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July 29, 2015 / 13 Av, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Associated Press’

Social Security Administration Paid $20 Million to Nazi Suspects

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

The Social Security Administration of the United States paid 130 suspected Nazi war criminals $20.2 million in benefits before this year’s new “No Social Security for Nazis Act” took effect, the Associated Press reported.

The amount of money is far greater than previously estimated and provides further evidence that thousands of former Nazis, including SS guards, lied their way into the United States, denied their past and then collected federal  benefits after retiring.

The Justice Dept. also used a legal loophole to offer Social Security payments to suspected Nazis who agreed to leave the United States until this year’s act ended the practice.

A full report of a federal investigation, prompted by a previous AP story, is to be released later this week.

The news agency said it obtained a copy of the report of payments to Nazi war criminals since 1962. No names are listed in the report, but the Social Security Administration obviously has the names, raising questions of whether it and the Justice Dept. are protecting them from possible prosecution for war crimes.

The American government was inactive when it came to looking for Nazis until it established its own unit in 1979 to hunt them.

After the original AP report last year, New York Democrat Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney asked Social Security to investigate, and she said on Saturday that the report shows the recipients included confirmed Nazis.

She said in a statement:

We must continue working to remember the tragedy of the Holocaust and hold those responsible accountable. One way to do that is by providing as much information to the public as possible. This report hopefully provides some clarity.

The report said 38 formers Nazis received $5.6 million before being deported while 95 suspected Nazis, whose possible war crimes were not confirmed, continued to collect $14.5 million.

Tony Blair Steps Down as Quartet Middle East Envoy but No One Cares

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Tony Blair has stepped down as the Quartet’s Middle East envoy, and there is a possibility that no one will be named to replace him since there really is not much to do except  travel and rack up hotel bills.

The London Daily Record headlined his announcement with:

Tony Blair’s greatest achievement after six years as special envoy to the Middle East? Both sides detest him

Our own headline above actually is a bit misleading, because there really are plenty of people who care that he has quit, mainly the British taxpayers.

Blair is a multi-millionaire many times over. He does not receive a salary as envoy but his perks are enough to keep anyone in the pink forever.

He has flown more than 100 times since he took up the post as Quartet envoy in 2007 and has stayed with his 12-person entourage at a Jerusalem five-star hotel for approximately $1.5 million a year, the Record reported.

He and his staff have a penthouse office in eastern Jerusalem on a road known as Millionaires’ Row.

The Quartet consisting of Britain, the United States, the United Nations and Russia, has been paying $3 million a year for the privilege of letting Blair pretend he is busy.

He has been under constant criticism for doing little except occupying his office one week a month, and his knowledge of the Middle East does not go much beyond the fact that his wife’s half-sister Sarah Jane Booth converted to Islam after a “spiritual” experience in Iran.

U.S. State Dept, Jeff Rathke had a difficult time on Wednesday explaining to nosy reporters exactly what he has done for the Quartet, one of the brainstorms of the American government.

Rathke said:

 Tony Blair has been a valued partner and friend in our effort to bring peace to the Middle East, and as Quartet representative, he’s worked tirelessly and passionately to advance economic growth in the West Bank and Gaza over the past eight years.

What role is there for the Quartet in any kind of future negotiations?” asked one journalist, to which Rathke responded with a long answer that in one word said, “Nothing.”

In his words:

The Quartet plays an important role in keeping the partners – the EU, Russia, UN, the United States – engaged, up to date, and supporting the goal of the two-state solution…. But certainly we think the Quartet is an important format to support, work toward an Israeli – solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Associated Press reporter Matt Lee persisted and asked, “But when you say that it plays an important role, surely you have some kind of reason to say that. Right?”

Wrong.

Rathke turned on the tape recorder and stated:

As I said, the members of the Quartet all have important roles to play. The Quartet brings them together, allows them to share views.

But can Rathke “name a single accomplishment that the Quartet [since 2002] has – I mean, they presented – they came up with George Mitchell and the roadmap, but it was never implemented. I mean, what exactly has the Quartet done to further the cause of a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians?”

Here is his non-answer:

Until the goal of a two-state solution has been achieved, then you can’t say that there’s been success…. We think it’s important that the Quartet exists and that the Quartet brings together key parties to support the negotiation process and the outcome we all desire.

Wait a minute, If it is “important that the Quarter exists” then who will replace Blair?

Rathke said:

I’m not aware of current plans to replace Tony Blair as Quartet representative.

But didn’t he say it is an important position?

State Dept.: Iran ‘Hoodwinked Countries but This Time It’s Different

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

An assistant Secretary of State has said that Iran “hoodwinked” Latin American countries and did not honor agreements, but Foggy Bottom says nuclear talks are a separate issue, so don’t worry.

Following are remarks from Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere to retirees on Foreign Service Day Friday:

The involvement of Iran in the Western Hemisphere is never benign. I want to underscore that: it is never benign. Iran signed an enormous number of agreements with countries in the region, almost none of which have come to any real fruition or benefit for those – for the countries of the hemisphere….

I do think that there are fewer countries that get kind of – that kind of get hoodwinked by Iran.

She also said that economic sanctions on Iran have made it difficult for it to follow through with several agreements and that Iran’s desire to be a greater influence in the West requires close monitoring.

First of all, sanctions work. Second of all, Iran cannot be trusted.

The third statement would seem to be that the United States cannot trust Iran to honor an agreement on its nuclear activity and should not lift sanctions, but the State Dept. differs.

Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked State Dept. spokesman Jeff Rathke on Friday to explain otherwise, and here is how he tried to wiggle out of Logic 101:

That is a separate issue from the nuclear talks which are focused on Iran’s nuclear program…: I think there’s a difference between the types of agreements you’re talking about.  You’re referring to agreements …on economic cooperation and other such things.

What we’re talking about in the nuclear context is, first of all, a situation where there is a unified international community where there are international sanctions, a wide variety of them, UN sanctions, United States sanctions, European Union sanctions, as well as others, that put pressure on Iran and also that make it in Iran’s interest to deal with those sanctions and to negotiate on the nuclear program.

And how about the billions of dollars that would flow into Iran’s coffers when sanctions are lifted in return for a deal? “Are you not concerned at all that what you don’t see now in terms of a growing Iranian threat in the Western Hemisphere will become a concern if Iran suddenly has a windfall of billions and billions of dollars in money? Lee asked.

No problem, Rathke answered.

“We have separate ways of dealing with other problematic behavior by Iran, whether it’s in regional context, whether it’s support for terrorism, and so forth.  So that’s why we’re focused on the nuclear issue.  And if Iran meets all of its required steps under an eventual joint comprehensive plan of action, then the world will be a safer place because of it.” he said.

Note the two-letter word “if.”

But didn’t Asst. Sec. of State Jacobson say Iran’s presence in the west is “never benign”? So this time it will be different?

“Well,” Rathke said, “we remain concerned about those – about Iran’s activities and we will remain vigilant about them and we retain the tools to deal with them.”

Vice-President Joe Biden is very concerned, or at least that is what he said last week to a Washington think tank, to wit:

“Despite good reasons to think that most of it [money] will go to urgent domestic needs, some or all of it may fund further mischief in the region.”

Rathke reiterated “we are vigilant.”

Therefore, so the “logic” goes, Obama won’t get hoodwinked.

 

AP Anti-Settler Campaign Surging – With or Without Netanyahu

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

It’s a shame the Times of Israel and other news outlets chose to regurgitate AP’s article, “Netanyahu years see more settlement growth“, “West Bank settlement expansion surged under Netanyahu” and the other variations on that title’s theme, without bothering to add any critical editorial commentary or response to how AP selectively presented their data and reached their conclusions.

Starting with the various titles (some worse than others), the article is misleading from beginning to end.

“The population of Jewish settlers in the West Bank has surged during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s years in office, growing at more than twice the pace of Israel’s overall population, according to newly obtained official figures.”

After repeatedly telling us how much Netanyahu supports settlement construction and growth, using words like “surge” and “strong” and “continued support”, it’s only 6 paragraphs into the article that AP bothers to admit (right before reminding us that the settlement population “more than doubled” in 21 years):

“The rate of settler population growth slowed slightly under Netanyahu, from 31% during the previous five years under his predecessors Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert.”

“Slowed slightly” – exactly how much is “slightly”?

It’s only towards the end of the article, quoting the “anti-settlement watchdog group Peace Now,” who claims that settlement growth rates are now “23% inside the barrier and 20% beyond it”.

If under Sharon that percent was 31%, and under Netanyahu that percent dropped to 20%-23% – um, wheres the surge?

Are you still with me when I ask how these papers let this AP article be published?

Continuing on, you might also find yourself confused from the beginning — is the article talking about new settlements? New home construction? Population growth? The article seems to go back and forth, mixing them together.

Correct.

The article mixes them together, but suspiciously leaves out the hard numbers on actual construction data, sticking only to select population growth numbers and percentages – and there’s a reason for that.

In 2010 (I provide the raw data at the end of the article, all supplied from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics website), Netanyahu completed construction on 1670 homes in Judea and Samaria. That number reached a low of 1,272 in 2012, and in 2013 was only 1,439.

Between 2010 – 2013, the settlement population grew by approximately 50,000 people, yet the total number of new homes built was a mere 6,062 – nowhere near enough for the population’s needs.

It gets worse.

The AP article likes to talk percentages, so let’s use their lingo.

In 2013, Settlers represented 4.28% of the national population – yet only 3.37% of national construction was completed in Judea and Samaria.

Since 2010, the settlements’ share from the national percentage of housing completions has only declined — under Netanyahu.

For the period between 2010 to 2013, settlers averaged 4.19% of the national population – but only represented 3.23% of national house starts and 4.1% of national housing completions.

In short, unlike what the article wants to make you think, under Netanyahu, besides not being allowed to build what the population needed, settlements did not even receive their fair share of new homes compared to the rest of Israel.

Considering AP’s history, it’s important to point out that the article liberally quotes the radical left-wing Peace Now, but yet doesn’t quote NGO-Monitor or any settler for that matter who might have a thing or two to say about Peace Now’s statements or this data.

But now let’s also talk about the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, since the article addresses them too.

The article makes a doubly ridiculous statement that the Israeli papers let slide:

“The more than 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank cannot vote for the Israeli government that controls much of their lives, while Jewish settlers can.”

To begin, Ambassador Yoram Ettinger’s research shows there to be approximately 1.69 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria in 2013, not over 2 million – the 2 million+ is based on clearly false data provided by the Palestinian Authority. Even if you don’t accept Ettinger’s exact numbers, the numbers AP supplies are disputed, and they should have mentioned that.

The second is that the article wants to imply, if not say outright, that Israel is an Apartheid state by not allowing “Palestinians” the right to vote for the Israeli government.

Except for one minor detail — the Arabs in Judea and Samaria have their own government that controls much of their lives.

The Arabs in Judea and Samaria pay taxes to the Palestinian Authority, they can serve in the Palestinian Authority’s army, police, national and municipal authorities, they run their own schools and can fill up their children’s minds with as much anti-Semitic brainwashing as they want (and they do), and when their government allows them to, the Arabs in Judea and Samaria even get to vote for their own government.

If there were any sentence in the AP article that shows how biased the article is, it is certainly that one.

It really is unfortunate that this AP article was posted by any Israeli paper of note, but worse, that it was published without any critical editorial response from the papers that published it.

Former AP Reporter: I Didn’t Leave Journalism, It Left Me

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

A journalist for more than 40 years, Mark Lavie was based in Jerusalem for most of them and then in Cairo for two – during the “Egyptian Revolution.”

Lavie is no longer a journalist.

But he didn’t leave the profession, “it left me,” Lavie says.

Now Lavie is speaking out in as many fora as possible. He seeks to alert the public about the dramatic difference between what journalism used to be – and still pretends to be – and what it actually is.

Lavie’s conclusions shouldn’t surprise many readers of The Jewish Press. But those conclusions, and the detail Lavie provides as someone who lived for so long within the belly of the beast, provides a stunning rebuke – especially to the Associated Press, where Lavie worked for fifteen years. AP has long been criticized as biased against Israel. Lavie provides eye-witness testimony that:

A recent account by another former AP reporter, Matti Friedman, indicting AP editor Steve Gutkin for killing a story about a 2008 peace proposal advanced by Israel, drew a sharp and categorical denial by the AP director of press relations and the now ex-editor Gutkin. They asserted flatly that Friedman was wrong and that what he said happened didn’t happen. But now Lavie weighs in: “I was there,” he told The Jewish Press. “Gutkin said to can” that article.

More broadly and more deeply, Lavie is profoundly pessimistic about the quality of the work put out by AP and most sources of mainstream journalism today. Driven as they are by the Internet’s insatiable appetite for the latest flash, people who call themselves reporters are interested, he says, primarily if not exclusively in speed, not substance.

Perhaps even worse, Lavie provides direct testimony that journalists no longer even pretend that their job is to report facts. Instead, he’s been told by former colleagues, the job of the media is to advocate for those actors on the world stage that the journalists feel deserve support – to “speak truth to power.”

“But that isn’t the job journalists are supposed to do!” Lavie cries. “The job of journalists is to take a significant story and make it interesting, by explaining it and putting it in context.”

Lavie had a front row seat to the seismic changes in the Middle East, including every major outbreak of fighting, terrorist attack and peace negotiation efforts over the past nearly half a century. He also was ringside in Cairo when the “Arab Spring” was revealed to him as a “Broken Spring,” instead. That is also the name of his recently updated book and his blog.

Lavie severed his relationship with AP and, in the past few months, has been sharing some inconvenient truths about how journalism has changed including at AP, and especially in the Middle East.

Outsiders have long believed that the mainstream media is consistently and intentionally biased against Israel. Lavie confirms that view, and he does so with the credentials garnered by enduring a long-term sojourn in the belly of the beast. Lavie is also center-left, a supporter of the Geneva Initiative, a committed Two-Stater.

Given Lavie’s experience, his politics and his ringside seat, his message deserves as broad an audience as possible. That message is: virtually all reporting about the Middle East is sifted so that only one side comes out. And some critical information never even makes it into the sifter at all.

First, Lavie has a lot to say about the general state of journalism throughout the world and how the social media revolution has led to catastrophic consequences.

The rise of social media as a delivery service for news is the equivalent of the bubonic plague. The consequences are many and nearly all destructive. The reduction in reportorial and editorial budgets has meant that fewer reporters are in the field, and those fewer are required not just to get there and get it out first, but also to tweet and to blog while reporting and to “own” each breaking story. The frenzied pace leaves little time or energy for fact-checking or deep-sourcing.

NGO Monitor Responds to AP Ban on NGO Monitor and Professor Steinberg

Monday, December 1st, 2014

The following statement was released by NGO Monitor in response to the report by Matti Friedman that AP censored and banned NGO Monitor:

In a November 30 article published in The Atlantic (What the Media Gets Wrong About Israel), former AP journalist Matti Friedman states that, during his time at the AP Jerusalem bureau, reporters had explicit orders “to never quote [NGO Monitor] or its director… Gerald Steinberg. In my time as an AP writer moving through the local conflict, with its myriad lunatics, bigots, and killers, the only person I ever saw subjected to an interview ban was this professor.”

“Matti Friedman’s revelations regarding the efforts to censor NGO Monitor and me as its president are not entirely surprising,” said Professor Gerald Steinberg, president and founder of NGO Monitor. “Based on our experience in publishing detailed research on over 150 NGOs claiming to promote human rights and humanitarian objectives, we are aware of the intense efforts to maintain the NGO ‘halo effect’ and prevent critical debate. While the AP censorship was explicit, we have experienced similar silencing from other media platforms.”

Friedman also highlights the “ethical gray zone of ties between reporters and NGOs” in Israel, where journalists socializing in the same circles as NGO officials, seek employment with NGOs, and adapt to a journalistic culture in which NGOs “are to be quoted, not covered.”

This absence of critical analysis of political NGOs reinforces their biases and the lack of professional methodology. Friedman rightly criticizes, “one of the strangest aspects of coverage…namely, that while international organizations are among the most powerful actors in the Israel story, they are almost never reported on.”

Professor Steinberg continued: “When NGO Monitor was founded following the 2001 NGO Forum of the UN Durban conference, our primary objective was to open debate and provide accountability where none existed, develop systematic checks and balances, and ‘speak truth to NGO power.’ The importance of this mission has grown since then, as has the political influence of NGOs, as well as their funding and media impact, particularly in the Israeli context.”

AP Banned Interviews with Non-Anti-Israel Professor

Monday, December 1st, 2014

In a wide-ranging piece that covers mostly old ground in a new way and for a new audience, former Associated Press journalist Matti Friedman reveals one astonishing fact: the AP banned interviews of a well-informed, Jerusalem-based professor, Gerald Steinberg, and his monitoring organization, NGO-Monitor.

Professor Gerald Steinberg and his organization NGO-Monitor – work to expose the ideological bias and political agendas of the anti-Israel NGOs in Israel and the role they play in the conflict – the same anti-Israel NGOs that international reporters rely on for their news reporting.

From the NGO-Monitor website:

NGO Monitor’s objective is to end the practice used by certain self-declared ‘humanitarian NGOs’ of exploiting the label ‘universal human rights values’ to promote politically and ideologically motivated agendas.

Steinberg and NGO-Monitor are the only ones in a region crawling with confirmed liars and terrorists whose views were verboten to the AP, Friedman wrote.

The gist of Friedman’s new piece in The Atlantic is that news about Israel is largely written through a specific, largely unstated but nearly inviolable prism of “blame Israel” and ignore Arab wrongdoing.

The Arab Israeli reporter Khaled abu Toameh has been writing and speaking about the problem for at least a decade. It was also the subject of Stephanie Gutmann’s The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy (Encounter, 2005).

But Friedman’s Nov. 30 article is important both because it was written by someone from within the mainstream media – it doesn’t get much more mainstream than the Associated Press – and because of the startling revelation regarding the absolute ban on AP reporting including information from or about either Gerald Steinberg or the organization he heads, NGO-Monitor.

Friedman covered the 2008-09 winter conflict in Gaza dubbed “Operation Cast Lead.”  He was struck by the fact that articles condemning Israeli in the harshest terms continued to circulate months after the conflict, and based upon statements made by human rights organizations. He wrote an article about that point, but AP editors killed it.

At the time, NGO-Monitor was seeking to counter information provided by what it presented as false claims that Israel had committed “war crimes.” Friedman was unable to make use of NGO-Monitor’s information. Why? He writes:

the bureau’s explicit orders to reporters were to never quote the group or its director, an American-born professor named Gerald Steinberg. In my time as an AP writer moving through the local conflict, with its myriad lunatics, bigots, and killers, the only person I ever saw subjected to an interview ban was this professor.

Steinberg is a professor of political science at Israel’s Bar Ilan University. Educated at Cornell University, UCBerkeley and MIT, Steinberg is the founder and president of NGO-Monitor. He is the author of numerous books and dozens of other publications.

The AP is the feeder for much of the world’s media about so much that happens across the globe. This is so because AP has a phalanx of reporters in 280 locations worldwide. It operates as the news distributor of the articles written by their reporters. Those articles are then run by media sites – up to 1,400 U.S. daily newspapers – which don’t have their own reporters in those regions.

If, as Friedman charges based upon first hand observation, AP story lines are predetermined and “news” articles are created around its central, agreed-upon premise, then virtually all news about every flash point across the globe becomes suspect. It also means that the AP, at least in its Jerusalem bureau, violated its own “AP News Values and Principles.”

The AP needs to answer the specific charge of whether its Jerusalem bureau staff was barred from speaking with NGO-Monitor’s Steinberg. If such a ban was in place and unless the AP can produce a reasonable explanation, then all media outlets which continue to rely on AP services come under its same dark cloud of suspicion.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ap-banned-interviews-with-non-anti-israel-prof/2014/12/01/

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