amount of land in the Gaza Strip occupied by Jewish settlers. Although there is disagreement on the exact amount, estimates range from about 12 percent to about 15 percent. When Israeli military installations, roads and security zones are included, estimates range from about 15 percent to about 38 percent."

Notice first that nowhere did this "correction" state that the error being corrected was a figure of 40%. The fact that all other items in the "Corrections" column that day stated what the original error was, thereby giving readers a sense of the significance and context, while this correction did not, indicates a certain begrudging quality to the Post's admission of error.

Here's what else was wrong with this so-called "correction:"

  1. The new figure of "12-15%", although smaller than the ridiculous 40% published earlier, is still wrong. A simple measurement made on a 2001 map on the BBC web site shows that "settlement areas" constitute less than 10% of the total Gaza area. If only the populated "settlement blocks" shown on the map are measured, the number is much smaller.

  2. Why "estimate" a number that can be readily ascertained? It took only 4 minutes to make the measurement cited above. The Israeli government could surely supply accurate numbers, if asked. The Post should be willing to make the effort to get real numbers instead of going to unnamed people or web sites which may or may not know what they're talking about. To whom is The Post referring when it says "estimates range from?" Certainly no reliable sources that our research could find. (See comment #4, below)

    But now we come to the really bad part:

  4. The "correction" then goes on to say that if military installations, roads and security zones are included, the number would be an estimated 15-38%. But this has nothing to do with the original statement that is the subject of the correction! It's as if The Post is determined to get back to that 40% number and embed it in readers' minds. First of all, actual military installations don't take much area. And the reference to roads is absurd; roads are not occupied areas and are usually considered as essential, even if they have checkpoints along them. The main item here in The Post's all too obvious stretch for 40% must be "security zones," which are areas under Israeli military control, but which are occupied and civilly controlled by Palestinians. The Post's original false statement was that settlers occupy 40% of the land mass of the Gaza Strip. Now The Post, in a supposed correction, is referring to land controlled by the military and not land occupied by settlers. This is quite a difference from the false statement that was supposed to be corrected. One could argue that all of Gaza is under effective Israeli military control, but that certainly would not justify a statement by The Post that settlers occupy all of the land mass of the Gaza Strip. 

  6. Even if this number were relevant (which it's not), The Post again resorts to estimates - and what a ridiculous range (15-38%) for a number that could be easily and reliably ascertained. Once again the Post has decided that it is not a news organization, but a mouthpiece for propagandists. We challenge The Post to state what "authoritative source" was used for the latest whopper of 38%. If The Post cannot support that assertion, a correction of their correction would be in order. 

Monday, July 26, 2004

 Misleading Headline Says Israel Killed 6 Palestinians in a Restaurant Without Mentioning They Were Terrorists or Militants - Same Article Calls Palestinian (Again Not Mentioning They Were Terrorists or Militants) Wounding of 6 Israeli Children "Slight," When In Fact One Child Was Seriously Wounded

To the Editor:

It takes a bit of doing, but the Post's Molly Moore managed to file another misleading story about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which then was topped by a misleading headline -- "6 Palestinians Killed at Restaurant" (July 26).

Most readers, drawn by the bold headline, might conclude that Israel murdered half a dozen Palestinians having a peaceful meal in a restaurant. One has to get inside the story, which many readers are apt to pass by, to find out that all six victims were commanders or members of a terrorist group, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, according to the Israeli version, or that at least five of the six were acknowledged as "gunmen" by Palestinian officials.

Also, Moore reports that "it could not be learned whether the Palestinians returned fire," ignoring Israel's claim that the fatalities occurred during an exchange of gunfire. Moore, writing about a separate incident involving the firing of an antitank rocket into a Jewish community in the Gaza Strip, then states that six children were "slightly" injured, totally ignoring the fact that one of the children was seriously wounded.

It's one thing to give your Mideast coverage a consistent pro-Palestinian spin. It's quite another to mock factual accuracy in the process.

Leo Rennert

First the word "terrorist" was written out of the Post's lexicon. Now even the less accurate word  "militant" is disappearing from places it is most needed. Perhaps the problem is that if one gets that close and empathetic to these terrorists and that distant and hardened to the plight of their innocent victims, it must be hard to think of the terrorists as anything other than Palestinians... even when they shoot at point blank range into the bellies of pregnant women and into the heads of their children accompanying them..

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Post Continues to Selectively Ignore Numerous Items Reported Elsewhere in the Press, Including (1) Terrorist Killing of Palestinian Boy Who Tried to Stop Them From Launching Rockets (2) Israel's Targeted Killing of Terrorist Leader Who Paraded Head of Israeli Soldier (3) Continuing Death Threats to Palestinian Journalists

Are You Tired of Getting Only Half the News From Israel?
Here's Another Example of The Half The Post Won't Report

The world was shocked to learn that a 15 year old Palestinian boy in Gaza who had tried to stop terrorists from using his family's home as a launching point for Kassam rockets was then murdered by the terrorists. Three other family members were wounded. Media outlets all over the world reported this story,  including The New York Times, The LA Times, The Boston Globe, BBC, Arab media, etc. but the Washington Post, with its own agenda, didn't. 

Media all over the world yesterday reported that Israel had targeted and killed one of the terrorists who paraded the head of an Israeli soldier in May. The Post published a snippet in the World in Brief section yesterday noting that Israel had killed a "high-ranking Islamic Jihad militant responsible for many attacks, including an ambush in May that killed six Israeli soldiers," but said nothing to remind its readers that this was the Palestinian who had drawn the world's attention with his savagery. In addition, The Post failed to note that this killing by Israeli forces culminated a 2 month search by them for this particular terrorist. 

Death threats against Palestinian journalists continue, and The Post's failure to report them continues. 

Where did the Post's John Anderson come up with the ridiculous figure he reported yesterday that Israeli settlers occupy 40% of the land mass of the Gaza Strip??!! A multitude of maps are available on the internet, including exaggerated ones from Palestinians, and even those show less than 15% of the land mass in the hands of Israeli settlers. We have asked The Post for a correction.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Post Fails to Report Latest Effort at Intimidation of Journalists by
 Palestinian Authority

Are You Tired of Getting Only Half the News From Israel?
Here's Another Example of The Half The Post Won't Report

As expected, The Post has been silent about the latest efforts by the Palestinian Authority to intimidate Palestinian journalists and suppress reporting about the uprising against Arafat. Journalists were told they would be severely punished if they continued to report on or publish photographs of the demonstrations and violent protests against Arafat's corruption. These reports and photographs were said to be harmful to "national unity." Other media outlets around the world have reported on this repressive conduct, but a comprehensive report can be found in the Jerusalem Post. (Palestinian Reporters Told To Toe The Line In Gaza, Jerusalem Post, 7-20-04). This Jerusalem Post report was written by Khaled Abu Toameh, a Palestinian journalist working for the Jerusalem Post. Readers are directed to a recent talk by Mr. Toameh while in the US on the subject of PA intimidation of journalists. Since Western media representatives to a great extent rely on the Palestinian Authority to provide journalists and translators for their news, readers have a vital interest in knowing the extent to which that news has been suppressed, orchestrated and filtered.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Letter to the Editor 

To: Editor, Washington Post
Subject: Artistic Souls and Dashed Boyhood Aspirations
Date: 7-21-04

With regard to The Post's front page article, "In Jenin, Seven Shattered Dreams, Boyhood Hopes Forged on Theater Stage Dissolve in Reality of Intifada," it's too bad Molly Moore wasn't a reporter in the 30's and 40's, because then she would have been able to tell the romantic story of Adolph Hitler's dashed dreams of being an artist. Maybe if everyone had understood that Hitler had an artistic soul, history wouldn't have judged him so harshly. Maybe if everyone had understood how the Jews helped to dash his dreams and cause his "militancy," they would have empathized with his tragedy, rather than condemned him.

Robert G. Samet

Monday, July 19, 2004

Post Features Major Front Page Propaganda Piece Sympathetic to Terrorists

On the pages of a responsible newspaper one would expect to read a feature story of lives shattered by terrorism. Not in The Washington Post. In The Post one finds a feature story of lives shattered by becoming terrorists. Molly Moore's sympathy for terrorists (who she never calls as such) could not be more apparent or more inappropriate than in today's large, front page, above the fold article (together with numerous photographs) recounting the melancholy reminiscences of a group of 7 Palestinian friends who in their teens aspired to careers in the theater, but five of whom have since deservedly ended up dead or in jail after choosing to devote their lives to killing innocent civilians. (In Jenin, Seven Shattered Dreams Boyhood Hopes Forged on Theater Stage Dissolve in Reality of Intifada, 7-19-04, A1). 

Moore seeks to create a sense of sympathy and tragedy around this clique of killers, but in order to do this she must unfairly (1) ignore the true tragedy, which is the innocent Israeli civilians whose lives were destroyed by this group, and (2) gloss over historical facts to make these characters appear to be not only victims, but also victims of Israel, rather than their own irresponsible Palestinian leadership. 

So, in the introductory paragraphs she jumps in with "Alaa Sabagh became leader of the Jenin cell of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades ... and was assassinated in an Israeli missile attack." But does she tell us how many Israelis died or were maimed as a result of this upwardly mobile terrorist's rise to leadership? Of course not, because those innocents don't play a part in the story that evokes Moore's sympathy. The same amoral treatment is given to other members of the group. They become victims at the hands of Israelis, while their true victims are ignored. As for the two remaining friends who aren't in jail or dead, Moore tenderly says "the consequences are intimate and painful." Quoting one of them, she says: " 'The agony of this group represents the agony of the whole camp.'" 

What about the pain and agony of the true victims, the victims of this group? What about the 4 dead and 40 wounded in the Israeli city of Hadera, who she notes in passing were machine-gunned down by one of the heroes of her story? Rather than discuss the victims, she describe the tears of the friends and family of this terrorist in learning he had been killed by Israeli police during the attack. "'They were crying. Tears came to my eyes.'" Quoting another, a stonemason who makes tombstones: "While you are making the headstone, you are crying."

Moore is equally deceptive in her treatment of the history of what brought down the hopes and aspirations of not only these seven eventual terrorists, but many other Palestinians as well. She ignores the Palestinians' victimization by their own leadership. She states: "At the same time, the hopes stirred by the Oslo peace agreement collapsed into disappointment throughout the Palestinian territories. Mounting frustration gave birth to the current intifada in September 2000." Elsewhere, she states that the Palestinian uprising "exploded in the fall of 2000...." Ms. Moore's descriptions deliberately gloss over the fact that the current intifada began at Yasser Arafat's command, after he rejected a peace offer at Camp David in the year 2000 of 95% of the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem to boot. Moore conveniently forgets that one of Arafat's first acts as part of the intifada was to release all of the terrorists that were being held in PA jails. 

Moore's purpose was not to tell the truth, however, but rather, to write an article sympathetic to Palestinians, depicting terrorists as victims of Israel, truth be damned. 

Moore was one of the Post's reporters who filed false reports of a massacre in Jenin in April, 2002. In this article, when referring to the events in Jenin in April, 2002, Moore writes: "The rooms that once housed their stage were destroyed by Israeli missiles, along with the entire heart of the refugee camp." We see in those few biased words that Ms. Moore's heart lies with the Palestinians, including the terrorists among them. We see in Molly Moore's declaration that the intifada "remains resilient," wishful thinking.

Does the fact that this is a feature article serve as an excuse for one-sided, agenda-driven reporting? Is there any justification for ignoring the victims of terror and concealing the historical facts surrounding the start of the current intifada? We don't think so. The front page of The Washington Post is no place for fiction.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Post's "See No Evil, Speak No Evil" Policy Toward Palestinians Causes it to Conceal Substance of  UN Envoy's Criticism of Arafat

Are You Tired of Getting Only Half the News From Israel?
Here's Another Example of The Half The Post Won't Report

On Tuesday, July 13, UN Middle East envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, normally friendly to Palestinians and hostile to Israel, in a report to the UN, publicly criticized Yasser Arafat for a "lack of political will" to reform the PA, for the "steadily emerging chaos" in the disputed territories, and for failing to cooperate in fighting terrorism and corruption. According to Roed-Larsen, "the paralysis of the Palestinian Authority has become abundantly clear, and the deterioration of law and order in Palestinian areas is steadily worsening." Roed-Larsen also said: "This collapse of authority cannot be attributed only to the Israeli incursions and operations inside Palestinian towns. The Palestinian Authority is in deep distress and is in real danger of collapse." As a result of his report, Palestinians lashed out at Roed-Larsen, banning him from the territories and declaring him persona non grata in the West Bank and Gaza. He was even threatened by the Al Aksa Brigades, who warned him to stay out of the West Bank and Gaza. The UN then issued a statement saying Roed-Larsen had its full support and confidence.

It's bad enough that The Washington Post relegated this story to a brief snippet in its "World in Brief" roundup, but The Post also failed to provide any details of Roed-Larsen's criticisms. The following single sentence is all The Post reported: "In a briefing to the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday, Roed-Larsen expressed frustration with Arafat for lack of progress toward crucial reforms and U.N.-backed peace moves."

While the shrill, "thou-doth-protest-too-much" response of Arafat and the PA is interesting and newsworthy, the real story here is the growing recognition by the world community that Arafat and the PA are the obstacle to peace in the Middle East. The real story was the substance of the UN envoy's criticism, and that's what The Post didn't want its readers to know.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

News The Post Won't Report - 
Palestinian Children Being Trained To Be Terrorists in 
Summer Camps in Gaza

Are You Tired of Getting Only Half the News From Israel?
Here's Another Example of The Half The Post Won't Report

This is a story that should be told by any news organization interested in a truthful and balanced presentation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian children between the ages of 7 and 15 are attending summer camps in Gaza to train them to be terrorists. The terrorist organizations are providing the training, including the Al Aqsa branch of Arafat's Fatah organization. Not only are they learning to handle weapons and set explosive charges, but also how to ambush, kidnap and kill Jewish settlers. The practice drills include dressing one of the terrorist instructors as a Jewish settler wearing a yarmulke skull cap and then ambushing his vehicle and pulling him from it. A camp spokesperson said if it had been real, he would have been killed. (Gaza Kids Undergoing Military Training At Summer Camps, Jerusalem Post, 7-13-04)(Gaza's Killing School, Sky News, 7-13-04

Where is The Post's moral outrage when it is really called for?

Thursday, July 8, 2004

Post Labels Terrorist Groups As "Resistance Groups" & Islamic Extremist Groups as "Islamic Groups" - Post Finally Acknowledges Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades Are Part of the Palestinian Authority

The Post's front page story today about the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades bends over backward to provide this and other terrorist groups with legitimacy by calling them "armed resistance groups." (Militants Make Unprecedented Push To Gain a Voice in Palestinian Affairs, 7-8-04, A1) The Post has previously said it avoids the use of the term terrorist, because it opposes the use of "labels," but the term "resistance group" is not only a "label,"  it is judgmental, misleading and inaccurate. These groups are not acting in a defensive fashion to resist Israeli aggression. By their own admission, their goal is to destroy the State of Israel.  The term "resistance group" is also deliberately misleading, because it evokes the image of freedom fighters such as the resistance during World War II.

An  additional example of what some have called The Post's Orwellian language is its use in this article of the sanitized terms "Islamic organizations" and "Islamic groups" in lieu of  the more accurate description of them as Islamic extremist or Islamic radical groups. How fair is it to mainstream Islamic religious groups to lump them together with terrorist groups? How fair is it to readers to use terms that tell only half-truths?

As recently as June 27, we criticized The Post for incorrectly describing Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades as "an armed faction linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah political movement," despite PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei's recent admission that Al Aqsa is a fully recognized part of Fatah. Well, they finally got it right today, calling the Al Aqsa Brigades "[t]he armed wing of Yasser Arafat's Fatah political movement..." But the effort to label Arafat and Fatah as being only "political" is misplaced and inaccurate. Ample evidence exists of Arafat and Fatah actively approving, planning and paying for terrorism. One must wonder when The Washington Post will utilize its editorial pages to condemn and delegitimize what is now an acknowledged role by the PA leadership in terrorism. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Post Continues to Use Photographs and Captions to Evoke Sympathy for Terrorists and to Editorialize About Israel's Military Actions Against Terrorists 

In today's Post there is a huge, close up (head and arms only) photograph, taken by photographer Majdi Mohammed of the Associated Press, of a Palestinian woman crying and cradling the kefiyah clad head of her dead husband, the terrorist Amjed Hanani. The caption of the photograph reads as follows: ""Tahrir Hanani weeps over the body of her husband, Amjed Hanai, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Nablus who was killed in a firefight during an Israeli sweep for Palestinian militants." One must read deep into the accompanying article to learn that the subject of this undeservedly sympathetic portrait wasn't just a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, but was one of the "senior commanders in Nablus...." and that Nablus itself is "a key center for radical Palestinian groups...."

Immediately under that photograph is an aerial photograph credited to Nasser Ishtayeh of the Associated Press showing billowing clouds of smoke rising from a town. The source of the smoke cannot be seen. The caption reads: "Smoke rises from a house blown up by Israeli troops in Nablus after the Army tagged it as a refuge for militants." Use of the word "tagged" deliberately trivializes the Israeli process of identification of terrorist strongholds from intelligence sources and was deliberately designed to cast doubt on that Israeli identification. To make matters worse, there is nothing in the article itself about this or any other houses being destroyed in Nablus, so a reader who might be curious to learn why The Post's doubts Israel's identification of a terrorist stronghold could not learn from the article itself.

Post Continues to Cite Palestinian Hospital and Medical Officials for Facts Which They Could Not Possibly Have Witnessed and The Investigation of Which is Not Within Their Field of Expertise

Finally, in the article these photographs accompany, the Post continues its long time pattern of going to hospital or medical personnel to obtain facts to report about events happening long before their patients ever reach the hospital. (Top Militant Among Five Killed In Raid in West Bank, Professor, Israeli Commando Also Dead in Nablus Fighting, 7-7-04, A13) Exactly how these "medical officials" can be relied upon for these facts, facts obviously spoon fed to them by someone else, is not revealed. In this instance, it is particularly egregious, because these "medical officials" provide the reporter with a story about how a Palestinian professor and his son were killed that alleges they were, in effect, murdered in cold blood by Israeli forces but that is also contradicted from start to finish by a named, official spokesperson for the Israeli military. The Post's complete disregard for the credibility of its sources and its willingness to report orchestrated news accounts, is in blatant disregard of journalistic ethics.

Monday, July 5, 2004

Post Continues to Soft-Pedal Hamas' Actions and Its Intentions

In today's lengthy article on past and future Palestinian infighting as Israel prepares to unilaterally disengage from Gaza, Post writer Robin Shulman states:

"But unity has yet to be achieved. Hamas says it will continue to fight Israel until Israeli forces have withdrawn completely from Gaza, a stance other Palestinian leaders warn could lead to a further swing into chaos during early phases of any withdrawal." (Factional Fighting Clouds Gaza's Future, Security Agencies, Armed Groups Vie for Dominance as Negotiators Seek Unity, 7-5-04, A12)

In fact, Mahmoud Zahar, one of the Hamas' leaders in the Gaza Strip has stated that Hamas will continue to fight Israel even after Israel withdraws, and as The Post itself has acknowledged (albeit rarely and reluctantly), Hamas makes no bones about its intention to continue fighting Israel until it no longer exists. Why can't The Post and its writers get this one simple fact straight, that Hamas' professed goal is to destroy Israel itself?

In an expansion of The Post's long standing policy of not using the word "terrorist," the Post now attempts to conceal what these terrorist groups actually do. Rather than note that innocent Israeli civilians are being deliberately targeted and killed by Hamas, The post refers to Hamas' "attacks on Israeli targets." Israeli civilians have become "Israeli targets." The article further notes that Hamas appears "more attractive to some Palestinians because its leaders seem to eschew corruption while pressing the fight against Israel." Targeting and killing Israeli civilians has become "pressing the fight against Israel.

It's one thing to adopt a policy to deliberately avoid using the term "terrorism," but use of  phrases such as "attacks on Israeli targets" and "pressing the fight against Israel" so clearly hides the nature of Hamas' actions as to constitute a blatant misrepresentation.

And what group is Ms. Shulman referring to when she quotes Sami Abu Samhadaneh, head of the Special Office of the Palestinian Authority's security services, and then goes on to state: "He is also connected to a militia made up of defectors from some of the dominant Palestinian factions." Is she referring to a terrorist group? Is she saying that a PA official who she is quoting is also a member of a terrorist group? At the very least, readers should be entitled to less obfuscation and more forthright news reporting.

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