Telegraph cites PLO claim that Israeli bill requiring vote on territorial withdrawal ‘stabs peace efforts’

For those of us used to hysterical claims made at the Guardian and elsewhere warning of the potential demise of Israeli democracy, it’s quite entertaining to see even the most robust democratic expressions within the Jewish state somehow framed as inconsistent with progressive values.  

A case in point is a March 11th article in the Daily Telegraph by Inna Lazareva (Israel set to pass bill on peace deal referendum) which focuses on the imminent passing of three bills in the Knesset – one of which would instill a requirement for a nation-wide ballot on any decision by the government to concede land in Israel, ‘eastern’ Jerusalem and Golan to achieve a peace agreement.  (What’s known as the Referendum Bill faces a final vote on Thursday morning.)

telegraph

After quoting some Israeli critics of the new law, including Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Isaac Herzog – who claimed that the legislation strips the Knesset of the power to cede land – Lazareva then pivots to the Palestinian reaction:

The new law demonstrates that Israel is “extending one hand for peace, and stabs peace efforts with the other hand”, said Yasser Abd Rabbo, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s Executive Committee.

 So, are Palestinians, per the PLO – an organization evidently now passionately committed to peace and non-violence – truly outraged at the idea of a national referendum on a final status agreement between the two parties?

Not likely.

As several news sites – including the Guardian – reported last July, none other than Mahmoud Abbas himself (in an interview with a Jordanian paper) made a pledge that “any agreement reached with the Israelis will be brought to a [Palestinian] referendum.”

Indeed, this wasn’t the first time Abbas made such a claim.  

In February last year, Abbas said the following at a meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah:

If there is any development and an agreement, it is known that we will go to a referendum,” Abbas clarified. “It won’t be enough to have the approval of the Fatah Central Committee or the PLO Executive Council for an agreement. Rather, we would go to a referendum everywhere because the agreement represents Palestinians everywhere.”

The news sites which actually covered Abbas’s announcements naturally did not frame such a decision as a ‘blow to peace’.

Finally, though we’re not holding our collective breaths that such a Palestinian plebiscite will ever occur, we’d be remiss if we didn’t note that such a vote – if it takes place – would represent the first significant democratic expression in the Palestinian Authority in quite some time.

President Abbas just entered his tenth year of his four-year term in office.

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The Telegraph publishes fair & balanced report on Israeli settlement ‘growth’

telegraphOur increasing commentary on Israel related coverage by sites such as The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, The Economist and the Irish Times is often helpful in properly contextualizing coverage at the Guardian.

Regarding The Telegraph, though we have criticized them on occasion, the coverage of Israel by their regional correspondent Robert Tait is often much more fair and professional than the pro-Palestinian activism consistently peddled by the Guardian’s outgoing Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood.

Indeed, a March 4 Telegraph story, titled ‘Israel issues figures on huge settlement expansion‘, by two other correspondents (Inna Lazareva and Peter Foster) deserves some credit for citing various views on the announcement, from both the Left and the Right.

The report begins by citing “a new report by the Israeli Bureau of Statistics” which revealed “that Israel increased settlement construction in the West Bank by as much as 123% in 2013, compared with the previous year.”  Then, after quoting Israeli left-wing critics of the increased settlement construction, and right-wing critics complaining that there wasn’t enough construction, the report cited the Israeli Housing Ministry’s explanation that the “higher rate of settlement construction [represents] the cumulative effect of the building backlog dating back to the 2009 ten-month long settlement freeze, and subsequent delayed constructions in the following years”.

Then, there was this interesting passage:

Other critics were quick to point out that, while 2013 was indeed an exceptional year for West Bank settlement construction, overall the rate of building in the settlements over the nearly five years that Mr Netanyahu has been in power has actually decreased by nearly a quarter, compared to the five years prior to him assuming the role of Prime Minister.

We’re not sure who exactly they are referring to by “critics”, but, as you may recall, just yesterday (about 9 hours before the Telegraph story appeared) we published a post titledWhat the Guardian won’t report: West Bank settlement building has DECLINED under BiBiwhich included this passage:

Though housing starts did increase dramatically in 2013, based on numbers from the previous year, construction for the nearly five years Netanyahu has been prime minister shows a decrease from the previous four years when Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon were in power.  From 2009 through 2013, there were 7477 housing starts in the West Bank, while from 2004 through 2008 there were 9293 starts.  So, under Netanyahu, there has been a nearly 20% decline in West Bank construction in comparison to the five years before he became prime minister

In short, The Telegraph provided the kind of context and nuance that professional reporters owe their readers when reporting from a region awash in clichés, hyperbole, agitprop and Guardian-style activist journalism.

We commend The Telegraph for their largely fair and balanced report.

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UK journalist responds positively to criticism (Hint: he doesn’t work at the Guardian)

In an overall commendable article about Oxfam at The Telegraph (The Darker Side of Oxfam, Feb. 5), Jake Wallis Simons wrote the following:

“In December, a controversial bill was passed [in the Knesset] which would levy a 45 percent on donations from foreign organisations or governments to NGOs that support BDS, demand Israeli soldiers to be tried in international courts, or support terrorism against Israel.”

The only problem, as Gidon Shaviv of Presspectiva (CAMERA’s Hebrew affiliate) immediately realized, was that the bill did not in fact become law.  This prompted the following exchange on Twitter:

screen captureNot only did Simons thank Shaviv for the information (backed up with an article about the bill in question), but he revised the passage accordingly.

Simons’ positive response to Shaviv’s Tweet is especially worth noting in light of the manner in which editors at the Guardian and other British newspapers often stubbornly resist making changes to articles with even the most obvious distortions or errors.  

Journalists and editors in the UK would be wise to heed Simons’ example, and view the work CAMERA and its affiliates undertake to promote media accuracy as consistent with the value of accountability that their crusading journalists are often demanding of others.

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Did Bibi or his ministers label John Kerry an “anti-Semite”?

No, neither the Israeli prime minister nor his ministers labeled John Kerry an anti-Semite.

However, here’s the photo and caption used to illustrate a Feb 2nd story at The Telegraph written by their Israeli correspondent Robert Tait:

headlineHere’s the caption:

strapline

First, note that the headline is “John Kerry labelled ‘anti Semite’ for warning of possible boycott of Israel”. Then, there are two big pictures: one of Netanyahu and the other of Kerry, which some casual readers may initially interpret as indicating that Bibi was the one who called Kerry an anti-Semite.  (Indeed, the Telegraph’s Facebook post uses this same hook to inspire interest in the story.)

Additionally, note that the photo caption claims that “Ministers in Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet accused John Kerry of effectively endorsing “anti-Semitic” efforts to impose sanctions on Israel”.  This claim is repeated in the opening passage of the story.

However, this too is misleading.

Here’s what Tait writes, after quoting Kerry’s warning about the potential risks concerning boycotts if a peace accord isn’t reached.

Yuval Steinitz, the intelligence and strategic affairs minister and a close ally of Mr Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said America’s top diplomat was “holding a gun to [Israel's] head”.

“The things Kerry said are hurtful, they are unfair and they are intolerable,” Mr Steinitz told reporters.

“Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with a gun to its head when we are discussing the matters which are most critical to our national interests.”

Naftali Bennett, the industry minister and leader of the far-Right Jewish Home party, said: “We expect of our friends in the world to stand by our side against the attempts to impose an anti-Semitic boycott on Israel, and not to be their mouthpiece.”

His comments were echoed by Adi Mintz, a senior official in the Settler’s Council, who accused Mr Kerry of “an anti-Semitic initiative”.

“The anti-Semites have always resorted to a very simple method – hit the Jews in their pockets,” he told Israel’s Channel 10 TV station.

Mr Netanyahu was more restrained, telling Sunday’s cabinet meeting that efforts to impose a boycott were “immoral and unjust” and doomed to fail.

So, based on the quotes used by Tait, only one minister, Bennett, even used the word “anti-Semitic” to characterize boycott efforts, and the only one who actually accused Kerry of antisemitism was Adi Mintz, an official in the Settler’s Council.  Mintz is not a minister.  

Contrary to the strong suggestion of the headline, photo and subsequent text, neither Bibi nor any of his ministers labeled Kerry an “anti-Semite”.  But, of course, a headline soberly noting that “an official at the Settler’s Council” labeled Kerry an anti-Semite would be a lot less likely to elicit the interest of Telegraph readers or those who casually peruse Facebook, Twitter and RSS feeds looking for interesting content. 

The Telegraph story of course also fits neatly into the frequently heard criticism about those ‘pesky Israelis always crying about antisemitism’ to stifle criticism of Israel – what’s known as the Livingstone Formulation.

Finally, it’s quite interesting that Tait writes the following near the end of his article, quoting a US State Department spokesperson responding to the row:

“[Mr Kerry] expected opposition and difficult moments in the process, but he also expects all parties to accurately portray his record and statements.”

Yes, and news consumers expect newspapers to accurately portray statements by political leaders and not – like unserious British tabloids – use misleading photos and captions to falsely impute drama to relatively mundane stories.

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The Telegraph’s 14 weaselly words about the power of ‘the lobby’

It’s less than clear how Telegraph Middle East correspondent Richard Spencer views the nuclear deal recently signed in Geneva, but in his latest report he certainly seems to take pleasure in the Israeli prime minister’s profound disappointment over the terms and implications of the agreement between Iran and the P5+1.

spencer

Spencer’s story, titled ‘Iran nuclear deal: Israel rages and no one cares‘, Nov. 24, begins thusly:

Everyone expected Israel‘s furious response to the Iranian nuclear deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had used every weapon in his considerable diplomatic and rhetorical arsenal to oppose one, up to hand-drawn drawings at the United Nations Security Council of circular bombs with cartoon fuses to illustrate his “red lines”.

What fewer can have expected is that no one would listen.

 Then, after citing statements by UK Foreign Minister William Hague and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry he interprets as dismissive of Israeli concerns, he writes the following:

If ones takes Israel’s public position at face value, however, it is hard not to ask how it got itself into a position where its wishes could be ignored by its closest ally, the United States (an ally that according to popular opinion its Washington lobbies have in their pockets).

One answer might be the extraordinary, prickly, combative persona of Mr Netanyahu.

Of course, there is another answer to the question of why the American president didn’t take Israel’s concerns about the deal into consideration that Spencer didn’t explore: the possibility that the narrative suggesting that ‘pro-Israel lobbies have the U.S. government “in their pockets” has no foundation in reality, and represents the kind of crude, simplifying hypotheses fancied by weak minds, conspiracists and bigots who can’t grapple with the complexities of the world.  

ShowImage

Ar-Risala, June 22, 2008
Headline: “The Wagon [that gets you] to the White House.”

images

Two papers published the same cartoon: Al-Watan, June 10, 2008 and Arabnews, June 11, 2008

Zionist lobby with Obama and Clinton in pocket

Akhbar al-Khalij, June 9, 2008
The bearded man is labeled: “Zionist Lobby” and has then Senator Barack Obama in its pocket, and Obama has Senator Hillary Clinton in his pocket.

Though Spencer doesn’t explicitly endorse this ‘Zionist root cause’ scenario, his failure to dismiss it provides succor to the alarming number of putatively mainstream commentators who, as Leon Wieseltier wrote, continue to “proclaim in all seriousness, without in any way being haunted by the history of such an idea, that Jews control Washington.” 

Editor’s Note: The title was amended at 12:00 EST to more accurately reflect the substance of the post

3rd time’s a charm: CiF Watch prompts correction to Telegraph “correction” on refugees

On Aug. 20th we posted about a report at The Telegraph by their Middle East correspondent, Robert Tait, which grossly inflated the number of Palestinian Arab refugees from the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli war.  

Here’s the passage in question:

On the table are the familiar sticking points that have defied several previous peace-making attempts — namely borders, Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian lands, the fate of almost five million Arab refugees expelled to neighbouring countries during Israel’s 1948 war of independence, and the status of Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their capital.

We complained to Telegraph editors, explaining that the number of refugees from the war was actually, per UN figures, 711,000 (of whom only 30,000 remain today), while the 5 million figure only represents those who presently qualify for “refugee” benefits (which includes the descendants of refugees) under UNRWA’s bizarre guidelines.

Shortly after our complaint, the passage was amended as follows:

On the table are the familiar sticking points that have defied several previous peace-making attempts — namely borders, Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian lands, the fate of almost five million Arab refugees and their descendants expelled to neighbouring countries during Israel’s 1948 war of independence, and the status of Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their capital.

Unfortunately, the ‘revised’ passage (as we noted in a new post) was still extremely misleading, as it would likely be understood to mean that there were 5 million refugees from the ’48 war plus an additional number of descendents from these 5 million. 

So, we again contacted Telegraph editors, and recently saw the following new revision to the passage:

On the table are the familiar sticking points that have defied several previous peace-making attempts — namely borders, Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian lands, the fate of 700,000 Arab refugees and their descendants (a number that has now swelled to almost five million) expelled to neighbouring countries during Israel’s 1948 war of independence, and the status of Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their capital.

Though it took a while, we commend Telegraph editors on finally getting it right on the number of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war.

Telegraph revision to false claim on Palestinian refugees is still misleading

On Aug. 20 we posted about an article published at The Telegraph by their Middle East correspondent, Robert Tait, which grossly inflated the number of Palestinian Arab refugees from the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli war.  

Here’s the passage in question:

On the table are the familiar sticking points that have defied several previous peace-making attempts — namely borders, Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian lands, the fate of almost five million Arab refugees expelled to neighbouring countries during Israel’s 1948 war of independence, and the status of Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their capital.

We complained to Telegraph editors, explaining that the number of refugees from the ’48 war was actually 711,000 (of whom only 30,000 remain today), while the 5 million figure represents those who qualify for “refugee” benefits (which includes the descendants of actual refugees) under UNRWA’s bizarre rules.

Yesterday the passage was amended, and now reads:

On the table are the familiar sticking points that have defied several previous peace-making attempts — namely borders, Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian lands, the fate of almost five million Arab refugees and their descendants expelled to neighbouring countries during Israel’s 1948 war of independence, and the status of Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their capital.

However, the new passage is still extremely misleading, as it could easily be understood to mean that there were 5 million refugees from the ’48 war plus an additional number of their descendents. 

We will continue communicating with Telegraph editors until the passage clearly conveys the correct number of refugees.

(See Update to this post, here.)

Telegraph’s Mid-East reporter grossly inflates the number of Palestinian refugees

The Arab-Israeli War of 1948-49 produced around 711,000 Palestinian Arab refugees, according to official records.  (To provide some context to this figure, there were roughly 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries between 1948 and the early 1970s.)

The relevant UN General Assembly document from Oct. 23, 1950 states the following about the Palestinian refugee problem:

The estimate of the statistical expert, which the Committee believes to be as accurate as circumstances permit, indicates that the refugees from Israel-controlled territory amount to approximately 711,000.

While it is estimated that somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 Palestinian Arabs, out of this original refugee population, are still alive today, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) allows the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (ad infinitum) of actual refugees to continue to inherit their ancestor’s status.  So, based on this bizarre formula, there are officially 4.9 million Palestinians who are eligible for “refugee” benefits.

Robert Tait is the Telegraph’s Middle East correspondent, and you’d therefore expect him to have some familiarity with such statistical and historical details.  However, his latest report about the current round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks contains a passage indicating he is either unfamiliar with the numbers, or unwilling to contradict the official Palestinian narrative on the “right of return” for millions Palestinians who were never actually refugees and never set foot within the boundaries of Israel. 

His Aug. 18 story, ‘While Egypt burns, Israel talks peace‘, includes the following:

On the table are the familiar sticking points that have defied several previous peace-making attempts — namely borders, Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian lands, the fate of almost five million Arab refugees expelled to neighbouring countries during Israel’s 1948 war of independence, and the status of Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their capital.

Whilst the unwillingness of the mainstream media to critically scrutinize the broader refugee narrative is itself a topic worthy of debate, the part of the sentence we underlined is not merely misleading, but a flat-out falsehood – and we intend to hold the paper accountable. 

Telegraph reporter lazily asserts that “settler” Jews violate Geneva Convention

A report in The Telegraph, ‘EU to label products from Israeli settlements, by Ben Lynfield, included the following claim, in a passage attempting to provide context to the recent EU decision over labelling Israeli products made across the green line:

The settlements contravene the Fourth Geneva Convention’s ban on an occupying power moving its nationals into occupied territory but are seen by right-wing Israelis as an expression of historic Jewish rights to the biblically resonant areas of Judea and Samaria

Lynfield, a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem who has contributed to the (British) Independent, The Scotsman,The Nation, the Egypt Independent and elsewhere, imputes an empirical certainty to a highly complex and disputed international legal issue regarding the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention which is extraordinary.  Reading that passage, you’d certainly believe that everyone except “right-wing Israelis” is in agreement over the illegality of such Jewish communities.  You’d believe such a thing, and you’d of course be wrong.

As CAMERA has noted on many occasions, “prominent non-Israeli legal scholars have pointed out the Fourth Geneva Convention’s inapplicability to the disputed territories.”  This group of scholars includes Prof. Julian Stone; Prof. Stephen Schwebel, a former judge on the International Court of Justice; former U.S. Undersecretary of State Eugene Rostow; and Ambassador Morris Abram, a member of the U.S. staff at the Nuremberg Tribunal who was later involved in the drafting of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  

CAMERA explains thusly:

Essentially, the Fourth Geneva Convention [according to, among other bodies, the International Committee of the Red Cross] forbids forcible transfer of populations into or out of territories belonging to parties to the convention that were captured in aggressive wars. None of that applies to the West Bank. Israeli Jews were not forcibly transferred in nor Arabs out, the land was captured by Israel in a war of self-defense and it was not the sovereign territory of any country party to the Geneva Conventions. Rather, pending an agreement negotiated according to U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 and related documents, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) is disputed territory in which, the sources noted, Jews as well as Arabs have claims.

Historically, the Geneva Convention was attempting to address the over 40 million people (during WWII) who were subjected to “forced migration, evacuation, displacement, and expulsion,” including 15 million Germans, 5 million Soviet citizens, and millions of Poles, Ukrainians and Hungarians.  The vast numbers of people affected and the aims behind such population transfers have no relation whatsoever to the decision by Jews to live in historically Jewish (albeit currently disputed) areas within the boundaries of the historic land of Israel.

Jews have lived in Judea and Samaria—the West Bank—since ancient times, and, in fact, the only time Jews have been prohibited from living in these territories in recent decades was during Jordanian rule from 1948 to 1967.

Whilst reasonable people can of course disagree with Israeli settlement policy – in the context of efforts to reach a final status agreement with the Palestinians – lazy assertions that such settlements are “illegal” at best have a questionable basis in international law, and should certainly not be presented as an incontrovertible fact by a serious newspaper.

The Israeli Bedouin issue beyond The Telegraph’s sensationalist headline

Phoebe Greenwood’s report in The Telegraph, Ex-South African Israel ambassador likens Bedouin treatment to Apartheid‘, June 19, is in many ways quite typical of mainstream media framing of issues relating to the nomadic Arab tribes living in the Negev region in Israel. Though Greenwood balances the sensationalist charge of ‘apartheid’ leveled by the the former ambassador with a response by a foreign ministry spokesperson, the title and text legitimize an extremely misleading narrative about the remarkably complex interplay between the Israeli government and the Bedouin.

Whilst my colleague Hadar Sela has done some superb reporting on the issue (which you can read here, here and here), blogger Elder of Ziyon recently filmed and narrated a very informative video on the subject – while on location in the Negev – that succinctly explains a few of the more vexing challenges faced by the Israeli government in determining how best to deal with unauthorized villages established by citizens who are part of this itinerant culture. 

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Harriet Sherwood and Phoebe Greenwood take steps towards understanding Palestinian incitement

gaza_2548597bThe failure of many to truly understand the ‘root causes’ of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and accurately contextualize news in the region is based in part on the MSM’s general tendency to ignore or significantly downplay the pervasive antisemitism and anti-Zionist agitation within Palestinian society.

This blog’s ‘What the Guardian won’t report‘ series often focuses on such disturbing stories about the official Palestinian glorification of violence, racist indoctrination of their children and other such grossly underreported examples of the reactionary Palestinian political ethos which ‘genuine’ advocates for peace can not reasonably ignore.

Whilst reasonable people can argue over what degree such Palestinian incitement represents an impediment to peace relative to other factors, such as the issue of Israeli “settlements”, the Guardian’s obsessive focus on the latter and their almost total silence about the former serves to grossly misinform their readers on the politics of the region.

As such, it was encouraging to read a recent story by the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood, entitled ‘Gaza schoolboys being trained to use Kalashnikovs, April 28, which reports on news that Hamas is now providing Gaza schools with military training for young boys.  The program, which includes the use of firearms and explosives, will likely be extended to girls next year.

Sherwood even quotes Al Mezan, a Gaza-based “human rights organisation”, criticizing the program thusly:

“It’s unbelievable. Hamas has been cutting sports activities in schools for the past six years, saying there is no time in the curriculum, but now they find the time to have military training inside schools,”

Additionally, on the very same day that Sherwood filed her story, Phoebe Greenwood published a piece at The Telegraph entitled ‘Hamas teaches Palestinian schoolboys to how to fire Kalashnikovs’ – a report which is especially noteworthy in the context of a CiF Watch post back in 2011 which noted Greenwood’s skepticism over ‘claims’ made by Israeli officials regarding Palestinian incitement. 

Though both reports are problematic in many respects, and indeed ignore the broader problem of Palestinian incitement in both the West Bank and Gaza, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Further, we can at least hope that Sherwood and Greenwood will follow-up on their stories and continue to inform their readers on the pathos within Palestinian political culture which inspires the constant vilification of Israel and dehumanization of Jews - a dynamic which makes most Israelis wary of the conventional wisdom which uncritically accepts that a two-state solution will necessarily result in peace.

How the British media have covered news regarding Omar Misharawi’s death

newspapers2We recently noted that on March 12 the Guardian’s media blogger Roy Greenslade corrected his erroneous Nov 15 report (a day after the start of the Gaza war) that an Israeli missile killed the 11-month old son of BBC Arabic journalist Jihad Misharawi, Omar, as well as Jihad’s sister-in-law. (Misharawi’s brother also later died of wounds suffered in the blast.)

Greenslade, as with journalists at numerous other news outlets over the past week, noted in his new report that on March 6 the UN issued an advance version of its report on the war which concluded that Misharawi was likely killed by an errant Palestinian missile, not by the IDF. (This information in the report was first discovered by Elder of Ziyonwho also was one of the few bloggers who critically examined initial reports in the MSM blaming Israel for Misharawi’s death.)

Additionally, the Guardian published an AP report on March 12, ‘UN report suggests Palestinian rocket killed baby in Gaza‘, which went into detail about the new information which contradicted the “widely believed story behind an image that became a symbol of what Palestinians said was Israeli aggression.”

Thus far, the Guardian still hasn’t corrected a Nov. 15 report by Paul Owen and Tom McCarthy, ‘Gaza Twitter war intensifies over pictures of infant casualties‘, which included the heartbreaking photo of Misharawi as well as the following text:

Pictures emerged of BBC cameraman Jihad Misharawi’s 11-month-old son Omar, who was killed on Wednesday during an Israeli attack. Misharawi’s sister-in-law also died in the strike on Gaza City, and his brother was seriously injured.

Though the damage done by the now iconic image of Misharawi ‘clutching his slain child wrapped in a shroud can not be ameliorated by even the clearest retractions, it’s important nonetheless that the media be held accountable to report new information which comes to light contradicting their previous version of events.

Whilst you can of course find out how the BBC covered the news at our sister site, BBC Watch, here’s a quick round-up of how others in the British media performed:

The Telegraph:

On Nov. 15, they published ‘Baby son of BBC worker killed in Gaza strike‘ which included the photo of Misharawi, and this passage:

Jihad Misharawi, who is employed by BBC Arabic, lost his 11-month-old baby Omar. Mr Misharawi’s brother was also seriously injured when his house was struck in the Israeli operation and his sister-in-law was killed.

 Additionally, a Nov. 15 Telegraph Live Blog post on the Gaza war included this passage:

Jihad Misharawi, who is employed by BBC Arabic, lost his 11-month-old baby Omar. His brother was also seriously injured when his house was struck in the Israeli operation and his sister-in-law was killed.

Corrections:

None.

Daily Mail:

On Nov. 15, they published a sensationalist piece by David Williams titled ‘What did my son do to die like this?’Anguish of BBC journalist as he cradles the body of his baby son who died in Israeli rocket attack on Gaza‘, which included multiple photos of Misharawi with his baby and the following passages:

“Tiny Omar…died after an Israeli airstrike on Hamas militants in Gaza.

Masharawi had arrived at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital after Omar suffered severe burns in an airstrike that sent shrapnel tearing into his home killing a woman and leaving his brother and uncle critically injured.

Corrections:

None.

Spectator:

David Blackburn published a piece titled Israel’s public relations problem‘ which included the image of Misharawi with his baby, as well as the following passage:

The front page of today’s Washington Post shows a picture of the BBC’s Jihad Masharawi holding his dead 11-month-old son, an innocent victim of Israeli action against Hamas’ paramilitary targets following months of indiscriminate rocket attacks against civilians in southern Israel*

Corrections:

The piece has now been updated, per the asterisk, and includes the following at the bottom:

*Since this article was published, a United Nations investigation has found that the incident described by the Washington Post was caused by the shortfall of a rocket fired by Palestinian militants at targets in Israel.

The Sun

On Nov. 15 The Sun published ‘The Innocents: Beeb journalist’s son dead, another hurt..babies hit as Gaza war looms, by Nick Parker, which included a photo of Misharawi and his baby, and this passage:

Omar was one of at least 15 Palestinians killed in air strikes as Israel retaliated over the Hamas missiles.

Corrections:

None.

The Independent:

On Nov. 15 The Independent published a piece by Amol Rojan titled ’11-month-old son of BBC picture editor is killed in Gaza air strike‘.  The relevant passages in the report are a bit vague, and only suggest causation, but the title alone, informing readers that Omar was killed by an airstrike, clearly implies Israel was to blame.

Corrections:

The Indy has published two corrections: One by Alistair Dawber on March 12 titled ‘UN clears Israel and says errant Hamas rocket probably killed baby in Gaza‘, and a second shorter piece on the same day titled ‘Hamas rocket killed baby in Gaza’.

The Times:

On Nov. 15 The Times published ‘Israelis turn on officials after three die in Hamas strike’, by Sheera Frenkel (behind paywall). Here is the relevant passage:

One of the Palestinian dead was Ahmed Masharawi, the 11-month-old baby son of Jihad Masharawi, a picture editor for the BBC’s Arabic Service. An Israeli missile hit the family’s home in Gaza City, and Ahmed was pronounced dead in Shifa Hospital

On Nov. 16 The Times published ‘Tel Aviv within reach of Hamas rockets’, by Sheera Frenkel, (behind paywall).  Here are the relevant passages.

Meanwhile Israeli tanks, drones, Apache helicopters, warplanes and gunboats were firing into the densely populated Palestinian territory where so far 13 Palestinians, including seven militants and two children, are confirmed to have died and more than 100 to have been injured.

One of the Palestinian dead was Ahmed Masharawi, the 11-month-old baby son of Jihad Masharawi, a picture editor for the BBC’s Arabic Service. An Israeli missile hit the family’s home in Gaza City, and Ahmed was pronounced dead in Shifa Hospital

Corrections:

None.

 

The Muslim Brotherhood are turning into Leninists in Islamist dress. Egypt is in real trouble

(Alan Johnson’s essays on the the dangers posed by the rise of Islamism are truly in a league of their own.  And, his most recent analysis, published on Nov. 5 at The Telegraph and excerpted below, is clearly no exception.  A.L.)

Hardliners are gaining the upper hand in Egypt

Paul Berman, the New York intellectual, is perhaps the most penetrating and imaginative essayist writing about Islamist movements and ideas alive today. In 2010 he published The Flight of the Intellectuals, a stylish account of the Muslim Brotherhood: the Islamist political movement founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna (known in Arabic as al-Ikhwan al-Muslimeen). According to Berman, the party was shaped decisively in both its ideology and organisational methods by mid-century European totalitarianism and was a politically hardened, ideologically driven and anti-Semitic movement. It was from this inconvenient truth that much of the western media and many public intellectuals were in flight.

When I praised Berman’s insights to a group of normally super-astute democracy promotion analysts in DC, to my surprise most took the view that Berman’s thesis was “crazy” and that the Muslim Brotherhood were really like the Christian Democracy in Europe; they had confessional roots, for sure, but were pragmatic folk and could be a force for “moderation”. I responded that the Brotherhood was exactly like the CDU – apart from its party structure, ideology, rhetoric, policy, and goals.

Back in 2010 ours was an academic argument. Well, not any more. The Brotherhood will dominate the region’s politics over the next decade. It is already regnant in Egypt, the most populous Arab country and the intellectual fulcrum of both the Arab and Muslim worlds, after sweeping to power earlier this year by winning the parliamentary and presidential elections, marginalising the secular democrats and knocking the military off their perch. In Tunisia the Brotherhood sits in government in the form of Rachid Ghannouchi’s Ennahda. The Justice and Construction Party (JCP) in Libya only won 17 of the 80 seats available for parties in the elections for Libya’s 200-strong national congress in July, but hopes to do better next time (the Brotherhood is very patient). The Syrian branch will be a force in any post-Assad regime (in the early 1980s the Syrian branch conducted an armed rebellion) and in Jordan it grows in strength. Hamas, of course, is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

READ THE REST OF THE ESSAY, HERE.

Rocket attacks on Israel, and reporters without borders (of integrity)

A guest post by Geary

Harriet Sherwood’s latest report contains the tellingly typical sentence:

The weekend death and injury toll was the highest since Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s three-week military assault on Gaza just over three years ago. [emphasis added]

Note “assault” (that is “thuggish behaviour”) and “on Gaza”. Not on Hamas, mind, but on Gaza.

I say typical because this is the usual wording carefully selected by Guardian writers to describe Cast Lead. A glance through the newspaper archives for 2010 reveals the following (my italics):

Cast Lead Israel’s military offensive against Gaza

Israel’s Cast Lead offensive in which 1400 Palestinians were killed

Operation Cast Lead (the attack on Gaza)

… the anniversary of Cast Lead, the war on Gaza.

Not once is any context given, no reason, no mention of Hamas or rockets. Just a mindless war on Gaza.

 How did the other UK so-called quality report Operation Cast Lead in relation to Gaza? The Telegraph, not sharing the Guardian’s Israel obsession, mentions it just twice and in the most neutral of fashions:

Israel’s controversial military offensive in Gaza

have been fired by Islamist groups in Gaza [into Israel] since Israel’s offensive, known as Cast Lead, was concluded.

The Times* has five mentions, some neutral:

            Israel was conducting Operation Cast Lead into Gaza

But in others there appears at first sight to be a similar tone to the Guardian:

… Israel’s three-week Israeli assault on Gaza

… the devastation of Operation Cast Lead when Israel killed about 1400 Palestinians

But the impression is soon dispelled if one reads on. The Times, being a proper newspaper, gives context. The two extracts above are part of the following wider picture:

… a three-week Israeli assault on Gaza in response to Hamas rocket attacks

In Gaza, Iran’s other protégé, Hamas, is risking a new war with Israel, two years after the devastation of Operation Cast Lead when Israel killed about 1400 Palestinians in an attempt to end Palestinian rocket fire into southern Israel and topple the Islamists who rule the country.

Would the likes of Sherwood write of “Britain’s assault on Libya” or “the UK’s war on Afghanistan”? Of course not. But with Israel anything goes. And the first thing to go is journalistic integrity.

(*Times’ pay wall prevents direct link to stories noted)

UPDATE:

The Times has recently been caught using a blatantly false caption about Israel’s Iron Dome system – used to protect Israeli communities in the south from Gaza rocket barrages. See the Honest Reporting expose, here.