Friday, August 31, 2012

No more disengaging

No more disengaging

Dror Eydar

"Attempts to ... evict ... encountered the determination — and sweetness — of Yeshayahu Lichtenstein and Yehezkel Birzon ... 'I won't let them evict me,' said Lichtenstein ... 'This is a historic place.'"

These immortal words were quoted in a column printed in Haaretz. Readers of the newspaper had not seen such Zionistic phrasing in decades, and on the eve of the High Court's decision on the eviction of Migron's residents, who claim to have purchased their homes in full.

How did such a provocative piece make it into a newspaper that vilifies the education minister for being too Jewish and promoting an excessively nationalist agenda? Well, in actuality the article on the steadfast settlement refers to nothing other than Tel Aviv's Montana ice cream shop, whose owners managed to evade eviction. As for the real settlers, who hold on to the land of our fathers in Migron and thus ensure Israel's safety — they won't be getting their own ridiculous apotheosis as these ice cream vendors got any time soon. Rather, the settlers will receive their legal helping of condemnation.

If Haaretz is a newspaper for people who have given up on thinking — its motto is "the newspaper for thinking people” — then Yedioth Ahronoth is a newspaper that once had a country — its motto is "the newspaper for the whole country.” In the pages of Yedioth, columnist Nahum Barnea has already admitted defeat for his political camp. Good old boys like Barnea haven't managed to detach us from our nationality. Barnea calls the heroic settlement operation "the original sin."

Barnea states as a matter of fact that the settlements are "opposed to international law," which "prohibits settlement activity within an occupied area." It is important that the public know that this is written from the perspective of a newspaper that claims to speak for the nation, but is actually deeply embedded within the Left camp.

It has been explained time and time again that the position the High Court has taken over the belligerent occupation in Judea and Samaria has to do with how Israel handles the local population, and not with the fact that Israeli forces have remained in the area. Israel did not conquer the land from another country, but rather continues to hold on to this land, to which we also lay claim.

Israel's actions during the Six-Day War were in self-defense, and since the same threats still exist, it is legitimate to keep holding on to the land. And as was the case, since Jordan took over the land illegally, while Israel took it over in self-defense, Israel has the greater claim. This has all been said by the world's greatest experts on international law. Barnea isn't sanctifying international law; he and his friends just don't want Israel to hold on to the territories. They're too charged with Jewish and national memories. It's better to just go on licking ice cream.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lebanon's responsibility

Lebanon's responsibility

Ruthie Blum

If what was reported in Haaretz yesterday is true, then I would like to commend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I am not referring here to the brouhaha surrounding his investment portfolio, but rather his alleged warning to the Lebanese government that it had better watch its step, or else.

On the investment portfolio, a scandal erupted when it emerged that Netanyahu had requested to shift some of his holdings. Though he did this through all the appropriate legal channels — and was given approval from the State Comptroller’s Office — opposition politicians seized upon the “incident” and were outraged. Ostensibly, they object to the fact that a person who is preparing for war in the near future shouldn’t be rushing to protect his stocks and bonds as a result of his assumption that the market is going to fluctuate.

Immediately, comparisons to former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz began to fly faster than the Hamas rockets that have been landing on southern Israel in honor of the start of the school year. Halutz shamed himself badly when the first thing he did after two Israeli soldiers were captured by Hezbollah terrorists in August 2006 — the event that sparked the Second Lebanon War — was to phone his broker to sell his stock portfolio.

This is why Netanyahu withdrew his request to move his money around at this particular time. Too bad he didn’t anticipate the carryings on. He should have known it was going to ensue, especially now, with the whole country up in arms (no pun intended) over Iran.

But we have to give him credit where it’s due — and it’s due him big-time on an issue that he has not discussed publicly. Indeed, even his office has declined to comment on it this week.

Apparently, Netanyahu sent a message to the Lebanese government — via a “Western diplomat” — to the effect that Israel will not tolerate Hezbollah attacks against its citizens, even if it means full-scale retaliation that includes the bombing of much of the country’s infrastructure.

This is a huge deal.

During the Second Lebanon War, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert kept insisting that Israel had no problem with Lebanon, and that its only enemy was Hezbollah.

"We have no quarrel with you," he assured the Lebanese people. "We look forward to a time when we will live together in quiet and cooperation … and hopefully in peace."

That distinction cost Israel many lives — and enabled Hezbollah to rebuild its network of terrorists and massive arsenals decimated by the war. It was a distinction that Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, backed by his patrons in Tehran, has always counted on in confrontations with Israel. Indeed, it is what all terrorists rely on in their battle against the West. They know that Western democracies fear inflicting “collateral damage” more than they fear defeat. It is thus that Islamists situate themselves among innocent civilians, constructing munitions factories under kindergartens and placing key operatives in apartment buildings populated by regular people.

It’s a no-brainer for global Islamists. The more “martyrs” on their side the merrier; and dead women and children — killed by “infidels” — are perfectly photogenic for their propaganda purposes.

But here’s the thing about the “innocent” Lebanese: They voted Hezbollah into lots and lots of parliament slots after that war in 2006. Olmert might want to rethink his past position of having “no quarrel” with those people.

This is not to say, of course, that Netanyahu intends on going to war with Lebanon. He most definitely has no desire to kill innocent Lebanese civilians. But he has to take Nasrallah’s threats as seriously as he does those of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — both of whom have boasted about their ability to slaughter tens of thousands of “Zionists” without much ballistic effort.

There is also a very real danger of chemical and other weapons being transferred to Hezbollah from President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria — another tentacle of the Iranian regime. Netanyahu cannot allow that to happen. He knows that to prevent it, the IDF has to be unfettered in its strikes against likely targets for such a scenario.

His conveying this to the Lebanese government means that he is removing the burden of protecting innocent Lebanese from Israel’s shoulders and placing it squarely where it belongs. Good for Netanyahu.

Today’s media failures (mostly NPR)

Today’s media failures (mostly NPR)

Before and after Corrie's death. Different bulldozers, different time of day.
Before and after Corrie’s death. Different bulldozers, different time of day.
Here are three examples of what is either utter incompetence, deliberately slanted reporting, or both. I’m going for ‘both’.
This morning’s news mentioned that France was preparing to open a homicide inquiry into the death of Original Terrorist Yasser Arafat, based on the allegations of his porcine widow Suha that he was poisoned by Polonium 210.

Simple arithmetic proves that even if there had been an impossibly large amount of Polonium 210 in Arafat’s underwear that Suha tenderly saved for 8 years, it would be undetectable today. Anyway, his symptoms were not consistent with polonium poisoning.

Yet the New York Times and NPR report this insanity with a straight face!
Rachel Corrie was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer as she stood trying to block the demolition of Palestinian homes, in Rafah, Gaza. Today, a panel of judges ruled that she could have saved herself by moving out of the way. And they dismissed her family’s lawsuit against the government.

In a document released by the court, the Haifa district court judges said that they found no negligence on the part of the army of the State of Israel. The judges called Corrie’s death a regrettable accident, and noted that she had ignored repeated warnings to leave the area.

Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, said she was saddened by the verdict and the seeming impunity of the Israeli military. The family averred that Rachel was clearly visible to the driver of the bulldozer, in her bright orange vest and loudspeaker. Corrie’s family fought a nine-year battle in Israel’s courts, arguing that the military never launched a full and credible investigation into the case. The Corrie family lawyer said they would appeal the case to Israel’s Supreme Court.

First, Corrie wasn’t ‘crushed’. The court established, based on testimony from other ‘activists’ as well as IDF personnel, that she became entangled in a pile of dirt that the bulldozer was pushing, and probably died after her head was struck by a piece of concrete. Yes, she’s still dead, but the emotional content of ‘crushed’ is much greater.

Second, she wasn’t trying to “block the demolition of Palestinian homes.” The bulldozer was clearing debris in a place where numerous tunnels used to smuggle weapons and explosives across the Egyptian border to terrorists in Gaza were located. Many of the ‘homes’ nearby were covering tunnel exits.

Third — and most important — the piece doesn’t mention that court very carefully examined the question of whether the bulldozer operator could have seen Corrie and concluded that he could not. It quotes the family’s contention that she was holding a bullhorn and in plain view, but this is based on a deliberate photographic fraud. Eyewitnesses said that she was immediately in front of the bulldozer’s blade where she could not be seen when she was hit (see yesterday’s post for a summary of the court’s decision).

One would think that a reporter on the scene would be able to do better with the simple facts. The piece also employs the usual NPR technique of emphasizing the emotional content of the anti-Israel side and barely mentioning opposing views.
A couple of weeks ago, an anti-Israel blogger copied a fanciful scenario about an Israeli cyberattack on Iran from a discussion forum, and claimed it was an actual war plan ‘leaked’ to him by an Israeli official. He managed to fool a few media outlets with it, even the BBC.
It was quickly debunked (see also here and here).

But guess who picked it up this week? Apparently NPR’s reporter Tom Gjelten found it too delicious to ignore, despite the fact that it was 100% bull pucky. Do they ever check this stuff?

Never-ending rocket fire

Never-ending rocket fire

 Gilad Skolnick

I was fresh out of boot camp when a fellow soldier stared straight into my eyes, perhaps trying to assess my sanity, and asked why I would make a choice to live in a nation threatened with annihilation. I had chosen to return to Israel, leaving the calm America I had lived in since I was six. Israel was relatively quiet, but the tension in the air caught me by surprise. Israeli television tries to make light of such fears, with the popular news satire show “Eretz Nehederet” (“A Wonderful Country”), showing Israeli survivors of a nuclear holocaust trying to find something to watch on television, but this looming fear is very real and present in Israel.

It was now my turn to serve in the Israeli military, the third generation of my family to do so. My grandfather had to drop out of high school to defend his homeland, Israel, from invading Arab armies whose leaders were publicly promising the country’s annihilation. My mother grew up in northern Israel where she was often awakened in the dead of the night with a warning of mere seconds to run to the nearest bomb shelter. She spent many sleepless nights huddled with others in a cold underground shelter, as the Syrian regime pounded her community with rockets. At 18 she was on the front line, in a guard tower, protecting Israeli villages from attack.

My grandmother, now an octogenarian, can no longer run to the nearest shelter, so when she leaves her house to buy groceries and Palestinian rockets target her city of Ashdod, she hopes for the best. At home at least she has a bomb shelter, as is the law for all new construction. Works great unless you ever need to use the bathroom. My village of Kissufim, where I spent the first years of my life, is routinely hit by indiscriminate rocket fire from Palestinian controlled areas, striking homes, kindergartens and my former preschool.

Russians who fled the discrimination and oppression of the Soviet Union, Persians escaping fanatical Islam, Iraqis fleeing pogroms, Moroccans leaving hatred, and grandparents surviving the Holocaust — these were the stories of the parents of my fellow soldiers. My unit was composed of children of refugees, who were thankful to have Israel as a safe haven to take them in. At boot camp I learned the ropes alongside a mosaic of Israelis, including Jewish refugees flown to safety from famine and discrimination in Ethiopia, and native Druze Arabs.

In a routine surprise drill against rocket fire, we took refuge under the closest stairwell. My fellow soldiers were shaken, stories of trauma and fear from their childhood surfaced, of growing up with rockets fired at their bedrooms and schools. What for me was an interesting experience — to hear firsthand accounts from them, having only read about it in the news — ruined their day; another reminder of running for their lives in search of shelter at fifth grade.

One soldier could not get up once the alarm ended, her face red and her eyes fixed on the floor as once-dormant memories were unlocked and reemerged. One time there was a warning of a possible terrorist in Tel Aviv; a fellow 18-year-old soldier, recounted his experiences of taking the bus to school in the fourth grade, when buses were blowing up every other day. Others around us joined in with their own personal stories of growing up in such an atmosphere. Much scarier than anything I feared in my fourth-grade suburban Massachusetts classroom.

My peers in the army discussed how they could not wait for the day that there would be peace, when they would not have to sacrifice two to three years of their lives for the military. Interspersed between talk about Israel’s version of shows such as “Big Brother,” and “Beauty and the Geek,” were seemingly normal conversations about needing to swing by the post office — not to mail anything, but rather to pick up the latest gas mask for themselves, their siblings and their parents.

Today, as I sit comfortably in Boston, it pains me to read how children on their first day of school were greeted with rocket fire. This atmosphere is not conducive to peace talks. The continuous threat of the annihilation of you and your family for merely existing are quite a stumbling block and barrier to trust.

How can Israeli politicians convince their people that leaving areas of the West Bank will bring peace, when six years after Israel destroyed her settlements in the Gaza Strip and completely retreated to the 1949 “cease fire” lines, she is still rewarded with rocket fire? Nowhere else in the world has a nation had its civilian population threatened with annihilation for over three generations. Nevertheless, while the Palestinian Authority refuses to negotiate and Hamas refuses to even recognize Israel’s right to exist, Israel continues to patiently wait at the negotiating table, as she has since independence over six decades ago.

From Sweden with hatred

From Sweden with hatred

 Ilya Meyer

GOTHENBURG, Sweden – The Estelle is a Swedish boat sailing to the coast of Gaza, part of the mostly publicly-funded “Ship to Gaza” propaganda project.

On Saturday, August 18, a dangerous and unusual demonstration took place simultaneously in Stockholm and Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city: people walked the streets wearing kippot.

And this Sunday, September 2, there will be parallel manifestations in support of Israel, democracy and truth in Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city. What’s the connection?

Everything. Ship to Gaza claims to want an end to the “humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” Its fanatical, virulently anti-Israel collaborators from Sweden refuse to comment on or even acknowledge the fact that Gaza is being marketed by Hamas itself as a luxury destination for Arab tourists on account of its 5-star hotels, lavish shopping malls, Olympic-standard swimming pools, acclaimed restaurants and wonderful beaches (albeit patrolled by Hamas to enforce modest Islamic dress code – but only for female bathers). Truth is an inconvenient obstacle to propaganda. Indeed, the Red Cross unequivocally stated over a year ago that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The Red Cross statement is supported by Palestinian strongman Mohammed Dahlan, who says Gaza is “not lacking anything” – and he should know better than a group of well-funded conspiracy theorists living in far-off Stockholm.

Palestinians enjoy the beach in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip, June 2012 (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90)

Besieging the truth
In defiance of truth, logic and fact, the Ship to Gaza crew nevertheless set sail from Sweden to support the Hamas regime and break what they term Israel’s “siege” of Gaza. Of course, the “siege” of the Hamas-run terrorist enclave is not total: Israel transits all Gaza’s legal imports of food, medicine, building materials, fuel and so on, and admits increasing numbers of Gaza inhabitants for hospital treatment in Israel – facts that Sweden’s “Ship to Gaza” crew conveniently ignore.

What Ship to Gaza actually carries is hatred. Hatred so virulent that it is considered dangerous, even life-threatening, to walk the streets of Sweden wearing a kippa. You can wear a turban if you’re a Sikh, a hijab if you’re Muslim, or a crucifix if you’re a Christian, but woe betide the Jew who wears a kippa or Magen David. That invites attacks. Not by neo-Nazis or white supremacists, but by immigrants from Muslim countries. Hence the recent kippa-wearing public demonstration, in which many non-Jews participated out of solidarity with traditionally strong Swedish notions of democracy, equal respect for all and an open society.

Jews fleeing Malmö
Many might regard it as an indictment on society when citizens feel the need to parade in the streets just to claim their right to exist. It ought to prompt politicians and the media to do some serious soul-searching. Instead, the anti-Semitic aura is so rife in parts of Sweden that the Simon Wiesenthal Center recently took the unprecedented step of issuing an advisory against travel to Malmö because Islamist sentiment fanned by controversial left-wing mayor Ilmar Reepalu is forcing the city’s Jews to flee en masse. In fact, so troubling is the situation that US President Obama’s special advisor on anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal, was sent to Malmö for discussions with the city’s unrepentant mayor.

It is for this reason that manifestations are being held in Stockholm and Gothenburg on Sunday. These are not demonstrations against anything or anyone, just manifestations in support of Israel, democracy and truth.

Israel, democracy and truth — three things that are anathema to the Ship to Gaza Swedes who will shortly arrive off the coast of Israel. As before, most notably when the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara was boarded and diverted to Israel amid vicious attacks by its hard-core Islamist “peace activists,” Israel has stated that the Estelle will not be allowed to dock in Gaza but will be diverted to Israel in keeping with the UN-sanctioned blockade. Israel will pass on any humanitarian cargo that the boat may be carrying for Gaza. Having said that, this is a pitifully small vessel incapable of carrying more than a couple van-loads of cargo. Contrast this with the 1,200-plus truckloads that Israel transits into Gaza every week. The Estelle is not carrying a cargo of humanitarian aid but a cargo of human-rights saboteurs aiding an anti-Semitic Hamas regime.

Unhealthy obsession with the Jewish state
Sweden is a country where the Church’s politicized leadership – unlike the majority of its membership – is rabidly anti-Israel and often borderline-anti-Semitic. A look at its Diakonia “aid” organization reveals no aid on behalf of beleaguered Christians in Bethlehem or Gaza, or Coptic Christians in Egypt, or massacred Christians in Pakistan – only an obsession with anti-Israel actions and sentiment.

With a few notable exceptions, the Swedish media are lazy, prejudiced, mainstream, unprincipled and averse to facts for fear they may interfere with their preconceived notions. Sweden’s biggest tabloid, Aftonbladet, ran an unsubstantiated story that the IDF kills Palestinian Arabs and harvests their organs in a macabre but lucrative trade. It never issued a retraction or apology for this medieval blood-libel.

Manifestation for Israel
This is the climate of indoctrination in which naïve, well-meaning Swedes are nurtured. It is where the Ship to Gaza collaborators gain their nourishment, their finances, their support. Swedes are by nature neither anti-Semitic nor inherently anti-Israel. A skewed media, self-censored by an unhealthy devotion to consensus; a heavily politicized Church leadership; and politicians who pray at the altar of Political Correctness — these have all helped create a situation in which wearing a kippa in public is dangerous, in which waving the Israeli flag and speaking not against anyone or anything but in favour of democracy and truth, requires a massive presence by a highly praiseworthy but politically hamstrung police force.

Sweden, late summer 2012: hatred nurtured at home and exported to Gaza on the Estelle, while democrats take to the streets wearing kippot under the protection of the police. It’s a sad image.


For information in English and Swedish about the manifestation in Gothenburg on September 2, contact the author at For Hebrew information, contact Oded Meiri at

Hearing the other side, up close

Hearing the other side, up close

Simon Plosker

While my day job in pro-Israel advocacy ensures my exposure to all manner of positive messages about Israel, I also try to get a more rounded and sometimes critical picture of events.

Recently, I had the opportunity to go on a day trip to the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem courtesy of a left-wing organization whose name I will not divulge. The first part of the day was a visit to the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, some 15 minutes northeast of Modi’in, over the Green Line.

The village is the site of weekly protests by Palestinians, left-wing Israelis and international activists aimed at the nearby Jewish settlement of Halamish. In particular, the ownership of a water source in the area appears to be the flashpoint for the residents of Nabi Saleh.

Our small group arrived at the home of Bassam Tamimi, the leader of the village’s so-called “Popular Struggle Coordination Committee.” Perhaps it is a positive sign of change in our region that, where once I would have found it a discomfiting experience to be in the center of a Palestinian village, I no longer felt that my personal security was in immediate jeopardy.

Indeed, I could have no complaints about the hospitality that our group was shown, sitting with Tamimi and his family members. But more on that later.

I was more than prepared to listen to the issues facing Nabi Saleh’s residents, and I do sympathize with the military restrictions on Palestinian freedoms, although I believe they are a direct result of the Palestinian terror threat. That’s not to say, however, that Palestinian complaints can be automatically dismissed.

A Palestinian demonstrator hurls a stone at Israeli border police during a protest in Nabi Saleh. The Jewish settlement of Halamish can be seen in the background. (photo credit:Issam Rimawi/flash90)

I fully expected to hear things that would make me uncomfortable and even sympathetic toward the Palestinian plight, especially in the absence of any competing viewpoint: the psychological damage to the village’s children as a result of IDF arrests of their parents; kids unable to get permits to cross into Israel; the mere 11 hours a week of water from the taps.

As our Palestinian hosts explained their adherence to “non-violent protest,” how could one not feel sympathy towards them?

But the mood started to change as our questions moved away from the more immediate concerns and on to deeper political and ideological issues.

According to Tamimi et al, they drew a distinction between Jews and Zionists. Indeed they had the utmost respect for Jews (and Christians) with whom they were happy to share the land, everyone possessing equal rights — which I took to be a veiled desire for a one-state solution or an Israel that was no longer a Jewish state. We were left in no doubt as to their views on Zionism, which represented unbridled racism responsible for stealing Palestinian lands.

We were told that even Jews distinguish between Judaism and Zionism, the example given of the Neturai Karta, that bunch of extremists whose leadership even attended an Iranian Holocaust denial conference.

References were made to the occupation of 1948. Not 1967 — when Nabi Saleh fell under Israeli control, having formerly been occupied by Jordan — but the year of Israel’s rebirth. “Non-violent resistance” was a strategic choice while it was stressed that under international law, the Palestinians were entitled to use “all necessary means” to resist occupation. I remembered hearing similar sentiments from Palestinian terrorists after Israeli buses and cafes had been targeted by suicide bombers.

Clearly, whatever grievances the protesters of Nabi Saleh had with Israel, it wasn’t just over land issues or relations with the settlement of Halamish. It wasn’t over where the borders of two states should lie. The problem was with Zionism and Israel itself.

I can understand why a Palestinian would consider the creation of Israel to be their “nakba,” and I can also understand why a Palestinian could hold a narrow and inaccurate view of Zionism. I wasn’t shocked or surprised at what I heard. I was disappointed however. Disappointed that while Israelis have moved toward recognizing Palestinian rights and supporting a Palestinian state, these supposed Palestinian “moderates” had no interest in a reciprocal recognition of Israeli rights.

Just as disturbing was the reaction of most of the group of Jews I was with. Where I read between the lines and heard a refusal to disavow terrorism and the desire to see the end of Israel as a Jewish state, others heard a message of peace and reconciliation. This was probably based on the fact that these particular Palestinians were not resorting to the foul anti-Semitism of Hamas when it came to addressing Jews, coupled with a naive image of Gandhi-style protest on their part.

If this is the effect of promoting “non-violent resistance” to a group of left-leaning Diaspora Jews, then it is no surprise that this strategic direction of working through international forums and non-governmental organizations, and hijacking the language of human rights, is bearing fruit for the Palestinians. Clearly the strategic move away from suicide bombers garners far more sympathy for the Palestinian cause.

The leader of the organization responsible for the trip contended that the purpose was to expose Diaspora Jews to the “other side” of the story. I would argue that, when it comes to dealing with the issues on a micro-level, such as in Nabi Saleh, how often would a group of Diaspora Jews get to hear from the IDF or even the Halamish settlers?

I am in a privileged position of being able, by virtue of my own contacts, to get relevant information directly from the source. But I finished my visit to Nabi Saleh feeling cheated, not just for myself but mainly for the rest of the group who had not had the opportunity to hear from both sides in order to come to an informed viewpoint.

Instead, a group of Diaspora Jews has been exposed to only one side of a complicated narrative and will be returning to its country of origin with a distorted and negative story to tell, which was not the stated intention of the organization responsible for the tour.

While others may have left with a warm, fuzzy feeling, I finished the day more convinced than ever that it may be nigh impossible for Israel to reconcile with a Palestinian narrative that leaves little room for compromise on the real issues.

Rachel Corrie & The Bulldozer: The Photo That Falsely Fuels A Blood Libel

Rachel Corrie & The Bulldozer: The Photo That Falsely Fuels A Blood Libel

Shraga Simmons, an ordained rabbi who founded, is one of the foremost experts on media bias against Israel.  Of Simmons's book David and Goliath, published earlier this year, another expert, Professor Richard Landes of Boston (who incidentally coined the term "Pallywood") has written:
"Simmons has produced an invaluable book on one of the most serious problems of the 21st century, the almost perverse and pervasively wrong-headed way that our western mainstream news media (MSNM) report the Arab-Israeli conflict. Not only are the problems he so thoroughly details critical as a problem of both epistemology and journalistic ethics, but the implications for the well-being of the civic polities which create and depend on a free press are dire... This book should be required reading in Journalism 101. Alas, I'm not holding my breath."

In the wake of an Israeli court's verdict in the Rachel Corrie case, Simmons tells afresh why this photo, still being widely used in press reports (I saw it used last evening on CNN, for example, when Mark Regev was being grilled) gives the misleading impression that the bulldozer's driver had Ms Corrie in plain view when she was killed.  As Shraga Simmons explains, the photo was taken hours before the tragedy, and when the latter occurred Ms Corrie was hidden.  He also shows, as evidenced in another photo, that a different bulldozer was involved.

Incidentally, during the interview with CNN Mark Regev said that contrary to press reports Ms Corrie was not obstructing a house demolition but the clearance of shrubs and small trees used as "sniper positions".  He also pointed to the extremist nature of the International Solidarity Movement (remember this exposé?) to which she was affiliated, reminding his interviewer that the ISM believes Israel has no right to exist.

The Balen Report: Wanted – A Whistleblower

The Balen Report: Wanted – A Whistleblower

Nearly £333,000 of licence-payers' money is now known, thanks to The Commentator, which used the Freedom of Information Act to do some digging, to have been squandered by the institutionally leftist BBC in its determined fight through the courts to keep the Balen Report away from public scrutiny.

As The Commentatorobserves in an exclusive explosive exposé  issued at the weekend, the total sum spent by the BBC is likely to be even higher.
 "The BBC has a special obligation to be accountable. It is publicly funded – in the UK, by the licence fee – and therefore all of its journalists have a responsibility to deal openly and fairly with its audiences."
So opens one of the self-righteous self-congratulatory items in the "Standards" section on the website of the BBC's so-called College of Journalism (CoJo).  The blurb on the introductory page states:
"BBC journalism is built on a number of editorial standards including truth and accuracy, impartiality, accountability, public interest and independence.
In this section, BBC director of news Helen Boaden outlines why the BBC’s ethics and values underpin everything its journalists do."
 The specific item I refer to above and below is headed "Accountability":
 "By far the most important accountability we have is towards the audience, and it’s when we lose sight of that that we get into trouble ....
 .... Accountability isn’t just about responding – or not responding – to complaints. You shouldn’t see complaints as a nuisance. Nor should you believe that it’s a sign of weakness if you’ve got something wrong.
If you receive a complaint it’s important to deal with it according to the complaints procedure that is in place.
As a BBC journalist you should be prepared to listen to your audience, understand why they might want you to explain what you’ve done and, if you have made a mistake, acknowledge it and be willing to learn from it.
Dealing with complaints properly and openly is an important part of building and maintaining trust.
However hard you strive to be accurate, fair and impartial, you will get things wrong from time to time...."
Observes another BBC bigwig on the same site:
"There are many reasons why Wikileaks is a 'Good Thing'. Any force for transparency has to be better than one for secrecy."

 Any force for transparency except releasing the Balen Report, it seems.

Columnist Alex Singleton wrote yesterday:
"It's time for the BBC to give up. We already know that it's biased towards the Left. But the corporation looks ridiculous in its endless attempts to stop the publication of an inquiry into its coverage of Israel....
You probably won't hear this on the BBC, but there is a truth about Israel that the Left has been blinded to. It is that Israel is a virtuous country....
Sadly the debate has been skewed by nutty Left-wing websites who ignore the truth about the Israel and print endless false accusations against the country.....
When the BBC is bombarded by the constant email campaigns of these people who pervert reality, I suspect they really do believe that their coverage is even-handed."
Clearly, unless the BBC has a change of heart in its top echelons, the Balen Report will continue to be suppressed.

Unless somebody at Al Beeb is prepared to be a whistleblower.

(As for that complaints procedure of which Ms Boaden boasts: I was given short shrift when I complained, a decade ago, about two reports by Orla Guerin, the arrogant official in charge of complaints snottily informing me that he refused to investigate my grievances since the fact that I was complaining about two separate reports within a short time of each other suggested that the "problem" lay with me and not with the reporter!  I'm still awaiting a reply to a complaint I made back in 2009 about perceived bias in Jeremy Bowen's online "Diary" during Cast Lead, despite explicitly requesting a response! Little wonder that some frustrated people in the same position have dubbed the BBC "Bin and Bypass Complaints"!)

Gasp: House of worship turns out to be a weapons factory... in Saudi Arabia

Gasp: House of worship turns out to be a weapons factory... in Saudi Arabia

Here's something to file away for the day when, inevitably, we find ourselves under fire from rocket-firing terrorists basing themselves in residential neighbourhoods and/or hospitals and/or schools and/or places of religious worship.

Today's edition of Arab News carries an article calling for the authorities (that would of course be the Saudiauthorities) to step up their monitoring of places of worship. This comes in the wake of the shocking (who could possibly believe it?) discovery that a mosque in Riyadh, the Saudi capital and its largest city, had been serving as a front for a weapons manufacturing plant and terrorist activity.

Saudi scholars "demanded deterrent punishments to those who exploit the spiritual atmosphere in mosques to promote chaos in the country", according to the Al-Madinah daily yesterday (Monday).

A prominent member of Saudi's Fiqh Academy says "Officials concerned should also investigate why some expatriates are unofficially undertaking duties at mosques. They should also launch campaigns and raids at such mosques.

In fact, agents of the Saudi Interior Ministry carried out what can only be imagined happening outside the Arab world: an unannounced raid that Arab News calls a "successful preemptive strike" against the Riyadh bomb makers and their "heinous deeds" (their term). Just imagine the reaction to a pre-emptive strike against a weapons-making center hidden away inside a Brooklyn mosque, a London mosque, a Haifa mosque.

The Arab News report goes through a list of Islamic worthies and their serious warnings about how really bad all of this is in terms of Islam's doctrines.

  • The head of Islamic studies at the Umm Al-Qura University calls it "a matter of deep pain for all Muslims, especially students and teachers of religious knowledge". 
  • The head of the Mecca branch of the International Islamic Relief Organization told parents and teachers "to protect their children or students from vicious ideologies they might be exposed to in the present circumstances". 
  • A professor of politics at King Saud University solemnly intones that "the uncovering of a terror cell in Riyadh was not a matter to be taken lightly".  
  • Several more Saudi experts say they are sure this dreadful tendency is an import from neighbouring Yemen. 
  • And one, worried about the siren call of Syria, tells parents to ensure their children do not "go to Syria or other war fronts without the permission from their guardians. A family should be cautious about its sons being lured to war zones for jihad."
They sound so sincere. We're left in no doubt at all that the bomb makers with violent death in their hearts and in their feverish brows will take the religious advice to heart. Being people of faith themselves, the paramount value of listening to your preacher is certain to be self-evident to them.
Saudi religious figure, Salman Al-Odeh
Oh, and in case anyone's interested in a more balanced view of the issues that are current in Saudi religious circles, here's a Saudi religious leader called Salman Al-Odeh. He's shown preaching a sermon on Rotana's Khalijia TV channel two weeks ago, translated to English by MEMRI. Nothing especially out of the ordinary here - we have seen and heard this many times before. Some selected quotations:
  • "The problem lies, first of all, in the exaggeration of the Holocaust. It has been turned into a myth of tremendous proportions.
    Interviewer: "A sacred myth..."Salman Al-Odeh: That's the other thing. The Holocaust has been made sacred. Talking about it, refuting it, or denying it is sometimes a legal offense for which one can be placed on trial. It has become, in effect, a sacred historical event...
  • "Through this Holocaust, the Jews began to extort many government worldwide – in Europe and in the U.S. The Jews even began to perpetrate the same thing themselves against the Palestinian people, carrying out a Holocaust in Gaza and the occupied land. They attack children, women, and the elderly under the pretext of the Holocaust that they are trying to substantiate...
  • "The role of the Jews is to wreak destruction, to wage war, and to practice deception and extortion... For thousands of years, the Jews were subject to persecution, deportation, killings, and accusations. Maybe much of this stemmed from their moral values, their treacherous nature, their schemes, and the ploys, which made other nations be wary of them...
  • "The Jews believe that they have the right to kill anyone who does not adhere to their religion. This is written in the Talmud and some of their holy books... 
  • "It is well-known that the Jews celebrate several holidays, one of which is the Passover, or the Matzos Holiday... They would lure a child in order to sacrifice him in the religious rite that they perform during that holiday..."
And so on.

About that major Egyptian armed offensive against Sinai terrorists: has it been called off?

 About that major Egyptian armed offensive against Sinai terrorists: has it been called off?

Egyptian weapon systems pour into Sinai
earlier this month [Image Source]
We and everyone else outside the clique that runs Egypt today don't know for sure what's happening in the new Egypt. But as Egyptian weapons including tanks and helicopters take up position in the formerly demilitarized Sinai over angry Israeli objections [see "Israel voices worry over Egyptian tanks, troops in Sinai"], it might be (based on the report below from Egypt) that Egypt's new Moslem Brotherhood leadership has called off the anti-terrorism sweep, preferring instead to talk with the terrorists. Meanwhile its forces remain there.

Al-Masry Al-Youm (Egypt) carried this Arabic-language report in its Monday, Aug 27, 2012 edition (translated to English here):
  • Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi sent a secret delegation on Sunday to meet with Salafist jihadists in the Sinai, scene of the August 5 border attacks. Security sources said the militants agreed to halt terrorism operations for one week, in exchange for the release of prisoners and a halt to the army's "Operation Eagle" counterinsurgency...
  • "The delegation met with a number of Salafist figures in two mosques in Sheikh Zuwaid, and they reached an agreement to stop terrorist operations for a week, in return for the release of prisoners and the halt of Operation Eagle that is being implemented by the armed forces with the aim of cleansing the Sinai of terrorists," the sources said.
  • "The chief of presidential staff... will hold meetings with the jihadist Salafist leaders in order to develop a program for dialogue and stability in the region," the sources added.
  • Three presidential cars arrived and entered the cities of Rafah and Sheikh Zuwaid at 7 p.m. and then were later seen on the highway outside the city at 11 p.m. en route to Cairo...
  • The presidency has concluded a deal with jihadist groups in the Sinai following threats by these groups to expand their terrorist operations to a number of Egyptian governorates should the Egyptian army continue with Operation Eagle, aimed at cleansing the Sinai of Jihadists.
  • The source said that it is due to these negotiations that Operation Eagle was stopped 48 hours ago.
The nostalgic and optimistic among our readers might enjoy 'Egypt's tanks are in Sinai for fighting terrorism'The rest of us might want to note that Egypt's deployment on Israel's southern border in the wake of "the battle to defeat the Sinai jihadists" now suddenly includes main battle tanks (MBTs) and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), particularly in the northeastern Sinai area, between the coastal city of El Arish and the border with Israel and Gaza [source]. 
  • The U.S.-made MBTs are M-60A3, exported to Egypt in the 1980s. Between 20 and 30 have been deployed in eastern Sinai.
  • The Boeing-produced Avenger air defense system, also deployed near the Israeli border, contains the Stinger surface-to-air missile. These were supplied to Egypt over the last five years.
  • Egypt has deployed Dutch-produced YPR-765 armored personnel carriers with their 30 mm automatic gun turrets. The Egyptian Army is believed to have about 430 such APCs. [source]
An AP syndicated story from August 15 ["Sinai terror group warns Egyptian army to cease crackdown: Statement on Jihadist website says Israel, not soldiers is groups main focus"] now also provides some interesting after-the-fact reading.

We wrote some weeks ago about worrying signs emanating from Sinai and the Egyptian moves. See "10-Aug-12: Egypt is pouring forces into Sinai but does anyone know for sure what they are actually doing there?" We very much hope the concerns we expressed prove to be misplaced.

Hasbara campaign: 'I'm a Jewish refugee'

Hasbara campaign: 'I'm a Jewish refugee'

New Foreign Ministry campaign calls on Arab Jews to tell the story of their deportation from Arab states in bid to promote compensation 
Itamar Eichner
"I'm a refugee" – This is the title of a unique viral campaign launched by the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday calling on Israelis born in Arab countries to upload video testimonials telling the story of their deportation from those countries, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

  • To add your story click here 

Initiated by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, himself a son of an Algeria-born refugee, the campaign aims to promote recognition and compensation for the refugees and their families and raise the issue on the international agenda.

"Some 856,000 Arab Jews were expelled or left their homes penniless and arrived in Israel as refugees," Ayalon said.

"Unfortunately, the story of their expulsion has never won recognition by the international community or any of the Israeli governments."

'The Truth about the Refugees' campaign 

The Foreign Ministry is calling on Arab Jews and their families to post video testimonials on a Facebook page which will be launched in Arabic, Hebrew and English.

"I call on every Jewish refugee from an Arab state to tell his or her story and help right the wrong," Ayalon said.

The bid is part of a larger two-year campaign spearheaded by the Foreign Ministry as part of which a video titled "The Truth about the Refugees" was launched in Geneva as the UN's refugee agency celebrated its 60 year anniversary.,7340,L-4274424,00.html