Oct
09
2009

NYT: Gaza War Worked

Isabel Kershner writes a piece in the New York Times (10/9/09) that starts out as a profile of an Israeli artist who makes flowers out of Qassam rocket pieces. The main point, though, is to discuss thechanged reality in southern Israel, thanks to the invasion of the Gaza Strip late last year that killed over 1,000 Palestinians: Israel said its three-week offensive was intended to change the reality in the south. Since January, when the military campaign ended, the rocket fire has significantly fallen off and residents here are trying to accustom themselves to a kind of normalcy amid the […]

Sep
16
2009

NewsHour Poses a Moral Conundrum

PBS's NewsHour's Gwen Ifill (9/15/09), quizzing Richard Goldstone on his U.N. fact-finding mission that found that both Israel and Palestinian fighters had committed war crimes in the Gaza conflict: The term "even-handed" is the problem that Israel has with the conclusions in the report. Your criticism of Israel seems so much harsher than that of the Palestinians. Why is that? CBS News (9/9/09), summarizing a report by Israel's leading human rights group: Well over half of nearly 1,400 Palestinians killed in Israel's Gaza war were civilians, including 252 children younger than 16, a leading Israeli human rights groups said Wednesday, […]

Mar
04
2009

Palestinians as Alien Creatures

Sometimes when you read reports about the Middle East, you get the impression that corporate journalists think Palestinians are another species entirely. Here's the New York Times' Mark Landler (3/4/09) explaining the theory of how better relations with Syria could help create a peace deal between Israel and Palestine: By seeking an understanding with Syria, which has cultivated close ties to Iran, the United States could increase the pressure on Iran to respond to its offer of direct talks. Such an understanding would also give Arab states and moderate Palestinians the political cover to negotiate with Israel. That, in turn, […]

Feb
19
2009

Only English Gaza News Shut Out of U.S. Cable

Even though "Al Jazeera English is also on the cusp of a carriage deal in Canada," Broadcasting & Cable's Marisa Guthrie reports (2/18/09) that the channel has "had little luck getting picked up by U.S. cable and satellite providers." As part of an effort to "appeal to consumers via a grassroots marketing campaign that attempts to dispel long-held attitudes about the network," AJE has "launched a website that bluntly addresses popular perceptions about the English language offshoot of Al Jazeera, the most-watched news network in the Middle East": The site, IWantAJE.net, lets consumers send electronic letters directly to their cable […]

Feb
04
2009

NYT and the Perils of Mideast 'Balance'

New York Times reporters Ethan Bronner and Sabrina Tavernise went to Gaza (2/4/09) to look into stories of civilian atrocities, and turned up some very powerful examples. Unfortunately, the impact of that reporting was undermined by the all-too-familiar tendency to "balance" these facts with criticisms of Palestinians. Fora piece that is attempting to get a better sense of who's "version" of events is more accurate, the Times reveals its bias from the start,rendering a white phosphorous attack on a house as a"phosphorus smoke bomb," the qualifier "smoke" helpfully suggesting that the bomb, which accidentally incinerated most of a family in […]

Jan
16
2009

Still Getting the Simplest Gaza Facts Wrong

Two newspaper stories today provide a false account of the context of the Israeli attacks on Gaza. The Washington Post: Hamas and its allies have fired thousands of rockets into Israel in the past eight years. The pace accelerated after the Islamist movement, which won Palestinian elections in 2006, routed forces loyal to the rival Fatah party in June 2007 and seized control of the narrow coastal strip. Since then, Israel has implemented a crushing economic blockade and carried out regular military raids that it has said were a response to rocket fire. This is an extremely selective history. The […]

Jan
16
2009

NYT Hypocrisy on White Phosphorus

When white phosphorus was used by Saddam Hussein, the weapon was identified by U.S. intelligence as a "chemical weapon." The New York Times (3/22/95) seemed to concur; In an article noting that white phosphorus was technically classified as an "incendiary weapon," the paper nonetheless described it as one of "the worst chemical weapons" in existence: a "waxy substance [that] adheres to flesh, and when it is exposed to air, it bursts into flame." As Seth Ackerman observed in an article for FAIR's magazine Extra! (3/4/06), in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, "U.S. media vividly evoked the cruel effects" […]

Jan
12
2009

News' 'Ignorant Drivel' as 'Toxic as Ever'

Writing for the Nation (1/7/09), Alexander Cockburn finds that in "the major media, aside from some passable stuff on the cable news shows, the flow of ignorant drivel seems as toxic as ever," maybe worse, since Israel has tried to empty Gaza of all reporters. The Israelis wipe out whole families, phone apartment blocks to terrify the occupants with boasts that their homes will shortly be blown up, and the Israel claque here stresses the consummate humanity of the attackers. Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post celebrates the birth of the new year by extolling Israel for being "so scrupulous […]

Jan
09
2009

Krauthammer vs. Peace

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer continues to support Israel's assault on Gaza in today's paper (1/9/09). He displays a remarkably odd notion of what a cease fire is for, citing the lessons of Lebanon as a cautionary tale: The U.N.-mandated disarmament of Hezbollah in Lebanon is a well-known farce. Not only have foreign forces not stopped Hezbollah's massive rearmament, their very presence makes it impossible for Israel to take any preventive military action, lest it accidentally hit a blue-helmeted Belgian crossing guard. In other words, the Lebanese cease-fire is problematic because it is currently preventing an outbreak of violence.

Jan
07
2009

Israeli Pitfalls, Palestinian Lives

When you routinely report about Israel and Gaza through the eyes of Israelis, the results can be awkward, like today's New York Times front-pager that frames what was a human catastrophe for many Palestinians–the killing by Israel of some 40 Gazans at a U.N. school–into a mere military and PR "pitfall" for Israelis. As the headline read, "For Israel, Lessons from 2006, but Old Pitfalls." In the third paragraph of the story, reporter Steven Erlanger mentions the killings along with other earlier "pitfalls": And then there are the sudden events that can throw off so many careful calculations and come […]

Jan
07
2009

In Gaza, Krauthammer Finds 'Moral Clarity' Where Amnesty Finds Potential War Crimes

The Associated Press reported on December 27 that "thousands of Gazans received Arabic-language cell-phone messages from the Israeli military, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons." In his latest column (1/2/09), Charles Krauthammer pointed to that report to prove just how obvious it is that Israel is the moral actor in this battle of good and evil: Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel/Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating. Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in […]

Jan
06
2009

Kurtz: Maybe U.S. Reporters in Gaza Won't Be So 'Selective'

One of the facets of the Gaza crisis not getting enough media attention is the fact that Israel has barred reporters from entering the Gaza Strip to report on the war–despite an Israeli Supreme Court ruling that stated that foreign journalists should be allowed into the territory. It was good, then, to see the issue raised on CNN's media program Reliable Sources on January 5. Not so good, though, were host Howard Kurtz's comments: And when we do see video of the attacks in Gaza or the aftereffects, much of that video, as my understanding, is supplied by Arab media […]