BBC News amplifies Hizballah hijacking denial

On September 21st the BBC News website published a report headlined “TWA Flight 847: Greek police arrest aircraft hijacking suspect” which opened by telling readers that: [emphasis added]

“A 65-year-old Lebanese man suspected of involvement in the hijacking of an American airliner in 1985 has been arrested in Greece, police say.

The man, who has not been named, was detained on Mykonos after disembarking from a cruise ship on Thursday.

His identity came up as being wanted by Germany during a passport check.

The TWA Flight 847 was seized by militants thought to belong to the Islamist group Hezbollah, a claim they denied. A US navy diver was killed.”

In other words, in just one sentence the BBC managed to portray airline hijackers as “militants” and a terrorist organisation as an “Islamist group” as well as to suggest to audiences that the hijackers’ connections to Hizballah are still in doubt thirty-four years after the event and to amplify the terrorist organisation’s related denials.

By contrast, a Columbia District Court ruling states that:

“On June 14, 1985, two Hezbollah hijackers boarded TWA Flight 847 leaving Athens, Greece headed for Rome, Italy.”

Hizballah expert Matthew Levitt has stated that in 1985:

“…the group hijacked TWA Flight 847; one of the hijackers, Muhammad Ali Hamadi, was arrested two years later in the Frankfurt airport ferrying explosives to other operatives in Europe, illustrating the extent to which Hezbollah was operating in the West.” 

And:

“On June 14, 1985, two Hezbollah hijackers took over TWA Flight 847 just after it took off from Athens en route to Rome. Over the course of 17 days, a short flight turned into a terrifying 8,500 mile journey around the Mediterranean that led to the murder of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem.”

And:

“Mohammad Ali Hamadi is still wanted by U.S. authorities for his role in one of Hezbollah’s earliest terrorist acts. In June, 1985, Hamadi and another Hezbollah operative hijacked TWA Flight 847. For 15 days the story dominated headlines as the plane crisscrossed the Middle East, making Hezbollah a household name. Hamadi is believed to be the one who shot U.S. Navy diver Robert Stetham in the head and tossed his body onto the tarmac. That November, Hamadi was indicted by the U.S. government for his role in the hijacking and Stethem’s murder. In 1987, German authorities arrested Hamadi at Frankfurt airport and found liquid explosives in his luggage. He was imprisoned in Germany until 2005, when he was released on parole and returned to Lebanon.”

In 2005 the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported that:

“Apparently ignoring Washington’s extradition request for Mohammed Ali Hamadi, German authorities have secretly released the Lebanese Hezbollah member who was serving a life sentence in the country for the hijacking of a TWA jet and for the murder of a US navy diver.”

Nevertheless the BBC apparently believes that audience understanding of this story will be enhanced by its amplification of Hizballah’s denial of involvement in that hijacking which – coincidentally or not – also appears in the first paragraph of the relevant Wikipedia entry.

 

BBC Culture promotes Palestinian pop and a political narrative

h/t AS

On September 17th BBC Culture published an article by freelancer William Ralston titled “The rise of Palestinian pop”. In among Ralston’s long portrayal of the Palestinian (and not Palestinian) music scene readers were served context-free political framing. The article opened by telling readers that: [emphasis added]

“Growing up in East Jerusalem, Bashar Murad turned to music for comfort in a life blighted by fractious political realities and the emotional pressures of being a gay man battling the conservative elements of his society. It also became a way of transcending the borders imposed on his life by the Israeli occupation; a medium to connect with the world outside.” 

As noted when he was previously featured in BBC content, despite those alleged “borders imposed on his life” Murad:

“…was educated in an American school in Jerusalem, attended Bridgewater College in Virginia [USA], and had his work sponsored by the United Nations’ Men and Women for Gender Equality program.”

None of that was however mentioned by Ralston, who went on to promote the notion of “Palestinians with an Israeli passport” even though the majority of Israeli Arabs do not self-identify as Palestinians.

“Since its launch four years ago, the spot has become a second home for Palestinians with an Israeli passport or those with documents allowing them to travel through Israel.”

Readers were told that:

“In cash-stripped [sic] Gaza, the smaller Palestinian territory, there are even fewer opportunities. Recording studios are scarce, and any equipment must be sourced from Egypt or Israel at an extraordinary premium. Hamada Nasrallah, vocalist for Sol, a seven-piece folk outfit from Gaza, explains that he had to sell off his possessions just to afford a guitar, only for it to be destroyed in the August 2018 Israeli bomb attacks on the Said al-Mishal Centre.”

Not only does that promoted link lead to a politicised and partisan report from the Guardian but readers were not informed that the ‘cultural centre’ was located in a building also used by Hamas’ interior security unit or that the strike came in response to over 180 missile attacks from the Gaza Strip against Israeli civilians.

The article failed to inform audiences that the reason why the population of the Gaza Strip suffers from a lack of electricity and clean water is internal feuding between Palestinian factions.

“The electricity shortages and lack of drinking water make it “hard to focus on music” because “we don’t have the basics to live”, MC Gaza, a local rapper, says. “

The writer’s failure to mention the decades of terrorism perpetrated by Hamas – which he euphemistically described as “the Islamist organization that governs the territory” – means that readers are unable to put his subsequent descriptions of restrictions on movement into their correct and full context – including the fact that in the week before this article was published 8,673 people used the Erez crossing.

“Exacerbating the problem are the restrictions on movement that Palestinians face, which means that many cannot travel abroad for gigs, or, significantly, meet with industry professionals. Special permits are required to enter Israel, which are rarely granted, especially not quickly. Palestinians have long had no access to airports in the Palestinian territories: those in Jerusalem and Gaza ceased operations around the turn of the millennium, so most Palestinians must travel to Jordan in order to fly anywhere, which costs around US$500 (£400) one-way.

Those in Gaza have great difficulty in travelling at all. There are only two crossings out: Rafah and Erez, controlled by Egyptian and Israeli authorities respectively. […] Erez, meanwhile, is also tricky, and, for reasons of security, only Israeli-defined categories of people, mainly those requiring urgent medical attention, are eligible for a permit. Permits are also granted to businessmen, students, and artists, but they are far from guaranteed…”

As is usually the case in BBC content, history in this article began in June 1967, with no mention of the fact that parts of Jerusalem were illegally occupied by Jordan in the 19 years that preceded the Six Day War or that Jordan chose to attack Israel in that conflict.  

“The position of those born in Jerusalem is uniquely complicated. After occupying and annexing East Jerusalem following the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel offered Palestinian residents Israeli citizenship but many refused, and instead took permanent residency, allowing them to live, work, and receive benefits in Israel. They have what’s called a ‘laissez-passer’, a travel document that allows them to pass through Israel, but they cannot pass into another country without a visa, which is hard to obtain because they don’t have any citizenship.”

The same lack of historical context appeared in a section in which Druze residents of the Golan Heights were described as ‘Syrian’ and the relevant factor of the closure of the Quneitra crossing because of the civil war in Syria was erased.

“Musicians in the Golan Heights face similar difficulties for the same reasons: Israel annexed the land, seized from Syria, after the Six-Day War. Although Syrian, the local musicians are considered part of the Palestinian scene because they’re subject to similar restrictions: they are not even allowed to travel to Syria, so they can pass through Israel and the West Bank only.”

Yet again Ralston failed to adequately clarify that if some of his featured musicians from Jerusalem and the Golan Heights do not have passports, that is because they have chosen to pass up the opportunity to apply for Israeli citizenship.

“All four members of TootArd, whom promoters regularly label as Palestinian, grew up in the village of Majdal Shams in the Golan area, and have permanent residency in Israel, but their official nationality is also ‘undefined’, and they have no passport.”

As we see what could have been an interesting article is seriously marred by the writer’s uncritical promotion of a politically motivated narrative which he advances by failing to provide the relevant background information and key context which would facilitate proper audience understanding of the topic. 

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – August 2019

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during August 2019 shows that throughout the month a total of 149 incidents took place including 97 in Judea & Samaria, 25 in Jerusalem and inside the ‘green line’ and 26 in the Gaza Strip sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 95 attacks with petrol bombs, 14 attacks using pipe bombs, five arson attacks, two shooting attacks, two stabbing attacks, one attack using a grenade and one vehicular attack.

Incidents recorded in the Gaza Strip sector included nine attacks with petrol bombs, three attacks using pipe bombs, one attack using a grenade, three shooting attacks and seven incidents of rocket fire.

Two people were murdered and eight wounded in attacks during the month of August.

The BBC News website reported the August 7th murder of Dvir Sorek the following day but no follow-up reporting was seen until over two weeks later. The murder of Rina Shnerb and injury of two additional civilians in an IED attack on August 23rd was reported.

An incident which took place on the border with the Gaza Strip on August 1st and resulted in injuries to three members of the security forces did not receive any BBC coverage. A stabbing attack in Jerusalem in which a police officer was wounded on August 15th was not reported. A vehicular attack in Gush Etzion the next day in which two civilians were injured was ignored at the time but referred to in a report a week later.

None of the seven separate incidents of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip during August received any coverage on the BBC News website.

Between January and August 2019 the BBC News website reported 25.7% of the terror attacks which took place and 80% of the resulting fatalities. Four of those eight months saw no reporting on terrorism against Israelis whatsoever.

Related Articles:

No BBC reporting on serious Gaza border incident

BBC reporting on Gush Etzion terror attack

BBC News website fails to update report on Gush Etzion terror attack

BBC News continues to ignore Palestinian terrorism

BBC News ‘contextualises’ terror attack with ‘settlements’ and ‘international law’

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – July 2019

The Guardian – anti-Israel bias, more obsessive and vindictive than you think

Written by David Collier

Over recent months I have been dealing a lot with issues of bias, chiefly because of the soon-to-be-published report into Amnesty International. The report itself is done. It is 227 pages long and has 650 references. The report touches on the bias of dozens of Amnesty staff, many of whom hold Director, Deputy Director or other management positions at the NGO. The report contains a lot more, but there will be no more spoilers from me. It is out of my hands now and being assessed by some NGO experts before it is published. This gave me some free time, so I thought I would relax and have some fun.

Most arguments of media bias occur over the language inside an article or headline. Even the way a sentence is structured can change its entire meaning. But this level of bias is also very hard to prove. Days of arguing can eventually be put down to an editorial mistake or oversight. I always prefer looking at the big picture, where signs of an institutional bias tend to both far more visible and much harder to dismiss.

Take the Guardian newspaper. A media outlet well known for having anti-Israel obsessions. Just recently I wrote a piece about how the paper likes to bait British Jews. What if we look at the paper from a wider angle?

Guardian Bias

A simple test. The website has a search function. All things being equal, the number of returns that nations receive should ‘rank’ them in order of relevance and importance. False positives should equal out. And it seems to work. Germany has 338k, France 225k, Russia 245k and the USA 302k. China gets 286k and New Zealand 90k. The UK is an important global power situated in Europe and with deep connections to the Commonwealth. These results appear to include every reference to those nations, so we can assume New Zealand’s 90k has a fair few rugby and cricket references included.

How about Israel? Not in the commonwealth, nor in Europe. Israel receives 101k. What can we compare Israel with? Geographically, Syria for a start. A nation that has seen 500k deaths – 94k. Saudi, the Arabian Kingdom that controls so much of the world’s oil? 63k. What about Lebanon – 21k. For a regional power, how about Pakistan, a nation in the commonwealth that also plays cricket. 79k. What is most interesting about Pakistan is that unlike Israel, it really is a brutal oppressor of human rights. Yet only 79k hits, including of course ‘x’ amount of cricket scores.

A few more. Bangladesh 26k. Turkey? Erdogan’s Turkey only gets 81k, and that probably includes Christmas recipes along with all those holiday recommendations in Antalya. How about Cyprus, an invaded and occupied Island? 18K. Lesser nations in Europe? Sweden 59k, Romania 22k and Poland 41k. I looked at the eight bloodiest conflicts of the 21st century. Syria (94k) I already mentioned. There is also Congo (21k), Darfur (6k) Afghanistan (79k), Yemen (20k) and Ukraine (45k). Only Iraq, a war that actually involved the UK for years, scores more highly than Israel. Fun stuff huh?

It gets really silly. ‘Palestinian’ gets 60k results. 300% more than Lebanon. Kurds only get 17k. Perhaps if even more of the Kurds had been killed through Genocide, they may have made 20k, but it does seem as if the Kurds have to make Israel their enemy for the Guardian to really take any notice. ‘Palestine’ gets a whopping 50k, which is 10x the number of references to Kurdistan. In fact, ‘Palestine’ gets more mentions than the illegal occupation of Cyprus and the bloody conflicts of Lebanon combined. Think about it. On what planet can ‘Palestinian’ return as many results as the Saudi Arabian Kingdom that controls so much of the world’s oil? Perhaps it is a good thing that Palestinians don’t play much cricket.

Hamas, a terror organisation in a tiny regional spat in the Middle East gets 14k returns, which is more than Boko Haram (4k) and Al Qaeda (7k) combined. Guardian editors sure seem to have funny priorities.

An Israel obsession? Never mind. I am sure this is all just an editorial error.

A closer look at bias

One thing that was discovered during the Amnesty project was the big difference qualitative bias can make. A newspaper can write the same number of articles about two subjects, but the different approach the paper takes carries the real bias. An example. Take Israel and Saudi. Israel is a democracy; Saudi Arabia is not. Both nations are in conflict. Saudi’s conflict in Yemen is brutal. There are reported to have been 100k deaths since 2015. That is in the same ballpark as the total death toll of all the wars, on all sides, that Israel has ever been involved in.

Jerusalem is a diverse city, but Mecca isn’t. Mecca is a ‘Muslim only zone’ – if you are not Muslim, you are not allowed inside. So Saudi Arabia has real Apartheid too. Israel scores highly on women’s rights, gay rights, freedom of the press, access to legal systems and all the other variables relevant to free and liberal societies. Saudi does not. In fact, if you are critical of the Kingdom, it is advisable never to visit their embassy.

The Guardian tags articles and creates ‘country pages’ for them. This allows for a far more serious and accurate assessment. Israel’s pages have 17k results, Saudi Arabia has 4k. The ‘Palestinian territories’ pages gets 10k, as much as India (10k) and more than Pakistan (7k). It seems the actual obsession is worse than the simple keyword search originally indicated. The poor Kurds only get 1k. Some ‘national liberation movements’ appear to be 10x more important than others.

From Quantitative to Qualitative Bias

How about Pakistan? Israel’s recent monthly returns have been August – 37 articles, July -19 (it would be interesting to know who was on holiday), June – 31, May – 45 and April – 59 articles. Pakistan was the subject of 27 articles in August, 16 in July, 14 in June, 13 in May and 12 in April. Even a potential bloody conflict over Kashmir in August couldn’t knock Israel out of its top spot. Total score: Israel 191: Pakistan 82.

Articles were then categorised. An article that was critical was counted as ‘negative’. A simple statement of fact was ‘neutral’. An article written attacking a second party was also ‘neutral’. A good news story was categorised as ‘positive’.

During August, not a single explicitly negative article was written about Pakistan. As was expected, the main focus was Kashmir. Almost all the articles were ‘negative’ about India. Three articles required closer attention. One was about China and the Uighurs, with Pakistan’s involvement incidental. Another simple stated as a matter-of-fact that Pakistan had vowed to protect Kashmiris. The third about Pakistan’s intent to expel the Indian high commissioner.

In July there were articles that uncritically talk about Pakistan cracking down on ‘militants’. They have a story about Pakistan building a wall along a disputed international border to stop terrorist infiltrations. The journalist runs with the human angle of families that have been split by the wall. But there is nothing critical in the article of the policy. No call for the ICC to investigate it. No use of the word Apartheid. The wall is actually splitting ethnic Pashtun’s who now need a visa to visit family members who live in neighbouring villages. Kudos that the Guardian mentioned it at all, but it is more an indication in the different way Israel’s story is handled than anything else.

Most of the articles were about Donald Trump or regular non-relevant news stories.

Obsessive Israel bashing

The picture with Israel was somewhat different and the language changes dramatically. Just a few examples from Israel’s August pages:

  • UN calls for maximum restraint after Israeli strike in Lebanon
  • Israel government accused of abandoning soldiers with PTSD
  • Trump and Netanyahu are playing a bigoted game of chicken
  • Israel, Apartheid and antisemitism
  • Freedom of expression on Palestine is being supressed
  • Israeli police clash with Muslim worshippers
  • Israel bars entry to US politicians

Or just from Israel’s lowest scoring month, July:

  • Israeli crews demolish Palestinian homes
  • Isralei fires threaten Christian holy site
  • Israeli spraying of herbicide harms Palestinian crops
  • Israeli Minister talks about gay conversion
  • Syria accuses Israel of heinous aggression
  • Israeli teenagers held on allegations of rape

All this means that the true level of obsessive bias is not immediately clear when you count the number of articles (191:82), in fact it is understated. Many of the references to other nations are neutral, positive or contextualised. The level of hate is certainly not as evident if you focus on the language used in a single article. Only when you draw comparisons in the way different nations are treated do you realise how unacceptable the situation with the Guardian’s treatment of Israel has become.

Horrendous, obsessive, anti-Israel bias

The Guardian are obsessed with Israel, that much was already clear. But the Guardian’s reporting on Israel also contains a vindictive hostility. An endless stream of negative articles, all carefully worded to present Israel as the most vile, oppressive, Muslim hating, Christian hating, gay hating, Palestinian hating, murderous nation on earth. An ‘Apartheid state full of brutal bigots’. Compare that to the sensitive, contextualised reporting on Pakistan, one of the most oppressive nations on the planet, and you are left in a place without any rational or acceptable explanation.

Here’s how to write critically about Jewish Trump officials without evoking antisemitism

Cross posted by UK Media Watch

Last week, we posted about a Telegraph article focusing on newly appointed US-Middle East peace envoy Avi Berkowitz which, we argued, evoked an antisemitic trope.

Here are the relevant paragraphs from that Sept. 6th piece, written by Leila Molana-Allen (the Middle East correspondent for France 24 News).

The appointment [of Berkowitz] “demonstrates a lack of seriousness” in the administration’s approach to the peace plan and Mr Kushner’s complete dominance over the process, former Middle East advisor to the US defence department Jasmine El-Gamal told The Telegraph. “They are not even pretending otherwise by hiring a qualified person as an envoy.”

Others have raised concerns that Mr Berkowitz, like Mr Greenblatt before him and Mr Kushner, is a Zionist Jew, which may lead to a perception of bias in any peace negotiations with Palestinian officials.

This doesn’t need too much unpacking. The word “Zionist” before “Jew” is meaningless, as the overwhelming majority of diaspora Jews are Zionists, in the sense that they wish for Israel to continue existing. The journalist was legitimising unnamed critics who evidently believe there are too many Jews on Trump’s Middle East team, and that these officials, by virtue of their religious background, can’t be trusted to faithfully carry out their duties. This is a classic example of a news organisation – which, we should note, is normally very responsible on the issue of antisemitism – legtimising the dual loyalty charge, codified as antisemitic by the IHRA Working Definition.

Let’s turn now to another article, one published on Sept. 15th by Bel Trew at the Independent – a publication which, unlike the Telegraph, hasn’t always been so vigilant about preventing antisemitic narratives from being promoted.

Like the Telegraph piece, Trew’s article also raises the question of conflicts of interest against some Jewish members of Trump’s Mid-East team.

However, Trew raises the concerns in a completely different manner than Molana-Allen did at the Telegraph, noting not the religion of US Ambassador David Friedman and Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (architect of the US peace plan), but, rather, their personal and financial ties to Israeli settlements, particularly the community of Beit El.

Trew highlights the fact that Friedman and Kushner’s family have given significant donations to Beit El. (She also adds that former US National Security Advisor John Bolton spoke at a fundraising event for the settlement.)

Trew makes her argument thusly:

And it is the unique relationship Trump’s cadres have with this settlement that is a keyhole to the overhaul in the US administration’s attitudes towards Israel’s policies in the Palestinian territories as a whole.

To be clear, we’re extremely skeptical that Friedman and Kushner’s ties to Beit El provide a “keyhole” to the shift in US policies towards Israel, as Trew’s explanation leaves out other important factors likely impacting US policy. It also fails to consider that Friedman’s and Kushner’s important roles may merely be a reflection of the president’s desired Mid-East policy, rather than representing a force driving it.

However, at least Trew’s argument doesn’t rest on the implicit assumption that the religious background of Friedman and Kushner (and Berkowitz) alone renders them biased – a toxic and racist charge that should have no place in mainstream British publications.

Related Articles

 

Sky News Arabia omits fact that deceased Palestinian prisoner was a terrorist

Cross posted from UK Media Watch

The death of Hamas-affiliated Palestinian terrorist Bassam as-Sayeh, 47, in an Israeli prison last Sunday received a considerable amount of attention from Arabic-language Western media outlets, which are often quite eager to amplify Palestinian Authority propaganda when dealing with such matters.

Having learned that as-Sayeh died of cancer, the outlets (AFP on Sep. 9, Independent Arabia on Sep. 9 and Sky News Arabia on Sep. 8) uncritically quoted Palestinian officials who leveled allegations at “the Occupation” (i.e, Israel) for “medical negligence”, “withholding treatment” and engaging in a “slow-motion execution” – though without providing any evidence of such conduct.

Even more telling was the fact that all three outlets ignored as-Sayeh’s conviction in an Israeli court for a series of terrorist acts, the most significant being his role in the murder of Eitam and Na’ama Henkin in October 2015.

Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin

Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin (Photo courtesy of MFA)

The Itamar couple was gunned down in front of their four children while driving the family car, and As-Sayeh was found responsible for funding and authorizing the attack.

While AFP and Independent Arabia mentioned his involvement as merely an Israeli accusation used to justify his “arrest” (thus omitting his conviction), Sky News Arabia – a venture between UK-based Sky News and UAE-based Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corp – ignored his connection to the attack altogether: AFP:

“As-Sayeh was arrested in 2015, having been accused of participation in the shooting deaths of two Israeli settlers near the settlement of Itamar […]. The Israeli prosecution demanded that as-Sayeh be sentenced to life in prison.”

The report also refers as-Sayeh as “detainee” (Arabic: Mu’taqal) rather than “captive/prisoner” (Aseer/Sajeen), thus creating the false impression he was still waiting trial, or sentencing, at the time of his death. Independent Arabia:

“Four years after the arrest of Bassam as-Sayeh under the accusation of killing two settlers near the city of Nablus, the latter has died after a long suffering from blood and bone cancer, [which lasted] since 2011.”

Ironically, the most decisive confirmation of as-Sayeh’s involvement in the Henkins’ murder appears in Hamas’ response, which was indirectly quoted by Independent Arabia:

“The ‘Izz ad-Deen al-Qassam battalions, the military wing of Hamas movement, has stated that Bassam as-Sayeh was one of its field leaders, and one of those who committed the ‘Itamar attack’ in October 2015.”

Research and writing by CAMERA Arabic. Edited by UK Media Watch.

UK Media Watch prompts Financial Times correction to false Oslo claim

Cross posted from UK Media Watch

A recent article in the Financial Times (Netanyahu vows to extend Israeli sovereignty in West Bank, Sept. 10) includes the following claim about the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords.

Extending Israeli sovereignty to the sprawling settlements that divide up the occupied West Bank would make it extremely difficult for future prime ministers to live up to pledges made in the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords to negotiate a possible withdrawal of Israeli forces in order to facilitate the birth of a Palestinian state.

However, the agreement did not pledge Israel to facilitate the birth of a Palestinian state.

As our CAMERA colleagues have noted previously, this fact was made clear by by Martin Indyk, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, in a piece for the Atlantic marking the 25th anniversary of the agreements. The Oslo Accords, he wrote, “did not provide for a Palestinian state.” He also re-emphasized that the two-state solution is “a concept that is nowhere mentioned in the Oslo Accords.”

Moreover, the New York Times, responding to a complaint from CAMERA in April, corrected an article which similarly claimed that the Oslo Accords committed both sides to a two state solution.

To their credit, shortly after we notified the Financial Times journalist of this error, the passage was revised, and no longer alleges that Oslo committed Israel to the creation of a Palestinian state.

Extending Israeli sovereignty to the sprawling settlements that divide up the occupied West Bank would make it extremely difficult for future prime ministers to live up to pledges made in the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords to negotiate a settlement with the Palestinians.

Related Articles

 

UK Media Watch prompts Times of London improvement to wild Lebanon War claim

Cross posted from UK Media Watch

A Sept. 5th obituary at The Times for Princess Dina bint Abdel Hamid, the first wife of Jordan’s King Hussein, included the following sentence, in the context of noting Princess Dina’s role in prisoner-exchange negotiations between Lebanon and Israel:

It had all started in June 1982 when Israel invaded Lebanon and rounded up all males aged between 9 and 75

This staggering claim, that, upon invading Lebanon in 1982 to stop PLO rocket attacks on northern Israel, the IDF rounded up “all males” as young as 9 years old, was not supported with a source, and we hadn’t previously come across this allegation, even from anti-Israel activists. The closest thing we could find online or in books we reviewed on the war was a claim by radical academic Noam Chomsky in his book ‘The Fateful Triangle’ that Israel had rounded up males as young as 16.

So, we contacted editors at The Times to ask for a source. However, instead of providing one, they instead slightly toned down the sentence to claim that the IDF had rounded up not “all”, but onlythousands of males aged between 9 and 75“.

Again, we asked editors for the source of this revised, but still wild and unsubstantiated accusation.

The following day, they changed it again to the following:

It had all started in June 1982 when Israel invaded Lebanon and rounded up thousands of males, from children to old men.

Since a “child” can technically be a teen as old as 17, and they are no longer claiming that preteen Lebanese and Palestinian boys were rounded up and imprisoned by the IDF, the claim is at least more plausible. However, we’re continuing to press The Times to provide a source, and will update this post when we receive a response.

Related Articles

Telegraph legitimises dual loyalty charge

Cross posted from UK Media Watch

There appears to be concerns voiced ‘by some’ that newly appointed US-Middle East peace envoy Avi Berkowitz is, like his predecessor Jason Greenblat, and White House advisor Jared Kushner, a “Zionist Jew”.

Unfortunately, we don’t know who exactly feels that, by virtue of his religious background and the fact that he supports Israel’s right to exist, Berkowitz can’t be trusted to faithfully carry out his diplomatic role, as Leila Molana-Allen, the reporter who penned the Telegraph article in question, didn’t say.

Here are the relevant paragraphs from the Sept. 6th piece:

The appointment [of Berkowitz] “demonstrates a lack of seriousness” in the administration’s approach to the peace plan and Mr Kushner’s complete dominance over the process, former Middle East advisor to the US defence department Jasmine El-Gamal told The Telegraph. “They are not even pretending otherwise by hiring a qualified person as an envoy.”

Others have raised concerns that Mr Berkowitz, like Mr Greenblatt before him and Mr Kushner, is a Zionist Jew, which may lead to a perception of bias in any peace negotiations with Palestinian officials.

Though The Telegraph is normally extremely responsible when it comes to avoiding language that could be seen as antisemitic, this particular sentence clearly serves to legitimise the historically toxic dual loyalty trope, codified as antisemitic by the IHRA Working Definition.

Here’s the wording from the IHRA definition:

“Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”

We’ve contacted Telegraph editors to complain.

Related Articles