Slightly improved coverage in NYT, IHT, Guardian (& other news)

February 02, 2004

CONTENTS

1. Slightly improved coverage in NYT, IHT, Guardian: finally making the Arafat connection to suicide bombs?
2. "Palestinian TV uses Microsoft software for new hate video"
3. Journalist injured in bus bomb: where are the complaining international journalist federations now?
4. Reuters: more anti-Israel than Arab websites such as Albawaba?
5. Israel criticizes Kofi Annan for statement failing to condemn the suicide bomb
6. The Washington Post: the forgotten maimed Israeli victims from past bombs



[Note by Tom Gross]

THE IHT / NEW YORK TIMES

This is a follow-up to As Edited by..."The Herald Tribune" (January 28, 2004) and Sharon and Hitler share space at Anne Frank House in Amsterdam (January 29, 2004).

I refer to my note of January 28 (which was reproduced on several web sites on January 28-30) concerning misplaced photos in the International Herald Tribune. It was pointed out that after recent suicide attacks on Israelis, the IHT ran large photos of menacing-looking Israeli soldiers instead of any photos of bombed buses or victims.

On Saturday, January 31, 2004, the IHT changed its recent policy and ran a large photo on the top of page 1 of an Israeli funeral from Thursday's Jerusalem bus bomb (even though the photo caption did not name the victim.)

On page 5 of the IHT, the news report by James Bennet of the NY Times, did mention (albeit in the penultimate paragraph) that the "bombing was claimed by Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an off-shoot of Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction." This breaks with previous coverage in the New York Times and elsewhere where if the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has been referred to at all, it has been described as "loosely linked" to Fatah, and no mention made of Yasser Arafat.

Also, Bennet uses the word "terrorist" (without quotes) in the last line of his report, as carried in the IHT. As noted in previous dispatches, it has been rare in recent years for the word terrorist to be used in the IHT and other liberal media in regard to Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians.

Bennet also provides names and ages for three of the Israeli victims, and mentions that the suicide bomber was a Palestinian policeman. He also mentions that the bomb was "packed with bits of metal" (although he doesn't explain that this is to maximize death and injury of the victims).

THE GUARDIAN

In its report "Prisoners freed as bomb kills 10 in Israel" (January 30, 2004), The Guardian uses the rare word "murdered" in its opening sentence: "A Palestinian policeman murdered 10 people in a suicide attack on a rush-hour bus in Jerusalem."

In another rare move when it comes to Palestinian terror attacks against Israel, the Guardian uses the word "terrorism" (without quotes) in the second paragraph of its report.

Like the New York Times, the Guardian refers (in the fourth paragraph) to "The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a faction of Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization."

In the seventh paragraph, The Guardian states: "the bomb contained many nuts and bolts which inflicted terrible wounds on some of the victims."

I point these out as an illustration of how (1) western reporters may be beginning to regard suicide attacks on Israeli Jews as terrorism (2) they may be beginning to register that Arafat is connected to these.

Even though the circulation of the Guardian is considerably less than other British daily papers like the Times of London and the Daily Telegraph, it has influence beyond its sales because (1) it is the paper of choice for a large number of BBC reporters and editors and helps form their world view, and in turn BBC world service TV and radio combined has the largest audience worldwide of any single news organization; (2) The Guardian is particularly popular on the Internet, especially among US university professors and Arab intellectuals. In 2003, there were 100 million page impressions made on its website.

THE WASHINGTON POST

In the fourteenth paragraph of its report "11 killed by bomb on bus in Jerusalem deaths shadow prisoner swap," the Washington Post (Friday, January 30, 2004), stated more accurately that "The radical al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah political movement, asserted responsibility for the bombing."

You may also wish to read the article (below) from the Washington Post on the 3000 forgotten maimed and injured Israeli victims of recent suicide bombs.

DEATH TOLL RISES

The 11th victim of the attack was identified as a 35-year-old Ethiopian woman, Manbara Valdi Tzadik. Condolences too, to an Israeli member of this email list, who wishes to remain anonymous, who lost a close relative in the bombing.

INJURED JOURNALISTS

Among those injured in Thursday's bus bomb was the Jerusalem Post reporter, Erik Schechter. Schechter's wounds were described as "moderate" by doctors, meaning that his knee-cap had been shattered and that he had sustained shrapnel wounds and vascular damage, and will spend up to six months in recovery.

I mention this because international journalist federations, which have made scathing criticism of Israel on the occasions when a journalist has been killed or injured during firefights between the Israeli army and Palestinian gunmen, have not to my knowledge, made any criticism or protest to Yasser Arafat over this deliberate injury inflicted in Fatah's attempt to murder an Israeli journalist last Thursday.

REUTERS AND AL BAWABA

In its report on the day of the bus bomb Reuters news agency (unlike AP) omitted from their reports that the suicide bomber was a Palestinian policeman. The day before, a Reuters report said Israel is guilty of "accusing [Palestinian] security forces of either turning a blind eye to militant groups attacking Israelis or taking part themselves in the three-year-old uprising."

The use by Reuters of the word "accused" contradicts the Palestinian Authority's own admission that their security forces have been involved in attacks and suicide bombs.

Even moderate Arab websites such as Albawaba.com ("Bus attack in Jerusalem carried out by Fatah member: 10 Israelis killed," January 29, 2004) stated in its piece:

"Palestinian security officials said that the bomber was a member of the Palestinian police, from the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a group linked to Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the attack and identified the bomber as Ali Munir Yusuf Ja'arah, a 24-year-old resident of the West Bank town of Bethlehem."

But readers and viewers of the thousands of news outlets that subscribe to Reuters around the world would not have known that last Thursday.

-- Tom Gross

 

MICROSOFT USED FOR PA HATE VIDEOS

PATV uses Microsoft music for new hate video
By Itamar Marcus
Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin
February 2, 2004

Palestinian Authority TV has taken the music of a new popular Microsoft video game, Halo, and incorporated it into its newest hate video. According to Microsoft, Halo is being used by PATV without permission.

For many years, a mainstay of PATV has been the repeated broadcasting of hate videos for children. Dominant themes have been the portrayal of violence as heroic, death for Allah (Shahada) as a goal for children, and the depiction of Israelis as murderers.

This 1-1/2 minute PATV video, using the Halo soundtrack, shows still pictures of Palestinian children, then superimposes targets on them, as if Israeli soldiers are shooting them one by one.

The Halo hate video has been broadcast hundreds of times since Nov. 30, 2003, as a filler between programs as often as six to seven times a day.

[To see parts of the PATV hate video with "Halo" soundtrack, visit
www.pmw.org.il/new/PATV_Halo.html ]

The following is Microsoft's letter to PMW, stating that PATV is using Microsoft's Halo music without permission:

"Thank you for contacting Microsoft customer service. As a corporation, Microsoft does not maintain any involvement with activities of this nature. We were not aware of any media from the Palestinian Authority nor was permission granted to incorporate the Halo soundtrack as background music.

"Should you have additional questions or concerns, you may wish to contact the Microsoft corporate offices by calling 425-882-8080.

Microsoft Customer Service"

 

SUMMARIES

I attach three articles connected to suicide bombs, with summaries first:

1. "Israel criticizes Annan for statement" (The Associated Press, January 31, 2004). "Israel criticized Secretary-General Kofi Annan for issuing a statement that failed to mention or condemn the suicide bombing in Jerusalem, warning that U.N. "indifference" to Palestinian terrorist attacks undermines efforts to achieve peace. Annan's statement was released after Thursday's attack on a bus that killed 10 Israelis and wounded more than 50. It condemned those who resort to "violence and terror" and appealed to Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace negotiations, but did not specifically mention the bombing. "The moral clarity of the secretary-general in expressly condemning brutal acts of terrorism like yesterday's attack is especially important," Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman told a news conference.

... Israel's anger at Annan was compounded by the Security Council's failure to agree on a statement condemning the suicide bombing... The Israeli ambassador cited several other "troubling actions" by the U.N. Secretariat which Annan heads. He singled out "the reluctance of the secretary-general to assist in the adoption of a resolution on anti-Semitism after being specifically requested to do so" and a report on Israel's construction of a barrier that juts into the West Bank "that failed to devote even one word to the terrorist threat that the fence is designed to protect against."

2. "Lawsuit seeks $20M From Palestinians" (The Associated Press, January 30, 2004). "An American injured in a terrorist attack in Israel and the estate of an Israeli lawyer killed by the same attacker have filed a federal lawsuit seeking more than $20 million from Yasser Arafat and five Palestinian groups. The suit by Moshe Saperstein and the estate of Ahuva Amergi accuses Palestinian leader Arafat, the Palestinian Authority, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Palestinian Preventive Services and Yaser Mahmud Alkativ, a commander in the Palestinian General Intelligence Services, with organizing, facilitating and sponsoring attacks against Jewish civilians in Israel and regions of the West Bank.

"The suit, filed Thursday, alleges Alkativ was working for the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade when he recruited Muhamad Al Katzir to join the group and attack Israelis... "Arafat and the PLO pay $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers," Josefsberg said. "If we are successful in this, it may become a deterrent because it will become economically unfeasible to keep financing these bombings."

3. "Suicide bomb survivors face worlds blown apart. Thousands of wounded Israelis and families endure years of recovery" (Washington Post, January 31, 2004).

"Alona Shaportova immigrated here from Ukraine with her parents when she was 10. Soon she was speaking Hebrew, English and some Arabic, as well as Russian.

Ask Alona how old she is today and she hesitates, and begins to count out loud, "One, two, three, four" until she gets to 17. She looks to her mother for verification and gets a nod of approval.

"Counting is a chore for Alona, reading is impossible, and she can manage only slowly to write her name. Two years ago, Alona and a friend were at Tel Aviv's popular seaside Dolphinarium discotheque when a Palestinian wearing explosives and copper ball bearings blew himself up outside, killing 21 people, mostly teenagers, and wounding 100 others.

"When five ball bearings smashed into Alona's head and face, her left eye was shattered, the teeth on the left side of her mouth were knocked out and the left side of her brain was torn away, leaving her paralyzed on the right side and mentally impaired for good.

"The blond-haired, blue-eyed girl, who once thought of becoming a model, now has a plastic prosthetic and a mop of curls that artfully cover the missing part of her head.

"For thousands of Israeli families like the Shaportovas, the suicide bombings of the last three years have been a life-shattering, life-altering experience... for all those killed, there are many, many more left alive but burned, maimed, scarred, blinded, paralyzed, hearing-impaired, missing limbs and often requiring long-term care.

"... Their suffering is often intensified by the rudimentary and ruthless technology of the bombmakers; the explosives are wrapped with screws and ball bearings, causing multiple lacerations and punctures for those in the blast vicinity.

"Some Israelis are still hospitalized from wounds sustained in suicide attacks months, even years ago; many more require repeated hospital visits and follow-up operations. Dozens are unable to work. And families have been forced to alter their lives to care for a wounded family member.

"The financial support is supplemented by private groups such as the One Family Fund, created three years ago to support and provide psychological counseling to victims.

"As time goes by, the support and help gets less and less," said Mally Nissim, whose 16-year-old daughter, Adi Huja, was badly injured in the suicide bombing of Jerusalem's Cafe Rimon on Dec. 1, 2001.

"... Adi is a beautiful girl with light hair and olive skin... Her right foot stays in one position; the ankle was filled with screws. In all, 100 pieces of metal sliced through her body, mostly screws and bolts. Some of her wounds became infected by rat poison packed in the bomb, doctors told her.

"Adi has endured 26 operations, and she will have more. She was hospitalized for half a year and in a wheelchair for one year. There are still seven or eight bolts in her body..." [Full piece below]


FULL ARTICLES

ISRAEL CRITICIZES ANNAN FOR STATEMENT

Israel criticizes Annan for statement
By Edith M. Lederer
The Associated Press
January 31, 2004

Israel criticized Secretary-General Kofi Annan for issuing a statement that failed to mention or condemn the suicide bombing in Jerusalem, warning that U.N. "indifference" to Palestinian terrorist attacks undermines efforts to achieve peace.

Annan's statement was released after Thursday's attack on a bus that killed 10 Israelis and wounded more than 50. It condemned those who resort to "violence and terror" and appealed to Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace negotiations, but did not specifically mention the bombing.

"The moral clarity of the secretary-general in expressly condemning brutal acts of terrorism like yesterday's attack is especially important," Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman told a news conference Friday.

"This is why we must express our disappointment and dismay at the response issued by the office of the secretary-general," Gillerman said.

Before Gillerman's press conference started at U.N. headquarters in New York, Annan told reporters in Brussels, Belgium on Friday that "I have always condemned without reservation suicide bombings that take innocent lives."

The secretary-general sent his "deepest sympathy and condolences to the families and all those who lost loved ones, and those who have been injured and are in hospital." But he stressed that "the only solution to this is to focus on peace."

Gillerman said after his press conference he was not aware of Annan's new comments.

Grilled about whether there was a change in Annan's policy, U.N. associate spokeswoman Marie Okabe said "one press statement doesn't make a policy."

"If you look at his words and his deeds before today and after, you will see that his only objective... is to make the parties focus on peace," she said.

Israel's anger at Annan was compounded by the Security Council's failure to agree on a statement condemning the suicide bombing.

Council diplomats said Algeria, the only Arab nation on the council, insisted that any statement must also condemn the deaths of eight Palestinians in an Israeli incursion into Gaza City on Wednesday. The United States and others said equating the two incidents was unacceptable, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Algeria's U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Baali expressed regret at the failure to reach consensus.

"We are willing to work on language... so that at the end we come up with a common position but it has to be understood that the positions should be balanced, should be fair to everybody," he said.

The Israeli ambassador cited several other "troubling actions" by the U.N. Secretariat which Annan heads.

He singled out "the reluctance of the secretary-general to assist in the adoption of a resolution on anti-Semitism after being specifically requested to do so" and a report on Israel's construction of a barrier that juts into the West Bank "that failed to devote even one word to the terrorist threat that the fence is designed to protect against."

 

LAWSUIT SEEKS $20M FROM PALESTINIANS

Lawsuit seeks $20M From Palestinians
By Hilary Roxe
The Associated Press
January 30, 2004

An American injured in a terrorist attack in Israel and the estate of an Israeli lawyer killed by the same attacker have filed a federal lawsuit seeking more than $20 million from Yasser Arafat and five Palestinian groups.

The suit by Moshe Saperstein and the estate of Ahuva Amergi accuses Palestinian leader Arafat, the Palestinian Authority, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Palestinian Preventive Services and Yaser Mahmud Alkativ, a commander in the Palestinian General Intelligence Services, with organizing, facilitating and sponsoring attacks against Jewish civilians in Israel and regions of the West Bank.

The suit, filed Thursday, alleges Alkativ was working for the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade when he recruited Muhamad Al Katzir to join the group and attack Israelis.

The suit said on Feb. 18, 2002, members of the group drove Katzir to the road in Israel where he attacked Saperstein and Amergi with an AK-47. Saperstein was shot in the hand; Amergi was killed.

Saperstein has joint U.S-Israeli citizenship. The suit said he lost one arm in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and lost his other hand in the 2002 attack. Amergi was an Israeli lawyer.

The suit cited a U.S. law that grants federal courts jurisdiction in cases related to international terrorism, or in cases that violate international law or U.S. treaties.

If the lawsuit is successful, damages could be paid from funds that Israel controls that belong to the PLO, Robert Josefsberg, the Miami attorney who filed the suit, said late Friday.

"Arafat and the PLO pay $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers," Josefsberg said. "If we are successful in this, it may become a deterrent because it will become economically unfeasible to keep financing these bombings."

 

SUICIDE BOMB SURVIVORS FACE WORLDS BLOWN APART

Suicide bomb survivors face worlds blown apart
Thousands of wounded Israelis and families endure years of recovery
By Keith B. Richburg
The Washington Post
January 31, 2004

Alona Shaportova, 17, suffered brain injuries from a suicide bombing two years ago. She now attends a special school and depends on her mother, Irina, to help her get dressed and shuttle her to therapy. (Keith B. Richburg -- The Washington Post)

Alona Shaportova immigrated here from Ukraine with her parents when she was 10. Soon she was speaking Hebrew, English and some Arabic, as well as Russian.

Ask Alona how old she is today and she hesitates, and begins to count out loud, "One, two, three, four" until she gets to 17. She looks to her mother for verification and gets a nod of approval.

Counting is a chore for Alona, reading is impossible, and she can manage only slowly to write her name. Two years ago, Alona and a friend were at Tel Aviv's popular seaside Dolphinarium discotheque when a Palestinian wearing explosives and copper ball bearings blew himself up outside, killing 21 people, mostly teenagers, and wounding 100 others.

Alona was among the most critically injured. When five ball bearings smashed into her head and face, her left eye was shattered, the teeth on the left side of her mouth were knocked out and the left side of her brain was torn away, leaving her paralyzed on the right side and mentally impaired for good.

The blond-haired, blue-eyed girl, who once thought of becoming a model, now has a plastic prosthetic and a mop of curls that artfully cover the missing part of her head.

For thousands of Israeli families like the Shaportovas, the suicide bombings of the last three years have been a life-shattering, life-altering experience. The attacks make headlines with the numbers killed about 500 Israelis and foreigners have been killed in suicide attacks on civilians since the beginning of the current Palestinian uprising in September 2000. But for all those killed, there are many, many more left alive but burned, maimed, scarred, blinded, paralyzed, hearing-impaired, missing limbs and often requiring long-term care.

A case-by-case review of Israeli government records indicates more than 3,000 people have been injured in suicide bombings, not counting other types of attacks.

Their suffering is often intensified by the rudimentary and ruthless technology of the bombmakers; the explosives are wrapped with screws and ball bearings, causing multiple lacerations and punctures for those in the blast vicinity.

Some Israelis are still hospitalized from wounds sustained in suicide attacks months, even years ago; many more require repeated hospital visits and follow-up operations. Dozens are unable to work. And families have been forced to alter their lives to care for a wounded family member.

Alona's mother, Irina, says caring for her daughter has become her full-time job. She needs to help her daughter get dressed, takes her to a special school and shuttles her constantly to the hospital for care and rehabilitation therapy. "I'm really stressed by all of this," said Irina, who quit working after her daughter was injured. "I have no choice. I have only one daughter."

The Israeli government's national insurance institute has a mandate to provide financial assistance to anyone deemed a victim of a hostile act, meaning either war or terrorism. Medical care is free, including transportation to and from the hospitals, and the injured person receives a monthly stipend based on salary, or, in the case of the unemployed, the average government bureaucrat's salary.

Those found by an independent panel to be severely and permanently disabled continue to get a monthly payment for life, while those less disabled lose their stipends and receive a one-time grant.

The financial support is supplemented by private groups such as the One Family Fund, created three years ago to support and provide psychological counseling to victims. The fund provides cash to affected families until government compensation arrives, and it sponsors workshops and "healing retreats."

Yet victims and their family members say they sometimes feel their suffering is forgotten after the initial horror of a suicide attack has faded.

"As time goes by, the support and help gets less and less," said Mally Nissim, whose 16-year-old daughter, Adi Huja, was badly injured in the suicide bombing of Jerusalem's Cafe Rimon on Dec. 1, 2001. "The whole situation has been going on for two years. My heart is ripped up. I can hardly take it. The atmosphere at home is bad. Everybody is irritable and yelling. Tempers are raised."

She added: "When I hear about an attack, I feel sorry for the injured. It tears families apart."

Adi is a beautiful girl with light hair and olive skin. The only evidence of the severity of her wounds is that she walks with a crutch.

Seated on the living room couch, she pulls off her thick-soled sneakers and rolls up the legs of her khaki trousers to show what is left of her mangled legs. Both are riddled with wounds from ankle to hip huge craters, small holes, discolored black.

Her right foot stays in one position; the ankle was filled with screws. In all, 100 pieces of metal sliced through her body, mostly screws and bolts. Some of her wounds became infected by rat poison packed in the bomb, doctors told her.

Adi has endured 26 operations, and she will have more. She was hospitalized for half a year and in a wheelchair for one year. There are still seven or eight bolts in her body.

"The doctors said I'll be able to walk and run," she said, "but it will take time."

Adi and her mother are full of praise for the doctors who saved Adi's legs. For the bombers, there is only hate.

"I hate them and their entire families," Adi said bitterly, "and I wish them to go through exactly what I went through. They have no heart."

The Weapons Instructor

In a bed at a rehabilitation center outside Tel Aviv, American-born Steve Averbach, 37, counts the sum total of his progress since a suicide bomber on Jerusalem's No. 6 bus shattered his world eight months ago.

He can wiggle his toes a little, and he can flex his left foot. He can move his left thumb and index finger. There is a little movement in his left elbow, and there's some sensation in the hand. That is all, but that is progress for a man who was told he would likely never move his limbs again, after a ball bearing from the bomber's explosive vest hit his spinal cord and lodged in the back of his neck.

Before the bombing, Averbach, who moved to Israel from New Jersey at age 18, was a healthy, high-powered, active man, the father of four children. He was known as "Steve Guns" to many Israelis because of his role as the premier weapons instructor in the country.

All of Averbach's training kicked in on May 18, 2003, when he boarded the bus in the French Hill neighborhood and the driver stopped to pick up one last passenger: a man dressed in the garb of a religious Jew. "He wasn't Jewish," Averbach recalled. "He was Arabic."

Averbach immediately grabbed for his gun and spun around to fire. "I was known to be able to draw my gun in .85 of a second," he said. But the bomber already had his hand on the triggering device. "I was in mid-spin when the bomb went off," Averbach said. "It doesn't matter how fast you are the guy with his finger on the trigger is going to win." Averbach's gun never cleared his holster.

Averbach retains his good humor, even as he lies on his back and his mother, Maida, gives him water from a small plastic container with a straw. "I had been involved in four or five bus bombings," Averbach said. "This time I just showed up 10 minutes early."

"The thing I say to myself is, next time I will be faster," he said. "I can't lay back and say to myself, 'I'm sorry about what happened.' "

His mother, a nurse, said that since her son's injury she has viewed the horrific scenes of bus bombings differently.

"When I hear the phrase 'non-life-threatening injury,' I always wonder what's the implication of that," she said. "The people who die die. But the survivors, and how they have to cope, and their families you never hear about that. The psychological implications, the emotional implications, the financial implications it goes on and on."

The Bus Driver

Not all victims of suicide attacks are Jewish. Sometimes the shrapnel finds someone like Yasser Hirbawi, an Israeli Arab who lives in East Jerusalem.

In August, Hirbawi was driving a bus for a tourism company when he stopped next to public bus No. 2, which had a bomber on board. Hirbawi felt the blast, which hurled him down the front steps of his bus, and brought the vehicle's small, mounted television set crashing down on his head and back.

"I started rolling down the stairs leading to the doors," he said, sitting in his family's hillside home. "That was a good thing, because when I was down there, I was saved from the shrapnel that was flying around." He was knocked unconscious, but survived with a slipped disc and half hearing loss in each ear.

"I still suffer from pain, especially when I bend down," Hirbawi said. "Tying my shoes is something I cannot do. If I bend down, it takes me five minutes to get back up. I also can't put any stress on my right leg."

Hirbawi, 40, is under doctor's orders not to work. As an Israeli citizen and a victim of terrorism, he qualifies for financial compensation. But he hadn't received any, he said, and has survived taking care of his wife and six children only with the help of his brother, who owns a grocery store.

The reason, he believes, is because he is an Arab, not Jew.

"I tell you the truth, if I had been Jewish, I would be getting everything I am owed from the national insurance," Hirbawi said. "A Jew doesn't have to wait six months. Unfortunately, we have to wait. We are discriminated against. They don't treat everyone equally here."

Hirbawi is angry. His family has lived in Jerusalem for generations. He said he had never run afoul of the law. "I live in Jerusalem, I pay my taxes and everything," he said. "I was wounded just like any other person, just like the Jews.

"The bomb," he added, "did not discriminate between Jews and Arabs."


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.