Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dec 26 Media Critique: "Pallywood Xmas Special"

"Wire service photos demonstrate the distortions of the media."

Of course they do. Like this .

The photo caption says “tackles” which is the evil media distortion.

Pretty lame huh?

HR’s preference is another caption which uses the word “blocks” instead of “tackles”. The imbeciles at HR should take a look at a thesaurus.

But that’s not all folks,

Nowhere are you able to get an accurate picture of the size of the demonstration or otherwise. Photos of the event, such as the one below from Reuters are framed as close-ups giving the impression of a large turnout even when closer examination, such as the previous photos, may suggest the opposite

No. No picture, the articles just tell readers the size of the gathering,

About 50 Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists attended the rally in the village of Um Salomona, near Bethlehem

It’s all an evil conspiracy,

A good example of how the news can be distorted by photographers comes from a demonstration staged by Palestinians near Bethlehem on 21 December 2007. Pallywood has signed up one of the most visible and loved symbols of the holidays - Santa Claus. Wait until the cameras are in position and then confront Israeli soldiers.

Um, it’s a protest, as all the stories made that perfectly clear, even in the headlines.

This is pathetic stuff, even by HR’s appallingly low standards.

And to top it off,

Also notice how the Palestinian Santa appears to be well trained and media savvy - while managing to instigate dramatic photos of being "tackled" by Israeli soldiers, Santa suddenly becomes an advocate of peace and hope when interviewed by a Reuters cameraman. Such is the sophistication of the Palestinian propaganda machine that Santa is able to provoke violent confrontation while, at the same time, talking about peace.

Smell the desperation?

Horrible ‘Palestinian Santa’ stood in the way of peace-loving IDF soldiers armed with M-16s. Oh, the violence! After this shocking rampage he then had the temerity to speak of “peace and hope”. Beware the “sophistication of Palestinian propaganda machine”. Thankfully we have the totally objective HR to tell us what is really going on.

Can I laugh now?

This is all about the unsophistication of the blindly pro-Israeli hasbara machine. Focus on a tiny element of a story over which you can confect some controversy to distract from the larger story – peaceful Palestinian protests being conducted on their own land against an Israeli constructed wall that had been found to be illegal under international law.

Which is why they so desperately scramble to construct these ‘media critiques’, even if they are embarrassingly stupid. Anything to muddy the waters.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dec 12 Media Critique: "The Grinch That Destroys Christmas"

And who would that be? Ah yes, the evil media.

HR are decrying what they say is the yearly assault on Israel over the plight of Christians in Bethlehem. It's all a media conspiracy you know.


HR link to 3 articles to prove their "reality", that it has nothing to do with Israel. In their typical regard for honesty they seriously misrepresent 2 of the 3 articles.

The first is about a Christian TV station that has closed down. HR imply that is was purely about anti-Christian sentiments, but in a reflection of the general economic crises caused by the occupation the article cites "overwhelming financial debts" as a cause for the closure. And the second is a story about a Christian pastor threatened by a Fatah security officer. Again, HR imply this is a religious issue, but the article itself makes it clear that this is not necessarily the case,

It was not immediately clear Wednesday if the pastor was threatened specifically because of his missionary work among Muslims or as a result of the land his family owned in the city, or a combination of the two.
The same article links to another that provides a different perspective on the situation, though not one HR would like to draw attention to,
Socioeconomic hardships caused by the West Bank security barrier are contributing to the decline in the Christian population in the Holy Land, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Such balance, honesty and fairness from HR.

Christians are over represented in the number of Palestinians leaving the occupied territories. But for a much simpler reason than the one HR push- they are much more likely to belong to the Palestinian middle-class, who as a group, are most likely to emigrate in difficult times. There were also outflows of Palestinian Christians in 1947-48, and again after 1967.


And every year HR, and the usual pro-Israel fanatics, drag out the same bedraggled corpse in the form of Justus Weiner to spruik the same message as every other year - the reasons Christians are leaving the Palestinian territories is because of the Muslims, not because of the brutal Israeli occupation that is destroying the possibility of normal life for Palestinians (see the Red Cross report in the previous post).

If you want a real look at the causes of the decline of the Palestinian Christian population, read this. The basic message is that 80+% of Christians seek to emigrate for work and economic issues, and 8% because of religious extremism.

Weiner is so predictable that it's enough to reproduce a 2006 quote from the 'Churches for Middle East Peace',
....Professor Justus Weiner, an American/Israeli academic [who] is a scholar at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in Israel. His research includes little or no input from the local indigenous Palestinian Christians--- Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran communicants, and has significant inaccuracies, exaggerated conclusions and major omissions.
Weiner is also infamous for his thoroughly dishonest and shoddy attack on Edward Said a few years back. Weiner has adopted the Alan Dershowitz approach to 'Lying For Israel' - dress it up in legalese or academic garb. My favourite contribution from Weiner was a book on illegal construction in occupied East Jerusalem where he made the stunning discovery that the primary illegal construction problem is caused by Palestinians.

For balance we get to hear from Weiner, Weiner and Weiner. Any voice for Palestinian Christians? No way, because, as we are helpfully told, "church representatives 'sing the PA's tune' and are quick to censure Israel for everything". Impossible that this could simply be true. Heaven forbid that Christian Palestinians' thoughts on the subject should be noted.

Which leads nicely and oh-so predictably into HRs next section.


Sabeel is one of the most active Palestinian Christian groups in the OTs. So despite the crocodile tears over the plight of Palestinian Christians, HR proceed to enthusiastically lay the boot into Sabeel (it's "extreme" and "anti-semitic") because it's a Christian Palestinian group exposing HR's highly partisan and dishonest portrayal of the situation.

So let's finish the year with a Christmas message from the people whose plight HonestReporting wants to use for it's own ends, while simultaneously denying them their own voice,

Ultimately, peace will come not from the Caesars and all those who trust in their military might and in the arrogance of their power but from the meek that put their trust in God. It is the meek who will inherit the earth. Peace will come from the labor, toil, and hard work of all those who do not glory in their riches or in their power but glory in their love and service of God and in their love and acceptance of others. God’s message of peace still rings true, not from Annapolis that represents empire, but from the small town of Bethlehem, Palestine that still suffers under occupation. The peace that the Caesars of the world give is largely false and deceptive, and it cannot last. Only the peace that God gives, the peace that is based on justice and truth will survive and prosper. In the midst of these uncertain times, Sabeel wishes all its friends a joyful Christmas. May the New Year bring us closer to the peace we hope for; and let us continue the struggle together for the achievement of God’s peace for all the people of Palestine-Israel.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

December 6 Media Critique: “The Post-Annapolis Blame Game”

Sorry for the delay. I’ve been trying to get through this one, but kept falling asleep before reaching the end.

HonestReporting don’t like this. That’s about all there is to it. Despite the endless claims of “anti-Israel media bias” HR have to content themsleves with one opinion piece in a paper half-way around the world.

HR do demonstrate their sick humour with this,

Shaik and Lowenstein also ignore Israel’s concern for the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, where all the essentials continue to enter the territory despite claims of a "blockade."

By a curious coincidence that highlights HR’s extreme bias, just a week after HR made this disgracefully dishonest claim, the Red Cross issued a rare public statement about the terrible humanitarian situation caused by the Israeli occupation,

Throughout the occupied Palestinian territories, in the Gaza Strip as well as in the West Bank, Palestinians continuously face hardship in simply going about their lives; they are prevented from doing what makes up the daily fabric of most people's existence. The Palestinian territories face a deep human crisis, where millions of people are denied their human dignity. Not once in a while, but every day.

Read the full report here.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

November 28 Media Critique: 'Annapolis And The Core Issues"

A primer on the core issues confronting world leaders and the media.

This ain’t no ‘media critique’. A primer? Yes. And what a primer it is. Priming the faithful to be ready to decry anything outside of HRs positioning of the issues as “anti-Israel media bias”.

HR set the core issues outside the parameters of either international law or the international consensus of a just solution.

The Jewish State
One of Israel’s most fundamental demands is Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Well, almost. It’s actually one of the 'most fundamentalist demands' you could hear.

Don’t expect HR to advocate that Israel must recognize Palestine as a 'Muslim State'.

Lawrence of Cyberia notes the history of this escalating ambit claim: first it was simply recognition of Israel (which the PLO unhelpfully did), followed by the demand that Palestinians recognize its' “right to exist”, which has morphed into its' “right to exist as a Jewish state”. Each development is meant to be unacceptable to Palestinians so that Israel can portray them as intransigent.

What the media often call "Arab East Jerusalem" usually refers to areas
temporarily under Jordanian rule from 1948 to 1967 and restored after the Six Day War. Those areas include the Old City and Judaism's holiest sites, the Temple Mount and Western Wall.
Israel has absolutely zero legal claim to East Jerusalem under International Law. HR attempt to blur the clear distinction between what Israeli is entitled to under law, with what it wants. And it wants East Jerusalem, so, hey, what’s the problem?

In addition, Israel has a proven track record of ensuring full access to the city's holy sites
And a few little lies never hurt. Israel routinely prevents Palestinian access to the Haram al-Sharif for “security reasons”. Not to mention incidents like the wholesale Israeli bulldozing of the Palestinian Mahgrebi quarter in East Jerusalem in the first weeks of the occupation in June 1967.

For many Israelis, final borders are ultimately a question of security……In contrast, the Palestinians demand an independent state in the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The beastly creatures! They want the ENTIRE West Bank and Gaza Strip!! As they are entitled to under international law. Again, Palestinians legal entitlements are nothing compared to what Israel says are its’ needs. If Israel says that parts of Palestinian territory are “vital” to it, well, surely that settles the matter?

…..Not surprisingly, Israel rejects Palestinian return as non-starter.

No surprise at all, given that the return of refugees to their former homes, should they wish to, is a right under international law.

HR however, are much more attuned to more important principles – “Israel’s Jewish identity”. Ethnocracy vs. legal entitlement? It’s no contest.

And we urge readers to monitor their local coverage and make their voices heard.
Yes indeed. Having been primed by HR to prioritize Israeli wants over international law and Palestinian rights, all the good HR sheep will be able to send outraged emails about “anti-Israel bias” to media outlets when they dare to stray from the acceptable narrative, into the bizarre world of law, rights and justice.

Friday, November 23, 2007

November 21 Media Critique: “New York Times 6 Month Study”

Once again we are treated to the spectacle of HR trying to dress up their preconceived notions in the garb of objective analysis. Remember their last dismal effort?

An important indicator of bias, balance means the news source gave equal weight to conflicting claims over a period of time. Both subject matter and style are important factors in weighing bias.

I can feel a HR moment coming on. This is the concept most abused by the partisans who scream “media bias”. You may be slightly surprised that HR,

found that reporting favored the Palestinian side through both text priority and selection of images.

Text priority”?

This is the story.

HR’s problem with this is that the Israeli bombing got the first mention (that is the story you dimwits!), and the earlier Palestinian rocket fire is mentioned later. This argument only begins to make sense if the earlier Palestinian rocket fire was unreported. Was it? No, the previous days story from the same reporter mentions the Palestinian rocket fire. HR are concerned that the ordering of elements of the story fails to give sufficient “justification” to Israeli actions, highlighting HRs total commitment to objectivity. The article also quotes the Israeli spokesman first. Is this “text priority” indicating bias?

Editors have many choices which photographs accompany news articles. We looked at the photographs that ran with the New York Times' articles and found that there seemed to be an inappropriate and unbalanced emphasis on either Palestinian suffering or Israeli military operations.
Now we lurch into crazy territory. Despite HR’s best intentions to apply a veneer of objectivity to their partisan opinions, they just can’t keep it up.

Graphs and charts are good for such purposes, hence HR throw up one which purports to show “Proportion of Images Sympathetic to Israeli or Palestinian View”. Let’s ignore the crude simplicity of the entire idea and run with it for a second. Firstly, HR mention this story as an example of the problem. It’s a story primarily about the in-fighting in Gaza, but has a photo of an Israeli air-strike. HR include 2 other photos “sympathetic” to a “Palestinian view - but they aren’t even in the NYT story. Just added for dramatic effect I guess. HR also fail to mention that there is one other photo in this story they claim is an example of pro-Palestinian “bias” – but it’s a photo of Israelis after a rocket attack on Sderot. Isn’t it great how completely ignoring certain facts that undermine your argument, makes your argument appear stronger? HR are masters at this kind of self-delusion. No doubt if pressed on the point they would argue about the size and position of the photos. Just goes to show that if you are determined enough, you can find bias everywhere.

Of the images showing one point of view or the other, over 60% were pictures that evoke more understanding or sympathy for the Palestinian side. The viewer thus gets the impression that there are far more Israeli military strikes against Palestinian civilians than Palestinian rocket attacks.
So, if 60% is too much “understanding”, what does HR suggest? Nothing. They just know that 60% is too much. Perhaps by some unexplained mathematical miracle, 50% is OK? This is the hallmark of utterly vacuous faux-media analysis – that balance in reporting might be represented by the Golden Mean, a midpoint between 2 opposed positions. An objective reference point would be to look at casualties. Given that the ratio of deaths is about 4:1 in ‘favour’ of Palestinians, maybe an objective use of photos to portray reality would have 80% of photos evoking understanding of the Palestinian situation. Now where’s the bias? Of course, HR could not even begin to contemplate such an idea. It has the wrong outcome.

Style can have a significant impact on how news events are perceived.

Now this is something that HR has in spades – consistent pro-Israel partisanship, no matter what.

HR contrast 2 headlines – “Israeli army Kills 3” and “Rocket injures 40 Israeli soldiers”. That the Israeli army is named seems to be the entire point of this secton. The “rocket” headline is “neutral” according to HR, as “we do not know if anyone fired the rocket or if it went off accidentally”. The first sentence of the story might help the poor fools at HR,

A Palestinian rocket fired from Gaza early Tuesday wounded some 40 soldiers….

There is quite a simple explanation for what HR sees as a conspiracy. Actions by the Israeli army are usually clearly attributable to the Israeli army, which is not the case with Palestinian rocket fire, where exactly which group was responsible is often not known immediately. The alternative headline to satisfy HR would have to have been – ‘Hamas/PFLP/Al-Aqsa? rocket injures 40 Israeli soldiers”.

We looked at examples of articles that were less than accurate or lacked important context.

HR and context. Always good for a chuckle.

HR give a few trivial examples which don’t illustrate much at all, let alone bias. Their major contribution to the field of accuracy and context is that the term “disputed territory” is much better than “occupied territory”. Not even Ariel Sharon would agree with them on that. How’s that for accurate!

Yet in terms of balance, consistency and context, we found that the coverage is more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

It’s a fact free environment at HR. Applying the same kind of junk-media analysis to NYT coverage of a concentration camp, HR would find the NYT was not fair and balanced because it was more sympathetic to the victims. The objective reality of the situation is of no concern to HR, only that a sterile and confected “balance” be achieved that might serve to reduce critical reporting of Israeli actions.

One journalist from the NYT might have had HR in mind when he made this comment about those who accuse the paper of bias,

They don’t want you to be balanced in your coverage; they want you to portray the morality of the war as they see it.
HonestReporting are a case study of the phenomenon known as the Hostile Media Effect. Put another way, the amount of media bias perceived is directly proportional to the degree of partisanship of the media consumer. Which in HRs case, is a whole lot.


Thanks to regular commentor Phillip, for reminding me of another study of the NYT coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It serves as an interesting comparison to HR, both in conclusions and methodology (if HR can be said to have one).

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Nov 1 Media Critique: 'Guardians One-Sided Analysis"

Same old same old.

And a rather inauspicious start,

HonestReporting has previously debunked the misleading charge that Gaza is 'under siege'.

Yes, and wasn’t that just hilarious.

So why are HR in a flap this time? It’s over an excellent piece from the Guardians’ Seamus Milne, ‘The siege of Gaza is going to lead to a violent escalation’.

For starters it’s “one-sided”.

A classic case of projection. HR, being such one-eyed partisans of a pro-Israel nature, assume that everyone else shares their motivation - to be a cheer squad for one side against the other. Milne’s piece is a fair and reasonable analysis of where the conflict is headed. HR see a conspiracy lurking in every word, ie use of the word “resistance” means that Milne “reveal[s] where his sympathies lie”.

And of course it is “littered with bias”, ie. it mentions facts that HR don't like.

Milne refuses to hold Hamas responsible for the situation in Gaza. Instead, in a perverse inversion, an increase in Qassam attacks is blamed on Israel.

And why not. Hamas are surely responsible for the 40 yr occupation of Gaza, aren’t they?

Milne also refuses to hold Egypt responsible for restricting access to its border, stating, incorrectly, that "Israel continues to control all access to the Gaza Strip". In any case, Israel, like any other state has every right to exercise border controls, particularly when its neighbor represents a serious security threat.
Oh dear, they are in a muddle. Having just said that Israel has a right to control it’s borders, HR want Milne to lay that same criticism at Egypt as well. Small problem. The Rafah crossing with Egypt is the best access to the outside world the Palestinians have. And Egypt control it at Israels insistence. And the control over borders far exceeds that of normal border control . Israel controls the airspace over Gaza and prevents the Gaza port from operating. That is Occupation, not border control.

Engaging in appalling moral equivalency, Milne states: "Unless Hamas recognised Israel, renounced violence and signed up to agreements it had always opposed, the western powers insisted, the Palestinian electorate would be ignored. No such demands, needless to say, have been made of Israel."

Ah, “moral equivalency”, that meaningless phrase to be deployed whenever you do’t like something but can’t come up with any rational objection.

How “appalling” that Israel might be required to renounce violence and recognize a sovereign Palestinian state. How could anyone imagine that Palestinians are equal to Israelis?

Again, ignoring Palestinian responsibilities and obligations, Milne states that "the Israeli government is resistant to any timetable for statehood - let alone serious negotiation on Jerusalem, refugees and final borders". This, despite increasing controversy within Israel over the concessions that Israeli government ministers have suggested may be on the table at the forthcoming Annapolis conference, particularly relating to the status of Jerusalem.
Yes, there is huge debate within Israel about Jerusalem. The hardliners say ‘an undivided Jerusalem forever’ and the moderates want an undivided Jerusalem, but offer the “concession’ that the Palestinians can have the small suburb of Abu Dis on the outskirts of East Jerusalem as their capital and they can call that ‘East Jerusalem’.


Following on from ‘Bad News from the Netherlands’, there is more delusion from our pro-Israel fanatics that Israels’ problem is not its’ behaviour, but the media reporting of its’ behaviour.

All you have to do is to compare them with 'Bad News From Israel' and you’ll see the reality. On one, you can read stories of drunken Uni students, poor parking, and over tested school children, and on the other discriminatory land laws, an army shooting 8 yr old girls dead, and soldiers telling of how they enjoy beating up women. Can you guess which stories come from Israel and which from the Netherlands?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Oct 24 Media Critique: "A One-State Solution: Advocating Israel's Destruction"

Is this thinly veiled strategy for destroying the Jewish state resurfacing in the mainstream media?

Well, it wouldn’t be HonestReporting without a good dose of hysterics. The source of this weeks edition of confected outrage is an Op-Ed in an Australian newspaper by the president of Women for Palestine, Sonja Karker.

While there is a virtual consensus among world leaders for a two-state solution, another "solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, insidiously sold in the language of peace, is the "one-state solution" or "bi-national state", as laid out in the op-ed columns of Australia's The Age.

Yes, it’s just that Israel seems to have little interest in the solution being applied in any meaningful way. At any rate, the one-state solution is simply the most egalitarian and democratic of all possible solutions. No wonder HR hate it. That said, it isn’t terribly practical at this time because of the lack of support for it.

HR then bore us to death with several of the usual suspects claiming that this is an evil conspiracy to destroy Israel. Chief amongst them is the ubiquitous apologist for Israeli crimes, and serial liar, Alan Dershowitz, who blabbers on quite stupidly,

The one-state solution proposal now being made by Palestinian lawyers and some anti-Israel academics is nothing more than a ploy…… to destroy the Jewish state of Israel

It even gets a bit bizarre,

But, in a world where ethnically mixed states such as Yugoslavia have broken down in bloodshed, and Muslim states such as Saudi Arabia claim Muslim Arab exclusivity, why does the only Jewish state have to be the test case for a far-fetched utopian experiment?

HR draw a parallel between Saudi Arabia and Israel! OK, I guess they both have a bent for religious extremism.

The attempt to label a democratic solution to the conflict as destroying Israel is as predictable as it is lame. Afterall, you can’t vociferously claim to be the only democratic state in the region and also reject a principled democratic resolution. It needs to be dressed up in much nicer sounding terms, like this,

Why is Jewish self-determination in a state of their own illegitimate?

Ah, self-determination! Such champions of it in Israel – for Jews, that is.
The 20% of Israeli’s who are Palestinian? –sorry, self-determination in Israel is only for Jewish Israelis.
The millions living the Occupied Territories for 40 yrs under Israel oppression? - well, maybe they can have a little bit, as long as it suits Israel.
Self-determination expressed at the ballot box in free and fair elections (as far as is possible under foreign occupation)? – nothing wrong with using bribery, coercion and blackmail to destroy that.

So what is the problem? Where is the media bias? There isn’t any, it’s just the usual HonestReporting problem of being unable to tolerate different ideas.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

October 18 Media Critique: "Bad News From the Netherlands"

A project sets out to prove that any country can be made to look like a pariah.

This is the epitome of HRs ‘confusion’.

HR is referring to a project by the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs that does what the title of this latest embarrassment from HR suggests. And so what? We now know that there is crime in the Netherlands. Is that really news to anyone?

There is something that you won’t read about in the JCPAs bizarre little ‘project’ (read it for a good laugh); and that is stories about the Dutch occupation and settlement enterprise. That’s because there isn’t one. You could report every single piece of “bad news” from the Netherlands, and it still wouldn’t be a “pariah”, because it would simply be the kind of news that one sees in every newspaper. However, if they were to start expropriating land outside their internationally recognized borders and started to expel the locals and build Dutch settlements, then it would be a very different story.

Perhaps HR are alluding to the media penchant for ‘if it bleeds it leads’. According to HRs logic, news organizations must be biased against the entire world – they're always reporting the "bad news".

HR’s problem is one of bias – its' own. Being the strident and extreme pro-Israel partisans that they are, they can’t tolerate reporting of Israel that produces a negative impression. Unfortunately for HR, it only requires reporting of the facts to create a negative impression. Perhaps HR and the silly JCPA think that media reporting about the conflict in Sudan is an example of bias? – after all it creates a very negative impressions of Sudan, making it a “pariah”. I strongly suspect that their ‘bias’ theory wouldn’t be applied in this case.

HRs problem is that it views media reporting through the prism of its’ own partisanship, and anything that is “bad news” is not factual reporting about a bad situation, but is bias. Hearing something that you don’t like does not make the source of that information biased - unless you are a fanatic.

Like HonestReporting.

Update: Here’s another ‘bad news’ site, which you can compare with Bad News from the Netherlands and judge for yourself whether the obvious differences stem from ‘bias’ or just reflect a different set of facts.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

October 11 Media Critique: "Failure to Disclose"

That can be a serious problem, removing information that might assist readers to make a judgement about the motivation and perspectives of the person quoted. It would have been better to identify Jeff Halper as a co-founder of the excellent ICAHD, as well a geographer specializing in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements. Though there is certainly nothing distorting about the omission, despite HRs painful labours to suggest so.

But, as usual, HR ignores the log in its’ own eye while complaining bitterly of the speck in anothers.

How can a journalist "forget" his interviewee's position at the head of an anti-Israel NGO?

Indeed. It’s just shocking.

And an “anti-Israel NGO,” no less. Halper must be a remnant from the Third Reich, or maybe from nasty evil Iran? No. Jeff Halper is from Israel, as the name Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions might suggest.

Shocking! How can HR “forget” to mention that the “anti-Israel NGO" is an Israeli NGO? Failure to disclose!

But it’s not just “anti-Israel” Israelis who are on the menu.

Many times, media outlets and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) rely upon unsourced and uncorroborated Palestinian "eyewitnesses" to back up their stories, despite the unprofessionalism that lies behind this sloppy form of investigation.

Unbelievable. Journalist just go and talk to Palestinians eyewitnesses (sorry for leaving out the scare quotes) and report what they say. How could they? Professional journalists understand that "Palestinian" and "eyewitness" are mutually exclusive categories.

Sometimes the bigotry seeps through despite best intentions. Well, you know what they say – you can’t polish a turd.

HR suggest the Guardian article might be misleading by omitting metion of ICAHD, and hence, Halpers’ “agenda”.

ICAHD partners with radical NGOs to campaign against the two-state solution

Hhmmm….they are against peace. Evil Guardian.

But, let’s just check with ICAHD themselves to see if HR may not have made an inadvertent error and mistakenly misrepresented ICAHDs “agenda” as being "against the two-state solution".

As Israelis, we believe that the only chance for a genuine peace is one that enables the Palestinians to establish what we have, a viable and truly sovereign state of their own.

Another turd from HonestReporting.

Oct 3 Media Critique: “Israel Finally Refutes Al-Dura”


Refutes, as in, to prove a claim is false? No, not at all. HR is just doing what comes naturally – being dishonest.

Despite the headline, even HR have to ‘fess up to the reality,

Israel has finally officially denied responsibility

OK, so it’s just a denial released, purely by chance of course (7 years later), to coincide with the court action by the ill-fated conspiracy theorists who are trying to sue France’s Channel 2. They lost round 1 and are very likely to lose round 2 as well.

Not content with just denying responsibility, a group in Israel are claiming that the death was “staged”. I’m not exactly sure what they mean by this, but no-one is actually taking this seriously, not even the Director of the GPO, Daniel Seaman, who is an enthusiastic supporter of the conspiracy.

So, are they going to charge the Channel 2 journalists with 'staging' the death? No.

Or even revoke their GPO issued permits to work in Israel? No.

Beat-up for the faithful? Oh yeah!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sept 18 Media Critique: "Reviewers Reject ‘The Israel Lobby’"

And HonestReporting reject rational debate.

The basis of this is that HR quote 6 reviews that they agree with.

It would be easy enough to trawl the internet and find reviewers who agree with the basic ideas in the book. Should HR then, for the sake of ‘balance’, say that "Reviewers Accept ‘The Israel Lobby’"? We all know what the likelihood of that is.

Though it is funny to see HR, the promoter of the world-wide anti-Israel media conspiracy, pointing to the same media to support its’ views of this book.

This is the HR Law of Media; agree with us and you are purveyors of the truth, disagree and you are anti-Israeli hacks peddling hatred and lies.


HR is still whining about this New Statesman story.

It’s basically a rather overdone ‘HOW DARE YOU’ from HR.

Sept 6 Media Critique: "Durban Revisited?"

"Will a UN "anti-racism" conference become another anti-Semitic and anti-Israel parley?"

Ho hum. Next.


the New Statesman has falsely equated Jewish teens volunteering on IDF programs and Muslim youths taking part in terrorist training camps
Well, it has drawn attention to the parallels. And quite rightly. Here is the article, it’s well worth a read.

HR are outraged (as usual) that anyone could question why British teenager who are Jewish would head off to Israel to do an IDF camp, dressing in fatigues and learning to shoot military rifles. Really, what could be more natural?

Totally harmless say HR, it's
designed to foster an understanding of the IDF, its role in Israeli society and to connect with Israelis doing their compulsory army service.

The New Statesman article finishes with this question,
If these were British Muslim 19 year-olds firing machine guns and running assault courses in Pakistan or Yemen, would we not have them all arrested at the airport?

Which of course HR finds “shocking”. Poor darlings.

While HR are happy pretending, for dramatic effect, that the article is saying “Jewish youths = Muslim terrorists”, that wasn’t the point being made (and it goes without saying, for HR at least, that Muslim kids at a Hamas camp are automatically ‘terrorists’). Of course there are some differences between the situations. The kids going to the camps in Gaza are kids from Gaza, not the US or Britain. A better question to end the article might have been to speculate the reaction to 18 yr old British Muslim youth going to Lebanon to train with the Lebanese army, just to “foster an understanding of the Lebanese army”, of course. What could be more natural?

The article really needs to be placed in some perspective (aside from HR’s shrill hysterics). And this is it – Child Recruitment in Israel .

Read it, and you’ll see that the New Statesman article is just a small piece of the overall picture, and a rather disturbing one at that.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

August 27 Media Critique: "CNN's 'God's Warriors': Hard on Jews, Soft on Islam"

We must be thankful for small mercies.

At least this is not another interminable whine about the BBC or The Guardian. No, it’s an interminable whine about CNN.

To be fair, HR haven’t actually bothered boring us with their views, but reproduce someone else’s take on it, as well as providing a link to CAMERA. HR post some drivel by a bloke called Maurice Ostroff. Here are a few examples,

Amanpour does not hesitate to inject her own views, demonstrating occasional lack of knowledge. For example when an Israeli settler said God says Jews must live in Hebron, Amanpour interjected that the West Bank was designated by the UN to be the largest part of an Arab state. Not only is this statement factually incorrect, it is out of context.

Err…that is completely factually accurate. All one has to do is too take a look at a map of the UN Partition Plan. Ostroff waffles on about the British Mandate and Balfour, neither of which alter the factual accuracy of Amanpours’ statement.

One of the most misleading aspects of the program, was the use of the very few isolated incidents of Jewish terror attempts over the past 15 years, to create the false impression that a Jewish terror movement exists on a par with the violent worldwide jihadist phenomenon of indiscriminate death and destruction. For example she interviewed Yehuda Etzion who was convicted and imprisoned for involvement in a foiled bomb plot way back in 1984.

I believe that CNN wanted to interview Baruch Goldstein, but he was unavailable. Ariel Sharon was also too busy to appear to discuss his 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the killing of thousands of Lebanese civilians, not to mention minor incidents like Sabra and Shatilla. Maybe the complaint is that CNN should have probed later incidents like this, this, this, or these?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

August 23 Media Critique: “The Independent's Foul Play”

“Criticism of a UK Foreign Office decision turns into an excuse for hateful Israel bashing.”

When it’s not the evil BBC, it’s the evil Independent. What is it with those Brits??

Writing in the UK's Independent, Mark Steel criticizes the British Foreign Office, which is his right, before launching an astonishing diatribe against Israel, based not on facts nor reason, but on overt hate and disinformation.

The usual measured response from HR.

What indicates his “overt hate” for Israel? It’s Steels' suggestion that the Israeli Foreign Ministry might have pressured the UK to refuse the visa’s. I think it unlikely, but as Steele pointed out, the British FO initially supported the tour, so it is a little odd that they would then change course. HR seem to find it difficult to believe that Governments attempt to influence each other. Such wondrous naivety.

All Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip may encounter problems exiting crossings at Israeli and Egyptian borders, particularly following Hamas' violent takeover of the area.

Ah, the joys of the deletion of the active agent.

Palestinians simply can’t find the doors, that’s why they “encounter problems exiting crossings”. And it has been a little worse since Hamas won democratic lections, but Israel has been making it increasingly difficult over the last 15 years. It’s nothing new, just the continuation of the trend.

the latest incident is simply part of the process of petty vindictiveness that occupying forces often dish out. Even if there's no obvious military or political advantage to be gained, you can imagine them passing a law that no one in Gaza is allowed to hum, or on Mondays everyone has to speak in a Geordie accent.

HR remain suitably calm and objective by describing this quote from Steels' article as “simple hatred and demonization of Israel”. Conveniently, they miss, or ignore, Steels’ completely reasonable observation that this is typical of “occupying forces”, the plural form obviously referring to all occupying forces, hence not ‘demonizing’ Israel but being appropriately critical of occupying powers. To enhance the effect of this lie, HRs quote leaves out the preceding sentence which provides the context and background for Steels’ observation. The phrase “latest incident” gives it away, but HR readers are probably beyond such critical appraisals,

And during the Asia Cup, which the Palestinian national team had started with an 8-0 win, the Israelis detained the five players who came from Gaza so they couldn't get to their match against Uzbekistan

Oh, so it’s happened before!!

And it’s not just in sport that Israeli vindictiveness can be witnessed. Remember the saga of the greenhouses in Gaza? The wingnut-o-sphere frothed at the mouth over the destruction of greenhouses after the Gaza ‘disengagement’. Only 20% were affected, but they had a lovely time vilifying all Palestinians over the incident. It was a major economic goal to get the horticultural industry going. There were problems but crops were raised and goods set to be exported. But in the first season only 10% could be exported due to repeated Israeli closures of the Karni crossing for 'security' reasons. Never happened when the goods were Israeli.

Just bad luck I’m sure, and anyone who suggests otherwise is guilty of “overt hate”.

Cooked To Imperfection”

And they don’t like Jonathon Cook for writing articles like this .

They particularly don’t like him saying this,

a relentless campaign to target, discredit and silence critics of Israel.

The existence of HR makes that just a statement of the bleeding obvious. But not for HR, who indulge in the routine piece of sophistry that greets this observation, namely that since critics like Cook “are able to spread their flawed charge the claim that their voices have been silenced” is simply untrue. The sophistry comes in with the assumption that critics are saying that this has been 100% successful. But as Cook says, the pro-Israel partisans like HR have a “relentless campaign” to try and achieve this. The degree of success is not the issue.

Then it gets truly comical,

Jonathan Cook's agenda and that of others, it seems, is to delegitimize and silence the very legitimate opinions held by those in opposition to theirs

Now it’s all clear: Cook, and “others” in the media, have an agenda to “silence” HR, who are valiantly fighting to simply express an opinion the opposite of Cooks, which they do by attacking Cooks opinions. Makes sense doesn’t it? Jonathon Cook and “others” are anti-Israel partisans who, almost every week, write articles asking readers to send “informed correspondence” to HonestReporting in order to balance the one-sided debate in the media.

One wonders if even the script-writers at HR believe this stuff.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

August 2 Media Critique: “Gaza 'Under Siege'?”

“Is the Gaza Strip really under siege or is the reality quite different?”

Of course not, HonestReporting is quick to tell us. To say so is “somewhat misleading”, while quietly acknowledging that Israeli restrictions on goods entering Gaza are killing patients there.

But what are a few dead Palestinians when there are bigger fish to fry?

False claims” of a siege are the real issue.

Who’d make such a wildly inaccurate claim? HR directs us to a dictionary definition to prevent confusion. And to the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry for an independent opinion on the wonderfulness of Israeli support of Gaza. If that isn’t quite independent enough for you, try this.

Imagine if someone was to say that Israel was under siege. Something like this perhaps,

……Israelis who are under daily siege…..

Misleading, false, I hear you cry. Who would say something so obviously…..err……dishonest?

Why, it’s HonestReporting of course!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

July 26 Media Critique: “Terror Propaganda: LA Times Publishes Responses”

HonestReporting continues with the recent fight against free speech and the role of the media to report. Of course HR are all for free speech and ‘honest’ reporting’ as long as that excludes views that it doesn’t like. This time it’s the evil Washington Post upsetting HR by publishing the writing of Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, a Lebanese Shi’i cleric, in its ‘On Faith’ section.

This is a “soap box to terror” gasp HR. Someone get the smelling salts!

Why won’t these media types censor themselves more effectively? Don’t they know how delicate sensibilities may be offended by the wrong thoughts?

But, as usual, HR is deceptively selective in how it reports this single item. It was, in fact, part of a week long series called “Muslims Speak Out: What Islam Really Says About Violence, Rights and Other Religions”, where Newsweek and the WP invited over 50 Muslim scholars and clerics to discuss the issue. It’s well worth a read, giving a broad range of opinions and ideas that the bigoted idiots at HR would benefit from reading in its' entirety.


Oh, do tell.

we have to ask why the BBC has given prominence to a feature "In pictures: The work of Naji al-Ali.

Maybe it was something to do with the 20th Anniversary of his assassination?

But no, for the paranoids at HR, there is a world-wide anti-Israel media conspiracy that explains every mention of a Palestinian by the BBC.

Does the BBC pay as much attention to prominent Israeli cultural figures, scientists, musicians, innovators and Nobel Prize winners? Why then does Naji al-Ali warrant the BBC's attention other than to promote his political cartoons (which may fit the BBC's political worldview)?

They really are a bit thick.

Al-Ali’s murder is unsolved, but most people think he was killed for his political cartoons, which were highly critical of Arab regimes and leaders. An agent of one of them is the most likely culprit.

But to answer HRs question, does the BBC pay as much attention to prominent Israelis? Well how about a 3 part series on “Israel’s Generals”? Or a profile of Tzipi Livni? Or music in Israel?

There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

July 19 Media Critique: "6 Month Analysis of the BBC: The Subtle Bias"

Anything has to be better than the last couple of miserable efforts (even by their low standards) from HonestReporting.

This time we are treated to a “long-term analysis”. I’m almost excited.

It doesn’t start too well. HR sets the scene by telling us that the BBC is at its “lowest ebb” and gives a series of horrifying examples; a commenter on a Radio Five blog says that the Talmud permits Jews to lie to non-Jews, a phone-in competition was not above board, and the Queen was unfairly edited. I don’t know about you, but my trust in journalism has just hit rock-bottom.

And HR sum it up perfectly,

If the organization [BBC] is capable of showing such little respect for the British monarch ………….. is it any surprise that it consistently treats Israel with utter disdain?

Indeed! Israel…the Queen.....they’re both royalty and expect to be treated as such. Mess with us and we’ll set the corgi’s on you!

This is HRs overall point,

What we saw was a clear pattern of showcasing the Palestinian perspective, at the expense of Israeli voices.

Ok, let’s put aside their history of outrageous dishonesty and strident pro-Israel partisanship and give HR a chance to show that they have done some serious media analysis.

“Headlines and Grammatical Style in "Hard News" Articles”

Finding: BBC headlines and text tend to use a style that describes Palestinian violence ambiguously (only naming the aggressor 15% of the time) while being much more direct in cases where the Israeli military is involved (Israel is mentioned in 60% of these cases.)

We aren’t given the whole sample so there is no way of checking their 15% figure. But we can look at the examples they provide. First, it’s a story about an Israeli airstrike (“Israeli Airstrike Hits North Gaza”) in Gaza that injures 1 Palestinian. HR says this is an “active” headline, and complain that the Qassam launch that “precipitated” it (according to HR) wasn’t mentioned till the forth paragraph. Funnily enough, the killing of 3 IJ members in the West Bank a few days earlier that 'precipitated' the 11 Qassam launches wasn’t mentioned till the 6th paragraph, but HR fail to notice a detail like that.

But, as HR ask “Is there consistency”?

Rather than a headline similar to the one from May 7, the BBC employed a softer approach….

Oh, really? HR are referring to this story “Eight killed in ‘ambush by Hamas’”. Well, that’s the “hard”, “active” headline – Hamas kill eight. Bizarrely, HR try to argue that this is “softer” than the first example! Let’s just try to understand this HR logic; ‘Hamas kill eight’ is “softer” than ‘Israel hits north Gaza’??

In isolation, the use of the active tense does not indicate any sort of bias….
No, but ignoring its use in a story about Hamas to try to falsely criticize the BBC screams bias long and loud.

Well, I gave them a chance, but it’s the same old distortions and lies.

HR goes on to claim that stories on Palestinian violence are “either written without naming the aggressor at all, or written in the passive tense” and gives 4 links as examples, 25% of which (ie 1) HR manage to get completely wrong. In the story titled “Fresh Violence hits the Gaza strip”, the primary violence in the story is the killing of 8 Palestinians in Israeli air-strikes. The Palestinian violence for that day was 1 Palestinian injured in a gun battle. So yes, that was the use of the passive voice but it was precisely the opposite of what HR were claiming.

As you can see, HR make some rather convenient ‘errors’ in constructing their media “analysis”, which is why it’s best to take HR’s claims with a very large dose of salt.

“Selection of Perspectives in "Soft" News”

HR think they are on to something,

Finding: The BBC consistently highlights Palestinian perspectives at the expense of Israeli voices. In twenty-three articles containing pictures and interviews of random subject, nineteen were of Palestinians.

HR have conveniently short memories. Last May the BBC released its’ report of the review of it’s Israel-Palestine coverage, a review that groups like HR had long demanded. HR were quick to note this part of the report,

In summary, the finding is that BBC coverage does not consistently constitute a full and fair account of the conflict but rather, in important respects, presents an incomplete and in that sense misleading picture.

But completely ignored the detail of the finding as to which “important aspects” where missing,

  • there was little reporting of the difficulties faced by Palestinians in their daily lives…
  • failure to convey adequately the disparity in the Israeli and Palestinian experience, reflecting the fact that one side is in control and the other lives under occupation…

So, HR is right that it there has been a greater number of Palestinian voices in this “soft news” category, but this is in response to an identified problem in BBC reporting.

More Palestinians being able to speak for themselves. No wonder HR don’t like it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

July 11 Media Critique: “LA Times: Giving a Voice to Hamas”

More extreme intolerance from HonestReporting.

And again it brazenly asserts its anti-free speech credentials, suggesting that the LA Times be prosecuted for reporting the views of a member of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook.

It’s also full of the usual distortions we’ve come to expect from ‘Honest'Reporting. One example will do.

Marzook claims the right of resistence from the Generva Conventions. HR say,

However, even Human Rights Watch, an organization not regarded as friendly towards Israel, clearly stated: "Hamas has repeatedly failed to respect a fundamental rule of international humanitarian law by attacking civilians and civilian objects."

Yes, HRW did say that regarding specific Palestinian actions, but that does not magically negate IHL.

It’s a bizarre situation where anyone would suggest that truly honest reporting would be served by media organizations self-censoring views that some might not like to hear.

But that is HonestReporting for you. They’ve moved on from simply making hysterical claims of anti-Israel bias, to demanding that views and opinions they don’t like should not be reported.