Friday, December 29, 2006

Dec 28 Media Critique: "Video Message from Sderot"

The awful biased media are at it again. Ignoring the plight of Israelis injured by Qassam rockets, specifically, the two 14yr old boys hurt on December 27. HonestRepoting says,

The mainstream media continues to downplay or even ignore the continuous Qassam strikes against Sderot and surrounding communities by Palestinian terrorists.
Yet stories appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, and the wire services, Reuters and AFP covered it.

In my back yard, the story was covered by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, SBS, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian. They were the only ones I checked, but they all carried the story. It’s not a good sample size to make significant claims of probability, but you get the idea.

HR continues,

Commenting on the daily threat to Sderot, the Jerusalem Post points out: "It has become a curious game of Palestinian Roulette ... The rocket that fell in a Sderot nursery school playground could have, with a little less luck, taken the lives of many toddlers."
If the Qassams didn’t result in so few deaths, they could really kill a lot of people.

But, let's be serious. This is an indefensible act. Innocent civilians are clearly at risk. And it’s just as clear that HRs’ protestations that the media “downplay or even ignore” such incidents is pure invention.

I’ll also provide a touch of the ‘context’ that HR so loves. Since the new truce began at the end of November, we now have 2 injured Israelis. And on the Palestinian side? Israel has killed 15. No, that’s not a typo – 15 , during the ‘truce’.

That’s how these things work, Palestinian actions put cease-fires at risk, but Israel can go on killing and it’s ‘business as usual’. The apologists will now interrupt – but the ‘truce’ only covers Gaza. Yes, that’s right, so why do we bother pretending that there actually is one?

Some more context – Israel has killed 660 Palestinians in 2006. Palestinians have killed 23 Israelis . I don’t want to engage in the algebra of body-counts, but it lends some relevant perspective.

To gauge just how much the mainstream media ignore the suffering of Israeli civilians , let’s take the opportunity to do a comparison with a recent incident where a Palestinian child was not just injured, but killed, and see what kind of media attention it grabs. On December 19, the IDF shot and killed 13 yr old Do'a Nasser Hamid, near Tulkarm.

Never heard of the incident? That’s because it went almost completely unreported. Which major media outlets reported this? NYT?-No. IHT?-No. Reuters or AFP*?-No. On my patch – those 4 media outlets that reported the 2 injured Israeli teens – none of them reported the killing of this 13 yr old Palestinian girl. Not one. Try the Google sampling test for yourself. If you can’t be bothered, the returns for the killed Palestinian girl are a remarkable 4, versus between 100-400 (depending on which name you use) for the 2 injured Israeli boys.

Yet, HR whines on,

We ask why Israeli children never earn the iconic status and outpouring of sympathy that the media accredits to other child victims of war or terror in other parts of the world (including the Palestinian areas).

Yes, those lucky, lucky Palestinian children are given such iconic status in the media that their death at the hands of the IDF can go completely unnoticed.

But, for those of us not in the fantasy land of the pro-Israel fanatics, this is not news. We know that reality is the exact opposite of what HR tells its credulous readers. Detailed studies by If Americans Knew demonstrate that media sources vastly under-report Palestinian deaths and fully report Israeli ones. This anecdote just illustrates the trend, which is even more pronounced when the victims are children (IAK found that the NYTs reports Israeli child victims at a rate 10x greater than Palestinian victims.)

Why the sudden beat-up over 2 injured boys in Sderot. Pardon my cynicism, but HR’s last paragraph of this overwrought piece provides a clue,

As the tax year draws to a close, now is your last opportunity this year to make a real difference for Israel. Please make the most generous tax-deductible gift you can today by clicking here.

All makes sense now.

* Significantly, AFP did report the killing of 2 IJ members on the 20th but made no mention of the IDF killing of the 13 yr old girl the day before.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Dec 25 Media Critique: "Bethlehem-Abusing the Christmas Story"

I thought we may enjoy some respite from HonestReporting’s absurdities at this time of the year, but there’s no rest for the wicked.

Todays target – the British newspaper, The Independent. A good article from Johann Hari on the implications of the occupation and movement restrictions on women in labour.

As usual HR goes for some outraged hyperbole,

The media employs seasonal religious symbolism to attack Israel
Yes, Israel is being beaten with a statue of the Virgin Mary by a British newspaper. How crass.


In a tasteless affront to one billion Christians worldwide, the Independent, a leading British daily, describes the Virgin Mary as a "Palestinian refugee in Bethlehem", and present-day pregnant Palestinian women as "21st century Marys" who "have been giving birth in startlingly similar conditions to those suffered by Mary 2,000 years ago."

Horrendous. How can anyone make such a shocking comparison. As all good apparatchiks know, these pregnancies will result in the birth of the devils spawn, who will dedicate their lives to the slaughter of Jews. This journalist makes them sound almost human.

Who can blame HR, sticking to the facts would just undermine the point they’re trying to make. And that point is…, I’m not quite sure either. Maybe that it is “biased” to report what is actually happening in the Occupied Territories.

Oh no, forgive me, this is the point,

Yet, readers must scroll down halfway through this 1,500-word piece to discover the real cause of Palestinian suffering:
"Following the election of Hamas, the world choked off funding for the Palestinian Authority, which suddenly found itself unable to pay its doctors and nurses. After several months medical staff went on strike, refusing to take anything but emergency cases."
Nasty, nasty, Johann Hari, hiding the fact that the death of Fadia Jemal’s baby in 2002 was caused by the election of Hamas in January 2006. Thanks HR for exposing this deceit.

Hari provides some detail of the scale of the problem (1.),

Since Fadia's delivery, in 2002, the United Nations confirms that a total of 36 babies have died because their mothers were detained during labour at Israeli checkpoints.

But HR knows the real problem,

The Independent blames Israel for checkpoint security measures, but fails to provide context with the well-documented Palestinian abuse of ambulances and medical facilities to transport and harbor terrorists. Nor does the Independent mention the 2002 arrest of a Palestinian terrorist recruited to carry out a suicide bombing disguised as a pregnant woman -- a graphic reminder of the depths that terror groups will sink in their efforts to bypass Israeli security.
Yes, Israeli has no choice but to detain pregnant Palestinian women at checkpoints, because they might be terrorists in disguise! Poor Israeli soldiers, they can’t tell the difference between a pregnant woman and someone with a pillow stuffed up their shirt!!

B’Tselem point out the real reason for the existence of the checkpoints,

One of the main purposes of the movement restrictions policy is to protect Israeli settlers. Given that the settlements are illegal, the policy only aggravates the situation: it comprehensively and disproportionately impedes the freedom of movement of an entire population in order to perpetuate the settlement enterprise.

Yes, Palestinian women and babies die at checkpoints for the convenience and comfort of Israels’ illegal settlers.

As for the “well-documented Palestinian abuse of ambulances”, this is typical HR fantasy. There is none. HR provides a link to an Israeli Govt website that claims to detail several incidents. The most serious one is the claim that a suicide belt was transported in an ambulance, a claim over which there is serious doubt. Just remember the Qassam in the ambulance story, where the Qassam turned out to be a folding stretcher. However, there is evidence of the mis-use of ambulances by armed groups – the IDF. The IDF used an ambulance to take soldiers into the West Bank to arrest Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti in 2002, as well as on other occasions.

But wait, there’s “More Abuse of the Christmas Story”.

The Chicago Tribune also “engages in abusing religious symbolism”.

The problem, yet again, is its “one-sided criticism of Israel”. HR would much prefer that someone else was blamed (Martians perhaps?) for the 6m high concrete wall and the travel restrictions that are making life hell for the residents of Bethlehem. Worse still, the Chicago Tribune fails to note the real reason for the difficulties of the Christian population of Bethlehem- HR knows it is “Muslim persecution”, of course. Isn’t it funny how the Christian population of Bethlehem flourished for around 1300 years despite Muslim persecution”, but has been suddenly affected by it over the last 50 or so. I really can’t figure this out…..

It’s just more of the same – factual descriptions of life in the Occupied Territories are beyond the pale. Blame can be apportioned, as long as journalists remember that Israel is completely blameless. Stories must be ‘balanced’ with liberal helpings of Israeli hasbara, otherwise they are biased. Well actually, no they don’t. Journalists are meant to go beyond the competing claims and official pronouncements and try to describe reality. A reality that HR finds disturbing, preferring it to remain buried under an avalanche of obfuscation and distortion.

1. BBC News "UN Fears over checkpoint births", 23/9/2005.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

December 8 Special Report: "The UN Human Rights Council"

On this occasion, HR abandons its stated purpose of watching the media to indulge in that all-time favourite activity for the pro-Israel zealots - shrill denunciation of the UN, especially its human rights body. As of June this year, the old Commission on Human Rights gave way to a new body, the Human Rights Council. The move was meant to address deficiencies in the old system, and the Israel cheer-leaders hoped that their team might get an easier run. The poor darlings have been immediately disappointed, leading to all the usual complaints,

The Council decided that Israel was abusing human rights and, to validate their predetermined conclusion, they ordered an investigation. The Council was very clear in what it expected the investigation to conclude.

As usual HR get their facts wrong. The Special Rappoutuer for the Occupied Territories has already reported on Israels extensive human rights violations. This is not predetermination, but simple fact .

Here’s the detail from the first session so you can see just how unfair the UNHRC is,

-reaffirmed that all acts of hostage-taking, wherever and by whomever committed, were a serious crime aimed at the destruction of human rights and were, under any circumstances, unjustifiable; strongly condemned all acts of hostage-taking anywhere in the world

-adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance

-adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as proposed by the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights

-welcomed the report of the Open-ended Working Group with a view to considering options regarding the elaboration of an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

-endorsed the conclusions and recommendations adopted by consensus by the Working Group on the Right to Development

-decided to extend exceptionally for one year, ……… the mandates and the mandate-holders of all the Commission's special procedures, of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

-the Human Rights Council decided to establish an intersessional open-ended intergovernmental working group to develop the modalities of the universal periodic review mechanism

-decided to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group to formulate concrete recommendations on the issue of reviewing and, where necessary, improving and rationalizing all mandates, mechanisms, functions and responsibilities in order to maintain a system of special procedures, expert advice and a complaint procedure

-welcomed the entry into force, on 22 June 2006, of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, following ratification by 20 States.

-endorsed the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action on its fourth session

-requested the relevant Special Rapporteurs to report to the next session of the Council on the Israeli human rights violations in occupied Palestine

-decided to request the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance as well as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to report to the next session on this phenomenon.

See, it’s all about Israel! Bias!!

HR then points to the Councils ‘Special Sessions’ to further press its claims of ‘bias’. The first called for an investigation into Israels conduct in the OT’s that had seen several hundred Palestinians killed in the previous months. And the second - can anyone name a UN member state that in July committed the international crime of armed aggression against a neighbouring sovereign state? Well, I can only come up with one name. Israel. Perhaps the UNHRC should have ignored this to show how committed they are to human rights.

HR then whines about that standard hasbara talking-point, Darfur, and how the UNHRC has done nothing on Darfur. Unfortunately for the incompetents at HR, just 4 days after they published this latest rubbish, the UNHRC convened a ‘Special Session’ on Darfur.

If only they weren’t such brain-dead apologists, they would have known that it was coming. Contrary to HRs accusations, the UNHRC had a very busy and varied agenda, so much so, that it couldn’t adopt resolutions at its second session (aside from one on Kyrgyzstan) and had to deal them at the third session which started on November 27.

If HR had taken the minimal effort to inquire, they would have found that the UNHRC was discussing human rights issues on the following countries during the second session in September,

"The Council also considered the reports of country-specific Special Rapporteurs and Experts, including on Belarus, Somalia, Cuba, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Cambodia, Haiti, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Sudan and Liberia”, as well as “Iran, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan."
Maybe they forgot that Darfur is in Sudan. Or maybe they just never bothered their pretty little heads to find out what the UNHRC was actually doing.

The decision to hold the 4th Special Session on Darfur was announced on November 30th, more than a week before HRs latest and dumbest “Special Report”. The date for the 4th Special Session was then announced (PDF) on December 4th.

But these are mere facts. What use are they to HR when it has an axe to grind?

There was a further Special Session following the killing of 19 Palestinians by IDF artillery fire in Bayt Hanun. HR claims that it ignored Israeli concerns,

No mention was made of protecting Israeli civilians from further assault.

Of course HR is wrong, as usual. The UNHRC resolution,

urged all concerned parties to respect the rules of international humanitarian law, to refrain from violence against civilian populations and to treat under all circumstances all detained combatants and civilians in accordance with the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949.

And HR desperately push the IDF PR line that the incident was,

an equipment malfunction…..terrible tragedy occurred due to an unintended accident. The government of Israel apologized immediately.....

Followed by the standard strategy of blaming the victims,

if the Palestinians had stopped firing rockets on Sderot, this accident could not have taken place.

HR should consult a dictionary on what constitutes an accident. Others could see this coming. This is what B’Tselem had to say in April when the IDF changed its firing regulations to allow artillary to be fired to within 100m of residential areas in the densely populated Gaza strip,

Three Israeli human rights organizations and two Palestinian organizations jointly wrote to the Israeli Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff demanding the cancellation of the decision to reduce the 'safety zone' for artillery fire on the Gaza Strip, due to the danger it poses to the civilian population and its cost in human lives.

Yes, this was no “unintended accident”, but the foreseen consequence of a voluntarily adopted policy.

HonestReporting – biased, unfair, inaccurate, dishonest. Exactly what we expect.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

December 6 Media Critique: "Carters Book: Presidential Pulp"

This is the second consecutive ‘Media Critique’ on Jimmy Carters new book Palestine: Peace or Apartheid?”.

Someone is worried. First it was the Mearsheimer&Walt controversy , and now the ex-US President, Jimmy Carter, weighs in with his strong criticisms of Israel, making allusions to Apartheid. You know things are changing when even someone like Carter gets it. No wonder HonestReporting and all the other pro-Israel zealots are in an uproar. Carter can expect to be relentlessly attacked for daring to break from the consensus. The attacks will be out of all proportion to the perceived crime, because the zealots see cracks appearing in the ‘Israel right or wrong’ position of US elites. If Carter doesn’t get enough grief, others might be emboldened to express similarly frank views, which might lead to the ‘disaster’ of a real, just peace along the lines of UN Resolution 242.

HR repeats its' claim from the previous 'Media Critique' that it has “previously debunked the false comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa”. Of course it’s done no such thing, HR just likes to claim that it has. As some of the targets of its vilification have pointed out, the comparisons with Apartheid are unfair, not for the reasons HR gives, but because Israels' action are worse than South African Apartheid. Here are the thoughts of 2 South Africans who know something about Apartheid. First, John Dugard, now Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian territories,

Many aspects of Israel's occupation surpass those of the apartheid regime.

And Ronnie Kasrils, anti-Apartheid activist, and now Minister in the South African government,
This is much worse than apartheid. The Israeli measures, the brutality, make apartheid look like a picnic. We never had jets attacking our townships. We never had sieges that lasted month after month. We never had tanks destroying houses.
And how about the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem,
By unlawfully discriminating against Palestinians based on their national origin, the Forbidden Roads Regime is reminiscent of the apartheid system that existed in South Africa.

And a group of IDF soldiers got together to make 'Breaking the Silence', which gives just a small taste of the treatment the IDF metes out to Palestinians on a routine basis, just in case human rights groups aren’t your cup of tea.

HR leads its assault on Carter with that professional sophist, Alan Dershowitz, the man who makes Stalinists look like reasonable, open-minded people. Dershowitz attacks Carters most “egregious errors”. As in any book of its kind, errors exist, mostly of the careless or very minor variety, in contrast to the ‘errors’ Dershowitz makes, which are calculated and deliberate attempts at deception. Here are a few examples of what Dershowitz calls errors,
Mr. Carter gives virtually no credit to Israel's superb legal system……Even Israel's most severe critics acknowledge the fairness of the Israeli Supreme Court.
This is straight out of Dershowitz’s propaganda tract, “The Case for Israel”.

So, Israels “most severe critics” think the Supreme Court is fair? After criticising Carter for making claims “without any citation”, he offers not a single scrap of evidence or even one citation to back this extraordinary claim. But let me. Here is David Kretzmer, a law professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who wrote a book about the legal aspects of Israels occupation, giving his opinion on Israels Supreme Court,
The court has rationalized virtually all controversial actions of the Israeli authorities, especially those most problematic under principles of international humanitarian law.
On the question of the new Israeli laws preventing family re-union, several Israeli human rights groups (ACRI, Adalah) took the issue to the Supreme Court which upheld the new law. Adalah issued a press release after the verdict was announced,
the Supreme Court effectively approved the most racist legislation in the State of Israel; legislation which bars the unification of families on the basis of national belonging: Arab-Palestinian. Drawing a comparison, Adalah added that,
In 1980, during Apartheid, a Court in South Africa refused to approve orders similar to the Nationality and Entry into Israel Law, because they contradicted the right to a family.” Adalah’s General Director Attorney Hassan Jabareen emphasized that today, the Supreme Court has instituted three tracks of citizenship on the basis of ethnic background: a direct track for Jews under the Law of Return; a middle track for foreigners according to the graduated procedure; and the harshest track, for Arab citizens.
If that is them acknowledging the Israeli Supreme Courts fairness, their criticisms must be extremely harsh.

I hope HR takes note of the South African parallel, which again demonstrates that the comparisons of Israel with Apartheid SA are unfair – to South Africa!

And for our final Dershowitz example of Carters ‘error’,
He claims that in 1967 Israel launched a preemptive attack against Jordan. The fact is that Jordan attacked Israel first…
In my humble opinion Carter’s only error here is to be too accommodating to the Israeli position that the 1967 war was a case of a pre-emptive strike. But even that is not obsequious enough for Dershowitz who demands total agreement with his perspective - that Israel was completely blameless in 1967.

Most of the other 'errors' are in a similar vein. If these really are the “most egregious errors” in the book, then Carter has done a great job.

I wonder if HR or Alan Dershowitz have ever bothered to gauge how their Pollyanna-ish views on Israel stack up against the experience of IDF soldiers?

The intellectual walls of fortress Israel in the US are beginning to be besieged, and in testimony to their flimsy construction, the cracks are already showing.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Nov 29 Media Critique: "UN Man's Apartheid Charge"

HonestReporting strike again. Another attack on free expression out of blind and misplaced loyalty to Israel.

Todays target is the UNs Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, John Dugard. Dugard was recently published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and HR claim that,

In his one-sided diatribe, Dugard takes aim at Israeli military activities but fails to acknowledge the existence of Palestinian terrorism or any other legitimate reasons for Israeli self-defense. Indeed, it appears that in Dugard's world, Israeli rights simply do not exist.

HR often find themselves having to resort to this particular tactic to find grounds to complain. And that tactic is that the writer must present a counterposing or counterbalancing opinion, for every opinion they express. Nonsense of course. If HR really believed this, they would have to change their Media Critique sub-heading from this,

The UN's ‘Special Raporteur’ airs his one-sided views in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.”,

to something like this,

The UN's ‘Special Raporteur’ airs his one-sided views in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But some would say he actually has a point”.

And one day hell will freeze over.

So this is HR’s basic point, Dugard is “one-sided”. . They quote from his article just the once, preferring to go to others sources for 2nd hand attacks, such as the execrable FrontPage Magazine. It is notable for the crude distortions it employed to smear Dugard. Dugards 2005 report noted that Palestinian and Israeli sources were telling him that Israeli policies in the OT’s were making a 2-state solution near impossible. FrontPage Magazine turned this into the headline “UN Envoy Calls for End of Israel”. Say no more.

And when you read the article it’s not hard to see why HR eschews many quotes. Dugard is quite fair and reasonable, writing that

Although military occupation is tolerated and regulated by international law, it is considered an undesirable regime that should be ended as soon as possible.

Before describing the current reality and Israels abuses of the military occupation system,

In principle, the purpose of military occupation is different from that of apartheid. It is not designed as a long-term oppressive regime but as an interim measure that maintains law and order in a territory following an armed conflict and pending a peace settlement. But this is not the nature of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Since 1967 Israel has imposed its control over the Palestinian territories in the manner of a colonizing power, under the guise of occupation. It has permanently seized the territories' most desirable parts — the holy sites in East Jerusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem and the fertile agricultural lands along the western border and in the Jordan Valley — and settled its own Jewish "colonists" throughout the land.

Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories has many features of colonization. At the same time it has many of the worst characteristics of apartheid. The West Bank has been fragmented into three areas — north (Jenin and Nablus), center (Ramallah) and south (Hebron) — which increasingly resemble the Bantustans of South Africa….

Many aspects of Israel's occupation surpass those of the apartheid regime. Israel's large-scale destruction of Palestinian homes, leveling of agricultural lands, military incursions and targeted assassinations of Palestinians far exceed any similar practices in apartheid South Africa. No wall was ever built to separate blacks and whites.

And there is one piece of information HR doesn’t tell its' readers about Dugard and his comparing of Israeli policies with Apartheid. And it’s information that would be vital in allowing readers to form a judgement on Dugards' opinions on this matter – John Dugard is a South African, and was a long-time anti-Apartheid activist. It must have been an oversight on HRs part not to mention that.

There is a common thread running through a few recent HR items. And it’s that it enthusiastically attacks South Africans who are critical of Israels conduct, finding in it distasteful reminders of Aparthied. You might think that South Africans, better than anyone, might recognize Apartheid-like policies when they see them, but not according to HR. Recently there was the hatchet job on South African minister, Ronnie Kasrils, who had the double temerity to be a Jewish South African. He made similar criticisms to John Dugard. The totalitarians are always doubly incensed when it is ‘one of their own’ who fail to march in lock-step. Let’s be clear about this – what angers HR is that people like John Dugard are allowed to have their say.

Again HR are determined to prove that the South African Guardian&Mail had it exactly right when they described groups like them as “enemies of intellectual diversity and free expression”.

And here is the Special Rapporteurs latest report on the Occupied Territories.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

November 23 Media Critique: "Must See TV"

HonestReporting must have given up trying to conjure examples of “anti-Israel media bias” as this time it settles for promoting a CNN ‘documentary’ – “Exposed: The Extremist Agenda”.

This has, not surprisingly, only aired on American CNN. CNN, being a good corporate operator, knows to play to its' audience. This one-dimensional, axis-of-evil, us-versus-them stuff just won’t go down so easily with a non-US audience.

I’ve done the hard yards with his one and sat through the whole 41 painful minutes of this stuff. The presenter kindly lets us in on some useful information right at the start,

I am not a journalist, I don’t pretend to be one.

I would never have guessed.

It’s all pretty standard stuff from the look-out the-big-bad-muslims-are-coming-to -wage-jihad-on-your-ass crowd. Though they go to lengths to reassure the audience that this is ground-breaking, never seen before material. It ain’t. Updated? Yes. An ‘expose’? No.

The Iranian President gets a going over, but a rather limp one. The poverty of the case was amply demonstrated when the segment on Ahmadinejad concluded with footage of Hitler at the Nuremburg rally. The strained attempt to equate the two made me squirm with embarrassment.

Don’t expect to see this on CNN International any time soon - it isn't suitable for an audience with their critical thinking faculties intact and functioning.

Naturally HonestReporting ses this as perfect material for their audience. And they are absolutely correct. As we’ve seen in the past, HR is always keen to stoke the fires of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

November 15 Media Critique: “Time Magazine Gets Caught Lying”

The more strident HonestReporting’s headlines, the less substance there usually is to the allegation.

The latest ‘Media Critique’ demonstrates this,

Time Magazine Contradicts Eye-Witness Account

Would an editor who had never visited the scene of a photograph deliberately contradict the photographer's account of events? Is it possible that someone would change a caption that ends up incorrectly describing what took place? Moreover, would a prominent media outlet accept the claims of a terrorist organization over that of its own photographer?

Sounds hard to believe, but according to recent revelations by a photojournalist, this is exactly what happened with a photograph that was featured in Time Magazine during Israel's conflict with Hizbollah.

Ironically, HR makes an accusation of editorialisation. Editorialising is commonly seen in headlines, where opinion is inserted that is not backed up by the information contained within the body of the story. The fundamental problem with editorializing is that it is opinion, masquerading as fact. HR’s headline is exactly that.

The basic premise is that the photographers original caption has been altered by Time. This was the caption as supplied by photographer Bruno Stevens,

Kfar Chima, near Beirut, July 17, 2006 An Israeli Air Force F16 has allegedly been shot down while bombing a group of Hezbollah owned trucks, at least one of these trucks contained a medium range ground to ground missile launcher.

And this is the caption Time used,

The wreckage of a downed Israeli jet that was targeting Hizballah trucks billows smoke behind an armed Hizballah gunman in Kfar Chima, near Beirut. Jet fuel set the surrounding area ablaze.

Times decision to edit the caption is probably reasonable given that the photo used didn’t actually show the trucks with the missile launcher that the caption referred to. The Time article appeared in their July 31st print edition, and the web version seems to have appeared on July 24th. The photo was taken on July 17th. The photographer went back to re-visit the site and subsequently changed his caption, with the final version not mentioning the allegedly downed Israeli jet. HR then claims that Time's mention of the downed Israeli jet is a ‘lie’.

HR ‘accidentally’ mix up the order of events to make it appear that Time altered the final caption used by the photographer. The photographer makes it clear that Time had his original caption, not the later altered version. He then goes on to explain the events that lead him to change the caption. HR run the story in the reverse order, quoting Stevens on how he came to alter the caption and then providing this quote from the earlier part of his explanation of events,

They [Time]choose to caption it this way (I had NO control in this matter), they HAD my original caption.

And so imparting the impression of Time completely ignoring the photogpraher’s later version. Or as HR dishonestly put it,

the editor……made up the caption that contradicted the photographer's eye-witness account.

Cute. Too cute.

As usual, it’s the fact that HR needs to resort to such distortion and hyperbole in its’ allegations that makes the best case against its’ allegations of “anti-Israel media bias”.

More sterling work from those masters of mendacity at HonestReporting.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

November 9 Media Critique: "Beit Hanoun in Context"

This is one of HonestReportng’s favourite phrases - “in context”. Recently we had “Qana in Context”, now it’s “Beit Hanoun in context”. I think the translation is “not Israels fault! ”. Let’s see – “Qana; not Israels fault”, “Beit Hanoun; not Israels fault”. Yeah, that’s about right.

What does HonestReporting want?

HonestReporting calls on the media to recognize the circumstances surrounding this terrible accident.

Specifically, HR demand that “the media needs to report this incident within the proper context.”

And what is the “proper context”. The proper context is that,

Nonetheless, the accident in Beit Hanoun is exactly that - an accident

Why is HR so sure? Because the IDF say so. And if that’s good enough for HR, it should be good enough for everyone else. Why doesn’t the world media understand this, when a fearless proponent of journalistic standards like HR does?

Tellingly, HR doesn’t provide a single example of media not reporting the “circumstances”. What HR really wants is for the media to excuse Israeli actions.

Lawerence of Cyberia has some thoughts on Israel and its’ “accidents”. The invaluable LoC also details the IDFs propensity for lying in these situations. My rule of thumb is that the IDFs first public statements on an issue usually have zero correlation with the truth.

This was an “accident” in much the same way that drunk drivers inexplicably are the victims of many unfortunate “accidents”. When a certain type of behaviour is repeated, despite the likely consequences of that action being known, the outcome is not an accident. Predictable, culpable, negligent, reckless, yes. An accident, no.

In Gaza , Israel knows that its' policies of shooting, shelling and bombardment of densely populated areas are guaranteed to “accidently” kill innocent men, women and children. What do you call it when a certain outcome is the known and acceptable consequence of a voluntarily adopted policy? I call it deliberate. Not the specific incident, but the general situation. Israeli policy is to punish the entire civilian population of the Occupied Territories for; a) continuing to exist, b) refusing to hand over 1 captured Israeli soldier and c) having a democratically elected government that Israel doesn’t like. Whether this is via under or mal-nutrution, deaths due to preventable disease or courtesy of ‘steel rain’ doesn’t matter much, except that the later is a PR problem.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

October 31 Media Critique: "Seale of Approval"

HonestReporting is up in arms about an article in the International Herald Tribune. Patrick Seale performs the uncommon act of accurately describing Israels conduct in the Gaza Strip. The main problem is that it’s all “one-sided”, according to HR. This means that every Israeli act should be 'balanced' or put in context to demonstrate that it’s not really Israels fault.

Seale cannot recognize the Hamas government as that of a terror organization that refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist and continues to hold Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit hostage. Nowhere does Seale mention Israel's summer 2005 Gaza Disengagement or the current round of internal Palestinian violence between Fatah and Hamas members.

See? You can’t mention the fact that Israel is killing large numbers of innocent Palestinians without reminding your readers that it’s all the Palestinians fault for abducting 1 soldier. B’Tselem has documented the recent deaths in Gaza. Of the roughly 300 killed since the capture of the Israeli soldier, 155 were innocent bystanders. B’Tselem's list of those killed gives some perspective on the dead that Israel and it’s supporters dismiss as “terrorists”.

Seale's other crime is that he is “seeking to downplay Palestinian terror and Qassam attacks from Gaza”, by describing them as “highly irritating but largely ineffectual weapons”. That Seale provides the relevant facts in which he grounds this opinion does not deter HR. It produces a story from Ynet News on the hundreds of Israelis “injured” by Qassams in the last 18 months. The Barzilai Medical Center records 300 people were “hurt” in Qassam attacks since January 2005. The article goes on to say that most were vicims of “shock”. In lay- mans terms that means having received a scare or fright. Or, in other words – not actually injured.

Shock actually is a recognized medical condition, but HR, as usual, can’t play it straight. In November 2005, HR put out a Media Critique, ‘Booms Over Gaza’. The Guardian newspaper and the BBC had published stories about Israeli jets producing sonic booms over Gaza to terrorise Palestinians. Palestinian sources were quoted on the “hurt” caused by the tactic. HR, of course, was highly skeptical about claim sof harm caused by the sonic booms, wanting to know why the media was “prepared to take Palestinian anecdotal evidence at face value?”.

Loud noises frightening Israelis is cause for serious concern, but only cause for skepticism when it comes to Palestinians.

HR finishes off with a minor spat involving one of its’ fellow-travellers ( CAMERA) and the Guardian. If only HR had paid attention to the details we could have all been saved the trouble of this latest missive. The Guardian ran a piece by Chris McGreal, in which he noted the Apartheid-like aspects of Israel. CAMERA complained (of course), taking it to the UK’s Press Complaints Commission – which dismissed CAMERAs complaint (no surprise there). This is the part of the Commissions findings that HR should have read, and re-read until it understood it,

The newspaper was entitled – in the Commission’s view – to select material, in the form of quotations (which had not been disputed by the people quoted) or statistics, that supported the clearly-stated premise of the article. It was not obliged to attempt to balance every statement with reference to a counter-argument or counter-interpretation that existed elsewhere and opposed the position espoused in the article.

This is what HR ignores in its’ ‘critique’ of Patrick Seale. They have an alternative viewpoint, and only theirs is acceptable, everything else being “anti-Israel media bias”.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Oct 25 Media Critique: “French Injustice”

Those damn Frenchies are labouring under the misapprehension that justice in the courts is a matter of objective reality, ie. the truth. How terribly inconvenient for Honest Reporting’s conspiracy monger, Philippe Karsenty, who has just lost the opening of his case against France-2 TV, whom he accused of perpetrating a hoax regarding the killing of Mohommad Al-Durra by the IDF in 2000.

But it’s not quite over yet. There are several more related defamation cases being brought by France-2 TV. Karsenty and his fellow conspiracy freaks will lose them too.

In a rare show of just an iota of even-handedness, HR includes a question mark in the subheading. And then goes on to provide the answer (yes, naturally), via rumours reported in the Daily Mail. Hey, when you already know the truth, who needs facts or rigorous analysis?

The evil, anti-Israel BBC has conducted a “secret meeting” where the cabal of Israel-haters were able to freely admit their biases.

A leaked account of ………………………… the secret meeting in London last month, which was hosted by veteran broadcaster Sue Lawley, BBC executives admitted the corporation is ... anti-American, anti-countryside and more sensitive to the feelings of Muslims than Christians.

The BBCs Director of News, Helen Boaden , was there and had this to say,

For a start, this wasn’t a secret meeting... it was streamed live on the web. The meeting was made up of executives, governors and lots of non-BBC people like John Lloyd from the FT and Janet Daley from the Daily Telegraph. It was planned as a serious seminar to investigate and understand better the BBC’s commitment to impartiality in an age in which spin and opinion riddle much of the world’s journalism.

Impartiality - what a novel idea. Isn’t it a pity that HR has no knowledge of this concept.

Boaden explained this further,

When I first joined the BBC I asked a very experienced and subtle journalist what was meant by BBC impartiality. ‘It means we don’t take sides,’ he said. ‘We don’t take sides either explicitly or implicitly. We test all opinion toughly but fairly and we let the audience make up their own minds.’

Hhmmmm. This is exactly the problem for HR and its loyal but misguided minions. They have a very particular and strident point-of-view. Then, along comes the BBC offering a range of opinions and perspectives, even including (gasp!) ones that HR might not agree with. But, being true zealots they can’t tolerate this. Giving a voice to perspectives and narratives that clashes with their own one-eyed partisanship is, to them, the bias of the BBC.

Gaza: Another Kidnapping
This is just delicious.

HR takes a stand on principle! Or maybe not.

An AP photographer was kidnapped in Gaza and then released a few hours later, unharmed. There have been a spate of such abduction in the last year. HR criticizes this correctly, quoting the Committee to Protect Journalists,

It all has a chilling affect on journalists' ability to report the story.*

And if this is HR standing up for principle, then it would apply at all times, to all such actions, right?

HR has kindly supplied a paired example for our consideration of their possible conversion to principles.

Example 1 is above. Outcome – total commitment to journalistic freedom.

Example 2 was in last weeks ‘Media Critique’. Remember the Reuters story “When Cameramen Attack”? HR took the opportunity of a second-hand smear of Reuters by repeating the YnetNews allegation that a Rueters car was used to “transport a Hamas-linked Palestinian”. The real story was the Israeli attack on the Reuters press car,

An Israeli air strike hit a Reuters vehicle in Gaza City on Saturday, wounding two journalists as they covered a military incursion, doctors and residents said.

One of the Palestinian journalists, who worked for a local media organization, was seriously wounded. A cameraman working for Reuters was knocked unconscious in the air strike….

And what did HR have to say about any “chilling effect” of not just a short abduction, but a military attack on a press vehicle with resulting serious injuries? Just this,

This is not the first time that members of the media have taken an active role in the story.

Yes, how dare they insert themselves into the story by being shot at.

Outcome – not only does HR fail to defend the journalists, it attempts to smear them and their employers for having the gall to be attacked by the IDF.

Can you imagine a similar response on Example 1? Palestinians abduct a press photographer and HR berates him/her for taking “an active role in the story”. No, neither can I.

And in a curious oversight, HR has failed to tell us what the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said about this,

"We condemn this missile strike on a vehicle that was clearly identified as press,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “The Israeli military must investigate this attack and hold those responsible accountable.”

It appears that HR, in this instance, has a radically different understanding of the issue, than does the CPJ.

The selective application of a principle means that it is not accepted as a principle, but only as a convenient tool to be used as required. Funny how a media monitoring organization like HR rejects the principle of freedom of the press. But then you and I know that HR is no such thing – it’s just a partisan pressure group deploying the language of fairness, accuracy and balance to attack those same principles.

* Ironically, or perhaps not, HR sources this quote from......Reuters.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Oct 18 Media Critique:“When Cameramen Attack”

A more stunning display of mendacity and partisanship by HonestReporting would be hard to find.

I’ll provide some context here, by starting at the bottom of this section and working up. HR provides some examples which purportedly demonstrate the anti-Israeli perfidy of the media.
The first one is, yet another, re-run of an old story. And I’m so glad they’ve dragged this one out. It’s a fine example of HRs appalling standards. The story is about what a Palestinian journalist working for the BBC, is alleged to have said at a Hamas rally in 2001. What HR didn’t tell its’ readers was that the original story appeared in the Jerusalem Post and the source of the statement was an unidentified ‘Hamas website’. Only a fragment of a statement appeared in the JPost. This is it,

despite the pace of current events and the sensitive circumstances applying to journalists and media organizations, which are waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people

As you can see, it’s a bit strange. My opinion is that given the nonsensical grammer, the first part of the statement has been conveniently edited out. Most likely that first missing part relates to the 2nd phrase, “which we are waging….”. This obviously concerned HR as well, so they decided to do a little editing to ….er…. clarify things for their readers. This is HRs version,

Journalists and media organizations [are] waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people.

It really did help to remove that first fragment, get rid of the comma and add “[are]”. Now the meaning is just so clear.

Next HR refers to a YnetNews story on an incident in Gaza in August. A Reuters car came under missile attack from the IDF. HR invokes this absolutely fabulous piece of distortion by inference to smear Reuters,

Reuters itself was accused in September 2006 of misusing press vehicles to transport Hamas-linked Palestinians

Really? No, not really.

The car was carrying 2 journalists. YnetNews alleges that one was “Hamas-linked”, whatever that means. It was carrying 2 journalists to cover a breaking story, not to “transport a Hamas-linked Palestinian”. Isn’t that a lovely piece of negative suggestion?

And Hamas-linked – what, he lives in Gaza, or his cousin’s- wife’s- uncle is a member? An alternative to “Hamas-linked” is 'not actually a Hamas member'. But to 'transport a Palestinian who is not a member of Hamas' doesn’t have quite the same effect does it?

And by the way, the Reuters car, which was struck by the Israeli missile, was clearly marked on all sides and the roof, as a press car. Now that’s nothing to interest HR is it? –the targeting of the press by military forces. No, nothing to see here, move on please.

Which takes us to the point of this ‘Media Critique’, “When Cameramen Attack”. You know, if HR said that the sun rises in the east, I’d want independent verification.

Well, for a start how about HR indulge in just the slightest bit of journalistic fairness, and make that “When Cameramen Allegedly Attack”. But that would be delving in to the world of ‘fairness and accuracy’ to a degree that would impair HRs ability to lie and distort.

This is the story which HR gets from Arutz7,

On Tuesday, a Reuters cameraman [Imad Bornat] was remanded to prison until trial for his part in rock-throwing attacks on security forces in Bil'in, where the separation fence is a constant target of protesters.

So what we have is an allegation, made by the Israeli Border Police that is being heard in an Israeli Military Court. Excuse me if I’m not overwhelmed by the legal process here.
Before we go any further, let’s shine a little light onto the notorious Israeli Border Police.

Just a few weeks ago a similar case made it into the courts; the Border Police alleging violent behaviour at the regular Bil’in protests over the route of the Seperation Wall.

Tel Aviv Magistrate`s Court revealed Tuesday that police officers lied while testifying against 11 left-wing activists accused of violent acts during anti-fence demonstrations in the West Bank village of Bil`in. The court acquitted the activists.

Judge Muki Landman harshly criticized the police`s behaviour in his ruling.
`A feeling of serious discomfort has arisen from the mighty gap between the officers` testimony and what is seen in the video tapes,` Landman wrote. `I cannot rule out the possibility that had it not been for the videotapes, I would have reached a different result regarding the defendants.` – Haaretz, Oct 3, 2006.

Right, so the Border Police committed perjury in court in an attempt to have Bil’in protesters jailed. And there was this story on the same day demonstrating the tender mercies of the Israeli Border Police,

The officer shot my brother when he was laying on the floor, his head down,’ Murad Abu Aya said……..

The Justice Ministry's Police Investigative Unit (PID) has refuted the version of events given by the Border Police officer who killed the Palestinian.

Police said the Palestinian, a 29-year old West Bank Palestinian from Tarqumiya who worked in a building site next to the Jaffa flea market, was shot after he tried to steal a rifle from one of the officers. During the struggle the gun went off, fatally wounding the Palestinian, a police spokesman said.

However, the PID investigation found that, contrary to the policeman's initial testimony the officer illegally used his weapon thus causing the death of the Palestinian.

Over the course of the investigation, the policeman changed his testimony, and stated that he fired his weapon without a struggle or any sort of provocation from the victim or his friends.
- Haaretz, Oct 3, 2006.

Back to the story . So we have allegations by the Border Police regarding Imad Bornat.
Curiously (or maybe not), Bornats' attorney is demanding that the video be shown as his defence.

Bornat's attorney has denied all charges waged against his client, and said the video footage the cameraman took will prove his innocence.

And remember, it was the video that cleared the 11 defendants in the previous court case. And most likely, it was video shot by Imad that cleared them. Imad and his brother have been videoing the Bil’in protests for the past 10 months.

Now let’s look at a very interesting timeline. On October 2, a court rules that video footage, probably shot by Imad Bornat, proves that Border Police were lying in their testimony against 11 protesters. Fours days later, the Border Police at the next Bil’in protest arrest Imad Bornat and allege that he was involved in throwing stones. He is then injured while in their custody.

Witnesses said that Border Police troops had beaten the cameraman, but the army says the man was hurt when a piece of communications equipment hit him in the back of the jeep he was being held in.

Director Pollack and artist David Reeb are set to submit letter to Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Wednesday, signed by dozens of artists, journalists and cultural figureheads protesting Bornat's arrest.
'Bornat's video footage shows the arbitrary and routine violence committed by Border Police and the army against the protesters, and especially against the residents of the village of Bil'in', they wrote.- Haaretz, Oct 10, 2006.

A radio “hit him”? Was someone was holding it at the time?

[Judge]Katz said the cameraman still appeared to be injured during the hearing, five days after he was arrested, raising doubts regarding the authenticity of the troops' version of the events. – Haaretz, Oct 10, 2006.

Imagine, the Judge in an Israeli military court doubts the veracity of the statements of Israeli Border Police. No chance of HR taking a hint from an Israeli military court judge I suppose?

But all HR wants is for the media to be “fair” and “accurate”. Nothing like leading by example is there?

Yet another ‘revisit’. And HR has backed a sure fire loser here. Some crazy Israel-right-or-wrong zealots are being sued by France-2 TV, for claiming the footage of Mohammad Al-Durah’s shooting was a hoax.

Well, the day after HR published this ‘Media Critique’, these 3 clowns lost the first part of their defamation case, and damages were awarded to France-2 TV.

And they are going to keep on losing. They produced 4 expert witnesses to support their conspiracy fantasies. One of them is a medieval historian. I kid you not.

Yes, HR please keep us informed, we all need the laughs.


Mistakes are thankfully rare…

Glad we’ve cleared that up. All the distortions, misrepresentations and lies by HR are deliberate.

This is an amazing effort, even for HR. Not once, not twice, but three times distorting and lying over a photo that appeared in the NYT. To cap off its’ deceit, HR claims this latest version of the lie over the Hicks photograph is, with amazing audacity, a “correction”!!

In our last communique, we should have mentioned that, irrespective of Tyler Hicks' explanation, the photo in question has previously been proven to be staged.

No. Totally untrue. Talk about ‘beyond chutzpuh’.

HR itself said about the photo, that the man photographed was “pretending to be dead”. All other claims about the photo being staged were, likewise, completely wrong. Let’s hear from the photographer again, who was there and witnessed the event,

I photographed the search effort, but otherwise there were no injured or dead visible. Soon there was a panic among the people that Israeli jets were coming overhead and would strike again. This sent the gathering crowd running away from the scene, which is a difficult task over the jagged cement and exposed rebar of a collapsed building.
In the commotion, one man fell from a considerable height onto his back and was seriously injured. He was then helped by others who rushed him to an ambulance.

Hicks gave some other fascinating insights into the Lebanon war that didn’t make it into HRs report,

Bombardments by the Israeli military were common in southern Lebanon, but often too far for us to reach with any level of safely. From the beginning of the conflict the Israeli military had been rocketing vehicles regularly, the roads were littered with the remains of civilian cars.

HonestReporting; dishonest, credulous and with no credibility.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Oct 11 Media Critique: “Immoral Nuclear Relativism”

This sub-heading pretty much sums it up for HonestReporting,

North Korea's nuclear test prompts false comparisons with Israel's own nuclear capabilities.

HonestReporting is howling about this story. A Sky News reporter, Ian Woods, had the temerity to point out the obvious double standards in the Israeli media coverage of North Korea’s nuclear test.

Though HR has trouble deciding if its point is that the article was comparing the countries, or their nuclear weapons,

One is an ultra-repressive communist dictatorship in North-East Asia; the other is the only real democracy in the MidEast.

It’s the later of course, but HR can’t help but adding a touch of feigned outrage.

HR isn't happy with Woods,

Correspondent Ian Woods states that "nowhere did any [Israeli media] reports mention what is the country's worst kept secret. Israel is a member of the nuclear mafia."

This so-called "mafia" includes the USA, UK, Russia, France, China, India and Pakistan, while Iran aspires to join this club. Yet, Sky prefers to concentrate solely on Israel.

HR is concerned over the use of the word “mafia”, but omits a rather crucial piece of information. The phrase is used by Woods after he quotes an Israeli General to that effect,

"The nuclear club is turning into a mafia," said Major General Uzi Dayan, a retired commander in the Israeli Defence Forces. And yet nowhere did any reports mention what is the country's worst kept secret. Israel is a member of the nuclear mafia.

Context can be everything can’t it? As HR well knows.

And why does the article “concentrate solely on Israel”? Well, that would be because the story was about the reaction in Israel to the North Korea news.

While Woods' report is neither ground-breaking nor particularly controversial, HonestReporting finds it somewhat strange that Sky has attributed any moral relativism between North Korea and Israel.

If it’s not controversial why call the report “immoral”?
And “moral relativism”? North Korea and Israel operate their nuclear programs completely outside of the accepted international monitoring process, via the IAEA. That’s not ‘relativism’, just relevant.

The Sky News story does make some other pertinent observations,

But Israeli journalists are banned from discussing Israel's nuclear capability by government censors.
Israel has always tried to maintain an official ambiguity about its nuclear policy, neither confirming nor denying it has the bomb. It has never signed nor ratified the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
One Israeli journalist with excellent military and political sources told me that some government officials believe the ambiguity may have to be replaced by more explicit threats.

HR talks about “Israel's purported nuclear capabilities”. The word “purported” is often used to suggest that a statement is false. Sounds like a phrase from the Israeli Foreign Ministry, rather than from an independent media monitor that strives for “accuracy”.

Oh sorry, I mean a purportedly independent media monitor.


Yes, I’m afraid it’s time to re-visit allegations of photo fraud, with our incompetent (or totally dishonest, you decide) guides at HonestReporting.

HR covered this one in it’s August 22 Media Critique, but it’s time to revisit it with an interview with the photographer . This is the photo in question, which was published in the New York Times newspaper.

The issue was the caption used by the NYT. The caption as supplied by photographer was this,

Israeli aircraft struck and destroyed two buildings in downtown Tyre, Lebanon Wednesday evening. As people searched through the burning remains, aircraft again could be heard overhead, panicking the people that a second strike was coming. This man fell and was injured in the panic to flee the scene. He is helped by another man, and carried to an ambulance.

The NYT used this caption in it’s print edition,

After an Israeli airstrike destroyed a building in Tyre, Lebanon, yesterday, one man helped another who had fallen and was hurt.

And a few days later the photo appeared in a slide show on the NYT website with this,

The mayor of Tyre said that in the worst-hit areas, bodies were still buried under the rubble, and he appealed to the Israelis to allow government authorities time to pull them out.

This storm-in-a-tea-cup brewed up in early August with some bloggers referring to it as the “Hezbollah Photo Fraud”. It’s worth remembering at this stage that Israel was facing mounting international criticism for events like the Qana bombing, and both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had released reports in the previous week detailing Israeli breaches of International Humanitarian Law. Pro-Israel bloggers were trying hard trying to demonstrate that just about any anything that cast Israel in bad light was staged, faked, or a fraud/hoax/libel. Their issue was that the 2nd NYT caption “implies” the injured man was actually pulled from the rubble. That’s it – what might have been implied from the caption. Talk about grasping at straws!

HR did add its own scintilla of originality to the story . HR told its herd that,

However, this same ‘victim’ is sometimes seen alive and posing for the cameras and sometimes pretending to be dead.

That he was “pretending to be dead” was HRs invention , with no factual basis for the claim. HR also appeared to be perplexed by ordinal sequences. The victim was earlier photographed “alive”, ie. up and walking, as he was helping search the rubble, then photographed again later (ie , occurring at a time after the initial shots) when he had fallen and was injured, hence his horizontal position. Hopefully I’ve clarified that for HR.

HRs update on this issue is the interview with the photographer explaining how the altered caption came about. The photographer puts the frenzy over the photos being a fraud/staged etc. into rational perspective,

one man fell from a considerable height onto his back and was seriously injured

So all the blather about the photo, that he was pretending to be injured, the lack of dust on his body or the position of his hat etc, were all just desperate attempts to fend off criticism, to protect Israel from the consequences of its actions

So is HR stupid, incompetent or manipulative? I vote for stupid and manipulative. Pure incompetence wouldn’t continually make such convenient ‘errors’. No, it’s a total lack of honesty and a complete disregard for the truth that allows HR to make the wildly inaccurate claims that fill its “Media Critiques”.

This demonstrates an important feature of HonestReporting: when they’re not misrepresenting and fabricating the views of individuals like Ronnie Kasrils, they’re trawling old issues like this one, and contorting them to create the impression of “anti-Israel media bias”. And they have no choice but to misrepresent and fabricate, because real examples of the phenomenon are so rare. This is a routine HR tactic; to take minor stuff-ups, errors and cock-ups of the type that are all too common, and allege that they are the product of “bias” in the media. There are real examples of significant factual errors in the media, but they're not the kind HR has any interest in. For example, the mis-reporting (in the few instances it was reported at all) of the details of the killing of a Palestinian woman by the IDF. The refusal by the paper concrned to issue a correction gives an indication of where most of the real problems lie in reporting the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Finally HR tells us “that this incident serves as an example to newspaper editors to be more careful with their captions in the future.

Any chance that this example will teach HR to be more careful with its’ accusations in the future? Of course not, HR isn’t subject to the constraints of “accuracy” and “fairness” that it demands of others.