Category Archives: Media

ZioNation: Covering Israel in European Media

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[Hat tip ZioNation]

Are Western correspondents in the Middle East biased against Israel, as pro-Zionists often claim? Many people acknowledge that a neutral stance in the Israeli-Arab conflict is close to impossible, and journalists are people. As Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld has shown, omitting positive news about a country will quickly make people to view that country in a more negative light. Media bias is not necessarily a result of bad intentions or conscious distortions. It often works very subtly, and journalists generally believe that they are covering the news accurately and fairly.

Last May my friend Wouter and I were in Jerusalem, and we had the opportunity to talk to Dutch RTL TV correspondent Conny Mus, who has been covering the news from the Middle East for 25 years. He introduced himself as a ‘street fighter’ from Amsterdam. Some Dutch Israelis we know consider him a good, balanced reporter on the conflict; some others disagree.

One of our main topics of discussion with Mus was whether Dutch media present a balanced picture of the conflict and what difficulties he encountered in his efforts to cover the news accurately.

It turns out he has been discussing the issue of balanced reporting on the conflict for years in panels and interviews. He showed no doubt of his own ability to remain neutral at all times. I wondered aloud whether it is not inevitable to be influenced by what you see and experience, by what people tell you, by the shows that they sometimes perform, and by your own sympathies. The fact that some things are easy to spot and other things are more hidden also influences our view of the conflict.

A former Dutch correspondent to the Middle East, Joris Luyendijk, had recently written a book about his frustrations in covering the news and the facts objectively. He had felt especially unable to cover Palestinian and Arab positions in a sufficient way, as according to him they lacked the professional propaganda apparatus that Israel has, and also their ways of expressing themselves are different from what is common in the West. This book started a discussion in the Netherlands about journalism and objectivity in the media.

Mus felt that Luyendijk was too young and had not been not up to his task. Mus has lived and worked in Jerusalem for 25 years, and felt that he knew how to get the job done, using a broad network of contacts to get the story from all perspectives. Mus told me that he had received angry responses to his recent TV interview with then Hamas Prime Minister Haniyeh, including the accusation of being an anti-Semite. He had been accused of anti-Semitism several times, like the time he had remarked that a Jewish colleague was not able to report the conflict objectively because of his family history. One reason he gave for having such harsh criticism of Gerstenfeld’s media experiment, is that Gerstenfeld had apparently linked the media bias in the Netherlands to anti-Semitism, and thus accused Dutch journalists of being anti-Semites.

The accusations of anti-Semitism infuriates Mus. ‘I have Jewish friends; it is nonsense to call me an anti-Semite’, he said. Anti-Semitism, he felt, was something related to World War II, and had nothing to do with the current conflict. Moreover, he thought Arabs cannot be anti-Semitic because ‘Arabs are Semites themselves!’ Discriminating against them – as Israel does – would then make Israel anti-Semitic too, according to Mus’s reasoning. Wouter and I were quite amazed that a journalist with his experience would display such ignorance of the common dictionary meaning of the word anti-Semitism.

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Meaningless Terms: Chickenhawk

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[This is the first in a series on meaningless political terms. If you have any suggestions, feel free to post them in the comments section.]

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Blogger Mnunez commented on Forgetting Orwell’s Lessons for the Left that a big problem with democratic anti-totalitarians is we’re perceived as “chickenhawks.” As I replied, I find this term quite weak. In fact, chickenhawk is a meaningless term. When I write meaningless, I mean without meaning. I am not implying that the term is unpopular, merely that is intellectually sloppy stupid.

The vast majority of the people who use this word claim you can’t be pro-military if you don’t (or didn’t) serve in the military. This is nonsensical. After all, to be for law and order must one serve in the police? If I support the expansion of public parks do I need to be a park ranger? Of course not. So why do people who use this inane word think the same (il)logic holds true for the military?

As Ben Shapiro notes:

The “chickenhawk” argument is dishonest. It is dishonest because the principle of republicanism is based on freedom of choice about behavior (as long as that behavior is legal) as well as freedom of speech about political issues. We constantly vote on activities with which we may or may not be intimately involved. We vote on police policy, though few of us are policemen; we vote on welfare policy, though few of us either work in the welfare bureaucracy or have been on welfare; we vote on tax policy, even if some of us don’t pay taxes. The list goes on and on. Representative democracy necessarily means that millions of us vote on issues with which we have had little practical experience. The “chickenhawk” argument — which states that if you haven’t served in the military, you can’t have an opinion on foreign policy — explicitly rejects basic principles of representative democracy.

Jeff Jacoby also describes the silliness of this word:

“IT’S TOUCHING that you’re so concerned about the military in Iraq,” a reader in Wyoming e-mails in response to one of my columns on the war. “But I have a suspicion you’re a phony. So tell me, what’s your combat record? Ever serve?”

You hear a fair amount of that from the antiwar crowd if, like me, you support a war but have never seen combat yourself. That makes you a “chicken hawk” — one of those, as Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, defending John Kerry from his critics, put it during the 2004 presidential campaign, who “shriek like a hawk, but have the backbone of a chicken.” Kerry himself often played that card. “I’d like to know what it is Republicans who didn’t serve in Vietnam have against those of us who did,” he would sniff, casting himself as the victim of unmanly hypocrites who never wore the uniform, yet had the gall to criticize him, a decorated veteran, for his stance on the war.

“Chicken hawk” isn’t an argument. It is a slur — a dishonest and incoherent slur. It is dishonest because those who invoke it don’t really mean what they imply — that only those with combat experience have the moral authority or the necessary understanding to advocate military force. After all, US foreign policy would be more hawkish, not less, if decisions about war and peace were left up to members of the armed forces. Soldiers tend to be politically conservative, hard-nosed about national security, and confident that American arms make the world safer and freer. On the question of Iraq — stay-the-course or bring-the-troops-home? — I would be willing to trust their judgment. Would Cindy Sheehan and Howard Dean?

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More on the chickenhawk slur here, here, here, and here.

France2: Release the Mohammed al-Dura tapes!

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[Hat tip to Kesher Talk]

Richard Landes, who has been doggedly pursuing the truth of this incident for years, writes:

Please sign the petition and send it to everyone. Philippe Karsenty’s appeal trial is coming up and this petition is part of an effort to pressure France2 and the Justice system.

To Patrick de Carolis, France2 Television

France2: Release the Secret Muhammad al Durah Tapes!

People around the world who depend on the media for reliability, accuracy, and transparency in reporting, demand that France2 release the unedited video tapes (”rushes”) that its Palestinian cameraman, Talal abu Rahmah, sent them on September 30 and October 1, 2000 from Gaza.

On September 30, 2000, your Middle East correspondent Charles Enderlin, broadcast a story about Muhammad al-Durah, a 12-year old Palestinian boy. Using the footage and the testimony from his cameraman, Talal abu Rahmah, Enderlin reported that Israeli soldiers had targeted and killed the boy. That allegation of deliberate murder spread instantaneously around the world.

Extensive doubts have emerged about almost every claim of this explosive report, and they raise serious questions about both the journalistic integrity of the cameraman and the professional judgment of his employer, your correspondent Charles Enderlin.

As a result, the raw footage France2 received from Talal abu Rahmah represent key evidence in this crucial case.

But instead of releasing the tapes, your institution has responded to criticism of your correspondent’s broadcast by suing French citizens for defamation and keeping the tapes secret for nearly seven years now.

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Hymowitz: Freedom Fetishists

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[from the September issue of Commentary]

Kay S. Hymowitz

More than perhaps any other American political group, libertarians have suffered the blows of caricature. For many people, the term evokes an image of a scraggly misfit living in the woods with his gun collection, a few marijuana plants, some dog-eared Ayn Rand titles, and a battered pick-up truck plastered with bumper stickers reading “Taxes = Theft” and “FDR Was A Pinko.”

The stereotype is not entirely unfair. Even some of those who proudly call themselves libertarians recognize that their philosophy of personal freedom and minimal government can be a powerful magnet for the unhinged. Nor has recent political history done much to rehabilitate libertarianism’s image as an outlier.

The Libertarian party’s paltry membership has never reached much beyond the 250,000 mark, and polling numbers for Ron Paul, the perennial libertarian presidential candidate (now running for the Republican nomination), remain pitiable. Worse, despite Bill Clinton’s declaration that “the era of big government is over,” anti-statist ideas like school vouchers and privatized Social Security accounts continue to be greeted with wide-spread skepticism, while massive new programs like the Medicare prescription-drug benefit continue to win the support fo reelection minded incumbents. A recent New York Times survey found increasing support for government-run health care, and both parties are showing sigs of a populist resurgence, with demands for new economic and trade regulation.

And yet, judging by their output in recent years, libertarians are in a fine mood–and not because they are in denial.

[continue reading, subscription required]

Other articles include:

How Not to Get Out of Iraq

Max Boot

Foes of administration policy offer a variety of plans for ending American involvement; herewith, a guide and a critique.

New Orleans—An Autopsy

Ben C. Toledano

The funeral was not conducted until Katrina struck, but the death took place long before.

Can Europe Compete?

Carl Schramm and Robert E. Litan

Although the continent’s economic sluggishness may not be incurable, the obstacles to reform go very deep.

The Perplexities of Conservative Judaism

Jack Wertheimer

As the movement’s tent grows ever more accommodating, fewer seem interested in filling it.

Crying Poverty

Lawrence M. Mead

The plight of the poor has become a campaign issue—one to which even the campaigners have no solution.

A Wicked Son

Hillel Halkin

Why has a scion of the Israeli establishment turned violently against his country, and how significant is his apostasy?

Selling Classical Music

Terry Teachout

Of the challenges facing the new music director of the New York Philharmonic, staging outstanding concerts is the least.

CAMERA: God’s Jewish Warriors — CNN’s Abomination

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[Hat tip to CAMERA]

UPDATE: See here for comments on part 2 of the series, “God’s Muslim Warriors” and here for comments on part 3 of the series, “God’s Christian Warriors.”

CNN’s “God’s Warriors,” hosted by Christiane Amanpour, is a three-part series intended to examine the growing role of religious fundamentalism in today’s world. Unfortunately, the first program in the series, “God’s Jewish Warriors,” is one of the most grossly distorted programs to appear on mainstream American television in many years. It is false in its basic premise, established in the opening scene in which Jewish (and Christian) religious fervency is equated with that of Muslims heard endorsing “martyrdom,” or suicide-killing. There is, of course, no counterpart among Jews and Christians to the violent jihadist Muslim campaigns underway across the globe, either in numbers of perpetrators engaged or in the magnitude of death and destruction wrought.

While in reality Jewish “terrorism” is virtually non-existent, the program magnifies at length the few instances of violence or attempted violence by religiously-motivated Jewish individuals – including having to go all the way back to 1980, for example, to explore a bombing campaign against West Bank Arab mayors by a small group of Israeli Jews. In dredging up such an old incident Amanpour unintentionally undermines her own thesis.

And, of course, on the exceedingly rare occasions when Israeli Jews commit terrorist acts, the Israeli public and leadership condemns the act and the perpetrators. Prime Minister Rabin, for example, condemned Baruch Goldstein’s terrorist attack in Hebron, terming it “a loathsome, criminal act of murder.” In contrast, Palestinian suicide bombers who target Israelis are regarded as “martyrs” and become celebrities, with soccer tournaments named after them. Amanpour, of course, fails to inform her audience of this key difference.

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History News Network: Was CNN’s “God’s Warriors” Fair?

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[Hat tip to HNN]

By Timothy R. Furnish

Mr. Furnish, Ph.D (Islamic History), is Assistant Professor, History, Georgia Perimeter College, Dunwoody, GA. Mr. Furnish is the author of Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads and Osama bin Laden (Praeger, 2005). He is the proprietor of www.mahdiwatch.org.

On August 21-23, 2007, CNN ran a series entitled “God’s Warriors,” hosted by Christiane Amanpour. The two-hour segments dealt, in nightly order, with Jews (and Israelis), Muslims and Christians. I watched all three, but since my areas of expertise are Islamic and Christian history (as well as being a Christian myself), my commentary will not encompass the first night.

As is usually the case with CNN, powerful images from exotic locales are interspersed with seemingly hard-hitting interviews and spiced with almost subliminal commentary from the host—in this case, Amanpour. She began the segment on “God’s Muslim Warriors” by talking to “Ed” Hussein, a Brit and former member of Hizb al-Tahrir who has written a book—The Islamist—on his journey into and out of that organization dedicated to establishing a global caliphate transcending national borders. This was followed by a brief, and useful, description of Sayyid Qutb and his writings. Qutb was the Egyptian intellectual who is, in many ways, the most important proximate influence on modern jihadist thought, especially in his contention that Western civilization is corrupt and godless and its influences must be replaced by Islamic ones, especially law.

Amanpour interviewed the usually-knowlegable Fawaz Gerges on Qutb, then jumped to the topic of Iran, where we got our first clip of the ubiquitous Karen Armstrong. Armstrong has somehow gained the status of an expert on Islam, despite the fact that she works only in secondary sources or in sources in translation; furthermore, Armstrong never met a Pollyannish view of Islamic history that she didn’t totally accept. This was followed by a recap of 1979’s Iranian Revolution, then of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war and the role that Shi`i views of martyrdom played in Iran’s being able to eventually repel Saddam Hussein’s invasion. Amanpour, in one of several clips from Qom—Iran’s ayatollah central—then talked to Grand Ayatollah Saanei who, when asked about terrorism, replied (at least according to the translator—my Farsi is not that good) “terrorists should go to hell—but we have the right to defend ourselves.” Amanpour, as usual (at least with Islamic interviewees—she behaves rather differently when talking to Christian evangelicals), did not press the ayatollah to explicate that curious statement. Perhaps we might have learned that one ayatollah’s terrorist might be another ayatollah’s martyr?

From here Amanpour took us to Cairo and briefly reviewed why and how Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981. However, in explaining the ideological roots of the folks who riddled him with bullets, Amanpour noted the undeniable influence of Qutb on groups like Takfir wa-al-Hijra, but then opined that Qutb had “redefined jihad”—the clear implication being that jihad was nonviolent until Qutb weaponized the concept. This is a politically-correct absurdity, for as I (and other writers) have demonstrated, jihad’s primary meaning has been “conquest of the Dar al-Harb [non-Muslim territory] by the Dar al-Islam [Muslim world]” since at least the 9th c. CE, if not going back to Muhammad himself.

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Bernie Sanders: FOX News Wants to Attack Iran

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Self-described socialist senator Bernie Sanders (D, VT) is a confused individual. In a recent article he blames FOX News, not Iranian policies, for driving the U.S. towards war with Iran.

“Fox Attacks: Iran” is a bold effort to provide Americans with a different view of our policy toward Iran than the one Fox News keeps pushing on us. While Fox beats the drums for war, Robert Greenwald has produced documentary evidence that unmasks the ‘coverage’ for what it is: propaganda to get Americans ready for a Bush administration attack on yet another Middle Eastern nation. Robert has done something remarkable. He has used his extraordinary media skills to make a short video – only three minutes – to educate the American people, using the Internet as a way to connect us.

Click on the link just to read the responses of the moonbats.

To review, Greenwald and Sanders ignore that Iran recently took British sailors hostage and that three American academics remain in jail in that country. Neither addresses the seriousness of Iran’s nuclear program, threats against Israel or Iran’s support of terrorist organizations–including Hezbollah–in the Middle East. Instead we are treated to Greenwald’s ham-handed, cut-and-paste pastiche without any sort of context. While this is certain to appeal to his target audience I wonder how much this “documentary” will resonate with the broader American public?

Audio Selection: Friday Night Session on KUSF with DJ Tomas

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DJ Tomas 

He’s been spinning some of the best music for the longest: downtempo, Latin, breakbeat, Afro-beat, drum-and-bass, nu-jazz, hip-hop, you name it. I used to see Tomas spin in the Bay Area and always dug the diversity of his sets. His radio program on KUSF, Friday Night Session, is available online. Don’t sleep, this is great music pumping through your speakers or lounging with your headphones.: 

The Friday Night Session runs from 10pm until 12pm every week on 90.3 FM KUSF in San Francisco. It’s also broadcast live on the net at www.kusf.org and iTunes (in the public radio section) and shows are available in streaming format on this site for a week at a time.

Hosted by San Francisco DJs Andrew Jervis (A&R, Ubiquity Records), Mikebee (Safe) and Tomas Palermo (Editor of XLR8R magazine) the Session has been running since 1996 and continues to present the most vibrant selection of electronic music on the San Francisco airwaves.

Podcast/Audio Selection: WNYC’s Radiolab on Time

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In this era of YouTube, Podcasts, TiVo and all the other forms of media on demand, the last place many folks go for information or entertainment is the radio. Recognizing this shift, many radio staions and individual producers are increasingly making their matieral available on the Internet via podcasts and streaming audio. This is great news whether you can’t get a big enough fix or if you who live in a community outside the broadcasting range. I’ll be linking to podcasts, Internet radio stations, and other auditory morsels for your enjoyment in the weeks ahead. This week is an archived program on time from Radiolab, the brainchild of Jad Abumrad. Radiolabexplores big ideas in science (and beyond) through conversation, storytelling and sound.” Past programs have explored memory, fear, and sleep.

Time

Jorge Luis Borges wrote, “Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire,” and it’s as close a definition as we have. But maybe if we slow time down enough, or speed it up enough, we can unlock its secrets. On this week’s Radio Lab, we’re using our hour to try and do just that. 

Listen to the whole show  

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Unlocking The Secrets of Time

Neurologist Oliver Sacks tells us about his fascination with time. As his soon-to-be-published essay in the New Yorker will tell you, he’s been fascinated by time and has used photography to get inside it since he was a little boy. We’ll hear a recording of a baby becoming a young woman, in “Nancy Grows Up.” How did we get from a sundial – using the sun to tell us about the passing of time – to standarized time?

Radio Lab takes a spin through the history of time, making a stop at the way the railroads changed our experience of time and Rebecca Solnit, author of River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West joins us to describe how a photographs stopped time to create a horse floating in the air.Plus Jay Griffiths, author of A Sideways Look at Time, introduces us to the variety of clocks – spice clocks, flower clocks, potato clocks – that predated the wristwatch.

It’s All Relative

Both physicist Brian Greene and neurologist Oliver Sacks explain the very strange, very subjective nature of time.The elasticity of experience is expressed by sound artist Ben Rubin in a piece he produced for The Next Big Thing. We include an excerpt on being in “the zone.” His story features track stars: Shawn Crawford, Amy Acuff, Brendon Couts, Jason Pyrah, Derrek Atkins, Jon Drummond, and Larry Wade.

And much, much more!