Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

I explained yesterday how the media was running with a non-story which was being twisted to create the illusion that Israel’s sweep

An IDF photo of the three Israelis murdered in June

An IDF photo of the three Israelis murdered in June

through the West Bank in June after the murders of three Israeli youths was justified. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intentionally seized upon that horrific crime in order to strike a blow at Hamas to some extent but mostly at the new Palestinian unity government. The story was based on the words of Salech al-Aruri, Hamas’ lead representative in Turkey, who had been applauding the despicable act since it occurred.

A few other folks have been trying to correct the false story in the mainstream media, but it’s obviously an uphill battle. Few of Netanyahu’s defenders seem to have noticed that Israeli officials have remained thoroughly silent on this story. You’d think, would you not, that if it were what was being portrayed – that there is now “proof” that Hamas was behind the murders all along – Netanyahu would be crowing in the same hubris-filled manner that he did when one of the ceasefires was broken over a battle in a Gaza tunnel near Rafah. Yet the only sound is that of the proverbial crickets chirping. (more…)

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In another piece I’ll be publishing later today, I take some time to discuss how the Israeli daily Ha’aretz has been marginalized in

Salech al-Aruri

Salech al-Aruri

Israel and no longer represents a “vibrant debate” as it once did. Now I must also take a moment to reflect on what is only the latest example of how their journalistic standards have fallen as well.

Ha’aretz today reports, uncritically, on the widespread story about leading Hamas activist Salach al-Aruri purportedly claiming that Hamas was, in fact, behind the kidnapping and murder of the three young Israelis earlier this year. That incident, you will recall, was the catalyst for a massive Israeli crackdown in the West Bank and eventually led to the horrors in Gaza these past weeks, which are ongoing. The problem is that this is a non-story, wherein al-Aruri said nothing we didn’t already know. Nothing he said should change anything about how we perceive this crime.

There has always been debate over whether the kidnappings were planned by Hamas or done by a rogue unit. The debate hasn’t really been a sensible one; speak to people with knowledge of the politics in Palestine and, in particular, the various armed factions as well as different familial groupings within the political system and resistance movements and you will realize quickly which side of the debate is correct. But such is the state of our media that such people are rarely spoken to, so we live in ignorance. (more…)

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In the latter part of the 20th century, trying to uncover bias became all the rage. Once it was acknowledged that news, history, academic papers, and all sorts of information sources reflected the inherent bias of the author, de-construction became a full-time job.

As with most such things, it got taken to an extreme. The result, in its worst form, was the ability of a right wing, massively funded news network to call itself “fair and balanced” as juxtaposed against an allegedly liberal media.

Nowhere is this dissection of alleged bias more visible than in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Both sides complain endlessly about the bias against them in media and academia. And both sides are right, to some extent. One should, indeed, read a history book or news report with a consciousness about who is writing it and what the publication that is dispersing it might have invested in it. If you do that, there is only a very small, and easily spotted, amount of material that needs to be summarily dismissed.

Not everything written by a Jew who supports Israel is necessarily false or misleading, or that everything written by an Arab is false or misleading in the opposite direction.

There are huge strains of this on both sides: on the pro-Palestinian side, we have the “Zionist-controlled media” canard, as well as more serious examinations that look at how a close US ally might be given quite a few breaks in the media. On the “pro-Israel” side there is a virtual industry (populated by such well-heeled organizations as CAMERA and Palestinian Media Watch [PMW]) built around it.

In my experience – and I have been engaged in media and historical analysis on this issue since I was an undergraduate student – most serious sources, with a few glaring exceptions, either legitimately strive for objectivity or make their political agenda clear. Anyone looking for a realistic picture should, in this or any other arena, gather their information from a variety of sources. (more…)

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It is not easy being the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza. It is impossible for them to issue any statement that doesn’t become instantly politicized. And, like many NGOs, their reports are often put in less than ideal contexts by the media.

Much like their counterparts — such as al-Haq in the West Bank and groups like B’Tselem and Gisha in Israel — their attempt to report on human rights and, to act as a watchdog on their own government while operating in an atmosphere where the Israeli occupation causes overarching human rights violations creates a difficult balancing act.

Logo of the Palestine Center for Human Rights, located in the Gaza Strip

But PCHR still is the best NGO source for the state of human rights in Gaza. True, it has little competition (though there is some, including B’Tselem’s fieldworkers in Gaza), but its reports have generally proven reliable—so much so, that their releases are often used by the Israeli right.

Today, the New York Times reported on a recent PCHR release, which criticized “members of the Palestinian resistance” for “stor[ing] explosives or to treat such explosives in locations close to populated areas.”

It is important to note that PCHR did not identify the “members of the resistance.” The Times, while scrupulously avoiding any statement that the PCHR statement is referring to Hamas, does say that “Israel has long accused Hamas and other groups of endangering Palestinian civilians by carrying out militant activities in densely populated areas.”

A PCHR spokesman also noted that the Hamas government tried to shift blame for injuries to Gazan civilians that were clearly caused by Palestinian rockets onto Israel.

An unwitting reader of the Times article might infer that PCHR was implicitly accusing Hamas of being responsible for the weapons storage. The distinction there is an important one.

Storing weapons in civilian areas, or dangerously near civilians, carries two threats, both of which the people of Gaza have become intimately familiar with. One is that the weapons will accidentally discharge or misfire when used. The second is that Israel will target the area. (more…)

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