1. St. Petersburg Times: One big detention camp
2. Minneapolis Star Tribune: Those murdering Israelis
3. The NY Times, selective as ever
4. Abu Mazen: What the NY Times fails to tell its readers
[Note by Tom Gross]
There is a common, but incorrect, assumption outside the U.S. (where over half the recipients of this email list live) that American media and universities almost never express anti-Israel sentiment.
Several European journalists on this list have told me in the past that "if it is true we are sometimes more favorable to the Palestinians, this is because the U.S. media never criticizes Israel."
This is untrue. I attach two examples, taken at random from yesterday.
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES: ONE BIG DETENTION CAMP
Susan Taylor Martin, the "Senior Correspondent" for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, writes in the opening line of her news report "it is hard to deny the Gaza Strip is like a big detention camp" and then goes on to say, when she crosses the Gaza border into Israel "the soldier released us from the holding pen."
She brushes aside any Israeli security concerns and the hundreds of Israeli civilians murdered in recent years, by merely saying: "after several people died in suicide attacks, security was dramatically tightened."
MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE: THOSE MURDERING ISRAELIS
In the Minneapolis Star Tribune, an article yesterday by Ziad Amra titled "Lack of peace due to U.S., Israel" says that "millions of Palestinian refugees [were] ethnically cleansed by Israel."
He writes: "successive Israeli governments have continued with impunity murdering Palestinians... in just the last three years, Israel has murdered more than 3,000 Palestinians [while] Palestinians have continued to seek peace."
[As I have written several times before on this list, the 3000 figure commonly given for the number of Palestinians who have died includes hundreds of Palestinian suicide bombers who died at their own hands as well as hundreds of gunmen killed while killing and maiming Israeli civilians in shooting attacks in Israeli towns; and dozens of Palestinians killed as alleged "collaborators" by other Palestinians.]
Ziad Amra is a board member of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
THE NY TIMES, SELECTIVE AS EVER
Meanwhile, the editorialists at America's most powerful newspaper, the New York Times, show no sign of learning from their past failures to adequately report on the misdeeds or Yasser Arafat or criticize his regime.
For example, last Friday's New York Times editorial, titled "Mr. Sharon, you're up at bat," called on Sharon to aggressively support Abu Mazen (Mohammed Abbas) on the basis that Abu Mazen hasn't delivered anti-Israel speeches in the last week. This, the Times believes, is a major act on Abu Mazen's part, and Israel should immediately make major concessions in return.
The New York Times repeatedly calls Abbas a "moderate" while ignoring his role as Arafat's deputy for the past forty years, his long history of involvement in PLO terrorism, and that he wrote a PHD thesis advocating Holocaust denial, and so on.
The emphasis to show he has changed into a moderate is perhaps on Abbas, just as it would be on Saddam's deputy of 40 years should such a deputy have taken over control of Iraq. But the Times apparently doesn't think so
As though disappointed that more suicide bombers aren't getting through, the Times writes: "the Israeli Army need to find ways to allow Palestinians to maneuver more easily around roadblocks and closures."
Suggesting that Sharon doesn't want peace, the Times adds that Sharon needs "to board the peace train with Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and Mr. Abbas."
Even today, Hamas fired mortars at both Israeli military and civilian targets. Abbas has so far done nothing to discourage such attacks.
For those new to this list who want to read my own essay on the New York Times and Israel, you can do so at www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-gross031403.asp
ABU MAZEN: WHAT THE NY TIMES FAILS TO TELL ITS READERS
Abu Mazen was one of the chief architects of the terrorist attack that killed 10 Israeli athletes and one American (David Berger) at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, according to Mohammed Daoud Oudeh (or Abu Daoud), the coordinator of the Munich attack claims.
In Arabic publications, Abu Daoud has repeatedly said that Abu Mazen provided the funds and instructions to carry it out. Daoud first made this charge to a non-Arabic audience in his 1999 French language memoir, "Palestine: From Jerusalem to Munich." He repeated it again in an interview in 2002 with Sports Illustrated magazine. Abu Daoud said he was angered by the dozens of Palestinian terrorists allowed to return to the Palestinian-controlled territories as a result of the Oslo process while he remained persona non grata in Israel and the United States.
Daoud was also interviewed about the Munich massacre for a film called "One Day in September," produced by Sony Pictures Classics. Director Kevin Macdonald said Abu Mazen admitted Black September was merely the cover name adopted by Fatah members when they wanted to carry out attacks on Jews. Abu Daoud recalled how Arafat and Abu Mazen both wished him luck and kissed him when he set about organizing the Munich attack. (Daoud has also repeated this in an interview with the Arab TV network al-Jazeera.)
The New York Times might also want to tell its readers that Abu Mazen chose to write his PHD thesis (at Moscow's Oriental College) on Holocaust revisionism and follow it up with a book in 1983, "The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and the Zionist Movement," which denies the Holocaust occurred. Abu Mazen has never specifically repudiated his book, which purports to refute "the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed" in the Holocaust.
Abu Mazen may yet turn out to be a peacemaker, but this is no excuse for the New York Times to cover up for him.
-- Tom Gross
CROSSING BORDER IS ENDURANCE TEST
Crossing border is endurance test
By Susan Taylor Martin Times Senior Correspondent
St. Petersburg Times
November 22, 2004
Erez crossing, Israeli-Gaza border – No matter how you feel about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it's hard to deny the Gaza Strip is like a big detention camp. Palestinians can't leave without Israeli permission – and it's becoming harder for others to get out, too.
Until recently, the process was fairly quick and simple: You showed your passport to soldiers on the Palestinian side of the Erez Crossing and got in a taxi that took you to the Israeli side.
But after several people died in suicide attacks, security was dramatically tightened.
That's understandable. What's harder to fathom are the unexplained delays.
After finishing our work in Gaza, photographer John Pendygraft and I reached the border at 4 p.m. Sunday. Under the new policy, Palestinian soldiers now take your passport, phone the details to the other side and wait to hear back from the Israelis.
While the soldiers wait, you wait. And wait. And wait.
The first hint this might take a long time came around 4:45 p.m. when word spread that the border had been closed since 11 a.m. for "technical reasons" but would reopen "soon."
A wave of hope surged through the crowd, which included families with small kids, an amorous European couple and a smartly dressed diplomat. As the minutes ticked by with no sign of movement, friendships blossomed from the sharing of cigarettes and the latest rumors:
"It'll reopen in five minutes."
"It'll reopen at 6."
We struck up a conversation with Sami, an Israeli Arab engineer working on a construction project in Gaza. He goes home to Jerusalem every other week, and he said delays at Erez have become routine: "Two hours, sometimes three hours, I wait."
By 5:30 darkness had fallen, and the scene took on a desolate, Road Warrior air. Gunfire echoed in the distance and half-starved dogs slunk in the moon shadows.
When the 6 p.m. reopening failed to materialize, I was all for heading back to Gaza City. But a friendly CNN cameraman said his "man in Tel Aviv" was pressuring the Israel Defense Forces to let journalists cross. "Ten minutes, we'll be through" he assured us.
An hour later, we were still there. Someone came up with a number for the soldiers on the Israeli side, so we took turns calling to see when the border would reopen. Depending on who answered, the reply was A) "soon"; B) "more than two hours"; or C) "I don't know."
We implored the two young Palestinian soldiers still on duty to get a straight answer from the Israelis.
"The phone's dead – we have to recharge it," one said, and went back to his crossword puzzle.
It was now 8 p.m. – four hours after we arrived. It seemed obvious there would be no crossing tonight. We returned to our hotel, where we had dinner overlooking the Mediterranean. I told John that a least we'd lucked into a beautiful evening, without rain.
Shortly after midnight, I was awakened by a ferocious rattling of windows. Rain was coming down in sheets, and the sea had been whipped to foam by gale-force winds.
It was still pouring at 8 a.m. Monday when we arrived at Erez to try again. Sami, our new friend, and several others huddled in the only relatively dry place to wait, a vacant building open to the elements.
8:30. 9:30. 10 – again, the Israelis had apparently closed the border with no explanation. "Now that Abu Mazen is here," a soldier said, referring to the new Palestinian leader, "maybe this situation will improve."
At 11 a.m., the same soldier warned, "It'll be hours" and suggested everyone leave for lunch. No sooner had he spoken than a colleague appeared with a handful of passports – ours as well as those of four Spaniards and an elderly Arab woman. Of the 20 or so people waiting, the Israelis had cleared just a few to cross.
John and I grabbed our gear and headed down the long concrete tunnel that links the Palestinian and Israeli checkpoints. No more taxis; regardless of age or fitness, you now cross the border under your own steam.
At the Israeli end we came to a formidable-looking gate with turnstile.
"COME," boomed a disembodied voice, like that from behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz.
One of the Spaniards went through first, squeezing himself and his luggage through the narrow turnstile.
"TURN AROUND," the voice ordered. The Spaniard took off his jacket, held up his arms and did a clumsy pirouette to show he didn't have a gun or bomb belt strapped beneath his shirt.
"NEXT," the voice commanded.
Ten minutes later, all seven of us were in a large, cell-like enclosure. Finally, a human appeared – a young Israeli soldier who handed John a glove through the bars and ordered him to run it over himself and the other men for traces of explosives. He gave me a second glove; I patted down the Arab woman, then myself.
Tests negative, the soldier released us from the holding pen. From there it was routine: luggage through an X-ray machine; people through a metal detector; a review of passports. After waiting nine hours over two days, we were on Israeli soil.
One possible reason for our delay, we later learned, was that the Israelis are installing equipment that shows an exact outline of the body so screeners can detect hidden weapons. Given such high technology, you'd think it would be simple to let those waiting on the other side know when and for how long the border will be closed.
Sami, the engineer, may still be there – along with all the others waiting in the cold, wind and rain.
"I heard they're shutting the border for two days," our driver said as – free at last – we headed for Jerusalem.
LACK OF PEACE DUE TO U.S., ISRAEL
Lack of peace due to U.S., Israel
By Ziad Amra
Minneapolis Star Tribune
November 22, 2004
With the passing of Yasser Arafat, a mantra is being established by commentators and U.S. government officials that a "new" opportunity for peace between Palestinians and Israelis exists.
This mantra assumes the lack of peace in the region is due to the intransigence of one man – Arafat – and not the existence of millions of Palestinian refugees ethnically cleansed by Israel and an illegal 37-year Israeli military occupation of the Occupied Territories (West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem).
If such a new opportunity exists, it is for the Bush administration and the Israeli government to seize.
The reality is that Israel has failed to negotiate a final peace agreement with the Palestinians since negotiations began in 1991.
While Arafat was not perfect, it is worth noting Israel failed to achieve an agreement with a person who was a Nobel Peace Prize winner (1995) and the only democratically elected leader (1996) in the Arab world.
Instead, throughout the years of peace negotiations, successive Israeli governments have continued with impunity murdering Palestinians, confiscating their land and doubling to 400,000 the number of illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank – not the good-faith actions of a country committed to withdrawing from the Occupied Territories.
To put this destructiveness into perspective, in just the last three years, Israel has murdered more than 3,000 Palestinians (one-third of them children) and injured more than 20,000 – proportionately this would compare to 336,000 Americans killed and more than 2.2 million wounded.
Yet, in spite of this violence on their lives, Palestinians have continued to seek peace – because as the weakest, most victimized people in the region, nobody needs it more than they do.
Though the perception in this country is that Arafat rejected a "generous" peace proposal at Camp David in the summer of 2000, negotiations actually continued through January 2001 at Taba, Egypt, with serious progress made on bridging differences. Only with the election of current Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did negotiations end.
Despite what they say, both Israel and the Bush administration have worked against a peaceful two-state resolution to the conflict. The Bush administration has rejected the traditional U.S. role as a mediator and instead placed itself at the disposal of Israel – aiding and abetting Israel's murderous policies and limitless breaches of international law.
Both Israel and the Bush administration failed to seize upon the March 2002 Arab League offer that all Arab countries would sign a peace agreement with Israel – if Israel ended its occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank and a just settlement was found for the millions of refugees.
Instead, this past April President Bush endorsed Israel's goal of keeping large portions of the West Bank, maintaining a majority of illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank and negating the rights of Palestinian refugees. This negated the entire basis of peace since negotiations began – Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories and two states at peace.
Moreover, the Bush administration has supported Israel's building of the Wall that will surround and annex more than 40 percent of West Bank land.
Ostensibly to protect Israel, the Wall's route belies Israel's intentions – to usurp as much Palestinian land as possible. Why else does this Wall zigzag throughout the West Bank, rather than along Israel's border? The International Court of Justice in the Netherlands understood this and in July 2004 declared the Wall illegal under international law.
Finally, the Bush administration has insisted that Palestinians establish a democracy. Although it is an oxymoron to require an oppressed and militarily occupied nation to have "free and fair elections" and become a full-fledged democracy, the Palestinians had elections in 1996 and have been seeking new elections in spite of U.S. and Israeli obstacles. However, any new democratically elected Palestinian leader will likely be ignored by the United States and Israel if he pursues Palestinian national interests rather than those of Israel.
Peace will not be had at the barrel of an Israeli gun or with continued U.S.-endorsed Israeli theft of Palestinian land. Nor will peace depend on which Palestinian leader is elected. Peace will depend on whether the United States encourages Israel to end its 37-year occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, remove its illegal settlements from Occupied Territory and provide justice to the refugees it created.
(Ziad Amra, Minneapolis, is a board member of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.)
MR. SHARON, YOU'RE UP AT BAT
Mr. Sharon, you're up at bat
The New York Times
November 19, 2004
After four years of gloom and doom for those who seek peace in the Middle East, the last few days, with the baby steps toward some modicum of civility between Israelis and Palestinians, have been downright heady. First, the new Palestinian leaders offered Israel a burial site it could accept for Yasir Arafat. Then President Bush, prodded by the British prime minister, Tony Blair, actually said he was willing to "spend the capital of the United States" on creating an independent Palestinian state. And finally, Mahmoud Abbas, the new head of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the likely front-runner to replace Mr. Arafat, set a date for elections: Jan. 9. What's more, Mr. Abbas has thus far resisted any urge to toughen up his image with Palestinian hard-liners through unnecessary anti-Israel speeches. If this were baseball, President Bush would have hit a single, and Mr. Abbas a double. Now it's time for Ariel Sharon to step up to the plate.
Mr. Sharon has long claimed that he's been waiting for a moderate Palestinian leader, someone he can actually deal with, as opposed to Mr. Arafat, whom he viewed as duplicitous. So we shall take Mr. Sharon at his word, and encourage him to board the peace train with Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and Mr. Abbas.
The first order of business is to give the moderate Mr. Abbas something tangible to help him shore up his credibility with the Palestinian people. Mr. Sharon should immediately announce a complete freeze on settlement activity in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. That should take priority over releasing Palestinians held in Israeli jails, as many of those prisoners have blood on their hands.
Next, Mr. Sharon has got to do all he can to expedite free, full and fair elections involving all Palestinians – including those in East Jerusalem. Right now many are practically under lock and key, with their movements zealously restricted by Israeli roadblocks and closures. Added to that are regular Israeli Army incursions into Gaza and all the towns in the West Bank, which will also discourage election turnout. Obviously, Israel has the right to protect its citizens from Palestinian suicide bombers bent on upending any attempt at a peace settlement. But Mr. Sharon and the Israeli Army need to find ways to allow Palestinians to maneuver more easily around roadblocks and closures - especially when it's time to get to polling sites.
A peace deal will be possible only if a new Palestinian leader can establish enough authority to prepare the Palestinian people for what they must accept if they ever want an independent state: a Jerusalem shared between the two countries, final borders based on 1967 lines and a recognition that for all but a symbolic handful of refugees, the right of return will be to a new Palestinian state, not to Israel. Such a deal was difficult enough for Mr. Arafat to accept; it will be even harder for a new leader who comes to the table with only a fraction of Mr. Arafat's authority with his people.
Over the years, there have miraculously been a few moments of possibility that have punctured the gloom that is the peace process in the Middle East: the talks at Oslo and at Camp David come to mind. Now we seem to have stumbled, through the death of Mr. Arafat, into another moment of opportunity. It would be criminally negligent if any of the principal leaders involved didn't step up to the plate. Mr. Sharon, we await you, and we beg that you swing for the fences.