Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Feb 20 Media Critique: "The Economists Politicised City Guide"

HonestReporting is scandalized – the Economist has told the truth. A terrible crime in the eyes of HR.

Specifically, the Economists "Cities Guide" has pointed out a few well known features of life in Israel, namely, the flagrant anti-Arab bigotry, evident from the way security measures target Palestinian-Israelis, to edicts by sections of the Tel Aviv ultra-orthodox community against leasing to Palestinian-Israelis. Hardly ground-breaking issues - that’s been official Israeli policy for ever. But they are stories that have been in the news lately, hence their appearance in the news section ("News this Month") of the "Cities Guide", as even those idiots at HR are forced to admit.

Anyway, HR is upset that such inconvenient facts are brought to public attention and seeks, however ineffectively, to fashion this into its standard whining about ‘bias’. The Economist is “singling out Tel Aviv for negative treatment”, according to HR.

Monthly news on each city includes briefs on generally non-controversial issues of cultural or politically benign events and municipal happenings. That is, until you see February's entry for Tel Aviv.

But the "News this Month" section contains a variety of stories on every city, such as tunneling disasters in Sao Paulo, assassinations in Moscow, government meddling and crime in Hong Kong, protests in Mexico, election results and controversy over public land in Mumbai, and the theft of rocket launchers by a terrorism suspect in Sydney . You know, the kind of stuff that makes the news everywhere.

However, if any of you feel some irrational connection to any of these cities and feel slighted by such factual coverage, I encourage you to write outraged and hysterical letters to the Economist asking it to explain “why it has singled out {insert city name} for negative and politicized reportage in comparison to other featured cities.”

And of course if you go back next month, there’ll be a range of new “News this Month" stories about Tel Aviv, just like there has been in previous months. HR simply chooses this month to attack the Economist, not because it “singles out Tel Aviv”, but because they can use this months stories to whip their gullible readers into a frenzy over the “anti-Israel media bias” that HR fabricates every week.

So it is true that the Economists "Cities Guide" has been ‘politicised’, but its all been by HonestReporting.


I've had the usual suspect trying to defend HR's pathetic dishonesty by suggesting that the news stories on other cities don't include charges of racism. Of course that isn't true, but the truth isn't something that stops HR or its supporters from making all kinds of convenient allegations.

For example this months "Cities Guide" to LA includes this story,

Behind much street violence in LA lies the thorny issue of racial tension.

And on Paris,

For the past few years Solidarity of the French, a far-right group, has run a soup kitchen offering pork soup to Paris’s homeless. Critics complain that the organisation chose pork as the main ingredient in order to exclude observant Jews and Muslims, whose dietary restrictions preclude eating pig. On its website, the group stated it would only serve full meals to those who first accepted the soup.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Feb 11Media Critique: "Temple Mount Truths"

Here’s an interesting ‘Media Critique’ from HonestReporting.

By now, you know HonestReportings M.O. – link to an article, with an excerpt from it that is either misleading, or just plain wrong. Not this time. Not a single quote or link, except a few articles from the Jerusalem Post and Ha’Aretz which don’t back up HRs claims. Maybe HR are learning that anyone with a scintilla of initiative or independent thought can just read the link and see HR’s dishonesty.

Onto the allegations;

inciteful language and libelous claims have led to violence, aided by a mainstream media only too happy to accept Arab propaganda at face value.
Examples? Zero.

Despite the fact that the Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site, much of the media has stressed its importance to Muslims (the third holiest behind Mecca and Median) while ignoring or downplaying the very legitimate Jewish religious and historical connection to the site,…..
Examples? Zero.

While the international media has been too intellectually lazy to find out for themselves whether or not the Muslim intimidation and violence has any justification behind it or not…
Oh dear. Would “Muslim intimidation and violence” mean ‘protests’ by any chance? I think basic journalistic standards would dictate having to investigate any issue of “intimidation”, rather than just accepting it as a fact, as HR does.

Why has the media accepted the propaganda and lies disseminated by certain groups with a political axe to grind?
Examples? Zero.

You would think that the usual suspects, those vile anti-Semitic media organizations AKA the BBC and The Guardian, would be able to provide at least one example for HR. I had a quick look at todays efforts by these two bastions of ‘anti-Israel media bias’, (here and here) and couldn’t find a single example of “accept[ing] Arab propaganda” or “libelous claims”.

This is just HR, once again, deliberately conflating reporting with endorsing. An old favourite.

I guess it’s business as usual at HR. Can’t find any ‘anti-Israel media bias’? No problem, just invent some.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Feb 5 Media Critique: "CSM: Beyond Recognition"


Just yesterday, in conversation with a commenter regarding an article in the Christian Science Monitor, I said “I expect an hysterical and disingenuous HR ‘Media Critique' on it any day now”.

And HR predictably lives down to my dismal expectations of them.

A CSM op-ed whitewashes Hamas and delegitimizes Israel.
How so? (Note: typically, HR gets this wrong. It wasn’t an Op-Ed, ie opinion written by the editorial staff, but a routine opinion piece.)
Questioning Israel's right to exist is one of the most abhorrent means of delegitimizing the Jewish state.
Very impressive. HR manages to be as disingenuous and hysterical as I predicted with their very first sentence!

Disingenuous, as Whitbeck argues, with perfect reason, that the “right to exist” argument is a complete furphy. No state has any such abstract right. And hysterical, as Whitbecks argument isn't that Israel has no "right to exist" but that such a right simply doesn't exist anywhere for any state. It’s a theatre of the absurd with HR.

Whitbeck reveals his unwillingness to recognize Israeli and Jewish rights in any context, regardless of borders.
Does he really?
Now HR just resort to their usual distortion and twisting of the truth to score cheap points and inflame the passions of their unthinking followers. This is what Whitbeck says on the topic,
if this were all that was being demanded [recognition of Israel] of Hamas, it might be possible for the ruling political party to acknowledge, as a fact of life, that a state of Israel exists today within some specified borders. Indeed, Hamas leadership has effectively done so in recent weeks.

Though it is worth noting how HR tries to quietly slip from a discussion about “Israels right to exist” to something entirely different, “Israeli and Jewish rights”. In so doing, HR attempts to mis-represent Whitbecks argument from one regarding a states rights, to one of an individuals rights. Very nasty, and utterly dishonest.

The claim that Israel treats the Palestinians as "subhumans" ignores Israel's compliance with humanitarian law despite the immense security pressures it finds itself under.

Well, there’s an interesting claim. How is Israels compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL)? Let’s allow the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem have a few words on the topic,
......changes in the Open-Fire Regulations led to the killing of hundreds of Palestinians who did not take part in the fighting. These killings violated IHL relating to occupied territory………… Since the beginning of the al-Aqsa intifada, Israel has continuously violated the laws of warfare.
Oh, so Israels compliance is appalling. I guess that means Whitbeck’s point is a very valid one, supporting his overall argument.

The demands of Israel and the Quartet (the US, EU, Russia and the UN), that Hamas recognize Israel, renounce violence and adhere to previously signed agreements, are a logical and necessary precursor to any sort of attempt to make peace. Yet, Whitbeck refers to the demand for Hamas to recognize Israel's "right to exist" as a "roadblock to peace" that, for Hamas, is "unreasonable, immoral, and impossible to meet.
When all else fails, just be deliberately obtuse and then lie. Whitbeck specifically made the distinction between a reasonable “recognition of Israel” and the unreasonable recognition of Israels “right to exist”. HR link this to the Quartet, but the Quartet doesn’t call for the recognition of “Israels right to exist” as HR try to imply. HR is simply, and dishonestly, trying to frame Whitbeck as being opposed to a 2-state solution.

Once again, HR misrepresent and lie to attack those who express views they don’t agree with. As the BBC recently noted, HRs claims are “utterly false and disingenuous”.