About the Escalation of the Anti-Israeli Reports in the Western Media

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A Reuters report says, “They said border policemen and policemen in civilian clothes took away Jassem al-Azzawi, an anchor with Abu Dhabi television who holds U.S. citizenship, from Jerusalem’s American Colony Hotel and were taking him to the airport for deportation….”

“éIsrael also suspended the credentials of Abu Dhabi Television’s correspondent in Jerusalem, Laila Odeh, she said.”

This is an example of how Israel is treating the Arab media. The Western media is usually free to report, if some of the correspondents are not killed or wounded, as the CNN reporter, Ben Wedeman and two dozen others have met this fate, by the indiscriminate firing of the Israeli soldiers. Usually, most of them are sending anti-Israeli reports, as they are personally watching all the brutalities and injustices perpetrated on Palestinans in front of their eys. Israel and Jewish communities dub them as biased and one-sided. Israel is not in a position to officially punish such Western reporters, but individual Jews and their communities are using all possible methods for intimidating such reporters.

David Margolis, an award-winning reporter, who lives in Israel, has written an article under the caption, “Why Israel is losing the media war? “It appears on the Home Page of the American Jewish Committee. He writes, “é..Nearly two dozen journalists, mostly Palestinians, have been shot by Israeli soldiers (including CNN’s Ben Wedeman, wounded in the back by live fire in Gaza two months ago). Some have suffered very serious wounds. In only one or two cases has the Israel Defence Forces’ investigation resulted in identifying or punishing the perpetrator. Moreover, Israeli security forces and Jewish settlers have beaten journalists covering the political violence, in some cases with Israeli soldiers looking on, according to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists.”

The BBC’s Paul Adams recounts that his camera crew was manhandled and had their car tires slashed by Jews in Elon Moreh, a West Bank settlement”. the FPA (Foreign Press Association) has firmly protested Israeli violence against journalists with letters to high government officials.”

“é(Jewish) Media watchdog groups have accused the Los Angeles, New York and London Times, along with the Washington Post, CNN, Sky News, Reuters, the BBC and other outlets, of editing news stories to minimize Palestinian misdemeanors and emphasize Israeli ones, to shift sympathy away from Israel or to make Israel look like the aggressor.” Such an accusation by the Jewish groups proves that all this Western media correspondents have been sending anti-Israeli reports.

The Washington Post ombudsman, Michael Getler, writes, “Fifty years of Israeli-Palestinian hostility has always brought charges of bias about the way the conflict is reported. But the escalating brutality of recent months has caught the American press in the crossfire as never before.”

“At a gathering of news ombudsmen in Salt Lake City last week, a representative of the Hartford Courant displayed a 108-page analysis of the paper’s alleged pro-Palestinian bias provided by a group called PRIMER, for Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting.”

“Last Sunday, Los Angeles Times media reporter David Shaw wrote: “Major Jewish organizations and other supporters of Israel in this country have increasingly bombarded newspapers in recent weeks with charges of biased reporting.” Almost 1,000 subscribers to the Los Angeles Times suspended home delivery for one day to protest what they called inaccurate reporting, and in New York, Shaw reported, “many in the Jewish community are calling for a reader boycott of the New York Times.” The article reported similar challenges of varying degrees at The Post, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Chicago Tribune, the Portland Oregonian and the Sacramento Bee. From the San Francisco Chronicle to Boston’s Christian Science Monitor, editors have reported increasingly vocal challenges to their reporting, not to mention National Public Radio, whose ombudsman told the Salt Lake gathering that he received some 8,000 e-mails in the past week, “some rants, some vicious and some quite good.”

“The scope of this barrage raises an interesting question. Is it possible that so many major American news organizations are getting this story wrong; that some sort of national media conspiracy is at work here?”

“That, of course is not the case, and news organizations will persevere in reporting this story in an unflinching, unintimidated fashion that presents the news in the most accurate way possible for their entire readership.”

“I think The Post has done less well providing context. There has not been enough information about the Israeli settlements, or about what happened in 1948, 1967 and 1973 for readers who don’t know or need to be reminded. The impact of Arab television on policy and the public, and the string of anti-Semitic incidents in Europe, have been given short shrift.”

“On Thursday, a story about a 21-year-old Palestinian who left the besieged Church of the Nativity ended with him saying, in a “soft, calm voice,” that “Jesus, in history, went through a lot of hardships caused by the Jews. Finally, he won and came out victorious. I think we had the same experience.” The quotation, reflecting “one of the oldest and ugliest libels against the Jews,” as one message said, angered a number of readers. The paper should not shy away from reporting sentiments that are relevant to a struggle……….”

Robert Fisk, a correspondent of The Independent, has recently written an article under the caption, “Why does John Malkovich want to kill me?”

“It used to be just a trickle, a steady drip-drip of hate mail which arrived once a week, castigating me for reporting on the killing of innocent Lebanese under Israeli air raids or for suggesting that Arabs as well as Israelis wanted peace in the Middle East. It began to change in the late 1990s. Typical was the letter which arrived after I wrote my eyewitness account of the 1996 slaughter by Israeli gunners of 108 refugees sheltering in the UN base in the Lebanese town of Qana.”

“There was always, in the past, a limit to this hatred. Letters would be signed with the writer’s address. Or if not, they would be so-ill-written as to be illegible. Not any more. In 26 years in the Middle East, I have never read so many vile and intimidating messages addressed to me. Many now demand my death. And last week, the Hollywood actor John Malkovich did just that, telling the Cambridge Union that he would like to shoot me.”

“Your mother was Eichmann’s daughter,” was one of the most recent of these. My mother Peggy, who died after a long battle with Parkinson’s three and a half years ago, was in fact an RAF radio repair operator on Spitfires at the height of the Battle of Britain in 1940.”

“The events of 11 September turned the hate mail white hot. That day, in an airliner high over the Atlantic that had just turned back from its routing to America, I wrote an article for The Independent, pointing out that there would be an attempt in the coming days to prevent anyone asking why the crimes against humanity in New York and Washington had occurred. Dictating my report from the aircraft’s satellite phone, I wrote about the history of deceit in the Middle East, the growing Arab anger at the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children under US-supported sanctions, and the continued occupation of Palestinian land in the West Bank and Gaza by America’s Israeli ally. I didn’t blame Israel. I suggested that Osama bin Laden was responsible.”

“But the e-mails that poured into The Independent over the next few days bordered on the inflammatory. The attacks on America were caused by “hate itself, of precisely the obsessive and dehumanizing kind that Fisk and Bin Laden have been spreading,” said a letter from a Professor Judea Pearl of UCLA.”

“Since Ariel Sharon’s offensive in the West Bank, provoked by the Palestinians’ wicked suicide bombing, a new theme has emerged. Reporters who criticize Israel are to blame for inciting anti-Semites to burn synagogues. Thus it is not Israel’s brutality and occupation that provokes the sick and cruel people who attack Jewish institutions, synagogues and cemeteries. We journalists are to blame.”

Almost anyone who criticizes US or Israeli policy in the Middle East is now in this free-fire zone. My own colleague in Jerusalem, Phil Reeves, is one of them. So are two of the BBCs’ reporters in Israel, along with Suzanne Goldenberg of The Guardian. And take Jennifer Loewenstein, a human rights worker in Gaza, who is herself Jewish and who wrote a condemnation of those who claim that Palestinians are deliberately sacrificing their children. She swiftly received the following e-mail: “BITCH. I can smell you from afar. You are a bitch and you have Arab blood in you. Your mother is a fucking Arab. At least, for God’s sake, change your fucking name. Ben Aviram.” Does this kind of filth have an effect on others? I fear it does. Only days after Malkovich announced that he wanted to shoot me, a website claimed that the actor’s words were “a brazen attempt at queue-jumping”. The site contained an animation of my own face being violently punched by a fist and a caption which said: “I understand why they’re beating the shit out of me.”

“Thus a disgusting remark by an actor in the Cambridge Union led to a website suggesting that others were even more eager to kill me. Malkovich was not questioned by the police. He might, I suppose, be refused any further visas to Britain until he explains or apologises for his vile remarks. But the damage has been done. As journalists, our lives are now forfeit to the internet haters. If we want a quiet life, we will just have to toe the line, stop criticising Israel or America. Or just stop writing altogether.”

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