Guardian editor finally apologizes for comparing Israel to al-Qaeda

March 20, 2008

* Leading Arab newspaper blames the Jews for targeting Eliot Spitzer
* BBC, Guardian, and NGOs all admit telling untruths about Israel
* BBC, Sky News analyst praises Jerusalem yeshiva massacre



1. Spitzer prostitution scandal: Yes, the Jews are to blame!
2. Guardian editor: Israel is not in fact al-Qaeda
3. Maker of “Jenin, Jenin” admits Arafat financed his film
4. Aid groups admit Gaza report errors
5. BBC and Sky News analyst praises Jerusalem yeshiva massacre
6. BBC again caught lying about Israel
7. BBC Arabic TV launched
8. Washington Post wants to hire more Muslims
9. Facebook transfers Israelis to “Palestine”
10. Israel, Fatah to impose sanctions on Al-Jazeera
11. “Is there an Israeli angle to Spitzer ouster?” (By Barbara Ferguson, Arab News, March 16, 2008)


[Notes by Tom Gross]


An article by the Washington correspondent of the leading Saudi-based, English-language daily, Arab News, contains allegations that a Mossad conspiracy was behind the entrapment of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, because the “48-year-old Democrat... spearheaded the 2004 investigation into financial misconduct in the World Jewish Congress.”

“Spitzer may have stumbled into a prostitution ring run under the auspices of the Israeli government, namely the Mossad. It is entirely possible that Spitzer was assured that his participation in the prostitution ring was protected precisely because it was run by an Israeli asset,” Arab News readers are told.

“Significantly, the Spitzer sex sting has been handled very gingerly by Israeli media. The coverage is extremely subdued for news involving one of the highest elected Jewish officials in the United States,” continues Arab News, which in the classic tradition of anti-Semites, sees Jewish conspiracy everywhere.

Unfortunately (and amazingly), Arab News is regarded as a reliable newspaper by expats working throughout the Gulf.

(The full Arab News article is attached at the end of this dispatch.)



In 2002, I wrote an article for The National Review titled Jeningrad: what the British media said.

The article, which was based on material I collated for dispatches on this list, was subsequently reprinted in three books and on dozens of websites and translated into several languages. Extracts and information from it have also been used in a number of TV programs and other books.

In particular, the first line of the article was cited: “Israel’s actions in Jenin were ‘every bit as repellent’ as Osama bin Laden’s attack on New York on September 11, wrote Britain’s Guardian in its lead editorial of April 17.”

Almost six years later, the editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, has finally apologized for using that line.

Rusbridger made the apology when speaking on a panel about reporting in the Middle East before an audience of over 500 people at “Jewish Book Week” in London. “I take full responsibility for the misjudgment,” he said.

He also acknowledged that the use of the capitalized word “Holocaust” in a headline earlier this month involving the mistranslation of Israeli politician Matan Vilnai’s words “may have been problematic.”

However, since Rusbridger’s “apology” (which was not carried in print in The Guardian for the benefit of the paper’s readers), The Guardian has continued to publish highly inflammatory and often false information about Israel.

(* To read my account of when I showed Alan Rusbridger round parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank on his first trip to Israel in 2001, see here.)



The Israeli Arab documentary maker who produced the film “Jenin, Jenin,” which castigated the role of the IDF in 2002, has admitted that the film was secretly funded by Yasser Arafat.

The admission was made this month as part of a court case in which IDF reserve soldiers who fought against Palestinian gunmen in Jenin say their reputations were slandered by false accusations in the film.

“Jenin, Jenin” won much praise around the world and was shown at many film festivals. The case, in Israel, continues.



Earlier this month, eight leading British-based international charities – including Christian Aid, Oxfam, and Save the Children – issued a report damning of Israel, titled “The Gaza Strip: a Humanitarian Crisis.”

The report, falsely claiming that healthcare provisions for Gaza citizens were worse than an any time since the “Israeli occupation began in 1967” (when in fact Gaza didn’t even have hospitals and medical clinics until Israel built them after 1967), was carried as the lead world news story on the Associated Press’s news wire. Subsequently, many other organizations, including BBC World News, ran it as their main world news story throughout that day.

The aid organizations have now quietly admitted that not everything in the report is true. For example, the report highlighted the plight of a Palestinian in Gaza called Munir. He is quoted as saying that Israel would not allow him to travel to Jordan to receive medical treatment for thyroid cancer.

Oxfam has posted a correction on its website to say that Munir had indeed been to Jordan for treatment. John Davison, head of media at Christian Aid, claimed it had been an “honest mistake.”



Abd Al-Bari Atwan, a favored and supposedly impartial foreign affairs analyst who regularly appears on the BBC and on the widely-watched international Sky News network, has once again made hateful comments about Israel and Jews when speaking elsewhere in Arabic.

Bari Atwan, who also often appears on CNN international, said that the terrorist attack that killed eight Jewish teenagers in a Jerusalem school library earlier this month was “justified”; that the celebrations in Gaza that followed the massacre symbolized the “courage of the Palestinian nation”; and that he hoped the recent violence in Gaza would “mark the countdown to Israel’s destruction.”

I have written about Bari Atwan, who is the editor-in-chief of the London-based pan-Arab daily, Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, several times before on this weblist. For example, on May 15, 2006, I highlighted an article he wrote that day in Arabic, saying “Israeli law [is] Nazi.” (Al-Quds al-Arabi is also published in New York and Frankfurt as well as in London.)

Last year (on June 27) Bari Atwan told a Lebanese TV station in Arabic: “If the Iranian missiles strike Israel, by Allah, I will go to [London’s] Trafalgar Square and dance with delight.”

Yet he continues to be a welcome guest of the BBC and other stations, where he disguises his ideology while presenting misinformation about Israel to gullible viewers which goes unchallenged by BBC and Sky news anchors and interviewers.

He originally made his name in the field of Arab journalism after being granted an exclusive interview with Osama bin Laden in 1996.


Meanwhile, the chairman of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Mike Napier, has written that the massacre of the eight Jewish teens is justified because they were planning to send “Arabs to the gas chambers.”

In January 2006, Napier marked Holocaust Memorial Day by staging a performance of Perdition, a play that alleges Zionist Jews helped with the Nazi Holocaust.



After being exposed in several leading British and American blogs, the BBC has admitted fabricating a news report on March 7 about the destruction of the home of Ala Abu Dhaim, the Palestinian suicide-gunman who carried out the massacre of teenagers in Jerusalem the day before.

The BBC World news report showed a bulldozer demolishing a house, while BBC correspondent Nick Miles told viewers: “Hours after the attack, Israeli bulldozers destroyed his family home.”

The BBC was embarrassed when on the following day, both the Associated Press and Reuters sent out fresh photos on their international wire services showing Palestinians flying Hamas and Hizbullah flags on the home and the gunman’s family sitting in the entrance of the house welcoming well-wishers who approved of their son’s massacre.

The initial BBC report was shown repeatedly on various BBC bulletins around the world for over 24 hours.

The “apology” was made once, briefly (on March 13) by BBC news anchor Geeta Guru-Murthy, who said:

“Now, we would like to clarify a report we heard at this hour last Friday about the attack by a Palestinian gunman on a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem. In the report, the day after the attack, BBC World said that the gunman’s home in east Jerusalem had been demolished by the Israeli authorities. That was not correct, and the images broadcast were of another demolition.”

For more on the BBC, see Living in a Bubble: The BBC’s very own Mideast foreign policy.



[This is a follow-up to previous articles and dispatches on this subject.]

This month the BBC finally launched its Arabic TV channel, to complement its widely listened to Arabic radio service. The station is initially broadcasting 12 hours a day, but will become a 24/7 service by the summer.

There is much disgruntlement among opponents of the BBC in Britain, where taxpayers will hand over £25million ($50 m.) a year to fund a BBC channel which no one in Britain will be able to watch.

The new Arabic channel, which sits alongside existing online and radio services, is being offered free to those with satellite dishes or a cable connection in North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf.

In order to pay for it, the BBC closed down ten foreign language radio services – including Greek, Czech, Polish and Thai channels – and sacked 218 staff there.

In a statement, the BBC claimed that its “reputation for being trusted and impartial would make it attractive to the Arab world.” BBC World Service director Nigel Chapman said the service would have “exactly the same editorial standards as those in the UK.”

Later this year BBC Persian TV, broadcasting in Farsi, will be launched.

* You can watch BBC Arabic TV here (click on the red button) or listen to radio (the blue button).



Speaking at the University of California, Irvine two weeks ago, less than a month after “Israel Apartheid Week” was held by students there, Washington Post managing editor Philip Bennett said that the media is to blame for Islamic “misconceptions”. The solution for this at The Washington Post, he said, is that they are actively trying to hire more Muslim journalists. “At the Post I want more Muslim readers and I want more Muslim journalists,” he told students.

One such word that has been contentiously debated in newsrooms is “Islamist,” he added, which generally refers to a political movement governed by Islamic law. Bennett said at The Washington Post editors still have not decided whether to add it to their style book. *

Recent past dispatches on this list cited various whitewashed coverage of radical Islam by The Washington Post. These included the Post’s op-eds from Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood leaders and anti-Semitic comments from the Post’s special commentator Arun Gandhi, who has since been sacked.

(* For a cartoon about the media’s non-use of the word “Islamist,” click here.)



The popular Internet social networking site Facebook has again angered some supporters of Israel by transferring Jewish neighborhoods and suburbs in disputed territory in and near Jerusalem, such as Ma’aleh Adumim, into the not yet existent state of “Palestine”.

“I woke up this morning to find my profile page being transferred into Palestine. Someone at Facebook is simply prejudging whatever may or may not come about in future negotiations,” Ma’aleh Adumim resident Julian Czarny told The Jerusalem Post. “Who exactly decided on this computerized transfer of over a quarter-million Jews from Israel to Palestine?”

Fellow Ma’aleh Adumim resident and Facebook user Seth Vogelman said: “Facebook proudly tout themselves as a forum of freedom of expression. But by this act, they negate their own raison d’etre of how people express themselves. If this were an issue involving homosexuals, I doubt they would curtail their identity like they appear to want to curtail Jewish identity.”

In the previous dispatch I wrote about another controversy involving Facebook allowing a user group to be set up to celebrate the “martyrdom” of the terrorist who carried out the Jerusalem yeshiva massacre, and linking to a page that calls Jews “pigs”.



Israel has said it will impose sanctions on the influential Arab satellite network Al-Jazeera, accusing it of highly slanted coverage designed to stir up hatred of Israel around the Arab world.

Majalli Whbee, Israel’s deputy foreign minister (and himself a Druze Arab), said the Israeli government will deny visas to the Qatar-based station’s employees and Israeli officials would no longer agree to be interviewed by the network. However, he said Al-Jazeera employees currently in Israel would be allowed to remain.

“In Arabic, Al-Jazeera gives unreliable reports designed to stir hatred, why should we cooperate?” said Whbee.

Stations from Arab countries that don’t recognize Israel, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have crews and reporters in the country, while some Arab and Islamic countries rely on freelance journalists, usually Palestinians or Israeli Arabs. The reporters are accredited by the Israeli government and allowed to cover the news freely.

Israeli media are allowed no similar freedoms in the Arab world.

The Fatah-led Palestinian government of Mahmoud Abbas, based in the West Bank, also said it would stop cooperating with Al-Jazeera, which, it claimed, had become “a mouthpiece for Hamas propaganda.”

Abbas advisor Majat Abu Baker said: “Al-Jazeera is fomenting conflict among the people. They spread the thoughts of radical Islam in the world.”

Hamas officials in Gaza have praised Al-Jazeera’s coverage. At a military parade held after the end of the latest round of fighting, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar publicly thanked the station, and in a speech Ismail Haniyeh, who heads the Hamas government in Gaza, lauded two media outlets: Hamas’ own TV station and Al-Jazeera.

-- Tom Gross



Is there an Israeli angle to Spitzer ouster?
By Barbara Ferguson
Arab News
March 16, 2008§ion=0&article=107893&d=16&m=3&y=2008

WASHINGTON, 16 March 2008 – It has all the ingredients of a soap opera: Sex, deceit and intrigue involving a politician who built his career on ethics and propriety.

For New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who promised voters he would clean up the state’s corrupt political ethics, his nosedive to derision – after reports this week linked him to a prostitution ring that is an alleged front for money laundering – instantly derailed the career of a man once considered a political star.

The 48-year-old Democrat, who had a national reputation as “Mr. Clean” and who advocated for the underdog and tackled corporate greed on Wall Street and who was considered a strong potential for a future Democratic president, now finds himself linked to what may become an international scandal.

The story unfolded in an innocuous fashion, when a press release e-mailed to reporters said: “Manhattan US Attorney Charges Organizers and Managers of International Prostitution Ring.”

At first glance, the case seemed routine, and the suspects drew no surprise: A man and three women arrested on charges of running a pricey, online escort business, known as “Emperor’s Club VIP.”

Then, Spitzer was implicated as “Client No. 9,” and New York’s Daily News reported that federal investigators were examining whether Spitzer improperly used taxpayer funds and campaign dollars to facilitate his out-of-town hookups.

Here is where it gets interesting. According to the Jewish Chronicle: “The Spitzer affair also had an Israeli angle. According to court records, Mark Brener, the alleged leader of the ‘The Emperor’s Club’ prostitution ring, held an Israeli passport. Brener was said by his attorney to have been a US citizen for the past 20 years.”

The Chronicle then adds that Spitzer “spearheaded the 2004 investigation into financial misconduct in the World Jewish Congress, publishing a damning report about WJC mismanagement and unregistered payments to senior officials. The investigation led to a deal which barred then WJC Executive Director Israel Singer from being in charge of its finances.” Singer was later fired.

Now Internet journalists are suggesting that Spitzer may have been targeted. says “Spitzer took on Wall Street like no other attorney general before him... His targets in the past have included everyone from big Wall Street investment banks and the $7.5 trillion mutual fund industry to polluting power plants and supermarket chains that underpaid delivery workers.”

Wayne Madsen says Emperor’s Club VIP, the prostitution firm that entangled Spitzer in a call girl ring, is viewed by US intelligence as a front for Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad.

“The sources claim that Spitzer was ‘outed’ for his aggressiveness in attacking money launderers connected to Russian-Israeli organized crime syndicates and other Wall Street malfeasance.”

Internet journalist and Contrarian Executive Editor Andy Martin said: “Spitzer may have stumbled into a prostitution ring run under the auspices of the Israeli government, namely the Mossad. It is entirely possible that Spitzer was assured that his participation in the prostitution ring was protected precisely because it was run by an Israeli asset.”

“Significantly, the Spitzer sex sting has been handled very gingerly by Israeli media. The coverage is extremely subdued for news involving one of the highest elected Jewish officials in the United States, who was priming himself to be the first Jewish president,” says Martin. “It is almost as though they are aware of the submerged Israeli intelligence angle to the story...”

Whether any of this is true is difficult to confirm at this time, but what is sure is that the FBI and Homeland Security officials revoked Spitzer’s security clearance early this week as the criminal investigation into Spitzer’s alleged use of prostitutes broadened, according to officials familiar with the case.

As a result, Spitzer no longer has access to classified intelligence and security briefings, federal officials told an NBC affiliate on the condition of anonymity.

A spokeswoman for Spitzer did not return calls for comment.

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