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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘bias’

A Nation that Stands Apart

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Today’s New York Times‘ editorial, Israel Ducks on Human Rights, a day after providing a platform for an anti-Israel, factually wrong op-ed about taking Israel/is to the ICC (and which Julian Ku wrote“If this is the Palestinian strategy to resolve their dispute with Israel, than the prospects for the settlement of this dispute are even more remote than I had previously believed.”), asserts that

Israel has increasingly isolated itself from the world with its hard-line policies on West Bank settlements, the Gaza embargo and other issues. This week, it unwisely set itself further apart with a decision to withhold cooperation from a United Nations Human Rights Council review of its human rights practices. If this paper, or any rational person, still considers the UNHRC objective, unstained,  impartial, considerate, reasonable, unbiased or somehow otherwise actually concerned with human rights and not an Israel-bashing forum whose members have ten times more problems with human rights than Israel while ignoring the human rights fiascoes in other places much worse, not to admit all the complaints against Israel are true, I stress, then the readership of the NYT as well as its editors is to be pitied.  By the way, the U.N. Human Rights Coordinator rep in Jerusalem has not yet replied or acknowledged my appeal.

The editorial even notes:

…The council…is clearly not without faults. More than half of the resolutions passed by the council since it started work in 2006 have focused on Israel and its treatment of Palestinians, and Israel is the only country that is a standing item on the agenda for the council’s biannual meetings.  The council hasn’t always been an effective human rights champion. But… Well, we don’t accept “buts” anymore.

The paper then contradicts itself, saying, “Israel shows not only an unwillingness to undergo the same scrutiny as all other countries.” But there is no “same scrutiny”! That’s the point.

The paper issue a threat or two and then adds that “Any new governing coalition that emerges from Israel’s recent elections should realize that there’s a cost to standing apart.”

Except that “Standing apart” is normative Jewishness. The anti-Semites stand us apart. Media bias stands us apart.Our uniqueness stands us apart. Our history and our achievements stand us apart. The Bible stands us apart. Numbers 23:9: “lo, it is a people that shall dwell alone, and shall not take the nations into consideration” (my translation).

While it would be better if the nations treated us better, understood us better, aided us more, at the fundamental level, we have to take that “apartness” into consideration.

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The City of ‘East Jerusalem’

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

There is a certain amount of ridiculousness in the refusal to recognize that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. There is still another amount of ridiculousness in a country’s refusal to move its embassy to Israel’s capital or in refusing to call what is in fact its embassy in Jerusalem as such, because of disagreement with where Israel has made its capital. And all the more so if all this is being done by an ally.

But perhaps even more ridiculous is the invention of the city or geographic unit of “East Jerusalem.” Among thousands of years of Jerusalem’s history the city was officially divided into West and East Jerusalem for a total of 18 years.  No one believes that “East Jerusalem” represents, historically, geographically, administratively or otherwise its own unique city or geographic unit apart from the rest of Jerusalem.

Yet anytime anything occurring east (or South or North) of the 1949 armistice line occurs in Jerusalem, it is labeled as happening in “East Jerusalem” as if it is some kind of separate geographical unit.

Take for example the New York Times‘ story today about the Israeli strike in Syria. The article featured a picture of gas mask distribution, which as the caption informs us, took place not in Jerusalem, or a certain neighborhood of Jerusalem, but in “East Jerusalem.”

nytimes - east jerusalem

The caption of the photo: “In East Jerusalem, Israelis distributed gas masks on Wednesday as worries about security spread.”

(Nevermind for the moment the fact that gas mask distribution has been going on for some time, and was not some response to dangers emanating from Syria, as the caption suggests.)

Thus, when Israel allows Jews to build or live in areas east of the Green Line that are within Jerusalem’s municipal borders it is very controversially building in “East Jerusalem.” As for example is described in this headline in Ha’aretz: “Israel to market disputed East Jerusalem housing project before election.” If it wasn’t in “East Jerusalem,” there wouldn’t even be a story here at all. Jews build in Jerusalem. What’s the problem.

True, there are some Arab neighborhoods in the city which have a quite distinct character from the Jewish/ more open and modern parts of the city (e.g., in Jewish neighborhoods you won’t find children asking you if you want to pay them for protection for your car after your park it and go about your business).  And if I were a tourist, I may want to know about that before I go to those areas. But that doesn’t include all these controversial areas where Israel has created wholly new neighborhoods.

And it is also claimed that Jerusalem’s municipal borders were inflated in order to include certain Arab villages which are now part of the city.  But anyone who walks from the Jewish areas to the Arab neighborhoods realizes that they are not separate villages, but parts of a large, bustling city. And again that claim would only relate to Arab neighborhoods, not completely new Jewish neighborhoods, like Har Homa, East Talpiyot,  Gilo or Rama Shlomo.

“East Jerusalem” thus exists merely to inform the reader or listener of one thing: that this area is or should be off limits to Jews. Jews should not be there and anything that Israel is doing there is wrong. Otherwise the fact that it is East Jerusalem would simply not be worth mentioning. It is not that exciting to say “gas masks were handed out in Jerusalem” or “gas masks were distributed in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo” (though it would have fulfilled the captions purpose in just describing something). There is nothing controversial about a Jew living in or Israel doing something in a certain neighborhood of Jerusalem. The reader has to be informed that the Jew should not be there. That is achieved with the term “East Jerusalem.”

I am sure that the intention of most editors and reporters is not to say outright,  ”Jews shouldn’t be here” (though many of them subscribe to that belief). In their mind they are just informing the reader as to what is controversial. But in so doing they are affirming that it is controversial, when the thing itself is not. They are thus also conferring legitimacy on a certain moral judgment about where Jews should be permitted to live, which is not moral, but in fact anti-Semitic.

The Press Calls Israel Right-Wing, But Gives a Free Pass to Jordan

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Those of us who live in the liberal Jewish state have become accustomed to suffering through the steady stream of unhinged, if predictable, stories in the Guardian – as well as in the mainstream media – warning ominously of Israel’s dangerous political lurch to the right.

The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland (one of the more sober Guardian journalists) was the most recent Guardian contributors to warn of ”Israel’s pronounced shift to the right, but such warnings, with varying degrees of hysterics, have been advanced continually - with several CiF contributors even evoking the risible specter of an Israeli descent into fascism.

The relative media blackout (outside a few Jewish and Israeli sources) about recent news from Jordan, on the other hand, demonstrating an extreme right political culture, is quite telling.

If you’re planning to visit the sprawling, modern metropolis of Amman, the ancient city of Petra, or one of the many beautiful seaside resorts in Aqaba, you may want to pack your bags taking into account the necessary cultural sensitivities.

The the Jordanian Tourism Ministry has recently issued a memo to tour operators warning Jewish visitors not to wear “Jewish clothing”, or pray in public places, in order to avoid possible antisemitic attacks.

Times of Israel reported the following:

“According to a copy of a ministry memo issued at the end of November, Amman instructed Jordanian tour operators to inform their Israeli counterparts to advise Israeli visitors not to wear “Jewish dress” or perform “religious rituals in public places” so as to prevent an unfriendly reaction by Jordanian citizens.

Israelis and Jews are typically advised not to wear outwardly Jewish clothes or symbols, and occasionally are met with trouble from Jordanian authorities when crossing the border.

Earlier this year, six Israeli tourists were assaulted in a market in southern Jordan after vendors were angered by their traditional Jewish skullcaps.

The six men and women arrived at a market in the town of Rabba, 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of the capital Amman, when one of the vendors identified the tourists as Israeli due to mens’ skullcaps, which “provoked the sensibilities of the vendors,” independent daily Al-Arab Al-Yawm reported.”

Yes, those “sensibilities”.

Now, remember that the Jewish population of Jordan is literally zero, and while the phenomenon of antisemtism without Jews is not unique to Jordan the mere ubiquity of such irrational anti-Jewish racism certainly shouldn’t render it any less abhorrent.

Further, while Israel’s progressive, democratic advantages in the Middle East are self-evident, and definitively documented, Jordan is consistently given one of the worst scores on human rights by the respected organization, Freedom House. In addition to the state’s systemic abrogation of political rights (such as severe restrictions on political expression and the media), an even more remarkable and under-reported violation of democratic norms relates to the Kingdom’s treatment of a much discussed group: hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are still denied the right to vote.

So, if, according to the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood, Likud-Beiteinu represents a “right-wing electoral alliance”; the Jewish Home party is an “extreme right-wing nationalist,” how should reasonable political observers characterize the political center of gravity in a neighboring state which denies basic civil rights, creates an apartheid like system for its Palestinians, and is so infected with a Judeophobic culture that the government had to issue a warning to Jewish visitors not to engage in Jewish prayers, wear Jewish symbols, or even wear “Jewish clothes”?

Can we fairly characterize Jordanian political culture as dangerously reactionary, racist, extremist, and ultra, ultra, ultra far-right?

Of course, the Guardian’s Jordan page has absolutely nothing by any of its liberal reporters or commentators warning of the nation’s dangerous lurch to the extreme right abyss.

Could it be that most journalists within the mainstream media – and at the Guardian – fail to hold Arab states accountable to the same moral standards as they do the Jewish state?

Of course, such an ethnically and religiously based disparity in journalistic critical scrutiny would be racist, wouldn’t it?

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New York Times’ Jerusalem Chief Admits Anti-Israel Bias

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

H/T Yisrael Medad

After New York Times‘ Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren incorrectly reported that building in E-1 would make a “contiguous” Palestinian state impossible, the Times issued this lengthy correction to her article this past Sunday:

An article on Dec. 2 about Israel’s decision to move forward with planning and zoning for settlements in an area east of Jerusalem known as E1 described imprecisely the effect of such development on access to the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem from Jerusalem, and on the West Bank. Development of E1 would limit access to Ramallah and Bethlehem, leaving narrow corridors far from the Old City and downtown Jerusalem; it would not completely cut off those cities from Jerusalem. It would also create a large block of Israeli settlements in the center of the West Bank; it would not divide the West Bank in two. And because of an editing error, the article referred incompletely to the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state. Critics see E1 as a threat to the meaningful contiguity of such a state because it would leave some Palestinian areas connected by roads with few exits or by circuitous routes; the proposed development would not technically make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible. [Emphasis added].

Following the correction, former Bush adviser and fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Elliot Abrams accused Rudoren of being completely bias when it comes to Israel, saying there was no other explanation for her failure to know or consult a map:

Here’s my theory: that just about everyone she knows –all her friends– believe these things, indeed know that they are true. Settlements are bad, the right-wing Israeli government is bad, new construction makes peace impossible and cuts the West Bank in half and destroys contiguity and means a Palestinian state is impossible. They just know it, it’s obvious, so why would you have to refer to a map, or talk to people who would tell you it’s all wrong? This was precisely what was feared when Ms. Rudoren was named the Times’s bureau chief: that she would move solely in a certain political and social milieu, the rough Israeli equivalent of the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This embarrassing episode–one story, many errors and corrections–may lead her to be more careful. One has to hope so, and to hope that both she and her editors reflect again on the thinking and the pattern of associations that lead a correspondent to misunderstand the issues so badly.

Yesterday, Politico posted part of an e-mail sent by Rudoren defending herself. She argued that she is not bias (of course) and blamed “imprecise language” on the pressures of making a deadline late at night. But that was not all. She went further, arguing that in essence she was and is correct about E-1 cutting Judea and Samaria in two, saying that’s “precisely why this area was chosen at this time” by the Israeli government. While as a writer and an attorney I can sympathize with the burdens of watching every single word while adhering to multiple deadlines for various pieces of work, her non-apology apology gives her bias away.

For years, Israel’s “friendly” critics have argued that Israel could establish a Palestinian state through various technical agreements and security arrangements, such as using bypass roads, which would theoretically enable Israelis to travel safely through certain areas of Judea and Samaria without worrying about road attacks. Even after the correction, Roduren assumes that such an arrangement would be impossible and goes even further by acting as if the territory in between Ma’aleh Adumim and the Dead Sea which would connect the top and bottom portions of Judea and Samaria does not exist.

My hope as a Jew and an Israeli citizen is that the government did choose to build in E-1 both to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state as well as to send a message that one could not be created about our consent. As I have written elsewhere, the timing indicates that this may be the case. But it could also be about other things: building in an area which all Israeli governments have viewed as being part of Israel in any future agreement with the Palestinians; sending a message to the Palestinians and/or the international community that Israel will take unilateral action in response to action taken by the Palestinians to change the status of the territory without Israel’s agreement (violating the Oslo Accords), or just building in a controversial area at what was thought to be strategically opportune time.

If You Talk to Them, What Would You Say?

Monday, December 17th, 2012

It’s an interesting question my mother asked me.

An international media organization has contacted me – one which no one would ever accuse them of being pro-Israel; few would even really consider them balanced when it comes to coverage of the Middle East. They want to ask me about my life, my blog, where I live, and what I think. They want me to talk about E1 – not that that topic would take long… hill, no building, no disruption, next…

I’ve seen media twist words before – I’m not naive. I know the way the game is played. I’ve seen instances where reporters leave out parts of a statement to make it seem so different than what was intended. Should I open myself up to having my words distorted, to allowing them to take the beauty of where I live and turn it into something wrong, ugly, even stolen?

Years ago, I took a reporter around Maale Adumim and then to the Jewish communities in Gaza. She had once worked for this very media organization now asking to interview me. I took her to the home of a woman who has two children who were injured in terror attacks. The reporter didn’t ask about how her children were coping with their injuries and their trauma…she asked how it felt to live in a house that was stolen?

No, this woman didn’t live in a house that was stolen, not even on land that was occupied. She moved here more than 20 years ago and bought an apartment. She made it a home and raised her children here. There was so much she could have spoken about, but that first question was so telling. It was phrased with cruelty and ignorance, with the reporter’s agenda clear to all.

Before we left the city, I was already regretting my decision to take her to Gaza. I wanted to show her the amazing things Israel does. In Maale Adumim, I took her to a beautiful new children’s park nearby – built in sections so that children of varying ages can play, so many safety issues addressed – soft ground under climbing equipment, things that could withstand the sun, railings and fences and benches for the parents to sit and watch. Surrounded by gardens and paths where it is pleasant to walk, it’s a gathering place all week long for so many.

She didn’t compliment the park’s planning  - she asked why Palestinians can’t come there. She asked why the Palestinians don’t have similar parks in THEIR neighborhoods in a tone that made it clear she blamed us, that it was OUR responsibility to build for them the things they didn’t bother building for themselves. I told her she should ask them. The money we pay in taxes goes to building parks here – where does the money go in Palestinian areas, and what happens to the parks and schools we do build in their areas?

In Gaza, I took her to several families – to a man who lost an arm in one war and then several fingers on his remaining hand when he was attacked years later by a terrorist. He told her of the body of a young mother that he found in a car on the side of the road – and how the terrorists had sat in waiting. The dead woman was bait for whatever target came next. They relied on the goodness and caring of the next person to stop and see if she needed help. He was badly wounded, saved more by a malfunctioning grenade than the soldiers who followed and eliminated the terrorist.

I took her to the greenhouses to show her the incredible farms and produce and to meet other people and see other places. And finally, I took her to the home of a family who had lost a son in war and was about to not only lose their home but would be faced with digging up their son’s grave and having it moved rather than leaving it to be desecrated in Gaza. It was the one time I begged her not to ask anything about politics, “please, don’t do that to them – don’t ask them about stolen land and how it feels to lose their home…” She was very good, actually, and I appreciated that she simply asked them to tell her about their son.

The NY Times: Dishonest, Defamatory and Deliberate

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

I have often criticized the New York Times for slanting ‘news’ stories as well as for its consistent anti-Israel bias in editorials, selection of op-eds, columnists, etc.

Now the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) has prepared a study of the Times’ content that they argue demonstrates that the newspaper is as bad or worse than I’ve said:

The dominant finding of the study is a disproportionate, continuous, embedded indictment that dominates both news and commentary sections. Israeli views are downplayed while Palestinian perspectives, especially criticism of Israel, are amplified and even promoted. The net effect is an overarching message, woven into the fabric of the coverage, of Israeli fault and responsibility for the conflict.

The summary (the full report, with detailed data will be available soon) lists several newsworthy  topics — the peace process, the Mavi Marmara affair, the ‘siege’ of Gaza, violence and incitement in Israel and the territories. It argues that the Times’ coverage of these has been biased to the extreme. It also notes that editorials and articles chosen for the op-ed pages have been almost entirely anti-Israel — some totally irrational, such as a remarkably ugly piece by an anti-Israel extremist that “characterized Israel’s tolerance toward homosexuals as a devious ploy to conceal abuses of Palestinian human rights.”

There is no doubt in my mind that the data will confirm rigorously what I noticed years ago and continue to notice: that the New York Times has chosen the path of dishonesty and even deliberate defamation, over responsible journalism. They are not disinterested observers of events; they are fighters in an information war.

I think we must draw a distinction here between the normal political ‘slant’ of an editorial policy — all media have them — and a sustained policy to abet the assassination of a nation. I am entirely serious when I say that the difference between the New York Times and Der Stürmeris one of style and degree. The intent is similar.

“Oh, come on,” you say. “Don’t be an extremist yourself. It’s just the usual liberal bias.” No, it isn’t. It is a sustained campaign to establish certain false propositions in the minds of the public — an educated, influential segment of the public. These beliefs are intended to influence policy, in a way which will directly damage Israel’s security. The New York Times is doing its best, in other words, to get people (Jews) killed.

Here are some of the false propositions that are repeated, over and over, in the pages of the Times:

  • The conflict continues because Israel is not prepared to make peace with the Palestinians.
  • Any defensive action in the face of terrorism is collective punishment of Palestinians.
  • Any defensive action that hurts Palestinians is disproportionate.
  • Israel’s government is an extremist right-wing regime.
  • Israelis in general are racially prejudiced against Arabs.
  • The security fence is a land grab.
  • Israeli Jews have no right to live beyond the Green Line.
  • Eastern Jerusalem is “Arab Jerusalem.”
  • ‘Settlers’ are terrorists, Palestinian Arabs are oppressed.

The objective of this propaganda is to make it harder for Israel to defend itself against terrorism and war, and to facilitate diplomatic pressure to reverse the outcome of 1967. Of course, once that is accomplished, it will be the results of 1948 that will be placed under pressure.

I could go on. I could speculate about the motivations of the editors and publishers. But wondering about the motivations of their enemies is a Jewish disease.

What we should do is to stop giving aid and comfort to them. To stop subscribing to this newspaper, even if we like the book reviews or sports articles. You wouldn’t make donations to Hizballah, right? Then don’t buy the Times.

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Guardian Newspaper Bans Pro-Israel Watchdog from Site

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

The British newspaper The Guardian has banned Adam Levick, the managing editor, of the pro-Israel media watchdog, CiFWatch, from its website, deleting all prior comments on Guardian articles and disabling his ability to contribute opinion pieces to the site and further comments.

CiFWatch monitors the Guardian’s coverage of Israel and is affiliated with the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. “CiF” stands for “Comment is Free” the opinion section of the Guardian where anti-Israel articles often appear.

In a posting on the CiFWatch website, Levick said that he had been a contributor to the Comment is Free section of the Guardian’s website for years and that his user account, and all prior comments on Guardian articles – many of which pointed out anti-Israel bias –  was terminated without any explanation.

Levick’s work at CiFWatch has led in the past to corrections of many Guardian articles.

Levick noted that “occasionally I sensed that I may have annoyed the CiF moderators by violating the Guardian Prime Directive: Thou shall not write the name ‘CiF Watch’ or link to it in any way…”

The Day After Tomorrow

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

I had a much better day today at the President’s conference than I did yesterday. The reason is actually quite simple. I stayed away from the political panels, and instead met with interesting people one-on-one.

Who needs or wants to hear Dennis Ross’s tired proposal of paying Settlers to leave the West Bank for Peace? Maybe, if he had instead said that someone should pay the Arabs to leave Judea and Samaria for Peace he could have been interesting.

And not surprisingly, there were plenty of other people at the conference who had the same idea. They were turned off by the overt left-wing bias of many of the panels and panelists and decided to instead congregate in the various meeting lounges for healthier debates.

During the day I bumped into Stanley Fischer, and thanked him for his contribution to our stable economy. Raanan Gissin and I schmoozed about Social Media and Revolution. Though I admit I found myself surprised when he mentioned Stalin and Marx and wondered what they could have done if they had had Twitter. I told Raanan they did enough damage without it.

I spent part of the afternoon with many of the well-known bloggers and twitterers I’ve met over the years.

But the highlight of my day was the time I spent with Irwin Cotler. We spoke on record for an hour, and talked more after that. And we’re far from done talking.

I found in Cotler an unparalleled advocate for Israel. A man who can argue and put Israel’s position into perspective with incredible clarity, backed up not only by his intellect and knowledge, but also his record and actions.

He was like a voice in the wilderness.

We covered subjects from Human Rights organizations, the new anti-Semitism, the UN, Apartheid, and the Infiltrators. We talked about his family in Israel, and if he would make Aliyah. The stimulating two-way conversation will be getting its own well-deserved, stand-alone article.

The President’s conference does have what to offer, but it comes from the people you’ll meet in the many lounges and hallways, not from the slanted content you’ll to hear on many of the panels.

And if I might add, the food is excellent in the VIP lounge – if you can get in there.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/special-features/president-conference-israel-2012/the-day-after-tomorrow/2012/06/20/

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