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Friday, April 30, 2010

Mearsheimer libels Zionists, panders to his Arab friends

John Mearsheimer, of "The Israel Lobby" fame, gave the Hisham B. Sharabi Memorial Lecture at the Palestine Center in Washington, DC yesterday.

His long speech is filled with unbelievable rhetoric where he accepts the Palestinian Arab narrative hook, line and sinker.

Like Goldstone and others, he builds his argument by first creating a framework that is false to begin with. Once he builds this straw-man edifice he can fill out his speech with "facts" that fit his fantasy worldview.

Here is one strawman:
To be viable, [a] Palestine state would have to control 95 percent or more of the West Bank and all of Gaza. There would also have to be territorial swaps to compensate the Palestinians for those small pieces of West Bank territory that Israel got to keep in the final agreement. East Jerusalem would be the capital of the new Palestinian state.
What is the relationship between "viability" and his list? They may be the Palestinian Arab minimum demands, which he accepts uncritically, but they have nothing to do with "viability." Other states are smaller, other states have fewer natural resources, other states somehow manage to exist without east Jerusalem. Why does an Arab Palestine require these things?

Mearsheimer also dismisses any problems with Palestinian Arab unity, subconsciously treating them like the children that liberals always do:
The Palestinians are badly divided among themselves and not in a good position to make a deal with Israel and then stick to it. That problem is fixable with time and help from Israel and the United States.
That's it. In a lecture that must have taken an hour, to an audience that actually has the power to help fix the biggest obstacle to a viable Palestinian Arab state, Mearsheimer dismisses it with two sentences - and doesn't even think that his heroes have the ability to fix their own problems without help from Israel and the US! Yet these infantile people, in his estimation, can responsibly run a nation-state.

It gets worse. Mearsheimer is convinced that Zionists are people who are just itching to murder and expel millions of people from their homes. Since he is convinced that Israel is going to create a Greater Israel (using more strawman arguments), he concludes:
...Israel could expel most of the Palestinians from Greater Israel, thereby preserving its Jewish character through an overt act of ethnic cleansing. This is what happened in 1948 when the Zionists drove roughly 700,000 Palestinians out of the territory that became the new state of Israel, and then prevented them from returning to their homes. Following the Six Day War in 1967, Israel expelled between 100,000 and 260,000 Palestinians from the newly conquered West Bank and drove 80,000 Syrians from the Golan Heights. The scale of the expulsion, however, would have to be even greater this time, because there are about 5.5 million Palestinians living between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.

...Then there is ethnic cleansing, which would certainly mean that Greater Israel would have a Jewish majority. But that murderous strategy seems unlikely, because it would do enormous damage to Israel's moral fabric, its relationship with Jews in the Diaspora, and its international standing. ...Nevertheless, there is reason to worry that Israelis might adopt this solution as the demographic balance shifts against them and they fear for the survival of the Jewish state. Given the right circumstances -- say a war involving Israel that is accompanied by serious Palestinian unrest -- Israeli leaders might conclude that they can expel massive numbers of Palestinians from Greater Israel and depend on the lobby to protect them from international criticism and especially from sanctions.

We should not underestimate Israel's willingness to employ such a horrific strategy if the opportunity presents itself. It is apparent from public opinion surveys and everyday discourse that many Israelis hold racist views of Palestinians and the Gaza massacre makes clear that they have few qualms about killing Palestinian civilians. It is difficult to disagree with Jimmy Carter's comment earlier this year that "the citizens of Palestine are treated more like animals than like human beings." A century of conflict and four decades of occupation will do that to a people.
To Mearsheimer, Meir Kahane is not an aberration whose party was made illegal in Israel - he represents the majority viewpoint of committed Zionists.

Mearsheimer goes on to label his concept of who the good Jews are and who the bad Jews are. Using obscenely insulting language, he says:
American Jews who care deeply about Israel can be divided into three broad categories. The first two are what I call "righteous Jews" and the "new Afrikaners," which are clearly definable groups that think about Israel and where it is headed in fundamentally different ways. The third and largest group is comprised of those Jews who care a lot about Israel, but do not have clear-cut views on how to think about Greater Israel and apartheid. Let us call this group the "great ambivalent middle."

...To give you a better sense of what I mean when I use the term righteous Jews, let me give you some names of people and organizations that I would put in this category. The list would include Noam Chomsky, Roger Cohen, Richard Falk, Norman Finkelstein, Tony Judt, Tony Karon, Naomi Klein, MJ Rosenberg, Sara Roy, and Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss fame, just to name a few. I would also include many of the individuals associated with J Street and everyone associated with Jewish Voice for Peace, as well as distinguished international figures such as Judge Richard Goldstone. Furthermore, I would apply the label to the many American Jews who work for different human rights organizations, such as Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch.

On the other side we have the new Afrikaners, who will support Israel even if it is an apartheid state. These are individuals who will back Israel no matter what it does, because they have blind loyalty to the Jewish state. This is not to say that the new Afrikaners think that apartheid is an attractive or desirable political system, because I am sure that many of them do not. Surely some of them favor a two-state solution and some of them probably have a serious commitment to liberal values. The key point, however, is that they have an even deeper commitment to supporting Israel unreservedly. The new Afrikaners will of course try to come up with clever arguments to convince themselves and others that Israel is really not an apartheid state, and that those who say it is are anti-Semites. We are all familiar with this strategy.

I would classify most of the individuals who head the Israel lobby's major organizations as new Afrikaners. That list would include Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee, Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress, and Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America, just to name some of the more prominent ones. I would also include businessmen like Sheldon Adelson, Lester Crown, and Mortimer Zuckerman as well as media personalities like Fred Hiatt and Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, and Martin Peretz of the New Republic. It would be easy to add more names to this list.

The key to determining whether the lobby can protect apartheid Israel over the long run is whether the great ambivalent middle sides with the new Afrikaners or the righteous Jews. The new Afrikaners have to win that fight decisively for Greater Israel to survive as a racist state.
Again, he is spending the main part of a lecture about his perception of American Jews to a group of Arabs who fully accept his thesis that all of their problems can be blamed directly on Jews, as it supports their own bigoted worldviews.

He also doesn't disappoint with his comments on the all-powerful Jewish lobby, of course.

All in all, this is a despicable speech full of half-truths and a completely skewed viewpoint that ironically caters to Arab bigotry by accusing all Zionist Jews of that same trait.

Egyptian lawyers seek to ban "One Thousand and One Nights"

From Bikya Masr:
A new Hisba case has appeared in the Egyptian political arena this week after a number of lawyers calling themselves the Association of Lawyers Without Restrictions filed a complaint and submitted a copy to the Attorney General calling for the confiscation of the book “A Thousand and One Nights”. They are calling for the imprisonment of the publishers of the book from the General Authority of the Culture, claiming that the book “offends public decency.”

Hisba cases allow citizens to prosecute individuals who they deem to have insulted Islam, and, although fairly new to Egypt, they have been increasingly used against public figures.

A Thousand and One Nights does indeed have a number of passages that deal with matters that would make a Victorian blush.



But maybe the Egyptians are more upset at this story:

British press ignored attack on Israeli diplomat

A foreign diplomat is physically attacked in her host country by a screaming mob, and not a single media outlet in Great Britain outside the Jewish press has seen fit to mentioning it.

[Depiuty Ambassador] Ms Lador-Fresher had been asked back to the university after a previous arrangement to address students in February was cancelled when more than 300 protesters from the Action Palestine student society scuffled with Jewish students and police.

Speaking about Wednesday’s protest she said: “It was quite a shocking experience. I have had people stand up and shout and wave the Palestinian flag when I have spoken, but it was the first time I have been in this situation.

“When we finished I could not get out of the university building. The demonstrators saw me on the way to the car and they started running towards me.

“The security team rushed me back into the building and we were standing in the corridor for a few minutes.”

The diminutive deputy ambassador was eventually escorted through a back door to a security vehicle but the demonstrators discovered the evacuation plan and surrounded the car.

Ms Lador-Fresher said: “They were screaming and shouting. Two of them were on the bonnet trying to break the windscreen. It was very unpleasant.

“I don’t think they wanted to kill me but I genuinely believed they wanted to physically hurt me. If I had not had the police and security team I would have been beaten up.”

“No foreign diplomat should have to go through what I went through.”

The wire services have likewise ignored this story - and they were made aware of it.

Apparently, this sort of thing is not newsworthy.

Freedom of expression in Sweden

Let's see if we can figure out how these two news stories make sense together.

First, the Swedish government subsidizes an anti-semitic, racist and homophobic publication, giving it hundreds of thousands of dollars to spread hate, because it wants to encourage freedom of speech.

Yet at the same time, Comedy Central in Sweden will not be airing the South Park Mohammed episodes because of fears for the safety of its employees.

It's a mystery.

(h/t Zvi and Jihad Watch)

The Al Quds Poetry contest

The Islamic Jihad Students organization arranged a poetry competition, where the poets had to write about their love of Jerusalem. The winners were announced last night.

Meanwhile, I still have not found a single example of Arabic poetry extolling Jerusalem from before the 20th century. (I'm not sure there was any before 1967, to be honest.)

For some reason, Jews throughout the centuries didn't need competitions to give them incentive to write heart-wrenching poems about their love of Jerusalem.

Just saying...

Hamas kicks family out of their home

Ma'an writes:
A family apartment was seized and handed over to de facto government police after its owner temporarily moved out of the home to take care of her sick father-in law.

A’lyia Aweida said she returned to the apartment on 3 April to collect some belongings, only to find a de facto government police officer, who she identified only by his initials, RAH, and his wife living in her home.
The article goes on to quote a Hamas official as being totally shocked that such a thing happened.

So Hamas scheduled a hearing to see whether the family can return to their home - to take place in September.

The issue of Hamas stealing people's apartments was one of the issues that the PFLP complained about in a letter sent earlier this week.

New anti-Iran web ad

The Weekly Standard links to a new web ad directed at the White House:



The organization behind it, Keep Israel Safe, is brand new and was founded by Tom Rose, former editor of the Jerusalem Post.

(h/t Love of the Land)

The "racist traffic light" story originated in The Economist

It wasn't Al Jazeera that first came up with the story that Jerusalem traffic lights were rigged to discriminate against Arab drivers - it was The Economist, in a side comment last month:
Further impeding access, traffic lights flick green only briefly for cars from Palestinian districts while staying green for cars from Jewish settlements for minutes.
Because such a respected magazine made this absurd charge, CAMERA asked them for details - and fisked it.

I predict it will be mentioned in some UN document as fact within six months, just like the charge that Israel kidnaps Arabs and steals their organs is now enshrined in an official UN document submitted by a lying - and award-winning - NGO, EAFORD, whose founding purpose is to promote the idea that Zionism is racism.

Noam Shalit's video message

I had missed this Yom Ha'atzmaut video message, and it is worth watching:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

EoZ Gossip Minute: Hollywood Goyishe Bris

The big news in Hollywood is, of course, Sandra Bullock's adoption of a son in conjunction with her divorce with Jesse James, the tattooed weirdo with the secret Nazi obsession.

However, the EoZ gossip column is more interested in the question:

Why did Sandra give her new son a bris?

Not just a hospital circumcision, mind you. She hired a mohel who went to her house and did the whole ceremony with her family in attendance.

And she's not Jewish!

Neither is her soon-to-be ex, or anyone else remotely close to her (although, apparently, more Jews want her to be Jewish than any other shiksa.)

So, nu, what's with the goyishe bris? Is it trendy in Hollywood? Does she think it will get her better roles? Is she considering joining the Tribe? Is she raising little Louis to be Jewish? (At least one clueless news outlet thinks that the bris automatically made him Jewish. Unless his mother was Jewish, which doesn't appear to be likely.)

Now I'm going to have to watch The Blind Side.

Israeli diplomat attacked at U. of Manchester

Things are seriously messed up in Britain:

A lecture given by Israel's Deputy Ambassador to Britain Talya Lador-Fresher at the University of Manchester deteriorated Wednesday into violence when pro-Palestinian protesters stormed at the diplomat in an attempted attack.

The protesters were waiting for Lador-Fresher outside the lecture hall, but this did not deter her from entering as planned. Immediately upon her exit, the protesters lunged at the diplomat, prompting security guards to whisk her back into the hall. Following a consultation on the site, it was decided to escort her out of the premises in a police car.

The deputy ambassador was removed from the hall and into the police vehicle. However, this did not block the protesters, who surrounded the car and climbed on the hood, trying to break the windshield.
Let's make one thing clear: these are not pro-Palestinian protesters. Protesters who support something do not act this way. These are anti-Israel - and often anti-Jewish - rioters.

Last February, the same diplomat was forced to postpone her speech at Manchester because of threats of violence. And a student shouted out "Itbach al Yahud," which means "Kill the Jews," at Danny Ayalon at the Oxford Student Union.

A couple of months earlier, the Action Palestine movement at Manchester invited to speak a man who threatened to make pro-Jewish South Africans' lives hell, saying they are not welcome in their own country. After his statements were publicized, their members defended him.

This is nothing but hate. These students don't give a damn about Palestinian Arab rights or anything else - they just hate the idea that Jews have a degree of self-determination. This is today's anti-semitism, and people who claim that actions like these are merely anti-Israel are fooling themselves.

UPDATE: The British press has still not written a word about this incident, nearly 24 hours later.

The five-star occupation

In Ha'aretz, in an article about how ordinary Palestinian Arabs are warming up to Salam Fayyad (and Fatah is upset), Avi Issacharoff mentions that the PA communications minister referred to Israel's "five-star occupation." The reporter's point was to contrast how well the PA was doing while it cooperates with Israel compared to how Gazans are faring.

A, EoZ reader emailed Issacharoff to verify the quote. He wrote back that he heard it himself at a press conference in Ramallah yesterday, and that "it was a kind of a joke but a serious one..."

It is not the first time that this expression was used. A prominent Ramallah businessman, flush with success of his Italian restaurant in Ramallah, used the same term to describe his situation.

It seems that the "occupation" is not nearly as awful as it is portrayed in the media. In fact, it appears that Palestinian Arabs living under the yoke of this oppression in the West Bank are living better lives than their Arab brethren across the Jordan River or the Syrian border - specifically due to Israel's policies of helping them economically and easing up restrictions in return for better security.

Which brings up the question - how would things be improved if the "peace process" moved forward? Because, arguably, the biggest gains for Palestinian Arabs have occurred while it was moribund.

Egypt denies "poison gas" in tunnel killed 4 Gazans

This morning, Hamas wrote a press release:
-Egyptian forces pumped gas into a cross-border tunnel used to smuggle goods into the Gaza Strip late on Wednesday, killing four Palestinians, Hamas officials said.

A Hamas security official in charge of the tunnel area along the border said the Egyptians filled the passage with some type of crowd dispersal gas.
The Hamas Interior Ministry later said in a statement the gas used to try to clear the tunnel was poisonous. Besides those killed, six people were injured, it said.

"The Interior Ministry confirms that the citizens' cause of death was the Egyptian security forces spraying poison gasses into one of the tunnels."

"This is a terrible crime committed by Egyptian security against simple Palestinian workers who were trying to earn their daily bread," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum to The Associated Press. "It was a killing in cold blood. Hamas and all the Palestinian people condemn it strongly."

The story gets even weirder. From Ma'an:
Wednesday night medics said workers had gone to the tunnel that had in fact been "filled with poisonous gas a week ago, to confirm the toxin had dissipated," Adham Abu Salmiya, spokesman for Gaza medical services, told Ma'an. "They were shocked to find it had actually remained in the tunnel, resulting in the deaths and injuries."
So they went into the tunnel to see if poison gas was still inside. Human canaries?

The entire idea of Egypt spraying poison gas in tunnels makes no sense, as there is nothing to be gained by such a move. Far more likely is that either an Egyptian explosion sucked the air out of the tunnel, or that fuel being smuggled caused the deaths by being exposed to air, or - very possibly - there was an explosion of munitions en route that Hamas doesn't want to admit.

Egypt denied the charges. Palestine Today writes that Egypt always coordinated tunnel demolitions with the Gaza government to ensure that no one is inside, and does not confirm that any demolitions occurred at the time of these deaths.

AP followed up:
The intelligence official confirmed that Egyptian security forces destroyed the entrances to several tunnels this week, but said that no gas was used in the operations. He said that Egypt routinely blows up the mouths to the tunnels to seal them off, and that the blast and an ensuing fire could quickly use up all the oxygen in the confined space, causing people caught inside to suffocate.

It was not immediately clear what evidence Hamas was basing its allegations on.

Mohammed al-Osh, the medical director of the Abu Yusef al-Najar hospital in the Gaza border town of Rafah where some of the dead and injured were taken, could not confirm those killed had inhaled poison gas. He said the hospital did not have the equipment or specialists needed to conduct the necessary tests on lungs and clothing.
Another strange part about this story is that, to the best of my knowledge, the names of the victims have not been released , which could indicate that they were not just smuggling candy bars. (UPDATE: Their names can be seen here. h/t Soccer Dad)

Either way, Hamas' flat accusation of "poison gas" is a lie, as no one in Gaza could possibly confirm that charge.

French journalist tries a burqa for a week

Interesting story from Al Arabiya:
As the heated debate about banning the face veil rages in France, a journalist with the women's magazine Marie Claire decided to put on the controversial cloth and walk the streets of Paris for five days.

In an article entitled "Ma semaine en Niqab" (My Week in a Niqab), published with photos in the May issue of Marie Claire, journalist Elizabeth Alexandre described her experience.

"I wanted to know what it feels to be fully veiled," she wrote. "I wanted to feel the fabric on my cheeks and forehead and see the world from this tiny slit. I also wanted to know how the world would see me."

"I felt as if I am inside a tent. I couldn't see my feet and when I walked the garment rolled around my legs and I had to slow down. I was terrified I was going to fall on my face."

She then went to a café where she found it very hard to drink her coffee or smoke a cigarette from under her veil.

"I had to keep lifting the veil in order to take sips from the coffee or to smoke. This was very difficult."

The full veil also proved impractical when Alexandre tried to read as couldn't wear her glasses because her entire face was covered. The fabric of the veil also rubbed against her eyelashes making it very inconvenient for her to blink.

Getting on the metro, Alexandre realized that people were reluctant to talk to her because they did not feel at ease talking to someone whose face they cannot see.

"They looked at me then looked away. I tried to start a conversation with the passengers, but I failed. I felt isolated."

When she went to her office in the magazine pretending she had decided to wear the face veil for real, her colleagues started treating her differently.

"I found out that I could neither see nor hear properly and that made team work nearly impossible."

Going back home and taking off the veil made Alexandre breathe a sigh of relief. She felt she was free.

"I discovered how the face veil isolates the woman as it turns her into someone who cannot interact with people. I felt that after only three days of wearing it."

On the fourth day, Alexandre drew the third conclusion: the full veil made her extremely self-conscious and overly sensitive about anything related to her body.

"I felt that I am both invisible and too visible. It felt like I was placed in a window ship and everyone was invited to watch."

Alexandre explained that wearing a full veil eliminated any feelings of vanity or self-esteem and made her ovely self-conscious whenever the smallest part of her body was revealed.

"Being totally covered made me feel that my body is a disgrace. All men around me turned into sexually obsessed beasts that want to devour me.

It is then that I felt I need the veil to protect me from this imminent danger. For the first time in my life, I felt I was a sex bomb and a source of sin."
Which is exactly how Muslim men who insist that women wear the veil think of them.

My quest for kosher Pop-Tarts

When I was a kid and didn't know any better, I would eat and enjoy Pop-Tarts.

Unfortunately, as soon as my family discovered that Pop-Tarts were not kosher, I have been deprived.

For years now I have been looking for a decent Pop-Tart clone that tastes as I remember the original. Specifically: Strawberry, non-frosted.

I tried Pillsbury Toaster Strudels, which were kosher for a time, but they weren't the same. Not bad, though.

A couple of years ago Tradition Foods created a kosher version, but it wasn't very good - and not close to how I remember my Pop-Tarts tasting. Other consumers apparently agreed, and that product is no longer being sold.

Another company, Nature Path Organic, makes their own version of Pop-Tarts and they have a Canadian kosher certification. They were edible, but alas, not good enough (and that's not only my opinion.)

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed at Costco a product called Special-K Fruit Crisps. The picture on the box looked a lot like my old Pop-Tarts - and it is by Kelloggs! So I bought a couple of large boxes.

This is as close as I'm going to get.

They are not toaster-tarts, rather they are more like the size of granola bars. They are thinner than Pop-Tarts. They have a smattering of frosting. But - they taste just as I remember Pop-Tarts tasting!

And after 8 seconds in the microwave or a time in the toaster oven, they are even better! At 100 calories for two crisps, they are not too fattening either (unless you eat massive amounts, which is a serious danger for me.)

One of my goals in life is now fulfilled.

And, just maybe, some Muslim will read this and be equally happy.

Hamas' official response to PFLP charges

Yesterday I reported that the PFLP accused Hamas of ten things that were contributing to Gazan misery:

1.New taxes on small shops, like falafel stands
2. Converting cars to taxis and levying large taxes on the owners
3. 60% tax on cigarettes
4. Confiscating private apartments owned by people outside Gaza and giving them to Hamas members
5. Restricting the activities on Gaza NGOs
6. Owners of apartments who had built (with permission) on government-owned lands now being taxed thousands of dollars
7. New taxes on groceries
8. Preventing many citizens from traveling outside Gaza
9. Restrictions on Gaza institutions and organizations
10. Violent and insulting treatment of Gaza citizens

Hamas' initial reaction was to arrest the people who made these accusations, which certainly must have increased the Gazan citizens' sense of security.

So, today Hamas' interior ministry issued a formal, point-by-point response to the PFLP charges.

In summation, Hamas is saying that all of the accusations are pretty accurate but that all of their actions are legal and justified. For example, the cigarette tax is meant to curb smoking by children, who could easily get inexpensive cigarettes. Taking over apartments is only done to people who have not paid their taxes; restrictions on people leaving Gaza is only being done for security reasons, and so forth.

Their response to the NGO accusation is especially interesting: Hamas says that many Gaza NGOs are corrupt:
Many institutions are delusional, founded during the previous authority to steal the money from donors without these associations doing any work. This money is going to the pockets of their leaders without their delivering any benefit to the people. This is an abuse of public money, in addition to ethical irregularities in a number of these institutions.

This story has still not been mentioned in any English-language source as far as I can tell.

Did Dubai identify Hamas mole?

Palestine Press Agency is claiming that Dubai authorities are about to name the Hamas mole responsible for tipping off the assassins of Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Mahbouh in Dubai.

A diplomatic source told the Palestine Press News Agency, on condition of anonymity, "The main suspect in the assassination of Mabhouh is a Palestinian businessman and member of Hamas, who owns real estate in Dubai and is responsible for detecting the travel plans of the martyr Mabhouh for the Mossad of Israel."

The source added that "the businessman was a resident earlier in Algeria and immigrated to the Netherlands and then transported between England and Dubai."
PalPress does not have the highest journalistic standards, so this could easily end up not panning out, but it is worth watching.

Google buys Israeli start-up

From YNet:
Google has made its first Israeli purchase. Lab Pixies, a start-up that develops widgets such as games, translating programs, calculators, and calendars for personalized internet platforms such as iGoogle, the Android smartphone, and the iphone was bought by the internet giant for what many believe to be around $25 million.

Google stated that Lab Pixies sees cloud-based application development as the "beating heart" of its business, which makes it an attractive purchase for the company's research and development center in Israel.
I have played with some LabPixies games on Android, iPod and Google Gadgets. I had no idea it was Israeli. (I also had no idea of the breadth of products it has.)

I think that anti-Zionist Arabs should boycott Google immediately. Shut down your Blogger blogs, stop using Google's Arabic products, and delete all your YouTube and Picasa accounts. If not, you are helping the Zionist enemy.

Siege news: 200,000 laptops going to Gaza

From AFP:
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees on Thursday launched a campaign to distribute some 200,000 laptops to schoolchildren in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, a spokesman said.

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) plans to distribute half a million devices to refugees across the Middle East by the end of 2012, spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said.

"The campaign is beginning today in refugee schools in (the southern Gaza town of) Rafah, with the distribution of 2,200 laptops as part of a plan to distribute 200,000 laptops to our students in the Gaza Strip," he said.

The plan calls for linking pupils and teachers via wireless internet "so that the students can continue their studies during crises," Abu Hasna added.

The program has received funding from US-based One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) and the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization, he said.
But I thought that Israel is only allowing starvation-level amounts of food into Gaza and nothing else!

There is no way that the Zionists, hell-bent on humiliating and punishing Gazans because they are Arabs, would allow computers into Gaza!

Not to mention that a Gaza-wide wireless network is required to support these computers. Is it being built with sand?

Fisking the "anti-Arab traffic light" story (Bender)

There's an old Jewish joke that some Jews are so quick to blame everyone for anti-semitism that they call traffic lights "anti-semites" when they turn red on them.

That was the first thing I thought of when I saw the Arab story about how evil Zionists are programming traffic lights in a large city, deliberately, to humiliate Arabs.

But in case you have the slightest inkling that the stories are accurate, Dave Bender sets the record straight....

  • The so-called "Israeli settler road" shown in the story is used by West Bank Palestinians coming into town from their cities, towns and villages, and Israelis, alike.
  • It has to be wider at the intersection, since it carries much more traffic throughout the day, into, and around the city center: the traffic artery links up with the two main western and northern exits from the city.
  • The rail line is part of the Jerusalem rail system which all Jerusalemites are "suffering" from, including traffic delays across much of the city, years-long delays, cost overuns, and gridlock - for Israeli Jew and Palestinian Muslim alike.
  • Oh, and the rail line workers? Palestinians. Willing to bet. Good jobs with a major construction company, bringing home the, umm, bacon, as it were to their families.
  • The Jerusalem Municipality, at a cost to taxpayers (note: mostly not the Palestinians embroiled in the AM traffic jams) of tens of millions of dollars to improve traffic flow around town, including Palestinian towns of Beit Hanina, and Shuafat, noted in the story.
  • The same Palestinians in Beit Hanina and Shuafat will also have use of the rail system - whenever it's completed.
  • No Jerusalem traffic official is quoted about the computerized monitoring system that changes to timing to reflect the varying traffic loads throughout the day.
  • I used to live in the immediate area, and am familiar with the issues of traffic on and around this junction, and I say: the woman's talking unmitigated rubbish.
  • I could fisk more, but why bother - since this is what passes for "hard news" from here.
  • Sigh.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

FAQ Open Thread

Blogger just added the idea of "pages" so that blogs can have a number of different pages of information. My current layout doesn't really take advantage of it, but it is something to think about as the blog is way overdue for a redesign.

Anyway, to test it out I dashed off a, EoZ FAQ page. If you have anything you want me to add, let me know.

Hamas smuggling fake Viagra in the West Bank?

From AP:

A Palestinian security officer destroys confiscated pills in the West Bank city of Hebron, Wesnesday, April, 28, 2010. Palestinian authorities destroyed 2.7 Million dollars worth of Viagra pills and other sexual enhancers in Hebron Wednesday, after arresting a local businessman on suspicion he tried to smuggle the pills and other sex aids hidden in tennis balls, part of an alleged Hamas scheme to launder money in the West Bank.

I guess that sexual enhancement products are terrible crimes when Zionists allegedly distribute them to Arabs, but sacred moneymakers when Hamas uses them to make money for terrorists.

It's hard to keep Hamas' concepts of morality straight, but someone's got to do it.

Iran fires back at UAE over "occupied" islands

Last week, the UAE had the audacity of calling the islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa "occupied" by Iran, and the foreign minister said, "Occupation of any Arab land is occupation and is not a misunderstanding. Israeli occupation of Golan Heights, Southern Lebanon, West Bank or Gaza is called occupation and no Arab land is dearer than another."

This comparison of Iran to the Zionist entity must have really hurt, because now Iran has responded with, "Oh, yeah? Well, your Mom is a Zionist!"

From the Tehran Times:
It seems that UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has much to learn about the fine art of diplomacy.

Demonstrating his lack of diplomatic finesse and inexperience, the UAE foreign minister has exposed himself to the possibility of a harsh response from the Islamic Republic of Iran through his provocative remarks in which he explicitly questions the territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic, the most tolerant and pacifist state of the Persian Gulf region.

With the surreptitious support of the Zionist, U.S., and British lobbies, the United Arab Emirates is now playing the role of a regional ally of the hegemonistic powers that have created a specter of Iranophobia for Arab states, which now consider Iran a serious threat to their security.

The United Arab Emirates, which in 2004 started negotiations with Tel Aviv over the establishment of an Israeli representative office in Abu Dhabi, is currently holding negotiations on a $20 million deal with the Zionist regime that would facilitate the UAE’s access to the Israeli-built satellite Eros B and its high-resolution imagery.
If you dare call insult Iran, just remember - they'll call you Zionist back.

So be prepared.

Latest humiliation of Arabs: Traffic lights (VIDEO)

Palestine Today says that Al Arabiya has a report claiming that traffic lights in Jerusalem are rigged to discriminate against Palestinian Arabs.

The purpose, of course, is simply to humiliate them, according to the article.

The article claims that traffic lights on roads leading to Arab towns in the West Bank are timed to be much shorter than the lights towards Jewish towns. It is described as "the occupation deliberately tightening the noose on the Palestinians." via their nefarious Zionist traffic light policy.

I would have loved to listen in on that Knesset debate.

UPDATE: Here's the Al Jazeera report of the racist signals. I must have mistranslated, these are traffic lights to Jerusalem from the West Bank.

Salim Fayyad is on Facebook

PA prime minister Salim Fayyad has a Facebook page that he evidently spends real time on.

For example, last August he put out an open question on what young Palestinian Arabs think and if they had any suggestions. There were a few replies about education and employment.

One more interesting discussion between Fayyad and a young man named Yasser mentions that he works at an Israeli factory and is concerned that Fayyad is going to stop Palestinian Arabs from working in Israeli factories - he might have meant in the West Bank. He mentioned that work conditions are better on the Israeli side than the PalArab side, and asked, given high expenses that force Arabs to seek work in Israel, if Fayyad was going to restrict workers from having jobs in Israel, does he have a plan to employ them?

Fayyad answered for him to read the newspapers, that he is working with Europeans to fund programs to create jobs in the PA to get workers away from working in settlements.

On his wall, he asked his readers whether they were OK with the idea of banning Israeli settlement products, given that the locally-produced products were inferior. Which was more important to his readers, he wondered: quality or dignity?

Most answered that they support the boycott of Israeli products (not only settlement products) but they did mention that in the past, these boycotts resulted in Palestinian Arab merchants having no incentive to improve their own quality and ending up selling junk for high prices. One also said to be careful, because boycotts could work both ways and PalArabs could not afford to lose the Israeli market.

Altogether, it doesn't get that much traffic, which means that some people might have some fun there....

Hamas responds to criticism - by arresting critics

Hamas did not take kindly to the PFLP's ten-point critique of Hamas policies in Gaza.

First, Hamas reacted by saying that the PFLP was taking advantage of all those wonderful freedoms that citizens of Gaza enjoy by daring to say something truthful. Or, as they put it,
[The PFLP] exploited the vast area of freedoms granted in the Gaza Strip. The timing of this statement does not serve the interests of the Palestinian citizen, but is consistent with all the voices of tension in the air and meant to turn the public opinion [against the government.]

Then Hamas raided the PFLP headquarters and arrested a number of leaders of the group.

Hamas' definition of "freedom" in Gaza seems to be "the freedom to do whatever Hamas demands."

Today's PalArab news (4/28/10)

Binyomin Netanyahu will meet with President Mubarak of Egypt next week to discuss the "peace process." Which means that Mahmoud Abbas is more right-wing, extremist and intransigent than Mubarak in refusing to talk to Netanyahu - not that you will ever see the Western press refer to him in those terms. They are reserved for Israeli leaders.

Hamas leader in exile Khaled Meshal revealed that he had secretly met with Suadi authorities recently. He said that the Arab nations are pressing Hamas to accede to the Quartet's demands for recognizing Israel, and that Hamas absolutely refuses.

A new type of mosquito is appearing in Gaza, and authorities are stumped how to get rid of it. Maybe it is divine punishment for something they did, the way that earthquakes and volcanoes are.

Egypt sentenced Hezbollah members to prison for attempts at terror attacks and for smuggling arms to Hamas. But Egypt's foreign minister reached out to Hezbollah to assure them that Egypt does not intend to harm its relationship with that group.

In other nature news, a bull on its way to slaughter got loose in Hebron and angrily ran around the town. Arab authorities were not successful in subduing it, so they had to shoot it dead.

Fatah unhappy with Fayyad - but stuck with him

A former minister of the PA government says that Fatah is unhappy that the PA prime minister is not a member of their ranks, but that they do not dare to act to remove him because he brings in money.

Dr. Ibrahim Oprac [?] worked under Fayyad as culture minister. In an interview, he said that Fatah cannot force Fayyad out because he is loved by the US and Europe, and his very presence as prime minister is what keeps foreign money flowing into the PA and keeps the government afloat. Only if Abbas resigns and Fayyad runs for president could Fatah manage to reclaim the office.

Fayyad is showing political ambition and is no longer simply a technocrat, Oprac says. [Fayyad received only a tiny amount of the vote when he ran on his own for office a few years ago.]

The Unreported Troubles of Hamas

As fixated as the world media is on Israel and the Palestinian Arab territories, there has been a huge story developing over recent months that they have all but ignored:

Hamas is in trouble.

We have already broken the story of the internal Hamas memo to Khaled Meshal describing the problems from Hamas' perspective, an earlier letter from the leader of the Qassam brigades that detailed other problems, and also the story of Hamas' cash crisis.

In addition, there are indications that at least part of the increase of "work accidents" in recent months were really from Hamas infighting.

There has been an increase of attacks from other Gaza groups on Hamas as well, which Hamas tried to dismiss as being from "teenagers."

Today, there are two more stories in the Arabic press that highlight Hamas' troubles.

Egyptian authorities are saying that they have made great strides in shutting down Hamas' illegal cash flow from places like Iran. Egypt has broken cash smugger networks and confiscated a lot of money that Hamas relies on to stay in power. Some experts think that the reason for Egypt's crackdown is frustration on Hamas' refusal to re-conciliate with the PA.

More tellingly, the terrorist group PFLP has written an open letter to Hamas officials warning that their latest moves to stay afloat are making the citizens of Gaza increasingly angry, warning of a "revolt and explosion" if Hamas doesn't ease up. It listed ten recent moves by Hamas that are adding pressure on citizens of Gaza:

1.New taxes on small shops, like falafel stands
2. Converting cars to taxis and levying large taxes on the owners
3. 60% tax on cigarettes
4. Confiscating private apartments owned by people outside Gaza and giving them to Hamas members
5. Restricting the activities on Gaza NGOs
6. Owners of apartments who had built (with permission) on government-owned lands now being taxed thousands of dollars
7. New taxes on groceries
8. Preventing many citizens from traveling outside Gaza
9. Restrictions on Gaza institutions and organizations
10. Violent and insulting treatment of Gaza citizens

Hamas is beset by internal divisions and external pressures. Arab governments have been largely critical of Hamas and even though it is trying to gain legitimacy in the Arab world (and in some ways Hamas is better organized than the PA with its huge Western backing) it has been failing.

Yet all of these facts have been flying in under the radar of practically the entire Western media and analysts.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Semi-nude women desecrating Al Aqsa" top story in UAE


I mentioned that the Al Aqsa Foundation had accused Israel of desecrating the Al Aqsa Mosque with "semi-naked women" earlier today, in a story carried by the pro-Islamic Jihad Palestine Today site.

It turns out that this story is, at the moment, the top headline at the UAE-based Al Khaleej newspaper website, along with accusations that Israel uses pepper spray against rioters.

For those who want to see some semi-nude Israeli women, check out this article about Israeli advances in....women's underwear. (h/t L. King.)

Honest Reporting looks at BBC bias

Honest Reporting published an exhaustive look at BBC bias for just the first three months of the year. Here's the executive summary:

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is the largest broadcasting organization in the world. It is funded principally by an annual television license fee charged to all United Kingdom households, companies and organizations using equipment capable of receiving television broadcasts. Based on its influence and dependency on public funding, one would expect extremely high standards in terms of objectivity from the BBC. However, our in-depth analysis of articles published on the BBC website during the first quarter of 2010 shows that the BBC's coverage is filled with an anti-Israel bias that is reflected in both the style and substance of its daily reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This research demonstrates:

• Daily coverage tends to focus on Israeli actions deemed as undermining the peace process while Palestinian actions violating peace agreements are either ignored or downplayed. The issue of Israeli housing construction in Jerusalem gets wide coverage by the BBC while constant and ongoing Palestinian glorification of terror, a major breach of every agreement, is almost ignored.

• Articles often lead with the Palestinian perspective or bring in partisan, agenda-driven Israeli organizations that take a position critical of the Israeli government for “balance,” representing a small number of Israelis.

• Complex historical issues are often presented without proper context. To say that Jerusalem was occupied by Israel in 1967 without referencing the 3,000 year Jewish history of the city misleads more than it informs.

• Inaccurate terms are often used for fear of passing judgment on the people and events being described. The BBC refers to Hamas terrorists as “militants” or “fighters.” Ironically, that is in itself a judgment. Another example is that the term "right wing" is used frequently when referring to the Israeli governing coalition of Benjamin Netanyahu. By using this term (which we have never seen applied by the BBC to even the most extreme Palestinian political parties,) isn't the BBC passing its own judgment?

Especially considering the fact that "right wing" is usually used as a pejorative rather than simply descriptive label, it has no place in objective journalism.

This report is part of our continuing series that examines the daily coverage of influential media organizations. A single story that is based on a gross distortion of an event may be easier to identify as biased. Yet it is the soft but no less corrosive bias that pervades day to day coverage that has a greater impact on the way Israel is perceived by the general public.

The latest desecration of Al Aqsa - semi-naked women!

The Al Aqsa Heritage Foundation has added another unspeakable crime to the many it has already documented against Jerusalem's Islamic sites.

As they say, "The Israeli occupation began in recent days to deliberately desecrate the area in question [south of the Temple Mount] through the organization of foreign and Jewish tourists, in addition to organizing noisy concerts involving hundreds of people who were semi-naked or dressed inappropriately.

"The area south of Al-Aqsa Mosque is a holy land belonging to the campus of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Israeli occupation deliberately desecrates it...We stress that this region is a sincere Islamic Waqf and will remain so, as the practice of desecration will not change the fact that the sanctity of this area clean, and the day will come soon, which will end when the occupation of the area to return to the full and complete purity."

If NGOs applied the same standards to Arabs as to Israel...

If "human rights" organizations put Palestinian Arabs under the same microscope they put Israel, we'd probably see reports like this every week or so:


POLLUTED PROTESTS

Palestinian Pollutant Watch
April 27, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Palestinian Pollutant Watch is deeply concerned over the increase in pollutants being released into the air during Palestinian Arab protests, specifically the burning of tires.

The number of tire burning incidents has increased alarmingly in recent months, both in the West Bank and Gaza. When tires are burned it releases a large number of noxious and carcinogenic particles into the air.

In addition, burnt tires leave behind toxic waste that can damage local water supplies.

Here are only some of the recent protests that produced unacceptable levels of pollutants in the air of Palestine:






The tire burning is especially difficult for innocent children, pregnant women, farm animals and pets that are forced to breathe these noxious fumes. Their human right to clean air and water is being compromised.

The protests are sanctioned by both the Palestinian Authority and the de facto Hamas government of Gaza , as public statements by the leaders of the PA have called for non-violent protests, which include the horrid scenes we have shown here.

The long term effects of these protests of pollution are as of yet unclear. The funding to properly research these crimes against the innocent human and non-human population of Palestine has been slow in coming.

The PPW calls on the Palestinian Authority to regulate tire-burning protests. We recommend that an independent agency be created to monitor and report back on these protests with details on exactly what materials (brand names of tires and sizes) are being burned and in what quantity.

We also call on the PA to undertake a comprehensive study of the short and long-term effects of the air pollution on its population, and to regulate the activities in these protests so as not to impinge on universal humanitarian laws, including the right to clean air and the right to clean water.

We call on Hamas to denounce tire burning as a danger to the Gaza population and to take specific steps to reduce the number of protests that involve burning tires.

We request that the UN Human Rights Council take up debate on this important issue that affects the lives of so many.

A full 169-page report on the tire-burning incidents over the past two years is forthcoming, with over 500 footnotes detailing every known incident, filed with references to our interpretation of the Geneva Conventions and international law.
h/t My Right Word for the idea.

Hamas warns of new Israeli intel schemes

Abu Abdullah, director of internal security for Hamas in Gaza, has warned of new schemes used by Israeli intelligence to gather information from Gazans.

He mentions phone calls that are set up to sound like surveys about how Gazans feel about, say, the electricity shortage, and then moving into more sensitive topics.

He also mentions that Israelis are attempting to contact Gazans through the Internet, and that Hamas is trying to monitor these attempts.

Another article talks about how the Shin Bet is using Twitter and Facebook to communicate with young Palestinian Arabs. They will gather existing information and then befriend the Palestinian Arabs to gain more intel, often by pretending to offer them employment.

All of this is quite believable. People don't realize how much personal information they give out over social networking sites, and the methods described here are often used in corporate espionage, let alone internationally.

Egypt skeptical about Pal unity; scuttled plan to help Gazans

Yesterday I mentioned that Qatar has given up on any chances for Hamas/Fatah reconciliation, and now Egypt seems to be on that same path.

Palestine Press Agency quotes Egyptian media, with high-ranking Egyptian officials saying that neither Hamas nor Fatah have any real inclination to make peace with each other. They also mentioned, as an aside, that Egypt rejected an idea to help provide Gazans with basic goods.

One official said that Hamas leader Khaled Meshal will not agree to any deal, as "it poses a dilemma for him...he will continue to fabricate pretexts to avoid signing conciliation paper."

Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman said that the unsigned agreement is only a first step, not a final agreement, but the "journey is long and thorny, and there are major political differences between the two sides."

"Even if they signed the paper, reconciliation will not be achieved because they have no real intent and reconciliation is not in the interest of both sides," Suleiman said. "Despite the fact that Fatah signed the agreement, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas does not currently seek to complete the reconciliation due to the current stalemate in the peace process and the failure of the U.S. administration to exert pressure on the current Israeli government. Any reconciliation with Hamas, if only in name, will feed in [Hamas'] own interests and strengthen its position in the West Bank at the expense of Abbas's standing."

The official also points out that Hamas does not want to lose its power over Gaza, nor its money supply from Iran, which would disappear if there was an agreement. In addition, after any unity government, the PA would be able to investigate on Hamas' abuses in Gaza, and Hamas wants to keep itself immune from criticism of its egregious acts towards Gazans.

Egypt also said that it considered creating a market for Gazans at the Rafah border to help ease the blockade, with EU representatives there to ensure that no weapons cross into Gaza, but the idea was ruled out. The fear was that it might play into Israeli plans to not have any responsibility over Gaza altogether and it would saddle Egypt with taking care of the population that it ruled for 19 years.

So, better to let their Gazan brethren rot.

Fatah council urges more government control over the media

At a weekend Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting, attended by Mahmoud Abbas, the PA was urged to exert more control over the already less-than-free press in the territories.

In a statement, the Fatah Revolutionary Council stressed "the need for changes in the media so as to enhance the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in the face of challenges."

The meeting will conclude today.

TNR on HRW

The New Republic has a report about the problems at Human Rights Watch.

While it is critical of HRW, the article is not a hatchet job by any means - it gives much needed context. Yet when all is said and done, it is clear that there is a strong anti-Israel bias at HRW, and there has been for a long time:

In September 2000, HRW’s board of directors took a vote that still, a decade later, infuriates Sid Sheinberg, a legendary Hollywood mogul (he discovered Steven Spielberg) and current vice-chairman of the board. At the time, Bill Clinton was trying desperately to broker a peace agreement between Yasir Arafat and Ehud Barak, but one of the major sticking points was the right of return. It was an issue that even the most left-wing Israelis did not feel they could compromise on: If Palestinians were permitted to return to Israel en masse, it would imperil the country’s future as both a Jewish state and a democracy.

Sheinberg believed strongly that HRW had no business endorsing the right of return. “My view is that the most essential human right is the right to life,” he says. “And anybody who sees a deal about to be made where there’s been war for fifty or sixty years should think hard about shutting up.” The board, however, did not agree. “The vote was something like twenty-seven to one,” Sheinberg recalls. “Bob [Bernstein] voted against me, for which he’s apologized on a number of occasions.” That December, Ken Roth, HRW’s executive director, would send letters to Clinton, Arafat, and Barak urging them to accept the organization’s position. The right of return, he wrote, “is a right that persists even when sovereignty over the territory is contested or has changed hands.”

But something telling had happened to Sheinberg immediately following the meeting in September. “I go to my apartment—I have an apartment in New York—and, when I get to my apartment, the phone starts to ring,” he recalls. “And I get a number of phone calls from a variety of board members who tell me, ‘Sid, we really agree with you ... but we didn’t want to go against management.’” Another board member, David Brown, confirms that he and others shared Sheinberg’s reservations, if quietly. “Sid is very vocal, but he wasn’t the only one,” he says. “There were a number of people upset.”

Author Benjamin Birnbaum managed to quantify HRW's obsession with Israel and to interview many staffers at HRW:

With Palestinian suicide bombings reaching a crescendo in early 2002, precipitating a full-scale Israeli counterterrorist campaign across the West Bank, HRW’s Middle East and North Africa division (MENA) issued two reports (and myriad press releases) on Israeli misconduct—including one on the Israel Defense Forces’ assault on terrorist safe havens in the Jenin refugee camp. That report—which, to HRW’s credit, debunked the widespread myth that Israel had carried out a massacre—nevertheless said there was “strong prima facie evidence” that Israel had “committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions,” irking the country’s supporters, who argued that the IDF had in fact gone to great lengths to spare Palestinian civilians. (The decision not to launch an aerial bombardment of the densely populated area, and to dispatch ground troops into labyrinthine warrens instead, cost 23 Israeli soldiers their lives—crucial context that HRW ignored.) It would take another five months for HRW to release a report on Palestinian suicide bombings—and another five years for it to publish a report addressing the firing of rockets and mortars from Gaza, despite the fact that, by 2003, hundreds had been launched from the territory into Israel. (HRW did issue earlier press releases on both subjects.)

In the years to come, critics would accuse HRW of giving disproportionate attention to Israeli misdeeds. According to HRW’s own count, since 2000, MENA has devoted more reports to abuses by Israel than to abuses by all but two other countries, Iraq and Egypt. That’s more reports than those on Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Syria, Algeria, and other regional dictatorships. (When HRW includes press releases in its count, Israel ranks fourth on the list.) And, if you count only full reports—as opposed to “briefing papers,” “backgrounders,” and other documents that tend to be shorter, less authoritative, and therefore less influential—the focus on the Jewish state only increases, with Israel either leading or close to leading the tally. There are roughly as many reports on Israel as on Iran, Syria, and Libya combined.

HRW officials acknowledge that a number of factors beyond the enormity of human rights abuses go into deciding how to divide up the organization’s attentions: access to a given country, possibility for redress, and general interest in the topic. “I think we tend to go where there’s action and where we’re going to get reaction,” rues one board member. “We seek the limelight—that’s part of what we do. And so, Israel’s sort of like low-hanging fruit.”

The 2006 Lebanon war is a perfect example of HRW's jumping to criticize Israel without checking all the facts, but its reluctance to do the same for other regional actors:
During the third week of the five-week war, the organization published a report on “Israel’s indiscriminate attacks against civilians. (A report on Hezbollah rocket fire would not come out for another year, although, again, HRW did issue press releases on the subject in the interim.) The report said there was evidence suggesting that, in some cases, “Israeli forces deliberately targeted civilians.” Critics, such as Alan Dershowitz and Bar-Ilan University Professor Avi Bell, jumped on the report and related documents, arguing that some of their assertions were highly questionable. HRW ceded no ground, accusing Dershowitz and Bell of “armchair obfuscations.” But, when it issued its more comprehensive report on Lebanese fatalities a year later, the organization admitted that the first report had indeed gotten key facts wrong. For example, an Israeli strike in the village of Srifa—the second-deadliest attack described in the first report—turned out to have killed not “an estimated 26 civilians” (as HRW had originally claimed) or “as many as 42 civilians” (as Roth later wrote), but 17 combatants and five civilians. [E]yewitnesses were not always forthcoming about the identity of those that died, and in the case of Srifa, misled our researchers,” HRW wrote. Elsewhere in the new report, HRW acknowledged that the original had missed mitigating factors that cast some Israeli strikes in a different light.
Yet at the time they were adamant about their methods, just as we saw in their dismissal of criticisms about their 5 long reports bashing Israel for Operation Cast Lead:
Robert James—a businessman, World War II veteran, and member of the MENA advisory committee who has been involved with HRW almost since its inception—calls the group “the greatest NGO since the Red Cross,” but argues that it is chronically incapable of introspection. “Bob is bringing this issue up on Israel,” he says. “But Human Rights Watch has a more basic problem. ... They cannot take criticism.”
A parenthetical section of the article is interesting:
When I asked Roth in a February interview at his office about HRW’s refusal to take a position on Ahmadinejad’s threats against Israel, including his famous call for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” Roth quibbled about the way the statement had been translated in the West—“there was a real question as to whether he actually said that”—then told me that it was not HRW’s place to render judgments on such rhetoric: “Let’s assume it is a military threat. We don’t take on governments’ military threats just as we don’t take on aggression, per se. We look at how they behave.
This from the same person who misquoted Israeli leaders specifically to support his specious assertions that Israel intended to indiscriminately kill civilians in Gaza!

The article goes on to note the irony that two of the people at HRW who were the least anti-Israel were Richard Goldstone and Marc Garlasco.

Sarah Leah Whitson is mentioned as having inherent biases againt Israel (she has a poster of a film humanizing suicide bombers hung up in her office) even as she is described as being one of the more competent leaders of their Middle East division. Her dependence on Garlasco as a supposed military expert is telling:
Whitson told me that Garlasco (who was one of only a handful of people at HRW with military experience) brought unique skills to the organization and enhanced its credibility. “He could look at the plumes in the sky and know exactly what weapon that was,” she says. “He could look at a canister and know what kind of a munition it was. He could look and see where the guidance system is.”
This is far from the truth, as at the same time that HRW specifically criticized the IDF on not being able to distinguish between rockets and oxygen canisters in a video during a war when split-second decisions must be made, but their own "military experts" didn't notice the differences for six months.

Garlasco comes off as the most sympathetic figure at HRW:
Garlasco had larger critiques of HRW. He thought that the organization had a habit of ignoring necessary context when covering war, he told Apkon; and he told multiple sources that he thought Whitson and others at MENA had far-left political views. As someone who didn’t have strong ideological commitments of his own on the Middle East, this bothered him. “When he reported on Georgia, his firm feeling was he could report whatever he wanted,” says one source close to Garlasco. “And, when he was talking to headquarters, the feeling was, let the chips fall where they may. He did not feel that way dealing with the Middle East division.” In addition, Garlasco alleged in conversations with multiple people that HRW officials in New York did not understand how fighting actually looked from the ground and that they had unrealistic expectations for how wars could be fought. To Garlasco, the reality of war was far more complicated. “He looks at that organization as one big attempt to outlaw warfare,” says the person close to Garlasco.
The entire report is well worth reading.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Reuters caves to Hamas

I mentioned yesterday that Hamas was upset at an on-line ad that was seen at the Reuters Arabic service site, offering a $10 million reward for information on the whereabouts of Gilad Shalit.

Reuters' response to the terrorist group is instructive.

Palestine Today reports that Reuters responded to the criticism, saying that it was an automated ad placed there by Google Ads, and not - Allah forbid! - placed by any Reuters staffers. After all, an ad that seeks to free a prisoner illegally held in an unknown location without any access to the Red Cross would be thoroughly offensive to any Reuters employee, right?

Reuters then cravenly added that they immediately acted to remove the ad, and "we are now taking steps to ensure non-recurrence of such things in the future."

Reuters additionally wrote back to the offended terrorist organization that Reuters has a long history of covering the Middle East in a neutral and accurate manner, stressing that they are committed to continuing this approach, they wrote "We are clear and faithful to our principles of integrity, independence and distance from bias."

South Park getting lots of attention

Ross Douthat writes in the New York Times:
Two months before 9/11, Comedy Central aired an episode of “South Park” entitled “Super Best Friends,” in which the cartoon show’s foul-mouthed urchins sought assistance from an unusual team of superheroes. These particular superfriends were all religious figures: Jesus, Krishna, Buddha, Mormonism’s Joseph Smith, Taoism’s Lao-tse — and the Prophet Muhammad, depicted with a turban and a 5 o’clock shadow, and introduced as “the Muslim prophet with the powers of flame.”

That was a more permissive time. You can’t portray Muhammad on American television anymore, as South Park’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, discovered in 2006, when they tried to parody the Danish cartoon controversy — in which unflattering caricatures of the prophet prompted worldwide riots — by scripting another animated appearance for Muhammad. The episode aired, but the cameo itself was blacked out, replaced by an announcement that Comedy Central had refused to show an image of the prophet.

Two weeks ago, “South Park” brought back the “super best friends,” but this time Muhammad never showed his face. He “appeared” from inside a U-Haul trailer, and then from inside a mascot’s costume.

These gimmicks then prompted a writer for the New York-based Web site revolutionmuslim.com to predict that Parker and Stone would end up like Theo van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker murdered in 2004 for his scathing critiques of Islam.

This passive-aggressive death threat provoked a swift response from Comedy Central. In last week’s follow-up episode, the prophet’s non-appearance appearances were censored, and every single reference to Muhammad was bleeped out. The historical record was quickly scrubbed as well: The original “Super Best Friends” episode is no longer available on the Internet.

[There's] a sense in which the “South Park” case is particularly illuminating. Not because it tells us anything new about the lines that writers and entertainers suddenly aren’t allowed to cross. But because it’s a reminder that Islam is just about the only place where we draw any lines at all.

Across 14 on-air years, there’s no icon “South Park” hasn’t trampled, no vein of shock-comedy (sexual, scatalogical, blasphemous) it hasn’t mined....Our culture has few taboos that can’t be violated, and our establishment has largely given up on setting standards in the first place.

Except where Islam is concerned. There, the standards are established under threat of violence, and accepted out of a mix of self-preservation and self-loathing.

This is what decadence looks like: a frantic coarseness that “bravely” trashes its own values and traditions, and then knuckles under swiftly to totalitarianism and brute force.

David Hazony adds:

Something has gone terribly wrong. The core of liberal society is the belief that every new thought, every iconoclasm, every “dangerous” idea, can be uttered somewhere, by someone, as long as it doesn’t openly incite violence — and that every sacred cow is ultimately just a cow.

No cultural institution in our world has embodied this right more than South Park. Aside from being very, very funny (my apologies to the dour souls who disagree), it is also often vile, filled with offensive ideas, language, images, and more. South Park has, until now, been the one place where every holy thing can be made fun of, every taboo broken — especially religion. Nobody has to watch it if they don’t like it. But it should be out there, somewhere. With the collapse of South Park’s credibility as the slayer of all cows, something has been lost, something very deep to the inner logic of liberty. We have caught a glimpse of a world where religion is, well, so sacred as to brook no humor whatsoever. It is a dark world that we escaped several centuries ago, a world where power and claims of ultimate truths fuse together to crush freedom, creativity, and the bold human endeavors that have given us our entire world of scientific and political advancement. In a flash, we moderns are now forced to contend with the myth of our own invincibility: are we so arrogant as to think that modernity can never be undone?
I was aghast to see that Comedy Central had bleeped out every mention of Mohammed in the second episode, as well as the extended "beeps" at the end of the episode during the obligatory "lessons learned" section of the show. While I can understand that the company needs to protect its employees, let us hope that the West as a whole learns its own lessons about the dangers of censoring criticism of Islam.

The BBC's endemic bias against Israel bias (Zvi)

Zvi comments in response to my post on BBC bias yesterday:
The BBC Mideast department has an extreme anti-Israel bias, which gets injected into every story that they write about Israel and which shows up strikingly in the headlines and story selection on their web page.

I once did a a non-scientific study based on their headline word selection ("war crime", "massacre", etc.), active accusations against specific parties vs. passive voice headlines, and to an extent, story selection. Essentially, I was trying to determine whether the bias that I perceived was in fact a general bias against the region, or a specific bias against Israel. I assigned numerical values to headlines based on such criteria. After tracking the site for months, it was apparent that there was a strong, constant bias against Israel by the mideast dept. There were only a handful of positive headlines in all that time, and most were attached to stories that were apparently written by other departments (sports, science, medicine, for instance). There was a less extreme bias against Iran. There was distinct bias in favor of Saudi Arabia. Egypt was mostly mentioned in headlines only in the context of accidents. Iraq was a bloody mess at the time, but was usually portrayed as a victim. The Palestinians were nearly always shown in a positive light. If Hamas did something wrong, its actions were nearly always anonymized in the headlines, or the headlines talked about Israel's responses rather than the attacks that caused them.

A much simpler selection bias that I've noted relates to THE BIG PICTURE image on the Mideast page. This one does not require a lot of effort to track, but of course it only provides one data point out of many. Following the BIG PICTURE images since their inception, the number that humanized Israeli Jews is vanishingly small. There are numerous pics that show Arabs, especially Palestinian kids. When Israel pictures are included, they seem to focus on either Israeli Arabs, Israeli soldiers or (bizarrely) animals in Israeli zoos.

And you have only to read the BBC's Shalit FAQ to understand that there is a strong bias here against Israel - strong enough to ignore an unabashed war crime, strong enough to ignore the non-Palestinian roots of the Army of Islam and the fact that they kidnapped Alan Johnston and held him for ransom, strong enough to focus on bashing Israel rather than on the topic that the FAQ purportedly explains, strong enough to completely ignore the strong human elements of the Shalit story and claim that the situation is only important because "Israel is a highly militarized society" etc.

The consistent pattern is that the BBC avoids humanizing Israeli victims. It only humanizes their attackers. It avoids humanizing Israeli soldiers, preferring to accuse them of war crimes.

I would love to find out that the BBC has read this and, in order to prove me wrong, evened out the bias.

But it won't happen.

The BBC has hypocritically, and with extreme prejudice, prevented a report on its culture of anti-Israel bias from being read by the public who fund the BBC.

The BBC Shalit FAQ is indeed remarkable, in that the entire medium-sized article is oriented to bashing Israel. It goes into some detail on supposed Israeli disproportionate reactions to Shalit's capture and not a word about the many violations of international law that Hamas has committed concerning Shalit: taking a hostage, not allowing the Red Cross to visit, using him for propaganda purposes, not allowing regular mail communication, and violating the right to know his location, to name a few. The fact that an article purportedly meant to be a definitive backgrounder about Shalit ignores his own human rights and the war crimes that the Gaza government has committed concerning him speaks volumes about how the BBC perceives the Middle East.