Norway: Olmert as “Nazi commander in Schindler’s list”

July 27, 2006


1. Olmert as “Nazi commander in Schindler’s list”
2. Nobel Prize for what?
3. Is Kofi Annan listening?
4. “Disproportionate”
5. CNN’s senior reporter admits Hizbullah “had control” of his footage
6. Et tu, Telegraph?
7. No respect
8. The BBC: A hammer to whack Israel
9. BBC News supporting anti-Israel protests
10. Suzanne Goldenberg returns

[All notes below by Tom Gross]

I attach various points concerning the media coverage of the ongoing war between Israel and the Islamic “Party of God” militia, Hizbullah.



One of Norway’s largest newspapers has compared Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to the infamous Nazi commander SS Major Amon Goeth who was depicted by Ralph Fiennes in Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List.

Finn Graf, the cartoonist for the Oslo daily Dagbladet, drew Olmert as Goeth. As the commandant of the Plaszow death camp in Poland, Goeth indiscriminately murdered Jews by firing at them from his balcony. He was convicted of mass murder in 1946 and hanged.

In response to Dagbladet, a joint Norwegian Jewish-Christian organization has appealed to the Oslo government to speak out against hatred of Jews “before anti-Semitism in Norway becomes dangerous.”

(With thanks to Michael Freund of the Jerusalem Post for the above information.)

Dagbladet is the third largest newspaper in Norway. In July 2006 the newspaper published a story which questioned whether Muslims were really responsible for the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. The article, “The Third Tower,” came a few weeks after the French magazine Le Monde Diplomatique’s Norway edition ran a similar front page story.



This is what the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Betty Williams, has to say for herself:

“I have a very hard time with this word ‘non-violence’, because I don’t believe that I am non-violent. Right now, I would love to kill George Bush.”

Ms Williams, 64, an Irishwoman who won the peace prize in 1970s, was speaking to an audience of schoolchildren at the Earth Dialogues forum in Brisbane, Australia. “Her young audience at the Brisbane City Hall clapped and cheered,” according to a report in The Australian, one of Australia’s leading newspapers.

No doubt her fellow Nobel peace laureate, Yasser Arafat, would have agreed.



Retired Canadian Major-General Lewis MacKenzie has said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that the Canadian soldier killed at a UN post in Lebanon on Tuesday had complained in e-mails that Hizbullah fighters were all over his position. “They use the UN as shields knowing that they can’t be punished for it.”

Without even checking the facts, UN Secretary-General Annan had immediately accused Israel of deliberately attacking a UN position without reason.

The deceased UN observer wrote to me saying that Israel was responding to Hizbullah gunmen firing rockets, and not aiming at the United Nations observers, said MacKenzie.

MacKenzie is the former commander of UN troops in Bosnia.



Perhaps the most frequently used word to criticize Israel in recent days has been “disproportionate.” Richard Cohen writing Tuesday in the Washington Post notes that “If by chance you have the search engine LexisNexis and you punch in the words ‘Israel’ and ‘disproportionate,’ you run the risk of blowing up your computer or darkening your entire neighborhood. Just limiting the search to newspapers and magazines of the past week will turn up ‘more than 1,000 documents.’ Israel may or may not be the land of milk and honey, but it certainly seems to be the land of disproportionate military response.”

Cohen goes on to criticize “a whole bunch of European newspapers whose editorial pages call for Israel to respond, it seems, with only one missile for every one tossed its way. Such neat proportion is a recipe for doom… After the Holocaust, after 1,000 years of murder [of Jews], the only proportionality that counts is zero for zero. If Israel’s enemies want that, they can have it in a moment.”

In fact only in the Israeli press have details been reported about the “proportion” taken by the Israeli air force to spare civilian lives. Anshel Pfeffer, of The Jerusalem Post, writes: “Maj. E, a reservist who is the CFO of an avionics company in his civilian life, explained that ‘each pilot has the permission to abort a mission if he feels that there is a danger to too many civilians. I personally took part in a mission to bomb a bridge, but when we were over the target I saw that there was too much traffic of people leaving Beirut on it, so I decided to abort. We returned at 3 a.m. to finish the job.’”

Whilst “disproportionate” is being used frequently by media throughout the world and by UN representatives, the word “occupation” is now being used less often.

Moshe Yaalon, the former chief of staff of the Israeli army writes: “For years, we were told that the ‘root cause’ of the Middle East’s problems was the Israeli occupation of Arab lands – the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and southern Lebanon. The ‘root cause’ theory always had plenty of holes. But never has it looked quite so naive and simplistic as it does this week.”

Over 150 rockets were fired into Israel yesterday, an increased number, wounding dozens of civilians.



“CNN Senior international correspondent” Nic Robertson, who is presently reporting from Beirut, has admitted his anti-Israel report on civilian casualties in Lebanon was stage-managed from start to finish by Hizbullah. He said the story he filed on July 18 was heavily influenced by Hizbullah’s “press officer” and that Hizbullah have “very, very sophisticated and slick media operations.”

Speaking on the CNN program “Reliable Sources,” Robertson said that the Hizbullah press officer also instructed the CNN camera team on what to film. Robertson said Hizbullah “had control of the situation. They designated the places that we went to, and we certainly didn’t have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath.”

Robertson also said that Hizbullah has “very, very good control over its areas in the south of Beirut. They deny journalists access into those areas. They can turn on and off access to hospitals in those areas. They have a lot of power and influence. You don’t get in there without their permission.”

Robertson is not the only foreign journalist to have misled viewers with selected footage from Beirut. NBC’s Richard Engel and CBS’s Elizabeth Palmer were also taken around the damaged areas by Hizbullah minders. Palmer commented on her report that “Hizbullah is also determined that outsiders will only see what it wants them to see.”

Hussain Nabulsi, a Hizbullah spokesman has become a virtual media celebrity during the conflict appearing on Sky News (at least twice) as well as on CNN and has been quoted in articles for both the Times of London and Bloomberg.

On CNN, Nabulsi, standing in the rubble of flattened Beirut buildings, tells Robertson to “Just look. Shoot. Look at this building. Is it a military base? Is it a military base, or just civilians living in this building?” Nabulsi continued, “Shoot me. Shoot. This is here where they said Sheikh Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hizbullah, is living. This is wrong!”

For more, see this conversation between Robertson and Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz.

The influential Australian paper, The Age, published in Melbourne, today has an editorial by Ali Fayyad, a senior member of Hizbullah’s executive committee.



The Daily Telegraph used to be one of the only quality newspapers in Europe that gave Israel a fair hearing. Now its news pages have turned against Israel. For example, the second largest banner headline on its home page yesterday, read in black type: “UK harbours Israeli bombs: U.S.-made bunker busters stored outside Glasgow.”

Its story then suggested that it was a scandal that “Britain has been used as a staging post for major shipments from America to Israel.”

With dozens of conflicts raging throughout the world, including in Afghanistan, where almost every day British troops are killing Afghans, without any real reporting of this in the British press, this was virtually a non-story from a news point of view. Its only real purpose was to editorialize against America and Israel, something the Conservative-leaning Daily Telegraph would not have done a few years ago.

Elsewhere in the Daily Telegraph, the foreign news pages have included some of the most slanted coverage of the present mideast crisis, routinely referring to “hell” that the Lebanese (not of course the Israeli) civilians have endured.



Meanwhile on the British left, this is the cartoon flyer that the “Respect” political party, which has elected representation in the Britain House of Commons, has been distributing.

Of course, anti-Semitism is now raging not just on the British hard left, but among some on the right too. For example, Conservative MP Sir Peter Tapsell said on Tuesday that British Prime Minister Tony Blair was “colluding” with U.S. President George W. Bush in giving Israel the okay to wage a war crime “gravely reminiscent of the Nazi atrocity on the Jewish quarter of Warsaw.”

Of course, there was no “Jewish quarter” of Warsaw. The ghetto in the Polish capital, established in October 1940, constituted less than three square miles. Over 400,000 Jews were then crammed into it, about 30% of the population of Warsaw. 300,000 of these Jews were transferred to Treblinka where they were exterminated. Most of the rest were murdered in other ways. The ghetto was completely cleared of Jews by the end of May 1943.

People who are interested in correcting Sir Peter might want to read the second reader comment here:

(It should be pointed out that many other British and European politicians on both left and right, some of whom are subscribers to this email list, are supportive of Israel and not in any way anti-Semitic.)



Stephen Pollard, writing in the Times of London on Monday, has described the BBC’s coverage of the conflict as “overwhelmingly one-sided, with presenters and reporters editorialising against what they universally refer to as ‘Israeli attacks on Lebanon.’”

Pollard, who is a subscriber to this list, cites the “Andrew Marr programme on BBC1” which interviewed four guests, of whom “not one had anything but bile to pour over Israel.” He added: “To judge from its contents, the programme was the first to have been edited by the leader of Hizbullah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.”

Following the article, Pollard received a sympathetic letter from a BBC News staffer, who must remain anonymous in order to preserve his or her job at the BBC. That person wrote:

“Note how Sky does much of its work from Haifa and the BBC does it all from Beirut. Note how every piece done by the BBC’s Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, questions whether or not Israel has carried out war crimes… The BBC have sent out Fergal Keane and Jeremy Bowen whose clear agenda is to… tell us Israel is a bastard state… There is no intelligence here, no in-depth questioning of why this conflict has erupted. No discussion of Syria, Iran and Middle East geopolitics. It’s a hammer with which to whack Israel.”



Last Saturday, the BBC’s website helpfully carried full details of the assembly points for that day’s anti-Israel march in London. Nowhere did it give the same detail for Sunday’s rally in London in support of Israel.

The BBC, the world’s largest television news network, is funded by the British taxpayer to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds per year, and is under a legal obligation to be impartial, which of course it is not when it comes to Jews and Americans.



Suzanne Goldenberg, the former chief Jerusalem correspondent for The (London) Guardian, has been rushed to south Lebanon from Washington, where she has been Guardian correspondent for the last three years.

Goldenberg is renowned for her anti-Israeli writing. (See New Prejudices for Old: The European press and the Intifada.)

For example, in Monday’s Guardian (July 24), there was a large photo of Goldenberg, complete with her name in large bold type at the top of the newspaper’s front page, under the headline “Family ordered to flee were targeted because they were driving a minivan.” In the same edition of the paper, following page after page of completely one-sided news coverage of the mideast crisis, The Guardian carried a piece by the decidedly left-wing Israeli writer Gideon Levy.

Some media analysts have suggested that The Guardian brought back Goldenberg and published Levy's article to counteract allegations by increasing numbers of critics that its newspaper coverage of the Middle East has now spilled over into anti-Semitism.

For example, last week (on July 19) The Guardian’s cartoonist Martin Rowson depicted a fist with Stars of David as knuckle dusters:,,1823933,00.html

[All notes above by Tom Gross]

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