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July 28, 2015 / 12 Av, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Said Arikat’

Obama: Netanyahu has to Prove He Supports Two State Solution

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Once again at the U.S. State Department briefing on Wednesday, March 25, the issue of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement regarding the feasibility of creating a Palestinian State during the current period of extreme unrest in the region was a topic.

The issue was raised by Bradley Klapper, of the Associated Press. Klapper asked it of Jen Psaki, whose last day it was as the current State Department Spokesperson.

Bradley Klapper of the Associated Press

Bradley Klapper of the Associated Press

Psaki is leaving the State Department. On April 1 she will begin her new position as the White House communications director. Psaki formerly served as a press secretary to then-senator Barack Obama during his first presidential campaign, and worked in the White House as a deputy communications director.

Klapper was piggy-backing on the briefing room lobbyist for the Palestinian Authority, Said Arikat, who writes for Al Quds newspaper.

Arikat said that during President Obama’s press conference on Tuesday with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Obama mentioned “the importance of having a process, a framework, that will lead, ultimately to a two-state solution.”

Arikat.jpgArikat then, as he does so often, prodded for a timetable for a return to the “negotiating table” to impose a Palestinian State on the region.

Psaki, however, demurred, pointing out that Israel had just gone through elections and was in the process of forming its new government. Arikat halfheartedly pushed a bit more, raised several other points ostensibly posed as questions, but barely masking his perpetual attempt to create policy sound bites by repeating words he likes strung together.

At the end of this little soft-shoe duet, AP’s Klapper chooses to pursue Arikat’s point (no doubt to the great delight of Arikat). Klapper referred back to Obama’s Tuesday press conference with Afghanistan’s Ghani. Klapper claimed that the president said he supports the two-state solution, “but that the prime minister thinks otherwise.”

Klapper asked Psaki to explain the government’s understanding regarding Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s position on a two-state solution.

The State Department spokesperson, as if she were already speaking for President Obama, ticked off that Netanyahu made some statements before the election and some after, obviously suggesting that Netanyahu had become inconsistent regarding his support for the creation of a Palestinian State.

Psaki said: “We have to see if there is actually a path to make the hard choices towards negotiations, and we don’t know the answer to that yet. So we’ll be looking for actions and policies that demonstrate genuine commitment.”

Klapper, seeking to clarify Psaki’s diplospeak, suggested that what the president was saying, was that the U.S. government no longer is sure whether Israel’s Netanyahu supports a two-state solution.

And then comes the kicker, with Klapper suggesting what Obama is really saying about Netanyahu’s support for a two-state solution: “He has to prove that, essentially.”

To which Psaki responds: “Correct.”

In a room in which there is rarely, and even then, only briefly, any challenges made to the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to living side by side with Israel in peace and security, or any calls for there to be a cessation of the glorification of terrorism and murder of Israeli citizens, the State Department briefing room instead doubles as a star chamber for the Jewish State.

Your tax dollars at work.

Said Says (Falsely): ‘Israel flooding Gaza with Waste Water’

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Once again Said Arikat of the al Quds newspaper used the bully pulpit of the U.S. State Department briefing room to lobby for aid for the Palestinian Authority. But this time he also slandered Israel with an outright lie, stated as fact. And no one corrected him. Where is the voice of truth in the State Department press corps, let alone the State Department?

On Thursday, Feb. 26, Arikat artfully built on a lie that Israel intentionally flooded Gaza by opening dams in the region. That lie has been conclusively disproven – there are no such dams in southern Israel that could be opened to flood Gaza, even if Israel wanted to to that.

Perhaps sensing that some journalists or even the State Dept. Spokesperson herself might have learned that major media outlets such as AFP, MailOnLine and Yahoo! News had to pull their Israeli dam stories because they were proven false, Arikat reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out another (false and disproven, but older so maybe not so fresh in people’s minds) slander against Israel.

Arikat claimed that Israel was intentionally flooding Gaza “farmland” with waste water.

ARIKAT: Okay. And lastly, the Israelis have flooded the areas – farm areas of Gaza with some waste water and so on. Do you have any comment on that? Are you aware —

MS. PSAKI: With some waste?

Arikat: Yeah, waste water, whatever, I don’t know what they call it.

MS. PSAKI: I can check into those reports.

ARIKAT: Could you check? Yes.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any confirmation of those.

During the huge rains of 2013, Gazan public officials claimed that Israel was flooding Gaza with waste water. Those were disproven decisively as well.
Over the past month there have been record-breaking rain and snow storms throughout the Middle East, resulting in flooding throughout large swathes of  Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Israel and the disputed territories, as well as Gaza.

If Arikat wants to blame someone for flooding in Gaza, no doubt farmers throughout the region will readily join in, but they won’t find a human to blame.

This latest slander of Israel followed yet another plea by Arikat for more funding to the Palestinian Authority. As if that is something a “journalist” should be ever do at all, and certainly not repeatedly as Arikat does, and most certainly not in a State Department press briefing.

ARIKAT: Very quickly. The Secretary called Mahmoud Abbas yesterday. Could you —

MS. PSAKI: He did. I don’t have a readout of that, Said. I’m happy to – we can get you one after the briefing.

ARIKAT: Okay. Are they taking any measures, because of the – the PA is really on the verge of collapse completely?

MS. PSAKI: As we’ve discussed quite a bit in here.

Maybe Arikat has forgotten he is not supposed to be an advocate.

Arikat used to be a United Nations spokesperson for Iraq. Now he is supposed to be a journalist, one who asks questions during the state department press briefings, not one who pleas for more money for the Palestinian Authority or dresses up mendacious claims as mere questions.

Perhaps some official needs to forcefully remind Arikat he is a journalist or else see that he no longer is allowed to claim to be one.

Arab Reporter Lobbies State Dept. for ‘More Aid to PA and Gaza’

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Said Arikat is the Washington, D.C.-based reporter for the Palestinian Arab Al-Quds newspaper. So what? Well, it matters because Arikat has found an amazing pulpit from which he ensures that the Palestinian Arab viewpoint of just about every major event is heard.

Arikat is thus able to have a grossly disproportionate impact on the huge media outlets who are represented in those press briefings, as well as on U.S. officials who staff and monitor them.

How does Arikat do that? He is part of the Washington press corps and a permanent, and extremely voluble fixture in the U.S. State Department daily press briefings.

From that perch, Arikat patiently, painstakingly, day in and day out articulates the Palestinian Authority’s agenda in the guise of questions about the Middle East conflict, shamelessly couched in advocate’s terms, not those of an objective journalist.

The State Department spokespeople typically respond to Arikat as if he were a lovable, goofy child, one they try to humor. But Arikat is ready with his agenda at each session, and he likes to make sure that the points that matter for his purposes are discussed over and over again, sometimes for days at a time. The State Department almost always obliges.

Here’s just one example from a briefing that took place last Thursday.

During the session, Arikat raised an issue that had been discussed earlier in the week: whether Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer had acted inappropriately by not mentioning Sen. John Boehner’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of Congress when Dermer had a meeting with Secretary of State Kerry.

Arikat was following up a series of questions that had already been raised and put completely to rest by Matt Lee, of the Associated Press. Lee acknowledged that the spat over the invitation to Netanyahu had been exhaustively discussed earlier, but he asked about a New York Times article published that day, quoting anonymous sources criticizing Dermer.

Psaki pointed out that she had no idea who the anonymous source was, but assured Lee and everyone else in the room that only official, non-anonymous sources could speak for the State Department’s position. Case closed? Not for Arikat.

This is how that portion of Arikat’s “questioning” went:

ARIKAT: I have a couple question on Israel, but I wanted to ask you about the ambassador. You do believe that what he did was actually breach diplomatic protocol? Did he?

MS. PSAKI: I think we spoke about this pretty extensively last week, Said.

ARIKAT: To hear it again, he did breach diplomatic —

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think we need to repeat it. I think we can point to the —

ARIKAT: Okay. All right. Let me ask you —

MS. PSAKI: — twenty times I said it last week. Go ahead.

Arikat was able to extend a “discussion” regarding a very sore point between the U.S. and Israeli governments, by asking the State Department to comment on accusations against Israel that had already, numerous times, been discussed and dismissed.

Arikat’s technique is simple but quite effective: he keeps circling back to get across his points. As in this example, he is not really asking a question, which is all that reporters are supposed to do in these government press briefings. And yet he gets this prime airtime nearly every single day.

In this particular briefing, however, Arikat did something which should have set off virtual alarm bells even at Foggy Bottom. It says a lot that no one even flinched, because it was Arikat who has gotten away with so much for so long, that it’s simply expected.

Arikat actually lobbied the State Department to increase its funding of the Palestinian Authority. He’s a journalist, remember, not a diplomat. And he’s making his demand for money at a press briefing!

A press briefing is where the government department providing the briefing is supposed to be putting out information on what it is doing and what its positions are – not receiving requests for goodies from supplicants (through their advocates) around the world. Yet no one batted an eyelash.

Here’s the bulk of the conversation, to see the complete exchange, please check the transcript.

ARIKAT: — some Israeli issues. The Israelis today cut off electricity or reduced the electricity to the Palestinian Authority areas, saying that they owe them about $450 million or something to that effect accumulated over the last few years, that of course coming at a time when the Palestinians claim that you have reduced their aid to them by a huge amount, more than 50 percent. Is there anything that you can do perhaps —

MS. PSAKI: Well, first of all, Said, on the second piece, I think I’ve spoken to this several times in here about the fact that reports or claims that we have reduced our aid or changed our aid are not accurate. Our aid is continuing.

On the first piece, I have not seen those reports. I don’t have confirmation of them. I’m happy to talk to our team about it.

ARIKAT: Well, the Israelis, I mean, they announced that the Palestinian Authority said yes, it’s true, they reduced their electricity. Is there something that you can do in this case, perhaps infuse the Palestinian Authority with some emergency funds to deal with this issue?

MS. PSAKI: Well, as you know, we provide a range of funds to the Palestinians. That’s continued. I’ll talk to our team and see if this is an issue that we’re closely tracking.

[Emphasis added.]

Really? That is what a journalist is doing? And the State Department’s response? Oh, we’ll look right into that and see what we can do.

Finally Arikat, ever the advocate, mournfully explains that the Secretary of the Arab League and the Secretary General of the United Nations had both mentioned that day that the situation in Gaza was deteriorating.

Arikat tied those comments to a recent discussion about donor nations not having yet fulfilled their pledges to Gaza. He also suggested that the U.S. had decreased its funding, a point Psaki rejected when she was able to get in a word edgewise. Nonetheless, Arikat essentially pleads the case for additional Gaza funding because – and here he puts on a sad face –  “the new school semester is starting.”

There is not another member of the Washington press corps who wields his position in the briefing room as an advocacy tool. Oftentimes reporters are dogged in their efforts to extract information the State Department spokesperson is choosing not to address head-on, but no reporter consistently advocates a particular nationalistic viewpoint as Arikat does.

And so The Jewish Press plans to have as a semi-regular news feature about Said Arikat and his lobbying from the State Department Press Briefing Room. It will be called “Said Says.” Watch for it.

Rocket Launched at Jerusalem, Fired From Gaza Schools Compound

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Rockets launched at Jerusalem on Sunday, Aug. 24, were “fired from a compound of three schools in Shejaiya” a neighborhood in Gaza, confirmed the IDF Spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.

In response to the terrorists’ launch, the Israel Defense Force targeted the site and achieved a successful hit. The incoming rockets towards Jerusalem were intercepted by Israel’s missile defense system.

It appears the IDF has finally hit upon an effective way of communicating so that it is not always in a defensive role of after-the-fact explaining why it struck a particular target in an area in which civilians either reside or are sheltered, as has happened so many times during this and other conflicts. To wit: they immediately explain the basis for a particular site being targeted.

Now, when Said Arikat of Al Quds newspaper demands the State Department Spokesperson condemn Israel for targeting schools at tomorrow’s State Department press briefing, at least the information is already available as to why that site was struck. It may not deter Arikat or other pathological denouncers of Israel, but at least those willing to seek the facts will have them readily available.

HIGH VOLUME SUNDAY

More than 140 rockets or mortars were fired on Israel from Gaza on Sunday. The ones reaching near Jerusalem were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense missile system, near the city’s northern suburbs of abu Ghosh and Beit Shemesh.

One rocket fired from Gaza on Sunday landed in central Tel Aviv. No injuries or damage was reported.

One location at which Gazan rockets did result in injuries and damage was at the Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza. Three people were injured from that mortar, two seriously. The assault resulted in the Crossing being closed.  Keep that in mind when you hear about the audacity of Israel in preventing the free flow of goods into Gaza.

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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