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Media Myth: “Racist” Israel

21 Mar

pres-miss

Does racism against blacks exist in Israel?

That depends who you ask.

Ten years ago, Yityish “Titi” Aynaw was walking around barefoot in Ethiopia. She then made aliyah and today, the 21-year-old has served as an IDF officer, and was recently crowned Miss Israel.

This week, Titi will be having dinner alongside Barack Obama, sharing their common African heritage, and their common rise to success.

Yet the mainstream media would have you believe that Israel is a racist society that discriminates on the basis of skin color. Consider:

During the first months of his presidency, Obama enjoyed a 60 percent favorable rating among Israelis. Then, after harshly criticizing Israeli construction in Jerusalem, Obama’s popularity in Israel plummeted. The reason? According to Ethan Bronner of the New York Times, it had nothing to do with politics. Appearing on MSNBC’s Hardball (March 8, 2010), Bronner explained that Obama’s low popularity among Israelis was due to “racism.”

For viewers who may have missed it, host Chris Matthews helpfully added: “Because they see it as a black man.”

What a horrific distortion of the truth. Obviously, Obama was just as “black” during his period of huge popularity in Israel; the drop in support was purely a political, not racial, issue.

This “Israel is racist” fantasy was echoed by New York Times’ columnist Roger Cohen (March 15, 2010), who wrote that an Israeli cartoon which depicted “Obama cooking Netanyahu in a pot” was not a symbol of an Israeli politician in hot water, but rather the image of “a black man cooking a white man over an open fire.”

Genuine policy differences may exist, but why does the media shamefacedly interject racist hatred where none exists?

Granted, Ethiopian-Israelis experience some challenges in the form of social inequities, stereotypes, and integrating into Israeli society. But racism? Would “racist Israel” have airlifted tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews – marking the only time in history that blacks have been systematically moved from one country to another in freedom rather than in chains?

This week, when the first black Miss Israel dines with the first black U.S. President, the “let’s bash Israel” media will have a bit harder time concocting the imagery of Israelis as “racist.” But that won’t necessarily stop them from trying.

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The New York Times’ Misnomer of “Non-violent” Palestinian Rock-throwers

17 Mar

pal-stonesThe great advocate of non-violent resistance, Mahatma Gandhi, never threw rocks.

Martin Luther King Jr. never threw rocks.

But according to the New York Times, Palestinians who throw rocks are following the “path of unarmed resistance.”

For its March 17 cover story (“Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start?”), the Times’ Sunday magazine profiled the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh. But not until over 1,000 words into the story does reporter Ben Ehrenreich mention that the “unarmed” resisters routinely throw stones at Israelis. One of the Palestinians quoted explains that “I want to help my country and my village… I can just throw stones.” Another says, “We see stones as our message.”

When it comes to whitewashing Palestinian violence, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

In the West Bank town of Bilin, where Palestinian rioters regularly hurl rocks, Molotov cocktails and burning tires, 170 Israeli soldiers were injured during one 18-month period. So how did the Christian Science Monitor describe this violence? “Peaceful Palestinian Resistance is Paying Off” (February 11, 2010). The Los Angeles Times – under the front-page headline, “Palestinians Who See Nonviolence as Their Weapon” – described how Palestinian weapons consist of innocuous “bullhorn, banners, and a fierce belief” in “peaceful protest” (November 4, 2009). Incredibly, the Times suggests that 170 Israelis were injured after being overwhelmed by bullhorns and banners.

This same media mentality can spin even the most violent Palestinian groups as passive and calm. The Globe and Mail, Canada’s newspaper of record, bought into the false notion that Hamas – best known for perfecting the art of bus bombings, rocket fire and restaurant explosions – has evolved into “ethical,” “truthful,” “pragmatic” peaceniks who advocate “non-violent resistance.” (Patrick Martin, July 7, 2009; Orly Halpern, February 26, 2008)

If anyone had any doubt about whether rock-throwing was perhaps “peaceful,” the events of March 14, 2013 have proved otherwise. Rock-throwing Palestinians hit an Israeli bus, sending shards of glass into the driver’s eyes and causing the bus to go off the road.

As a truck swerved to avoid the bus, a car crashed and became trapped under the truck, resulting in serious injuries to a mother and her three children. One of them, 2-year-old daughter, Adele, is in life-threatening condition.

On a single evening last week, seven people were injured in 10 different rock-throwing attacks. One 10-month-old baby was severely injured by glass fragments to the face.

Over the years, dozens of Israeli civilians have been murdered and maimed by this “innocent” act of “resistance.”

Tragically, the more the media presents Palestinian violence as peaceful, the more Israel is stripped of its license to fight against them – endangering the very foundation of Israeli’s security.

This leaves just one question: Why does the media insist on covering all this up?

Déjà Vu in Gaza?

18 Nov

It’s all so eerily familiar. A war that began a few weeks after Barack Obama’s presidential election. Gazans had been raining hundreds of Qassam rockets onto southern Israeli towns, along with long-range missiles supplied by the mad mullahs of Iran. With just 15 seconds to run into a shelter before impact, the rockets sowed panic in streets and schools. The danger reached ludicrous proportions and it was time to stop playing Islamic Roulette.

Four years ago, Israel launched “Operation Cast lead” to stop the rockets from Gaza. Now here we are again, this time with Operation Pillar of Defense (Amud Anan). Little has changed. On the heels of a U.S. presidential election, nearly 500 rockets have struck Israel from Gaza. One million Israelis are living in bomb shelters and Iranian-made Fajir missiles have put Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and 50 percent of Israel’s population within striking range.

Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system has successfully intercepted another 150 rockets. Yet the system is not fool-proof; dozens of Israelis have been injured and three civilians were killed when a Hamas rocket hit their home in the town of Kiryat Malachi.

For now, people of good will are backing Israel’s right to self-defense. The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of Israel, and the U.S. State Department – with a historically Arabist bent – was unequivocal: “The onus is on Hamas to stop its rocket attacks.” Even traditionally hostile Europeans – perhaps fearing that their own capitals may one day be similarly targeted – are affirming “Israel’s right to live without fear of attack.”

For its part, Israel has decimated over 100 rocket production and launching facilities in Gaza. As well, Israel eliminated arch-terrorist Ahmed Jabari, the commander-in-chief of Hamas terror activity who directed a decade of rockets, bombings, and the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit.

Where all this will end is a terrifying unknown. The Middle East is far more volatile than it was four years ago: Syria is immersed in a bloody civil war; Hizbollah positions have been strengthened in Lebanon; Egypt is now run by the Muslim Brotherhood; anti-government riots have erupted in Jordan; and Iran is four years closer to possessing an atomic bomb.

What can we do?

1) Stay informed, and redouble efforts to assist Israel’s PR effort.

2) Strengthen our commitment to Jewish values.

3) Pray for the welfare of Israeli soldiers and all of Israel’s citizens.

We do not have the option of passively standing by. Israel is in real danger and we need everyone on board. The verse (2-Kings 3:27) implies that if our enemies show great devotion and self-sacrifice for their cause, that obligates us to do the same.

For the purpose of education and activism, here are four key points to know:

(1) CNN reporter shills as a mouthpiece for jihadist terror.

For media monitors, CNN has long been the gargoyle in an already-ugly media crowd. In a variety of ways – whether it’s CNN founder Ted Turner labeling Israeli defensive actions “terror”; or CNN’s Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs, Octavia Nasr, expressing her sadness over the passing of a Hezbollah terror leader; or Palestinian spokeswoman Diana Buttu asserting unchallenged on CNN that Qassam rockets (with their 7,000 metal ball bearings and 20 pounds of TNT) contain “no explosive warhead” – CNN too often seems on the cusp of pro-Palestinian activism.

This time around, CNN seems headed down the same path. A video report by Zain Verjee, the London-based anchor of CNN’s World Report, sounds like she’d be more comfortable on Hamas TV, as she discards all semblance of objectivity and assumes the role of disdainful challenger. Note specifically:

• 0:57 – “How do these air strikes bring peace and quiet?”

• 2:00 – “Fifteen children are wounded – these aren’t targeted operations!”

• 3:46 – “Aren’t you making an already bad situation worse?”

The good news is that Israel has a superb spokesman in Mark Regev, a native of Australia who displays remarkable articulation and composure in the face of these CNN taunts. Keep your eye on CNN and in the meantime, click here to complain about Verjee’s horribly biased video report.

(2) Beyond rockets and planes, this is a Social Media war.

The days are over when terrorists disseminate their hatred via a spooky video cassette sent to Al Jazeera. Today, you can simply “follow” Hamas missile squads on Twitter’s @alqassambrigade, or surf http://www.qassam.ps where you even have the option of selecting your favorite color scheme. More nefariously, Palestinian rocket-launching teams now use Google Earth to select their civilian targets.

Israel has traditionally been behind the curve when it comes to public diplomacy – the infamous “hasbara.” In trying to influence world opinion, the government’s standard mode has been a cacophony of competing – and sometimes contradictory – messages from various spokespeople in the Government Press Office, IDF, Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry.

This time it’s different. Israel is prepared, quick, concise and – believe it or not – “media savvy.” The Ministry of Public Diplomacy is coordinating an aggressive campaign under the banner, “Israel Under Fire.”

The IDF has issued a series of successful viral campaigns, such as a Facebook graphic which depicts the Statue of Liberty and other international landmarks being swamped by missiles. The message: “What would you do?”

After killing terror chieftain Jabari, the IDF immediately posted a YouTube video of the targeted strike. It has been viewed 4 million times, sending an important message to three different audiences:

• A warning to militants in Gaza: “We can get you anywhere, anytime.”

• An appeasing message to the Israeli public: “We will not remain helpless in the face of repeated rocket attacks.”

• A reassurance to those concerned with collateral damage: “We can strike with utmost precision.”

This is a genuine Social Media War. On the heels of the Jabari strike, IDF tweeted a direct warning to his Hamas comrades; Hamas then tweeted back its own threat:

Get involved. Follow the Israel Defense Forces at: Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr. And most importantly: Share!

(3) Bias in the New York Times – what else is new?

The New York Times has dark stains going all the way back to the Holocaust, when its gross under-reporting of events crippled efforts to generate public support for helping to save millions of Jews.

Now in Gaza, the Times is playing loose with the facts. A Times editorial insists that Hamas “has mostly adhered to an informal cease-fire with Israel after the war there in the winter of 2008-09.” Would someone please explain how that jives with the fact that Hamas launched 650 rocket attacks in 2011 and nearly 1,000 this year alone?

Meanwhile, Times’ correspondents Fares Akram and Isabel Kershner profess to be doubtful of events, saying that the Israeli military operation is “in response to what Israel called repeated rocket attacks.” In the eyes of the Times, the launching of hundreds of rockets from Gaza is not a fact, but rather “what Israel called repeated rocket attacks.”

The Times is also uncertain about the nature of Hamas, saying it is “regarded by Israel as a terrorist group sworn to Israel’s destruction.”

According to the Times, only Israel regards Hamas as a terrorist group. Why does the Times ignore that Hamas is also listed as a terrorist group by the European Union, United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, and United Kingdom?

As for the assertion that Hamas is “regarded by Israel as … sworn to Israel’s destruction,” is the Times somehow unaware of the Hamas Charter which cites the destruction of Israel as its primary objective? Does the Times not believe Hamas foreign minister Mahmoud Zahar when he declares: “Nobody among our sons and grandsons will accept Israel as a legal state… Israel is a foreign body. Not in this generation, not in the next generation, will we accept it here”?

So far, we’ve at least been spared the fairy tales from the rocket barrage of four years ago when the Times published the Hamas claim that “We did not intentionally target civilians. We were targeting military bases, but the primitive weapons make mistakes.”

This calls to mind the words of Mark Twain: While there are laws to protect freedom of the press, there are unfortunately none to protect people from the press.

(4) The Pallywood industry of false claims.

When it comes to civilians casualties, no one play it like they do in Gaza. Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic notes how Hamas “prevents the burial, or even preparation of the bodies for burial, until the bodies are used as props in the Palestinian Passion Play. Once, in Khan Younis [Gaza], I actually saw gunmen unwrap a shrouded body, carry it a hundred yards and position it atop a pile of rubble – and then wait a half-hour until photographers showed. It was one of the more horrible things I’ve seen in my life. And it’s typical of Hamas.”

Hamas has taken the initiative in promoting fake casualties. On Twitter, @AlqassamBrigade uploaded the photo of a “Palestinian child wounded in an Israeli air strike.” Astute media monitors noted that in truth, the photo is of a child injured last month in the Syrian civil war.

Meanwhile, AFP/Getty issued a photo of a Palestinian man picking up a doll lying on shattered glass. Was this scene genuine? It’s possible. But with such a rare confluence of elements – the man’s hand a split-second from the pristine doll perfectly positioned in the rubble – logic rejects the likelihood that the photojournalist “just happened” to be down on the floor in perfect position at the precise moment. It’s simply too good to be true.

In a classic case of “fauxtography,”BBC and others posted footage of a “badly injured” man being carried away to safety by five other men. Thirty seconds later the man is shown – miraculously – walking around, healthy as a lark. (See the clip here, and watch till 2:42.)

In the meantime, Hamas has been desperately fabricating achievements: falsely claiming to have hit Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem, to have struck down an Israeli drone, and to have killed several soldiers in a jeep.

To be sure, as Hamas registers more losses in the military confrontation and thus becomes more desperate to win the media war, we can expect more attempts to orchestrate events. As Professor Richard Landes has predicted:

Whether by Israeli accident or Hamas engineering, expect a spectacular civilian massacre in the coming days, followed by an orgy of Pallywood photography, amplified by a compliant Western media, and even greater fury in the streets of the Muslim and Western world. It’s in the Hamas playbook.

Four years ago, the U.N. school in Jabalya, Gaza provided fodder for an alleged massacre (later disproven). This time, expect Hamas to hang on just long enough to score those coveted PR points. After all, events in Gaza appear to be happening all over again.

Truce or Falsehood?

24 Jun

Last week Hamas fired over 100 rockets at Israeli towns before agreeing to a ceasefire.

On Friday, following some more cross-border action, Reuters posted this headline:

Israeli Air Strike Kills Gaza Militant, Breaks Truce

According to Reuters, Israel broke the truce. That would be correct, if not for two key pieces of information:

1) The militant killed in the air strike was, according to Palestinian sources, preparing to fire a rocket at Israel from Gaza. Doesn’t that count as “breaking the truce”?

2) As Reuters reports in the body of the article, the Israeli strike followed the firing of two rockets at Israel earlier in the day from Gaza. If Israel was responding to rocket fire, how exactly does Reuters conclude that Israel “broke the truce”?

Particularly in online news where users get their fix by scanning a list of links, it is imperative that headlines be clear and direct, leaving no confusion over “who did what.”

I recall a few years ago when Associated Press issued this headline: “Rockets Hit Lebanon Despite Cease-Fire.” Readers would presume that Israel had broken a cease-fire by attacking Lebanon. Only those bothering to read the article, however, discovered that the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah had fired 10 Katyusha rockets that accidentally fell short, landing in southern Lebanon – hence the technically-true-but-wildly-deceptive headline, “Rockets Hit Lebanon Despite Cease-Fire.”

Even Israel’s basic counter-terrorist measures are blamed for causing hostilities. When Israel stopped Hamas from building tunnels designed to ferry lethal weapons and kidnap IDF soldiers, the New York Times cited this as evidence of Israel breaking the truce and driving “the cycle of violence to a much higher level.” (“A Gaza Truce Undone by Flaws May be Revived by Necessity,” December 18, 2008)

It’s a world turned upside-down, where Israel is blamed in knee-jerk fashion. Sometimes I think the solution is just to ignore the sophomoric condemnations and do whatever is needed to defend the citizens of Israel. Because if we’re anyway damned if we do, and damned if we don’t… why not “do”?

NY Times Hides the Iranian Threat to Israel – Again

5 Feb

The New York Times reports:

In Tehran, the speech by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made during Friday Prayer and broadcast live to the nation, came amid deepening American concern about a possible military strike on Iran’s nuclear enrichment sites by Israel, whose leaders delivered blunt new warnings on Thursday about what they called the need to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran a threat to its existence. (Robert F. Worth and David E. Sanger, “U.N. Nuclear Inspectors’ Visit to Iran Is a Failure, West Says,” New York Times, February 3, 2012.)

Now why, pray tell, might Israel “consider” a nuclear-armed Iran a threat to its existence?

The Times doesn’t get into specifics, and indeed leaves out a key part of Khamenei’s speech, reported by the Ahlul Bayt (“Holy Household”) Islamic News Agency:

“The Zionist regime is truly a cancerous tumor in the region and it must be, and will be, cut off.”

Why did the Times leave out that key statement, and present this very real threat to Israel as a mere concern?

This is just another one of the many, many patterns of bias the New York Times is perpetrating against Israel. In reporting on Ahmadinejad’s horrific threat that Israel “must be wiped off the map,” the Times has cleverly re-translated the original Farsi into the far milder wish that Israel should “vanish from the pages of time.” (Ethan Bronner, “Just How Far Did They Go, Those Words Against Israel?”, New York Times, June 11, 2006)

Of course, the Times’ mistranslation ignores the fact that the Iranian government has erected billboards with the phrase “Israel should be wiped out of the face of the world” in plain English, and the slogan is painted on Iranian ballistic missiles.

The English section of Ahmadinejad’s own website quotes him as saying that Israel “will be wiped off the map.” (“President Says Zionist Regime of Israel Faces Deadend,” June 3, 2008) And Dariush Rezaiinejad, chief commander of Iran’s Basij militia, has stated clearly: “We have no option but to have the Zionist regime wiped off the map.” (“IRGC Basij: No Choice But to Wipe Out Israel,” Home Daily News – Iran, July 27, 2011)

But all of this has been erased from the New York Times, the increasingly-questionable “newspaper of record.”