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December 17, 2014 / 25 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Said Arikat’

Arab Journalist ‘Lobbyist’ at State Department Press Briefings

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Said Arikat is the Washington, D.C. bureau reporter for Al Quds Daily newspaper, which is based in Jerusalem. He is a constant figure at the U.S. State Department daily press briefings. Regular observers of those press briefings will note that Arikat continuously badgers whichever state department press spokesperson is presiding to adopt the Palestinian Arab narrative of events, and to reject Israel as ever doing anything other than committing war crimes.

The State Department press briefing on Thursday, July 31, provides a perfect example of Arikat’s hectoring the spokesperson to adopt the narrative he is always promoting.

Marie Harf, the Deputy Spokesperson was at the podium on Thursday, and, as is the case so often, but especially when there is a war going on between Israel and any Arab entity, Arikat was relentless. As, indeed, were several other reporters, but Arikat is uniquely dogged.

First, Arikat took issue with the statement that there were rockets stored in UNRWA facilities, which might conceivably justify Israel’s shelling of any such buildings.

QUESTION: Are you saying Hamas is storing rockets at UN facilities?

QUESTION: Let – sorry.

MS. HARF: We have seen – yes, Said. We have seen –

QUESTION: What? Where is it?

MS. HARF: We have seen Hamas storing rockets in UN schools.

QUESTION: At UN facilities?

MS. HARF: Yes, we have. We’ve talked a couple times about UNRWA finding the –

QUESTION: Well, I’ve never heard of rockets being stored at UN facilities, but (inaudible).

MS. HARF: Said – Said, UNRWA came out twice in the past two weeks and said they had found caches of Hamas rockets in their schools. We talked –

QUESTION: Right. But they’re not rocketing them.

MS. HARF: They are storing rockets in them.

QUESTION: Okay. So that’s a different (inaudible).

Really? Is it possible that someone who is constantly present at State Department briefings and who writes for a newspaper based in the region in which the fighting is taking place is not aware that the U.N. itself has admitted to finding Hamas rockets in its facilities, and has made public photographs of the rockets stored in UN schools?

Arikat gives up relatively quickly on this point, but he remains ever vigilant to press the point of Israel bad, Palestinian Arabs good, poor victims of Israeli aggression.

In the following exchange, Arikat tries to lull Harf into acknowledging that because the numbers of casualties is so lopsided between Israel and Gaza, it must mean Israel is not listening to the United States which has told the Israelis to be more careful about avoiding harm to civilians.

MS. HARF: Yes, Said.

QUESTION: Marie, on the issue of condemnation, you’re not backtracking? You’re not walking back from using the word “condemn?” Because yesterday –

MS. HARF: I think I actually went further today, Said.

QUESTION: No, I understand. I just want to understand you clearly, because yesterday, you did not assign blame. Today, you seem to be certain as to who is responsible.

MS. HARF: There is not a lot of doubt, yes.

QUESTION: So you condemn Israel for shelling that school, correct?

MS. HARF: I just made very clear at the beginning that we condemn the shelling of the school and that there’s not a lot of doubt about whose artillery it was.

QUESTION: Okay. And now you also said that Israel is doing all it can or it’s doing all it can – yes, that’s – I think that’s what you said.

MS. HARF: That’s not what I said.

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: I said they could do more.

QUESTION: Israel –

MS. HARF: It’s the opposite of what I said, actually.

QUESTION: Okay. Israel is doing something to minimize civilian casualties –

MS. HARF: They are, but we believe they could do more.

QUESTION: – while the – while on the other side, those who are firing rockets are not taking that into consideration. Do you know how many civilian – Israeli civilians were killed by these rockets versus how many civilians were killed by artillery and bombing of Israel?

MS. HARF: I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, but I do know they are fairly lopsided, yes.

QUESTION: Okay. They’re fairly lopsided, so Israel is not really taking your counseling or your – for them to take caution or to –

MS. HARF: We believe they should take more steps.

QUESTION: – as indicated the school –

MS. HARF: We believe they should take more steps.

QUESTION: – because they were warned 17 times.

MS. HARF: And we will keep telling them –

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. HARF: – they should take more steps, Said.

QUESTION: All right. Let me just quickly follow up on –

MS. HARF: Yep. And then Elise, you’re next.

QUESTION: – the issue of the humanitarian issue. UNRWA is saying that Gaza is on the verge of collapse. There is no power. There is no water. The hospitals are not working, or working on a very minimal power supply. Everything is falling apart. Are you concerned that we are maybe on the verge of a huge human catastrophe there?

MS. HARF: Well, I certainly believe that there is a huge humanitarian issue in Gaza right now. This is exactly why we want a humanitarian cease-fire in place, so we can get medicine, we can get supplies, but also so we can have some time and space to negotiate a longer-term, more lasting cease-fire, like we’ve talked about, which will the thing that ultimately helps the most with the humanitarian situation –

QUESTION: At the present time –

MS. HARF: – if we could stop the fighting.

It is absolutely galling to read and watch the video of the press briefings every day and see how several of the reporters - Arikat being the most consistent, and usually the most brazen - attempt to force words condemning Israel into the State Department’s mouth.

Arikat is also is the ringleader who regularly attempts to paint Israel as the sole player in need of reprimand and harsh punishment by the United States. And then, of course, he and the reporters jump on their computers, tap out lopsided news stories about Israel and Gaza, and they just got to create the news, report the news and convert the “news” into truth.

No wonder Israel consistently looks terrible in the media.

State Dept Press Corps Angry ‘Israel is Pushing Pollard Release’

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

In Tuesday’s daily press briefing conducted by the State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, several members of the media insinuated that it was Israel that raised the issue of Jonathan Pollard’s release from prison, as a condition for continuing the U.S. mediated “peace process” negotiations currently underway.

In fact, in a briefing that lasted less than 35 minutes, more than a third of the time was spent on the issue of Jonathan Pollard, and every one of the questions asked by the State Department press corps appeared to be an effort to convince the State Department that what they all characterized as an Israeli effort to get Pollard released was an outrage.

It was the first set of questions that was raised, it was the penultimate set of questions, and the questions were raised by no fewer than five different journalists, representing media outlets from across the globe.

Throughout the questioning, Harf maintained a solid line of no comment. She refused to comment on whether Pollard’s release was a matter under discussion during the “peace talks.”

The one definitive statement made repeatedly by Harf was “the President has not made a decision to release Jonathan Pollard.”

But several extraordinary things happened during the press conference, that is, extraordinary in addition to what seemed to be a united front by the journalists who were cross-examining the State Department spokesperson as to why would the U.S. buckle under a demand from Israel to release a convicted spy.

First, a significant comment made by Harf was deleted from the official transcript. That deletion specifically appeared to confirm for the journalists that Israel was the party which had raised the release of Pollard, rather than, as was the general sense in the Israeli media, that it was the U.S. who raised the issue in a desperate attempt to keep the “peace talks” alive.

Reproduced below, is the first relevant section of the transcript of Tuesday’s briefing. Even before this question, it should be noted, the journalist asking this first series of questions claimed that it was Abbas who cancelled the meeting with Secretary of State Kerry, not the other way around, as it has been generally reported.

QUESTION: (at 2:55) Do you want to give us some kind of readout on how it was that the Pollard release was put back up on the table? I know there’s been a lot of conflicting information over the last week, when these reports first surfaced in the Israeli press. We’d like a little clarification on exactly when and why and how, and whether or not Pollard’s release is still on the table, given that Abbas looks like he – that is what’s making him negative on the process right now. (at 3:23)

MS. HARF: (at 3:24) Well, a few points on that. First, the President has not made a decision to release Jonathan Pollard. I want to be very clear about that. Jonathan Pollard was convicted of espionage and is serving his sentence. I don’t have any further update on his status to provide today. In terms of this being a topic, (at 3:38)

THIS IS WHERE THE AUDIOTAPE OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE AND THE TRANSCRIPT DIFFER DRAMATICALLY.  WHAT HARF SAID AS REVEALED IN THE AUDIOTAPE, THOUGH IT DOES NOT APPEAR IN THE TRANSCRIPT AT ALL, IS:

it should be uh no surprise that the Israelis have frequently raised Jonathan Pollard in our discussions, uh, uh, throughout the peace process or at large, but I’m not going to get (at 3:50)

AND THEN THE TRANSCRIPT AND THE AUDIOTAPE RESUME TRACKING:

(at 3:51) into any of the details of the discussions that they’ve had with Secretary Kerry.

State Dept Press Corps Shows Israel’s Safety Irrelevant

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

If rockets are fired into Israel but no one in the U.S. State Department press corps mentions it, did it really happen?

Well, we do know that four katyusha rockets were fired from southern Lebanon into Israel on Thursday afternoon, August 22, and that some of them crossed into Israeli territory.

We also know that one of those rockets was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, that another landed in a kibbutz, and that another landed somewhere in the Western Galilee.  Although some damage was caused, no one was injured from the attacks.

Warning sirens were heard throughout the north of Israel, and the airspace over northern Israel was closed for a time following the rocket attacks.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson, said in a statement: “This reinforces the threat faced by the civilians of Israel on all fronts. Such act of aggression is a clear attempt to target and terrorize the civilian communities of northern Israel, a situation that would not be tolerated anywhere else in the world. The IDF will continue to operate against those who seek to harm the civilians of this country.”

But during the course of the 45 minute daily press briefing given Thursday by U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, no one in the press corps thought the firing of four rockets towards Israel from Lebanon, a front in the region that has, so far, been relatively quiet during Syria’s explosion and Egypt’s implosion, was worth even a question.

That is not to say that the issue of Israel was not brought up.  No, several questions about Israel were asked during Thursday’s briefing.  It’s just that the only issue of concern was the “peace talks.”

Said Arikat, the Washington Bureau Chief of Al Quds newspaper, asked Psaki whether there were any updates on the talks.  Psaki merely referenced her comments from the prior day’s briefing.   Arikat’s was the second to last issue brought up during the briefing.

Arikat can be counted on to consistently raise issues of concern to Arab Palestinians during the daily briefings.  There are no reporters who raise issues of concern to Israel, or ask questions from an Israeli perspective. Arikat is probably the second most voluble reporter in the state department’s daily briefings, AP’s Matt Lee being the dominating force.

IAF STRIKES BACK

Shortly before this article was published, it was learned that the Israeli Air Force struck the location in Lebanon from which the rockets had been shot.  The strike was successful and all pilots returned to Israel without incident, according to a statement from the IDF spokesperson. It will be interesting to see if what will surely be labeled “Israeli aggression” is discussed at tomorrow’s briefing.

Arikat tweeted his response to the IAF retaliatory strike: “Israel does what it does best: bomb the hell out of Lebanon yr after yr redundantly & with impunity,” linking to a story about the strike.

THIS ARTICLE WAS UPDATED TO CHANGE THE WORD MISSILE TO ROCKET WHEN MISSILE WAS MISTAKENLY USED IN THE THIRD PARAGRAPH.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/state-dept-press-corps-shows-israels-safety-irrelevant/2013/08/23/

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