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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘journalists’

Salam Fayyad, ‘The Moderate’?

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

The Salam Fayyad government has just punished a school principal for allowing his pupils to dance with Israelis during a trip to the beach in Jaffa.

Because of his “crime,” Mohammed Abu Samra, principle of the Al-Slama [peace] Secondary School in the West Bank city of Kalkilya, was reassigned to a remote school.

Fayyad’s ministry of education decided on the move after the principle organized a picnic for 45 Palestinian pupils to the beach. “My pupils were attracted to the music and I could not say no to them,” Abu Samra told the Gulf News newspaper. “My pupils started dancing and I also joined them.” He said that at one point some Israeli men and women joined the dance.

It is hard to imagine, however, that the measure against the school principle was taken without Fayyad’s knowledge or approval. This is the same government that continues to combat all forms of “normalization” with Israel. Many Palestinian groups and political factions in the West Bank have banned their members from participating in meetings with Israelis and the Fayyad government seems to have endorsed this policy.

The most recent “anti-normalization” decision was taken by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, which operates under the jurisdiction of the Fayyad government in the West Bank. The syndicate issued a warning to all its members against holding any form of contact with their Israeli counterparts, and threatened punitive measures against those who violate the ban.

The Fayyad government has also banned Palestinians from dealing directly with Israeli “liaison” offices in the West Bank. These offices, belonging to the Israeli Civil Administration, were created, among other reasons, to assist Palestinians in obtaining permits to work and receive medical treatment in Israel.

Fayyad was one of the first Palestinian officials to lead a campaign to boycott products of Israeli settlements. His office even invited journalists to cover an event where Fayyad personally set fire to settler products that were confiscated by his police forces in the West Bank. The Fayyad government is also responsible for the continued crackdown on Palestinian journalists and bloggers in the West Bank. In recent weeks, more than 15 journalists and bloggers were imprisoned or summoned for interrogation for exposing corruption scandals or posting critical comments on Facebook. The crackdown was ordered by Fayyad’s attorney-general, Ahmed al-Mughni.

Fayyad’s TV and radio stations in Ramallah continue to glorify terrorists and suicide bombers, referring to them as heroes and martyrs and dedicating songs and poems in their honor.

In addition, the Fayyad government continues to hold dozens of Palestinians in prison without detention and is refusing to carry out court orders to release some of the detainees. As one PLO official said, “The judiciary system in Palestine has become a joke under Salam Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas.”

Fayyad supporters have defended him by blaming Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction for human rights violations and the clampdown on journalists and bloggers. They claim that Fayyad has no real powers over the various security forces or the Palestinian Authority media. Nor, they say, does Fayyad have control over the decisions of the attorney-general.

So if Fayyad is not responsible for anything that goes wrong in the Palestinian Authority, why hasn’t he, for example spoken out against the violations perpetrated by Abbas and his lieutenants? Or, if he is opposed to the arrest of journalists and the closure of news websites, why hasn’t he resigned?

Fayyad often comes across in the international community as a “moderate” man who believes in peace and coexistence with Israel; but his actions in the past few years reveal that the Palestinian prime minister is anything but liberal or moderate, even if he did receive a doctorate at the University of Texas.

By punishing the school principle for allowing his pupils to dance with Israelis on the beach, Fayyad’s government is telling Palestinians that their children must not have any contact with Israelis, even if it is intended for entertainment.

If Fayyad does not want Palestinian children to mix with Israelis, why does he continue to live in an Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem that is under Israeli sovereignty? And why does he continue to meet with Israelis on different occasions? If, as his aides say, he despises Mahmoud Abbas and believes that he is leading the Palestinians toward the abyss, why doesn’t he tell this to the president in his face? Or is it possible that Fayyad and Abbas are playing the good cop and bad cop?
Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

The Silence Abbas and the PA Want You to Hear

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

The Middle East is becoming quieter. No, the swords are not turning into plowshares, it’s not that kind of quiet. Instead, it is the sound of truth that’s slowly being silenced. And it’s happening not only because the PA grows stronger, but also because the West grows weaker.

Thirty years ago the young Arab journalist Khaled abu Toameh quit working for PLO media outlets. They did not allow reporting on what abu Toameh saw as the news people needed to know. Instead, he was told to take the words dictated by the Arab leadership, and cut and paste them into the stories they then published, but under his byline. They weren’t his words and it wasn’t the news, so he turned to western media for outlets that allowed him to write and speak about what people needed to know.

In those thirty years the PA media has not become more open. Instead, the PA leadership has become more emboldened and the western media – either because of physical or moral exhaustion – is allowing the PA’s censorship to seep into and rot away at core freedoms, both of speech and of the press.

Under the Palestinian Authority’s Penal Code, a holdover from when Jordan illegally occupied the territories, defamation suspects can be arrested and held in detention for up to six months before they are charged with a crime. Esmat Abdul-Khalik, an al Quds University lecturer and single mother of two, was arrested in late March and held in solitary confinement and denied the possibility of any visits because someone else criticized PA President Mahmoud Abbas on her Facebook page, calling him a traitor and suggesting he resign. Abdul-Khalik is not the only Arab arrested recently for Facebook page activity, at least three others have recently been picked up for daring to criticize members of the government.

In September, the director of Radio Bethlehem 2000, George Canawati, was arrested for posting on his Facebook page criticism of the Bethlehem Health Department. Last month the PA judicial and executive authorities determined Canawati will be tried for defamation – a crime punishable by up to two years in prison – in the Magistrate Court of Bethlehem City. The trial was recently adjourned until September.

Altogether, nine journalists have been arrested in recent weeks for exposing corruption or making critical remarks about the PA leadership on Facebook, and many others have been summoned for interrogation. When Facebook postings expose government critics to censure, you can be sure that no one will risk filing bona fide media reports about the topic.

But just as frightening as Arab Palestinian bloggers and journalists being arrested for posting on their Facebook pages is the steady drumbeat of pressure that is leading to a decrease in coverage by western journalists who, presumably, are not as vulnerable to the capricious selections for punishment designed to suppress criticism of the ruling regime.

In addition to whispered discussions being heard in Ramallah about the “Facebook Police” are the directives issued to western journalists to focus their reporting on “Israel’s ‘occupation’” and refrain from prying into alleged corruption committed by PA officials, because “nothing else is newsworthy and nothing else should be reported.”

Some western journalists have been warned not to work with Arabic speaking reporters who fail to toe the “All-Occupation, All The Time” reporting. This is how the PA controls not only their own media outlets, but those western outlets. All too many simply play along rather than stand up for press and speech freedoms and possibly risk losing access. For those journalists who behave and report primarily about the occupation, the rewards are access to senior officials. Senior PA officials told Arab Israeli journalist abu Toameh, “Even the Jews at Haaretz behave themselves and for that they are rewarded with interviews of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.”

It is not only individual journalists who are being intimidated, but entire news sites critical of the PA have been blocked on the internet. A report in late April revealed that several websites which had reported on corruption within the PA were blocked, including Inlight Press, which had revealed that the PA had been monitoring the phones of Mahmoud Abbas’s opponents.

What’s more, in May, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, a vehicle that is supposed to act as a union to defend the rights of its members, actually began punishing Arab Palestinian journalists for meeting and cooperating with Israeli colleagues in a series of joint seminars that were held in Europe. The goal of those seminars was to promote freedom of expression and increase cooperation. The PJS is affiliated with the PA and is dominated by Fatah, the party of Abbas, and reports directly to the President’s office in Ramallah. Those who violate the will of the Syndicate, which is to sing from the hymnal of PA devotion and praise for Abbas, are threatened with expulsion from the Syndicate and a concomitant boycott by all PA newspapers and other Palestinian media outlets.

How to Write About Israel

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/2012/05/how-to-write-about-israel.html

Writing about Israel is a booming field. No news agency, be it ever so humble, can avoid embedding a few correspondents and a dog’s tail of stringers into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, to sit in cafes clicking away on their laptops, meeting up with leftist NGO’s and the oppressed Muslim of the week.

At a time when international desks are being cut to the bone, this is the one bone that the newshounds won’t give up. Wars can be covered from thousands of miles away, genocide can go to the back page, but, when a rock flies in the West Bank, there had better be a correspondent with a fake continental accent and a khaki shirt to cover it.

Writing about Israel isn’t hard. Anyone who has consumed a steady diet of media over the years already knows all the bullet points. The trick is arranging them artistically, like so many wilted flowers, in the story of this week’s outrage.

Israel is hot, even in the winter, with the suggestion of violence brimming under the surface. It should be described as a “troubled land.” Throw in occasional ironic biblical references and end every article or broadcast by emphasizing that peace is still far away.

It has two types of people: the Israelis who live in posh houses stocked with all the latest appliances and the Arabs who live in crumbling shacks that are always in danger of being bulldozed. The Israelis are fanatical, the Arabs are passionate. The Israelis are hate-filled, while the Arabs are embittered. The Israelis have everything while the Arabs have nothing.

Avoid mentioning all the mansions that you pass on the way to interviewing some Palestinian Authority or Hamas bigwig. When visiting a terrorist prisoner in an Israeli jail, be sure to call him a militant, somewhere in the fifth paragraph, but do not mention the sheer amount of food in the prison, especially if he is on a hunger strike. If you happen to notice that the prisoners live better than most Israelis, that is something you will not refer to. Instead describe them as passionate and embittered. Never ask them how many children they killed or how much they make a month. Ask them what they think the prospects for peace are. Nod knowingly when they say that it’s up to Israel.

Weigh every story one way. Depersonalize Israelis, personalize Muslims. One is a statistic, the other a precious snowflake. A Muslim terrorist attack is always in retaliation for something, but an Israeli attack is rarely a retaliation for anything. When Israeli planes bomb a terrorist hideout, suggest that this latest action only feeds the “Cycle of Violence” and quote some official who urges Israel to return to peace negotiations– whether or not there actually are any negotiations to return to.

Center everything around peace negotiations. If Israel has any domestic politics that don’t involve checkpoints and air strikes, do your best to avoid learning about them. Frame all Israeli politics by asking whether a politician is finally willing to make the compromises that you think are necessary for peace. Always sigh regretfully and find them wanting. Assume that all Israelis think the same way. Every vote is a referendum on the peace process. A vote for a conservative party means that Israelis hate peace.

The Israelis can also be divided into two categories. There are the good Israelis, who wear glasses, own iPads and live in trendy neighborhoods. They are very concerned that the country is losing its soul by oppressing another people. They strum out-of-date American peace songs on guitars that they play badly, but which you will describe them as playing “soulfully,” and they show up at rallies demanding that the government make peace with the Palestinians.

Your good Israelis invariably volunteer or work for some NGO, a fact that you may or may not mention in your article, but you are not to discuss who funds their NGO, particularly if it’s a foreign government. Write about them as if they are the hope of an otherwise brutish and unreasonable Israel too obsessed with killing and destroying to listen to the hopeful voices of its children.

When writing about them, act as if they are representative of the country’s youth and its best and brightest, which for all you know they might be, because you rarely meet anyone who isn’t like them, because you rarely meet anyone who isn’t like you. When you do it’s either a taxi driver, repairman or some working-class fellow whom you have nothing in common with, and who turns out to be a raving militant when it comes to the terrorism question.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinian Journalists Union Fights Palestinian Journalists

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

As journalists worldwide celebrated World Free Press Day on May 3, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the West Bank chose to wage a campaign of intimidation against Palestinian reporters who commit the “crime” of meeting with Israeli counterparts.

The decision to punish Palestinian journalists who hold meetings with Israeli colleagues began after a series of joint seminars that were held in Norway, Germany, and France. At these seminars, Israeli and Palestinian journalists discussed joint cooperation and ways of promoting freedom of expression.

The syndicate, dominated by Fatah and affiliated with the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah, threatened sanctions against any Palestinian journalist who engages in “normalization” with Israel.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate functions more as a political body than a union that is supposed to defend the rights of its members.

The syndicate wants Palestinian journalists to serve as soldiers on behalf of the Palestinian cause. Journalists, according to the syndicate, should first and foremost be loyal to their president, prime minister, government, homeland, and cause. As for the truth, it appears at the bottom of the syndicate’s list of priorities.

The syndicate’s main task should be to defend freedom of media in the Palestinian territories. But instead of fighting for the rights of Palestinian journalists, who are facing a campaign of intimidation under the two Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the syndicate has also decided to join the clampdown on freedom of expression.

A syndicate that reports directly to the office of the president in Ramallah can never serve the interests of Palestinian journalists.

Cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian journalists has never been a new or unique phenomenon. Long before the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, representatives of the two sides maintained close ties, often exchanging information and helping each other cover stories both inside Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But the Palestinian Authority’s syndicate is now trying to put an end to this cooperation under the pretext of combating normalization with Israel.

Sanctions include expulsion from the syndicate and a boycott by Palestinian newspapers and other media outlets belonging to the Palestinian Authority.

If anyone stands to lose from the ban on holding contacts with Israeli media representatives, it is the Palestinian journalists themselves. Over the past few decades, Palestinian journalists have helped Israeli newspapers and TV stations cover the story on the Palestinian side. Thanks to this cooperation, the Israeli public learned a lot about what was happening in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In recent weeks, Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank arrested at least nine Palestinian journalists and bloggers for exposing corruption scandals and posting comments critical of Palestinian leaders on Facebook. The affected journalists complained that the syndicate did not make a serious effort on their behalf, limiting its response to issuing laconic statements demanding the release of some of the detainees.

The Palestinian Authority and its media group clearly do not want the Israeli public and the outside world to receive information about the situation in the Palestinian territories.

This is why they are now waging the new campaign of intimidation against journalists who are found guilty of meeting with Israeli counterparts.

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Khaled Abu Toameh: How Journalists Allowed the Palestinian Authority to Fool Them

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

The Palestinian Authority has been boasting over the past four years of its success in restoring law and order to the West Bank city of Jenin.

Journalists from all around the world were invited to Jenin, once notorious for dispatching suicide bombers to Israel, to report on the Palestinian government’s successful efforts.

Palestinian leaders and government officials told the journalists how their security forces have managed to end the state of chaos and lawlessness that used to prevail in Jenin.

They talked about how Fatah gangsters and thugs who used to roam the streets, imposing an atmosphere of intimidation and terror on the population, have vanished.

Most of the gangsters, the Palestinian government officials noted, had been recruited to various branches of the Western-funded Palestinian security forces and were indirectly receiving salaries from American and European taxpayers’ money.

Many Western correspondents rushed to Jenin to cover the story about the success of the Palestinian Authority in restoring law and order.

One of the most popular stories was the fact that Zakaria Zubeidi, the former commander of Fatah’s armed militia, Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which was behind dozens of terror attacks against Israel, was now running a local theater and promoting coexistence and peace. But while the international, and Israeli, media were breaking the “good news” about Jenin, the journalists failed to understand what was really going on in Jenin and its surrounding villages. Some journalists, in fact, chose to turn a blind eye to the grim reality on the ground.

The murder of Israeli Arab actor and film producer Julian Mar-Khamis in Jenin last year should have sounded an alarm bell among the media representatives. His killers have never been caught, sparking a wave of unconfirmed reports about the involvement of influential Fatah gangsters and Palestinian security officers in the case.

A Western journalist who wanted to do an investigative report into the case was warned by senior Palestinian security officers that she would be putting her life at risk if she insisted on carrying out this mission.

Last week, the truth about the situation in Jenin finally exploded in the faces of everyone: the local governor died of a fatal heart attack following an unsuccessful assassination attempt. For the Palestinian Authority leadership, the assassination attempt was what lifted the veil: Palestinian leaders in Ramallah realized that they could no longer continue to hide the truth about what was really happening in Jenin.

Palestinian security forces have since arrested dozens of Fatah “outlaws” and police officers for various crimes — including murder, extortion, abductions, sexual harassment, and armed robberies.

Radi Asideh, the security commander of the Jenin area, admitted that it was the Palestinian security establishment that was responsible for the anarchy and lawlessness. “There is a defect inside the security establishment and officers were responsible for this,” he revealed.

The biggest mistake, Asideh added, was that the Palestinian leadership had turned its back to the defect, allowing the situation to deteriorate at the expense of the people’s security.

Palestinians say that anarchy and lawlessness are to be found also in other areas in the West Bank where the Palestinian Authority claims to have imposed law and order. And, they add, in most cases it is the Palestinian Authority’s security forces that are responsible for the chaos and corruption.

If the Western journalists and donors continue to ignore the reality on the ground, the West Bank could soon fall into the hands of gangsters and armed clans, as has been the case in Jenin — among the main reasons the Palestinian Authority collapsed in the Gaza Strip in 2007, speeding the rise of Hamas to power.
Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Khaled Abu Toameh: How The Palestinian Authority Fights Corruption

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Jamal Abu Rihan is a Palestinian blogger and activist who is being held in a Palestinian Authority prison in the West Bank.

Security forces belonging to the Palestinian Authority government arrested Abu Rihan after he created a Facebook group called “The People Want to End Corruption.”

Demanding reform and democracy has become a crime in the territories under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Direct and indirect criticism of Palestinian Authority leaders has also become a crime that can land journalists, bloggers, cartoonists and political opponents in prison.

Instead of going after top officials suspected of embezzling public funds and abusing their powers, the Palestinian Authority government has chosen to wage an unprecedented clampdown on those who dare to raise their voices in support of transparency and freedom of speech.

Abu Rihan’s anti-corruption group on Facebook has won the backing of more than 6000 followers. These people clicked “like” and joined the group within days of its launching. Some of the followers, especially those living under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, now fear being thrown into prison for committing the crime of demanding an end to corruption.

The arrest of Abu Rihan and others is aimed at sending a warning to Palestinians against criticizing their government and leaders.

The Palestinian Authority government has also warned Palestinian journalists against reporting about the crackdown or helping Western correspondents cover the crackdown on journalists and bloggers.

In the past few weeks, Palestinian security forces summoned a number of Palestinian journalists for questioning about their ties with Western journalists and media outlets.

Palestinians say that the campaign of intimidation and harassment against the media is designed to prevent “negative reporting” about the Palestinian Authority government. The Palestinian Authority does not want anyone to report about corruption and abuse of power out of fear that this would affect financial aid from the US, EU, and other donors.

The clampdown has thus far been successful and most Palestinian and international journalists seem to have understood the warning. That is why the case of Abu Rihan, for example, has received almost no attention in the Palestinian and Western media.

If Abu Rihan were a Chinese dissident imprisoned by the authorities in Beijing, his case would have been endorsed by human rights groups around the world and the mainstream media in the West. Had Abu Rihan been arrested by the Israeli authorities for such a crime, his story would have most likely made it to the front page of many respected newspapers.

But when it comes to violations of freedom of expression in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority is given a pass by many Americans and Europeans. By arresting reformists and critics, the Palestinian Authority is once again proving that it is not serious about combating corruption and reforming its institutions.

The crackdown on journalists, bloggers and political activists also serves as a reminder that the Palestinian Authority government is not different than most of the dictatorships in the Arab world.

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks.’

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

When Paul Auster, an American Jewish author, recently announced he would not visit Turkey due to the current regime’s oppression and imprisonment of journalists and writers, he unsuspectingly stepped into the ring with Turkey’s haughty and pugnacious leader, Tayyip Erdoğan.

Known to be a loose cannon, the Turkish prime minister responded with surly bravado, and made questionable – even wild – claims about Israel. “Supposedly Israel is a democratic, secular country, a country where freedom of expression and individual rights and freedoms are limitless. What an ignorant man you are,” he said before a meeting of leaders of his AK party. “Aren’t these the ones that rained bombs down on Gaza? The ones that launched phosphorus bombs and used chemical weapons. How can you not see this?” he added. “This gentleman can’t see the repression and rights violations in Israel… This is serious disrespect to Turkey.”

“If you come so what? If you don’t come, so what? Will Turkey lose prestige?” Erdoğan scoffed.

Putting aside the extremely tendentious connection between journalistic freedom and Israel’s military response to Gaza’s sustained rocket campaign, and putting aside the sheer fatuousness of his comments, ie. Israel “used chemical weapons” in Gaza, Erdoğan’s use of the prime ministerial “bully pulpit” to belittle a foreign author is simply unbecoming of a world leader, especially one focused on his country’s “prestige” in the community of nations.

Besides, the fact is that Turkey has one of the highest numbers worldwide of imprisoned journalists. Unsurprisingly, the government denies that their imprisonment has anything to do with the content they produce and disseminate in the media.

Auster seems content to take the high road for now, sending a personal letter to Turkish opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu thanking him for his support and accepting his invitation to visit the country, according to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.

Erdoğan, still clearly smarting from Auster’s original comments, continued his smug assault upon hearing of the opposition leader’s invitation. “If he does come to Turkey, they should go to Israel together afterwards. Otherwise that visit will be incomplete. They should have a picnic on a hill overlooking Gaza. They should repeat that there are no jailed journalists in Israel,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan’s record indicates that he is indeed a testy, even petty, man. Oftentimes though, when one responds so passionately and violently to another’s contention, people begin to suspect that there’s some truth to it.

Treat News Manipulators As Journalists?

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Should Israel treat pro-Palestinian news manipulators as if they were serious journalists? Should they be given privileges because they belong to supposedly reputable media outlets? Why accommodate the allies of your enemies?

Such questions arise anew after a recent study of anti-Israel bias on the part of Reuters by Henry Silverman of Chicago’s Roosevelt University.

Professor Silverman investigated fifty news-oriented articles by Reuters on the Middle East. His findings about this “objective” news agency were damning. Silverman concluded that coverage of the Middle East conflict “is systematically tainted by propaganda and influences readers to side with the Palestinian and Arab states against the Israelis.”

Silverman analyzed these articles for reporting and ethical failures, such as propaganda devices and logical fallacies. As Reuters has a handbook of rules its reporters are supposed to follow, he also checked the articles against its requirements. Silverman found more than 1,100 instances of reporting failures in these articles. On the average, this amounts to 22 failures per (relatively short) article. Silverman then submitted the articles to students who were neutral about the Middle East conflict. After they had read the biased articles, their views shifted to pro-Palestinian.

Trevor Asserson, a British litigation lawyer now living in Israel, applied a somewhat different methodology to the BBC several years ago. This media outlet is heavily subsidized by the British government and enjoys an important monopoly position. It operates under a government charter which defines 15 legal obligations including fairness, respect for truth, due accuracy, attachment to fundamental democratic principles, not broadcasting opinions on current affairs or public policy, insuring that opposing views are not misrepresented and not letting the audience gauge the reporter’s personal views.

Asserson checked various BBC TV programs on the Middle East against its commitments under the charter. He analyzed all documentaries on the Middle East shown on BBC 1 and 2 from late June 2002 to 2004. Afterward, Asserson said the BBC was conducting “what amounts to something equivalent to a campaign to vilify Israel, broadcasting a documentary critical of Israel every two to three months…. 88% of documentaries on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict paint either a negative impression of Israel or (in two cases) a positive image of Palestinians.” He also found that “there is a systemic problem with the BBC complaints system.”

Asserson concluded: “BBC’s news reports concerning Israel are distorted by omission, by inclusion, by only giving partial facts, by who is interviewed, and by the background information provided, or lack of it. The only way to establish this factually was to do a proper forensic analysis. I prepared my reports in the way in which a judge would expect the evidence to be presented in a court of law.”

Another form of news manipulation is selective publishing of biased op-eds. Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu “respectfully declined” to write an op-ed for The New York Times. His senior adviser Ron Dermer wrote a reply to the newspaper in which he quoted the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynahan’s admonition that “everyone is entitled to [his] own opinion, but no one is entitled to [his] own facts.”

Dermer pointed out that the Times had published an article by Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas containing false historical “facts,” which it could and should have verified quite easily. Dermer also checked op-eds about Israel published within the last three months in The New York Times and in the (Times-owned) International Herald Tribune. Nineteen out of those twenty op-ed pieces were negative.

If such manipulation or propaganda is practiced by three media outlets counted among the profession’s elite, what can one possibly expect from others? To get an idea of how low some have stooped – and not related to Israel – one should follow the inquiry in the United Kingdom carried out by Lord Justice Leveson about the multiple infringements of privacy by the tabloid press.

The now defunct News of the World hacked the voice mails of many individuals. It hired detectives to place people under surveillance and planted a Trojan virus to hack into one target’s computer. It also employed a convicted criminal because of his good relationship with the police.

Other tabloids fabricated stories about people. A particularly disturbing case was that of the Daily Express, which invented defamatory information about the parents of the McCann family whose daughter had disappeared. A former reporter at the Daily Mirror testified that phone hacking was rampant at the paper in the late ‘90s.

There is a pressing need for a major study on the extremely doubtful ethics of present-day journalism. Using Israel as a test case would be a helpful way to accomplish this.

In the meantime, Israel must act. It is time to form a Knesset caucus on media that should tackle this complex issue and hold the government accountable when it accommodates manipulators among the journalists. Freedom of the press is one thing. Being assisted by the government to help the enemy is something radically different. Ministers should be asked why certain journalists (read: Palestinian and Arab propagandists) enjoy privileges. Let them fend for themselves without the rights and privileges press cards offer.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/treat-news-manipulators-as-journalists/2012/01/04/

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