The pen is mightier than the sword: A Jerusalem event for pro-Israel activists

On Dec. 10th, CAMERA will be hosting a workshop in Jerusalem for activists who wish to hone their skills in countering and correcting biased media coverage of Israel.  Advanced registration is required, and can be completed here.

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Times of London again falsely alleges Israeli bill will make Arabs 2nd class citizens

As we noted in two posts yesterday, Times of London editors chose a headline for a Nov. 24th article by Gregg Carlstrom which mischaracterized a proposed bill designed to enshrine Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” as one which would make Arabs “second class citizens”.

The article with the erroneous headline – based merely on a characterization of the proposed bill by some critics – appeared in the print and online editions of the paper.

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Times of London print edition, Nov. 24

 

It was also the featured story on the Times of London home page last night.

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Today, Times of London again misled readers by using a similar headline conflating opinion with fact, in a new article by Catherine Philp.

 

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Times of London, Nov. 25

 

Further, under the “Latest News” tab on today’s home page of their site, they again use the erroneous headline.

Recent News

Times of London home page, Nov. 25

 

As we noted previously, under two versions of the bill Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to approve on Sunday, the law – which would need to be approved by the full Knesset – would establish “national rights” for the Jewish people (such as the right of Jews to immigrate to Israel), while maintaining “equal individual rights for all citizens” regardless of religion.

(It’s notable that the Guardian was much more careful in editing Peter Beaumont’s article on the proposed bill, using the accurate headline: ‘Israeli cabinet approves legislation defining nation-state of Jewish people’.)

The Times of London headline appears to be a violation of the accuracy clause of the (UK) Editor’s Code, which demands that the press “must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact”, and we’ll update you when their editors respond to our complaint.

Times of London moves false ‘2nd class Arab citizen’ headline to lead story

As we noted in a post earlier today, Times of London editors chose a headline for an article by Gregg Carlstrom today which leveled a charge not supported by the text, and which mischaracterizes a proposed bill designed to enshrine Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people”.

Times of London, Nov. 24

We noted that under two versions of a bill Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to approve on Sunday, the law – which would need to be approved by the full Knesset – would establish “national rights” for the Jewish people (such as the right of Jews to immigrate to Israel), while “equal individual rights for all citizens” would be protected.  

Though the headline was possibly inspired by a stray comment by Yair Lapid, Netanyahu’s minister of finance, who used language echoing the “second class citizen” charge, an accurate headline can not pass off as fact an accusation which is only claimed by some – at least without quotes or some other qualifier.

Recently, we checked the Times of London again, to see if – after our complaint to the paper – they modified the misleading headline.

However, upon glancing at the the home page we noticed that the story is actually now featured on the home page.

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Times of London home page, Nov. 24 (13:30 GMT)

In addition to the extremely misleading headline, note that the story is even more muddled by the photo choice. The Reuters image illustrates a lone (context-free) transitional passage, about half way through the article, about a Palestinian killed by Israeli forces after ignoring multiple warnings while approaching the Gaza border.

Times of London readers who go to the home page of their site are now treated to two of the top memes about the region within the UK media: Israeli racism and Palestinians killed by Israelis – and, due to poor editorial decisions, are now likely to be under the erroneous impression that there’s a “plan” to make Arabs second class citizens.

 

Times of London claims (as fact) Israeli bill will ‘make Arabs 2nd-class citizens’

In early August, amidst the fighting in Gaza, we demonstrated that a headline used by Times of London editors in an article by Gregg Carlstrom included a charge – that Israel “admitted” to violating a truce with Hamas – which wasn’t accurate, and (just as importantly) wasn’t even minimally supported by the subsequent text.  

Following our communication with newspaper editors, they eventually revised the headline accordingly.

Today, editors again chose a headline for an article by Carlstrom which leveled a charge not supported by the text, and which mischaracterizes a proposed bill designed to enshrine Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people”.

headline

In fact, the article actually notes that – under the version of a bill Binyamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to approve on Sunday – “equal individual rights for every citizen” will reportedly continue to be protected, and that the law is specifically designed to establish “national rights” for the Jewish people, such as the right of every Jew to immigrate to Israel. 

In fairness, it was reported on other new sites that a few opposition voices in Israel’s Knesset claimed the bill would have the effect of turning Arab Israelis into “second class citizens”, and the term was used in the article by Carlstrom in the sentence in bold below:

Mr Lapid, who heads the centrist Yesh Atid party, called it “a bad law, which is badly worded”. After voting against the bill, his faction held an emergency meeting to discuss further steps.Mr Lapid said that the bill would alienate Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up about 20 per cent of the population. They enjoy equal rights under the law, but in practice have long been subject to discrimination.Last week the mayor of Ashkelon tried to ban Palestinian construction workers from schools, a move met with derision. “This morning I spoke with the family of Zidan Saif,” Mr Lapid said, referring to a police officer from the Druze sect who was killed in a shootout with the synagogue attackers. “What can we say to this family? That he is a second-class citizen?”

However, if the sub editor responsible for the headline extracted the “second class citizen” charge from the comment by Lapid, it’s highly misleading to readers.  An accurate headline can not pass off as fact – without quotes or some other qualifier – an accusation which is only claimed by some. (Note that the Accuracy clause of the UK Editor’s Code demands that the Press “must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact”.)

We have contacted Times of London editors to request a revision of the headline, and will update you when we receive a reply.

Indy buries the lead on Arab Jerusalemite support for synagogue massacre

The mayor of Ashkelon is already backtracking, after rightfully coming under fire from politicians across the political spectrum, from his pledge to fire Arab workers installing bomb shelters in city kindergartens.  Mayor Itamar Shimoni, who issued the threat after Tuesday’s deadly terror attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, admitted his decision was “disproportionate”, and that he has agreed to allow Arab laborers to continue working at the sites.

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Cover of Israel newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth the day following the synagogue massacre

 

Though Ben Lynfield’s report on the row in The Independent, titled, ‘Synagogue attack: Israeli mayor accused of racism after suspending 30 Arab workers for ‘security’ reasons‘, was straight forward enough, there was an extraordinary sentence buried without comment in the second paragraph:

The step by Itamar Shimoni, mayor of the coastal city of Ashkelon, comes after a wave of attacks, mostly in Jerusalem, triggered largely by the Palestinian perception of an Israeli threat to al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site. The synagogue assailants are widely viewed in Arab East Jerusalem as “martyrs” who acted in defence of the mosque. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will not make changes in the mosque compound, sacred to Jews as the Temple Mount. But provocative visits by right-wing Israeli politicians have more weight in Arab eyes than the premier’s declarations.

 Is this an accurate statement by Lynfield? Do Arabs in east Jerusalem – most of whom are permanent Israeli residents – support the Palestinian terrorists who butchered innocent Jews (while they were at prayer at synagogue) with axes and knives?

If such a perverse, morally indefensible view is indeed held by a large segment of “Arab East Jerusalem”, let us humbly suggest to the Indy that perhaps such a disturbing phenomena might be of greater news value in the context of helping readers understand the region than the short-lived racist pronouncement of one solitary mayor. 

CiF Watch reader fact-checks Telegraph claim; achieves positive result

A CiF Watch follower on Facebook named Rafi recently contacted us concerning an article in The Telegraph in late September which included the erroneous claim (in the strap line) that an El-Al flight was delayed “for hours” because of disruptions by Ultra-orthodox Jews”.

How did he determine the error? Well, he did some basic fact-checking by searching for the departure and arrival times on El-Al’s Live Flight Tracker. As it turns out, the flight departed 24 minutes late and arrived 14 minutes late compared to the previous 7 day average.

Here’s the graphic he created to illustrate the error.

telegraph false claim

Rafi pointed out that the story was the most read article on that day and later for the entire week – per the area circled in the graphic.

After multiple attempts by Rafi to get the claim revised, Telegraph editors eventually did change the strap line and removed the erroneous claim.

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Rafi added that they never posted a correction or acknowledged the error, but “just edited it on the sly”.

As CiF Watch counts on such vigilance by our many fans in keeping the media honest, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you spot a factual error at the Guardian (or elsewhere in the UK media).

You can email us at contactus@cifwatch.com, or like our Facebook page and send us a message.

(To those of you in Israel, here’s information on an upcoming CAMERA workshop for activists who want to hone their skills to counter and correct biased media coverage of Israel.)

Peter Sellars in the Guardian: “Nobody is allowed to discuss Palestine”

The word “censorship” generally refers to cases where “an instrument of government” uses the power of state to prevent citizens from exercising their right to free expression in the arts, politics or in the media.

Often, however, the debate about this important subject gets blurred by unserious assertions about the West’s supposed ‘creeping descent’ into censorship, sometimes after a theater company or cinema decides not to show a controversial play or film, or merely because the production is the subject of a peaceful protest or mild rebuke.

A Nov. 20 column by playwright Peter Sellars (in the Opera section of the Guardian) calls upon this hyperbolic tradition by conflating mere criticism with outright suppression.

opera

Sellars helped create the original opera The Death of Klinghoffer and directed its first performance – an opera based on the 1985 hijacking of a cruise ship, in which a wheelchair-bound Jewish man was shot in the head by a Palestinian terrorist before being thrown overboard. And, Sellars devotes most of his Guardian article to the controversy surrounding the recent New York Metropolitan Opera production of this opera.

After lamenting how putatively fragile free speech is in America today, Sellars gets to the point:

Nearly 30 years ago, the passenger liner Achille Lauro was hijacked by Palestinians, who murdered and threw overboard an American Jew called Leon Klinghoffer. The story occupied the news for two weeks, then disappeared. What was the story of the century that preceded this? What was its aftermath in real terms? 

John Adams took up this challenge in 1991 with his opera The Death of Klinghoffer. Opera has always spoken to a cross-section of society. Its roots lie in Greek dramas, which were about the most difficult and dangerous topics, recognising that we can only face them if we face them as one.

Looking at something does not mean you’re endorsing it. One can abhor an event, yes, but one also needs to understand it.

He then turns to his central thesis:

Yet the US today is coming close to censorship.

Now, to his larger point about “Palestine”:

Nobody is allowed to discuss Palestine. Nobody is allowed to mention Palestinians, much less depict them. Most Americans have no idea about the history of Palestinians, or what their situation is now. When The Death of Klinghoffer was staged at New York’s Metropolitan Opera last month, it was picketed – and exploited – by extreme special-interest groups who had no interest in the actual opera, or indeed any opera.

First, the Opera was not cancelled by The Met, so it’s unclear what precisely is being censored.

More broadly, the assertion that “nobody is allowed to discuss Palestine” or “mention Palestinians” is so cut off from reality that it rises to the level of parody.

Indeed, the issue of Palestine is of course nothing short of an obsession at international bodies like the UN, and within much of the Western news media, and to claim just the opposite – that there is a dearth of conversation about Palestine and Palestinians – represents an astounding inversion of reality. 

Simply because The Death of Klinghoffer was criticized and was the object of a peaceful protest campaign – by those exercising their own right to free expression – doesn’t mean “you can’t discuss Palestine”.

It only means that you can’t expect to be immune from criticism when doing so. 

CiF Watch prompts correction to false claim that Western Wall is Judaism’s holiest site

ww2An Oct. 23, 2013 story in The Telegraph by Dina Rickman titled ‘Meet the Women of the Wall: Israel’s answer to Pussy Riot included the claim that the Western Wall in Jerusalem is the holiest site in Judaism. 

Later that day, we contacted Telegraph editors and alerted them to the mistake.

We demonstrated that the Temple Mount (where the First and Second Temples stood) is in fact the holiest site in Judaism, while the Western Wall (The Kotel) is merely the holiest site where Jews are currently permitted to pray.  We forwarded them information relating to other news sites which corrected their original false claims about the Western Wall (many of which were prompted by communications with CAMERA), as well as a 2008 BBC correction to their false claim.

Telegraph editors responded positively to our complaint, informing us that they had corrected the piece accordingly, noting that the Western Wall is merely “the holiest site in the Jewish world where Jews are permitted to pray”.

Unfortunately, The Telegraph published an article just yesterday with another false claim about the the Western Wall.

A Nov. 18th article by Rob Pinfold (titled “Synagogue axe attack: why has violence surged in Jerusalem?) included the following sentence:

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Original passage in The Telegraph article, via a snapshot from Google

 

We contacted Telegraph editors today to alert them to the error, and they quite admirably revised the passage to again more accurately reflect the status of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. 

Here’s the revised passage:

after

It’s important to stress that the religious significance of the Temple Mount represents more than a mere detail in the context of UK media reporting on the current Palestinian violence.  

As we’ve noted previously, not only have some foreign journalists covering the situation in Jerusalem been imputing extremism to Jews who peacefully campaign for the right to pray at the Temple Mount, but there is occasionally even the suggestion that such religious Jews are ‘provocatively’ encroaching on a purely Muslim holy site.  Thus, some readers may be left with the impression that recent Palestinian violence can at least partly be explained as an (understandable) reaction to this encroachment on ‘their’ sacred site. 

Exposing and combating such falsehoods about ‘root causes’ of violence in the region represents one of the primary objectives of this blog. 

Economist refers to Jews wanting to pray at the Temple Mount as “militants”

In a great example of the media’s use of language to blur moral differences within the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, The Economist expanded the common understanding of the word “militant” – a word fancied by those fearing “terrorist” is too judgmental a term for those committing violence for political ends – to include Jews wanting to peacefully pray at Judaism’s holiest site.

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From left to right per The Economist: Palestinian militants, and Jewish militants

An article published on Nov. 17th titled ‘The trouble at the Mountincluded the following passage:

THE Temple Mount in Jerusalem is one of the world’s most explosive bits of real-estate. It has started to rumble again in recent weeks, with demands by Jewish militants to extend prayer rights, riots by Palestinians and the killing of several Israelis in knife or car-ramming attacks.

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Former UK minister Warsi tweets ‘morally indefensible’ equivalence in Jerusalem terror attack (Update)

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was Minister of State for Faith and Communities, until her resignation after disagreeing with David Cameron’s position on the war in Gaza, a policy she described as “morally indefensible” in its support for Israel.  

The row over her resignation was widely (and quite sympathetically) covered by the Guardian. 

Here’s Warsi’s Tweet this morning in response to today’s terror attack, in which Palestinian terrorists massacred Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in Jerusalem.

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Guardian erases “Palestinians” from Reuters story on Jerusalem terror attack

At least five Israelis were killed and eight wounded Tuesday morning when Palestinian terrorists armed with knives, axes and guns began attacking Jews in a Jerusalem synagogue during morning prayers.  The terrorists, who were reportedly shouting “Allahu Akbar” during the attack, were eventually shot and killed by police.

The Guardian’s first report on the incident was a Reuters story which they posted at roughly 9 AM Israeli time.

First, here’s a snapshot of the original story, as it appeared on Reuters’ website, titled ‘Up to five dead in suspected Palestinian attack on Jerusalem synagogue‘.

reuters

However, as you can see, the Guardian’s version (Deadly attack in Jerusalem synagogue) deleted the word “Palestinian” from the headline.

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CiF Watch suggestions for Palestinians who want to ‘ease tensions’ in Jerusalem

Though Benjamin Netanyahu, John Kerry and Jordan’s King Abdullah met recently to address the “recent surge of violence in Jerusalem”, the herds of independent minds in the UK media have essentially settled on a narrative to explain the “tension” in the holy city: that demands by some Jews for prayer rights at the Temple Mount incite Palestinians, thus increasing tension and violence. 

Whilst even beyond the UK media, most opinion leaders have narrowly focused on what Israeli leaders can do to calm the situation in Jerusalem and prevent an escalation, we here at CiF Watch tend to fancy the progressive notion that Palestinians possess moral agency, and therefore have a role to play in any plan to address rising tensions. 

So, inspired by a recent post at a site known for its decidedly unconventional take on the news, here’s our list of ways Palestinians can “ease the tension” in Jerusalem.

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Guardian omits key context in quote by Israel spokesman about Mads Gilbert

Mads Gilbert is a Norwegian doctor, commentator and “radical Maoist politician” who openly supported the “moral right” of Al Qaeda to murder thousands of Americans on 9/11.

Mads Gilbert

Gilbert was also one of the authors of a letter published in the medical journal Lancet during the Gaza war which accused Israel of intentionally “massacring” Palestinian women and children. The journal’s editor later apologized for the letter, explaining that it “did not convey the level of complexity that is the reality in Israel.”

More recently, Gilbert was in the news after he was banned ‘for life’ from entering Israel.

Though the Guardian and Independent both covered Gilbert’s banning, a look at the way in which they cited a quote from the Israel Foreign Ministry about Gilbert is quite revealing.

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Hamas official’s Guardian op-ed includes lie that the group is NOT antisemitic

No, an op-ed published in the Guardian on Nov. 14th (Judge Hamas by the measures it takes for its people) was not the first time a Hamas member was granted a forum by the media group.  

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Guardian, Nov. 14th

 

Over the past couple of years the Guardian has published commentaries by the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, Musa Abumarzuq, Hamas’s ‘Prime Minister’ Ismail Haniyeh, their head of international relations Osama Hamdan, and advisor Azzam Tamimi.

However, what stands out in the piece by Ahmed Yousef (senior political adviser to Ismail Haniyeh), which attempts to rebrand the Islamist terror group as a benign democratic political movement, is a claim in the following passage, which follows a risible defense of their (evidently misunderstood) racist charter.

Were pundits to truly scrutinise Hamas’s actions since its inception, they would find not a single official statement or position that is based on denigrating another faith, certainly neither Judaism nor Christianity. Nor can anyone produce a shred of evidence that Hamas formally encourages prejudice against anyone’s ethnicity.

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What the Guardian won’t report: The role of incitement in fomenting terrorism

Despite the recent briefing for foreign reporters by Yossi Kuperwasser of the Israel Strategic Affairs Ministry on the role of Palestinian incitement in the recent wave of riots and terror in Jerusalem, we don’t expect journalists to deviate from their normal script which effectively blames Jewish prayer right activists for the Palestinian violence.

For those interested in learning more about this rarely covered and extremely dangerous phenomenon, here’s the slide show given by Kuperwasser to reporters, which includes examples of Palestinian officials glorifying terror, demonizing Jews and denying Jewish history.

(Youtube videos weren’t successfully embedded into the slide. So, you’ll need to click on the Youtube links to open a new page.)