New Year’s Resolutions We’d Like the Media to Make

 

Here’s a list of New Year’s resolutions for the media our friends at CAMERA compiled.

1. Stop misreporting on Gaza.

Gaza is not occupied, not a “prison camp” and the people are allowed to fish. The Palestinians in Gaza rank above average in the Arab world by all indicators: health care, immunizations, education, nutrition, longevity, and low childhood mortality. Israel withdrew every last soldier, civilian and interred body from Gaza in 2005, the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza is legal and Israel does not control all of Gaza’s borders – Gaza has a border with Egypt which Egypt controls. Hamas rules the Gaza Strip and responsibility for any suffering on the part of its residents lies primarily with the terrorist organization.

2. Stop calling Mahmoud Abbas a “moderate”.

Since succeeding Yasser Arafat as Palestinian Authority president and leader of Fatah, Abbas almost invariably has been described as a “moderate.” This, despite the fact that Abbas, Arafat and a few colleagues founded Fatah in 1959 to “liberate” Israel, not the West Bank (then occupied by Jordan) or the Gaza Strip (then held by Egypt); that Abbas continues to incite his people against Israel; that he refuses to even negotiate with Israel; and that Abbas published his doctoral thesis as a book, “The Other Side: The Secret Relationship between Nazism and the Zionist Movement,” which denied the severity of the Holocaust and claimed “a secret relationship between Nazism and the Zionist movement.” His PA TV and other media outlets continue to praise terrorist killers as “heroes” and describe Israeli cities as part of “Palestine.” What is moderate about this?

3. Call terrorists “terrorists,” not “militants”.

Terrorism, defined by the U.S. Law Code, Title 22, Chapter 38, Paragraph 2656 f(d) and used in the State Department’s annual reports to Congress is “… premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents….” The Department of Defense definition recognizes that terrorism is a crime: “The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear, intended to coerce or intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious or ideological.” “Militant,” on the other hand, is undefined by American law and its consensus usage journalistically – militant unionist, militant environmentalist, militant vegetarian – is as an adjective. It suggests vehemence and persistence but not illegal violence. Farmers farm, lawyers practice law, and terrorists commit terrorism – they don’t advocate causes.

4. Report accurately on the security barrier.

The security fence is a nonviolent way to reduce terrorism and it has been extremely effective in saving lives – both Jewish and non-Jewish. It was constructed in response to the second “intifada” and has significantly reduced terror attacks originating from the West Bank. It does not “completely surround Bethlehem”, it is not “a wall” nor an “iron curtain. Furthermore, there are security and separation barriers all over the world that get no criticism – or coverage – whatsoever.

5. Report that it is the Palestinian Arabs – not Israel – who refuse to negotiate peace.

While Israel has repeatedly invited Palestinian leaders to return to the negotiating table for peace talks, they have insisted they won’t do so unless Israel first satisfies their preconditions. Even after Israel in 2009 announced a 10-month moratorium on new settlement construction, Mahmoud Abbas avoided talks until just weeks before the moratorium was set to expire. And when the moratorium did expire, he again spurned negotiations.

6. Report on the constant incitement to hatred of Jews and Israel in Palestinian media, schools and the public square.

Major media have failed over many years to report accurately, consistently and with due prominence the pervasive and genocidal rhetoric against Israel and the Jewish people. Blood libel, the false accusation that Jews murder children, is a favorite theme of Arab media, used as the story line for comedy sketches and dramatic programming. Palestinian Media Watch has documented numerous instances of Palestinian Authority dehumanization and vilification of Jews and Israelis. And does this incitement have any effect? According to Abdelghani Merah, his brother perpetrated the Toulouse massacre early last year because he was exposed to “hatred, racism and anti-Semitism … from a very young age.”

7. Report on the Jewish refugees from Arab lands.

The media report frequently about Palestinian refugees, but of the 850,000 Jews living in Arab countries who were dispossessed and forced out between 1947 and 1972, almost nothing is said. Ancient Jewish communities had existed in Arab countries for millennia until the Arab League defined all Jews as enemies of the state in 1947. State-sanctioned violence, arbitrary arrests, and forced expulsions followed. Arab governments confiscated billions of dollars of Jewish property. The total area of land seized from these Jews is five times the size of the state of Israel. While CAMERA has detailed the story of Jewish refugees from Arab countries extensively (see hereherehere, and here), few major media outlets cover the issue.

8. Shed the false narrative that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the heart of all the problems in the Middle East.

The phrases “the Middle East conflict” and “the Middle East peace process,” as applied to Israeli-Palestinian affairs, always have been more exaggerations than synonyms. The Iran-Iraq war and Algerian civil war are examples of inter-Arab bloodshed that dwarfs the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Others include the Lebanese civil wars from 1975 to 1990, with hundreds of thousands of casualties and Syria’s annihilation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama in 1982, with an estimated 10,000-40,000 fatalities. Today, a bloody civil war rages in Syria with over 60,000 dead and tens of thousands more wounded. Of course, the “Arab Spring” demonstrated clearly that turmoil in the Middle East frequently has nothing whatever to do with Israel.

9.  Report on the real suffering of women, homosexuals, religious and ethnic minorities in Arab and Muslim countries.

Women’s rights are grossly constrained in Arab countries, where so-called “honor killings” are still common and largely unpunished.Gay Iranians, if caught, face execution. Gays in Saudi Arabia, if arrested, face, at best, flogging or imprisonment. In Gaza, homosexual acts are illegal and punishable by up to ten years in prison. Palestinian Christians, like other religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East, are the target of mistreatment, harassment and in some instances, violent oppression at the hands of their Muslim neighbors.

10Report that both the Hamas charter and Fatah constitution call for the destruction of Israel.

The Hamas charter calls for Jihad against Israel and dismisses any political solution. “Israel will exist, and will continue to exist, until Islam abolishes it,” reads an introductory quote on the document. It also asserts genocidally that that Hamas’ battle with the Jews extends beyond Israel. The constitution of the Fatah movement also calls for the “complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence” through violence, and similarly dismisses political solutions.

11. Stop suggesting that Israel’s democracy is under threat.

At this very moment, the Syrian regime is murdering its own citizens. Lebanon is run by a terrorist group, Hezbollah. Jordan is an absolute monarchy that recently revoked the citizenship of thousands of residents of Palestinian descent. Gaza is run by Hamas, a terrorist group that hasn’t had elections in years and the West Bank is run by a corrupt kleptocracy whose term also expired years ago and continues to hold office illegally. These governments are truly embattled and their citizens suffer, yet Israel’s internal politics attracts the lion’s share of media scrutiny and, usually, criticism.

12. Focus less on Israel.

If the media were not obsessed with hectoring Israel, imagine the column-inches and airtime that could be freed up for coverage of… the Chinese occupation of Tibet, the continued imprisonment of Christians in Iran, deadly Turkish attacks on the Kurdspolice brutality throughout the Arab Middle East, the plight of Liberian, Angolan, Congolese, Ivorian and other refugees, not to mention world-leading breakthroughs in medicineagriculture, communications, microtechnology and other fields by Israelis and others around the globe.

13. Follow the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.

From the preamble: “Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.” Just a reminder.

 

Anti-Israel culture war of British liberal elites is not a grassroots movement

The following is cross posted by Peter C. Glover at The Commentator

The NUJ has been a prominent backer of the boycot

Over the past few years the unions for British journalists, architects, doctors, even the Synod of the Church of England, have all sought boycotts or censure motions against Israel.

In 2007 British academics added themselves to the list – imposing a boycott of relations between British and Israeli universities at a conference of the British University and Colleges Union (UCU).

In 2009, after yet another violent spat with Hamas in Gaza, Britain’s leftist culture warriors again took to the streets.In March, 400 British academics lined up outside London’s Science Museum to protest against workshops merely celebrating the achievements of Israeli Scientists.

A letter to the museum’s organizers, written by Professor Rosenhead from the London School of Economics and signed by 150 academics, said, “This is a dubious venture at the best of times but at this particular moment, after the offensive in Gaza, it’s particularly insensitive.” It went on to claim that the seven academic institutions involved in the workshops were “up to their necks” in Israel’s actions in Gaza.

In April the same year, London’s Bloomsbury Theatre was forced to cancel a Zionist Federation event that included an act put on by an Israeli Defence force dance troupe.  That May, the Anglican Communion, yet again, condemned Israel for allegedly creating “severe hardship” for Palestinians.  In the same month Liverpool city council cut funding for a festival that was to include an anti-Semitic play after the organisers rejected the chance to include a response play by Richard Sterling. And May ended with the hypocritical victimization of a young British Jewish film director at the hands of international British film director Ken Loach and others.  The anti-Semitic nastiness of the British elites – every bit a match for the vileness of the leftie Hollywood glitterati – is exemplified by this particularly illogical spat.  

Prior to his appearance at the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF), Loach put out a statement, ostensibly under the auspices of the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. In it Loach rounded on the Israeli embassy’s funding the attendance at the EIFF of the 31 year-old Israeli film-maker Tali Shalom Ezer.  

“I’m sure many filmmakers will be as horrified as I am to learn that the Edinburgh International Film Festival is accepting money from Israel,” said Loach. Loach went on to call for “all who might consider visiting the festival to show their support for the Palestinian nation, and stay away.”

Such strong views expressed by a leading light at the festival, was sufficient to prompt the EIFF to hand back the small sum involved, however, the EIFF did subsequently agree to fund the film-makers attendance themselves. For the record, Ezer’s film, ‘Surrogate’, was a romance set in a sex therapy clinic – hardly the stuff of frontline politics.  Ezer was simply targeted by Loach because she was from Israel.  None of this bigotry is anything new.

A short history of boycotts

In April, 2007 the National Union of Journalists, which represents 40,000 British journalistsvoted by meagre 66 to 54 to call for a boycott of Israeli goods demanding that the British government impose sanctions on Israel after denouncing Israel for its “military adventures” in Gaza and Lebanon. 

The conservative Daily Telegraph suitably skewered the move by journalists as “brilliantly singling out the only country in the region with a free press for pariah treatment”.  Even former Guardian reporter and Yahoo Europe news director, Lloyd Shepherd, was moved to respond cryptically: “I look forward to similar boycotts of Saudi oil (abuse of women and human rights), Turkish desserts (limits to freedom of speech) and, of course, the immediate replacement of all stationary in the NUJ’s offices which has been made or assembled in China.” They didn’t come.

Perhaps the greatest irony, however, was that on the very day the British NUJ passed their condemnation of Israel, the International Federation of Journalists was calling upon the Palestinian Authority to secure the release of captured British BBC journalist Alan Johnston. At the time, kidnapped five weeks before the NUJ meeting, Johnston’s kidnap did not even warrant a mention on the British NUJ’s mean-minded agenda.  

Similar small groups of activists have equally influenced key votes at British medical and architect union meetings. British trade unions have also encouraged The South African Congress of Trade Unions and key ANC members to work for a boycott of Israeli goods. In February 2006, the Church of England’s General Synod voted to sell off shares, amounting to £2.5 million, in the US earth-moving equipment company Caterpillar as a company “profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation” of Palestine.

The British boycotters know what they are doing by striking at Israel’s higher educational institutions. Steven Rose, secretary of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, making his case for why Israel should be targeted, explains, “It is precisely because Israel prides itself on its academic prowess…that the idea of an academic boycott is so painful. Israel has uniquely strong academic links with Europe…and…receives considerable financial research support from the EU.”

All of which begs two fundamental questions: why single out Israel? And why is Britain leading the international boycott movement so obsessively?

Why Israel? Why Britain?

Writing in the Jerusalem Post in May 2007, Gerald Steinberg noted the impact that years of campaigning by politically active non-governmental agencies (NGOs) such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Christian Aid, War on Want and Pax Christi will have had.  But still: why Israel?

Well, Evelyn Gordon, addressing the issue “Why Britain?” in the Jerusalem Post a couple of years ago, identified what she described as “two obvious reasons”. First, Britain’s association as America’s closest ally and, second, (back then) Tony Blair’s personal support of Israel’s right to defend itself. But, for me, Gordon gets far nearer the mark when she identifies the role of the activist liberal in British society.

“After all,” says Gordon, “the NUJ controls what Britons read in their papers, hear on their radios and see on their televisions; the Anglican Church controls what they hear from the pulpit; the UCU controls what college students hear in class;  unions play a major role in setting and carrying out policy.” All absolutely true; but not the wholepicture, I think.

It is clear from these various union boycotts that leftwing, highly vocal activists, having ingratiated themselves into key executive power in the UK, are turning the leadership of institutions into bastions of Western liberalism – fed by graduates from equally left-dominated universities. These same universities turn out most of our leading journalists.

As already noted, BBC, anti-Israel, anti-American political bias, in particular, is a thoroughly well documented reality. And though the Anglican Church has many evangelicals (and thus conservatives) in its parish pulpits, the General Synod and hierarchy of the Anglican Church, at least in Britain, remains yet another bastion of leftwing liberalism.  I should know, I am an Anglican Lay Reader.  

Even so, when the Anglican Church entertained more general calls for full boycott of Israel the subsequent grassroots and public reaction was sufficient to divert them to focus on the divestment issue only, the only issue within its specific remit. Similarly, trade union debates on boycotts have often led to calls being rejected outright.

In short, it is premature to conclude, as Evelyn Gordon did in the piece noted above, that as far as the security of the people of Israel is concerned Britain should be written off as “a lost cause”.

While it is patently true that too many of our leading British academic and cultural institutions are in the thrall of cabals of left-wing activists, factor in public backlash that often does not attract mainstream – read liberal – media coverage, and the inherently English (note, I do not say British) instinct for fairness, and anti-Semitism is far from rifeat the British grassroots.  

That fact alone ought to be anything but culturally ‘academic’ to our Israeli friends in the Middle East’s only real democratic, non-despotic, state.      

Peter C Glover is a British writer specialising in international affairs, energy and media issues. See:http://www.petercglover.com