Monday, December 29, 2008

December 29 'Media Critique': "Israel at War: A Primer"

Well that was quick, though it isn’t a 'Media Critique’, but rather a pre-emptive strike. The faithful need to be inculcated on the received truth so they recognise evil media bias when they see it.

There’s a huge selection to choose from but I’ll just pick out a few of the most glaring.

Israel left Gaza in 2005, giving Palestinians the chance to run their own lives. Despite this, more than 6300 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel since then.
Just forget the fact that post-withdrawl the Palestinians announced a one month cessation of all rocket fire, in which to lift the blockade on Gaza. Israel responded by tightening the blockade. The Palestinians chance to run their lives in Gaza does not extend to control of its borders, coast or air-space, all of which are controlled by Israel.

The deterioration in the situation is the direct result of Hamas policy. It violated the calm, is firing against and attacking Israeli citizens, and is investing all its resources in arming itself and gathering power
Nevermind that during the "ceasfire" dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israel in Gaza.

If Hamas would renounce the path of terror, there would be no need for the Israeli action. Quiet will be answered with quiet, but terror will elicit a response.
Don’t expect anyone to suggest that Israel renounce the path of violence, or withdraw its illegal settlements from Palestinian territory.

The goal of the Israeli military action is to strike the growing infrastructure of terror and ability of Hamas and its allied organizations to launch missiles and mortars at Israeli citizens and carry out terror attacks
That’s why so many of the dead are police officers. One strike killed a dozen traffic police. No more parking tickets of mass destruction.

Hamas has demonstrated its increased threat as the Ashdod area was hit by rockets, marking the northernmost point where Hamas rockets have reached, more than 40km north of Gaza.
Which where launched on Dec 28, the day after Israel killed over 200 in Gaza to prevent rocket launches. Gotta love that prevention.

The terrorist organizations work out of the Palestinian population centers and cynically exploit them, so the responsibility for Palestinian civilians getting hurt rests on their shoulders. Israel, for its part directs its activity at terrorist elements and does its utmost to refrain from harming the innocent.
This is the lamest of apologetics and is in direct contravention to the Geneva Conventions. Even id these claims are true they do not absolve Israel of its responsibilities. And hasn’t anybody told HR? – the whole of Gaza is a "population centre", a very dense one and the dropping of large bombs in such areas will kill innocent civilians.

There’s much more along the same vein. I’d imagine that the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been busy providing propaganda hasbara a list of talking-points to counter the natural reaction Israels spectacle in the Gaza Strip will provoke amongst normal people.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

December 24 `Media Critique’: "BBC's Christmas Odyssey"

It’s time for HonestReporting’s yearly attempt at the evil-media-using-Christmas-to-attack-Israel story.

It’s a very poor effort, but at least it’s a change from
this regular routine .

This is the moderately interesting
BBC story from Aleem Maqbool.

The gist of HRs complaint is this,

Unfortunately, he over-romanticizes the Palestinians while portraying the IDF in a sinister light, exerting a strong but subtle bias.

Which means that he spoke to real live Palestinians and heard their stories in their own words.

Maqbool was also guilty of conspiring with "extremist[s]", a certain George Rishmawi who is a co-founder of the ISM. He’s apparently an extremist because the ISM volunteers have,
placed themselves in front of Israeli Army vehicles, removed concrete boundaries from roads
That would make Gandhi an extremist too.

Then there is more on his "subtle bias",

Maqbool doesn't directly attack Israel. He doesn't have to. The bias in his diary is much more subtle

HR says "Israelis are portrayed as malevolent:", citing this example,

From al-Badhan, the "Journey of Death" trail started. It is called that, not just for its long, steep, rocky climbs, or the fact that Israeli snipers frequently use the mountain tops ...

HR don’t dispute the fact of the statement. Is it true? Yes, it certainly is. So it’s HR who designate the Israeli snipers as "malevolent". I won’t disagree.

And on and on it goes in the same tortured fashion.

I’d like to think that this is last time this year that I’ll have to wade through the sewer that is HR, but given the events of yesterday, I’m sure there’s at least one more malodorous ‘Media Critique’ on the way before 2009.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Round Up

Here’s a quick review of what I’ve ignored over the past month.

On November 30 we were treated to Honest Reportings take on the Mumbai terrorist attack. It was a long- winded diatribe on one of HRs favourite subjects – demanding that the media use the ‘t’ word. ‘Militants’ and ‘gunmen’ aren’t good enough for HR.

Their stance is rather undermined by the fact that just back in October they were complaining about the media describing Israeli settlers as ‘militants’ for their politically motivated violence against Palestinians. Did it demand the 't' word? HR, being ever fair and principled in these matters, advised that they were just "young hooligans".

And on December 15 a further reprise of the monumentally underwhelming issue of the Iranian Press TV. Now it has extended its broadcasts through Sky TV.

But the real issue in this ‘Media Critique’ was a subsequent section titled "Gaza: More 'Blame Israel' ". This is quintessential HR in all its dishonest glory.

HR start with this,

While the suffering of Gaza's Palestinians is not in dispute…

And immediately demonstrate their sincerity in the very next sentence,
There have been many stories published concerning alleged shortages in Gaza….

And then,

many Gazans have become addicted to readily available prescription drugs to help them through difficult times. Is this the same Gaza that has been 'denied' medical supplies?

Not to mention the previous claims that power cuts in Gaza are actually due to Hamas conducting a media campaign.

So, to summarise, HR don’t deny that Palestinians in Gaza are suffering….........from an abundance of goods from Egypt, addiction to prescribed medications and over zealous PR.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nov 24 ‘Media Critique’: “Alibhai-Brown's Media Outrage”

HonestReporting are in a spin over this in The Independent. An accurate if somewhat mild take on the situation , which of course outrages HR into a fit of spinning.

Contrary to Alibhai-Brown's accusations, food aid and medical supplies have been allowed into Gaza
‘Have’ being the operative word. For the edification of the reader, HR direct them to a impartial observer for clarification of Alibhai-Brown's calumny – an Israeli Govt website.
Here’s the story – Israel refused all crossings from Nov 5 to Nov 16. Some trucks were allowed through on the 17 th, then closed again till “As recently as today (Nov. 24), the Gaza crossings have been reopened for supplies.” But unfortunately, as recently as the day after (25th) they closed again.

But it’s all the Palestinians fault anyway,
crossing points have only been shut due to persistent Palestinian rocket attacks

See, they fired rockets on the 5th, so Israel had no choice. Nevermind the why of it. Oh heck, I’ll tell you anyway. On the 4th the IDF invaded Gaza and killed a few Palestinians. Minor detail. Anyway, I’m sure you can see that then cuting off food and medical supplies to 1.5 million people, of about which 800,00 are children, for 11 days is quite a reasonable response. It’s not like that would be collective punishment against a civilian population, which would be a breach of international humanitarian law or a war crime.

And they let the trucks in, 33 of them on the 17th. That’s a lot. Never mind that the UN says 15 trucks are needed everyday to maintain a miniumum supply of humanitarian aid.
Let’s see, the crossings were closed for11 days up to the 17th, 11 days x 15 know, 33 is a lot of trucks.

Contrary to Alibhai-Brown's charge regarding power cuts, even the Palestinian Authority has accused Hamas of staging the latest blackouts in the Gaza Strip

Contrary to HR’s unsupported assertions, Israels restrictions on fuel imports results in power outages. From Nov 9, following Israels cutting of fuel deliveries since the 5th, almost half of Gaza was without any electricity for 2 days. And in Gaza, no electricity means no water.

There was more, but it made less and less sense as it went on,
Alibhai-Brown aptly demonstrates this demonization in her concluding paragraph, where a parable with the horror of the Nazi Holocaust is impossible to ignore:

‘Parable with’? This was Alibhai-Browns ‘parable’,

Evil happens when the world says and does nothing. That a Jewish state expects no condemnation of the evil it perpetrates shows that nothing is learnt from history.

Cue: mock outrage.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nov 18 ‘Media Critique: “CNN: One Year Analysis”

There seems to be a bottom less pit of stoopid at HonestReporting.

We have yet more banal allegations of media 'bias'. Not that we should expect anything less. Some dopey sod is throwing cash at this venture, so they have no choice but to keep churning out the claims.

CNNs turn today.

I'd like to give a rational and logical rebuttal of HRs methodology, but, as usual, they don't provide one. The best we can do is to infer.

HR have looked at "hundreds of videos" from CNN, and selected 53. We don't know which ones they viewed and have little idea of the basis for choosing those selected. And HR certainly don't provide the list of those they claimed to have analysed.

They do however give a highly technical description of their video analysis. Videos are assessed as "favouring" one perspective over another. Alas, HR fail to provide a definition. HR correct for this by the careful application of very precise numbers. Hence, 67 mins of CNNs video coverage 'favours' Palestinians compared to only 31 for Israel.
This figure is arrived at via the highly sophisticated ‘stop watch’ test. In the complete absence of real bias, or any interest in doing the necessary intellectual work to do a real analysis, HR time the videos. If there's a second more footage of Palestinians than Israelis, it's biased. This is stupid in just so many ways. Remember this is TV. Visual content is priority No1. Scenes of death and destruction are visually interesting. HR are unhappy that there was more time spent on the scenes of destruction than on Israeli Govt talking heads. Balance isn't a crude measure of equal time, but about fairly and accurately presenting the various perspectives on an issue.

If I may be so cynical, can I suggest that anything HR perceives as 'favouring' Palestinians or reflecting “negatively on Israel”, is simply a failure to adhere to the 100% Israel right or wrong prejudices of HR. In which case, 70% of CNN video footage failing to meet the HR standard of compliance is probably a tad conservative.

And of course there are the usual factual errors and misrepresentations.
HR complains about the raw video CNN uses,

The viewer, however, has no way of knowing that these so-called "non-violent" Palestinian demonstrations are anything but. As we have documented, the goal of the protestors is often to use enough violence to provoke the Israeli soldiers into a response while the cameras are rolling.

Unfortunately for HRs argument, the “documented” case they link to is in their highly respected Backspin section. One example they give is a Palestinian youth who says something (yes, he said something) to an IDF soldier, who brutually assaults him and throws him in the back of a jeep. The journalist , in front of whom this occurs, speculates the youth might not have done this without him present. That is the kind of "violence" these nasty Palestinian protesters use to “provoke” the peace loving IDF soldiers. Oh the bias!

an ‘expert’ falsely claims that Israel controls all of Gaza borders. In fact, Israel today has no presence on Gaza's border with Egypt. Yet the viewer would not know this from the report. Once again, Mark Regev voices Israel's position but is immediately contradicted by the "expert's" false statement.

Yes, Israel has no soldiers on the Rafah border, but it does indeed control it. Under the agreement with Egypt, Israel has overall control of crossing points. If Israel says no, Egypt does not allow border crossings.

HR need to get something into their thick skulls - news coverage doesn’t exist to satisfy the petulant demands of partisans, but to provide information that will allow better understanding by the public of the issues at hand.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nov 11 ‘Media Critique’: “AFP's Staged Photo?”

HR pines for the glory days of digitally enhanced images, circa the Lebanon War, but can only manage todays lame effort.

It's become quite an obsession, with the result that they are suffering from over reach – seeing what they desperately want to see.

Hint to HR - stop trying so hard, something might burst. Like your credibility. Actually that's not possible. HR has none.

Here's the photo,

For a change I'll also link to the ‘Back Spin' article itself. This is so funny, I wouldn't want anyone to miss out.

They're roped in some poor sucker, David Katz, to play the photographic 'expert' who sets about demonstrating that he doesn't have a clue. We're told that it's his "gut feeling" it's a fraud, but HR caution that there's "no smoking gun", which is otherwise known as 'evidence'. And that would be because it's just a straight photo. Our 'expert' tries the 'look at the light!' angle, but that just confirms the lack of evidence. The sun is high above, shining from the foreground and the right (as you look at the photo). Our ‘expert’ questions the lack of shadows on super-bunny, which is odd given presence of shadows on bunny on its left and underneath. I could go on, as there are so many stupid things said by our photographic expert, but I won’t bother, I’m sure you get the idea.

But really, what kind of fraud is this meant to be?? They have a photo of a guy standing on pile of rubble with his arm in the air and someone says 'hey I've got a great propaganda idea, let's photoshop a bright pink flying upside-down bunny in the middle of the photo'?


Have a look here to see other photos from the same area that will demonstrate what a stunning propaganda coup the flying pink bunny is.

I don't know how stupid HR thinks people are, but this clearly demonstrates how stupid they are.

The inanity then continues with HR distress over “
Occupied Jerusalem” and a few other storms in various teacups.

Nov 4 ‘Media Critique’: “LA Times Rehashes A Libel”

A Palestinian journalist claims to have been beaten up by IDF soldiers. Reporting this is a "libel" according to HonestReporting.


By following the HR rules of media analysis - all Palestinians lie, and all IDF soldiers and Israel-firsters are honest.

From that, that the article is a "libel" is amply demonstrated by HR referring to the evidence - namely, 2 references to itself, another to the slightly more sophisticated CAMERA and finally a large quote from the far-right UN Watch.

Case closed.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

October 30 Media Critique: “Descent Into Durban 2”

I’m not sure what the ‘media critique’ angle is here. There doesn’t seem to be one.

But, HR hate the UNs Conference on Racism, that much is clear.


The Evil Hamas has abused Israels kindness in allowing some goods into Gaza by cunningly concealing items “under a surface” (?). The offending items were ”camouflage fatigues”. Also smuggled in were “coats, sweaters, hats”.

Without a hint of irony, the quote includes this from an unnamed Israeli “security official

They choose to use the permits provided by Israel for the entry of humanitarian equipment for the organization's own needs


All right thinking people can see how deeply concerned Israel is for the Palestinian population by severely restricting the passage of goods to the 1.5 million people in Gaza, and how Hamas has a callous disregard for them by trying to get in more stuff than Israel will allow.


Monday, October 27, 2008

October 23 Media Critique: ” A Stabbing in Gilo”

This version of outrage is about the worlds media having the temerity to mention a simple fact – that Gilo in southern Jerusalem is an illegal settlement. Gilo is situated in East Jerusalem captured by Israel in the 1967 war and annexed to Israel in 1993. No country recognizes the legal validity of this annexation.

Not that such pesky facts stop HR from engaging in some bizarre contortions.

Gilo, despite being over the 1967 Green Line, is certainly not a "settlement," in the most used sense of the word…..

Yeah, it’s that less used sense of the word, the one where a settlement isn’t a settlement.

Naturally, that’s not all.


Hold onto your hats, this is a HR special.

HonestReporting has regularly criticized much of the media for referring to Palestinian terrorists who target innocent civilians through suicide bombings or other acts of violence as "militants."

This is obsession No.1 at HR. They are very paticular that the media should always use the term ‘terrorist’.

They’ve even quoted US law in the past to argue their point,

The term "terrorism" means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.

But now,

The Economist features the criminal and violent activities of some young Israeli settler extremists, referring to them as "Jewish settler-militants" and a "militant hardcore group."

HR is most upset.

Is The Economist unable to distinguish between young hooligans and real bona fide terrorists thus creating a false equivalence?

The Economist, being consistent, refers to them as militants.

And very interestingly HR,

call on the media to practice greater precision in their terminology and to use the word "terrorist" where appropriate.

What a fine idea. And going back to the definition HR were so keen on in the past, what should we call groups of Israeli settlers who, yet again this year like every year before, engage in premeditated acts of violence against Palestinian civilians to push their political message?

I agree with HR! The Economist should have called them ‘Jewish settler-terrorists’.

One of the mis-understood “young hooligan” settlers wanting to go and have a nice chat with the Palestinian farmers.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


HonestReporting have been even more underwhelming than usual. The latest collection of limp offerings is testament to the absence of any real ‘anti-Israel media bias’.

On August 26 some obscure Canadian TV station ran a story about the on-going protests over the Seperation Wall. They mistakenly reported that 11 were killed, rather than injured. A scrolling caption was used to correct the error. This was “dismal” according to HR. Maybe a minutes nation-wide silence would have been appropriate?

Sadly, they followed this up on Sept 4 with a re-hash of that story, titled, “Just Not Good Enough”. Yawns all round.

Next, the dastardly Sky News used a file photo. Oh, the evil!

Then a really bizarre bit of self-indulgence – “HR Rejects Iranian Press TV Request” with the wonderfully pompous sub-headline – “No to cooperating with an Iranian propaganda tool.” Insight - zero.
I’m sure they were strutting around the office with their chests puffed out for a week after that.

And finally a pot-shot at a regular target, Johann Hari – “More Smears by Hari”.

Unlike the rubbish pedaled by HR, it’s a thoughtful piece, even though I’m not at all convinced by the ‘last chance’ argument.

In short – you’ve missed nothing.

Monday, August 18, 2008

August 13 Media Critique: “The Guardian: Promoting Online Terror”

Yes, “promoting”, no less. Though I think they meant ‘promoting terror online’., unless HonestReporting think that this website will lead to bombs exploding on the internet.

Become a Hamas terrorist today with The Guardian!

Sadly, the truth is far less interesting.

The Guardian, here, includes a link (WARNING! : the following link may cause your promotion to the status of terrorist) to here.

This is commonly known as ‘information’, a strange concept much encountered in ‘news’. Go figure.

HR are mortified,

We have not linked to this site (pictured below) as we do not wish to generate traffic to a terrorist organization.

But they did provide this link to The Guardian’s page where the Hamas link is. Of course, you know what everybody reading the HR report did after clicking on The Guardian link, don’t you?

HR – promoting terror, by proxy, online!!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

August 5 ‘Media Critique’: “Media Falls for NGO's 'Halo Effect' "

Is there a writers strike?

The last few efforts from HonestReporting have been so dismal I’ve been unable to rouse myself to bother responding. First it was a rehash of the July 2 attack on the BCC. Then it was a call for the pro-Israel McCarthyism to be directed at local media.

"Why are an NGO's allegations against Israel accepted by an unquestioning media?”

The sheer stupidity makes me want to cry.

How does the media “accept" the allegations by NGO’s? By reporting them, apparently.

It’s back to Media Basics 101 for HR. Reporting is saying that "Person 1 said 'y is…..' ", as opposed to endorsing, which is “y is…..”.

When a media story provides an NGO statement/allegation as clearly coming from that organisation, that is reporting. Duh!

The problem really is that HR doesn’t want such perspectives aired in public.

And as always, HR are the complete hypocrites on the subject. Just a few weeks back HR was offering official IDF statements as reliable sources on incidents involving the IDF.

Independent NGOs are unreliable, but the IDF can be trusted……..only through the HonestReporting looking-glass where failure to be stridently pro-Israel is a sign of bias.

The substance of the story is that Physicians for Human Rights has alleged that the Israel security services are withholding medical services unless Palestinians collaborate. The only thing that would surprise me is if they weren’t. This is kind of what security services do. HRs 'critique' is mostly a lengthy excerpt from the mendacious NGO Monitor, whose long-winded waffle is best summed up as – ‘maybe it’s not true’.

That the Shin Bet use all sorts of nasty coercion to recruit informants in the Occupied Territories is way, way beyond contention.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

July 16 ‘Media Critique’ : “The New York Times: A Year-Long Analysis”

Here we go again. My last review of this is still, unfortunately, relevant.

And a NYT journalists comment remains particularly apt,

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.

There are just a few things worth noting.

In its six month ‘review’ HonestReporting complained that 60% of photos were “sympathetic” (according to HRs “objective”, but wonderfully unexplained, analysis). But now Three quarters of these images evoke sympathy for the Palestinians”. For HR this is,

a clear case of bias

As I explained last time,

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.

So maybe the NYT is becoming less biased, rather than more. (Note: I’m being rather generous given that the death ratio was more like 40:1 in 2007, rather than the 4:1 figure I used, which would equate to 98% of photos being sympathetic. An even more telling statistic might be how many dead Palestinians are never even mentioned in the news, compared to dead Israelis, the later figure being zero.)

HR then used a photo from Gaza showing a boy at a barbed wire fence to try to explain its point. They wrote,

The image is one portraying the depravation of the Palestinian people in Gaza

Hmmmm……surely that should’ve been “deprivation”. Crude error, or inherent prejudice showing through?


HR have amended the sentance, it now reads "The image is one portraying the deprivation of the Palestinian people in Gaza".

Friday, July 11, 2008

July 8 ‘Media Critique’: ”Humanizing the Murderer”

I should be completely inured to HonestReportings hypocrisy and stupidity by now, but this latest ‘Media Critique’ was another WTF! moment.

HR is concerned over some media's coverage that placed,

emphasis on the attacker's motives to humanize him and "explain" his actions
It’s just that favourite old canard that media examination of motivation in such incidents is actually legitimisation of them. Given that the attacker was human, it’s hard to see the problem with humanisation, unless HR is suggesting that de-humanisation is the right approach? And of course HR are careful to restrict their sampling (ie distort by omission) of the media to suit their own ends. Exactly the same kind of coverage appeared in the Israeli media, eg. in Ha'aretz , YnetNews, and even in the Jerusalem Post, from which HR quoted an excerpt of an article that is critical of other media for exploring motives! It’s comedy (or hypocrisy) central. But you can’t sell this as ‘anti-Israel media bias’ if the Israeli media is doing precisely the same thing, so HR carefully avoid mentioning this. The HR sheep may be quite dim, but it would be too much to expect even of them that their credulity could stretch so far as to swallow that.

But nothing HR say can be taken at face value. Outraged over attempts to “explain” murderous actions today, while yesterday it was a very different story………November 2002 and UNRWA employee, Iain Hook, is killed by the IDF in Jenin.

An innocent unarmed man is killed. Knowing how much HR detest “humanizing the murderer” or even any attempt to "explain" it, their ‘Media Critique’ of that day laments that media outlets have failed to report the Israeli side of this story”.

And remember HRs whine just 6 days ago about the BBC headline?

the latest BBC headline "Bulldozer rampage hits Jerusalem", is also fundamentally flawed, failing to attribute the attack to the Palestinian individual who carried it out. Instead it refers to an inanimate machine as the instigator. Of course, the bulldozer did not carry out its actions of its own free will.

So, how did HR describe the murder of Iain Hook ?

United Nations worker Iain Hook was killed by an IDF bullet

Ah, that would be the bullet of free will.

According to HRs standards of 6 days ago this was “fundamentally flawed’, “shocking” and “despicable”.

Monday, July 07, 2008

July 2 ‘Media Critique’: “Caught: BBC's Shocking First Response to Terror Attack”

“We catch the BBC's despicable first headline before it gets changed”, shriek HonestReporting.

What was it?

Israel bulldozer driver shot dead

HR offer this weird explanation,

we were able to catch the BBC before it amended its headline, this example offers further evidence of the BBC's mindset - the initial instinct to portray Israel as an aggressor and a Palestinian as a victim even if that Palestinian was actively involved in a terrorist attack against innocent civilians.

Shocking”, “despicable”……quick, someone get the smelling salts.

Where on earth they see “Israel as an aggressor” and “Palestinian as a victim” in that 5 word headline is anyone’s guess. Fevered imagination perhaps?

And of course they had the benefit of writing this ‘Media Critique’ many hours later when all the facts were known. And naturally, the updated BBC headline was also reason to complain. But, hey, that’s just what they do.

Monday, June 30, 2008

June 29 Media Critique :”Tell the Truce”

HonestReporting is concerned that the coverage of Palestinian ceasefire violations since June 24 is insufficient.

In the past, the media has failed to properly report on Palestinian terror and provocations against Israel, instead waiting to report on Israeli responses and counter-terror measures, thus portraying Israel as the sole aggressor. Will the same thing happen this time?

The answer may very well be in the affirmative if the international media has failed to cover these serious violations of the ceasefire over the past few days:

The BBC,

led with alleged Israeli violations, waiting until the third paragraph to mention Palestinian rockets and mortars:


in a fit of chronological inversion, employed the headline: "Israel closes Gaza, Palestinians fire mortars"

And The Guardian,

failed to make it clear that Israeli operations in the West Bank are not in violation of the ceasefire.

What can possibly explain the BBCs and APs bizarre take on events? Maybe it is the fact that on June 23, the IDF shot a 67 yr old Palestinian farmer in the Gaza Strip. Yes, June 23 - that’s the day before June 24, when the Palestinians violated the ceasefire.

Isn’t it strange how HR has no interest in the June 23 event, preferring to ‘portray Palestinians as the sole aggressors’. Perhaps feeling the need defend against reality, HR make this pitiful defence of Israels initial violation of the ceasefire,

Irrespective of the veracity of an unnamed "UN source" (many Palestinians are employed by the UN in Gaza, including Hamas members), why will the BBC not recognize that there is no moral equivalence between rocket and mortar attacks on the western Negev and the firing of warning shots by an IDF wary of potential terrorist activities near the border fence?.

Yes, irrespective of the truth………sums up HR perfectly.

Monday, June 09, 2008

June 6 ‘Media Critique’: “BBC Reporter: Genuine Eyewitness or Palestinian Propagandist?”

Yet again, HonestReporting goes for the hard news, this time a story from the BBCs From Our Own Correspondent’.

HR are deeply concerned that the facts of this story were reported differently in different media outlets.

Maqbool appears to be describing the death of Palestinian terrorist Omar Abdel-Halim CAMERA, however, investigated media coverage of this incident and discovered countless contradictions between the accounts of so-called Palestinian "eyewitnesses", Palestinian NGOs and media outlets, which could not even agree on the correct name of the terrorist.

But, true to form, HR then refer to an IDF press release on the incident. I think we’re meant to see this as an injection of objectivity and fact.

Let’s just get some perspective here. This is the same IDF that routinely lies and covers-up its actions in relation to the killing of Palestinians. Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem, had proof of IDF mendacity mailed to it in 2001 after it had requested an investigation into the IDF shooting of 3 children (1 was killed).

B'Tselem obtained internal documents from the office of the Military Advocate General which reveal how the military cleared the soldiers who caused the death of an eleven year-old Palestinian boy, covered up the incident, refrained from opening an investigation by the Military Police, and issued a false statement regarding the circumstances of the death.

The documents that the IDF mistakenly sent B’Tselem include a discussion of the various false explanations (after discovering the IDF soldiers had indeed deliberately shot the children with a tank-mounted machine gun) they could offer B’Tselem and which were most plausible.

Lawrence of Cyberia also offered a taste of the IDFs mendacity in its ‘investigations’.

So, this is the organization whose statement HR offer for objective comparison to media reports.

Propagandists? Indeed.

Monday, May 26, 2008

May 22 ‘Media Critique’: "Al-Dura Trial: Karsenty Wins in Paris”

Yet again we visit HonestReportings current favourite conspiracy – the shooting of Mohammed Al-Dura.

In what must be considered an exemplary display of mass stupidity, the story is all over the stridently pro-Israel blogosphere where a French courts over-turning of Phillip Karsenty’s libel conviction is being described as proving that “al- Dura [is] a hoax!’. No, it’s not. It’s a French courts interpretation of what constitutes libel under French law. The decision seems to be that Karsenty was deemed to have made good faith criticisms that could not be seen as libelous. Karsenty no longer has to pay his 1 Euro fine. Until the likely appeal.

Not that you can blame them. It’s certainly a good tactic to focus on a single prominent incident where doubt can be cultivated, and so ignore the pile of bodies where there is no doubt.

It’s worth remembering that Mohammed al-Dura died two days into the Second Intifada, and while HR and others like to pretend that this was the start of the violence, the truth is that by September 30, 2000, Israeli forces had already killed 8 unarmed Palestinians. Two years later the number of dead children was 270. Ha'aretz noted in October 2002,

IDF bullets killed 231 Palestinian children. That is, 85 percent of the children who were killed were shot. An accusation that has been appearing in all the reports published by human rights organizations in Israel and internationally is that IDF soldiers are "trigger-happy" and that during the suppression of demonstrations and various kinds of protest actions, in which children also participate, the IDF "employs exaggerated force that is deadly and disproportionate."

Israels apologists will continue to focus on any doubt they can, to ignore this reality. Take another uncontested example. You’ve probably never head of 7 yr old Sami Abu Jazzar. He died just 12 days after al-Dura. But it wasn’t filmed.

However, several field workers from Amnesty International did witness his murder,

On 10 October 2000 Amnesty International delegates witnessed the aftermath of a stone throwing demonstration in Rafah on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip. Israeli soldiers shot at a crowd of some 400 people, mostly primary schoolchildren, who were throwing stones at an Israeli military post. Sami Fathi Abu Jazzar was shot in the head; a live bullet entered his forehead above his left eyebrow, went through the skull diagonally and exited at the back of his head. He died the following day, on the eve of his 12th birthday. Six other children were injured by live fire in the same incident. Amnesty International delegates, including an expert in riot policing, concluded that the lives of Israeli soldiers were not in danger and that their use of lethal force was unjustified, as their position was not only heavily fortified, but there were also two wire fences between the post and the stone throwers, who were some 200 metres away. - (‘Killing the Future: Children in the Line of Fire” AI, 30/9/2002)

Repeatedly, Israeli forces have demonstrated their complete disregard for the lives of unarmed Palestinian civilians, including children. Mohammed al-Dura wasn’t an icon or, unfortunately, anything terribly special. He was just one of a number, a number that now stands at almost 1000 Palestinian children killed since September 30, 2000.

The tactics of the pro-Israel lobby have always struck me as a cynical public relations campaign. I was recently reading how the tobacco industry approached the thorny problem of the facts of smoking in relation to human health. The following quote from one the most infamous memo’s produced by the tobacco lobby, immediately made me think of HonestReportings “al-Dura affair” and the tactics of the pro-Israel media campaigners in general,

Doubt is our product, since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

May 20 ‘Media Critique’: “Revising History: NY Times Op-Ed Promotes Pappe”

Simple intolerance explains HonestReportings latest plaintive whines.

The past few weeks have witnessed a deluge of articles, op-eds and features surrounding the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence. Many of these have focused not on Israel itself but on the Palestinian "Nakba" or "Catastrophe"

Many”, “focused”? Examples – 1. Which is about the only article in the NYT that does what HR claim to any significant degree, but that's proably because it's an article written about the Palestinians in relation to Israel's 60th. Elias Khoury must have had HR in mind when he wrote,

No one wishes to hear the Palestinian story.

The same day saw this published by the NYT, but the complete absence of a mention of, let alone a focus on, Palestinians is not a fact likely to perturb HR from its fictions.

Worst of all Khoury mentions the work of Illan Pappe, evoking more outraged intolerance for daring to report the views of someone HR does not agree with.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

May 14 ‘Media Critique’: “Exposed - Anti-Israeli Subversion on Wikipedia”

Except HonestReporting manage to expose nothing.

This is really just a reaction to the self-inflicted black-eye that the other main pro-Israeli media advocacy group, CAMERA, managed to give itself.

If you haven’t heard about this, Electronic Intifada exposed a CAMERA-sponsored group that was trying to secretly infiltrate Wikipedia with the express purpose of becoming Administrators, who would then have voting rights on contentious issues relating to content. And of course, the plan was to exercise this right to ensure content was more to their pro-Israel tastes.

All very underhanded and totally against Wikipedia rules.

And according to HRs understanding of balance, a negative story about pro-Israel meddling at Wikipedia, requires the same on the other side of the fence, no matter how flimsy the attempt. The best HR can come up with is a pretty poor effort in damage control from NGO Monitor. They try to suggest that 2 publicly known groups, a Yahoo group and, even more desperately, an officially recognized and acceptable WikiProject group, where equivalent manifestations of the same problem from pro-Palestine groups.

Complete rubbish.

The Palestine groups are quite honest and up-front. The CAMERA effort was secretive (though eventually uncovered) and deeply dishonest. The group expressly discussed ways to disguise their real agenda until they became administrators and could exert their pro-Israel influence on content.

I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if there were similar elements from HR exercising their intolerance and prejudices at Wikipedia.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

May 11 ‘Media Critique’: “Hari Seeks to Smear HonestReporting”

How so (Hari's response here)?

HonestReporting critiqued Johann Hari's op-ed in the Independent, systematically exposing the many distortions, omissions and Hari's reliance on fringe revisionist sources and individuals.

Distortions. Nasty. Pity HR didn’t take the opportunity to explain its own monstrous distortion of Hari’s story when it fabricated this - “Hari compares Israel to excrement”.

Hari never even suggested this. HR’s silence on its own appalling transgression of basic standards of honesty says it all.

HR point to another op-ed in The Independent to defend them. Howard Jacobson writes

Indeed, accusing your detractors of carrying out a campaign often amounts to carrying out one in return - for it is a smear in itself to accuse people who disagree with you of acting out of no other motive than malice. He who says I smear him when I don't smears me.

Unfortunately for HR, Howard constructs a defence one could drive a truck through…sideways. See, Hari didn’t criticize HR for no reason other than malice, but because HR misrepresented what he wrote by falsely claiming, amongst other things, that Hari compares Israel to excrement”, . He didn’t. That was dishonest. A fabrication. A lie.

Yes Howard, it was, by your definition, a smear. Thanks for clearing that up.

Not content with that fairly crude and transparent bit of sophistry, Howard had more pearls of wisdom,

Something else doesn't feel quite right to me about Johann Hari's unearthing of this "campaign", and that is his assertion that "it is an attempt to intimidate and silence – and to a large degree it works". To my ear, that answers intimidation with intimidation, since it impugns the intellectual honour of those of whom he speaks, and coerces us into thinking the worst of them. Furthermore, it is patently untrue that "intimidation" has worked. Johann himself is demonstrably not intimidated. Nor is it easy to see who else is.

Well Howard, if Hari had written ‘it totally works’, you might have a point.

And how dare Hari impugn the "intellectual honour” of those who fabricated the allegation against him by pointing out the fabrications, and “coerce” us into thinking that telling lies about others isn’t right. Thanks Howard, that has to be one of the biggest piles of horse-shit dressed up in pseudo-liberal garb that I’ve heard in quite some time.

Intimidation? – it’s Hari’s that seems most problematic to Howard. HR lie about Hari’s writing, asking its readers to complain based on the lies, and they oblige, sending many letters demanding Hari be sacked. Johann shame on you for your intimidation!

Needless to say, neither HonestReporting, nor its erstwhile defender, Howard, have uttered a single syllable about HRs fabrication of the “Hari compares Israel to excrement” lie.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

May 7 ‘Media Critique: “The BBC's Birthday Present to Israel”

HonestReporting’s whine is now about a BBC film that most people can’t even watch (it is only available in the UK).

It’s especially problematic as it was produced by the BBC’s Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen. Bowen is one of the best Middle East journalists going around. He’s knowledgeable, experienced, and worst of all from HRs point of view, he’s not susceptible to attack from partisans demanding that his work conform to their particular prejudices.

The events leading up to the creation of the modern-day State of Israel exactly 60 years ago have been examined and re-examined by qualified historians. So why was Jeremy Bowen given the responsibility of producing the BBC's one-hour documentary "The Birth of Israel" broadcast on May 4, 2008?

As usual, you only need to go back one week to see HRs flip-flopping on matters of principle. Today it wants historians, last week it denounced Johann Hari for relying on a historian. For HR it’s all a matter of which one best suits it tastes, and Illan Pappe didn't.

What follows is a HR lesson in history – the way HR would like it reported, which is from the perspective of a strong emotional identificition with Israel. Anything else is bias, of course.

Being the reasonable types they are, HR then emplore it’s readers, most of whom will not have seen the film, to send your considered comments to the BBC Complaints website”. Those considered comments being exactly what HR have just told them to think.

And being the stupid sheep that they are, many probably will.

Friday, May 02, 2008

April 30 ‘Media Critique’: “The Stench Spreads: Johann Hari's Stinking Op-Ed”

HR are in a lather over this op-ed piece from Johann Hari.

Again, HR exhibit their anti-free speech instincts by attacking Hari for expressing his opinion, based on his experience in the West Bank. Hari saw, and smelt, at first hand the settlements discharging their untreated sewerage onto Palestinian land.

HR sum it up thus,
"Using a falsified quote and revisionist history, Hari compares Israel to excrement."

HR is back to an old favourite tactic – misrepresent a story to incite it’s readers. An angry reader is an emailing reader, firing off complaint emails with a minimum of cerebral activity. And what better way to do it than with this lie – “Hari compares Israel to excrement”. No, he didn’t. There was no comparison being made, just a recollection of the smell he experienced. HR deliberately misrepresent Hari's words immediately after complaining of "falsified quotes"! They're nothing if not audacious in their dishonesty.

And onto the “falsified quote”. Hari reproduces a quote from Illan Pappe’s 'The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine'

The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.

Pappe gives 2 sources for the quote in his book. HR refer to a letter written by Benny Morris in 2006, after Hari first used the quote, to back their claim,

……is an invention, pure and simple, either by Hari or by whomever he is quoting (Ilan Pappe?)……..

Forgive me if I’m not entirely convinced by Morris’s assertion when he isn’t even sure of the source of the quote. Ephraim Karsh can usually be relied upon to point out any such errors by the ‘New Historians’ if they’ve been made, but I’ve seen no reference to this by him (corrections on this point welcome).

Interestingly, HR leave out the next sentence from Morris’s letter,

It is true that Ben-Gurion in 1937-38 supported the transfer of the Arabs out of the area of the Jewish state-to-be…

The real problem for HR with this article is simply the fact that it expresses an opinion that they don't agree with, and don't want to see expressed, because it is critical of Israel.

HR - enemies of intellectual diversity and free expression.

Sadly for HR, the chances of The Independent rolling over in the face of its contrived outrage are zero.


The HonestReporting zombies aren’t known for their capacity for independent thought, but the absolute disregard for fairness, accuracy and honesty displayed by HR in this case, has even been noticed by a few of the faithful. This is from HRs own comments section,

HR, you are up in arms that Hari dared to call you dishonest and fanatical, but take a look at how you've misrepresented him here, you claim he compared Israel to excrement then quoted him

Whenever I try to mouth these words [of reassurance for Israel], a remembered smell fills my nostrils. It is the smell of shit.’

conveniently cutting out the following sentence,

Across the occupied West Bank, raw untreated sewage is pumped every day out of the Jewish settlements, along large metal pipes, straight onto Palestinian land. From there, it can enter the groundwater and the reservoirs, and become a poison.’
which clearly shows Hari was not comparing Israel the country to excrement, but was talking about the failure of Israeli settlements to deal with their sewage properly by dumping it on Palestinian land. His point was quite clear.

……………And maybe it's time HR stopped fanatically defending everything Israel does, and perhaps put some of their time and effort into holding Israel to account where need be? Maybe a communique calling on readers to write letters to the relevant authorities in the Israeli settlements to deal with their sewage problem properly? – Alex

That'll be the day Alex!

Personally, I'm offended that HR slanted its quote in that manner. It was Dishonest Reporting; exactly the kind of "reporting” I do not look for in HR's reports.

……………..If Hari has a point, REPORT IT fully. I find that clipping a quote to be as disingenuous as anything I’ve ever seen in HR. – Beverly.

April 27 ‘Media Critique’: “Passed Over: Shorts You May Have Missed”



An interesting article from Mahmoud al-Zahar in The Washington Post.

HR have tried this lame angle before. Anything to throw mud at media organizations who dare to allow non-approved opinions appear in their pages.


So Israel is not restricting fuel and other suppliers into Gaza? It certainly is, but HR show that they can spin with the best,

Despite Hamas attempts to manipulate the situation, Israel continues to allow humanitarian aid and fuel into the Gaza Strip even if the media fails to report it.

Yes, obviously they should be praised for the small amounts they continue to allow in.



There is only the dead cameramans own footage showing him being fired at by the tank, so let’s be very careful and note that this is just an accusation.

In the spirit of defending freedom of the press, a principle very dear to HR, they post a long excerpt from JPost making it clear that even if it was the Israeli tank that killed the Palestinian camerman, it was actually the Palestinians who are to blame.

It was only June last year that HR was heroically defending ‘freedom of the press’,

Freedom of the press, however, is a fundamental value and essential if the media is to report on the Palestinians, free from the threats imposed by the behavior of Palestinian terror groups and their allies.

Apparently it's not so essential when it’s the IDF killing journalists.

Anyone surprised?


And just as I predicted, the “Al-Dura Affair”………

Sunday, April 27, 2008

What Next?

In lieu of any activity on the HR front, I make a not-so-bold prediction that their next ‘media critique’ will mention one of their recent favourites – the so-called ‘al-Dura affair’. This is the one where some obsessed conspiracy theorists have been dragging France 2 TV into court to make them play the unedited footage of the incident (which they have, for no outcome of note except to feed the conspiracy) . The conspiracy theorist camp however remains divided over as to exact nature of the conspiracy. Is it a), Mahommad al-Dura is actually alive and well and the whole thing was a hoax, or b), he was shot by Palestinians, not the IDF?

You’d think that these would be mutually exclusive possibilities, but it seems not, as they continue to desperately gasp at these imaginary straws.

Update: Snap! Just after posting this I checked back at HR and guess what – the lastest ‘Media Critique’ is there, and, the ‘al-Dura’ affair is in it.

I swear that I’d checked just minutes before writing this, and there was no April 27 ‘media critique’. Honest!

Monday, April 21, 2008

April 16 ‘Media Critique’: “Abbas: A "Moderate" Honoring Terrorists”

HR is in a flap over this story, alledging that Mahmoud Abbas was going to bestow an award on two Palestinian women prisoners who are in Israeli jails for assisting in terrorist attacks.

HR demand to know why it isn’t covered in the mainstream media. Perhaps because it may not be true, given this in the last paragraph of the story,

PA Minister for Prisoner Affairs Ashraf el Ajami told Israel Radio on Wednesday that his ministry gave Abbas a comprehensive list of prisoners and his office chose the nominees from this list.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

April 15 ‘Media Critique’: “Israel 60: The Demonization Begins”

Hasn’t it just.

And in those leading media outlets, The Charlotte Observer and Bangor Daily News, of all places.

HR seem especially upset by this article, which gives a quick run down of some (just some) of the most significant Israeli misdeeds. HR try to offer some ‘explanations’ for what it describes as “supposed….criminal acts”, but it’s a pretty poor effort. The best one was the link that tried to defend the Qibya killings in 1953. It starts by referring to the killings as just a “claim” but ends by confirming the event. The ‘explanation’ is that Ariel Sharon forgot to check the houses for occupants before blowing them up with dynamite. Could happen to anyone.

The “supposed” Sabra and Shatilla – the HR link only confirms the statement in the article that Israel was guilty of “Abetting the 1982 Lebanese militia massacres”.

Mentioning Israeli misdeeds is “demonization”. I thought it was criticism.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

April 7 ‘Media Critique’:”Success: Times Acknowledges Photo Gaffe”

Success! Another evil media conspiracy thwarted. The Times of London says it should have put the date on the photo. A stunning victory against ‘anti-Israel media bias’.

Can you smell the delusion in the air?

What this tells us, is the true extent of media bias against Israel – there isn't any. HR has to trawl the media of the world to find a date missing on a photo.

What is much more interesting is the missing news on that same day.

The Times covered the story about a possible compensation plan for West Bank settlers located east of the Wall. But not the Peace Now report, ‘The Death of the Settlement Freeze’, that showed an increase in Israeli settlement activity since Annapolis. Nor the killing of 2 Palestinians in Gaza or the arrest of 7 others in the WB, by the IDF. Not even the commemoration of “Land Day” (the day in 1976 when Israeli security forces shot dead 6 unarmed Palestinian-Israeli protestors) to protest Israeli theft of Palestinian land. The re-confirmation of the Arab Peace Initiative only got a mention in the last paragragh of the story on the West bank settlers.

Yes, the real problem with media coverage of Israel-Palestine, is that they don’t put dates on photos and someone might get confused.

April 1 ‘Media Critique’: “Out of Context: The Times's Image of the Day”

Apparently, The Times of London has a daily feature “Image of the Day” where they stick in some picture they’ve dug up from somewhere. Could be anything.

On March 31, it was a photo of a Palestinian boy in Jenin. Enough said. The usual hysterics from the HonestReporting McCarthyists follows. There is no date, so someone might think it was today!

The date of this ‘media critique’ says it all.

18/4: I should have noted this at the time, but this and the previous HR 'Media Critique' are a perfect paried example demonstrating the idiocy and cynicism of HR. The Times has erred with this photo, in it's lifestyle supplement, because it isn't dated or identified as file photo, but in immediately preceding 'Media Critique' HR make a very similar complaint about an AFP photo, even though it is clearly identifed as a "File Photo". Don't label the photo correctly - HR complain. Do - and they still complain.

I'm quite sure that even if The Times of London had labelled the photo as file footage or dated it, HR still would have complained about it. They had their back-up complaint already formulated,

Putting aside whether such a politicized image belongs in the company of cats.....

The issue isn't ethics and standards in the media, HR obviously couldn't care less, it's about attempting to fabricate an illusion that any negative perception of Israel is not a result of Israeli actions, but is a result of biased media coverage.