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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Press’

Israel, Syria and Double Standards

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Syria’s civil war recently entered its third calendar year. With worse still to come, in recent days it has been estimated that the number of people killed in Syria since the uprising began now stands at more than 90,000. Any death is a tragedy for someone and the people close to him; and a million deaths are not a statistic but a million individual tragedies. How can this fact glide by us with so little comment?

When it comes to Syria, there are probably a few practical reasons. One, undoubtedly, is that people get bored with long news stories. As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown — in which American, British and other Western troops have after all featured prominently – public and media attention was fairly short-lived. After an initial burst of fascination, once the new norm was established, peoples’ attention wandered elsewhere. Syria has now dragged on too long to hold peoples’ ever-smaller attention spans.

There is also the fact that in Syria – as in other recent wars – journalists have found themselves becoming targets. While many journalists are willing to take the same risks as the population at large, few are willing to stay in situations where they might be the actual object of death-squads or the attentions of RPG’s. In Syria, most journalists have found it hard to get in, or once there, are unwilling to stay, so the amount of footage coming out is necessarily limited. With an absence of plentiful footage, if the story cannot be visualized, there is now rarely a story. Evidently we need pictures.

But there is another, more important, reason why this story has got so little attention. There are often underlying, as well as immediate, reasons why something does not make news. There are some situations in which a tragedy helps a political cause and others in which it hinders it. For some people, casualties are not tragedies or statistics, but simply a well-spring for political point-scoring. To compare the cases of Israel and Syria is to see this at its most stark.

Take, for instance, the highest figures for all the wars in which Israel has been involved throughout its history. The upper estimates suggest that the War of Independence in 1948 cost around 20,000 casualties in total – that is 20,000 on all sides. The upper casualty estimates of the wars of 1968 and 1973 are similar: another 20,000 and 15,000 respectively. The smaller wars in Lebanon and Gaza in the years since add several thousand more to this sad total. But something is striking here.

All the wars involving Israel, throughout its history, have caused at least 30,000 fewer deaths than have been caused in Syria in the last couple of years alone. Say that you added together all the wars involving Israel, and they had all happened either consecutively or in one go. Would we have seen the same amount of coverage that we have seen in Syria? Would there have been more or fewer protests around the world involving people of all religions, races and backgrounds, than there have been outside of Syria in recent months? Would the nations of the world, the United Nations and the U.N. Security Council, have been quieter or noisier than they have been when it has come to the matter of Israel’s neighbor, Syria, over recent months?

The answer to all these questions is that the air and ground incursions in Gaza in recent years have on each occasion led to deaths — tragic though they may be — that are a fraction of the number in Syria since the uprising there began. Yet the world, and the world’s press, and the world’s protest movements, and the world’s governments and the world’s supra-national organizations have on each and every occasion mobilized in a way which seemed at the time, and in retrospect, to demonstrate an obsession which is probably at best unhealthy, and at worst the expression of straightforward bigotry. All those people who claim that small incursions into Gaza have not been small incursions, but in fact a “holocaust,” where are they now? If the death of a hundred people is a “holocaust,” what is the death of 90,000?

The West Ignores Abbas, Hamas Silencing of Critics

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

In another story the Western media apparently refuses to cover, any Palestinian who dares to criticize Hamas or the Palestinian Authority risks being arrested or summoned for interrogation.

Palestinian journalists are now hoping to bring this to the attention of President Barack Obama when he meets with President Mahmoud Abbas next month.

The journalists say they want United States and the rest of the world to know that the crackdown on freedom of expression in both West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza Strip is designed to hide the fact that Palestinians are governed by two repressive regimes that have no respect for human rights and democracy.

Over the past few weeks, several Palestinian journalists have been arrested in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for reportedly criticizing the policies and leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

But this most recent assault on freedom of expression does not seem to bother the Western countries that fund the Palestinian Authority or Hamas supporters from all around the world.

As far as many Western governments and journalists are concerned, physical assaults on Palestinian reporters in the Gaza Strip are fine as long as they are not perpetrated by Israel.

The Palestinian Authority crackdown on Palestinian journalists in the West Bank is also fine as long as Israel is not involved.

Most of the assaults against journalists took place in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas continues to display zero tolerance towards critics or anyone who dares to say something “controversial.”

In the past few weeks, at least 16 journalists from the Gaza Strip were arrested or summoned for interrogation by Hamas authorities in the context of a campaign aimed at intimidating the local media.

Some of the journalists were released only after Hamas forced them to sign a document stating that they would refrain from attending press conferences or covering various activities unless they obtained permission in advance.

The Hamas authorities have also raided the homes of several journalists, confiscating their computers and notebooks.

In some instances, Hamas’s security forces have forced journalists to provide them with their passwords and usernames in order to check their emails.

Following is a list of the names of journalists from the Gaza Strip who have been arrested or interrogated by Hamas in recent weeks: Ashraf Abu Khwaisan, Ala Dawaheed, Amru Dawaheed, Munir al-Munairawi, Mustafa Migdad, Majdi Islim, Juma’ah Abu Shomar, Hisham al-Ju’ub, Muayad Assali, Shadi Shaheen, Muhanad al-Kahlout, Esam Madi, Hussein Abdel Jawwad, Abdel Karim Hijji and Yusef Hammad.

Three other journalists, Khaled Thabet, Mohamed Za’anin and Muthana al-Najjar, were beaten by Hamas policemen and thugs while covering various activities in the Gaza Strip.

In the West Bank, the situation has not been any better for Palestinian journalists and political activists.

Just last week, a Palestinian Authority court sentenced 26-year-old Anas Said Awwad to one year in prison for “insulting” President Mahmoud Abbas on Facebook.

Awwad was found guilty of depicting Abbas as a member of the Real Madrid soccer team.

The man was convicted on the basis of a 50-year-old Jordanian law that bans “extending one’s tongue” against the Jordanian monarch.

The Palestinian Authority often uses this law to punish anyone who posts comments against Abbas or other leaders in Ramallah.

This was not the first time that the Palestinian Authority goes after Palestinians who use Facebook to express their views.

At least three other Palestinians, Nizar Banat, Mamdouh Hamamreh and Jihad Harb have been targeted by Abbas’s security forces for posting critical comments on Facebook.

Over the past week, Palestinian Authority security forces also arrested two journalists, Ala al-Titi and Mohamed Awad.

Safad Nazzal, a Palestinian female activist who criticized the Palestinian Authority for failing to pay more attention to the case of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, has also been arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank.

It now remains to be seen whether Obama and other Western leaders and government officials, as well as human rights groups, will pay attention to the ongoing attempt to silence Palestinian journalists and political activists. Failure to do so will only encourage Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to continue their assaults on freedom of expression.‭‮

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

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?

Visit CifWatch.com.

US Lawmakers in Bolivia to Press for Ostreicher’s Release

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Two members of Congress are in Bolivia to press for the release of an American Jewish businessman who has been jailed there without charges for 18 months.

Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) arrived this week to seek the release of Jacob Ostreicher, a haredi Orthodox father of five and grandfather of 11 from Brooklyn, N.Y., who has been held in Bolivia without formal charges and bail since June 2011.

In a release Thursday, Smith, who has led congressional efforts to win Ostreicher’s release, said that according to Bolivian law, persons may be held without charges for no longer than 18 months.

Last month, authorities arrested seven people, including top government officials, for attempted extortion in the case.

Ostreicher has said since his arrest that corrupt Bolivian officials desired to keep him in jail in order to sell for their own profit the 18,000 metric tons of rice they confiscated from him and to extort him for money in exchange for promises to help get him released.

Begin Told Meet the Press: Partition was Illegal

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Found, an exchange between Begin and Lawrence Spivak on Meet The Press, from December 12, 1948 during his first visit to the United States.

Menachem Begin:

You know, this partition of the country was just imposed on our people. As a matter of fact, when Mister Ben-Gurion, who is now Prime Minister in our country, was in the U.S. during the World War in America, and visited the famous Baltimore Hotel, [he] came out with the so-called “Baltimore Program” which went now into oblivion. And according to that program the whole of Western Palestine, through the Jordan (river), should be turned into a Jewish State.

So as a matter of fact, then I would like to remind you, that when the Balfour Declaration was issued by the British, and when the amendment was approved by the League of Nations, Palestine was considered to be the territory of both sides of the Jordan. I would like even to remind you that the English had an argument with the French when the French would like to take TransJordan for their amendment of Syria and Lebanon. The English told [them] that TransJordan is an integral part of the Jewish national home.

So as a matter of fact, this partitioning of our country is an illegal act! And we are not going to recognize it. If our government will acquiesce in the partition of her country, we are certainly not going to fight it by arms . . .we are not going to fight any government of our people by force. We will fight only on the political field.

Visit My Right Word.

Haredim in Green

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai talks further about the integration of Ultra-Orthodox Jews into the ranks of the Israel Defense Forces. To elaborate, Meir Eisenman, who as one who comes from a Haredi background gives a unique perspective to the situation, joins Yishai. They talk about all aspects of integrating Ultra-Orthodox Jews into the IDF and how it affects both sides of Israeli society. Don’t miss this segment!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Christiane Amanpour at Yishai’s House

Friday, July 20th, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai and Malkah kick off by talking about a special guest that they received in their home in order to interview Yishai and the range of discussion that followed between the guest and Yishai. They move on to the expiration of the Tal Law and how it has contributed to the collapse of the coalition in the Israeli government. At 12:30, Yishai and Malkah begin to discuss the recent trip to Israel by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her views on the American policy in the Middle East along with discussing how Jonathan Pollard will not be released. They end the segment talking about how everything is looking ahead in Israel and how listeners can get involved!

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/tv/radio/jewish-press-radio-with-yishai-fleisher-christiane-hillary-in-israel-and-the-need-to-return/2012/07/20/

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