How disinformation works: science and tech magazine misleads on Jerusalem

How It Works is a science and tech magazine launched in 2009, and is published by the UK-based Imagine Publishing.

The magazine, available in print, digital and online editions, describes itself thusly:

How it Works’ expert explanations, dynamic cutaways and breathtaking images provide fuel for imaginations across all ages, helping its eager audience to understand and explore the wonders of the modern world, and making complex topics into accessible entertainment. How it Works stands for clarity, authority, intelligence and knowledge, which is why the brand is successful worldwide in all its forms – print, digital and online.

The latest edition, Volume 5, is currently on sale. A friend purchased one this week at a Toronto bookstore. 

photo 1It includes a two page feature about the history of Jerusalem.

 

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The piece includes a timeline, graphics and a short article explaining the city’s historic significance.

Here’s a blurb at the bottom of the article:

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CiF Watch prompts correction to Indy claim that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital

Last week, we posted about an article at The Independent reporting on a recent Delta flight from New York to Tel Aviv which was delayed after some ultra-Orthodox Jewish passengers refused to sit next to women. The story, by Jon Stone, included the following passages:

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Of course, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, not (as the passage suggests) Tel Aviv.

(As we noted previously, other UK media outlets, including the Guardian and Times of London, have made that same mistake over the years.)

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Another British journalist evidently believes that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital

We don’t know much about UK-based journalist Jon Stone, other than the fact he used to work for BuzzFeed and now contributes to publications such as the Independent, where he published a story on Dec. 30th.

The article, about a recent Delta flight from New York to Tel Aviv which was slightly delayed after a few ultra-Orthodox Jewish passengers refused to sit next to women, included the following passages:

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Another media outlet misidentifies Judaism’s holiest site

Cross posted from CAMERA’s blog Snapshots.

The Independent is the latest media outlet to correct the false claim the Western Wall is Judaism’s holiest site.

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Left: original passage. Right: Revised passage.

It follows earlier corrections at The Washington Post, Haaretz, and the BBC, among others.

Judaism’s holiest site is the Temple Mount, the site of the first and second Jewish temples which housed the Holy of Holies (the inner sanctuary where the Ark of the Covenant was located). The Western Wall, a retaining wall of the Temple Mount compound, obtained its holy status due to its proximity to the Holy of Holies.

Read the rest of this post, here.

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

Yesterday we posted about an article in the Independent representing the latest example of a mainstream news site erroneously claiming that the Western Wall in Jerusalem is Judaism’s holiest site.

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We noted that the Temple Mount (where the First and Second Jewish Temples stood) is in fact the holiest site, while the Western Wall is merely the holiest site where Jews are currently allowed to pray.

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Independent falsely claims the Western Wall is Judaism’s holiest site

Since 2013, CiF Watch has prompted two corrections at the The Telegraph to reports erroneously claiming that the Western Wall is Judaism’s holiest site. As we noted in previous posts, the Temple Mount (where the First and Second Temples stood) is in fact the holiest site, while the Western Wall (The Kotel) is merely the holiest site where Jews are currently permitted to pray.

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The latest British newspaper to make this mistake is the Independent, in Adam Sherwin’s Dec. 19th article (Sarah Silverman accuses Jerusalem authorities of sex discrimination).

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Who are the extremists? Jews praying at their holiest site, or Muslims objecting to peaceful Jewish prayer?

The following passage about violence in Jerusalem and recent tensions surrounding the Temple Mount, in an article by John Reed in the Financial Times (Arab-Israel tensions: Jerusalem tales, Dec. 16th), is quite typical of the disinformation about Jerusalem that passes for serious news within much of the British media. 

Jewish settlers, who get political and financial support from the Israeli state, believe they are reclaiming property inscribed as theirs in history and scripture. Silwan’s overwhelmingly Arab residents see the arrival of the settlers as a form of forceful colonisation, a view shared by Israelis who oppose the settlements. The influx has inflamed emotions among Palestinians already on the defensive from some Israeli rightwingers’ demands for the right to pray at al-Aqsa, Islam’s third-holiest site, and a place reserved for Muslim worship since Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the six-day war.

“We are not against Jews,” says Umm Mohammad, voicing the belief that the three monotheistic faiths’ adherents can live in peace. But she says “al-Aqsa is a sacred place — it’s where the Prophet Mohammed went up to heaven.

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Guardian/AP omits ‘minor’ detail in story: An alleged Palestinian plot to kill Obama

The Guardian tradition of tendentious, misleading editing in stories involving Israelis and Palestinians is again revealed in a comparison between a Dec. 9th Associated Press (AP) story on an American Christian indicted in Israel on charges of trying to blow up Muslim holy sites, and the Guardian version of that same story. 

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Guardian photo revisits unproven allegations against Israel in UN school deaths

On Dec 8th the Guardian published its entries for their Photographer of the year for 2014, a list which included the following truly heartbreaking photo by Mahmud Hams:

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However, despite the caption’s claim, it’s far from certain that 15 Palestinian civilians (including the girl pictured in the AFP photo) were in fact killed – at a UN school in the Gaza city of Beit Hanoun – by an Israeli tank shell on the day in question.

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How Israel “incarcerates” Christian Bethlehem – a Guardian Production

In 2012, CAMERA refuted an egregiously propagandistic 60 Minutes report by Bob Simon, which included the assertion that Israel’s security barrier “completely surrounds Bethlehem, turning the ‘little town’ where Christ was born into what its residents call ‘an open air prison.’”  As CAMERA demonstrated (citing maps by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the United Nations, B’tselem, and the PLO), the  barrier is located to the north and west of the city, and does not encircle the town.

While such details about the fence – constructed to protect Israel’s citizens from waves of deadly suicide bombings in the early 2000s – may seem like a somewhat minor point, such agitprop evoking a Christian holy city encircled and besieged by the Jewish State is something of a Christmas tradition within much of the media. 

Though last year during Christmas it was Times of London which lamented the “settlement’s which choke the peace in tiny Bethlehem”,  in years prior it was the Guardian which intoned that ‘If Jesus were to come this year, Bethlehem would be closed’.

This year, the Guardian has re-introduced readers to the ‘imprisoned’ town, publishing two articles (and a video story) which center around a documentary by Palestinian director Leila Sansour titled Open Bethlehem.

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British newspaper amplifies extremist message of Israel’s Islamic Movement

Up until now, the most egregious distortion, within the UK media’s coverage of the proposed ‘Jewish nation-state’ legislation, was represented by Times of London headlines suggesting that the law, if passed, would render Arab-Israelis “second-class citizens”.  

Through communication with Times of London editors, they agreed to add quotes around the term “second-class citizens” to reflect the fact that that charge merely represents the hyperbole of a few political figures in expressing their opposition to the law. (See this good backgrounder on the proposed bill, which would not erode the individual rights of non-Jews in Israel, yet alone result in ‘transfer’.)

However, the British newspaper The Telegraph has published an even more inflammatory and misleading article on the possible ramifications of the proposed law (Meet the Arab-Israelis living in fear of expulsion, Dec. 1). The article, written by their Middle East correspondent Robert Tait, amplifies the ludicrous charge by some Arab extremists that the legislation would result in the forced expulsion of Arab-Israelis.

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Israel is the only state favoring one religious tradition…except for all the others

If the Guardian or New York Times published a long essay about some tiny, obscure indigenous tribe in Africa with a language, culture, and religious tradition unique in the region, whose history extends several thousand years and was threatened with extinction, readers would almost certainly lament their plight.  Further, it certainly seems unlikely that many readers would challenge the tribe’s vigilance in protecting its ancient traditions, or its fierce desire to prevent the erosion of their unique religious-ethnic identity. 

Though this blog has been dealing of late with the specific false charge legitimized by Times of London that the new ‘Jewish nation-state bill’ proposed by Israel’s government will render non-Jews “second class citizens”, the broader debate about Israel’s right to identify with a specific religious tradition is the subtext underlying many online debates about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Whilst it seems beyond debate that Arab-Israelis – whether or not the current bill passes the Knesset – will continue to enjoy the kind of democratic political rights that their ethnic brethren in the region could only dream of, the debate over Israel’s Jewish ethos is often clouded by the implicit suggestion that the rest of the world has moved away from such particularistic notions of statehood.

This is not true.

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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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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:

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

An 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.

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