CAMERA monitors media coverage of Israel, Dec.19-31: Guardian, BBC, Ma’ariv, Ha’aretz, Ynet

Our periodic round-up of posts from CAMERA affiliated sites:

BBC Watch

Crude stereotyping of ‘expansionist’ Israelis in BBC 3 comedy showBBC guidelines permit national stereotyping “for comic effect” if there are “audience expectations”, but does BBC coverage of Israel in fact create such expectations? (BBC Watch)

BBC’s Knell amplifies UNRWA’s political campaigning on R4′s ‘The World Tonight’BBC reports on the recent flooding in Gaza cite “tight restrictions” on imports of fuel which do not exist . (BBC Watch)

CiF Watch

Guardian: Non-Jewish Israelis who live in settlements should not be called ‘settlers’According to the Guardian’s ‘Style Guide’, the term “settler” can only be used to characterize ‘Jewish’ Israelis who live beyond the green line. So, according to this logic, a Christian or Muslim citizen of Israel living in a “settlement” in the West Bank or “East” Jerusalem would NOT be considered a “settler”. (CiF Watch)

In Focus

Brandeis and Penn State Harrisburg Pull Out of ASA Program in Response to BoycottASA takes a more extreme stance on Israel than the president of the Palestinian Authority. (in Focus)

Review of the Fall Semester 2013: Israel Awareness Week at the University of HoustonOver 70 students attend an event with Israel’s highest ranking Muslim diplomat during Israel Awareness Week at the University of Houston, organized with CAMERA’s help and support. (in Focus)

Event Held at the University of Miami Celebrates Gay Life in Israel: About 70 students attend event at the University of Miami to learn about the rights that Israel gives gays in Israel. (in Focus)

The Failures of Sam BahourJ-Street at Brandeis helps bring to campus a speaker that is against Israel’s existence, and that suggested that Israel is responsible for chemical weapon use in Syria. J-Street is part of Hillel on that campus. (in Focus)

CAMERA Helps Bring Jeff Jacoby to Florida: Jeff Jacoby connects Zionism to American history and covers the big lies - big truth phenomenon. Our Owls for Israel Board member at Florida Atlantic University writes about it. (in Focus)

Senior Campus Coordinator at CAMERA Writes to Hampshire College President, Calling on Him to Condemn the ASA BoycottRead her well written letter here. (in Focus)

Review of Fall Semester 2013: Gil Magen at Ohio State University Photography Under Fire event draws in many people, including adults over age 50, students from a diverse number of academic department such as Middle East Studies, photography, sociology, political science and others. (in Focus)

Review of Fall Semester 2013: Sgt. Benjamin Anthony at George MasonAbout 70 students attend event designed to decrease apathy and increase awareness of Israel. Students involved in Greek life, students enrolled in ROTC and others learn about what drove Benjamin Anthony to leave all he knew in his native U.K. and enlist in the IDF. (in Focus)

Professor Rotella, Director of the American Studies Program at Boston College, Speaks Out Against the ASA Boycott of IsraelRead his letter here. So far 55 institutions have condemned the ASA boycott. (in Focus)

CAMERA

The Samer Issawi TestReleased Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi is an important test case for journalists. His hunger strike continues to garner news coverage. His conviction for multiple attempts of murder, not so much. (CAMERA)

CAMERA Prompts NY Times Correction on Gaza Shortages, ‘Palestinian’ CitiesCAMERA prompts a New York Times correction after the newspaper claimed Israeli cities are “Palestinian,” blamed Israel for water, gas and electricity shortages in Gaza. (CAMERA)

At end of 2013, Ha’aretz Drops Ball on Depo-Provera StoryIn an end of the year round up of most read articles, Ha’aretz drops the ball on the Ethiopian contraception story, repeating errors that the very same news outlet corrected back in March. (CAMERA)

CAMERA Prompts Corrections on Ethiopians’ ContraceptionMonths after CAMERA’s Israel office prompted Ha’aretz to correct coverage about Depo Provera injections for Ethiopian women, the media watchdog sets off another round of corrections at the Israeli news outlet. (CAMERA)

In Jordan Valley, Ha’aretz LostA Ha’aretz photo caption wrongly states that Israel “had voted to extend Israeli law over parts of the Jordan Valley,” even though the original AP caption correctly identified the proposed legislation in question as “a proposed Israeli bill.” (Snapshots)

Presspectiva

Ma’ariv’s Misplaced RageThe cause of a demonstration seems to baffle Ma’ariv (Presspectiva)

Is Israel’s Christian Population Really Declining?A nasty Independent Op-Ed repeats a modern day slander (Presspectiva)

Ma’ariv and Makor Rishon Greatly Over report European antisemitismA report on a new poll on European antisemitism manages to cite every figure wrong. (Presspectiva)

The Reemergence of the Green LineHa’aretz’s updated style guide, no longer encourages translators to avoid using the term “The Green Line”. (Presspectiva)

Who Needs To Check Facts If You Can Read Ynet?A scathing op-ed in the “7th eye” against the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was completely based on an error published in Ynet (Presspectiva)

ReVista de Medio Oriente

Who condemns Palestinian terrorism?: In the Spanish-speaking press, very few voices were given space to condemn the attack to the 240 bus line near Tel Aviv, while only a handful of papers actually published news about the incident. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Middle East headlines in the Spanish-speaking press: These are the weekly highlights about Israel and the Middle East in the Latin American and Spanish press. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Peter Beaumont’s “unnamed source” affirms Guardian narrative about ‘Prisoner X’

Observer foreign affairs editor Peter Beaumont just published his seventh report over the course of three days on Prisoner X – a man believed to have been an Australian-Israeli Mossad agent jailed by Israel because he was about to reveal state secrets to Australian authorities or the media, who committed suicide in his cell in 2010.

His latest piece, co-authored with Phoebe Greenwood, on Feb. 16 is titled ‘Israeli government to compensate family of Prisoner X‘, and is based on “an unnamed source” quoted in Haaretz, claiming a compensation deal was agreed to following the conclusion of an inquiry into the death of the prisoner (aka, Ben Zygier).

Beaumont’s latest post attempts to buttress the narrative, advanced in his other reports on Prisoner X, that Israel behaved in a manner inconsistent with democratic norms.  As we noted previously, one of Beaumont’s reports from Feb. 14 includes the following passage, citing the analysis of unnamed commentators:

“The latest revelations come amid a growing outcry over the case in Israel, with some comparing the treatment of Zygier to that meted out in the Soviet Union or Argentina and Chile under their military dictatorships.”

In his latest report, he cites an “unnamed source“, thus:

“According to one unnamed source familiar with the Zygier case who spoke the YNet website: “When an Israeli is detained for security offences, a process begins, but no one knows how it will end. He disappears into interrogation rooms, and no one knows where he is. They do it using two tools: A gag order and an injunction that prevents the detainee from meeting with an attorney.”

However, contrary to the claims made by the source cited by Beaumont, not only did the detainee in this case meet with his attorney (Avigdor Feldman), but did so, according to an official at the State Prosecutor’s Office quoted in the same Feb 15. Ynet story Beaumont cited, “within days” of being incarcerated.

The official at the State Prosecutor’s Office added the following: 

 “…the picture painted by the media is far from reality. There are no ‘prisoners x’ in the State of Israel…It’s an expression taken from dictatorships where people were made to disappear without having seen a lawyer or family. There was no such thing here.”

In the past 25 years there were very few cases in which it was decided for security reasons to hold prisoners under pseudonyms.

In those cases, as in this particular case, the families were immediately made aware of the arrest and within a number of days the prisoner was given access to legal counsel. As in regular cases, there was due criminal process with the prisoner able to petition the court like any other inmate.”

Consistent with this Israeli official’s argument, a definitive study in ‘Homeland Security Affairs’ determined that, regarding issues “such as how long an individual can be detained without access to counsel for purposes of interrogation”, Israel “provides more overall due process and substantive rights to [security] detainees than America’s years of incommunicado and indefinite executive detention”.

To serious journalists, providing readers with relevant context and a comparative political or legal analysis of the issue matters.

Beaumont’s story, on the other hand, like so many other reports about Israel written by his fellow Guardian Group ‘journavists‘, cited only those “sources”  who confirmed his desired political narrative.

Journalists on board Gaza-bound flotilla will be active participants in illegal act

This is cross posted by Simon Plosker, the Managing Editor of Honest Reporting. The essay originally appeared in Ynet

Israeli soldiers being beaten with metal rods by "activists" on Mavi Marmara in 2010

“We are in a battle, and more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media.” So said Al-Qaeda’s new leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in November 2005. But what happens when the media attempts to define the physical battlefield by becoming active participants in the story?

We should all be extremely concerned by the announcement that among those sailing on the imminent flotilla to Gaza are journalists representing mainstream media, including the New York Times and camera crews from CNN and CBS.

This is a clear example of the symbiotic relationship between the media and anti-Israel agitators such as those behind the flotilla. After all, it wasn’t the violent actions of the passengers on board the Mavi Marmara that caused Israel so much damage – it was the diplomatic and public relations fallout from an incident that occupied the international press for days after the event.

The “martyrdom” of nine Turkish passengers constituted a PR success for the IHH organization and its cohorts. Clearly then the only reason the mainstream media would jump on board the next flotilla would be the prospect of capturing a repeat performance. Likewise, the flotilla’s organizers are counting on the media to publish a story whose narrative has already been written – namely that of some plucky “peace activists” attempting to break a brutish and illegal naval blockade of the poor Palestinians in their open-air prison.

Imagine that the Israeli Navy boards the flotilla’s ships one by one, forcing the vessels to dock without incident for inspection in an Israeli port. This would be the ultimate failure on the part of the organizers to create a major incident as well as for the media on board who hope to be on the scene reporting on the biggest news story of the day.

‘Useful idiots’  

Having established that both the flotilla participants and the accompanying media need each other, can we honestly count on the New York Times, CNN and CBS as well as other “embedded” journalists to report on the situation with objectivity even if the story doesn’t turn out to be as dramatic as they would hope?

Or will the mere presence of the media act as an invitation for confrontation and potential violence as so-called “activists” play for the cameras? And what of the journalists themselves? While over the years, some reporters have been inadvertently killed or injured by the IDF, we cannot expect soldiers entering a potential warzone, as the Mavi Marmara became, to run the added gauntlet of avoiding media personnel who have purposely positioned themselves in the crossfire. It not only risks the lives of the journalists but also those of Israel’s soldiers.

The Israeli government closed off access to the Gaza Strip for journalists during Operation Cast Lead, ostensibly for their own protection and to spare IDF troops from yet another factor outside of their control on the battlefield. There was a valid argument that this worked against Israel’s interests. The media, camped on a hilltop overlooking Gaza, was antagonized and vengeful while the images from Gaza itself were dominated by al-Jazeera and other less than objective sources.

This time, Israel would do well to remind those journalists on board the flotilla that they will be active participants in an illegal attempt to break what is a legal naval blockade under international law.

We can only hope that the mainstream media will not be influenced by the ideologues and “useful idiots” that make up the disparate groups on board, whose dominant zeitgeist is a hatred of Israel rather than a love of universal human rights. We will have to rely on the professionalism of the journalists to capture the reality of what occurs free from the prejudice that colors so much of the reporting on Israel.

Based on previous experience, however, we shouldn’t have high expectations. This ship has sailed. Will Israel be left clinging on to flotation devices, drowning in a sea of negative publicity or will this be a fishing expedition in calm waters?

The flotilla is sailing. It’s time to baton down the hatches once again.

Abu Rahma Hoax, pt. 4 (Palestinian Authority may be about to throw in the towel over tear-gas death claims)

Ynet is now reporting that the IDF is about to reach an agreement with Palestinian Authority officials that the death of Jawaher Abu-Rahma in the West Bank village of Bilin last week was not caused by tear gas fired during an anti-fence rally in the area.

Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brigadier-General Nitzan Alon, said:

“Our assumptions were verified this week after we received additional documents from the Palestinians.”

Alon added:

“The documents and data we received strengthened the understanding that her death was caused by the method of the medical treatment and other medical aspects.”

We’ll let you know when the agreement is indeed reached. But, its beginning to look more and more like yet another Palestinian libel against the Jewish state is about to be thoroughly disproven.

(See our previous posts on the topic, here, here, here, and here)