NY Times-owned Herald Tribune runs Iranian government advert to build nuclear reactors

May 01, 2007

* “I got my Iranian nuclear reactor through the New York Times”
* Ahmadinejad’s “News Agency” applauds UK anti-Zionist Jews
* Harvard Report: “How the media partnered Hizbullah”

This dispatch mainly concerns the media itself.

 

CONTENTS

1. “I got my Iranian nuclear reactor through the New York Times”
2. Ahmadinejad’s “Islamic Republic News Agency” applauds UK Jews who support journalists’ Israel boycott
3. “I hesitate to raise the charge of anti-Semitism, but…”
4. Balen Report to remain confidential
5. “When Alan is freed... Who will free us...?”
6. “The BBC needs its head examined”
7. Harvard Report: “How the media partnered with Hizbullah”
8. Livingstone complaint rejected
9. Another disgrace that taints the Pulitzer and the NY Times
10. “Another Pulitzer Prize disgrace” (By Jonathan Tobin, April 23, 2007)
11. “The NUJ’s boycott astonishes me” (By Stephen Glover, Independent, April 23, 2007)
12. “Al Jazeera gathering draws a full minyan to heart of Arab world” (Forward, April 27, 2007)



[Note by Tom Gross]

“I GOT MY IRANIAN NUCLEAR REACTOR THROUGH THE NEW YORK TIMES”

In an astonishing move that has sent shivers down the spines of many Israelis, the International Herald Tribune, owned by the New York Times, has run an advert seeking bids from companies to build Iran new nuclear reactors.

The Iranian government, which has recently speeded up its nuclear program, has repeatedly threatened to destroy Israel.

The advert is being viewed as shockingly low, even by The New York Times Co.’s standards.

The advert asks for “Bids from contractors/companies for the Design, Supply of Equipment, Construction and Commissioning of two large scale units (1000-1600 MWe each) with third generation Nuclear Power, Pressurized Light Water Reactor in the Bushehr Province of Iran.”

“Qualified bidders are requested to obtain the respective Bid Inquiry Specification (BIS) documents upon payment of a non-refundable fee of €15000 (fifteen thousands Euros) transferred to the following account:

Account no.: 01754283800
Name of Bank: Austria Bank-Creditanstalt”

The advert, which was distributed in Israel, together with the English-language version of Ha’aretz, can be seen here.

Ha’aretz’s advertising department issued a statement saying they had no control over the ads in the IHT.

“I got my nuclear reactor through the New York Times,” quips Israeli blogger Allison Kaplan Sommer.

Miriam Schwab, another Israeli blogger, wrote: “It is understandable that Iran wants to recruit the best nuclear-reactor-builders for this endeavor (only the finest for Uncle Ahmadinejad’s genocidal projects), but it is harder to swallow IHT’s compliance with the advertisement of such a project, especially since this paper is sold in local newsstands across Israel – Iran’s prime target!”

For more on Iran, see The deadly threats of Hizbullah and Iran.

For more on the New York Times, see All The News That’s Fit To Print?

AHMADINEJAD’S “ISLAMIC REPUBLIC NEWS AGENCY” APPLAUDS UK JEWS WHO SUPPORT JOURNALISTS’ ISRAEL BOYCOTT

The anti-Semitic regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already welcomed a fringe group of ultra-orthodox Jewish nutcases, Neturei Karta, to its Holocaust denial conference in Teheran last December.

Now it is cozying up to their equally disturbed left-wing secular counterparts. A small band of highly vociferous Jewish leftist extremists, who have been gaggling in excitement at the increasing demonization of Israel in Britain and beyond, have come to the notice of the Teheran regime.

The Iranian state news agency reports that: “British Jews welcome journalists joining Israeli boycott.”

The Teheran regime is referring to a letter published in the British newspaper, The Guardian, by a group calling themselves “JBIG” (Jews for boycotting Israeli Goods). All the signatories – Deborah Fink, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Mike Cushman, Sylvia Finzi, Tony Greenstein, Ruth Tenne, Deborah Maccoby, Prof Moshe Machover, Mike Marqusee – are already well-known for their incessant campaigns against Israel and those who sympathize with her.

Deborah Fink, for example, has described Israel as a “satanic state”.

“The same official Iranian state news agency uncritically publishes the words of wisdom of its beloved President on the subject of the Holocaust,” points out David Zarnett, of a moderate left-wing British Jewish group called “Engage” who are campaigning against the extremist anti-Zionism of the British left.

“I HESITATE TO RAISE THE CHARGE OF ANTI-SEMITISM, BUT…”

In an article attached below, Stephen Glover, an influential British journalist who was co- founder of the Independent (the anti-Israeli newspaper of which Robert Fisk is chief Middle East correspondent), takes a surprisingly hard line against the recent decision by the British National Union of Journalists to boycott Israeli goods.

“To single out Israel as being uniquely evil, and worthy of measures that are not contemplated against anyone else, is intellectually disreputable... Why is Israel singled out? I hesitate to raise the charge of anti-Semitism since it is used too often and too carelessly by defenders of Israel in order to try to quash criticism of the country. But though laying aside that explanation, I confess that I am unable to find another one. Why Israel but not Burma? Perhaps someone would tell me.”

Glover continues: “Some people have suggested that, as result of the NUJ motion, journalists may report Israel unfairly. I doubt this is so, though there is a wider issue as to whether the country is habitually fairly treated. That the BBC has spent a lot of money trying to prevent the publication of a report on alleged bias in its reporting of Israel may indicate it has something to hide.”

BALEN REPORT TO REMAIN CONFIDENTIAL

This is a follow-up to “BBC pays £200,000 to cover up report on anti-Israel bias” (& Live crocodiles seized at Gaza border) (March 27, 2007).

Last Friday, the BBC won its High Court legal battle to keep the Balen Report, an internal review of its Middle East coverage, confidential. In 2004, Malcolm Balen, after whom the report is named, was asked by the BBC to act as impartial examiner as to whether the BBC’s radio and TV coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was slanted. After exhaustively doing so, Balen produced a report which is widely believed to conclude there is widespread anti-Israeli bias throughout the BBC. The BBC has successfully used legal measures to block the publication of this independent report.

A judge overturned an order that the report should be made public under Freedom of Information laws. Ironically the BBC has used the Freedom of Information legislation itself numerous times to break news stories.

Mr Justice Davis, sitting in the High Court, argued that there were “powerful reasons in favor of there being a right of appeal to the tribunal in circumstances such as the present.”

“WHEN ALAN IS FREED... WHO WILL FREE US...?”

Backspin, the blog of HonestReporting, has highlighted an article by Palestinian writer Ramzy Baroud on kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston.

Baroud asks: “How can we claim that they are not from amongst us? How can we claim that they don’t represent us if we lack the political will to confront them? And when Alan is freed, as he must, who will free us, Palestinians, from this destructive path on which we tread?”

His article can be read in full here.

Johnston, the BBC Gaza City correspondent, was seized by armed gunmen on March 12. So worried are they about upsetting the Palestinian Authority, that the BBC and other media are failing to point out that the 70,000 strong Palestinian armed forces are doing next to nothing to try and secure Johnston’s release.

“THE BBC NEEDS ITS HEAD EXAMINED”

This is a follow up to the sixth note in the dispatch Guardian editor condemns U.K. journalists’ call to boycott Israel (April 18, 2007).

As a result of the kidnapping of Alan Johnston, BBC Radio 4 cancelled its broadcast of a “comic” play titled “Weddings and Beheadings,” about an Iraqi cameraman who earns his income filming the beheadings of hostages.

Hanif Kureishi, the Pakistani-British writer of the play, has now told the Times of London that “the BBC needs its head examined.”

Kureishi, who won an Oscar nomination in 1985 for “My Beautiful Laundrette,” said “I don’t like censorship and I don’t think Alan Johnston’s position is served by having more censorship... The BBC has cancelled my story out of a rather misplaced feeling for Alan Johnston. He is in a terrible situation. But my feeling is that, as journalists and writers, we support other journalists and writers by speaking freely. He is a hardcore news journalist. He wouldn’t want a bit of nancy censorship to support him.”

HARVARD REPORT: “HOW THE MEDIA PARTNERED WITH HIZBULLAH”

Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government has released a paper on the media’s role during the 2006 Israel-Hizbullah war. Co-authored by Marvin Kalb, of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, and Carol Saivetz, also of Harvard, it is titled “The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006: The Media as a Weapon in Asymmetrical Conflict.”

Kalb relates how Hizbullah exercised absolute control over how journalists portrayed its side of the conflict, while Israel became “victimized by its own openness.” Kalb points to the challenges journalists may face in future “asymmetrical” conflicts in which a radical militia provides access only to journalists agreeing to the strictest of rules.

The report argues that journalists did Hizbullah’s work, offering little resistance to the Islamic militia’s propaganda effort to portray itself as an idealistic and heroic army of the people.

The report can be read in full here.

For more on this subject, see Media Missiles.

LIVINGSTONE COMPLAINT REJECTED

A complaint made by London mayor Ken Livingstone against the London Evening Standard has been rejected by the UK Press Complaints Commission. “Red Ken” filed the objection following a story the newspaper ran about him in January, alleging that he secretly met with the families of convicted spies on a publicly-funded trip to Cuba.

It was alleged the mayor had talks with the wives of the so-called “Miami Five,” who have been found guilty by a U.S. court of conspiracy to spy on American military bases. Livingstone objected to the idea that his meeting was secret.

In 2005, Livingstone sparked a row with the Evening Standard that went all the way to the high court, after he likened a Jewish reporter for the newspaper, Oliver Finegold, to a Nazi concentration camp guard. The London mayor battled to avoid a four-week suspension from office. In October 2006, he won his high court appeal against a ruling that he brought his office into disrepute over the affair.

For more, see London’s mayor still refuses to apologize for “Nazi remark” (Feb. 18, 2005).

ANOTHER DISGRACE THAT TAINTS THE PULITZER AND THE NY TIMES

I attach three articles below. In the first, Jonathan Tobin severely criticizes the awarding two weeks ago of the 2007 Pulitzer for Feature Writing to New York Times writer Andrea Elliot, the author of an 11,000-word, three-part story, “An Imam in America,” about Sheik Reda Shata of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, New York.

Tobin compares the “disgrace” of this Pulitzer with the Pulitzer awarded to Walter Duranty, the infamous New York Times foreign correspondent, who in 1932 covered up Stalin’s murder of millions of farmers and peasants, calling it “an idealistic work in progress.”

Tobin writes: “Both Elliot and Duranty crossed the same line when they allowed their agenda to dictate their coverage. While Duranty covered up genocide, dishonesty about Islamist extremism is no less egregious. What this proves is that those who imagined that Duranty was a relic of journalism’s past were wrong. That a travesty such as Elliot’s ‘imam’ would bring a Pulitzer is a disgrace that again taints the reputation of both the prizes and the Times.”

The third and final article reports on the third-annual forum of the Arab satellite network Al Jazeera, which included several Jewish participants. As the title of the article points out, the Al Jazeera gathering drew “a full minyan to [the] heart of Arab world”. (A “minyan” in Judaism is traditionally a group of ten or more adult male Jews, over the age of thirteen, for the purpose of communal Jewish services.)

-- Tom Gross


FULL ARTICLES

“PUFF PIECE ON MOSQUE FURTHER TARNISHES THE NY TIMES”

Another Pulitzer Prize disgrace
Puff piece on mosque that inspired murder further tarnishes the ‘Times’
By Jonathan Tobin
The Jewish Exponent
April 23, 2007

www.jewishexponent.com/article/12751

In 1932, one of the most prestigious honors in journalism, the Pulitzer Prize, was awarded to Walter Duranty, a New York Times reporter who was then serving as foreign correspondent in the Soviet Union.

Though many other Pulitzers – both deserved and undeserved – have been handed out over the years, Duranty’s is remembered more than most.

In the online archive of the prizes (www.pulitzer.org), Duranty’s award is noted in a bland, one-sentence explanation that reads simply: “For his series of dispatches on Russia especially the working out of the Five Year Plan.”

The reference is to Duranty’s reporting on Soviet leader Josef Stalin’s economic plan. Duranty’s dispatches helped build an image of Comrade Stalin’s totalitarian state as an idealistic work in progress.

But there were a few things missing from Duranty’s stories. These included the mass murder of Soviet peasants who resisted forced collectivization, and the deliberate attempt at starvation of the people of the Ukraine in what is now known as the “terror famine” that took up to 3 million lives. He also got the part about the disastrous five-year plan “working out” wrong.

In subsequent years, Duranty followed this up with further lies that whitewashed Stalin’s infamous show trials and purges that resulted in the deaths of millions more victims of communism.

Duranty’s work remains the gold standard of journalism malpractice primarily because of his political motives. The writer sympathized with the Soviet Union, and was willing to lie about it.

Sadly, efforts to get the Pulitzer Prize Board to revoke Duranty’s honor have been resisted by both the board and the Times, even though the latter admits Duranty’s reporting was, as current editor Bill Keller put it, “credulous” and “uncritical.”

A MISSING FACT

Unfortunately, that belated admission of fault might well apply to the latest member of the Times staff to win a Pulitzer. The 2007 Pulitzer for Feature Writing announced this week went to Andrea Elliot, the author of an 11,000-word, three-part story, “An Imam in America,” about Sheik Reda Shata of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The series, which first appeared on March 5-7, 2006, is touted on the newspaper’s Web site as the story of “the inner life of a mosque in Brooklyn, and the dynamic, creative, conflicted and fearful imam at its center: Sheik Reda Shata. Through study and conversation, persuasion and persistence, Elliott achieved an intimate, tough-minded exploration of the lives of immigrant Muslims after 9/11.”

However, a few things were missing from these “tough-minded” pieces, which sympathetically portrayed the Egyptian-born Shata.

The most important was Elliot’s failure to mention anything about the role of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge in the murder of 16-year-old Ari Halberstam in a van filled with Jewish children on the Brooklyn Bridge. Not one of her 11,000 words refers to the fact that it was this same mosque that was the forum for the sermon that inspired one of its congregants, Rashid Baz, to go out and try to murder as many Jews as he could in March of 1994.

At Baz’s trial, it was revealed that Mohammed Moussa – Shata’s predecessor at the mosque – was quoted as saying the following in a sermon heard by the killer on the day of the rampage: “This takes the mask off of the Jews. It shows them to be racist and fascist as bad as the Nazis. Palestinians are suffering from the occupation and it’s time to end it.”

How, you may ask, could one write about any religious institution and ignore the most notorious aspect of its recent history?

In a subsequent article in The New York Sun, Halberstam’s mother, Devorah, related that she called Elliot to ask why she had omitted the story of her son’s murder from the feature on the mosque. Elliot replied that “she knew nothing about it.”

This was, at the very least, an indictment of the reporter’s research skills, which ought to have earned her the humiliation of an editor’s note acknowledging the mistake, not journalism’s greatest prize.

But there is more wrong here than just one missing fact. It is that the entire thesis of Elliot’s work (which ironically concluded on the 12th anniversary of Ari’s death) was to portray Shata and his mosque as a force for moderation.

Setting up her subject, Elliot insists that “imams like Shata – men who embrace American freedom and condemn the radicals they feel have tainted their faith – rarely make the news.”

While Shata did not give the sermon that inspired Baz, he did praise the Hamas terror group, and spoke of its leader, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, as a “lion of Palestine [who] has been martyred.” As even Elliot was constrained to note, Shata had also praised a Palestinian female suicide bomber, Reem Al-Reyashi, as a “martyr.”

Absent from the feature is any attempt at a serious discussion of how a religious leader who praises terrorists can, at the same time, pretend to be fostering interfaith dialogue with Jews and Christians. Shata utters coded responses such as, “What I may see as terrorism, you may not see that way,” without follow-up from his interviewer.

Though quite a bit of space in the piece was devoted to the imam’s attempts at matchmaking, serious issues about the way Islamist practices intersect with American life were left out. Their views of sensitive subjects such as “honor” killings of women or polygamy remain largely absent.

Instead, what Elliot – and presumably, her editors – were interested in was the supposed plight of American Muslims in a hostile society.

This is in spite of the fact that attacks on Muslims in post-9/11 America have been notably rare, and that American leaders have gone out of their way to distinguish Islam from Islamist extremists.

While the newspaper describes her beat as “focusing on the impact of 9/11 on American Muslims,” a better way to describe it might be to say its purpose is to divert us from the need to focus on Islamist extremism.

POLITICALLY-INSPIRED AGENDA

The Times had another use for their pages: making the rest of us feel guilty about the sensitivities of some Muslim-Americans whose views on terrorism are understandably unpopular. Facts that don’t feed into these assumptions are slighted or completely ignored.

Like more recent Times coverage of the Council on American Islamic Relations, in which those apologists for terror have been allowed to rebrand themselves as a “civil-rights group,” the reporting here leaves little doubt that this is a newspaper on a mission. The result is not only shoddy journalism; it is a politically inspired muddle that leaves us knowing only those elements of the life of Shata and his mosque that he wishes to present to us.

Both Elliot and Duranty crossed the same line when they allowed their agenda to dictate their coverage. While Duranty covered up genocide, dishonesty about Islamist extremism is no less egregious. What this proves is that those who imagined that Duranty was a relic of journalism’s past were wrong. That a travesty such as Elliot’s “imam” would bring a Pulitzer is a disgrace that again taints the reputation of both the prizes and the Times.

 

“AS MEANINGFUL AS VANUATU DECLARING WAR ON THE UNITED STATES”

Stephen Glover on the Press Why Israel but not Burma? The NUJ’s boycott astonishes me
The Independent
April 23, 2007

news.independent.co.uk/media/article2472433.ece

The motion by the National Union of Journalists to boycott Israeli goods is in one sense absurd. It is as meaningful as Vanuatu declaring war on the United States.

Many of the NUJ’s 38,000 members may not support the motion, which was passed by 66 to 54 at the delegates’ recent annual meeting. Even if they do, they are unlikely to be major consumers of Israeli goods. Presumably the NUJ would like its comrades in other trade unions to join the boycott, but I doubt the Israeli Government is quaking in its boots.

Nevertheless, on a symbolic level the motion is important, as was the vote last year by the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education to boycott Israeli academics and universities. It is astonishing to me that any vaguely intelligent person could support such measures.

In the first place I am not sure that I am in favour of boycotts of any sort against any country, unless we happen to be at war. In the case of the university lecturers, and possibly the NUJ, the upshot is to cut off communication with one’s counterparts in other countries, to stifle debate and to impede whatever chances there may be of a peaceful and reasoned resolution to differences.

In the case of Israel there is an even more important objection. I do not at all write as an apologist for the country, and I can see that it has sometimes acted foolishly and even brutally, as, for example, in its invasion of Lebanon last year. But to single out Israel as being uniquely evil, and worthy of measures that are not contemplated against anyone else, is intellectually disreputable.

The NUJ has not passed any motion to boycott China, where there are hundreds of political prisoners. Nor has it picked on North Korea, a totalitarian state in which millions of people have been deprived of the bare necessities of life. The same could be said of Burma. I do not believe that the NUJ has puffed itself in indignation against Saudi Arabia, an autocratic state where women do not enjoy rights that are taken for granted in Israel.

Whatever criticisms can be justly made of Israel, it is a functioning democracy with a free Press and a robust tradition of free speech. Even if one takes the harshest view of its treatment of Palestinians, it is not to be compared with the genocidal policies of countries such as North Korea and Zimbabwe, against which the NUJ has applied no boycotts.

Why is Israel singled out? I hesitate to raise the charge of anti-Semitism since it is used too often and too carelessly by defenders of Israel in order to try to quash criticism of the country. But though laying aside that explanation, I confess that I am unable to find another one. Why Israel but not Burma? Perhaps someone would tell me.

Some people have suggested that, as result of the NUJ motion, journalists may report Israel unfairly. I doubt this is so, though there is a wider issue as to whether the country is habitually fairly treated. That the BBC has spent a lot of money trying to prevent the publication of a report on alleged bias in its reporting of Israel may indicate it has something to hide.

The issue for me has simply to do with the lack of fairness on the part of the NUJ, which has just celebrated its centenary. Has it ever done something as stupid as this in all its hundred years? I am not a member, but if I were I would most certainly tear up my card.

 

“THERE IS NO PROBLEM WITH JEWS HERE”

Al Jazeera gathering draws a full minyan to heart of Arab world
By Orly Halpern
The Forward
April 27, 2007

www.forward.com/articles/al-jazeera-gathering-draws-a-full-minyan-to-heart/

Some participants at the third-annual forum of the Arab satellite network Al Jazeera were sorry they didn’t bring matzo with them – had they known how many fellow Jews were attending the media conference, they would have made a Passover Seder.

“We could have used the hotel wine to fill our cups,” Mark LeVine said only half-jokingly. A professor of Middle East studies at University of California in Irvine, LeVine was one of several Jewish participants who attended the invitation-only conference in Doha, organized by Al Jazeera.

Ethan Zuckerman, whose wife is a Reform rabbi, said that he had originally planned to hold a Seder in Doha. “I told my wife, and she wrote me a two-page Haggadah,” he said, shortly after speaking on a panel on Internet and the media. “But I didn’t bring the matzo.”

The Jewish participants were by no means relegated to the sidelines.

New Yorker correspondent Seymour Hersh gave the keynote address; LeVine and International Herald Tribune executive editor Michael Oreskes were panelists, and David Marash, the Washington bureau anchor of Al Jazeera English, logged a stint as a moderator.

The relatively high number of Jewish academics, journalists and media experts who attended the event stood in stark contrast to the view in some circles that the network is anti-Jewish and anti-Western. Some critics have gone so far to brand it “Osama Bin-Laden’s TV Network,” a name which Al Jazeera executives say comes from the Bush administration and conservative American television commentators.

The general atmosphere at the event was open and friendly among Arab and Western participants. “If there is any antisemitism lurking around here, it hasn’t been directed at me,” said Danny Schechter in a heavy New York accent. “They make a distinction between U.S. or Israeli policy and religion.”

Schechter, vice president of Globalvision, a documentary film production company, said that he attended the event because “in the post-9/11 world it is imperative to understand what people think and this forum provides the opportunity to mingle, discuss and even to get into arguments.”

Like many other participants, his main criticisms were that few women participated and panel discussions were not engaging enough. Indeed, whether dressed in sharp suits and ties or starched white floor-length dishdashas and white head coverings, the well-heeled forum panelists mostly agreed with each other. If anything, it appeared that some of the Al Jazeera moderators were avoiding conflict.

During breaks between panels, however, there was plenty of chatter in the elegantly appointed lobby outside the conference hall, where participants shmoozed over hors d’oeuvres, and journalists and academics feverishly networked.

“To be here with the media makers and icons of the Western world as they converge with those of the Arab world is really inspiring,” said Nora Friedman, as she sat around a round table where she shared a buffet lunch with a number of American and Arab journalists. A 28-year-old producer at Pacifica Radio in Berkeley, Calif., a left-wing radio network that tends to be fiercely critical of American foreign policy, Friedman said that the forum was “building a bridge between the Western and Arab media and confronting the prejudices in the so-called ‘War on Terror.’”

“There is no problem with Jews here,” said Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of the London-based Arabic-daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, a regular commentator on Middle East affairs who opposes American support for Israel as long as it occupies Palestinian territory.

In general, Al Jazeera officials took the same line, insisting that the network does not make distinctions based on race, religion or gender. When asked by e-mail to provide contact details for Jewish employees to be interviewed for this story, Lana Khachan, the senior spokesperson at Al Jazeera English refused. “We are not interested in pursuing a story based on our staff’s religion,” Khachan wrote back. “We have over 900 highly experienced staff based [around the world]. We have qualified people on board of all nationalities and religions each employed for their merit. The staff comprises of more than 30 different nationalities 45 ethnicities, enabling Al Jazeera English to provide a unique grassroots perspective on important world events and report on the untold stories from the under-reported regions of the world.”

Several of the top employees at the network’s English operation are Jewish: Marash and his wife Amy work in the Washington bureau with an Israeli-American producer, and former BBC journalist Tim Sebastian moderates the televised monthly Doha Debates. Al Jazeera has been harshly criticized in the West for providing airtime to terrorists like Osama bin Laden, but it notes that American networks borrowed that material. It was also the first Arabic network to give Israelis air time. “Al Jazeera was seriously attacked by Arabs – Islamist, nationalist, and even governments like Saudi Arabia – for inviting Israeli journalists and government officials to present their point of view,” Atwan said.

Despite the network’s declared dedication to openness, not one member of the Israeli media was present at the forum, even though the Israeli YES satellite carrier pushed BBC Prime off air to make room for Al Jazeera English, which already boasts of having 500,000 homes viewing in Israel. The absence of Israelis was particularly noticeable given the theme of this year’s event: “Media and the Middle East, Beyond the Headlines.”

“I don’t know the reasons no Israeli journalists attended, but I think there is a general attitude of talking about peace with Israel but not talking to Israel,” said Yoav Stern, the Arab Affairs correspondent of the Israeli daily Ha’aretz.

“I think it’s a pity,” said Stern, who is frequently interviewed in Arabic on Al Jazeera. “I know that Al Jazeera specifically can make pioneering decisions in this regard, because it has credibility and trust from its viewers.”


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