Jul
23
2009

Time: Israeli Settlers vs. the Palestinians

Time has a big piece by Nina Burleigh on Israeli settlements in this week's issue. It's a familiar framing: The Katzes, very normal, gentle people readers can identify with (they're even from New York!), "consider themselves law-abiding citizens" and do painfully earnest and upstanding things like "publish a small community magazine and take part in civic projects. Sharon raises money for charity by putting on tap-dancing and theater shows." There's a smiling family portrait, and a picture of settlers playing in a swimming pool with their kids. They "don't think their town is an obstacle to peace." These settlers from […]

Feb
09
2009

Some Animals' Lives More Equal Than Others

Remembering how, "for days, the mainstream media talked endlessly about… Michael Vick. Dogfighting. Blood sport," OnlineJournal.com writer Missy Comley Beattie (2/9/09) recalls being "utterly dismayed that so many people who expressed outrage over Vick's crime, seemed to pay little or no attention to the killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan." Which leads Beattie to an important question: "So, why, then, given our attraction to animal stories, were news anchors silent on the massacre at the Gaza Zoo by Israeli troops who shot and killed caged animals during Israel's recent assault on Gaza?" An article by Ashraf Helmi and Megan […]

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 […]

Feb
03
2009

FAIR Challenges CBC's Report on Israel/Palestine Film

FAIR issued a press release today (2/4/09) challenging the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation over false and biased claims made by its ombud after the CBC came under pressure from a campaign launched by groups that advocate for uncritical coverage of the Israeli government. The campaign was launched in response to CBC's October 23, 2008 airing of the 2003 educational documentary Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land (which can be viewed online here). The film cited a FAIR report on U.S. media coverage of the Israel/Palestine conflict, prompting the CBC's French-language radio ombud Julie Miville-Dechene (12/08) to question the independence of FAIR's […]

Feb
02
2009

Self-Defense as a Rationale for Genocide

Reading the Electronic Intifada's report on how U.S. corporate media coverage of Gaza "blindly asserted Israel's right of self-defense regardless of what was happening on the ground" reminded me of a passage in the book I'm reading, Jared Diamond's The Third Chimpanzee. Diamond argues that the ability to exterminate other groups of our own kind is something that we share with our closest animal relatives, pointing out that genocide in human history is not as uncommon as you'd like to think. He identifies three mechanisms by which genocide is justified by groups that claim to subscribe to a universal code […]

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: International Law Is 'Anti-Israel'

The New York Times today makes a rare, if highly obfuscatory, reference to the fact that Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian territory continues despite nearly unanimous international consensus, expressed annually via the United Nations General Assembly. As a FAIR media advisory recently pointed out, international law is largely missing from U.S. media reporting on Israeli actions. However, the New York Times article goes further than mere omission, echoing the Israeli government's position that international law is "anti-Israel": Describing some of the abiding challenges, Israeli officials note that the same 21 anti-Israel resolutions are passed by an automatic majority in 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
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 […]

Dec
19
2008

The Unchanging Mideast Cycle of Violence

The corporate media template for explaining Mideast violence can be summed up like this: Palestinians attack, Israel retaliates. It wasn't surprising, then, to read this lead in today's New York Times (12/19/08): JERUSALEM – Rockets are flying from Gaza into southern Israeli communities again. Israeli warplanes are firing missiles back, and Israel is closing the crossings through which food and fuel are supplied. Same old, same old–the Palestinians started it. Interestingly, though, the piece doesn't really provide evidence of that; in fact, readers are more likely to conclude that the lead is just wrong: It took some days, but they […]