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                                  Post         MEDIA ALERTS

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Washington Post Blames Israeli "Intransigence" For Stalling Peace Efforts - Ignores Israeli Willingness and Palestinian Refusal to Begin Negotiations Without Preconditions

From: Leo Rennert
To:  Martin Baron,   
Karen DeYoung,
    Ombudsman,  Donald Graham, William Booth
Subject: WASHINGTON POST BLAMES ISRAELI "INTRANSIGENCE" FOR STALLING PEACE EFFORTS -- UPSIDE-DOWN HISTORY
Date: Sat, 29 Jun 2013
 
In its June 29 edition, the Washington Post runs an article by correspondent Karen DeYoung about Secretary of State John Kerry’s strenuous shuttle diplomacy to get Israel and the Palestinians to resume negotiations (“Kerry Tireless in quest for Mideast peace deal” page one)
 
In enumerating challenges and obstacles in Kerry’s path, DeYoung reports that  “international weariness of what is seen as Israel’s intransigence has grown, manifested in a divestment movement and dwindling sympathy in Europe.”
 
Really?  So, according to DeYoung, it’s Israeli “intransigence” that’s holding up a peace deal.  But her evidence is hardly convincing.  The anti-Israel  boycott drive has been a big flop.  Israeli trade is up with regional and global countries, including Turkey.  As for “dwindling sympathy” for Israel in Europe, that’s hardly a new factor.  If Israel had to depend on European “sympathy” for its existence and security, it would have folded a long time ago.
 
Far more telling is the fact that, far from indulging in “intransigence,” Israel is on the same page as Kerry and the White House in calling for prompt renewal of negotiations without pre-conditions.
 
The real fly in the ointment, the real “intransigence,” belongs on the Palestinian side where President Mahmoud Abbas finds himself increasingly isolated from the U.S. in demanding a host of major Israeli concessions – release of Palestinian prisoners, a construction freeze in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank – before talks even get under way. 
 
DeYoung, however, is oblivious to Abbas’s “intransigence,” reporting only that the “Palestinians have been unable to put their political and economic house in order.”  Failure to put the Palestinian house in order doesn’t begin to tell the tale.
 
For starters, there is no single “Palestinian house.”  Instead, there are only two sharply divided houses, with Hamas ruling Gaza and Abbas’s Fatah movement holding power in the West Bank.  Hamas is unalterably opposed to negotiations with Israel because its agenda calls for the total dismantling of the Jewish state.  And for his part, Abbas keeps up a steady incitement drumbeat against Israel, charging it with planning the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque atop Temple Mount and denying Israel’s 3,000-year ties to Jerusalem.  Doesn’t seem to be interested in confidence-building to smooth the way for negotiations, does he?
 
So on what side of the conflict is Kerry  really encountering “intransigence”?
 
Similarly, DeYoung tilts her article against Israel, while soft-pedaling Palestinian/Arab intransigence, when she reports that the Arab League peace initiative “guarantees Israeli security” and “offers a resolution to the thorny issue of Palestinian rights to return to land in what is now Israel.”
 
Far from guaranteeing Israeli security, the Arab League’s plan calls for a resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem “in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194,” which Palestinians and the Arab world interpret as giving millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants an absolute “right of return” into Israel, thus snuffing out the Jewish state demographically. (Res. 194 was adopted in December, 1948, as Israel was waging an existential fight against half a dozen Arab armies determined to throw it into the sea.  While 194 mentions helping refugees to return, its main thrust was in line with the UN mandate for a two-state solution, dividing British Mandate Palestine between two states – an Arab state and a Jewish state.  That’s why all Arab delegations voted against Res. 194. To exhume it today is a bit late in the game.)
 
Bottom line:  On two of the most important issues holding up any real progress in advancing the peace process, DeYoung follows an Israeli-bashing agenda, while camouflaging Palestinian “intransigence” and pan-Arab maneuvers to ultimately destroy the Jewish state.
 
Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]



Monday, June 27, 2011

More Washington Post Anti-Israel Bias - Post Routinely Treats Mild Israeli Disparagement of Palestinians As Newsworthy and Turns A Blind Eye Toward Egregious Palestinian Disparagement of Jews and Israel

From: Leo Rennert
To:     Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
           Donald Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Washington Post
           Douglas Jehl, Foreign Editor, Washington Post
           Andrew Alexander, Ombudsman, Washington Post
 CC:   Joel Greenberg, Reporter, Washington Post
           Fred Hiatt, Editorial Page Editor
Subject: Connecting The Dots Of Washington Post's Selective, Biased Reporting 
Date: Sat, 25 Jun 2011

See if you can guess what the following events have in common:

--June 16--Mahmoud Abbas's official Palestinian Authority daily newspaper attacks Judaism as a "distorted, corrupted, falsified religion." Jews are "evil." Creation of Israel a "malignant, cancerous growth."

--Jun 9--Mahmoud Abbas's PA TV --"If I forget thee, oh Jerusalem" was a Crusader expression "usurped by the Zionists." The expression actually appears in a Hebrew psalm dating back to the Babylonian exile -- some 1,500 years before the Crusaders arrived in the Holy Land

June 5--Hafez Barghouti, the editor-in-chief of Mahmoud Abbas's daily newspaper, writes about the enthusiastic reception Prime Minister Netanyahu received during his address to a joint session of Congress. The lawmakers were "riff raff" with "idiotic manners" who engaged in "shameful standing ovations." They stood applauding as if they had "hemorrhoids and Zionist impaling stakes on their backsides."

May 27--Mahmoud Abbas's PA daily: "Jews have no connection to the Palestinian-Arab land." A thousand-year Jewish presence is "nothing more than invention and falsification."

May 14--Mahmoud Abbas, in an address to a Palestinian audience --When Jews claim 3,000-year ties to the land, "we say that the nation of Palestine upon the land of Canaan had a 7,000-year history BCE. Netanyahu, you are incidental in history. We are the people of history. We are the owners of history."

May 13--A song on Mahmoud Abbas's PA TV claims that "Jaffa, Acre, Haifa, Nazareth, Ramle, Lod, Jerusalem, Safed are ours." The song's narrative essentially wipes Israel off the map.

May 3--Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the terrorist wing of Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah political party, mourns Bin Laden. He died a "shahid" (martyr). His death "will not deter the resistance fighters from the path of jihad."

If you say that these Palestinian declarations have a common theme of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement, with gross distortion of history to erase 3,000 years of Jewish history in the Holy Land, along with an agenda for a ''one-state" solution from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, resulting in the total elimination of the Jewish state, you are partially correct. If you guess that Abbas plays a duplicitous game, spewing hateful anti-Israel incitement when speaking in Arabic to his own people, while cultivating a "moderate," peace-loving image to the outside world, you're also partially correct.

Along with these common threads, there is another very telling and important one -- None of this was reported by the Washington Post. It is, however, available on the website of a media-monitoring group, Palestinian Media Watch, www.pmw.org.il.

But even as the Post maintains a total silence about Abbas's real beliefs and intentions that totally disqualify him as a peace partner, the Post runs the following story in its June 25 edition under a headline reading: "Netanyahu's Son Disparages Muslims." [headline in on line edition read: "Israeli Prime Minister’s Teen Son Maligns, Arabs, Muslims on Facebook"]

The article reports that Netanyahu's 19-year-old son -- a military spokesman -- "posted derisive comments about Arabs and Muslims on his Facebook page, drawing a slap on the wrist from his superiors."

It turns out that the younger Netanyahu, prompted by a Palestinian attack on a West Bank settlement that resulted in the deaths of five members of an Israeli family, posted that Muslims "celebrate hate and death" and that "terror has a religion and it is Islam."

The comments of Bibi's son were removed from the Facebook page within two hours of a request by an Israeli newspapers for a response from the prime minister.

So here we have some defamatory comments about Arabs and Islam, not by Netanyahu mind you, but by his son, that Post editors nevertheless deem sufficiently newsworthy to warrant coverage in their World News digest. But when a steady stream of far more hateful vitriol and incitement is perpetrated not by an Abbas offspring but by Abbas himself and the media under his control, the Post averts its eyes and remains totally silent.

My beef is not with the story about the comments made by Bibi's son. My beef is with the Post's double standard -- that it uses a sharp aggressive lens when it reports on Israel, but switches to a sympathetic, benign, soft-color lens when it deals -- or fails to deal -- with what the "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas is really up to.

This is selective, biased reporting of the worst kind.

Leo Rennert

[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Washington Post Continues to Sanitize Palestinians - Refuses to Call Latest Terrorist Murders by the T Word - Conceals the Absence of Moderation In the Palestinian Street - Fails To Report Hamas Calling Terrorism a Heroic Operation - Fails to Report Abbas's Equivocal Disapproval

March 13, 2011 
WaPo Shields Abbas From Blame As Terror Attack Kills Five Israelis
Leo Rennert
[journalist and former White House correspondent]
American Thinker Blog

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/03/wapo_shields_abbas_from_blame.html

It was one of the most heinous terror attacks against Israeli civilians. On the Sabbath, in the middle of the night, one or more Palestinian terrorists infiltrated the Jewish community of Itamar in the West Bank and stabbed to death five members of the same family -- a father, a mother, and three children.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netnanyahu blamed the attack on incessant anti-Israel incitement by Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority in media, mosques and schools under their control. He also called on world leaders to express their revulsion against such terrorism in no uncertain terms.

If Netanyahu thought that he might get any such firm response from Abbas, his supposedly "moderate" peace partner, he was sadly mistaken. Even strong prodding by the White House failed to get a clear-cut Abbas condemnation and rejection of Palestinian terrorism.

Abbas instead issued a mealy-mouthed statement of "rejection and condemnation of all violence against civilians, regardless of who was behind it or the reason for it." And to make perfectly clear that any blame also attached to Israel, Abbas added that "violence produces violence and what is needed is to speed up a just and comprehensive solution to the conflict."

Netanyahu promptly voiced his disappointment at the "weak and mumbled statements" from his Palestinian "peace partner."

Judging by the U.S. response, the White House also must have been disappointed, given its statement that "we call on the Palestinian Authority to unequivocally condemn this terrorist attack and for the perpetrators of this heinous crime to be held accountable."

But you wouldn't know that by reading the Washington Post's report by Jerusalem correspondent Janine Zacharia ("Israel Hunts for Killers of Five Jewish Settlers -- Netnayahu Blames West Bank Stabbings on Palestinian Incitement [headline changed] " March 13, page A11).

In its usual Abbas-protective mode, the Post totally ignored Obama's demand for an "unequivocal" condemnation by Abbas of "this terrorist attack" and for the PA to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Instead, the Post chose only to print the "soft" part of the White House response that there is "no justification for the killing of parents and children in their home."

If that, in effect, had been the totality of the administration's reaction, Obama and Abbas would have ended up on the same page. But that was not the case, as Abbas shunted aside Obama's demand for a firm, unequivocal condemnation of terrorism by the Palestinian leadership. 

The Post, however, ignored the sharp divide between the White House and PA statement, letting Abbas off the hook. Nor would the Post, in Zacharia's article, saddle the Palestinians with an act of "terrorism." The T-word is not used by the paper when it comes to Palestinian terrorism. Any other kind of terrorism, however, gets reported as such. Only the Palestinians get a Post exemption from the "T" word.

Zacharia, as an equal-opportunity apologist for all elements of the Palestinian side, was equally reluctant to point a finger at Hamas, which controls Gaza but also has some terrorist cells in the West Bank. Consequently, there was no coverage by the Post of Hamas applauding the terror attack in Itamar as a "heroic operation." Nor was there any coverage of Palestinians in Gaza celebrating these multiple murders and handing out sweets in the streets of Rafah.

It's the Post's way of keeping Palestinians sanitized and shielded from any taint of terrorism.

Incidentally, it was only three weeks ago that PA TV, under Abbas control, glorified a Palestinian terrorist who killed three Israelis in 2002 in Itamar -- the same place where the latest act of Palestinian terror was perpetrated. Also, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the terrorist wing of Abbas's Fatah party, was quick to claim responsibility for the latest murders. Still, don't expect to read such things in the Washington Post.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Post Editors & Reporters Repeat Factual Error In News Reports On Israel, Despite Having Error Called To Their Attention - Continue To Report Israeli Construction of New Settlements, When No New Settlements Have Been Built In Years - Fail To Report That Sole Issue Now Is Construction Within Existing Settlements

Mr. Rennert and others have written to the Post previously about this error. When Post editors and reporters continue to repeat a mistake like this after having it called to their attention, do they do so out of sheer (no play on the reporter's name intended) ignorance, or is it with a smirk on their faces and a blind eye turned toward a misrepresentation of a fact that casts Israel in a more negative light? We vote for the smirk, but regardless, this type of repetitive misreporting is unquestionably irresponsible.

From: Leo Rennert
To:     Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
          Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
          Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
          Donald Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Washington Post
          Douglas Jehl, Foreign Editor, Washington Post
          Andrew Alexander, Ombudsman, Washington Post
CC:    Michael Shear, Reporter, Washington Post
Subject: Washington Post's Recurring Error About Settlements
Date: Friday, August 27, 2010

Dear Mr. Brauchli: 

The Washington Post, in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, keeps telling readers that the Obama administration has tried to get Israel to "halt construction of settlements," as Michael Shear again puts it in an August 24 article ("For Obama, A Chance To Regain Some Political Momentum," page A3). 

Shear's formulation suggests an ongoing proliferation of settlements -- a bit like the development of the American West when pioneers kept building settlements that eventually became towns and cities. 

But that's simply not true in the West Bank. Israel hasn't built settlements for years. It hasn't constructed a single settlement since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office. Like his centrist predecessor, Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu has banned construction of settlements and expansion of existing settlements. The settlements map of the West Bank is and has been frozen for quite some time. .

The only bone of contention between the U.S. and Israel has been over construction work INSIDE existing settlements before there is an overall peace deal. With direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians about to get under way, there will be plenty of other disagreements bedeviling negotiations. The Post shouldn't inject a fictitious one.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Washington Post Weaves Web of Deception - Fails to Publish Photos Revealing Truth of Flotilla Deaths - Publishes Photos and Captions Containing Distortions and Lies

These are just two of many available photos The Washington Post does not want its readers to see, because they might reveal the truth about what really happened aboard the Mavi Marmara:

"Activists" with clubs? - Photo Not shown by the
 Washington Post

Activists With Clubs

"Activists" with knives? - Photo Not shown by the
 Washington Post


Why does the Washington Post fail to publish these photos? 

Even worse, why does the Post go out of its way to publish photos telling blatant lies -- lies like this photo still running in the Post's photo gallery of the Israeli boarding of the Mavi Marmara


"White Flags?" Hardly - Metal Pipes and Rods Used to 
Attack Israeli Navy Seals - 
Photo Not Shown By Washington Post


More "White Flags?" - Not - Knives and Wood Poles
Used to Attack Israeli Seals - 
Photo Not Shown By Washington Post


The Post's caption for the "White Flag" photo above states: "Protesters hold signs denouncing Israel's attack on an aid ship bound for Gaza during a rally in New York on Tuesday." And the photo gallery itself still has the following heading above each of 55 photos in the photo gallery:

"Israel: At least 9 pro-Palestinian activists killed on Gaza flotilla carrying aid. Israeli naval commandos seized an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip early Monday, killing at least nine and wounding dozens, and sparking protests and condemnations around the world."

Other distorted and inflammatory captions in the Post's photo gallery state:

"...the deadly raid by Israeli navy on an aid flotilla."

"Israel's storming of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla set off a diplomatic furor, drawing criticism from friends and foes alike and straining ties with regional ally Turkey, which called off planned joint military exercises."

"At least 10 activists were killed before dawn on May 31 when Israeli navy commandos stormed a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, sparking international outrage and plunging the Jewish state into a diplomatic crisis."

"...condemned a deadly raid by Israeli commandos on a Gaza-bound aid ship, in which at least nine people were killed." 

"The protesters condemned Israel's deadly attack on Gaza-bound humanitarian aid flotilla on Monday."


Monday, June 7, 2010

White House Reporter Helen Thomas Reveals The Anti-Israel Bias So Widespread in The Media - Washington Post Says The Problem Was That She Was Too Outspoken, Rather Than In The Poisonous And Biased Views She Held

While she did not work for The Washington Post, this media icon, widely venerated in journalistic circles, typifies the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sympathies that underlie much of the world's reporting on Israel.  Take a look at this video of Ms. Thomas expressing her personal animus toward Israel and Jews:

HELEN THOMAS TELLS JEWS OF ISRAEL TO GO BACK TO GERMANY, POLAND - ANYWHERE BUT ISRAEL, WHERE THEY ARE OCCUPYING ARAB LAND
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQcQdWBqt14

Helen Thomas rose within media circles to a level she did not deserve. She became the first female president of the White House Correspondents' Association. The Society of Professional Journalists regularly honors deserving journalists with its "Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement." 

The Washington Post itself has failed to provide any news coverage of  Ms. Thomas's comments. Based upon the Post's long history of vilification of Israel, we should not be surprised to see it suppressing news adverse to one of its own, especially one who expressed views not entirely unlike those harbored by many of its writers.  Howard Kurtz has written a respectful, obit-like ode to Ms. Thomas for publication in the C Section (The "Style" section) of tomorrow's paper. The headline of  his article -- "Helen Thomas Never Shied From Piping Up. In The End, That Was The Problem" -- misses the point entirely. It urges that in the end her problem was in being too outspoken, rather than in the poisonous and biased views she actually held. Unfortunately, that appears to be the problem with far too many members of the press corps, particularly at The Washington Post. They see the problem as that of the journalist cloaking his/her biases, rather than of the bias itself. 


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Jenin All Over Again - Millions of Screaming Moslems The World Over Suck In An Anti-Israel Media All Too Willing to Blame Israel First and Sort Out The Truth Later - The Washington Post Leads The Feeding Frenzy Of Israel Bashing In The Media - Downplays Widely Available Evidence In Video of Deadly Attacks On Israeli Navy Seals - Erroneously Depicts Israel As To Blame 

Truth is in short supply at the Washington Post. The Post's coverage of the Gaza flotilla seizure throughout last week was so full of blatant examples of anti-Israel animus that it is almost impossible to fully convey the skewed, tendentious and hysterical tone of these reports. Videos of the boarding of the Turkish ship by Israeli Navy Commandos have been widely available all over the web ever since the Israeli seizure. They show Turkish Islamic extremists aboard the largest ship in the flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, laying in wait with weapons, plucking the Israeli commandos off their rope ladders as they descended and, en masse, swinging clubs and savagely beating the commandos over and over and over again. One video showed an extremist stabbing an Israeli commando in the back. Another showed several of the Islamists flinging an Israel Navy Seal over the side of the upper deck down to a lower deck. Yet the Washington Post for the most part turned a blind eye to the videos and launched a massive campaign of misinformation depicting the Israelis as the aggressors and responsible for the loss of life on the boat. 

The Post's Web Site throughout the week and still today adorned each news article on the flotilla boarding with a photo gallery that itself bore the following heading:

"Israel: At least 9 pro-Palestinian activists killed on Gaza flotilla carrying aid. Israeli naval commandos seized an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip early Monday, killing at least nine and wounding dozens, and sparking protests and condemnations around the world."

One photo bears the following statement in its caption:

"The flotilla was trying to take supplies to Gaza, which Israel has blocked for three years." 

This statement is demonstrably false. Israel has been consistently supplying Gaza's residents with at least 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid each week. The Post's own reporter, Janine Zacharia, begrudgingly admitted in an article  that "food and daily goods are plentiful," that "Gazans lament where they can't go more than what they can't buy" and "if you walk down Gaza City's main thoroughfare -- Salah al-Din Street -- grocery stores are stocked wall-to-wall with everything from fresh Israeli yogurts and hummus to Cocoa Puffs smuggled in from Egypt. Pharmacies look as well-supplied as a typical Rite Aid in the United States." 

Another photo caption in the Post's gallery of deceptions depicts the Israeli boarding not as an effort to seize and divert the ships to Ashdod, but rather as an "attack" on the ships:

"Protesters hold signs denouncing Israel's attack on an aid ship bound for Gaza during a rally in New York on Tuesday."

Another photo caption describes the "Israeli marines' storming of a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza."

And still another:

"US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers remarks regarding Israel's storming of a Turkish ship headed for Gaza.... Clinton said that the situation in Gaza is "unsustainable and unacceptable" .... The botched Israeli raid on an aid flotilla left nine people dead."

Notably missing from the Post's photo gallery were widely disseminated pictures of an array of weaponry seized from the Mavi Marmara after it was brought to port in Ashdod. It is no wonder the photos were not shown, because displaying them might put the lie to the Post's repeated references to the passengers as mere "activists."

Inflammatory headlines all week exhibited widespread anti-Israel bias at the Washington Post. On the front page of Friday's paper a teaser for an interior article declares:

"The defiant Netanyahu; Israel's prime minister stands firm amid international outrage over a raid that killed nine people, one of them a U.S. citizen."

The online edition of the Post gives the same article the following headline:

"Israel's Netanyahu maintains defiance amid criticism over Gaza blockade" 

The Post's politically opinionated Jerusalem correspondent, Janine Zacharia, displays her personal distaste for the current Israeli leadership when she states:

"With Israel under fire abroad, Netanyahu used his first extended remarks on the flotilla crisis to launch an attack on the world."

And again, she seeks to depict Israel's leadership as hard line and intransigent when she states:

"Without even a faint nod to the international community's concerns about Israel's actions -- which have led to calls for an international inquiry, ambassador recalls and deep damage to relations with Turkey -- Netanyahu insisted Israeli policy toward the Gaza Strip would not change as long as it is controlled by Hamas." 

On the same page as Zacharia's diatribe is another article by Post reporter Glenn Kessler, whose headline proclaims: 

"American Among Those Killed In Raid, Death Of Teen, Who Held Dual Citizenship With Turkey, Adds To Fallout" (Headline in Online Addition states: "American teenager among those killed in Israeli raid of aid flotilla" )

A reader looking at the headline alone might envision an idealistic and peaceful young American citizen traveling to the Middle East to participate in this so-called aid flotilla. One would have to dig well into the article to learn that this American, born here to Turkish parents, returned to Turkey when he was only 2 years old and had lived there ever since. This fact was apparently unimportant to the reporter. It did not prevent him from seeking to evoke reader outrage at the death of an American and reader sympathy by noting that the "teenager" attended "Kayseri science high school and had been accepted to a university for the fall. He wanted to be a doctor." The reporter then downplayed the overtones of martyrdom that motivated these Turkish Islamic extremists by waiting until the last paragraphs of his article to note that the boy's father did not express sadness over the death of his son and in fact said "I feel my son has been blessed with heaven.... I am hoping to be a father worthy of my son."

We're still waiting for the Post's esteemed news reporters to break their silence on the finding by Israeli authorities of huge amounts of cash in the possession of the arrested Turkish extremists aboard the Mavi Marmara. This boat originated in Turkey, and all the participants came from Turkey. Israel believes the cash is evidence that they were mercenaries who were paid ... possibly by the Turkish government itself ... to provoke violence in the event of an Israeli attempt to divert the boat. Israel has called for an investigation of the Turkish role in the confrontation. And on Sunday Israel revealed ties to terrorist organizations on the part of five of the passengers on board the Mavi Marmara. It remains to be seen whether the Post will give this revelation the same front and center attention it gave to headlines blaming Israel for the events on board the Mavi Marmara.

When it comes to Israel, the Washington Post has always been ready to jump the gun and blame Israel before the facts are in. Post reporters did this with Jenin and we later learned that Palestinian Arabs perpetrated a massive fraud on the world by spreading blatant lies to a media all too willing to print anything damaging to Israel. And now the Post has done it again. In the aftermath of the violence on board the Turkish ship we had the Post's Jerusalem Correspondent, Janine Zacharia, stating in the opening sentence of a front page article:

"Israel's botched and deadly commando raid on an aid flotilla has set off widespread international criticism of the Gaza blockade, with popular opinion in many countries swinging heavily against Israel and even the United States urging its ally to find new ways to allow aid shipments to reach the Palestinians." 

By week's end her tone had changed:

"Unlike Monday, when Israeli commandos were violently beaten by passengers as they boarded the Mavi Marmara, activists aboard the Rachel Corrie peacefully greeted the commandos as they climbed aboard. In the incident Monday, Israeli commandos opened fire in self-defense, killing nine activists." (Israeli Navy Boards Aid Ship Bound for Gaza, This Time Peacefully, Sunday, 6-6-10, A12)

Where is the "attack" of which Israel was accused throughout the week? After days of inflammatory Washington Post headlines, photos, photo captions and news reports all pointing the finger of blame at Israel, the world is now being told in muted tones that the deaths of these Islamic extremists aboard the Turkish boat was provoked by their own conduct. This is not the type of reporting of which the Post should be proud.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Post Reporter's Account of the Gaza Flotilla Boarding So Distorts Facts As To Contradict Post Editorial In Same Edition

From: Leo Rennert
To:     Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
          Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
          Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
          Donald Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Washington Post
          Douglas Jehl, Foreign Editor, Washington Post
          Andrew Alexander, Ombudsman, Washington Post
          Janine Zacharia, Reporter, Washington Post
          Scott Wilson, Reporter, Washington Post
          Jackson Diehl, Deputy Editorial Page Editor, Washington Post 
          Fred Hiatt, Editorial Page Editor, Washington Post
Subject: For Real News In Washington Post, Readers Must Turn To Editorial Page
Date: Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

In the June 5 edition of the Washington Post, reporter Scott Wilson writes that Israeli "commandos boarded a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in international waters, killing nine civilians, among them a 29-year-old U.S. citizen of Turkish descent ("Obama's agenda, Israeli Ambitions often clash", Front Page)

For an accurate picture of these "nine civilians," however, readers will have to turn elsewhere; they won't get it from Wilson or the news section. Rather, they have to turn to the lead editorial in the same edition ("Turkey's responsibility -- How the country's leader has used the Free Gaza flotilla" -- Editorial Title In Online Edition: "Turkey's Erdogan bears responsibility in flotilla fiasco").

The editorial completely refutes Wilson's assertion that the commandos killed "nine civilians." It emphasizes that there was "no fighting" by the commandos with "civilians" aboard the ships and no "civilians" ended up dead. 

In the words of the editorial:

"There was no fighting with those people, or with five of the six boats in the fleet. All of the violence occurred aboard the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmama, and all of those who were killed were members or volunteers for the Islamic "charity" that owned the ship, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).

"The foundation is a member of the 'Union of God,' a coalition that was formed to provide material support to Hamas and that was named as a terrorist entity by the United States in 2008."

So much for Scott Wilson's nine "civilian" fatalities, who in reality turn out to have terrorist credentials.

The editorial doesn't whitewash Israel either. . It's also critical of "Israel's poor judgment and botched execution in the raid against the Free Gaza flotilla."

In sum, the editorial, unlike Scott Wilson's latest flog-Israel piece, gives Post readers a fair, complete and even-handed account of what happened. Real news, which ought to belong in the news section, instead can be found only on the Post's editorial page.

Wilson's biased, anti-Israel report -- with full support from news editors -- comes as no great surprise. During his stint as the Post's Jerusalem correspondent during the second intifada, Wilson left a long trail of pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel dispatches. He spared no effort to file lengthy, empathetic, up-close and personal accounts of the plight of Palestinians in Gaza, while turning a blind eye to the plight of Israeli civilians in Sderot and other nearby Israeli communities whose residents were terrorized by thousands of rockets fired from Gaza.

And Wilson is still at it -- this time from his front-page perch in Washington. And again, abetted by news editors at the Post.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Monday, May 31, 2010

Washington Post Reporter Reveals Tools For Slanting News Reports Against Israel - Quote Unauthoritative And Unrepresentative Sources And Inject Reporter's Personal Opinion With Vague Assertions of Public Sentiment, Such As "Some Here Say..." and "Widely Criticized"

To: Andrew Alexander, Ombudsman, The Washington Post
Subject: WP: "2 Arab Israeli activists accused of aiding Hezbollah" (May 28) 
Date: Thursday May 27, 2010
From: Stephen A. Silver

Dear Mr. Alexander: 

In "2 Arab Israeli activists accused of aiding Hezbollah" (May 28, p. A14), the Post, WITHOUT ANY FACTS SUPPORTING ITS SPIN, portrays Israel's arrest of two Arab-Israelis accused of spying for Hezbollah as an act of political intimidation, casting doubt on whether this was a legitimate police action to halt espionage by an organization devoted to annihilating Israel. 

To support this vicious charge, the Post reporter, Janine Zacharia, devotes three early paragraphs (paragraphs two, five and six, which set the tone for the entire article) to the unsubstantiated anti-Israel theories of a Tel Aviv University sociology professor, Dan Rabinowitz. Rabinowitz has no role in Israel's government and in the article is described merely as having written a book about Arab-Israelis. 

Curiously, the Post article fails to mention the book's inflammatory title, which betrays the author's anti-Israel political viewpoint: "Coffins on Our Shoulders: The Experience of the Palestinian Citizens of Israel" (co-authored with Khawla Abu Baker, 2005). Rabinowitz's book bashes Israel and praises anti-Israel polemicists like Amira Haas. Also, he serves on the editorial board of Holy Land Studies, an anti-Israel journal, along with well-known Israel bashers including Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe. 

The author also uses phrases like "some here say" to suggest, without any foundation, that Prof. Rabinowitz's theory is a widely held and presumably credible view. There is no further clarification of who the "some" are or where, exactly, "here" is. To underscore how unethical it is for a journalist to use this phrase the way it is used here by putting it into a different context, consider that one could similarly say about the United States that "some here say" Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks or that "some here say" Obama wasn't born a United States citizen. The statements are true in the sense that "some here say" these things, but the phrasing hides the fact that these are the conspiracy views of fringe groups or marginal factions within the country and that their views have no factual credibility whatsoever. That the Post would condone the use of such a phrase to support a journalist's vicious attack on Israel's credibility in making an arrest in an espionage case and allow that journalist to suggest that Israel is abandoning its core democratic values is unethical and absolutely unacceptable. 

Adding to the outrage, Israel's denial of the unfounded charge is buried in the seventh paragraph, after the unsubstantiated charge has been reported, and is confined to a single paragraph. 

Furthermore, the author editorializes her opposition to Israel's actions in the Gaza war, saying Israel's actions were "widely criticized." At best, this phrase is biased and unhelpful for the same reasons that the phrase "some here say" is objectionable. 

Finally, as far as coincidences in time go, why didn't the Post reporter note last month's development in which an Egyptian court "convicted 26 men of belonging to a Hezbollah cell that was charged with planning to attack Israeli tourists in the Sinai Peninsula, fire on ships passing through the Suez Canal and smuggle weapons, supplies and people through tunnels to the Gaza Strip," as was reported in the New York Times ("26 in Egypt Are Convicted in Terror Plot," by Michael Slackman, April 29, p. A12). 

If one wishes to speculate within the realm of reason, one could wonder if the convictions of these purported Hezbollah operatives in Egypt led to deals that provided information on other Hezbollah spies in the region, possibly including the identities of the two individuals that Israel just arrested. (This is unfounded, but it at least doesn't require the reader to believe that someone was arrested not because they committed a crime but because a democracy has suddenly turned into a police state, as the Post reporter suggests.) 

What the Post reporter has done, by contrast, goes beyond speculation: she seizes on a storyline that arises solely from the unfounded theories of a professor with a demonstrated anti-Israel agenda, and has no supporting facts, and uses phrases designed to hide the statement's lack of support or credibility, in order to attack Israel's integrity and call into question its free and democratic nature. 

This is truly atrocious "journalism." The Post owes Israel and its readers an apology. 

Stephen A. Silver


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Skewed Washington Post Report On Recent Hostilities In Gaza Parrots Hamas's Statements Vilifying Israel And Depicting Itself as Peaceful - Downplays Renewed Missile Attacks On Israel That Provoked Israel's Response

From: Leo Rennert
To:     Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
          Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
          Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
          Donald Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Washington Post
          Douglas Jehl, Foreign Editor, Washington Post
          Andrew Alexander, Ombudsman, Washington Post
          Janine Zacharia, Reporter, Washington Post
Subject: Amid Rising Terrorist Attacks From Gaza, Washington Post Exculpates Hamas, While Ignoring Israel's Views
Date: April 3, 2010

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

There's been a sharp increase in rocket and mortar fire from Gaza in recent weeks, prompting Israel to retaliate with air strikes on military targets. A fair, balanced roundup of these developments, I think you would agree, should include three essential elements -- what's been happening to increase tensions, comments from the Hamas regime in Gaza as well as from Palestinian residents, and comments from Israeli officials and from Israelis living near the border.

Unfortunately, in an April 3 article by Jerusalem correspondent Janine Zacharia, Washington Post readers are presented with only the first two of these elements, while comments and views of Israeli officials and Israelis in the target zone are completely ignored. (Hostilities Intensify Between Gaza, Israel -- Cease-Fire At Risk -- Hamas Leader Urges International Intervention, Saturday, April 3, 2010, A5) [headline changed in online edition].

Zacharia, who hadn't bothered to document in recent weeks the sharp escalation in rocket and mortar fire from Gaza, now weighs in with a lengthy piece, prompted by Israeli air strikes in response to cross-border attacks from Gaza.

After summing up the heightened rate of action/reaction incidents, Zacharia -- high up in the third paragraph of her dispatch -- quotes Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas's leader in Gaza, as calling for international intervention and asking other factions in Gaza to avoid provoking Israeli retaliatory attacks.

The next paragraph is devoted to an interview with Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha, who elaborates on Haniyeh's comments, depicting Hamas as statesmanlike in trying to calm things down.

What somehow escapes Zacharia's attention is that it's not just other factions that have been firing on Israel. Hamas itself claimed responsibility for setting an ambush that killed two Israeli soldiers. 

Why make it appear that Hamas has embraced pacifism when its hands are just as bloody as those of other terror groups in the territory?

But Zacharia isn't through giving a Post platform for unchallenged comments by Hamas officials. She conducts another interview, this time with Hamas economics minister Ziyad al-Zaza, who assures her that Hamas genuinely wants to reconcile with Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah in the West Bank. 

But that's not all that Zaza gets to tell Post readers. He also bemoans Egypt's construction of an underground steel wall on its side of the Gaza border, and worries that the Egyptians will destroy smuggling tunnels to halt not only the flow of weapons into Gaza, but also what Zacharia herself describes as heavy Palestinian reliance on the tunnels for "everyday necessities."

In sympathy with such Palestinian views, Zacharia suggests that the tunnels are an essential lifeline for Gaza because Israel is only "NOW allowing essential foods and humanitarian supplies into Gaza. With the restoration of some movement of goods, the majority of Gazans still cannot leave the Strip, either through the Rafah checkpoint into Egypt or Erez checkpoint into Israel, leaving the terminal there all but empty."

That's a gross distortion of Israel's far, far greater and more extensive movement of humanitarian supplies into Gaza. And these supplies didn't just start ''NOW." They've been occurring since Hamas violently took control of Gaza back in 2007. In just one week last month, Israel supplied Gaza with 12,000 tons of wheat, flour, meat, chickens, fish, vegetables, animal feed and medical supplies, plus 1 million liters of diesel fuel and 837 tons of cooking gas. And 483 Gaza medical patients and their escorts passed through what Zacharia describes as the "all but empty" Erez crossing for special treatment in Israeli hospitals.

In 2009, Israel sent 620,000 tons of humanitarian supplies into Gaza and opened its border crossing to more than 10,000 Gazans for medical treatment in Israel.

Why hide this from Post readers?

Post editors might want to ask Zacharia to spend a few days at Israeli border crossing points and then report factually on what actually moves into Gaza to meet humanitarian needs, even while residents on the Israeli side come under rocket and mortar attacks. Zacharia's dismissively cavalier treatment of Israel's vast humanitarian aid to Gaza bears no resemblance to reality.

But even as Zacharia ignores the vast scope of goods and people moving into and from Gaza, she still is not done quoting Palestinians about their woes under Israel's anti-Hamas blockade, citing Kamal Awaja as unable to return to his luxurious seaside villa near Gaza's border with Israel because of sporadic Israeli fire.

Zacharaia ends her skewed article by telling Post readers that Awaja lives in a tent with his family in a field a short drive away. Says Awaja: "I'm afraid to go back there." End of story.

But remember: This is supposed to be an article about intensified hostilities between Gaza and Israel. And yet, while devoting copious space to the views of Hamas officials and other Gazans, the article is COMPLETELY DEVOID of any pronouncements from Israeli officials about their views of the rise of rocket and mortar attacks. Nor are there any interviews with Israeli residents near the Gaza border.

No up-close-and-personal accounts of Israelis in Ashkelon being roused by Code Red sirens and having only seconds to look for some shelter against incoming rockets. No interviews with any Israeli official or spokesman explaining that tensions are due entirely to violations of the cease-fire from the Gaza side -- that if calm prevails for Israelis, calm will prevail for Gazans.

Hamas gets to have its say in the Post. Israel does not.

And just to keep the record straight, the Israeli Air Force struck at TWO weapons-manufacturing sites in Hamas-ruled Gaza -- not one, as Zacharia reported.

LEO RENNERT
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Washington Post Edits AP Dispatch to Eliminate Palestinian Blame In Igniting Temple Mount Riots - No Mention That Violence Began With Stoning of Jewish Worshipers at Western Wall - No Mention that Police Were Protecting the Religious Site - Reference to 2 Palestinians Injured But No Mention of 18 Israeli Policemen Injured

From:    Leo Rennert
To:        Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
             Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
             Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
             Donald Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Washington Post
             Douglas Jehl, Foreign Editor, Washington Post
             Andrew Alexander, Ombudsman, Washington Post
Subject: Anti-Israel Myth-Making At The Washington Post
Date:      March 6, 2010 

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel bias is on full display in the March 6 edition of the Washington Post in an article about Arab rioters who were goaded by an inciteful sermon at the Al-Aqsa Mosque atop Temple Mount in Jerusalem and emerged after services, hurling stones on Jews praying below at the Western Wall. Riot police had to be called to quell the riot, which resulted in injuries on both sides. The riot forced evacuation of Jewish worshippers from their holiest shrine.

Except that's not how the Post reported this incident. In a six-paragraph piece carefully and selectively culled from a lengthier Associated Press dispatch, the Post rewrote the AP version so as to tamp down the extent of the riot and report only Palestinian injuries, while blaming Israel for setting off this violent protest and totally ignoring calls by Palestinian religious and political leaders for another intifada against Israel. (Violence Erupts At Contested Holy Sites In Jerusalem, Hebron, Saturday, March 6, 2010, World Digest, A8)

Here, in brief, is the Post's version:

The lead paragraph reports that Israeli troops clashed with Palestinian stone-throwers at two contested holy sites and in a West Bank village, "seriously injuring two Palestinians."

The second paragraph reports that, in Jerusalem, a Palestinian woman was hospitalized in serious condition after a violent clash at Temple Mount.

The third paragraph reports that a 14-year-old boy, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, was critically wounded by a rubber bullet and that skirmishes also broke out at a holy site in Hebron.

The fourth paragraph reports that the March 5 events "were sparked, in part, by rising anger over Israel's decision to add two shrines in the West Bank to its list of national heritage sites" -- a move perceived by Palestinians as an indication that Israel wants to hold on to large parts of the territory. Note, the "in part" qualifier in the Post's version of what sparked these clashes -- the only time the Post article gives readers an inkling of who was to blame -- namely Israel. The Post version omits any other "parts" of what sparked the clashes, such as the more immediate Palestinian incitement from Mahmoud Abbas on down, and the Al-Aqsa imam's Friday sermon, which pumped up Arab youths to start the rampage.

The fifth paragraph mentions that Hamas called for a new uprising, but makes no mention of Abbas's role in sparking the violence, or use of the Al-Aqsa pulpit for an inciteful sermon.

The sixth -- and final -- paragraph reports that U.S. envoy George Mitchell is due to arrive in the region to launch indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks.

And the entire article is attributed to the Associated Press.

Except there are glaring differences between the Post and AP reports. The AP at least made some effort to file a balanced piece, while the Post edited the AP dispatch by removing any and all elements that might point a finger at Palestinian culpability for the riots.

For example:

1. The AP version mentions that hundreds emerged from prayers and threw stones at policemen and Jews "praying below at the Jewish shrine known as the Western Wall." The Post carefully removed that part from its own version. The Western Wall and Temple Mount are Judaism's holiest sites, but the Post saw no need to point out this essential fact about the riot.

2. The AP version makes clear that the rioters threw stones at Jewish worshippers. The Post excised this bit of information, mentioning only that stones were thrown at contested holy sites, but leaving out the fact that Jews at prayer at their holiest site were the target. Throwing stones at a site is one thing, but throwing stones at civilians at prayers in quite another thing. The Post, however, is not interested in factual precision.

3. The AP version mentions that Israel's decision to include two West Bank holy sites on its list of national heritage shrines, in part, sparked the riots. So does the Post. But the AP threw in an important qualifier -- that Israel's decision "has no immediate consequences" -- a bit of information carefully removed by the Post in its editing of the AP dispatch. The fact is that at one of the sites, the Cave of the Patriarchs, Israel ensures access to both Muslim and Jewish worshippers and that Israel recently completed access improvements for Muslims, ahead of such renovation work for Jewish worshippers. The other West Bank shrine, Rachel's Tomb outside of Bethlehem, has been a Jewish holy site for several thousands of years, while Muslims only sought to connect it to Islam 10 years ago -- in the meantime using it repeatedly for target practice. But such facts don't interest Post editors in pursuit of their anti-Israel agenda. Pro-Palestinian myths take precedence over Jewish history at the Washington Post.

4. The AP version, when it comes to the critically wounded teenager in Nabi Saleh, quotes Israeli officials as saying that police fired rubber bullets "to disperse a violent riot." The Post makes no mention of Israel's explanation of why it fired rubber bullets in the village.

5. The AP version, while pointing to two Palestinians who ended up with serious injuries, mentions that 18 Israeli policemen were also hurt. The Post makes no mention of injuries to Israeli police.

One wonders how Washington Post readers would have been informed if the paper also had displayed such biased, one-sided journalism in reporting the shooter incident at the Pentagon. Would the Post have carried a headline reading, "Violence erupts at Pentagon, one person dead"? Followed by a lead that might have read, "Shootout claimed one life at the entrance to the Pentagon" without mentioning that a conspiracy-addled shooter opened fire at two Pentagon policemen, who returned fire and killed him?

I don't think so. Why? Because such gross distortion at the Post is specially reserved for its coverage of Israel and the Palestinians.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Washington Post Air Brushes Admitted Terrorist Activities of Hamas Operative Killed In Dubai - Unquestioningly Reports Feigned Outrage of Arab and British Enemies of Israel - Utilizes Terminology in Headline Designed to Sway Reader Opinion Against Israel

From: Herbert Grossman 
Date: February 19, 2010
Subject: Dubai Police Chief ... Mossad

To the Editor, The Washington Post:

The article, "Dubai Accuses Israeli Spy Agency in Killing, Police Chief '99%' Sure Mossad Plotted Hamas Official's Assassination" (Feb. 19, p. A9) [Headline Changed in On Line Edition], understates the evidence against the assassinated Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, serving as a key conduit for weapons and money to Hamas, whom reporter Howard Schneider says was "thought to have been involved in" the kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers. Mabhouh recently boasted of having committed those crimes personally, disguised as an orthodox Jew. 

Moreover, for all the phony outrage in the press and diplomatic circles at Israel and its spy agency Mossad for purportedly killing Mabhouh, how did the killing of this terrorist-murderer differ from the U.S.'s extra-judicial killings of suspected terrorists by air strikes, in Libya, Iraq, Pakistan and Sudan (to name a few of the places beyond the reach of our law, in which we have brought terrorists to justice), other than that there was no collateral damage (the killing of innocents) and the terrorist actually had murdered with his own hands?

And as far as British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and the anti-Israel media's claims of outrage over the use of forged passports as a critical undermining of the integrity of the system, people use forged government documents (driver's licenses, social security cards, passports, etc,) all the time, without intending insult to the issuing governments or undermining their integrity, however nefarious their purposes may be. With hundreds of thousands of these forged documents in circulation daily, the outrage over the forging of six British and three Irish passports to bring this terrorist-murderer to justice seems a bit contrived.

Missing from all the press reports are the questions never posed to Dubai officials: "Considering your amazingly efficient security and investigatory agencies that have succeeded in unraveling the mechanics of this highly sophisticated assassination and pinpointed the actual assassins in photographs, how was an international known terrorist-murderer actively engaged in illicitly acquiring arms for his terrorist organization and planning their terrorist activities able to operate with impunity out of Dubai and use it as a safe haven?" And, "Why does this not provoke any outrage, while his liquidation by his intended additional victims does?"


Judge (retired) Herbert Grossman
[Herbert Grossman, author of the book "J'Accuse the N.Y. Times and Washington Post: Biased Reporting from the Middle East," is a retired Federal Administrative Law Judge]


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Post Continues To Suppress References to Terrorism When Israelis Are The Targets & Continues Effort To Legitimize Hamas As A Terror Organization By Falsely Depicting Its Terror Activities As Outside And Separate From Its Mainstream

From:   Leo Rennert
To:       Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
            Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
            Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
            Donald Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Washington Post
            Douglas Jehl, Foreign Editor, Washington Post
            Andrew Alexander, Ombudsman, Washington Post
            Howard Schneider, Jerusalem Correspondent, Washington Post
Subject: At Washington Post, When Target Is U.S., It's Terrorism; When Target Is Israel, It's Not
Date:  January 30, 2010

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

In the Washington Post's January 30 edition, the main front page story deals with the Obama administration's difficulties in finding a location to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, and other terrorists now housed in Guantanamo (Trial Of Alleged Sept. 11 Conspirators Probably Won't Be Held In Lower Manhattan, 1-30-2010, A1).

The article, in reporting Atty. Gen. Erick Holder's decision not to use military tribunals, states that his position "was welcomed by proponents of using criminal courts to try TERRORIST (my emphasis) suspects."

Fine so far.

But a couple of pages later, the Post studiously avoids use of the "T" (for terrorist) word in reporting the killing of a Hamas terrorist kingpin in Dubai (Death Of Islamist Hamas Commander In Dubai Prompts Hunt For Killers, 1-30-2010)

The article, by Jerusalem correspondent Howard Schneider, reports that the target of this assassination was Mahmoud al-Mahmouh, a "senior commander of the Islamist Hamas organization's military wing," one of the "founders of Hamas's military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades," which has been responsible "for hundreds of suicide and rocket attacks against Israel over the years." He also was "notorious for his involvement in the kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers in 1989."

Given his resume, I would think that he fits the definition of TERRORIST to a T. Had he perpetrated all these atrocities against Americans, the Post would not have flinched in calling him, at a minimum, a "terrorist suspect," as the front-page article defines Guantanamo inmates.

Yet, both in the headline and in Schneider's article, the Post resorts to all kinds of Orwellian euphemisms to disguise the plain fact that, by the Post's own description of all his despicable crimes, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, is a TERRORIST plain and simple.

Instead, the headline calls him a "Hamas commander" and an earlier version of the headline called him a Hamas "operative" ("Hamas Commander' Slaying Prompts Hunt -- Islamist Group Blames Israel For Operative's Death In Dubai"). Schneider similarly goes to great lengths in his story to avoid labeling him as a terrorist -- to the point of falsifying Hamas's organizational command and structure.

Al-Mahhoud, Schneider writes, was a "senior commander of the Islamist organization's MILITARY WING." There are two problems with this oh, so politically correct formulation:

1. It fails to label this terrorist for what he plainly is -- a terrorist.

2. It also promulgates a fiction that Hamas is a two-headed group -- with a political wing separate from its "military" (i.e. "terrorist") wing. This way, the political side of Hamas gains some legitimacy because it's not directly tarred by what its military wing does. But that's as phony as a three-dollar bill. Time and again, Hamas leaders have made clear that Hamas is a unitary organization, whose top leadership -- headed by supremo Khaled Meshaal -- calls the shots for ALL Hamas activities, political as well as military. Drawing a dichotomy between two supposedly separate wings is a Western media invention to prettify Hamas's terrorist image.

In sum, how can the Post justify its double standard of naming Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other Guantanamo prisoners "TERRORIST SUSPECTS," while using softer adjectives like Hamas "OPERATIVE"' to identify Mahmoud al-Mabhouh? Hasn't the latter as much blood on his hands as the former?

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Washington Post Continues Its Refusal to Refer To Terrorists Or Terrorism As Such When Israel Is The Target, While At The Same Time Using Such Terminology Freely When Other Nations Are Targeted

From: Leo Rennert
To:     Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
          Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
          Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
          Donald Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Washington Post
          Douglas Jehl, Foreign Editor, Washington Post
Subject: Washington Post Double-Standard On Use Of "T" (For Terrorism) Word
Date: December 27, 2009

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

The Washington Post, in its Dec. 27 edition, has no hesitation -- nor should it -- in using the "T"-for-terrorism word. "Terror" appears prominently in the headline over the main front-page article on the Christmas Day attempt by a young Nigerian to explode an airliner as it was about to land at Detroit. (Plane Suspect Was Listed In Terror Database After Father Alerted U.S. Officials, 12-27-09 A1)

Ditto for the main article, which again on the front page reports that "the incident marks the latest apparent attempt by terrorists to bring down U.S. aircraft."

Well put, and very much to the point. 

But things take a decidedly sharp semantic turn when the Post, inside the front section of the same edition, reports on Israeli security personnel killing 3 terrorist murderers of a rabbi, a father of seven, and also killing three other terrorists, who were sneaking along the Gaza border fence in an apparent attempt to plant IEDs and failed to heed repeated warnings to desist.

Nowhere in that article, however, does the "T" word put in an appearance. The headline reads: "Israeli military kills 6 in West Bank, Gaza." Six what? In this instance, the Post is evidently determined not to use the "T" word when Palestinians terrorists are involved. It's not as if there weren't enough headline space to insert the "T" word -- the headline could have read "Israel kills 6 Terrorists in West Bank, Gaza," but it didn't.

The story is similarly evasive when it comes to the "T" word -- or rather absence thereof. The three killers of this West Bank rabbi are merely described as "three wanted Palestinians" in the lead paragraph. Wanted for what? The lead fails to tell us.

The second paragraph similarly falls short. The three West Bank killers we are told, were "affiliated with a violent offshoot of Abbas's Fatah movement." Not even close. This "offshoot" happens to be Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a certified terrorist group that murdered hundreds of Israeli civilians during the second intifada. It even boasts that it has more blood on its hands than Hamas. Nor is it an "offshoot" of Fatah. It's the terrorist wing of Fatah, still protected, applauded and regarded with supreme solidarity by Abbas and Fatah, as speaker after speaker made clear at Fatah's recent political convention.

So why not call a spade a spade -- or a Palestinian terrorist a terrorist?

And this is by no means an isolated linguistic distortion.

On the same inside page, the Post's Orwellian terminology for Palestinian terrorism again rears its head in a brief about a car which exploded in Beirut that apparently was targeted at an official "from the Palestinian militant group Hamas."

When the Post deals with proven Palestinian terrorists, they're disguised and sanitized as "militants" (or "fighters" or just "Palestinians") [even the term "young men" is used in the article discussed herein by Mr. Rennert] -- never as terrorists. But when a would-be Nigerian suicide bomber on an aircraft headed for Detroit botches his mission, the Post is quite accurately unsparing in its use of the "T" word.

Please, Mr. Brauchli, explain -- and justify -- the difference.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Washington Post Editors Continue To Employ Terminology Designed To Legitimize Terrorism Against Israel

From:  Leo Rennert
To:      Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
           Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
           Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
           Donald Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Washington Post
           Andrew Alexander, Ombudsman, Washington Post 
           Griff Witte, Deputy Foreign Editor, Washington Post
           Howard Schneider, Jerusalem Correspondent, Washington Post
Subject: How Washington Post Sanitizes Palestinian Terrorism
Date: September 26, 2009

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

In its Sept. 26 edition, the Washington Post runs an article about an Israeli airstrike that killed three members of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization in Gaza as they were on their way to fire rockets into Israel.

Islamic Jihad itself confirmed that the MEN were part of what it calls it armed wing, the al-Quds Brigades. The article of your Jerusalem correspondent, Howard Schneider, also points out that this latest incident followed a rise in attacks against Israel from Gaza, with 240 rockets and mortar shells having been fired by these groups since last winter's the three-week Gaza war.

So, now, cast your eye on the headline atop the article: 

"Israeli Airstrike Kills 3 FIGHTERS in Gaza."

Islamic Jihad is NOT comprised of "fighters" -- a term with quasi-positive connotations. Islamic Jihad is a certified terrorist group with ample blood on its hands from repeated attacks on civilian targets.

I think you might agree that Osama Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attackers are NOT considered ''fighters" but terrorists who also make it a practice to deliberately attack civilians in pursuit of a political agenda -- the classic definition of terrorism.

So, I challenge you, your editors and your ombudsman to explain to Washington Post readers why Al-Qaeda and its members are defined as TERRORISTS but Islamic Jihad and its members, with equally bloody credentials, are labeled FIGHTERS.

Or else get rid of this gross abuse of the English language.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Washington Post Double Standard - Extra-Judicial Assassinations of Terrorist Leaders Presents Human Rights Issue Only When Israelis Are Targeting Palestinian Terrorists

From: Leo Rennert 
To:     Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
          Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
          Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
          Donald Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Washington Post
          Andrew Alexander, Ombudsman, Washington Post 
Subject: CIA Bumps Off A Terrorist Kingpin With No Protests From UN, EU, Human Rights Groups, Mainstream Media
Date: August 8, 2009

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

I'm baffled by the Washington Post's report that the CIA, by firing a missile from a remotely controlled drone, managed to kill the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baithullah Mehsud ("A Psychological Blow For Pakistani Taliban -- Apparent Killing of Group's Leader expected to Disrupt Terror Operations" front page Aug. 8).

What baffles me is that the article hails this extra-judicial assassination as a great CIA success for having eliminated "a terrorist who was suspected to be behind the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto" and who also was "a central figure in a network of South Asian and international terrorist groups" -- an "alliance with an increasing capability in striking targets in the West."

Well and good. But nowhere does the article quote Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International or UN officials or European diplomats who have a long record of condemning assassinations pursued without any court proceedings or judicial authority. Sharp condemnations from these quarters have been routine in recent years -- as when, for example, Israel used air-launched missiles during the second intifada to kill Hamas terrorist kingpins (Israel prefers to call them "targeted assassinations"). In 2004, practically the entire Western world rose in denouncing Israel for using this extra-judicial method to kill Sheikh Yassin, the "spiritual leader" of Hamas, who blessed, guided and shaped its terrorist war against the Jewish state.

So what baffles me as a Washington Post subscriber is that the article fails to make clear whether your reporters checked to find out if there was any criticism from the usual opponents of such killings with regard to the timely demise of Mr. Mehsud. Did they issue any denunciatory statements? And, if not, did your reporters ask them why not, since they had no hesitancy in blasting Israel when it resorted to extra-judicial killings of Palestinian terrorist kingpins with even more blood on their hands than Mr. Mehsud.

And while you're at it, could you also please tell me why the Post has no hesitancy in describing Mr. Mehsud as a ''TERRORIST" engaged in "TERROR" operations and a central figure in a network of international TERRORIST groups, while your paper never uses the "T" word in referring to leading Palestinian terrorists. In the news pages of the Post, they are instead endowed with less pejorative euphemism like "militants" or "fighters" -- but never described as TERRORISTS?

How come?

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Friday, July 31, 2009

What Does The Washington Post Have To Hide?? It Hides History And The Truth When It Publishes An Article Attacking Settlements For Encroaching On What Is Alleged To Be Palestinian Land Without Also Telling Readers That These Palestinian Titles Were Granted By Jordan, Which Itself Invaded And Conquered The West Bank In Its 1948 War Against Israel, Expelled Jewish Landowners, And Appropriated Their Titles

This lengthy article lionizing anti-settlement activists in Israel and commending their efforts to establish, through litigation, Palestinian title to some land upon which Jewish settlements are alleged to encroach, does not even once provide readers with the history of Jewish land ownership and use in the West Bank before 1967.  (Settlement Foes Take Fight to Israel's High Court, 7-31-09, A14). Not once does this Washington Post reporter tell readers that the very titles which he defends as belonging to Palestinians were a product of Jordanian conquest of the West Bank during the 1948 War, after which Jordan ejected Jews and appropriated their land. 

These are land titles we're talking about. In the United States title searches in land records routinely go back to the 1700s. The history of land ownership in the region of Israel/Palestine is much older. If there are no records of Jewish ownership in the West Bank before 1967 (then called Judea and Samaria) then the Washington Post in good conscience MUST say so and MUST truthfully relate Jordan's role in making the West Bank judenrein and in obliterating any record of Jewish presence, use and title to West Bank land.

Notice how the Post's correspondent conspicuously avoids any reference at all to actual dates of the titles contained in this anti-settlement activist's computer database. Notice how the reporter conspicuously skirts the history. This article says nothing at all about Jordan's role in granting titles to Palestinians or in ejecting Jews from the West Bank.. Jordan had no legal claim to the West Bank and held it only because that's where its army stood when fighting from the 1948 War stopped. Jordan itself  had no legal authority to grant titles. This is typical of the agenda driven deception the Post foists upon its readers. For opponents of Israel, history often begins in 1967. Leo Rennert discusses this glaring error of omission as well as other problems with this article.


From: Leo Rennert 
To:     Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
          Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
          Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
          Donald Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Washington Post
          Howard Schneider, Reporter
          Andrew Alexander, Ombudsman, Washington Post
Subject: Washington Post's Dubious Obsession With Settlements
Date: July 31, 2009

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

In its July 31 edition, the Washington Post devotes the better part of a full page to an article by Jerusalem correspondent Howard Schneider about legal challenges to Jewish ownership of land in the West Bank by various "peace" groups and anti-settlement activists. The six-column headline in huge type reads: "Settlement Foes Take Fight to Israel's High Court," page A14.

There are two major problems with this article: 

  • Dependence on titles stemming from the illegal Jordanian occupation of the West Bank (1948-67), coupled with non-recognition of earlier Jewish titles.

  • And, in a broader context, the Post's failure to report far graver obstacles to the peace process by the Palestinian and Arab sides, including glorification of terrorists by "moderate" Palestinian leaders, anti-Israel incitement in Palestinian Authority organs, Hamas rule over Gaza, and many other non-Israeli impediments.

As to the first problem with Schneider's story:

Schneider builds his challenge to Jewish ownership of lands in the West Bank on Jordanian rule before the 1967 Six-Day War. So he focuses on Palestinians with presumed pre-1967 ownership titles. But what he doesn't tell Post readers is that Jordan's occupation was but a relatively brief 19-year interlude. Jordan -- one of half a dozen Arab states that attacked Israel at its birth in 1948 -- conquered East Jerusalem and the West Bank during that war. As conqueror, it obliterated many pre-1948 Jewish ownership titles. Before 1948, many Jews lived in the West Bank on legally purchased land. Ditto in Jerusalem's Old City, where Jews were the preponderant population since the mid-19th Century. After 1948, Jordan expelled all Jews from the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Old City. It literally bulldozed hundreds and hundreds of graves in the Mount of Olives cemetery -- the most important Jewish cemetery in the entire world. In the Old City, it destroyed many synagogues. All this, as Jewish ownership titles were obliterated.

So what about all these PRIOR Jewish titles and ownership claims that were vitiated by Jordan? Schneider is silent about them. Worse, he builds his entire piece on the supposed legitimacy of ownership titles dating back to the Jordanian period. But if conquest makes right for Jordan, then Israel's triumph in the 1967 War should have equal legal standing for restored Jewish property rights. In fact, superior standing because Jewish ownership pre-dates Palestinian ownership from the spoils of the 1948-49 War. The Post notwithstanding, the Six-Day War is not the historical alpha and omega of this conflict.

Also, if Schneider and the Post were truly interested in providing a full and balanced picture of claimed, reclaimed and disputed land titles, what about the property titles of hundreds of thousands of Jews in Arab lands summarily persecuted and expelled in mid-20th Century? Why don't their losses command the same attention as Palestinian losses, especially when many of these Jewish families had roots in Arab countries dating back many centuries.

Now to the second problem with Schneider's story:

This, of course, is not the first time the Post has spotlighted controversy over Jewish settlements. Not by a long-shot. The Post has published dozens of such articles. Yet, what hits many discerning readers is the total absence of similar extensive coverage of Palestinian/Arab drags on the peace process.

President Obama, citing the U.S.-drafted road map, hasn't just demanded a total settlement freeze. He also has demanded CONCURRENT confidence-building measures by the Palestinian Authority and Arab regimes throughout the region. Yet, the Post completely blanks out a constant stream of anti-Israel invective, laced with anti-Semitism, by PA media, mosques, textbooks, radio, magazines, television, etc. There is no comparable Post coverage of Mahmoud Abbas glorifying suicide bombers and naming Palestinian streets and public projects after the most lethal suicide bombers. Nor is there any coverage of Abbas's political party, Fatah, setting in its charter the objective of eliminating Israel entirely. Nor is there any coverage of how a Hamas-ruled Gaza could conceivably under any imagined scenario fit into a final peace settlement.

These glaring OMISSIONS -- on top of the Post's Johnny-One-Note exclusive preoccupation with settlements -- badly distort your overall coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And pray tell why does the Post in its July 31 edition totally ignore Israel's 160-page report on the conduct of its offensive against Hamas in Gaza in December-January? The Post has spared no ink and newsprint in publishing stories on a host of reports critical of Israel's conduct. Yet, when Israel -- after its own exhaustive investigation -- reports its findings, the Post sees no reason to pay any attention.

FYI, the New York Times did run an article on the Israeli report in its July 31 edition.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Only News About Israel The Washington Post Considers Fit To Print Is News That Blackens Israel's Reputation - Post Continues To Skew Its Coverage Of Israel By Refusing To Report On Israel's Easing Of Barriers In The West Bank And The Positive Economic Impact It Is Having

To:     Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
CC:    Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
          Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
          Donald Graham, Chairman Of The Board, Washington Post
          Andrew Alexander, Ombudsman, Washington Post
          Howard Schneider, Reporter, Washington Post
From: Robert G. Samet, Eye On The Post
Subject: Post Continues to Ignore Beneficial Effect of Israel's Easing of West Bank Restrictions
Date: July 18, 2009

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

On July 9th we wrote to you to ask why the Post is not reporting about the Israeli removal of 50% of its West Bank checkpoints and the positive impact the easing of restrictions on movement is having on the economy and life of West Bank Palestinians. We cited a NY Times front page article on this subject. We received no response to our inquiry, and the Post continued its blithe indifference to Israel's efforts to promote peace. 

Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair has since said Israel is not getting the credit it deserves for its "many recent measures to improve conditions for the Palestinian population in the West Bank, such as the removal of roadblocks and checkpoints."

The Post not only didn't report Blair's comments crediting Israel with West Bank improvements, it did worse. It deliberately excised Blair's pro-Israel comments and only reported the following portions of his interview:

"In an interview after touring the West Bank this week, special Middle East envoy Tony Blair said that, if current trends continue, Hamas would soon "have a choice" as Gaza's 1.5 million residents slip further behind Palestinians in the West Bank." (Ex-U.S. Diplomat Talks With Hamas,
Officials of Islamist Group See an Opening, but Washington Says Nothing's Changed, 7-16-09
)

The NY Times has again provided extensive coverage of the positive effect of Israel's West Bank peace efforts. Just two days ago it ran a lengthy piece on the subject. (Signs of Hope Emerge in the West Bank, New York Times, 7-16-09)

The Post continues to ignore Israel's efforts. 

We don't agree with most of the NY Times's coverage of the Arab Israeli conflict. It is often as bad as the Post in its anti-Israel bias. However, in this instance the Times appears to at least be making an effort to report more fully, while the Post appears to be deliberately ignoring the signs of success in Israel's efforts toward peace with Palestinians. Is it that difficult to give credit where credit is due? The Post's silence is deafening.

Robert G. Samet
Chairman
EyeOnThePost, Inc.
http://www.EyeOnThePost.org


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Is The Washington Post Ignoring Positive News About Israel?  The Post Fails To Report Israel's Elimination of More Than 50 Percent Of Its West Bank Checkpoints

To:     Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
CC:    Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
          Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
          Donald Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman Of The Board, Washington Post
          Andrew Alexander, Ombudsman, Washington Post
          Howard Schneider, Reporter, Washington Post
From: Robert G. Samet, Eye On The Post
Subject:  Is the Post Ignoring Positive News About Israel?
Date: July 9, 2009

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

Yesterday The Washington Times ran an excellent front page article on Israel's dramatic reduction in checkpoints in the West Bank and the positive effect it's having on the personal and economic lives of Palestinians. The article gave Times' readers a cause for hope and a balanced picture of Israel's efforts to foster peace and reconciliation in the region. The Post hasn't provided any such comparable coverage, and I'm wondering why. (Israel Loosens Grip In West Bank, Palestinians Travel Easily, 7-8-09, A1)

The Post's extensive negative coverage over the past few months of Israel in its news and opinion articles about settlements, settlers and the dispute between Israel and the US over settlement activity, coupled with the absence of coverage of positive efforts toward peace by Israel, might be construed by some to show a focus by the Post on only reporting negatively about Israel and turning a blind eye toward the positive. 

This is something that should be brought to the attention of your foreign editors and your Israel correspondent.

Robert G. Samet
Chairman
EyeOnThePost, Inc.
http://www.EyeOnThePost.org


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Rule Of Thumb At The Washington Post - If It Smears Israel, Ask No Questions And Print It - Washington Post Gives Anti-Israel Activists Carte Blanche To Use The Post's Pages To Libel Israel - Post's Anti-Israel Animus Results In It Publishing Letters To The Editor Consisting Of Lengthy, Fact-Laden Anecdotes Bashing Israel Without Doing Anything To Vet The Author Or Verify The Facts

The Post's utter lack of journalistic integrity in advancing its anti-Israel agenda was demonstrated by the Post's publishing of the following Letter to the Editor on page A18 of today's Post:

"Lawlessness From Israeli Settlers

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Israeli courts have declared the wall being built near the Palestinian village of Bilin illegal, and yet it continues to be built ["In the West Bank, Suburb or Settlement?," news story, June 30].

I visited the West Bank in October and saw other instances of this phenomenon: A court rules in favor of Palestinians, but the court's order is ignored or rendered meaningless. While in East Jerusalem, I stayed with Fawzieh and Mohammed al-Kurd, members of a family who became refugees in 1948 when they lost their home. A Jewish settler group wants to obtain the property the al-Kurds now own, along with the homes of 23 other Palestinian families in the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood, in order to tear down the houses there and build new housing only for Jews.

The settler group registered a claim to ownership of the Palestinians' property in 1972, asserting that it had purchased the land in the late 1800s. An Israeli court ordered the Palestinian families of Sheik Jarrah to pay rent to the Jewish group, despite the fact that the families had owned and lived in their houses for decades.

The Sheik Jarrah families naturally refused to do so. In 2006, after an expensive legal battle, another Israeli court found the settlers' ownership claim to be fraudulent, but the land registrar of the Jerusalem municipality refused to reinstate the Palestinian families' ownership.

Fawzieh and Mohammed were evicted last November for refusing to pay rent to the settler group on the basis of the settlers' fraudulent claims. Mohammed al-Kurd had a heart attack on the night of the eviction and died a few days later. Fawzieh remains homeless, a refugee once again, and is living in a tent. This is Israeli justice if you are Palestinian.

JEAN ATHEY
Brookeville
The writer is coordinator of Peace Action Montgomery."

How does the Post know anything alleged by this person to be true? Is there any indication that any of the allegations were vetted by the Post? Does the fact that it is written as a letter to the editor, rather than a news story, make it any the less a factual account requiring that any ethical and responsible journalist verify the facts before printing them? Does anyone believe for a moment that a letter to the editor from a pro-Israel activist claiming to have witnessed events reflecting negatively on Palestinian Arabs would ever be printed on the pages of the Washington Post? The sad fact is, the Post has sold out to ideologues who advance its anti-Israel agenda, and it accepts virtually anything they say at face value. As we've seen time and time again, this sell-out extends all the way to the sources of the facts used by Post correspondents in writing their biased news reports. If it smears Israel, ask no questions, print it and make excuses only when caught with your hand in the cookie jar.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Washington Post Rewrites History - Depicts Israel As Having Wrongfully Taken The West Bank From Palestinians In 1967 - Ignores Historical Fact That In 1967 Israel Captured The West Bank From Jordan, Not Palestinians, And That Jordan, Without Legal Right, Forcefully Took And Held West Bank For 20 Years After Attacking Israel In 1948

The Washington Post's editors and reporters don't like West Bank settlements and settlers, and they resort to distortion and deception to influence readers to agree with their opinion. The West Bank is referred to as "Palestinian land" and Israel is depicted as having taken it from Palestinians in 1967. Jordan's occupation of the land from 1948 to 1967 is completely ignored by the Post, and along with that deception, the Post never tells its readers (a) that Jordan held the land from 1948 to 1967 after having captured it in an aggressive war it waged to destroy Israel following Israel's creation in 1948 (b) that Israel's so-called Green Line or its border prior to 1967 was nothing more than the Armistice line after the cessation of fighting in the 1948 War, and (c) that when Trans-Jordan captured the West Bank in the 1948 War, its conduct was not accepted internationally and had no more or less legal basis than Israel's today. The land was officially stateless in 1948 and is officially stateless today. It is disputed territory, to which Palestinians have no more right than Israel, and its disposition must be negotiated and agreed upon by the parties. How many readers know that the term "West Bank" did not even come into existence until 1950, when Jordan annexed it?

The Post prefers to keep its readers in ignorance of the history of the region, because its agenda is to depict Palestinians as more entitled to the land than Israelis and to force Israel to empty the territory of Jews. Despite the fact that Arabs live throughout Israel itself, the Post sees no right on the part of Jews to live on what the Post portrays as Palestinian land. The following letters by Judge Herbert Grossman and Stephen Silver discuss the Post's effort to slant the truth to advance its agenda.


To: Andrew Alexander, Ombudsman, Washington Post
      Letters To The Editor, Washington Post
      Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
      Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
From: Herbert Grossman
Date: July 1, 2009

To the Editor:

Perhaps not grammatically, but factually, legally, morally and journalistically, Glenn Kessler ends his article, "Barak, U.S. Envoy Discuss Settlements" (news, July 1) with an incomplete sentence that unfairly purports to support the erroneous charge that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

If the incomplete sentence, "Israel seized the West Bank and other territories in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war" were completed, it would demonstrate the utter falsity and unfairness of the allegation. The missing words are: "from Jordan and Egypt, which had illegally seized them in the 1948 war, under no claims of right, at a time when the territories were subject to a League of Nations Mandate, of over 25 years duration, re-adopted by the United Nations Charter and never rescinded, holding the land in Trust as a homeland for the Jewish people."

How can The Washington Post justify its continuing omission of these crucial facts, over at least the last two decades, from every article written about the Middle East?

Sincerely,

Judge Herbert Grossman
[Herbert Grossman, author of the book "J'Accuse the N.Y. Times and Washington Post: Biased Reporting from the Middle East," is a retired Federal Administrative Law Judge]


From: Stephen A. Silver 
To: Andrew Alexander, Ombudsman, Washington Post
      Howard Schneider, Reporter, Washington Post
      Glenn Kessler, Reporter, Washington Post
Date: July 1, 2009
Subject: WP continues to "SEIZE" on a falsehood! 

Dear Mr. Alexander: 

Once again, the Post has used the word "SEIZED" to twist facts and needlessly inject its anti-Israel bias into a news story on the Middle East. 

In "Barak, U.S. Envoy Discuss Settlements" (July 1), by Glenn Kessler, the Post asserts that "Israel seized the West Bank and other territories in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war." 

As I have repeatedly pointed out to you, the word "seized" in this context falsely implies that Israel deliberately set out to capture land in an unprovoked war of conquest. This turns the facts of the Six-Day War on its collective head, because it was Israel that was besieged and attacked in what the Arabs had unabashedly intended to be a war of destruction for Israel. 

In the months leading up to the June 1967 Six-Day War, Syria carried out artillery bombardments and sponsored Palestinian Fatah terrorist raids on Israeli villages and kibbutzim in the Galilee. Then in May 1967, Egypt expelled United Nations peacekeepers from its border with Israel, poured hundreds of tanks and thousands of troops into the Gaza Strip in violation of the terms of the 1957 cease-fire, and blockaded Israel's port of Eilat -- an act of war against Israel under international law. On May 26, 1967, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser declared bluntly: "The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel." Palestine Liberation Organization commander Ahmed Shuqayri pledged that "We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants and as for the survivors -- if there are any -- the boats are ready to deport them!" 

Israel pleaded to Britain, France and the United States for help. All refused to intervene on Israel's behalf, leaving Israel to fend for itself, alone against the Arab world. Taking notice of the situation, Time magazine's June 9, 1967 cover said ominously: "ISRAEL: The Struggle to Survive," and its cover story about Israel's plight was titled "A Nation Under Siege." (The magazine is post-dated one week after its publication.) 

When war erupted between Israel and Egypt on June 5, Israel begged Jordan's King Hussein to stay out of the conflict, but Jordan rebuffed Israel's pleas and attacked. Jordan fired 6,000 shells on Jewish western Jerusalem, targeting not only military installations but also Israel's Knesset (parliament) building, prime minister's office and Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem, as well as firing indiscriminately at civilians and neighborhoods. More than 1,000 Israeli civilians were wounded, 150 seriously, and 20 Israeli civilians were killed. 

Only then, after Jordan had attacked Israel's government and people and killed 20 Israelis, did Israel respond militarily and enter eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank. 

Moreover, in the immediate aftermath of the Six-Day War, on June 19, 1967, Israel offered to return captured territories in exchange for peace. Israel's peace proposal was unanimously rejected by the Arab states on Sept. 1, 1967, at a summit in Khartoum, Sudan. The Arab response was the infamous "Three Noes" resolution: No peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel. 

It is therefore disappointing that the Post has chosen to ignore this historical context and assert -- REPEATEDLY -- that "Israel seized the West Bank and other territories in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war," implying that Israel captured these territories in an aggressive war of conquest, rather than reluctantly, in response to being besieged and attacked by enemies whose declared aim was to annihilate it. This shows disregard for Israel's plight and contempt for the objective viewpoint that Israel acted in self-defense. 

(If anything, given that the Palestinians also rejected Israeli proposals at Camp David and Taba in 2000-2001 and during talks throughout 2008 that would have created Palestinian states born in peace on the territory in dispute, it is the Palestinians who have repeatedly failed to "seize" the opportunity for peace.) 

Notably, Mr. Kessler used exactly the same language, including the offensive use of the word "seized," in his June 2, 2009 article "Israeli Minister's Visit Aims To Calm Settlements Dispute," which I also brought to your attention at that time. 

Your response to me on June 4, 2009 was: 

"Thanks for writing. I'll take a look at it. I don't ignore legitimate concerns raised by readers. But not all of them are addressed in my weekly column. Many of them are handled internally. 
Best wishes, 
Andy Alexander
Washington Post Ombudsman"

However, it is clear that this matter has not been "handled internally," since it has occurred yet again. 

As you are aware from my previous emails to you concerning this problem, this is hardly a one-time mistake; rather, this is something the Post has done repeatedly throughout the past decade. The Post similarly used the word "seized" in this context to falsely blame Israel for the Six-Day War in articles published on Jan. 23, June 29, Oct. 31, Nov. 19, 2000; May 9, Oct. 24, 2001; Feb. 10, 2004; Dec. 2, 2005; May 30, 2006; Feb. 10, 11, June 21, Nov. 24, 2007; July 2, 2008; April 3, 2009; June 2, 2009; and now July 1, 2009. 

It is by now quite clear that the Post does not take this concern seriously. 

Of course, the Post could avoid this entire problem by simply stating that Israel "captured" the West Bank in 1967, instead of perverting history by insisting that Israel "seized" it. But to its shame, the Post insists on trying to rewrite history and falsely portray Israel as the aggressor in the Six-Day War by using the word "seized." To do this once would be an unfortunate mistake. To allow it to happen a second time would be a clear journalistic ethical breach. To needlessly keep doing this over and over and over again, however, shows clear and intentional bias against Israel.

By way of comparison, consider how the New York Times has handled the issue. 

In a June 6, 2009 article by New York Times reporter Ethan Bronner, titled "Obama Pins Mideast Hope on Limiting Settlements," the Times described the situation as: "When Israel won additional territory in the 1967 war, a conflict it felt was imposed on it ... ." This is a much more fair way of characterizing the historical context and circumstances of Israel's capture of territory than the Washington Post's repeated use of the historically inaccurate and biased word "seized," which implicitly blames Israel for the war. 

Why is it that the Times shows respect for facts and history, while the Post insists on publishing what is, in effect, anti-Israel propaganda that is clearly at odds with the facts and attempts to rewrite history? 

Nor can one ignore the fact that, just a few days ago, a Post story similarly twisted the facts of the 1948 war to suggest that Israel instigated that conflagration, too. In the Post's June 24, 2009 article "Netanyahu's Peace Stipulation," by Howard Schneider, the Post article referred to "the 1948 war that led to Israel's creation." As I pointed out to you yesterday, the war did not lead to Israel's creation -- it was a violent response to it. On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence. The next day, the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon invaded Israel with the declared aim of annihilating it. To suggest otherwise, as the Post story did, is to manipulate facts in order to undermine Israel's very legitimacy. 

Moreover, I raised a related concern in response to the Post's May 27, 2009 news article, also by Mr. Schneider, in which the Post referred to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as a "historian." As I pointed out, Mr. Abbas's doctoral dissertation mocked the Holocaust as "the Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed," suggested that the number of Jews killed could have been just a few hundred thousand, and attributed the deaths of those Jews who were killed to a Zionist conspiracy to manufacture victims for public relations purposes. 

This is the Post's idea of a legitimate "historian?"

In effect, when the Post called Mr. Abbas a "historian," it was suggesting that Mr. Abbas's Holocaust-denial rantings were legitimate historical scholarship. 

I brought this to your attention more than a month ago, and you assured me at the time that you would "look into it." I have yet to hear from you on this. 

The common theme among the Post's repeated inflammatory use of the word "seized" to falsely portray besieged Israel as the aggressor in the 1967 war, the Post's false suggestion that Israel started the 1948 war, and the Post's endorsement of a Holocaust denier as a "historian," with no mention of the false and hateful subject matter of his purported "historical scholarship," is that the Post seems determined to rewrite history to denigrate Jews and Israel. 

How long will you allow this to go on without commenting on it? At some point, you must acknowledge that the Post, in these and other instances, has systematically falsified facts and perverted history -- invariably to Israel's detriment -- to such an extent that it violates the Post's journalistic ethics and cannot be tolerated. 

Unfortunately, history suggests that you will ignore this concern, offering at best a perfunctory response assuring me that you will "look into" these concerns. But I am writing to you anyway because I remain hopeful that, at some point, you will address this matter in your column. 

Journalistic ethics demand that it is time for the Post to stop using the word "seized" in this context and address the other concerns raised in this letter as well. The Post must take seriously its responsibility to report historical facts, rather than promote anti-Israel propaganda. 

Stephen A. Silver 
San Francisco, CA


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Post Distorts Headlines And Omits Facts and Context In Order to Vilify Israel And Evoke Sympathy for Palestinians

From: Stephen A. Silver
To: Andrew Alexander, Ombudsman, Washington Post
      Howard Schneider, Reporter
Date: June 30, 2009

Dear Mr. Alexander: 

(I) The Post's June 30, 2009 story "In the West Bank, Suburb or Settlement? For Israelis, Homes; For Palestinians, a Wall," by Howard Schneider, is rife with errors and falsehoods: 

(1) The June 30 story refers repeatedly to Israel's security "fence," but the secondary headline refers instead to a "wall." In fact, more than 95 percent of the security barrier, including the portion of the barrier referenced in the story, is a fence, not a wall. The Post's insistence on referring to a wall in the secondary headline reflects the Post editor's personal bias, not an objective fact. 

(2) There is no mention that the fence was built in response to a campaign of Palestinian terrorism which included terror attacks that specifically and deliberately targeted Israeli civilians, including children, killing more than 1,000 Israelis. 

(3) The story takes no interest in the fact that Modiin Illit, the town that is the subject of the story, was itself the site of a Palestinian terror attack last year in which an Arab attacker stabbed four Jews and assaulted several others. 

(4) There is no mention that this is an area which Israel would have kept under the 2000 Camp David peace proposals or under Ehud Olmert's peace proposal last year. In fact, not until the third-from-last paragraph is there any suggestion of the fact that this town would probably remain Israeli under any peace deal. 

(5) There is no mention of the fact that Modiin Illit was built entirely on private land. 

(6) The story states that the Obama administration demands a freeze in eastern Jerusalem. This is FALSE: ("Settlements OK in east Jerusalem, U.S. says," J. The Jewish news weekly of Northern California, June 25, 2009 [quoting State Department Sokesman Ian Kelly during his daily briefing on June 23])

(7) The Post story focuses on vilifying Israel over the growth of its settlements, while completely ignoring yesterday's news report in the New York Times that Israel is apparently willing to agree to a temporary settlement freeze in the interest of promoting peace ("Israel Said to Be Open to Settlement Freeze," page A4, by Ethan Bronne r, June 29, 2009). Which is the bigger news story? Why does the Post prefer to bash Israel with stories that portray Israel as an obstacle to peace rather than report serious breaking news that paints Israel as being willing to make remarkable sacrifices to promote peace? 

(8) The choice of story subject itself reflects the anti-Israel bias of the Post's reporters. Why has the Post been focusing on the settlement issue while completely ignoring Israeli concerns? 

Why does the Post take no interest in concerns such as those expressed in the New York Times yesterday by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who observed that "Many Israelis fear that what Palestinians want is not two states but two stages," a reference to the Palestinians' so-called "stages" plan, first publicly enunciated by Yasser Arafat back in 1974?

Why are there never any Post stories about the plight of the nearly 900,000 Jews who were forcibly expelled from Arab countries after 1948 or of the few Jews who have remained behind -- an issue covered by the San Francisco Chronicle this Sunday ("Jews in Syria Say Life Easier, But Few Are Left," by Brooke Anderson, June 28, 2009, p. A8)? 

Or about the Palestinians' systematic use of schools, summer camps, mosques and children's television shows to indoctrinate hatred of Jews among their population and encourage support for suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians -- an issue to which the New York Times last year gave front-page coverage, ("In Gaza, Hamas's Insults to Jews Complicate Peace" by Steven Erlanger, April 1, 2008, p. A1), but which the Post has noted in print only once, in a single Associated Press wire story that it buried deep in its entertainment section, with the implication being that this was not even a serious news story ("Mickey Mouse 'Twin' Killed on Hamas TV," by AP, page C7

(II) This story comes just a few days after the Post news article "Netanyahu's Peace Stipulation" (June 24) which was likewise rife with numerous errors and omissions: 

(1) The June 24 story erred in portraying the demand for recognition of Israel as a Jewish homeland as something new and unprecedented, when in fact it is not. To the contrary, both the 1917 Balfour Declaration and 1920 League of Nations mandate explicitly referred to the goal of creating a "national home for the Jewish people." United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 -- the Nov. 29, 1947 U.N. partition resolution that created Israel -- likewise provided explicitly in its text that "independent Arab and Jewish States ... shall come into existence." Moreover, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state has been a demand of previous Israeli leaders, including then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during negotiations last year. 

(2) The article also erred in referring to "the 1948 war that led to Israel's creation." The war did not lead to Israel's creation -- it was a violent response to it. On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence. The next day, the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon invaded Israel with the declared aim of annihilating it. To suggest otherwise, as the Post story does, is to manipulate facts in order to undermine Israel's very legitimacy. 

(3) Finally, the article mentioned "the 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced to leave their homes," but failed to note that most left at the request of Arab countries in order to facilitate Israel's destruction, and that those Arabs who stayed behind were embraced as full citizens of Israel, and today they number more than one million and enjoy more rights than the Arab residents of any Arab country in the world. 

By contrast, the article made no mention of the nearly 900,000 Jews who were forcibly expelled from Arab countries (virtually the entire Jewish population of the Arab world), or for that matter, of the nearly one million Jews who have left Israel for the United States, Canada, Europe and elsewhere since its creation in response to Arab wars and terrorism. Again, this is an issue that Post news reporters have refused to report. So far as I can recall, it has been touched upon in the Post only once, in passing, in a column by Richard Cohen titled "A War Hamas Caused," January 6, 2009, page A13, which noted the "approximately 750,000 Israelis living in the United States" who "often with considerable pain ... have given up on the country of their birth" because Hamas won't allow Israelis to live a normal life. These are truly the Middle East's forgotten refugees -- forgotten by the world and, in particular, by the Post. 

The Post's anti-Israel bias is undeniable, persistent, and shameful. It is time that you acknowledged and condemned it. 

Stephen A. Silver 
San Francisco, CA


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Washington Post Again Reveals Anti-Israel Agenda By Failing To Report Former President Jimmy Carter's Statements That Gush Etzion Settlement Block In West Bank Should Remain After Any Final Peace Agreement

From: Leo Rennert 
To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
      Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
      Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
      Donald Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman Of The Board, Washington Post
      Howard Schneider, Reporter
Subject: Washington Post Misses Biggest News Of Carter's Mideast Visit -- Agrees With Israel On West Bank Borders
Date: June 17, 2009

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

In its June 17 editions, the Washington Post provides ample coverage of Jimmy Carter's visit to Gaza, during which the former president unleashed one of his usual attacks on Israel, "Carter Decries Gaza Curbs, Asks Israel to Halt 'Abuse.' ''

This is not the first time, of course, that Carter has had cozy chats with Hamas leaders and taken the occasion to berate Israel's relations with the Palestinians. Still, I would have no problem from a journalistic standpoint to see Carter's latest anti-Israel pronouncements featured in your news pages, if you had paid at least similar attention to the far more newsworthy comments of the former president during his June 14 visit to the Gush Etzion settlement near Jerusalem.

Gush Etzion is just across the 1949 armistice line and thus comes within the purview of Palestinian demands that Israel must give up Gush Etzion and the rest of the entire West Bank and retreat completely to the pre-1967 lines. Successive Israeli governments, however, have insisted -- with U.S. backing from Clinton to Bush -- that Gush Etzion and similar major Israeli population centers situated near the old pre-1967 line, like Ma'ale Adumim, must remain a permanent part of Israel.

Yet, here's what Carter, no slouch in criticizing Israel, said during his Sunday visit with an Israeli family in Gush Etzion:

"This particular settlement is NOT one I envision ever being abandoned or changed into a Palestinian territory. This is part of the close settlements to the 1967 line that I think will be here FOREVER."

Carter also told reporters that he had gained a "fresh perspective" as a result of his visit to Gush Etzion.

Yet, the Post chose not to publish a single line about Carter's support for Israel's position on final borders for a two-state solution when it comes to drawing the boundaries of the West Bank. Here's Carter diametrically at odds with Mahmoud Abbas and the Arab "peace" plan, and somehow your newspaper doesn't deem this development to be newsworthy. Carter's comments in Gush Etzion fit perfectly the man-bites-dog definition of journalistic newsworthiness. It's the last thing one would have expected him to say.

But when Carter recycles some of his usual acerbic comments about Israel, the Post finds ample space to convey those to its readers.

How do you explain this inversion of what constitutes real news?

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Friday, June 26, 2009

Washington Post Provides Cheering Section For Obama's Chastisement Of Israel Over Construction Within Existing Settlement Boundaries In Order To Accommodate Natural Growth

President Obama's decision to publicly confront Israel over construction within existing boundaries of large settlements - settlements which both sides in past negotiations have acknowledged would remain - and obtain a notch on his belt to show off to the anti-Israel crowd, ignited a feeding frenzy within the anti-Israel press, led by the Washington Post. 

Within just a recent 4 day period the Post ran 3 attack pieces against Israel. 

The Post on Sunday, June 14, ran an opinion piece by Daniel Kurtzer, former US ambassador to Israel, attacking a previous op-ed column by Charles Krauthammer. (The Settlement Facts, 6-14-09) Kurtzer's piece was a hatchet job against Israel. It adhered to the legalistic, albeit undiplomatic, unfriendly and dishonorable position of the Obama administration, that past understandings between the US and Israel are non-binding on the US if they weren't reduced to writing. With Elliot Abrams of the Bush administration confirming that such understandings existed and formed the basis for years of relations between Israel and the US, the legalistic argument is a weak response, leaving habitual opponents of all settlements, such as Kurtzer, unable to justify the harsh Obama reversal.  Kurtzer denigrated Israel's position on the need to build within existing settlement boundaries as "nonsense," telling young Jewish parents in the large settlement blocks they should just move out of the settlements if having a baby creates the need to add a room onto a home:

"This is nonsense. No one suggests that Israelis stop having babies. Rather, the blessing of a new baby does not translate into a right to build more apartments or houses in settlements. The two issues have nothing to do with each other. Israelis, like Americans, move all the time when life circumstances -- children, jobs, housing availability -- change. "

Three days later the Post ran two pieces further attacking Israel. 

Harold Meyerson wrote an op-ed column full of deception, exaggeration and bitterness toward Israel. (Netanyahu Feels The Heat, 6-17-09)

"The Israeli role in the Palestinian disaster has eroded American Jewish identification with Israel."

Meyerson, in commenting on Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech, deliberately ignored Netanyahu's commitment not to expand boundaries of existing settlements and not to create any new settlements. Netanyahu in his Bar-Ilan speech, said: 

"The territorial question will be discussed as part of the final peace agreement. In the meantime, we have no intention of building new settlements or of expropriating additional land for existing settlements. But there is a need to enable the residents to live normal lives, to allow mothers and fathers to raise their children like families elsewhere." (Address by PM Netanyahu at Bar-Ilan University, June 14, 2009

Yet Meyerson ignored this commitment and deliberately sought to conceal the real issue, which is internal, natural growth within existing boundaries:

"The Obama administration, Democrats on the Hill who have long championed Israel's interests and a clear majority of American Jews all view the growth of the settlements as a major impediment to a two-state solution, and, therefore, a threat to Israel's long-term survival."

Note the deception in the following quote when Meyerson tries to cast the issue as outward expansion, rather than natural, internal growth within existing boundaries:

"The Israeli government speaks of the 'natural growth' of the settlements, but, says Queens Democrat Gary Ackerman, 'having children can't be an excuse to expand a settlement. Neither side should be expanding beyond its perimeters or attacking the other side. No expansions, no how, no way, no shticks, no tricks.'"

Ackerman's position is actually consistent with Netanyahu's policy statement, yet Meyerson distorts the facts to make it seem to be a criticism.

Myerson then tries to convince Post readers that American Jewish support for Israel is declining:

"But why the waning of American Jewish identification with Israel over the past few decades? "

"The blame for their [Palestinian] statelessness is surely their own as well as the Israelis', but in time, the Israeli role in the Palestinian disaster has eroded American Jewish identification with Israel."

"By every measure, American Jews remain intensely committed to liberalism and to universal and minority rights. As a democratic state rising on the ashes of the Holocaust, Israel once embodied those values to its supporters, but 42 years of occupation have rendered Israel a state that tests those values more than it affirms them. Its most fervent American Jewish backers, to be found disproportionately among the Orthodox, identify with it for reasons that are more tribal than universal. All of which has created the political space for President Obama to try to craft a resolution to one of the planet's most venerable and dangerous disputes. "

Meyerson's anti-Israel bias and his effort to delegitimize the State of Israel fit neatly within the Post's agenda. The teaser linking to Meyerson's article on the home page of the Post's web site all day on the 17th was: 

America vs. Netanyahu
Meyerson: The Israeli role in the Palestinian disaster has eroded American Jewish identification with Israel. 

On the same day as the Meyerson hatchet job the Post ran what purported to be a news article by Glenn Kessler about an old, 1979 legal opinion of a State Department staff lawyer during the Carter administration. (Old Legal Opinion Raises New Questions, 1979 State Dept. Document Found Israeli Settlements 'Inconsistent' With the Law, 6-17-09)

This wasn't news. It was an effort by Kessler and the Post to resurrect and employ against Israel Carter administration propaganda long since rendered obscure by legal analysis, time and events. With Bush administration officials (e.g., Elliott Abrams) now confirming that Obama is reneging on prior tacit commitments on internal settlement construction, the Post suddenly sought to elevate a staff lawyer's opinion from 30 years previous into an official position of the US. He does this despite President Reagan's subsequent repudiation of the staff lawyer's conclusion. Kessler deals with President Reagan's repudiation by quoting the staff lawyer saying that Ronald Reagan, the President of the United States, wasn't a lawyer. 

" 'Ronald Reagan expressed his opinion. But whatever you think of him, he was obviously not a lawyer.' "

How's that for a brilliant rebuttal? Readers are supposed to ignore what the President of the United States later said about that lawyer's analysis, because President Reagan wasn't a lawyer.

The opinion itself, however, was erroneous when it was first issued and remains erroneous today, because the disputed territories in the West Bank never belonged to Palestinians and therefore never could be considered occupied territory. The West Bank was stateless land captured by Jordan and Egypt during the 1948 War and kept until 1967 with no more right to it than Israel, and the eastern boundaries of Israel between 1948 and 1967 were nothing more than the armistice line at the cessation of fighting at that time. Judge Grossman (a lawyer plus by the Kessler article's standards) comments on the legal issues in the following letter:


From: Herbert Grossman
To: Editor, The Washington Post
Date: June 18, 2009

To the Editor:

Rather than discuss the merits of whether Jewish settlements in the West Bank are legal, in "Old Legal Opinion Raises New Questions" (news, June 17), Glenn Kessler pretends that a legal opinion saying that they are not, drafted in 1979 by a legal adviser to President Jimmy Carter (whose views of the Jewish State become clearer as he ages and his public discourse becomes increasingly shrill and uninhibited) established both the law and U.S. policy on the matter, when all it represents is one man's opinion offered to satisfy his superior's request. 

Moreover, as Kessler must know, Israel's rejection of the prohibitions against transfers of populations contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention is based not only on the claim (which he mentions) that it does not apply to settlers, but more importantly, on its position that the West Bank is not occupied territory (which he does not mention).

And how can it be occupied territory, when the Palestinians' claim to it rests only on its seizure by Jordan in the 1948 war, with no claim of right to it, at a time when it was under a League of Nations' Mandate of 25 years duration, re-adopted by the United Nations Charter and never revoked, to be held in Trust as a homeland for Jews?

If the Jordanian seizure of land legally earmarked for a Jewish state, in an aggressive war to annihilate the Jews of Israel, and held for 19 years, made it Arab land, why didn't Israel's re-capture of the land, in a defensive war in 1967, on behalf of that Jewish state, and now held for 42 years, restore it to its status as Jewish land, to the extent Israel claims it? And, why would the armistice lines adopted to end the 1948 war even be considered as boundaries when the armistice agreements themselves established them merely for demarcating the separation of military forces and forbade their use as even a basis for permanent boundaries?

President Carter's former legal advisor and Kessler are entitled to their own opinions. But they can't expect the government and public to accept them on face value when they are at variance with the facts and the law.

Sincerely,
Judge (ret.) Herbert Grossman, BA Cornell, JD Columbia, LL.M Georgetown


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Post's Agenda Driven News Report Opposes Requiring  Recognition of Israel As Jewish State In Any Peace Deal - Falsely Depicts Israeli Demand As New Condition Invented By Prime Minister Netanyahu

Palestinian Arabs want official recognition of their dubious status as a people culturally and/or ethnically separate from their brethren across the Jordan River or south of Gaza, and in furtherance of this claim they want their own Palestinian state as a homeland. At the same time they insist on cleansing the West Bank of all Jews, and they refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Two states for two peoples? Not to Palestinian Arabs and apparently not to The Washington Post either.


From: Leo Rennert
To:     Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
          Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
          Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
          Donald Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman Of The Board, Washington Post
          Howard Schneider, Reporter
          Ombudsman, Washington Post
Subject: Washington Post Falsifies History In Questioning Israel As A Jewish State
Date: Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

The Washington Post's June 24 edition carries an erroneous report by Jerusalem correspondent Howard Schneider that Benjamin Netanyahu is the first Israeli prime minister to demand that, as part of a final peace settlement, the Palestinians must recognize Israel as Jewish state. (Netanyahu's Peace Stipulation, Israeli Premier Is First to Seek Recognition of Jewish Homeland, 6-24-09, A17)

The headline reads: "Netanyahu's Peace Stipulation -- Israeli Premier Is First to Seek Recognition of Jewish Homeland." Schneider's article -- a classic example of historical distortions -- reinforces the headline by selectively pointing to the Oslo accords of 1993 and the U.S. sponsored Annapolis process of 2007 as not stipulating Israel's Jewish identity.

Schneider then goes on to nail down his false thesis by adding a quote from an erstwhile Oslo negotiator who tells him that insistence on defining Israel as a Jewish state "has never been an Israeli demand."

The inaccuracy of these assertions -- by the headline, by the article and by this Oslo negotiator -- is easily demonstrable. Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu's predecessor as prime minister, repeatedly declared that in launching his negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas last year, he would insist on Palestinian acceptance and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Bibi merely echoed Olmert's negotiating demands. He hasn't broken new ground.

To cite but one example, here's what Olmert, as prime minister, declared on Nov. 11, 2007:  "I do not intend to compromise in any way with the issue of the Jewish state. This will be a condition for our recognition of a Palestinian state."

Strange that Schneider omits any mention of Olmert's negotiating demand that a peace treaty identify Israel as a Jewish state.

Strange also that Schneider makes no mention of similar demands by Tzipi Livni, who served as foreign minister in Olmert's cabinet and succeeded him as head of the centrist Kadima party.

To cite but one example: Livni, in a recent colloquy with France's foreign minister, asserted that Palestinians cannot have it both ways -- to demand a separate state for Palestinians "while opposing the existence of the Jewish nation state."

In his warped and selective history, Schneider goes so far as to mislead Post readers about Kadima's actual position on this issue during Olmert's tenure. In the 15th paragraph of a 19-paragraph article, he throws in this sentence: "An official with the centrist Kadima party, which was in power at the time, said the issue was viewed as something to tackle at the end of talks, NOT SET AS A CENTRAL CONDITION."

That obviously doesn't tally with Olmert's and Livni's repeated public declarations that defining Israel as a Jewish state was indeed a CENTRAL CONDITION on their negotiating agenda.

Strange, but also revealing, isn't it, that Schneider would trot out an anonymous Kadima official to feed him a Kadima policy position totally at odds with the official declarations of the party's two top leaders?

Also conspicuously missing from Schneider's piece is the official position of the Obama administration, which from the top down is on record as envisaging a two-state solution that would end up with a "Jewish state of Israel" next to a Palestinian state. President Obama has used this formulation. So has the State Department. So has Obama's special Mideast envoy, George Mitchell.

Just one example: During a June 9 stop in Jerusalem, Mitchell met with Israeli President Shimon Peres and told him that the United States envisages a Palestinian state "side by side in peace and security, with the JEWISH STATE OF ISRAEL."

Strange that there's absolutely nothing in Schneider's piece that Netanyahu, Obama and Mitchell are on the same wave-length when it comes to identifying Israel as a Jewish state. If you're going to delve into the current state of the peace process, one would think that the views of the U.S. president and his special envoy, who obviously are key players, deserve some recognition.

But for Schneider and the Post, it seems that if it doesn't fit their own idea of what should be discussed on the negotiating table, out it goes.

Having mangled and butchered recent history, Schneider is similarly deficient about earlier history.

International validation of Israel as a Jewish state actually goes back to 1947, when the United National General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, which called for a two-state partition of Palestine into "Arab and JEWISH states."

Netanyahu didn't come up with anything that's startling or new. He was merely picking up where the international community left off 62 years ago.

Strange that Schneider failed to pick up on that.

Of course, one shouldn't be surprised since, in the same article, Schneider also inverts the history of that period by writing about 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced to leave their home during the 1948 war "THAT LED TO ISRAEL'S CREATION." The 1948 war FOLLOWED Israel's creation. It was a war AGAINST Israel's founding and existence.. Hundreds of thousands of Arab residents were dislocated not because of Israel's creation but by a war waged by half a dozen Arab armies to exterminate Israel in violation of the UN partition resolution. They were the victims of their own brethren's refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state -- a position that hasn't changed since then.

Either in the region. Or at the Washington Post.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Monday, June 15, 2009

Post Reporter Doesn't Like Prime Minister Netanyahu's Conditions For A Palestinian State, Demilitarization and Recognition of Israel As Jewish Homeland, And Lets Readers Know His Opinion

The Post's Jerusalem correspondent, Howard Schneider, left little doubt as to how he felt about Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech on Sunday when he stated in paragraph 2 of what purports to be a "news" report:

But in a prime-time address delivered at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv, he [Netanyahu] attached a weighty list of conditions dictated by his personal beliefs and by the need to satisfy his right-leaning coalition in the Israeli parliament: The Palestinian state would have to be demilitarized, with international guarantees that it remain so; it would have to cede control of its airspace to Israel; and it could be created only if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland. (Netanyahu Backs 2-State Goal, Endorsement Comes With Prerequisites for Palestinians, Monday, June 15, 2009,  A9)

Leo Rennert elaborates in the following letter to Marcus Brauchli, the Post's Executive Editor:


From: Leo Rennert
To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
      Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
      Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
      Donald Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman Of The Board, Washington Post
      Howard Schneider, Reporter
      Ombudsman, Washington Post
Subject: Washington Post Article On Netanyahu Speech -- With Anti-Bibi, Pro-Palestinian Spin
Date: June 15, 2009

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

In his June 15 article on Prime Minister Netanyahu's foreign-policy address, Jerusalem correspondent Howard Schneider writes in his second paragraph that the Israeli leader attached a "weighty list of conditions" to his two-state offer to the Palestinians.

But before telling Post readers what these conditions are, Schneider first feels a need to point out that these conditions are "dictated by his (Netanyahu's) personal beliefs and by the need to satisfy his right-leaning coalition in the Israeli parliament."

Gosh, what else would you expect from a democratically elected leader but that his agenda accords with his personal beliefs and reflects the elected party or parties that make up his government? When President Obama unveils a major policy initiative, does the Post find it necessary before even reporting the contents of his plan to emphasize that it reflects Obama's personal beliefs and his need to satisfy the Democratic Party's agenda?

Schneider's insertion of his own explanations of what prompted Netanyahu's address before telling readers about Netanyahu's conditions for Palestinian statehood is either totally superfluous or, because he ranks it so high, a suggestion that Netanyahu somehow may have had some questionable, ulterior motives in what he ended up offering the Palestinians.

Either way, this is exactly the kind of personal spin and subjective filter that bugs readers the most about a lot of current journalism. Every survey shows that readers instead want a Sgt. Friday-type reporting -- just the facts, ma'am -- and let THEM make up their own minds.

Even when Schneider eventually gets to the "facts" in Netanyahu's address, he stumbles some more. Schneider, for example, reports that, following Netanyahu's address, there remains a disagreement between Israel and the White House over settlements. "Netanyahu," Schneider writes, "did not commit to a freeze" of West Bank settlements, as desired by Obama.

If Schneider had greater respect for the "facts," he should have quoted exactly and accurately Netanyahu, who declared that Israel is freezing settlements at their current number, freezing expansion of settlements, and freezing any further appropriation of West Bank land for settlements. At the same time, Netanyahu declared that Israel will continue to build WITHIN EXISTING settlements. Thus, a factual report would have informed Post readers that, when it comes to settlements, Obama and Netanyahu differ only about more home construction inside settlements, while agreeing on a settlement "freeze" in every other respect. By his short, glib statement that Netanyahu "did not commit to a freeze," Schneider distorted the real and full "facts" of this issue.

Schneider did no better when it comes to fair, even-handed reporting when he gets around to contrasting Israeli and Palestinian positions. While his article calls attention to remaining issues between Netanyahu and Obama, he totally fails to inform readers about disagreements between Obama and Palestinian leaders in the West Bank.

Just one example: Schneider quotes Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat as criticizing Netanyahu's speech for being "in total defiance" of Obama's agenda. He also quotes Erekat as rejecting Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. But Schneider conspicuously fails to connect the dots that Erekat is in "total defiance" of Obama when he rejects Israel as a Jewish state because this is exactly the outcome Obama envisions. Right after the speech, the White House issued a statement that Obama is "committed to two states, a JEWISH state of Israel and an independent Palestine." Who disagrees with whom now?

If you're going to zero in on Netanyahu-Obama disagreements, fairness requires you to zero in on Palestinian-Obama disagreements. Yet, Schneider nowhere mentions that the Palestinian Authority rejection of Israel as a Jewish state goes counter to Obama's agenda.

Similarly, Schneider fails to point out that Netanyahu, in his speech, called for "immediate" negotiations with the Palestinians "without pre-conditions." Again, this is exactly what Obama wants. Yet, Schneider fails to point out that Mahmoud Abbas and Erekat have refused to start negotiations until Israel bows to their demands for an absolute settlement freeze and an unqualified acceptance of a two-state solution. Here again, the Palestinians are at odds with Obama, but Schneider doesn't pick up on that either.

So, his article ends up hyping Netanyahu-Obama disagreements, while censoring Palestinian-Obama disagreements.

Not exactly the kind of responsible, objective journalism you claim for the Post.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Friday, May 29, 2009

Post Constructs False Image Of Mahmoud Abbas As Legitimate Historian And Man Of Peace While Turning Blind Eye To His Background Of Bloodshed, Terrorism, Extremism, Holocaust Denial And Holocaust Mockery As Well As His Current Support Of Genocide In Darfur

From: Stephen A. Silver 
To: Ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, <ombudsman@washpost.com>
CC: Scott Wilson <wilsons@washpost.com>
CC: Howard Schneider <schneiderh@washpost.com> 
Date: May 29, 2009
Subject: May 27 Post news article 

Dear Mr. Alexander: 

I'd like to call your attention to a Washington Post news article, "Abbas's Credibility Problem: U.S. Sees Bolstering Palestinian Leader as Key to Mideast Peace" (May 27, p. A10, by Howard Schneider), which exhibited extreme bias in its selective recitation of facts and its portrayal of the Palestinian leader as a dovish peace negotiator and legitimate historian. 

The article portrayed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a man of peace, the embodiment of a "moderate course," whose credibility "is wholly tied to" peace negotiations and whose biggest problem is that he is perceived by many Palestinians as "a U.S. proxy." It pointedly put the onus on Israel and the United States to support Mr. Abbas, while completely omitting any reason why an Israeli government interested in peace might have difficulty reaching an agreement with him. This, in turn, placed Israel in an unfair light in the eyes of the Post's readers, since they will inevitably draw the conclusion that Israel must be to blame for the failure to achieve peace with the "moderate" Mr. Abbas. 

In fact, the article blatantly deceived readers about Mr. Abbas's views and background in several respects, and essentially whitewashed his vile history of terrorism, anti-Semitism, and hard-line positions on key peace issues. 

For example, the article stated that Mr. Abbas was "trained as a lawyer and historian" and "came to power from a career spent burrowing into the fine points of peace talks." It also quoted Ghassan Khatib, a Palestinian analyst and founder of the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, as saying: "He [Mr. Abbas] is not a man of resistance. He is not a man of fighting. He is a man of negotiation." This made Mr. Abbas sound like a man of peace whose past was not stained with bloodshed, terrorism, or extremism. 

But in fact, Mr. Abbas spent his early career as a terrorist, his recent comments show that he continues to view terrorism as a legitimate means of struggle, and his only published work on history is his Ph.D. dissertation, which belittled and denied aspects of the Holocaust. 

First of all, Mr. Abbas was a co-conspirator in the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre of 11 Israelis, according to Abu Daoud, the mastermind behind the terrorist operation. (Alexander Wolff, "The Mastermind," Sports Illustrated, Aug. 26, 2002). Yet the Post has never acknowledged this fact in a news article. Incidentally, why is it that Sports Illustrated has taken greater interest in reporting this fact than the Post? 

Moreover, Mr. Abbas's 1978 Ph.D. dissertation in "history" at Moscow's Oriental College was a Holocaust-denial screed that was later published in 1983 as a book under the title "The Other Side: The Secret Relations Between Nazism and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement." According to a translation by the respected Simon Wiesenthal Center, Mr. Abbas argued that the Zionists were in fact allies of the Nazis. He mocked the genocide of 6 million Jews as "The Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed." He denied that gas chambers were used to kill any Jews and suggested that the number of Jews killed could have been "only a few hundred thousand." Moreover, he asserted that those Jews who did die were actually the victims of a Zionist plot designed to manufacture victims. Mr. Abbas wrote: "The Zionist movement led a broad campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule to arouse the government's hatred of them, to fuel vengeance against them and to expand the mass extermination." 

Both the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies have called on Mr. Abbas to repudiate these statements. He refuses to do so. 

Incidentally, Mr. Schneider is not the first Post reporter to conspicuously avoid acknowledging this inconvenient fact about Mr. Abbas's personal history. On two occasions ("A Leader's Conflicting Impulses," May 10, 2003; "Abbas, Though Out of Arafat's Shadow, Faces Familiar Obstacles," Jan. 16, 2005) former Post reporter Molly Moore penned articles profiling Mr. Abbas in which she expressly lauded him as having received a doctorate in history from Moscow's Oriental College. However, both times she avoided any mention of the vile Holocaust-revisionist subject matter of his doctoral dissertation. Indeed, so far as I am aware, the Post has NEVER mentioned this fact in a news article. Why is that? 

Nor has Mr. Abbas moderated any of his hard-line views over time. In an interview published last year in the Jordanian daily Al-Dustur, he proclaimed himself "honored" to have fired the first bullet for the terrorist organization Fatah in 1965 ("I had the honor of firing the first shot in 1965 and of being the one who taught resistance to many in the region and around the world ... ."); boasted that he essentially trained Hezbollah ("we taught everyone what resistance is, including the Hezbollah, who were trained in our camps"); and explained that his rejection of terrorism as a means of struggle was merely tactical and temporary ("At this present juncture, I am opposed to armed struggle because we cannot succeed in it, but maybe in the future things will be different"). ("Abbas: 'Armed resistance not ruled out'," Jerusalem Post, Feb. 28, 2008

Mr. Abbas has also recently defended Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, in the wake of the latter's indictment by the International Criminal Court for sponsoring the Darfur genocide. According to an April 1, 2009, Post editorial titled "In Defense of Genocide: An Arab summit embraces the butcher of Darfur" (p. A20), the Post quoted Mr. Abbas as saying: "We must also take a decisive stance of solidarity alongside fraternal Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir." The Post editorial took Mr. Abbas to task over his hypocrisy, contrasting Mr. Abbas's outrage over Israeli settlements with his support for the indicted war criminal al-Bashir, noting that "the United Nations has reported more than 300,000 civilian deaths in Darfur as a result of the genocidal campaign sponsored by Mr. Bashir. Scores of villages have been systematically burned, and thousands of women systematically raped." The editorial suggested that "the next time he utters the phrase 'double standard' in the presence of a U.S. diplomat, we suggest a query about Mr. Bashir." 

But Post news reporters have failed to acknowledge this quote displaying Mr. Abbas's willingness to indulge a racist genocide as a legitimate means of action by a political ally. And the fawning May 27 article on Mr. Abbas curiously omitted any mention of it. 

As for the peace process, Mr. Abbas nominally supports a "two-state solution," which in theory qualifies him as a "moderate." But his cynical demand for mass Arab immigration to Israel -- the so-called "right of return" -- is calculated to create Palestinian majorities in both states, which is hardly a recipe for peace. (The Post's May 29, 2009 article "Obama Pushes Israel On Settlement Issue," by Glenn Kessler, came closer to acknowledging this position, noting that "In November [2008], [then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert offered to withdraw from 90 percent of the West Bank, while swapping 6.5 percent of the West Bank for 5.8 percent of Israeli territory and establishing a corridor linking the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, according to an account recently given by senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat to Agence France-Presse. Holy places in Jerusalem would have shared sovereignty under that plan." The May 29 Post article said Mr. Abbas rejected the peace offer "because Olmert did not answer questions about water issues and the treatment of refugees, [according to Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat]," but avoided acknowledging that Abbas was unwilling to compromise on a right-of-return formula designed to ensure an eventual Arab majority in Israel proper.)

Mr. Abbas also insists on exclusive Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount, Jerusalem's holiest Jewish site -- a fact not acknowledged in either the May 27 or May 29 Post news articles. Moreover, in 2000, he stood with Yasser Arafat in opposing all of President Clinton's Camp David compromise peace proposals. And in recent weeks, Mr. Abbas has reiterated his opposition to ever recognizing Israel as a predominantly Jewish state. For example, at a Palestinian Youth Parliament conference in Ramallah in April 2009, he said: "I say this clearly: I do not accept the Jewish State, call it what you will." Palestinian Media Watch noted that "At the end of the conference, Abbas was presented with a large framed map of 'Palestine,' covering the entire area of Israel," and smiled while holding up the map for photographers. A photograph of Mr. Abbas smiling while displaying the map was displayed prominently on the front pages of both Palestinian Authority daily newspapers. (Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook, "Mahmoud Abbas: 'I do not accept the Jewish State, call it what you will'," Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin, April 28, 2009

So, Mr. Alexander, I respectfully ask you the following: 

In light of the numerous facts contradicting the Post article's portrayal of Mr. Abbas as a man of peace -- a man whose background supposedly consisted of being merely a peace negotiator and legitimate historian -- that were conspicuously omitted from the article, do you personally believe the Post's May 27 article was truly fair, impartial, and not biased? Do you believe that these inconvenient FACTS that I have tried to bring to your attention about Mr. Abbas's past and present extremist statements and publicly expressed beliefs and positions should have been omitted from the article? Or do you believe that the Post, in this instance as in others, failed in its essential mission to fairly and impartially inform the public about the subject it covered? 

And perhaps more to the point, do you believe that this is something deserving of attention and constructive criticism in your column? Or do you believe that where a Post article is shown to have failed to include important and relevant facts, in a manner which suggests bias, that this should go unacknowledged by the newspaper's reporters, editors, and reader's representative? 

I hope you will not ignore my concerns or try to placate me with a pat answer, as you have done in response to my previous emails expressing concern about anti-Israel bias in Post news articles. I am asking for -- and would sincerely appreciate -- your honest opinion about the concerns I have raised about this Post article. 

Very truly yours, 

Stephen A. Silver 
San Francisco, CA 


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Post Seeks to Drum Up Controversy In US-Israel Summit By Filing False and Misleading News Report

Apparently disappointed that sparks didn't fly, the Post's former Jerusalem correspondent, Scott Wilson, who had a long history of filing distorted news reports when he was stationed in Israel, sought to place his own spin on yesterday's Netanyahu-Obama summit by filing another false and misleading news report. (Emphasis Differs for Obama, Netanyahu - For Israel, Iran Supersedes Peace Effort, Tuesday, 5-19-09) Leo Rennert's letter below illustrates Mr. Wilson's spin. Readers wishing to see just how little controversy there was can review the comments of President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu in their press conference after their meeting. (Remarks By President Obama And Prime Minister Netanyahu Of Israel, White House Office of the Press Secretary, 5-18-09)


From: Leo Rennert
To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
Donald Graham, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman Of The Board, Washington Post
Scott Wilson, Reporter, Washington Post
Ombudsman, Washington Post
Subject: Washington Post Falsifies Netanyahu Peace Strategy
Date: May 19, 2009

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

In its May 19 edition, the Washington Post runs an article about the Obama-Netanyahu summit that vastly exaggerates their differences over Iran and Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, "Emphasis Differs for Obama, Netanyahu -- For Israel, Iran Supersedes Peace Effort." Scott Wilson, the Post's reporter, fails to give readers an accurate account of the positions of both leaders. Instead, he substitutes his own spin, including some gross distortions and notable omissions of some of the two leaders' key approaches to Mideast issues.

Perhaps the biggest howler in Wilson's piece is his assertion that Netanyahu conditioned the start of peace talks on Palestinians first making important concessions. As Wilson puts it: "For peace talks to begin, Netanyahu said, the Palestinians must first recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and allow Israel the means to defend itself."

That just isn't so. Netanyahu indeed did lay down markers of what he expects a final settlement to look like, but not as pre-conditions for talks. Instead, he made it clear that he's ready for immediate negotiations without pre-conditions. When he enumerated various things he expects from the Palestinians, he made it plain that he was talking about elements of a "substantive solution" that would cap the peace process.

Said Netanyahu: "I want to start peace negotiations with the Palestinians immediately. If we resume negotiations, as we plan to do, then I think that the Palestinians will have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state; will have to also enable Israel to have the means to defend itself. And if those conditions are met, Israel's security obligation are met, and there's recognition of Israel's legitimacy, then I think we can envision an arrangement where Palestinians and Israelis live side by side in dignity, in security, and in peace."

In that statement, Netanyahu does NOT condition a start of negotiations on Palestinians agreeing to his terms -- as Wilson asserts. The prime minister did nothing more than enunciate his own negotiating demands, just as Obama did in calling for a two-state solution, and as Mahmoud Abbas has in demanding a total Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines, including the division of Jerusalem.

Wilson also fails to give Post readers a full account of Obama's demands on the Palestinians. He merely reports Obama's demand that the Palestinians do a "better job providing the kinds of security assurances that Israelis would need to achieve a two-state solution." But the president was far more demanding than that. Obama also declared: "The leadership of the Palestinians will have to gain additional legitimacy and credibility with their own people, and delivering services. And next week, I will have the Palestinian Authority President Abbas as well as President Mubarak here and I will deliver that message to them."

That's a rather fairly strong vote of no-confidence in Abbas's leadership and in his ability to make good on whatever peace terms might be agreed upon. Yet Wilson -- while enumerating specifically Obama's demands on Israel to stop settlements and improve Gaza's humanitarian situation -- fails to be as specific in enumerating Obama's demands on the Palestinians.

Similarly, Wilson misses the mark in describing Obama's position on Iran's nuclear program when he merely reports that the president declined to set a deadline for Tehran to end it and that he would wait until the end of the year to assess whether his diplomacy toward Tehran is working. The president was much tougher than that. He also said -- and Wilson didn't mention -- that "I assured the prime minister that we are not foreclosing a range of steps, including much stronger international sanctions, in assuring that Iran understands that we are serious. We're not going to have talks forever. We're not going to create a situation in which talks become an excuse for inaction while Iran proceeds with developing and deploying a nuclear weapon."

Those Obama comments go well beyond Wilson's report that Obama will wait until the end of the year to assess whether his diplomacy is working.

In an effort to hype Obama differences with Netanyahu, Wilson quotes anonymous "senior administration sources" as saying before the meeting that "they wanted Netanyahu to pursue peace with the Palestinians, then focus on Iran."

This hardly comports with the president's comments on the record that, as far as Iran's nuclear program and negotiating peace with the Palestinians are concerned, "they're both important And we have to move aggressively on both fronts."

Taking his cue from Obama, Netanyahu similarly declared: "Both come together -- peace and security are intertwined. They're inseparable."

Such comments by both Obama and Netanyahu indicate that Israel and the U.S. can walk and chew at the same time when it comes to tackling the Iranian nuclear threat and peace negotiations with the Palestinians -- belying Wilson's anonymous sources that Obama wants Netanyahu to focus on Iran only after making peace with the Palestinians.

Instead of letting Wilson interpose his own spin, his own filter, his own agenda, readers would have been much better served by an article that accurately and fully reported what Obama and Netanyahu actually said and plan to do.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Washington Post Focuses A Spotlight On Claims Of Hamas And The UN That Israel Deliberately Targeted UN Installations in Gaza, While Downplaying And Ignoring Israel's Exhaustive Investigation And Findings To The Contrary

From: Leo Rennert
To:     Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
          Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
          Ombudsman, Washington Post
Subject: Washington Post Gives Greater Credence To Hamas Than To Israel
Date: May 6, 2009

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

I have no problem with the Post informing its readers about a UN report that accuses Israel of deliberately targeting and firing on UN installations in Gaza ("U.N. Inquiry Finds Israel Purposely Fired on School in Gaza") But I do fault your newspaper for its disproportionate coverage of these accusations, while giving short shrift to an exhaustive Israeli investigation that found there was no deliberate fire on UN or any other civilian targets during the recent Gaza war.

Neither you nor I was in Gaza to render a first-account judgment of what really happened. Neither were any of your correspondents. Nor, for that matter, neither were the UN investigators.

So, what it comes down to is a conflict between two completely contradictory narratives -- not just about what was hit (which can be deduced from observable damage) but more important about the intent of Israeli gunners and/or pilots (a far more difficult area of inquiry since it involves probing the mindset and motivations of Israeli forces during the Gaza operation).

Confronted with this dilemma, the UN investigators turned to two sources -- to Hamas, which rules Gaza, and to Israel, which provided them with all its findings. In the end, the UN inquiry board chose to believe Hamas, a murderous terrorist organization, while rejecting the findings of Israel and its exhaustive investigation, including numerous interviews with soldiers and airmen who actually did the targeting and the firing.

No surprise there. The UN bureaucracy has a long and well-documented record of favoring the Palestinian side over Israel. It is not by any means a neutral, dispassionate, independent source of information when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

More important, given this context, I find the Post's coverage of this controversy egregiously biased against Israel. Here's why:

--When the IDF issued its highly detailed investigative report a couple of weeks ago, the Post brushed it off with three paragraphs, focusing not on its contents and findings, but on self-styled human-rights groups dismissing it as self-serving and calling for additional investigations. So, your first account already spun your coverage against Israel.

--Today, in reporting the UN findings that are highly critical of Israel, you provide Post readers with much more expansive coverage -- 10 paragraphs spread over four columns. Of the 10 paragraphs, only one paragraph far down in the article -- the eighth paragraph, to be precise -- mentions Israel's refutation of what it deems a "patently biased" UN report.

Thus, I would ask you why the Post -- under your direction -- provides its readers with such thoroughly unbalanced coverage that ends up demonizing Israel while swallowing Hamas propaganda funneled through a UN report? Why is it so difficult, yea impossible, for the Post to give Israel's side as much coverage as the Post accords to Israel's detractors and foes?

Incidentally, the New York Times, having covered this issue in far greater detail than your newspaper, today devotes all of two paragraphs to the UN report -- the first paragraph summing up the UN findings and conclusions, and the second paragraph summing up Israel's response. In terms of fair, responsible journalism, the Times has it just about right.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Washington Post Continues Steady Drum Beat of Attacks On Israel and Its Jewish Supporters

Both on its Web site (increasingly taking the place of a declining print edition) and in the print edition itself the Washington Post is continuing a steady drum beat of attacks on Israel and its supporters.

On today's Op-Ed page Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was given abundant space to broadly attack Israel for appearing to no longer be interested in peace, while failing to even once mention the name Hamas, much less the words "rockets," "terrorism," or even the recent "car bomb" disarmed in Haifa and originating in the West Bank ... which happens to be within Erekat's and Abbas's sphere of influence, rather than that of Hamas. (Israel's Step Back From Peace, March 28, 2009, A13)

On Thursday's Op-Ed page Post columnist David Ignatius argued aggressively against charitable deductions for private individuals (read American Jews) donating money to private organizations that support any Israeli activity over the Green Line, ostensibly on the ground that doing so is claimed to work against what Ignatius sees as US foreign policy. Ignatius even cites the organization called the City of David as a "pro-settlement" group because of its activities in East Jerusalem, which Ignatius presumably sees as a settlement. (A Tax Break Fuels Middle East Friction, 3-26-09, A21) It should be noted that Ignatius's articles run regularly in the Arab Press, particularly the Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon. This particular piece ran in the Lebanese newspaper under the headline: "Why Are Americans Allowed To Pay For Israeli Settlements?"

On Wednesday the Post published on its web site a viciously anti-Semitic cartoon by Pat Oliphant using Nazi imagery tied to a giant Jewish Star of David with a mouth and sharp teeth chasing and threatening to devour a tiny Gazan mother and child. It has since been removed from the Post's web site after numerous complaints, including from the ADL and the Wiesenthal Center. (Jewish Groups Call Oliphant Cartoon ‘Anti-Semitic’, March 26, 2009)

Two weeks ago a stridently anti-Israel fellow with extensive ties to Saudi Arabia by the name of Charles Freeman was named to chair the National Intelligence Council in the Obama administration. He stepped down when attention was brought to bear on his demonstrable biases, both on issues pertaining to Israel and on issues pertaining to China. Just so readers will be familiar with what a nasty ideologue this guy was, here are some of his rantings:

"Finally, let me allude briefly to the issue of Israel, a country that has yet to be accepted as part of the Middle East and whose inability to find peace with the Palestinians and other Arabs is the driving factor in the region's radicalization and anti-Americanism. " 
.... 

"Demonstrably, Israel excels at war; sadly, it has shown no talent for peace. " 
.... 

"For almost forty years, Israel has had land beyond its previously established borders to trade for peace. It has been unable to make this exchange except when a deal was crafted for it by the United States, imposed on it by American pressure, and sustained at American taxpayer expense. For the past half decade Israel has enjoyed carte blanche from the United States to experiment with any policy it favored to stabilize its relations with the Palestinians and its other Arab neighbors, including most recently its efforts to bomb Lebanon into peaceful coexistence with it and to smother Palestinian democracy in its cradle." 
.... 

"The suspension of the independent exercise of American judgment about what best serves our interests as well as those of Israelis and Arabs has caused the Arabs to lose confidence in the United States as a peace partner. To their credit, they have therefore stepped forward with their own plan for a comprehensive peace. By sad contrast, the American decision to let Israel call the shots in the Middle East has revealed how frightened Israelis now are of their Arab neighbors and how reluctant this fear has made them to risk respectful coexistence with the other peoples of their region. The results of the experiment are in: left to its own devices, the Israeli establishment will make decisions that harm Israelis, threaten all associated with them, and enrage those who are not." 

"Tragically, despite all the advantages and opportunities Israel has had over the fifty-nine years of its existence, it has failed to achieve concord and reconciliation with anyone in its region, still less to gain their admiration or affection. Instead, with each decade, Israel's behavior has deviated farther from the humane ideals of its founders. 
.... 

"Americans need to be clear about the consequences of continuing our current counterproductive approaches to security in the Middle East. We have paid heavily and often in treasure in the past for our unflinching support and unstinting subsidies of Israel's approach to managing its relations with the Arabs. Five years ago we began to pay with the blood of our citizens here at home. We are now paying with the lives of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines on battlefields in several regions of the realm of Islam, with more said by our government's neoconservative mentors to be in prospect."
http://www.saudi-us-relations.org/articles/2006/ioi/061103-freeman-auspc.html

Although the Post editorial department ran a fair editorial opposed to Charles Freeman's claim that he was forced out due to activities of the "Powerful Israel Lobby" (anti-Semite speak for American Jews who support Israel) the news pages, op-ed pages and web site blog pages of the Post were awash with efforts to depict Freeman's withdrawal from the appointment as the nefarious byproduct of powerful American Jewish interests more concerned with Israel than with the US. 

Post reporter Walter Pincus ran three news articles in a five day period focusing upon the controversy over Freeman's claim that he was forced out by Jews. 

The middle article listed above ran on the front page of the 3-12-09 edition of the Post. It is noteworthy for extensively quoting Mr. Freeman's allegations against the "Israel lobby" while setting forth almost none of the anti-Israel spewings of Mr. Freeman, thereby depriving readers of the chance to fairly judge whether it is good that Mr. Freeman withdrew. Only one very mild quote of Freeman critical of Israel was provided, and none of the above quotes widely available to any reporter was set forth. Mr. Pincus, in an effort to support Mr. Freeman's claim to have been forced out by the Jews aka the Israel Lobby (despite the fact that few Jewish organizations came out publicly against Freeman) elaborated extensively on the blog posts of ex-AIPAC official Steve Rosen, who Mr. Pincus conspicuously explained is under indictment for violating the Espionage Act by leaking intelligence to Israel. For emphasis Pincus actually counted and reported the number of blog posts by Mr. Rosen:

"Rosen's initial posting was the first of 17 he would write about Freeman over a 19-day period."

It's probably not a slip of the pen when Pincus repeatedly refers to Rosen as a former "lobbyist" for AIPAC, when in fact for 23 years he was one of AIPAC's top officials, its Director of Foreign Policy Issues

This Pincus article ran on Thursday, March 12. Not content to limit the amount of attention this front page report gave to the activities of the "Israel Lobby," the Post ran another piece by Pincus in the following Sunday's paper providing news coverage of the news coverage in the Arab press of Freeman's withdrawal. (Mideast Press Questions Obama, Top Intelligence Pick's Pullout Blamed on 'Pro-Israel Hawks', 3-15-2009, A08) Extensive quotation from Arab media outlets referring to the powerful Israel lobby were provided.

There was no shortage of Post op-ed writers and web site opinion authors strongly supportive of Freeman and accusatory of the Israel lobby for spoiling their fun. 

Post columnist David Broder virtually sobbed over the disrespect shown to his "breakfast" companion, a man whose "rhetoric" he agreed "is inflammatory" but who "is low-key, thoughtful and obviously smart as hell." Broder whined that the "lobbyists" are to blame for "running him off." (The Country's Loss, 3-12-09, A19)

David Ignatius wrote the following about the withdrawal of Charles Freeman:

"The chair of the National Intelligence Council, Chas Freeman, steps down. That's a huge loss for a country that needs someone like him to push the envelope on its dangerously narrow foreign policy debate."

"If I was running an intelligence agency... he's the kind of person that I would very much want to sit on a panel like this, precisely because I could count on him to say what he thought regardless of political consequences."
(Post Global, 3-11-09)

Well, thank goodness for Israel that you're not running a panel like this Mr. Ignatius. 

Dan Froomkin of the Post's White House Watch, wrote: 

"I continue to believe that Freeman would have been perfect for that job, which had nothing to do with policy and everything to do with keeping everyone honest. As an iconoclast, gadfly and consummate asker of questions, he was exactly what the intelligence community – and the nation -- needed in that position to prevent another incident of the kind of “conventional wisdom” gone amuck that took us into a misbegotten war." (White House Watch, Battling Over Freeman's Legacy, 3-12-09)

And that sums up the Washington Post's agenda driven staff on matters pertaining to Israel. For every one person within the organization that sees clearly on issues pertaining to Israel, there are nine others strategically positioned to report news, express opinions, write headlines, place articles, select photos and edit who view Israel as an illegitimate rogue state, its supporters as members of a powerful cabal with split loyalties who should be brought to their knees and Palestinians as their pitiful victims. 


Monday, February 9, 2009

Post Editors And Reporters Display Typically Anti-Semitic Bent In Perceiving American Jewish Officials As Acting Out Of Dual Loyalty Toward Israel

From: Mark H. Lazerson
To: Editor, The Washington Post
Date: February 1, 2009
Subject: Extremist and Anti-Semitic Attitudes of Post Editors and Reporters

To the Editor:

Portraying former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s role in the Israeli-Arab conflict as determined by both his Jewish origins and loyalty to Israel rather than to the United States are views normally associated with those holding virulent anti-Semitic prejudices. Nevertheless, Steven Simon - a former National Security Council member – writes in the Book World section of the Washington Post (Feb 7, p.4) that these exact opinions have been expressed in A World of Trouble by Patrick Tyler, a former Washington Post Israel correspondent.

Then in the same Book World issue (p.5), the reviewer of Martin Indyk’s latest book presents the former Ambassador to Israel and advisor to Hillary Clinton as being a persistent advocate of the Israelis while contemptuous and ignorant of the Palestinians. Yet it is incontrovertible that Ambassador Indyk regularly sparred with former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Today he is also deeply distrusted by wide swathes of the Israeli public, who fear opinions such as those he expressed in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, where he lashes out at the American government’s refusal to recognize Hamas. 

But the person writing this extremely dishonest caricature of the also Jewish Mr. Indyk as an Israel tool is not a marginal journalist employed by a far-left blog or a jihadist news outlet. Rather he serves the Washington Post as a deputy foreign editor, after a previous stint reporting from Israel. 

With such former and current journalists who espouse extremist and even anti-Semitic attitudes not only writing for but also editing the Post, it is anything but surprising that the Arab narrative colors almost all its coverage about the Mideast conflict despite endless protestations from the editors about the paper’s balanced reporting. If the Washington Post is really serious about changing its tone, then maybe it should as a first step reassign Mr. Barr to the city desk or somewhere else where his biases against Israel will be effectively neutered. 

Sincerely,

Mark H. Lazerson


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Investigation Reveals Palestinian And UN Report that Israel Shelled UN School in Gaza Killing 43 Palestinians Was False - Will The Post Now Issue Correction?

From: Robert G. Samet
To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
      Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
      Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
      Griff Witte, Reporter, Washington Post
      Ombudsman, Washington Post
Date: February 1, 2009
Subject: Will The Post Correct The Prior Erroneous Report That Israel Targeted and Hit A School?

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

During the recent Israeli military action in Gaza it was widely reported that Israel shelled a school that was doubling as a shelter for Palestinians, resulting in the deaths of more than 40 Palestinian civilians. The Washington Post ran a front page article and headline blaring "Israel Hits U.N.-Run School in Gaza." The lead sentence of the article stated: "Israeli soldiers battling Hamas gunmen in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday fired mortar shells at a U.N.-run school where Palestinians had sought refuge from the fighting, killing at least 40 people, many of them civilians, Palestinian medical officials said." 

In a separate article in the interior of the paper on the same day the Post reported: "Israeli artillery hit another U.N. shelter located in a school inside the Jabalya refugee camp. At least 40 people died in the strike." 

It now appears that it was all a lie generated by Palestinians and UN representatives intent on manipulating the media to damage Israel's reputation. The shells didn't strike the school. They landed in the street. There were a few injuries inside the school from shrapnel but no deaths. The 43 deaths were of people in the street when the shells struck. You can read about the details from this Gaza strip dispatch: "Account Of Israeli Attack Doesn't Hold Up To Scrutiny" (Globe & Mail, Thursday, 1-29-09

If readers of the Washington Post are ever to learn that Israel did NOT shell a school at all, much less deliberately, a prominent follow up news story is required. Although this won't erase the terrible damage done to Israel's reputation, at least Post readers will learn of another instance where Palestinians, with the help of UN representatives, fed falsified information to the media and Post readers will learn of the pro-Palestinian tilt that leads UN representatives to participate in such anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian charades. Note that the Globe & Mail article reports that UN representatives went around and told Palestinian civilians not to talk to the media. 

The media fails to independently investigate these falsified reports and overnight blasts them into headlines around the world. With the media feverish for sensational headlines of Israeli cruelty, Israeli spokespersons must respond immediately to trumped up charges of brutality before they have time to investigate, which in this instance resulted in a false admission that the school was hit because Hamas terrorists were firing from within. 

The entire mendacious episode is a story worth telling, not only to correct the false reporting, but also for the historical context of the ongoing manipulation of the media by Palestinians and their supporters.

One has to wonder, however, whether Mr. Witte or any other Post correspondent still in Israel recognizes the need to set the record straight and revise the story or is only too satisfied to leave Post readers with this mistaken impression contributing to the image of Israeli brutality. This is only too reminiscent of the media fiasco over the non-existent Jenin massacre.

Robert G. Samet


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Washington Post Reporter Conspicuously Silent on  Pro-Israel Statements By Obama in Al-Arabiya Interview and Clinton In First News Conference

From: Leo Rennert
To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
      Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
      Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
      Karen DeYoung, Reporter, Washington Post
      Ombudsman, Washington Post
Date: January 28, 2009
Subject: WASHINGTON POST CENSORS OBAMA'S, CLINTON'S ISRAEL-SUPPORT PRONOUNCEMENTS

On Tuesday, January 27, President Obama, speaking to millions of Arabs and Muslims via Al-Arabiya TV, declared that Israel is a ''STRONG ALLY'' of the U.S. and that Israel's "SECURITY IS PARAMOUNT.'' (see full transcript)

The President also credited Israel with a readiness to make sacrifices toward a permanent peace deal -- but only "if the time is appropriate and there is evidence of a SERIOUS PARTNERSHIP" on the other side.

And while praising the Saudi peace plan, Obama cautioned that he "might not agree with every aspect" -- a position in sync with Israel's. 

As for suggestions that he might try to exert strong pressure on Israel, Obama emphasized that the U.S. cannot and will not dictate a final agreement. That, he indicated, must be worked out in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians -- again a position in sync with Israel's.

Yet, the Washington Post ran a January 28 article by Karen DeYoung about the Al Arabiya interview, "Obama Extends Hand to Arabs and Muslims," WITHOUT ANY MENTION OF OBAMA'S STRONG ISRAEL-SUPPORT STATEMENTS.

NOT ONE WORD. Yet, one would think that it's rather newsworthy when a new American president, in a broadcast to the Arab/Muslim world, unqualifiedly points to America's alliance with the Jewish state and the priority he attaches to its basic security.

But it gets even worse.

While Obama was on Al-Arabiya, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held her first news conference, in which she also voiced strong support for Israel. (see full transcript)

For example, Clinton noted that rocket fire from Gaza was "getting closer to population areas" in Israel and ''CANNOT GO UNANSWERED" -- an endorsement of Israel's rationale for its recent war on Hamas.

Clinton also directly slammed Hamas. Instead of "provoking Israel's right to self-defense," she said, Hamas should instead work toward "a better future for the people of Gaza."

She also noted the first violation of the cease-fire on January 26, saying the truce "receded" because of an "offensive action" from Gaza across the border against the IDF.

Asked about the plight of Palestinian civilians, she expressed U.S. concern about civilians on BOTH SIDES, adding this was the reason for "why we support Israel's right of self-defense" -- again an administration endorsement of Israel's rationale for counter-terrorism operations.

As for aid to Gaza, Clinton signaled the administration's intent to keep Hamas isolated by declaring that, while U.S. assistance to the Palestinians will be increased, all of it will be channeled to the Palestinian Authority -- not to Hamas.

While Karen DeYoung in her January 28 article also reported on Clinton's news conference, she again failed to mention all these pro-Israel, anti-Hamas comments by the Secretary of State.

NOT ONE WORD.

But it gets even worse.

In line with the Post's predilection for sanitizing Hamas, DeYoung inaccurately reports that "violence erupted again IN THE GAZA STRIP BY BOTH HAMAS AND ISRAEL, the worst since an uneasy cease-fire was declared more than a week ago after 22 days of fighting."

There are 2 glaring errors in this sentence. In the first place, violence ERUPTED ON THE ISRAELI SIDE when Gaza terrorists activated a bomb and killed an IDF soldier inside Israel. It was only AFTER this cross-border attack that Israel retaliated. Secondly, by pairing Hamas and Israeli violence, DeYoung censors for Post readers the indisputable fact that the cease-fire breach originated from the Hamas side.

Here's another glaring error in her story: DeYoung describes the Saudi peace plan as calling for normalized Arab ties with Israel in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from territory occupied since 1967. But she completely erases the real killer provision in the Saudi plan, which would require Israel also to accept a "right of return" for millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to places in Israel -- thus eliminating Israel as a Jewish state. No wonder Obama told Al Arabiya that he might disagree with some aspects of the Saudi plan.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Washington Post Bolsters Hamas By Depicting It As Not Significantly Weakened By War, By Burying Evidence of Discontent Among Gazans With Hamas And By Portraying Israeli Campaign As Failure

From: Leo Rennert
To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
      Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
      Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
      Griff Witte, Reporter, Washington Post
      Jonathan Finer, Reporter, Washington Post
      Ombudsman, Washington Post
Date: January 24, 2009
Subject: WASHINGTON POST TRIPS OVER ITS OWN ANTI-ISRAEL, PRO-HAMAS SPIN

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

In its January 24 editions, the Washington Post features at the top of the front page a four-column color photo of Gazans reaching for food handouts under a headline that reads: "Grim Conditions in Gaza FAIL TO DIM SUPPORT FOR HAMAS." See: http://tinyurl.com/czanbe

The headline and the accompanying article (Battered Gaza Still In the Grip Of Hamas,
Islamist Group Retains Strength Despite War, 1-24-09 A07
) by Post correspondents Griff Witte and Jonathan Finer are flawed in several respects:

1. The headline is wrong and essentially refuted by Gaza residents and a Palestinian analyst interviewed by your own correspondents who wrote the ensuing article.

2. The article is wrong in leaving an erroneous impression that the 22-day campaign failed to meet Israeli objectives because Hamas still holds sway in Gaza.

3. The article also is wrong in impugning Israel's motive for going into Gaza to halt rocket attacks.

4. And it is wrong in reporting Hamas's denial of tough intimidation tactics against Fatah members without your correspondents checking out the actual facts.

Let's examine these flaws in greater detail.

1. The front-page headline claiming that Israel failed to dim Hamas support in Gaza is contradicted in the article which notes a "fear that MANY feel in speaking out against the group." While the first half of the article is dominated by quotes from staunch Hamas supporters, there is testimony from other Gazans in the latter half of the article that slams Hamas and reflects widespread personal fear of retaliation for speaking out. Of course, these anti-Hamas comments don't start to appear in the article until PARAGRAPH 15, so this perhaps accounts for the fact that your headline writer never read them when he wrote the blazing front-page headline that Hamas's support among Gazans remains solid. 

In fact, when one finally gets to PARAGRAPH 24 (in a 26-paragraph article) which most readers probably also missed, we find views expressed by Abu Sada, a professor at Gaza's al-Azhar University, that are completely at odds with the headline's boast that support for Hamas has not been dented -- "Hamas knows it was beaten badly in the war," he says, and "it is unlikely to do anything to provoke more conflict because of the heavy toll on the civilian population. Hamas is declaring victory, but in reality it is a CATASTROPHE. The massive destruction that Israel inflicted will make Hamas and any other Palestinian group think twice before launching rockets in the future."

So I ask you, Mr. Brauchli, how do you square the clear perception of a Hamas CATASTROPHE in your own paper with a front-page headline boasting that Hamas's support in Gaza remains undimmed? 

It also makes one wonder that the very same two dozen paragraphs that comprise the entire article could give exactly the opposite impression if their order of presentation was reversed. In other words, if the Witte-Finer piece began with Abu Sada's statement and the grassroots grousing against Hamas, you could have featured a front-page headline blaring about a Hamas CATASTROPHE instead of an unvanquished Hamas.

This is an article that glaringly contradicts itself, except that pro-Hamas findings are deliberately put at the top, while anti-Hamas findings are deliberately left until the end so as to spare Hamas as little embarrassment as possible.

2. The article further errs in suggesting to readers that the Israeli mission failed because Hamas remains in control of Gaza "despite the hopes of Israeli officials who have theorized that their military campaign could ultimately spur Palestinians to rise up against Hamas rule."

The fact is that such expansive hopes were completely ruled out by Israeli leaders at the outset of the 22-day campaign. Israel explicitly told the world that regime change was NOT an objective, and the only aims of the Gaza incursion were to halt rocket attacks and halt weapons smuggling operations. In fact, it was precisely because the objectives were so limited that the decision to proceed with the military campaign was NOT adopted unanimously by the Israeli cabinet. Your correspondents should have known and reported that two ministers abstained precisely because the IDF was NOT given the job of upsetting Hamas rule in Gaza.

So, I ask you Mr. Brauchli, why inject this convoluted phrase about some Israeli hopes to spur an uprising against Hamas when this was explicitly NOT the stated reason for Israel's operation? And why didn't the Post see fit to report in simple, non-convoluted language, the real objectives?

3. The article mentions "persistent rocket fire from Gaza that ISRAEL SAYS prompted the war." Why the need to qualify the catalyst for Israel's 22-day counter-offensive as merely an Israeli assertion? What other reason or motive could there have been for Israel's counter-offensive? Would the Post on D-Day 1944 have run an article that landings in Normandy were prompted by what ALLIED LEADERS SAID was a determination to end Nazi rule of Europe? Would the Post on that day also have left open for different conjecture the reason why GIs stormed Omaha Beach?

This is not the first time that a Griff Witte article, when faced with a clear-cut, irrefutable fact in Israel's favor, manages to chip away at such a fact by cloaking it in unwarranted doubt and uncertainty.

4. Which brings me to the far gentler treatment of Hamas by Witte and the Post in the same article. West Bank Fatah official Yasser Abed Rabbo is quoted as charging that Hamas "turned its rifles in the direction of Fatah members in Gaza" after the cease-fire on Sunday and was shooting Fatah members in the kneecaps, a common intimidation tactic.

But ever solicitous of Hamas's image, Witte adds: "Hamas denied the claim."

Which prompts me to ask you, Mr. Brauchli, why couldn't your correspondents -- like so many other Western journalists now roaming Gaza -- have easily found Fatah men crawling in pain after being shot in the kneecaps by Hamas operatives and interviewed them instead of rushing to Hamas's defense with a denial that has been refuted by ample empirical evidence right under their noses?

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Friday, January 23, 2009

Washington Post Again Reveals Its Anti-Israel Bias By Absolving Terrorists and Blaming Israel

From: Leo Rennert
To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post
      Elizabeth Spayd, Managing Editor, Washington Post
      Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post
      Griff Witte, Reporter, Washington Post
      Craig Whitlock, Reporter, Washington Post
      Ombudsman, Washington Post
Date: January 23, 2009
Subject: WASHINGTON POST'S GAZA AGENDA -- ABSOLVE THE TERRORISTS, BLAME ISRAEL

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

In its January 23 editions, the Washington Post runs an article by your Jerusalem bureau chief, Greg Witte, which vastly exaggerates the extent of devastation in Gaza following Israel's 22-day counter-terrorism campaign, absolves Hamas of culpability, and attributes the plight of displaced residents not on eight years of rocket fire on civilians in Israel, but on Israel's efforts to put an end to such aggression ("No Home to Return to in Gaza -- 15,000 Still Living In Crowded Shelters", 1-23-09, A12).

Here's how Witte reports the damage in Gaza:

"In the aftermath of the war, there are scenes of devastation at nearly every turn in Gaza. Whole blocks are pockmarked by bullet holes. The earth craters where tall buildings once stood. Mourning tents line the roadways."

Compare this with the dispatch filed by Tim Butcher, who has reported on Gaza far longer than Witte in his capacity as correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph and who often has been very critical of Israel:

"Gaza City 2009 is not Stalingrad 1944. No carpet bombing of large areas. No firebombing of complete suburbs. Selected targets were hit almost always with precision munitions. In most of the cases I saw, the primary target had borne the brunt."

Two very different views of the same landscape, wouldn't you say?

Unlike Butcher, Witte tendentiously uses a Gaza family whose home was destroyed and still hasn't found a permanent shelter as a peg to do a hit piece on Israel. The family, he reports, was not affiliated with Hamas and didn't allow their land to be used to fire rocket, yet they later found their home reduced to rubble, suggesting that Israel fired indiscriminately. Not until much later in the story, not until the 25th paragraph, does Witte quote the family as acknowledging that "Hamas had a presence in the area."

Why hide that salient bit of information? Why not cite it up front?

Similarly, Witte sums up the fatality score of the 22-day war as 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

Why not mention that, according to the UN, about half the Palestinian total included Hamas combatants? Why not quote the IDF's estimate that at least two thirds belonged to Hamas?

To further absolve Hamas, Witte fails to tell Post readers that Hamas is using the cease-fire to round up Fatah rivals and summarily kill or torture (with bullets in the legs) those deemed to be "collaborators." Witte also conveniently fails to report that Hamas hijacked humanitarian aid convoys coming into Gaza and diverted their contents to its own warehouses. Or that Hamas is busy clearing out smuggling tunnels to replenish its rocket arsenals for renewed attacks on Israel.

Nor does Witte credit Israel with the full extent of humanitarian aid shipments that moved into Gaza during those 22 days of fighting and the rising volume of such aid since the start of the cease-fire. Neither does he credit Israel with setting up a clinic for injured Gazans inside Gaza even before the war ended. Or that hundreds of Gazans were treated in Israeli hospitals during the fighting, including in an Ashkelon hospital that was under rocket attack as doctors there tended to Gaza patients.

The only time an actual Israeli official is given the briefest of opportunity to rebut Witte's torrent of anti-Israel accusations is in the 31st paragraph of his 34-paragraph story when Maj. Avital Leibovich, an IDF spokeswoman, explains that Hamas adopted a human-shield strategy of taking cover in urban neighborhoods and posting fighters and explosives in schools and medical centers.

Witte, however, immediately knocks down her explanation, reporting that "the United Nations has denied that its schools were used as a cover for fighters."

Not a word about Israel's release of combat videos showing use of school properties by Hamas combatants. Not a word about a long-time pattern of heavy Hamas infiltration into U.N. schools in Gaza, with Hamas members employed by UNRWA in charge of hirings and textbooks.

I suppose when you're determined to skew your coverage against Israel, such facts are just too inconvenient to rate any mention.

Thus, Witte writes that the head of the Gaza family whose travails he's following used to have a good job in Israel, but lost it eight years ago when, "AMID RISING VIOLENCE, the border with Israel was shut."

Pray tell what was this RISING VIOLENCE, if not the start of an eight-year Palestinian war of terror against Israel? Why censor this rather important bit of history?

Ditto when Witte writes that Gaza's borders have been sealed for the past 19 months "as a result of an ISRAELI BLOCKADE against Hamas." Why fail to tell Post readers that it's NOT just an ISRAELI BLOCKADE, but that it's an ISRAELI-EGYPTIAN BLOCKADE?

Why blank out the fact that, without the Egyptian closure of the Rafah crossing, there wouldn't be any effective blockade? And why not report the reasons for Israel's and Egypt's decision to hem in Hamas in Gaza because this terrorist organization represents a strategic threat to BOTH countries?

But if you're so determined to infuse your reporting with anti-Israel, pro-Hamas propaganda, I guess journalistic ethics don't count -- certainly not at the Washington Post.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Saturday, January 10, 2009

The NY Times Searches for Truth. Can the Washington Post Say the Same?
NY Times Runs Article On Front Page About Hamas's Use Of Civilians As Human Shields And Terrorists' Lack Of Concern For Deaths Of Palestinian Civilians

To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, The Washington Post
From: EyeOnThePost
Subject: The NY Times Searches for Truth. Can the Post Say the Same?
Date: Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

An article appeared on the front page of the NY Times yesterday in which the reporter described Palestinians in the emergency room at Shifa Hospital in Gaza severely injured as a result of Hamas terrorists positioning themselves and launching mortars and rockets next to an apartment building, thereby drawing Israeli return fire. (Fighter Sees His Paradise in Gaza’s Pain, 1-9-09, A1) The Times correspondent then confronted an injured terrorist who appeared at the emergency room with comparatively minor injuries and was demanding treatment ahead of the severely injured civilians. The response of the terrorist to the reporter's challenge illustrated clearly a complete lack of concern or remorse for the suffering and death of his own people. To the contrary, the terrorist indicated that as far as he was concerned the deaths of civilians made them martyrs.

The Times reporter should be commended for his courage in reporting the truth, and the Times should be commended for running the article on the front page. By doing so, Times readers were clearly shown the true character of the terrorists against whom Israel is fighting.

Do you think the Post has any reporters with this kind of devotion to reporting the truth? Better yet, even if it did, do you think the Post's editors would ever allow such a report to be published in the paper at all, much less on the front page? I doubt it. After all, that type of reporting would run contrary to the thrust of virtually all of the Washington Post's reporting, which depicts Israel as belligerent, brutal, overreacting and at fault for the deaths of Palestinian civilians. The Post rarely reports the other side of the story, and when it does, all we see is a brief comment buried deep in or at the end of an article, long after most readers will have moved on to other news.

Robert G. Samet
Chairman
EyeOnThePost


Friday, January 9, 2009

Palestinians Include Terrorists As Civilians In Their Casualty Counts, And The Washington Post and Other Anti-Israel Media Outlets Report These Inflated Figures With Impunity

If readers have wondered why there is such a discrepancy between the numerical casualty counts reported by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, the so-called "human rights" groups (a misnomer for groups opposing virtually every act of self-defense of the Israeli government) and the less than impartial UN, versus the reports of the IDF and Israeli government, the following quotes of a Palestinian Red Crescent Society official are illuminating: 

"Palestinian officials put the death toll at an estimated 750 on Thursday night. Mutasem Awad, coordinator for the Palestine Red Crescent Society told The Jerusalem Post Thursday that though its casualty count was not final, it knew for certain of 200 children and 85 women among the dead.

When asked whether the Red Crescent Society was capable of telling the difference between innocent civilians and gunmen, he acknowledged this could be tricky.

'But militants usually wear uniforms and carry weapons, and we don't have [large] numbers [of dead] like this,' Awad said. Israeli defense sources say many Hamas gunmen are fighting out of uniform, however.

Awad added that, 'Many of the militants have died while they were not actively involved in the fighting. According to international law these people are considered civilians if they are not involved in actively fighting, but they were targeted anyway.' "
(Definitions Skew Civilian Casualties, Jerusalem Post, 1-8-09)

What Awad says about international law is erroneous, because he fails to note that it is a violation of international law for combatants to endanger civilians by fighting out of uniform among civilians or even away from civilians, followed by a retreat to hiding places among civilians. 

Would it be too much or too refreshing to ask the Washington Post to lead the anti-Israel media pack in ferreting out and reporting the truth about who Palestinians are including in their casualty counts and why?


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Post Reporter Seeks To Justify Terrorists' Deliberate Use Of Civilians To Shield Themselves And Their Weapons From Attack


From: Leo Rennert
To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Ombudsman, The Washington Post
Date: Thursday, January 8, 2009
Subject: Washington Post Turns Apologist For Hamas's Use Of Human Shields

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

In the Post's January 8 editions, Jerusalem bureau chief Griff Witte reprises the Israeli fire that left 40 Palestinians dead at a U.N. school in Gaza. (Hamas Pulling Back Into Crowded Cities, Beckoning Israelis, For Army, Pursuit Is Tempting but Risky, 1-8-09, A10) After writing about Israel's charge that Hamas fired first from the school and a U.N. denial that it did, Witte tackles the broader issue of Hamas's widespread use of human shields as it embeds itself deeply among civilians in manufacturing and storing weapons as well as in firing rockets at Israel.

Here is how Witte sums up this issue:

"Israel accuses Hamas of deliberately attacking from populated areas to drive up civilian casualty figures and stoke anger toward Israel in the Muslim world. But Hamas says it has little choice. THERE ARE NO MILITARY BASES IN GAZA FROM WHICH TO FIGHT, AND THE MOVEMENT'S MEMBERS DO NOT LIVE APART FROM THE REST OF THE POPULATION."

Really?

Does Witte point out that there are, in fact, military bases in Gaza to which Hamas could repair --Israeli troops used them before Israel's total withdrawal in 2005? NO SUCH MENTION..

Does Witte point out that if Hamas were interested in not risking innocent Palestinian lives but didn't deem the abandoned Israeli bases to its liking, it easily could build its own bases apart from the civilian population? NO.

Does Witte point out that, while Hamas terrorists indeed live among civilians, there is nothing to prevent them from conducting military operations away from them? NO.

As for the specific incident at the U.N. school, Witte gives the last word to John Ging, the top UNRWA official in Gaza, who disputes Israel's account that fire first came from the school -- "There were no militants in the school. I'm very confident that there was no militant activity in the school, and if anybody has evidence to the contrary, we would be very anxious to have it."

Well, of course, there is ample evidence, which gets reported NOT by the Post but by the New York Times and other media.

For starters, the Times, for example, points out that Ging ''WAS NOT AT THE SCHOOL WHEN IT WAS ATTACKED." The Post fails to point this out.

The Times reports that residents reported two Hamas fighters were in the area at the time. The Post fails to report this.

The Times says that the IDF identified them as Imad Abu Asker and Hassan Abu Asker and said they had been killed. No such evidence in the Post.

The Times quotes an Israeli official as pointing out that the incident occurred AFTER school hours, when in the midst of fire from both sides Israeli forces might have assumed there were no students there. No mention of that in the Post.

Instead, the Post excuses Hamas use of human shields at the U.N. school and elsewhere as simply due to a lack of military bases for use by Hamas terrorists!

Witte also tries to sanitize Hamas use of human shields by reporting that "Hamas FIGHTERS are lying low in homes, bunkers and tunnels" -- which conveniently overlooks the fact that these FIGHTERS also are taking refuge in schools, mosques and hospitals, as many other media have reported.

And Post editors abet the bias in Witte's copy with a huge color photo of mourners praying over the bodies of the dead from the U.N. school, with a caption that merely says they sought shelter at the school, without any mention that they had been used as human shields and caught in a cross-fire precipitated by Hamas.

Witte is equally selective when he asserts in a sweeping generalization that Israel is "under international pressure to end its offensive." No mention that Israel is NOT under such pressure from the U.S., from Germany (Chancellor Merkel puts the onus on Hamas, as does Bush), and for that matter even from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and even the European Union and the United Nations, all of whom are coupling their pressures on Israel with insistence that Hamas for its part must agree to a permanent cease-fire and an end to smuggling more weapons into Gaza. Wouldn't it be more accurate that BOTH Israel and Hamas are under international pressure?

Nor does the Post report worldwide rallies in support of Israel, including in its January 8 editions any mention of a huge pro-Israel rally in its own backyard, as more than a thousand Israeli supporters packed the Historic Synagogue at 6th and I Streets, N.W. -- an easy walk from the Post -- to applaud ringing Israel-support statements from members of the House and the Senate, and community officials, including an African-American Christian bishop who voiced strong solidarity with the Jewish state and brought the audience to its feet by asking them to join him in "praying for the peace of Jerusalem."

That also was NOT reported by the Washington Post, lest it presumably clash with its anti-Israel coverage agenda.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Monday, January 5, 2009

Washington Post Reporter On Rare Visit to Besieged Israeli Town Trivializes The Trauma To Israeli Terror Victims And Depicts Incessant Rocket Attacks As Minor Inconveniences

From: Leo Rennert
To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Ombudsman, The Washington Post
Date: Monday, January 5, 2009
Subject: Washington Post Reporter in Sderot Belittles Israeli Suffering

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

In recent years, while residents of the Israeli border town of Sderot sustained thousands of rocket attacks from Gaza, media around the world sent reporters there to chronicle a population heavily traumatized and terrorized by constant alerts, with only seconds to find shelter. But not the Washington Post, which most conspicuously avoided up-front and personal accounts of Sderot's suffering, even as it regularly provided readers with empathetic coverage of human distress felt in Gaza.

But lo and behold, in its January 5 editions, Griff Witte, the Post's Jerusalem bureau chief, finally sets foot in Sderot.

But does Witte spotlight Sderot residents injured by rockets, or relatives of the dead, or some of the thousands of Sderot children left with deep psychological scars?

NOT AT ALL

Witte's priority, it turns out, is to paint a totally different picture of Sderot, one that shies away from close-up depictions of people getting hurt. (Residents Doubt That Rocket Fire Can Be Stopped, 1-5-09, A1) What Witte dishes up is a Sderot where people are skeptical that Israel's Gaza offensive will stop rocket fire for good, where residents can console themselves with the thought that "most of the Qassams, Katyushas and mortar shells fired from Gaza have fallen without causing damage," where a security official happily goes about the business of picking up rocket remnants, "brushing the soil off his pants and SMILING" after hitting the ground during an alert, where "residents say they have grown accustomed to the frequent alerts," where they can take comfort from the notion that "rockets being used by Hamas are far less potent and far more inaccurate than those Hezbollah fired by the thousands into the Galilee region," where restaurant diners "dutifully trudge into the kitchen" during an alert, and where "with the SUN SHINING AND THE AIR CRISP AND COOL, MANY ISRAELIS STROLLED THROUGH THE STREETS HERE SUNDAY."

Witte's piece reads more like a rose-tinted travel article than a front-line account of havoc and carnage brought about by eight years of rocket attacks.

Finally, in the 26th PARAGRAPH of a 30-PARAGRAPH ARTICLE, after reciting all the blessed circumstances of Sderot residents, Witte gets around to an acknowledgment that "and yet, the threat is real." While in Sderot on Sunday, while gushing about the sun shining and the crisp cool air, Witte belatedly discovers a woman in her 70s who was treated for shock and smoke inhalation after one of those inaccurate and less potent rockets tore through her home and devastated her living room, and he plugs in a couple of quotes from a neighbor -- "It's no life here" and the Gaza offensive "should have happened a long time ago."

But how many Post readers will have gotten that far toward the end of Witte's piece to read the only brief, up-close and personal account of a resident of Sderot under fire.

Long before this in his article, Witte dwells at length about overall military strategy pronouncements of an IDF spokesman, a senior Israeli military official, Defense Minister Barak and a spokesman for Prime Minister Olmert -- all stuff that Witte could have picked up from his office in Jerusalem and didn't need to file from Sderot. Yet, all of this appears long before Witte gets around to even a smidgen of empathy for a Sderot victim, which he carefully hides at the end of his article.

Quite a contrast with the treatment of Palestinian suffering in Gaza from your correspondent Abdel Kareem in a separate article "For Trapped Gazans, Few Options for Safety." No waiting there until the end of the piece to chronicle human pain. Readers immediately are introduced to injured members of the al-Jarou family in a local hospital. That article, in fact, focuses from start to end on the human toll in Gaza.

Sad to say: After a couple of days when Post coverage seemed to have made strides toward fair, balanced journalism, your newspaper is back to its long-time bias of covering the conflict through pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel lenses. At the Post, the only human suffering worth any serious coverage is Palestinian suffering. Israeli pain rates at most a brief, inconspicuous mention buried at the end of a story -- if at all.

And that's not the only bias in your coverage. The main, front-page story, for example, reports a Palestinian death toll of 507 -- without mentioning that MOST fatalities were Hamas personnel. The New York Times, far more accurately, tells its readers that of that total death toll, only about 100 were civilians, thus making it clear that Israel killed four times as many Hamas combatants.

Also, while reporting widespread anti-Israel demonstrations in many capitals, including Paris, the Post fails to tell readers that 12,000 Parisians demonstrated in support of Israel, fails to tell readers that the Czech president of the European Union backed Israel's Gaza operation as a "defensive" move, and fails to tell readers that German Chancellor Merkel put the entire blame on Hamas terrorism. Attack Israel and you get lots of ink in the Post. Support Israel and you get zilch in the Post.

Is that your idea of fair, even-handed coverage?

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Washington Post Seeks To Portray Israel As Indiscriminately Brutal By Concealing Hamas's Active Use Of Mosque Destroyed By Israel

Leo Rennert's letter below shows the basic dishonesty of the Post's report itself. In addition, Palestinian Media Watch revealed that one of the surviving sisters, in an interview, placed all of the blame on Hamas. 

"I say Hamas is the cause, in the first place, of all wars, it's Hamas." 

Readers can view the video on You Tube.  Needless to say, nothing of the interview was mentioned in the Post's article. 

Further, Hamas not only bears responsibility for the deaths of innocent civilians but also, with the help of biased media outlets such as The Washington Post, is quick to turn those deaths into propaganda victories. The Post doesn't note that the photo they ran on the front page of the dead child's body shows her wrapped in a Hamas shroud.


From: Leo Rennert
To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post, Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post, Ombudsman, Washington Post
Date: Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Subject: Washington Post's False Story About A Real Gaza Tragedy

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

In its December 30 editions, the Washington Post runs a huge front-page story about the deaths of five sisters in a Gaza during an Israeli airstrike. (Family Mourns 5 Daughters as Civilian Death Toll Mounts, 12-30-08, A1) It's a very poignant, heartbreaking story about a terrible human tragedy. The story is topped by a photo of the grieving mother cradling the body of one of her girls.

While the article captures the human dimension of this tragedy, it is FALSE in how it reports the circumstances of how the family's home came to be crushed during Israel's offensive against Hamas and, as a result, leaves a FALSE impression that Israel was using indiscriminate fire.

Here's how your newspaper reported the circumstances of the attack: "Early Monday, an Israeli airstrike on the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip destroyed the family's home, located next to the Emad Aqeel Mosque, the intended target, which was also flattened."

Thus, according to the Post, Israel targeted a house of worship and, in the process, caused this searing tragedy. Except that Israel was NOT striking a civilian target -- the clear assumption of your article. Just the opposite. It was legitimately going after a Hamas military target. What the Post, in its haste to pin the blame on Israel, fails to tell readers is that Hamas has no respect for houses of worship and uses mosques as recruitment and operational bases for its terrorist squads, as it had and did in this instance.

What your paper DID NOT report is that the mosque was OCCUPIED by Hamas terrorists when the airstrike occurred.

Don't take my word for it. In the same news cycle, here's how the New York Times described the same tragedy: "Across the street from the hospital, a mosque WHERE MILITANTS OFTEN TOOK REFUGE, has been destroyed."

And even more to the point, the Times informs its readers that "in the Jabaliya refugee camp on Sunday, an attack on a mosque where militants were hiding also struck a nearby house, killing five girls younger than 18, health ministry officials said."

Reading the Times, a reader would know immediately that the tragedy needn't have occurred if Hamas hadn't converted the mosque into a military target.

Reading the Post, a reader would immediately assume that Israel used its superior airpower to conduct random, indiscriminate bombings and even targeted a place of worship.

By omitting this vital piece of information about the mosque as a Hamas combatant base, the Post squarely puts the blame on Israel. However, a complete account of the nature of this "mosque" -- which the Post failed to provide -- shifts the responsibility to Hamas for endangering the lives of civilians by taking cover among them in a supposedly sacred place.

Why did the Post not tell the whole story and leave readers with a totally FALSE impression? Was it because a truthful description of the "mosque" would have ruined the anti-Israel animus that infuses the entire article?

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Monday, December 29, 2008

Washington Post Sheds No Tears for Israeli Victims - Gushes With Front Page Sympathy For Palestinians But Downplays and Buries Coverage of Israeli Victims

From: Leo Rennert
To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post, Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post, Ombudsman, Washington Post, Griff Witte, Correspondent
Date: Monday, December 29, 2008
Subject: WASHINGTON POST GIVES ISRAELI VICTIMS BACK-OF-THE-BUS TREATMENT

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

The Washington Post, in its Dec. 29 edition, features prominently on the front page an article, headlined "HUMANITARIAN CRISIS -- Food and Medical Supplies Grow Scarce in the Gaza Strip."

The article -- with great empathy -- details the suffering of Gazans as Israel hammers Hamas targets, dwelling on both their precarious safety and shortages of food and medicines. A Gaza mother is quoted high up in the story: "Our children started screaming in a crazy way. After each airstrike my sons ask me: 'Why are we targeted?' The article spills over to an inside page, (A10), where it refers to the hundreds of Palestinians killed and 1,300 wounded. It also chronicles the grief of a Gaza gas station attendant who mourns the deaths of two sons and a nephew, killed in weekend airstrikes: "My wife is totally heartbroken."

And so it goes for 18 paragraphs. Fine, that's a newspaper's job to bring to readers the suffering of victims.

But where is a front-page companion article about similar suffering by Israeli civilians as Hamas rockets rain down on towns and kibbutzim in southern Israel? There isn't any. The front-page is totally devoid of any up-close personal depiction of Israeli grief. Which is par for the course, since the Post for years avoided doing any such pieces in rocket-battered Sderot, while grabbing every opportunity to report Palestinian suffering in Gaza. Where is there any parallel front-page quote of an Israeli mother telling Post reporters what it feels like when Qassams and Katyushas strike their hometowns? After all, it would have been easy to find such an Israeli mother also exclaiming: "Our children started screaming in a crazy way...."

But wait! There on the A10 jump page, without any headline pointing to some effort at parallel coverage of rocket-battered Israeli victims, there suddenly one finds tacked on at the very bottom of the Gaza-suffering piece interviews with kibbutz residents near the Gaza border who express their plight under Hamas rocket barrages. There's also a mention of the burial of an Israeli killed by a Hamas strike.

The problem, however, is that description of Israeli pain gets totally lost at the bottom of a Gaza-suffering piece with its blazing headlines about Gaza suffering. Most readers might easily have missed the Israeli part.

In the context of the Post's long history of avoiding empathetic coverage of the suffering of Israeli victims at the hands of Palestinian terrorists, one might be tempted to welcome at least some personal depictions of how Israelis under rocket fire live and die. Except that, even in this instance, it's still second-class, back-of-the-bus treatment of Israeli suffering under terrorist aggression.

What this egregiously uneven coverage amounts to is the equivalent of Jim Crow treatment of blacks in the South. It was OK for Rosa Parks to board a public bus in Montgomery, Ala., as long as she took a back seat. Well, Post readers -- like Parks -- should hold the Post accountable for such unconscionable treatment.

Who's responsible for this at the Post? In this instance, it has all the earmarks that the reporter who filed the segment of interviews of Israelis along the Gaza border intended the copy to be used as a separate story. In fact, if you look closely at the page one dateline, it says "NIR AM, Israel" and the 19th paragraph opens with "In this Israeli kibbutz..." The decision not to have a separate piece about Israeli victims but move the Gaza-suffering material ahead of it evidently was made by Post editors. They took all the material about Israeli suffering and tacked it on at the end of the Gaza piece, but forgot to change the dateline accordingly. 

One or more Post editors saw to it that the Post was not about to provide equal coverage of Israelis and Gazans under fire.

Are you one of them, Mr. Brauchli?

Leo Rennert

P.S. The main news article, by Post correspondent Griff Witte, is flawed in several respects. He reports that Israeli warplanes struck a mosque without telling readers that the mosque was a major Hamas terrorist base. He writes that the two-day death toll in Gaza was the highest since Israel seized control of the territory from Egypt in 1967, but then waits until much further into the piece on the jump page to inform readers that Israel totally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 He reports that since 2005 Israel launched frequent military raids into Gaza, but omits to tell readers that these were counter-terrorism operations to blunt rocket fire and prevent Hamas from amassing a huge arsenal of weapons and materials for more rockets.

The skewed Gaza-Palestinians-in-the-front-Israelis-in-the-back sidebar refers to the International Solidarity Movement as a ''human rights group." It is nothing of the sort. ISM recruits Palestinian sympathizers to come to Gaza to volunteers as "human shields" to support and protect terrorist squads. As "agents provocateurs," they do not shy away from violence and certainly condone it on the part of Palestinians. That doesn't somehow fit with being a "human rights" group.

As for the 300 Palestinian death toll, While Witte reports Israeli claims that the vast majority of casualties were Hamas military activists, he fails to tell Post readers that Palestinian officials also reported that most fatalities were Hamas operatives. The New York Times, among others, has cited Palestinian sources -- not just Israeli ones -- for informing readers that the preponderant number of casualties was indeed Hamas members.

[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Friday, December 26, 2008

Even When It Publishes An Otherwise Fair Wire Service Report, The Washington Post Continues To Distort Terminology By Eliminating The Word "Militant" And Substituting In Its Place "Fighters" When Referring To Palestinian Terrorists

The Washington Post calls Palestinian terrorists "fighters." Exactly who are these terrorists "fighting" when they launch mortars and rockets at mothers and babies living in Israel?  There are no fathers, mothers, children or babies striking out at these brave "fighters."  Israeli civilians living in towns near Gaza are simply minding their own business and trying to live peaceful lives without the daily threat of annihilation by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. Yet the rockets continue to rain down on them. There aren't yet even Israeli soldiers striking out at these brave "fighters." The Israeli government has to date exercised remarkable (and some would argue unjustifiable) restraint in failing to effectively respond to these terrorist attacks. So, what "fight" is the Post trying to conjure up in the minds of its readers when it alters already softened wire service reports calling them "militants" to "fighters?" The answer is that this is the distorted, Orwellian lexicon that the Washington Post employs in seeking to dignify Palestinian terrorists by conjuring in the minds of its readers the image of "freedom fighters."


From: Leo Rennert
To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post, Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post and Ombudsman, Washington Post
Date: Friday, December 26, 2008
Subject: Stop The Presses! An Accurate Article In The Washington Post -- With One Obvious Exception

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

Thanks for using an AP dispatch from Jerusalem in your Dec. 26 editions, "Israel Completes Preparations for Gaza Offensive Amid Continuing Rocket Fire."

The article gives readers a straightforward account of escalating Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, coupled with signs that Israel may retaliate with stronger measures than it has used so far.

The AP story, devoid of spin, innuendo and bias, offers a refreshing contrast from the anti-Israel, agenda-driven dispatches of the Post's own correspondents.

Except that your own copy editors, following an all too familiar pro-Hamas propaganda edict, changed ONE word in the AP piece. Instead of describing Gazans who fired 100 rockets and mortar shells at Israel in the last 2 days as "militants," your editors substituted a more laudatory label -- FIGHTERS.

Terrorists who fire rockets that hit near pilgrims making their way to Bethlehem, children's play areas and a busy supermarket full of shoppers hardly deserve to be called FIGHTERS, wouldn't you agree?

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Post's Report About Israel's Expulsion of UN Envoy Conceals Important Details, Including Envoy's Bias In Comparing Israelis To Nazis, Envoy's Openness to Conspiracy Theories About 9-11 Terrorist Attacks and Israel's Advance Warning That Envoy Would Be Denied Entrance To Israel Because Of His Bias

From: Leo Rennert
To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, Washington Post, Katharine Weymouth, Publisher, Washington Post and Ombudsman, Washington Post
Subject: Washington Post Erases U.N. Official's Venomous Lies About Israel
Date: December 16, 2008

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

In its December 16 editions, the Washington Post carries an article under a headline across an entire page (A10) that reads: "Israeli Authorities Detain, Expel U.N. Human Rights Envoy."

The article asserts that Richard Falk, a U.N. Human Rights Council investigator ("rapporteur" in UN lingo) was denied admission to Israel because he has "a long history of criticizing Israel." And that is the sum total of what Post readers are told about Richard Falk and why Israel doesn't deem him fit to be a human-rights investigator of the Jewish state

But to describe Richard Falk merely as a critic of Israel is the equivalent of putting the same label on Iran's Ahmadinejad -- and leaving it at that. Calling Falk a critic utterly fails to do justice to Israel, to Falk himself, and most importantly, to the truth.

Far more than a mere critic, Falk has been for a long time a serial slanderer of Israel of the worst kind. He has compared Israel with Germany's Nazi regime, calling Israel "genocidal" and likening the lot of Palestinians to 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust (The Bigotry Of Richard Falk, The UN's New Anti-Israel Hit Man, April 10, 2008, National Post).

Your UN correspondent, Colum Lynch, who wrote this particular article, should have been well aware of Falk's disgusting and unsavory libels against Israel since they were widely known at the UN when the Human Rights Council, a UN organization that spends virtually all of its time attacking Israel while overlooking actual human-rights atrocities in Zimbabwe, Darfur, Burma, China, Russia, Iran, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other places, appointed him over objections from the U.S., Canada and other parties.

In sharp contrast to your newspaper, the New York Times and other media did not hide Falk's anti-Israel bias and prejudices from their readers. Here's how the Times handled Falk's expulsion from Israel:

  • Right at the top, in the first paragraph, the Times tells its readers that Falk was refused admission because of the Israeli government's objections to "his hostile position toward Israel." The Post doesn't even get around to reporting that Falk had criticized Israel until the fourth paragraph.

  • The Times reports that Falk "has compared Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to Nazi atrocities." No such mention in your newspaper.

  • The Times reports that Falk takes seriously conspiracy theories about 9/11 and is not at all satisfied with official versions of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. No mention of this in your newspaper, even though it says something important about Falk's basic credibility.

  • The Times reports that, even before arriving in Israel as a UN rapporteur, Falk already had blasted Israel's embargo on Hamas-ruled Gaza as a "crime against humanity, while making only cursory reference to Hamas's rocket attacks against Israeli civilian centers" -- a characterization that prompted outrage by Israeli officials. No mention of this in your newspaper, even though this obviously shows Falk as not having exactly an open mind in carrying out his job as a UN rapporteur.

  • The Times reports that, at the time of Falk's appointment as UN rapporteur for Israel, the Israeli representative said it was "impossible to believe that out of a list of 184 potential candidates, the members had made the best possible choice for the post." No mention of this in your newspaper.

  • The Times reports that, in the past three years, Israel welcomed visits by seven special rapporteurs of the UN Human Rights Council. No mention of this in your newspaper.

  • Unlike your newspaper, which took a dig at Israel for "detaining" Falk for 20 hours at the airport before expelling him, the Times said he was "held" there and "placed on the next available flight back to Geneva, his point of departure."

  • Unlike your newspaper, which reported that Israel told the UN that Falk's visit "would not be welcome," the Times made unmistakably clear to its readers that the Israeli government had warned Falk in advance that he would be "barred" from entering the country -- not merely that he would be unwelcome. There is an important difference between telling someone he's not welcome even though he might be able to set foot in the country (as Jimmy Carter has been) and telling him in no uncertain terms that he would not be admitted (as was the case with Falk).

  • The Times quotes the Israeli Foreign Ministry as declaring that Falk's "vehement publications made it hard to square his appointment" with the council's own requirements that its envoys be impartial and objective. No mention of this in your newspaper.

  • The Times also notes that the council's own procedures "require its envoys to operate with the consent of the state concerned." No mention of this in your newspaper.

  • The Times reports that Falk actually was in Israel in June on what was supposed to be a personal visit, but had instead carried out work as a rapporteur. "He lied" about the nature of his visit, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman told the Times. No mention of this in your newspaper.

When the Post splashes across an entire page a large-type headline that reads, "Israeli Authorities Detain, Expel U.N. Human Rights Envoy" that makes it appear that Israel somehow is inimical to human-rights concerns, it has at a minimum a responsibility to give readers a bit more information about this particular "envoy" than a certain penchant for "criticizing" Israel.

Where is the fairness in your coverage that you vouched for when you responded to one of my earlier e-mails?

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Washington Post Continues to Airbrush Hamas's Image By Softening Language of Wire Service Reports Describing It

Date: November 18, 2008
From:  Leo Rennert
Subject: Pro-Hamas Propaganda Machine At Work Inside Washington Post
To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, The Washington Post
cc: Katharine Weymouth, Publisher
cc: Deborah Howell, Ombudsman

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

The Washington Post, in its Nov. 18 editions, carries an article on page A22, headlined: "Israel to Set Free 250 Palestinian Prisoners."

The article, datelined Jerusalem, is credited to the Associated Press, with a Mark Lavie by-line.

The second paragraph of Lavie's dispatch in the Post reads as follows:

"Even as Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas met in Jerusalem, Gaza FIGHTERS were firing rockets, underlining that the Palestinian leader has little influence in the seaside territory. Supporters of the ARMED ISLAMIST MOVEMENT HAMAS overran Gaza last year, expelling forces loyal to Abbas."

However, a funny thing happened to the AP's dispatch as it went through the Post's editing process.

The same paragraph in the actual Associated Press article, as sent to all its media subscribers, including the Washington Post, reads as follows:

"Even as Olmert and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas met in Jerusalem, Gaza MILITANTS were firing rockets......Islamic Hamas MILITANTS overran the Gaza Strip last year, expelling forces loyal to Abbas."

The AP twice in the same paragraph refers to Gazans launching rockets at civilian populations in Israel as MILITANTS. But not so when the Post gets through changing the AP wire story. Editors at the Post, intent on presenting Hamas in a more acceptable light, twice expunged MILITANTS and substituted less pejorative euphemisms -- i.e. FIGHTERS (with its downright positive connotation) and ARMED ISLAMIST MOVEMENT HAMAS, which also doesn't give Post readers any indication that this may be a TERRORIST outfit dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state.

I'm not enamored of MILITANT as a softening euphemism for TERRORIST. But at least MILITANT has a pejorative whiff to it. The Post's consistent deletion of MILITANT and its substitution of FIGHTERS, however, eliminates any semblance or impression that these people are out of bounds in their tactics and strategy. Quite the contrary: FIGHTERS gives them a downright positive accolade. In general parlance, FIGHTERS connotes assertive bravery -- something to be applauded.

It's quite revealing to find out to what lengths your own editors at the Washington Post go to change Associated Press articles to conform with the newspaper's propagandistic helpfulness to Hamas and other terrorist groups in its so-called news coverage.

As the Post's new editor in chief, you may want to check exactly who is responsible down the line for perfuming Hamas & Co. -- and why. Post subscribers also deserve to know whether you're in agreement with your newspaper's ban of MILITANT and the substitution of FIGHTERS when it comes to identifying terrorist organizations.

Best regards,

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Washington Post Continues Its "Blame Israel" Agenda - Downplays Continuous Terrorist Rocketing Of Israel From Gaza - Plays Up Israel's Closure Of Gaza Border - Plays Up Alleged Threat of Humanitarian Crisis - Ignores Cause And Effect Of One By The Other

Date: Saturday, November 15, 2008
From: Leo Rennert
Subject: Washington Post Weeps For Palestinians In Gaza, But Not For Israelis In Sderot, Ashkelon
To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, The Washington Post
Cc: Katharine Weymouth, Publisher;  Deborah Howell, Ombudsman

Dear Mr. Brauchli,

Notwithstanding your recent assurances that the Washington Post is committed to fair, even-handed coverage, the November 15 article by Linda Gradstein about renewed Israeli-Hamas clashes remains a perfect example of your newspaper's pro-Palestinian bias.

As Palestinian terrorists again fire missiles at civilian populations in southern Israel and as Israel cuts off fuel supplies and other necessities to Gaza, there are obviously TWO humanitarian disasters to report. When "code red" alerts are sounded in Ashkelon and Sderot, tens of thousands of Israelis have less than a few minutes to find shelter. Children in these communities are traumatized. An Israeli civilian already has been injured. And many other Israelis don't know if they will live or die in the next few seconds. The situations obviously is not better in Gaza.

Yet, how does the Post report these twin humanitarian crises? Only as if there's just one. The headline, splashed over a half page of copy and pictures readers "As Israel-Hamas Clashes Continue, Gazans Face Crisis." No mention of the traumatic panic in Sderot and Ashkelon. A huge, 3-column color photo shows a weeping boy in Gaza. There's a smaller photo of mortar shells being fired from Gaza. But no photo of a crying child in Sderot and Ashkelon to match the crying boy in Gaza.

As for Gradstein's article, it's replete with UN denunciations of Israel and, what's apt to grab readers even more, copious quotes from Gazans about their sorry state of affairs. We get Awni Sawafiri, a taxi driver and father of three bemoaning lack of fuel. We hear from Hana Bardawi, who lives with seven children in a refugee camp and has an ill husband saying she no longer can afford to keep her two oldest sons in university. And Gradstein ends her article with Ahmed Abu Hamda, a Palestinian reporter saying "people just feel hopeless. They say, 'What the hell is going on over here? I just want to live."

But where are the up-close and personal cries of anguish from people in Sderot and Ashkelon. If the Post had taken the trouble to devote as much attention to their plight, they easily could have found an Israeli in a missile-targeted area saying exactly the same thing as Hamda: "What the hell is going on over here? I just want to live."

But Gradstein and the Post seem only interested in spotlighting the suffering of Gazans. This, after all, is a newspaper that in recent years NEVER embedded a reporter for a few days in Sderot to let Post readers know the traumas endured by its residents as Qassams barraged this Israeli town -- even as other major newspapers from around the world sent their correspondents to spend some time in this beleaguered city and give their readers an up-close and personal feel for what the people of Sderot endured.

Gradstein devotes a measly two paragraphs of a very lengthy article to some general rebuttal by an Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman, but since her piece is largely devoted to on-the-scene miseries on the Gaza side, similar treatment of Israeli woes in Qassam target zones is conspicuously missing.

As for any accurate description of Hamas, Post readers are similarly shortchanged. The lead paragraph refers to "the armed Hamas movement." How euphemistically genteel can you get in hiding the true nature and identity of this terrorist outfit? When Gradstein reports that Hamas has fired longer-range missiles at Ashkelon, it's the "military wing of Hamas" that pulls the triggers. Never mind that on all tactical and strategic issues, Hamas is under unified command. Gradstein is so intent on purifying Hamas that she artificially divides the terrorist group into two parts -- one comprised of baddies and the others presumably of far more acceptable and civilized folks..

When you recently became top editor, I had high hopes that you might steer the Post's coverage into a more even-handed direction. I still hope so, but so far I must tell you I see little improvement. Still, I know there are many other demands on your time and attention. But I would argue that the long-festering pro-Palestinian bias at the core of the Post's news coverage should prompt some quick corrective action. 

Best regards,

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Post Continues Its Anti-Israel, Pro-Palestinian Agenda By Use of Slanted Terminology To Describe Terrorists and East Jerusalem

Date: Thursday, November 13, 2008
From: Leo Rennert
Subject: How Washington Post Uses Loaded Words Against Israel
To: Marcus Brauchli, Executive Editor, The Washington Post
Cc: Katharine Weymouth, Publisher;  Deborah Howell, Ombudsman

Dear Mr. Brauchli:

As journalists, you and I would agree that words matter greatly and should not be misused in pursuit of political or ideological agendas when it comes to news reporting.

With this in mind, I would ask you to take a look at a couple of news items in the Washington Post's "Around the World" wrapup in the November 13 editions, page A16.

One item is headlined, "Four Gaza FIGHTERS Killed in Clashes." The lead sentence starts off "Israeli troops and Palestinian FIGHTERS...." Even when your newspaper uses wire services that identify a bit more accurately who these "fighters" really are, the Post for some time now routinely changes the label to FIGHTERS.

Why does this matter? Because these people, plain and simple, are Hamas or Islamic Jihad TERRORISTS sworn to eliminate Israel -- with a long record of TERRORIST attacks on CIVILIAN targets in Israel -- whether with suicide bombers blowing up cafeterias, pizza parlors, markets or school buses. Or by firing thousands of missiles at civilian communities like Sderot that are within rocket range from Gaza where they embed themselves and their ordinance in civilian areas, deliberately risking the lives of Palestinian civilians when Israel tries to eliminate some of their launching sites.

By any accepted dictionary definition of TERRORISM, the shoe fits -- as the U.S. and the European Union have so recognized in designating them as TERRORIST groups. Somehow, the Post is quite able to identify TERRORISTS when reporting on Al-Qaeda attacks or other TERRORIST depredations around the globe. Only when Israel becomes a TERRORIST target (and on a per-capita basis, more so than any other country) does your newspaper shrink form using the "T" word.

For quite a few years, the Post -- in search of a genteel euphemism to replace the T word -- settled on MILITANT. Many other media still do so regularly. I don't think MILITANT fully conveys the essential TERRORIST nature of these groups, but at least it carries a bit of a pejorative whiff. But then in the last year, the Post altogether discarded MILITANT and now scrubs all copy pertaining to Hamas & Co. to ensure that these terrorists are called FIGHTERS.

That, of course, greatly pleases Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups because FIGHTERS, if anything, has a positive whiff about it. It cleanses and legitimizes them. In our culture, fighters often are synonymous with heroic figures in pursuit of noble causes. We have football FIGHT songs on many college and university campuses.

Your predecessor ignored complaints about the Post's use of flawed and tendentious terminology. I hope you'll take a look at it and decide whether FIGHTERS is an acceptable euphemism for TERRORISTS.

The second item in the "Around The World" wrapup is headlined "Jerusalem Mayor Backs Home Building." The first paragraph reads: "The newly elected mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, said he supported government plans to build more homes for Jews in and around ARAB EAST JERUSALEM."

The term ARAB EAST JERUSALEM is historically, politically and demographically inaccurate. ARAB EAST JERUSALEM erroneously suggests that, historically it belongs to Arabs; legally, they're already entitled to it, and, demographically, Jews don't belong there. Wrong on all 3 counts.

EAST JERUSALEM generally refers to that part of the city occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967, when Israel captured it in the Six-Day War. EAST JERUSALEM, under this generally accepted definition, thus includes the entire Old City, including the a thriving Jewish quarter near the Western Wall. Now, it's true that from 1949 to 1967, Jordan ethnically cleansed Jews out of the entire Old City and all the other parts of Jerusalem under its control. But it's also true that before 1949 and going back for most of a hundred years before that, all of Jerusalem was predominantly Jewish. And it's also true that when Israel reunified Jerusalem in 1967, Jews returned to the Old City and other parts of Jerusalem beyond the 1949 armistice line. Jordan's ethnic cleansing at the point of a gun thus was rectified, also at the point of a gun.

The Post, however, would have readers believe that there was something legally sacrosanct about the 1949-67 armistice line (breached by Arab armies in an attempt to destroy Israel in 1967) -- that anything beyond it rightly, legally and historically belongs to the Arabs and/or the Palestinians. This, of course, conforms with the Palestinian agenda, but has no basis in international law, which rests on the foundation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which is the lodestone for any Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and, tellingly, does not require Israel to withdraw completely to the 1967 line.

In short, EAST JERUSALEM is now part of Israel's unified capital. Its ultimate political and legal fate remains to be determined in negotiations to achieve a permanent peace. But that has yet to be accomplished. Perhaps much or most of East Jerusalem will be ceded to the Palestinians. Perhaps not. Perhaps a peace agreement will rule out ethnic cleansing by either side. The Post, however, has no business deciding on its own what the outcome should be. Certainly not on the news side.

In the meantime, there's a way to describe EAST JERUSALEM without loading it with a historically, politically and demographically INACCURATE label. Just add one word and make it read PREDOMINANTLY Arab East Jerusalem. That immediately gets rid of any insinuation of sovereign legality and, accurately, reflects current demographics, including the presence of many Jewish residents in that part of the city, while acknowledging that East Jerusalem inhabitants are mostly, but not entirely, Arabs.

Your predecessor countenanced and even defended blatant misuse of words in Post articles about Israel and the Palestinians. I hope you'll cast a more discerning eye on Post copy to weed out tendentious labels that don't belong in "news" stories.

Best regards,

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Washington Post Continues to Airbrush The Crimes of Palestinian Terrorists Held In Israeli Prisons

Marwan Barghouti's five life prison sentences are for plotting the murders of Israeli civilians. They are not for simple "involvement in attacks on Israelis," language so mild it could mean nothing more than a slap or punch. Yet that's exactly how they are described in today's Post article reporting on Israel's release of 198 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails:

"We will not rest until all of the prisoners are released," Abbas told the crowd. "I will mention especially the brother Marwan Barghouti," he said, referring to a charismatic leader of Abbas's Fatah faction who was sentenced in 2004 to five life terms for involvement in attacks on Israelis."(To Shore Up Abbas, Israel Releases Jailed Palestinians, 8-26-08, A10)

Samir Kuntar, the most prominent terrorist released in the Hezbollah prisoner release a month ago, was convicted and imprisoned based on eye witness testimony that he personally murdered Danny Haran in front of his 4 year old daughter, Einat Haran, and then murdered the child by smashing her skull against a rock with his rifle butt. He was also convicted of the death of 2 year old Yael Haran when she was accidentally smothered by her mother, Smadar, as Smadar tried to quiet the child while hiding from Kuntar. Kuntar also was convicted of murdering a policeman named Eliyahu Shahar during the same terrorist rampage. The Post itself ran an article by Smadar Haran five years ago recounting Kuntar's savagery. (The World Should Know What He Did to My Family, By Smadar Haran Kaiser, Sunday, May 18, 2003; Page B02) The child's brain tissue was found on the butt of Kuntar's rifle. Yet the Post's correspondent in today's article conceals the truth from its readers and says only that Kuntar was "responsible for the deaths" of these Israelis.

"In the recent prisoner exchange with Hezbollah, Israel freed Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese responsible for the deaths of a father, his young daughter and a policeman in 1979, in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers captured inside Israel's northern border two years ago." 

Once again the Post demonstrates to its readers that it cannot be counted on to report fully and fairly on events involving Israelis and Palestinians.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Washington Post's Orwellian Distortions: Terrorist = "Fighter," Terrorist Organization = "Islamist Movement," Anti-Israel Activists = "Human Rights Activists"

The Washington Post won't call a terrorist a "terrorist." It calls terrorists "fighters." It used to call them "militants," but even that was deemed too judgmental or critical of those whose avowed goal is to murder women, children and other innocents. So, now the Post has euphemized terrorists and militants into just plain "fighters." Some fight. Post editors and reporters call them "fighters" even when the only ones they are attacking are babies in nurseries and children in buses and school yards. 

It doesn't stop there. According to the Post, Hamas is not a terrorist organization. It is an "Islamist ... movement" that, in the Post's own words, only "Israel and the United States consider a terrorist group." 

In addition to these Orwellian distortions, the Post has now declared that anti-Israel, pro-Hamas advocates are "human rights activists." (Activists Break Blockade of Gaza, Israel Allows Boats to Deliver Symbolic Shipment of Aid, August 24, 2008, A12

In the lead sentence of this propaganda laced celebration of the sailing of 2 small boats into the Gaza harbor, the Post's reporter stated:

"Two wooden boats carrying dozens of human rights activists reached the Gaza Strip on Saturday afternoon..."

Human rights activists indeed. When it comes to inappropriate, judgmental and agenda driven language used by journalists, this one takes the cake. What about the human rights of the Hamas terrorists' dead civilian victims? Are any of these anti-Israel boaters standing up for these innocents or watching out for the human rights of the Israeli women and children who Hamas continues to seek to kill?

As for the Post's coverage of what was nothing more than a political demonstration wisely tolerated by Israel, even the Post's headline ... 

"Activists Break Blockade of Gaza" 

was both a distortion and a clear demonstration of the Post's own celebratory zeal. 

The truth is, some of the Washington Post's editors and reporters are themselves little more than anti-Israel activists. Unfortunately, those in upper level management positions at the Post, some of whom undoubtedly recognize that the Post's reporting about Israel is not fair and balanced, are doing little to improve that reporting.

The following letter by Leo Rennert discusses the Post article in greater depth:


From: Leo Rennert
To: Editors, Publisher and Ombudsman, The Washington Post
Subject: THE PRO-HAMAS PROPAGANDIST FLOTILLA AND THE WASHINGTON POST -- BIRDS
OF A FEATHER
Date: Sunday, August 24, 2008

In reading the Sunday, Aug. 24, article by Linda Gradstein, headlined "Activists Break Blockade of Gaza," I was struck by the commonality of Orwellian euphemisms used by this international group of pro-Hamas propagandists and the Post's own report of their arrival in Gaza. In both instances, the world is treated to sanitized terrorism, a blindness to realities on the ground, and conspicuous anti-Israel bias.

Start with the artful word "ACTIVISTS' in the headline, reinforced and expanded in the first paragraph's reference to two boats reaching Gaza with dozens of "HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS."

Of course, this group of anti-Israel provocateurs, hoping but failing to be intercepted by the Israeli navy, are in truth propaganda handmaidens of the terrorist Hamas regime which holds sway in Gaza. They want nothing better than for the world to ignore their real agenda and Hamas's, and so pose as "peace activists" or "HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS," as the Post obligingly lets them get away with.

Have editors at the Post asked themselves what possible HUMAN RIGHTS interests can be served by a group of people who embolden a terrorist group like Hamas to tighten its grip on Gaza and to expand its challenge to Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank? Evidently not.

As Hamas imports more weapons into Gaza and trains would-be female suicide bombers, Hamas would rather not have the world look at its own actions and objectives, but instead to focus on exaggerated distress from Israeli border restrictions on movement of people and goods. So again, the Post, like those seafaring propagandists, rushes to Hamas's aid.

For instance, does the Post mention that Israel has been bombarded by thousands of rockets from Gaza over the last 7 years? Of course not. Does the Post mention how many hundreds of Israelis have been killed and injured by these rockets? Of course not. Gradstein briefly mentions that there currently is a cease-fire, while even so 40 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel. Who fired those rockets? Gradstein doesn't tell us. What damage or injuries were caused by these rockets? Gradstein is mum.

But when it comes to Israel's tightening of traffic in and out of Gaza, Gradstein readily obliges Hamas. Israel has "sharply limited" the amount of goods allowed into Gaza, she writes. She then adds: ''ISRAELI OFFICIALS SAY" they have allowed food and medicine into the territory." Notice that it's not Gradstein or the Post that vouches for the fact that Israel has allowed food and medicine into Gaza. That humanitarian gesture is attributed to ''ISRAELI OFFICIALS." And when the Post uses such attribution to Israeli officials, it tends to reek of implied skepticism. It's just Israelis who say so. Maybe they can be believed, but maybe not. Just don't ask the Post to verify.

So we're left with the Post, on its own, validating that pro-Hamas propagandists are HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS, but the Post, on its own, NOT validating that Israel provides humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Nor does the Post point to REAL HUMAN-RIGHTS responses from Israel, which treats hundreds of Gazans with serious medical problems in its modern hospitals. The Post, like Hamas, doesn't want readers to know about this. Instead, it wants, like Hamas, to bedazzle readers with a PHONY HUMAN RIGHTS flotilla that brings Gazans a couple of hundred hearing aids and LOTS OF PROPAGANDA BALLOONS -- but not a single loaf of bread.

Peas in a pod, birds of a feather. Take your pick.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Washington Post Has the Audacity to Question Israel's Right To Subject Gazans Entering Israel For Medical Treatment To Security Measures

Memories of the Washington Post's reporters and editors are short. Memories of Israeli security personnel are necessarily long. On June 20, 2005 Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss, a female Gazan resident, was arrested at the Erez crossing from Gaza into Israel, after attempting to smuggle an explosives belt through the crossing with the intent of carrying out a suicide bombing attack. When the bomb belt was discovered, she tried to detonate it, but it didn't go off. In subsequent questioning it turned out that she had previously been permitted to enter Israel on numerous occasions for medical treatment at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva and she intended to repay Israel's charity by setting off her bomb pack at the very hospital at which she had been permitted to receive treatment. (Attack By Female Suicide Bomber Thwarted At Erez Crossing, June 20, 2005, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs) According to Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this was not the only such effort by Palestinians to bite the humanitarian Israeli hand that provides (and some would argue foolishly) medical care to its enemies.

Despite this, it is not surprising that the Washington Post, ever on the lookout for ways to cast a negative light on Israel, would publish an article critical of Israel for security measures taken with Gazans entering Israel for medical treatment. Leo Rennert's letter discusses the Post's treatment of this subject. 


From: Leo Rennert
Subject: Washington Post Slams Israel's Medical Care For Thousands Of Gazans
To: Washington Post Publisher, Editors & Ombudsman
Date: Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Oh, the sheer shame of it! 

Here's Israel after thousands of rockets have been fired at its civilians from Gaza, along with sniper fire and mortar shells, and after Israelis have been killed and injured by these attacks, nevertheless still opening its border to thousand of Gazans with serious medical problems so they can receive the best possible modern treatment in Israeli hospitals and clinics, including hundreds of Gaza children getting defective hearts repaired with loving care.

But does Israel going the extra humanitarian mile, including shipments of thousands of tons of food and other necessities into Gaza, get any credit from the Washington Post?

DEFINITELY NOT. JUST THE OPPOSITE.

In its August 5 editions, the Post runs a Jerusalem-dateline story by correspondent Linda Gradstein, headlined: "Gazans' Access To Care Faulted -- Israeli Interrogation Criticized in Report."

And here's the lead paragraph: "Israel's domestic security service requires Gazans who wish to enter Israel for medical care treatment to submit to detailed interviews about their knowledge of political and militant groups, according to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, a nonprofit group based in Tel Aviv."

In the eyes of the Post, this is Israel's cardinal sin in providing medical care to Gazans. How shocking, how news breaking that Israel, before opening the border to sick Gazans, dares to violate their privacy and ask them questions about their possible knowledge of and ties to Gaza terrorist groups sworn to eliminate the Jewish state.

Any normal reader might fault Israel if it didn't, at a minimum, subject such people to security screening procedures to weed out possible terrorists or people affiliated with such groups. 

But not the Washington Post, which evidently is not content with Israel providing modern medical care to people from Hamas-ruled Gaza with a modicum of attention to its own security.

After all, during World War 2, how many sick Japanese did the U.S. admit to its hospitals? And other readers today might even question why Israel should admit any sick Gazans, given the persistent terror attacks from Gaza in recent years.

But when it comes to Israel, Post editors demand Florence Nightingale treatment for Gazans in Israel, and thus are aghast that Shin Bet makes entry into Israel "conditional on being willing to deliver information."

Can you imagine that?! Israel actually asks Gazans some questions before letting them in. What a terrible thing to do.

But according to the Post article, it gets even worse. Gaza patients first are strip-searched and their cell phones taken so stored telephone numbers can be copied. What a terrible thing to do to strip-search incoming Gazans to ensure they're not wearing explosive belts. Sometimes, Shin Bet even coaxes some of these sick Gazans to become collaborators. And why not, for goodness sake? If Israel can and does save enemy lives, why shouldn't it, in doing so, take steps to save Israeli lives by improving its intelligence capabilities in Gaza?

Israel would be derelict in its responsibility to protect Israeli lives if it didn't take such steps.

But Post editors and reporters start from the premise that Israel has no business doing anything to protect its people's lives and security. Such measures by Israel, according to the Post, are beyond the pale. 

Having blackened Israel once again, the Post carries some responses from Israeli officials -- but they are farther down in the story, unseen by many readers who may just look at the headline and the first couple of paragraphs.

It is not until the EIGHTH PARAGRAPH, for example, that Gradstein quotes an Israeli official that Israel unmasked through interrogation and strip-searches 20 Gazans who tried to use access to medical care in Israel to carry out terrorist attacks. Imagine how many hundreds of Israelis might have been killed were it not for basic Israeli measures that the Post evidently finds abhorrent.

As for the number of Palestinians from Gaza who actually do pass security screening and receive medical care in Israel, the article in the NINTH PARAGRAPH finally quotes an Israeli official as saying that 14,000 Palestinians from Gaza entered Israel in the first seven months of this year and that 10,000 were allowed into Israel in all of last year.

If you do the math -- which the Post for obvious reasons doesn't do -- this means that Israel's outreach to sick Gazans is actually proceeding at a much bigger rate in 2008 than in 2007. But the Post isn't interested in highlighting that.

Just the opposite. The Post instead focuses on allegations in the anti-Israel report that 35 percent of requests to enter Israel have been denied this year, compared with 10 percent during the same period last year.

By my reckoning, this means that Israel still opens the gates to 2 out of every 3 Gazans seeking medical care in Israel. The Post, however, is determined to spin statistics so they will give readers a negative impression about Israel.

Since Hamas's violent takeover of Gaza in June of last year, many other media in Europe and in the U.S. have carried articles about the extensive specialized medical care received by many seriously ill Gazans in Israeli hospitals -- the kind of care unavailable in Gaza because since Israel's total withdrawal in 2005 Palestinian rulers there have diverted massive resources, including billions from the West, and all their energy into building rockets and mobilizing for attacks against Israel instead of spending their resources on modernizing their hospitals with the latest life-saving equipment.

But such dispatches never find their way into the pages of the Washington Post. Because at the Post, no good Israeli deeds go unpunished.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Washington Post Focuses Spotlight On Money Contributed To Israeli Politicians By American Jews - Front Page Article Implies Large Contributions Are Obstacle to Peace - Actual Amount is Trifling - No Comparable Analysis of Money Contributed By Arabs in US to Hamas or Fatah Political Candidates... Or Terrorists, For That Matter

American Jews, their money and their influence seem to be an obsession of anti-Semites seeking to depict Israelis and Jews in an unflattering light. Mearsheimer and Walt, authors of a piece attacking the "Israel Lobby," have been accused by one of their own colleagues of using "'piss-poor, monocausal social science'" and by another of having issued "a wretched piece of scholarship" that thinly masks anti-Semitism (Yes, It's Anti-Semitic, Eliot A. Cohen, The Washington Post, Wednesday, April 5, 2006, A23). They trot around the globe attacking American Jews, their money and their Israel activism as responsible for an ill-advised American foreign policy that strongly supports Israel. Their anti-Semitic audiences wildly applaud, print and sell T-shirts to honor them and their message.

 Now, the Washington Post, in a front page article, has joined Mearsheimer and Walt with an equally sloppy analysis and a message that in many ways is synchronous. (Israeli Leaders Find Generous Donors in U.S., Americans Give Most To the Political Right, Saturday, July 26, 2008, Page A01)

The Post's Jerusalem correspondent, Griff Witte, argues that American Jews acquire influence in Israel by contributing large sums of money to Israeli politicians, and he argues that far more American Jewish money is given to right wing politicians than to left wing politicians. The conclusion readers are to draw is that American Jews are in part responsible for the absence of Middle East Peace.

Witte's thesis is myopic and one might suspect the article of being nothing more than a pretext to expound upon Jewish money, influence and activism. He compares only money contributed in the 2007 primaries to Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud and Ehud Barak of Labor, without noting the number of other candidates in Labor at the time, without including Kadima and without noting money contributed by American Jews to Israeli left wing NGOs, such as Americans for Peace Now, The New Israel Fund, B'Tselem and numerous other groups. 

The smear of Jews and Israel itself starts in the opening paragraph when Witte revels in the Olmert scandal by noting recent testimony of the Prime Minster's "plush lifestyle...expensive cigars...five-star suites, a fine watch and an Italian vacation." He then sets forth his ugly accusation:

"While most Israelis have been galled at the extent of the alleged corruption, no one has been surprised by the source of the funds. Politicians in Israel have long known that if they want to raise large amounts of money, for whatever reason, they'll find it in the United States.

Foreign donations are banned for general elections, but Israeli leaders routinely get half or more of their campaign contributions for party primaries from overseas, and mostly from American donors.

The fundraising trend is especially pronounced on Israel's political right; politicians who advocate aggressive military action against Iran and Hamas and who maintain an uncompromising stance against ceding land to the Palestinians have typically found generous support for their views in the States."

After all of that, how much actual American Jewish money is Griff Witte talking about? Approximately $600,000 to both candidates. Assuming this was even worth writing home about, his analysis was superficial, unsupported and did not warrant front page coverage. It was a pretext to print another article depicting Jews and Israelis in an unflattering light. 

Why isn't the Washington Post featuring front page articles on money contributions by American Arabs to Palestinian political parties, candidates and causes? Why isn't the Post focusing on corruption among the Palestinian leadership fueled by foreign contributions?


Date: Saturday, July 26, 2008
From: Leo Rennert
To: Griff Witte and Washington Post Editors and Publisher
Subject: How Washington Post Destroys Its Credibility On Israel -- A Prime Example

Hi Griff,

Re your July 26 article in the Washington Post headlined "Israeli Leaders Find Generous Donors in U.S. - Americans Give Most To the Political Right -- When Israeli Politicians Need Deep Pockets, They Turn to Americans."

It's a story that's worth doing. A loophole in Israeli election laws allows foreign contributions to political candidates in primaries -- not in general elections. And both Defense Minister Ehud Barak, chairman of the Labor Party, and opposition chairman Benjamin Netanyahu have taken advantage of this loophole. Moreover, there's justified criticism in Israel of permitting foreign donations to political campaigns.

Unfortunately, by resorting to tendentious, selective and distorted journalism, you undermine your own piece and strip it of credibility. Let me show you how:

1. The actual facts don't live up to the headline's blaring emphasis on "Generous Donors" and "Deep Pockets." Reading the headline, one might have thought that many millions of dollars are flowing from the U.S. into the political coffers of Israeli politicians. To reinforce this impression, in the second paragraph of your article, you write about "large amounts of money" to Israeli political figures from the U.S.

However it turns out, from a close examination of your own graphic, that U.S. donations in 2007 to Netanyahu totaled only about $400,000, while Barak got about $200,000 from U.S. contributors. Still a story. But the "mountain" you promised turns out to be more on the scale of a "mouse." The graphic itself is misleading, highlighting big percentages of donations from the U.S., but hiding actual total amounts, which turn out to be fairly puny. 

2. The story lacks sufficient context: While you acknowledge very briefly that U.S. contributors demonstrate "much broader" financial backing for non-political causes in Israel, like immigration and philanthropy, your article doesn't even come close to showing Post readers the actual gargantuan disparity between hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions from U.S. donors to hospitals, schools, universities, research centers, charities, aid to terrorism victims, yeshivas, orphanages, Ethiopian absorption centers. etc., and a $600,000 pittance in combined political contributions to Barak and Netanyahu.

3. Your article also would have more credibility if you and the Post had run concurrently a sidebar or companion piece about the many millions of dollars flowing to Palestinian politicians from abroad, including from the United States. How many millions in foreign donations do Hamas leaders get in bulging suitcases smuggled into Gaza? How many millions do Fatah politicians amass from outside sources and how much of that ends up in secret bank accounts? By focusing exclusively on Israel when it comes to misuse of foreign money, your article reeks of one-sidedness that ends up torpedoing its usefulness.

4. To further undercut your piece's credibility, you demonize Netanyahu as an advocate of "aggressive military action against Iran." Really? Netanyahu, like other left and right politicians in Israel and in the U.S., has been warning about the existential perils to Israel from a would-be genocidal Iran intent on acquiring nuclear weapons. And like them, he has made it clear that the military card must remain a last-resort option. Just this week, Obama and Netanyahu held a meeting in Jerusalem and both read from the same page when it comes to Iran. Does this somehow make Obama some war-seeking right-winger?

5. You also go overboard in maligning Netanyahu and Likud when you describe them as taking an "uncompromising stance against ceding land to the Palestinians." Really? Have you forgotten Israel's agreement under the Oslo peace process to turn over most of Hebron to the Palestinian Authority. That land was ceded to the Palestinians by none other than then-Prime Minister Netanyahu.

6. In looking for a U.S. political contributor to Netanyahu with deep pockets, you pick Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Your article, however, doesn't make clear how much of that $400,000 Adelson gave in political contributions to Bibi"s primary campaign. But whatever the amount, it pales in comparison to the tens of million of dollars contributed by Adelson to Birthright, a project that brings young American Jews to Israel for a couple of weeks to become acquainted with their historic roots. And that's just one of several Israeli philanthropies to which Adelson has contributed. Apparently, a fairer and fuller picture of Adelson's generosity would have run counter to what you set out -- cherry pick only some questionable aspects of campaign financing in Israel, play with statistics by highlighting percentages of U.S. donations instead of actual amounts, ignore far greater corruption among Palestinian political leaders, and take some baseless shots against the political right in Israel.

Not exactly a profile in responsible journalism.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Washington Post Says Rockets From Gaza Are Typically In Response to Israeli Military Aggression

Ever since Israel evacuated Gaza, Palestinian terrorists have launched thousands of rockets from Gaza into Israel. They did it solely because they hated and they could. It was not provoked and it was not in response to Israeli military action in Gaza. Long periods of military quiet by Israel were met by terrorist rocket attacks. Israel justifiably responded to the rocket attacks by launching military operations against the rocket launchers, the rocket smugglers, the tunnels and the terrorist leadership. Even after the current cease fire started, Israeli restraint was met by terrorist rockets. It was, therefore, the height of dishonesty and the height of anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian, pro-terrorist bias that produced the following statement this week in the Washington Post's coverage of Barak Obama's visit to Sderot, the community most often victimized by the terrorist rockets:

"Palestinian gunmen in Gaza have long fired makeshift rockets at Sderot, typically after Israeli military operations in the strip or the Israeli-occupied West Bank." (Obama Ends Mideast Swing With Vow to Back Israel, Peace Talks, Thursday, July 24, 2008, A07)

How did a howler like that get past the Post's editors? The Post has become, in effect, a propaganda tool for Palestinian terrorists.


From: Judge Herbert Grossman
To: Washington Post Reporters, Editors and Publisher
Date: Thursday, July 24, 2008
Subject: Balz, Witte's "Obama Ends Mideast Swing . . ."

In “Obama Ends Mideast Swing With Vow to Back Israel, Peace Talks” (news, July 24), Dan Balz and Griff Witte report on Barack Obama’s trip to Sderot, an Israeli town near Gaza, at which Palestinian gunmen have long fired rockets, the article states, “typically after Israeli military operations in the [Gaza] strip or the Israeli-occupied West Bank.”

What utter nonsense about a town that was bombarded daily, until the current ceasefire, with a total of thousands of rockets, regardless of whether Israel had undertaken any military operations! In fact, almost all of Israel’s military operations in the strip were aimed only at suppressing the rocket fire, which was unprovoked and not even answered by Israel for months in the forlorn hope that its unilateral ceasefire would be answered in kind. It wasn’t.

Similarly, the article refers to the system of checkpoints and barrier walls in the West Bank as having been built by Israel “in what it says” is an effort to thwart suicide bombers and other attackers, as though there is some doubt as to Israel’s motives, when those security barriers have dramatically reduced Israeli casualties from West Bank terror from the thousands suffered in 2002, before their construction, to single digits in recent years.

What are typical are not Israeli military operations preceding rocket fire, but your continuing efforts at blaming Israel's defensive measures, aimed at thwarting Palestinian attacks, for instigating them. In your newspaper, when the victim is Israel, it is always to blame.

Sincerely, 

Judge Herbert Grossman
[Herbert Grossman, author of the book "J'Accuse the N.Y. Times and Washington Post: Biased Reporting from the Middle East," is a full time Federal Administrative Law Judge]


Date: Thursday, July 24, 2008
From: Leo Rennert
To: Washington Post Reporters, Editors and Publisher
Subject: Washington Post Says Rocket Fire On Sderot Is Defensive Measure Against Israeli Attacks

For pure Orwellianism (white is black, day is night), the Washington Post's article on Obama's visit to Israel ranks right at the top. The July 24 dateline-Jerusalem piece, with by-lines by Dan Balz and Griff Witte, mentions Obama's stopover in Sderot and then adds the following sentence:

"Palestinian gunmen in Gaza have long fired makeshift rockets at Sderot, TYPICALLY AFTER ISRAELI OPERATIONS IN THE STRIP OR THE ISRAELI-OCCUPIED WEST BANK."

In other words, the rocket-battered residents of Sderot have it coming. They only have their own aggressive government to blame for the thousands of rockets that have pelted the town. It's not the fault of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which for the last seven years have unleashed rocket barrages against southern Israeli communities as part of their declared drive to eliminate the Jewish state, and intensified these attacks after Israel's complete withdrawal from Gaza three years ago.

No, according to the Post, Sderot would be left in peace if only Israel halted self-defense efforts to clean out rocket-firing cells in Gaza and terrorist cells in the West Bank, which have sent dozens of suicide bombers over the lasst eight years into Israel to kill civilians on buses, pizza parlors, cafes and markets -- and still regularly try to infiltrate Israel with would-be killers wearing explosive belts.

At the Post, reality and history, when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, are turned upside down. There is no Palestinian terrorism or an avowed agenda to eliminate Israel, only Israeli aggression.

The full extent of the Post's animus against Israel in its news pages is dramatically evident when one compares the coverage of Obama's visit to Sderot by other media, including the TV networks and the NY Times, which did make it clear to their viewers and readers that Palestinian rocket-firing groups, not Israel, are responsible for the terror attacks inflicted on Sderot's cvilian population. (So did Ob ama, but never mind, he's just a pandering politician)

Here's the NY Times version: "Sderot has been repeatedly struck by Palestinian rockets fired from nearby Gaza." No suggestion that Israeli "operations" in Gaza bear responsibility for the rocket attacks or that they might cease if Israel laid down its arms and turned the other cheek. Only the Post went out of its way to malign Israel.

Incidentally, while Dan Balz has the lead by-line, I seriously doubt that he injected this propagandistic poison pill into the article. Balz is the Post's senior political correspondent who accompanied Obama on his travels. He has a long record of responsible journalism. The Orwellian phrase, I suspect, is the work of others.

It would be refreshing if Post editors showed some candor and accountability to readers and let us know who the author of this abject calumny was. Dan Balz shouldn't be left twisting in the paper's anti-Israel wind. If I had been in his shoes and known about the injection of this slanderous phrase, I would have demanded removal of my by-line.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Washington Post Once Again Reveals Anti-Israel Bias - Fails To Report A Single Word About French Appeals Court Ruling Vindicating French Media Critic Who Accused France 2 Reporter and Photographer of Staging Muhammad al-Dura Film Footage 

What could be more newsworthy to news consumers than that the very news upon which they rely from the world's leading news outlets may be faked? 

With so many news consumers convinced that much of the World's media is anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian, is it any surprise that the Washington Post would once again show its stripes by burying news of a French Appeals Court ruling that a French TV network news reporter may have conspired with Palestinians to stage and broadcast film footage that served to fan the flames of years of Israeli Palestinian violence?

The Jerusalem Post on July 10 published an excellent guest column by Andrea Levin, the Executive Director of CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), noting the abject silence of the New York Times in reporting on the sensational French Appellate Court reversal of a libel verdict against Philippe Karsenty. Karsenty is a French media critic who accused the France 2 Television Network's Middle East Bureau Chief, Charles Enderlin, and his photographer of conspiring to fabricate and broadcast staged film footage of the shooting death of Muhammad al-Dura in September 2000 by what was alleged at the time to be the Israeli military. (Guest Column: The silence of 'The Times', 7-10-08). Ms. Levin stated:

"And what of the stunning 'victory' and vindication in Paris on May 21 of Philippe Karsenty against charges of having defamed Charles Enderlin, France 2's Middle East Bureau Chief who reported the al-Dura story? Karsenty had denounced the episode as 'a faked death,' a 'hoax' and a 'fraud.'

Not a word in the Times. Nor was the paper moved to editorialize about the global 'anger and hate' sown by Enderlin and his cameraman, Talal Abu Rahma, in spawning the false, incendiary al-Dura allegations against Israel."

Ms. Levin's article eloquently condemns the New York Times for failing to cover the story of this French Court verdict. She notes that the Wall Street Journal stated that it's "'hard to exaggerate the significance' of the court decision that 'called the [al-Dura] story into doubt.'" (Al-Durra Case Revisited, Wall Street Journal Europe May 27, 2008)

The Washington Post is equally deserving of such condemnation, because it, too, conspicuously ignored the story. Not only did the Post ignore the story in the newspaper, but it failed to carry even a brief wire service mention of the verdict on the Post's web site. 

The French Court verdict was rendered two months ago. The Court examined the very film footage at issue before rendering its verdict, and it listened to the testimony of key witnesses, including Charles Enderlin, the bureau chief accused of conspiring to commit this fraud. The verdict demonstrates the possibility of another terrible injustice having been done to Israel by a biased and dishonest media. Ignoring the story so completely and thoroughly shows with which side the Post considers its sensibilities and sympathies to lie. 

This was before the Post's recent replacement of former Executive Editor Leonard Downie with Marcus Brauchli, the former Managing Editor of the Wall Street Journal. It remains to be seen whether regime change will bring about less agenda-based and more honest and objective reporting by the Washington Post.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Post Continues To Eulogize Terrorist And Cast Doubt On His Murderous Motives, While Providing Lip Service To Only One Of The Israeli Victims Of The Bulldozer Killer - Post Reporter Fails To Report That The Terrorist Screamed "Allah Akhbar" During Attack And That A Relative Declared Him A Shaheed Or Martyr - Fails Once Again To Mention Baby Rescued From Vehicle In Which Her Mother Was Crushed

The Washington Post continues its effort to cast doubt on the murderous motives of the Palestinian bulldozer terrorist. 

Apparently reacting to criticism that it has ignored his Israeli victims in favor of eulogizing the terrorist, today's Post article provided a few perfunctory words from the funeral of only one of the Israeli victims and continued to ignore the now motherless baby rescued from her dead or dying mother's vehicle. This is the second day in a row that the Post has ignored this toddler and her murdered mother. Media elsewhere throughout the world have reported this almost irresistible human interest part of the story. Not the Post. In today's Post story the fact that there were others murdered at all was limited to the notation that there were "three people killed Wednesday." 

But that wasn't the thrust of today's report. Today's article was openly headlined and written to airbrush the killer's motive -- "Motives in Earthmover Rampage Debated in Jerusalem." Contrary to the headline, there isn't much debate among Jewish Israelis in Jerusalem. The debate seems to be coming from the anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian press and the family and friends of the killer. While the Post's Jerusalem correspondent, Griff Witte, appears to want readers to conclude that the Palestinian terrorist from East Jerusalem, Hussam Edwyat, was really a good guy who either accidentally lost control of his bulldozer or just had a bad hair day, most everyone else seems to accept that this murderer was trying to kill as many Israelis as he could. The terrorist himself screamed "Allah Akhbar" as he repeatedly tried to crush cars containing civilians and babies, and even a close relative of the terrorist publicly declared (while ululating from the roof of the terrorists house) that he was a shaheed or martyr. However, Mr. Witte conceals these facts from his readers and reports only the quotes of friends and family that the killer didn't seem to have any obvious political agenda or affiliations and appears not to have acted with advance planning. 

Membership in a group and advance planning don't define a terrorist act. Many decades of ongoing anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred openly preached on the airwaves, in schools and in mosques by the Palestinian leadership are designed to provoke exactly this type of spontaneous terrorist attacks on Israelis. That is a perspective the Washington Post will never report, because its "see, hear and speak no evil" agenda toward Palestinians is limited to depicting Palestinian violence against Israelis as the eruption of justifiable anger. 


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Leave It To The Washington Post to Construct A Warm, Fuzzy and Personal Portrayal of The Palestinian Bull Dozer Killer, While Ignoring His Israeli Victims

The Washington Post's reporter, Griff Witte, didn't even mention the Israeli baby who will now grow up motherless after she was rescued only a split second before her mother was crushed to death in her vehicle. Instead, as the following letter by Leo Rennert states, this so-called news coverage by the Washington Post reads more like "a sympathetic obituary of the killer." 


To: Griff Witte, Washington Post Jerusalem Correspondent
CC: Washington Post Publisher, Editors, and Ombudsman
Date: July 3, 2008
Subject: Washington Post Humanizes Jersualem Terrorist Killer, Ignores His Victims

Hi Griff,

Your July 3 article about the terror attack in Jerusalem, which killed 3 Israelis and wounded scores of others, reads like a sympathetic obituary of the killer -- with due appreciation and intimate details of his personal travails -- while providing readers with absolutely no personal cameos of the injured and, worse, no up-close and personal description of any of the victims whose lives were snuffed out in the attack.

With you and the Post, the terrorist -- Hassam Edwyat -- gets first and virtually exclusive billing -- with lots of alibis, excuses and rationalizations that he may not have been such a bad fellow after all. At the same time, while you obviously spent quite a bit of time chasing down relatives and neighbors who knew him, you didn't see fit to take a minute to get in touch with relatives and friends of his victims.

Your lead paragraph sets the tone. It gives equal prominence to the terror scene on Jaffa Road and the fact that Edwyat had "intimate ties with his Jewish neighbors." In fact, his ties with Jews become the dominant theme of your piece.

Here's your second paragraph: "He worked among Jews, helping to build a luxury, ultra-Orthodox apartment complex in West Jerusalem. He lived among them, waking each day in a house that faces a Jewish neighborhood in mostly Arab East Jerusalem."

And here's the dramatic kicker at the end of your second paragraph about Edwyat's immersion among Jews: "He dated one, friends and relatives said, having had a long-term Jewish girlfriend."

"But on Wednesday," you add in the third paragraph of your Hussam Edwyat saga, "for reasons that remain unclear, Edwyat attacked them (Jews) and ended up dying with them."

How touching! 

But that's just the overture of your soap-opera treatment of this terrorist. The Romeo-and-Juliet angle of a Palestinian killing co-religionists of his Jewish girlfriend is irresistibly uppermost in your coverage. As you put it: "Edwyat dated a Jewish woman for several years. A neighbor and a human rights worker who had spoken with the family said Edwyat had fathered the woman's child."

At that point, I kept waiting for you to paraphrase Shakespeare: "Hussam, Hussam, Hussam, wherefore art thou Hussam. A rose by any other name smells as sweet."

Pouring it on about the poor fellow, you inform Post readers: Friends and relatives said he "never expressed strong views" (never mind that an Israeli off-duty soldier who wrestled with him before shooting him told reporters that, in a final lunge to kill Jews, Edwyat cried "Allah Akhbar" -- a rather strong, typical and telling shout favored by fanatical suicide bombers)

But why mention any possible terrorist motivations when you're more interested in cosmetizing this fanatical killer. So you proceed with your heartfelt descriptions. "He didn't interfere with other people's business,' said an uncle. 'Everybody in the neighborhood LIKES HIM. This was a shock and a surprise for everyone of us."

Having humanized this terrorist killer to a fare-thee-well, one might have expected that your article would go on to devote at least as many tears to Edwyat's victims. But one would have been wrong.

There's not a single quote from any of the wounded, although Shaare Zedek Medical Center where most of them were taken is located in the same area where the attack took place.

Worse, the only attention you pay to those killed in your reverse Abie's-Irish-Rose twist is a brief, single paragraph that includes the name of only one of them, Elizabeth Goren Friedman, 54. The other two, you report, were a 70-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman whose names were not disclosed. And that's it.

For starters, the name of the second woman, Bat Sheva Unterman, 33, was disclosed in plenty of time for your Post deadline. The New York Times had no problem identifying her in its July 3 editions.

More significant, what you conspicuously omit to tell Post readers is even the slightest detail of who these 2 women were and what they did with their lives. For your information, far from hurting or killing anyone, they helped children in a big way. They were dedicated teachers.

Unterman was a nanny who worked in a Jerusalem kindergarten. She was killed when the car she was driving was crushed by Edwyat's bulldozer Her 6-month-old daughter, Efrat, was miraculously taken from the car just before it was hit.

The Untermans tried for years to have children, but managed only with the birth of Efrat . "Until Efrat was born, the children in the kindergarten were like her own, and she was a nanny of the highest excellence, with exemplary patience for each and every child" said her friend, Meira Schwartz.

But in your exclusive focus on the terrorist killer, I guess there wasn't enough time or room in the paper for acquainting readers with the late Bat Sheva Unterman.

As for Elizabeth Goren Friedman, for your information, she taught in a school for the blind and did volunteer work at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, which treats Israelis and Palestinians without distinction. She was the mother of 3 children, Yael, 16, Issachar, 19, and Zvi, 23.

"Lili was a wonderful person," said her colleague, Rachel Sakrovish. "There was not a student that she did not help progress on a personal, educational and rehabilitative level We knew that if a student was retreated or having difficulties, Lili was the teacher who would do the fundamental work to help him advance."

Nothing of that in your article.

Why, please tell Post readers, didn't Elizabeth Goren Friedman and Bat Sheva Unterman deserve at least as much compassionate, sympathetic, heartfelt treatment as her killer?

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Post Draws Moral Equivalence Between Palestinian Terrorists' Deliberate Targeting And Murder Of Israeli Civilians And Israel's Defensive Targeting Of Terrorists Who Deliberately Operate Among Civilians, Thereby Causing Unintended Deaths

From: Leo Rennert
To: Reporter, Editors & Publisher, The Washington Post
Date: June 6, 2008
Subject: Washington Post Equates Palestinian Murder Of Civilian With Israel's Self-Defense

In its June 6 editions, the Washington Post runs an article by Jerusalem correspondent Griff Witte, headlined "Israeli Man, Palestinian Child Killed In Attacks -- Pair Died in Violence Between Jewish State, Fighters with Hamas."

The same equivalence theme -- putting on a par the killings of an Israeli "man" and a Palestinian child -- is struck in Witte's lead paragraph, "An Israeli man and a Palestinian child were killed Thursday in separate attacks...."

According to the Post, it's all the same -- the killing of an Israeli and the killing of a Palestinian child. It's "Violence" on the part of Israel and "Violence" on the part of "Hamas Fighters."

What the headline and the lead paragraph fail to tell Post readers is that the Israeli "man" was a CIVILIAN working in a paint factory in a Negev kibbutz. He was killed and four other CIVILIANS workers in that factory were wounded by a Palestinian mortar shell fired from Gaza, admittedly by Hamas, with the deliberate intent of killing and harming Israeli CIVILIANS. That makes the Palestinian attack an act of TERRORISM.

In sharp contrast, the Palestinian child, a 4-year-old girl, was killed by an IDF missile fired during a counter-terrorism strike against Palestinian terrorists firing rockets and mortars against civilians in southern Israel. The death of the girl is a grievous tragedy, but unlike that "man" in the Negev paint factory, she was NOT the target of the IDF missile strike. What the Post euphemistically calls Hamas "fighters" are really terrorists deliberately killing civilians, while embedding themselves deeply among Palestinian civilians like that 4-year-old child, and routinely using children as "human shields."

In truth, her death is more attributable to Hamas than to Israel.

But that's a truth you will not find in the "news" pages of the Washington Post.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Post Uses Patently False Sources To Support Its News Reports - Cites Palestinian "Medical Officials" As Source For Events They Could Not Have Witnessed

On April 28, 2008 a Palestinian mother and four children were killed in Gaza following a battle between Israeli forces and two terrorists carrying explosive laden backpacks. Israel said its forces hit the terrorists and that their backpacks then detonated, destroying a nearby Palestinian home. Israel blamed the terrorists' use of the civilian population as shields for the deaths. News accounts other than the Washington Post reported the incident as a firefight in which an Israeli tank shell caused the terrorists' backpacks to explode, rather than an "airstrike" as reported by the Post. The Washington Post's correspondent, Griff Witte, and his Arab stringer, Reyham Abdulkarim, after noting that Israel denied a direct strike on the house itself, reported the Palestinian version to the effect that the house was directly struck by Israeli fire, but cited as their only source anonymous "medical officials" who could not possibly have witnessed the events:

"Israeli military officials said the blast was caused by explosives that the two gunmen were carrying in backpacks. But Gazan medical officials said the Israeli fire had directly struck the one-story, corrugated metal home of the Abu Meiteg family as the children and their mother began to eat breakfast." (Mother, 4 Children Die After Israel Strikes Gaza, 4-29-08, A12)

Readers might well ask how Palestinian "medical officials" (note the effort to bolster the source by the disingenuous use of the plural) who were not on the scene at the time of the attack, could possibly serve as reliable sources. So flagrant is this dishonesty by the Post's reporters that they even cite the medical officials as stating the family had just begun to eat breakfast. 


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Washington Post Correspondent Weaves Misrepresentations, Distortions and Omissions Into Article Critical of Israel for Sealing Gaza Border & Claiming Hamas Is Thereby Strengthened

An article in Sunday's Washington Post by its correspondent in Jerusalem, Griff Witte, was an example of slanted and agenda based reporting. (Gaza's Unemployed Have Handouts or Hamas, Factory Closings Under Israeli Siege Have Strengthened Islamist Group, Critics Say, 4-13-08, A14) Post readers have a right to information necessary to evaluate the political impact in Gaza of economic hardships brought about by the closure of Israel's and Egypt's borders with Gaza. Whether Hamas is being weakened or strengthened by these policies is a matter of concern to all. Available alternatives to these policies are also a matter of concern. These were all fair topics that in the right hands provided an opportunity for top flight journalism. Unfortunately, that was not to be had from the Washington Post. Instead, the Post's correspondent injected his own opinion that Hamas is being strengthened by economic adversity in Gaza and then failed to provide any evidence to support it. Mr. Witte declared:

"Although Israel intended for the siege to weaken Hamas, factory owners, workers and international aid officials in Gaza say the rise in unemployment and the dwindling influence of the private sector have had the opposite effect, allowing the group to consolidate its control over the lives of Gaza's 1.5 million people."

But Mr. Witte blatantly misrepresented what almost all of the people he interviewed said. The international aid worker commented only on the impact of poor economic conditions on the children of Gaza.

"'For a Gazan youngster, the question is what do you want to be when you grow up,' said Conal Urquhart, a U.N. humanitarian affairs officer based in Gaza. 'Your options are very limited.'"

Mr. Witte then offers in support of his thesis a handful of quotes of Gazans, only one of which touched upon whether harsh economic conditions in Gaza are strengthening or weakening Hamas. 

There were only six Gazans quoted by Mr. Witte in the article. Four of them were factory owners, and only one of those factory owners, 25 year old Ammar Yazegi, actually supported Mr. Witte's thesis that Hamas has been strengthened by the border closings. The others either didn't comment at all or supported a contrary view. "Mohammed T. Yazegi, the company chairman and family patriarch" of the 25 year old Yazegi's own family, stated that he was sick of factional fighting among Palestinians and that it was playing into the hands of Israelis. This was hardly an opinion that Hamas is being strengthened by efforts to isolate it. In fact, it reflects opposition to Hamas's policies. Mr. Witte also quoted Hassan al-Hayek, a paving stone factory owner whose factories are currently not operating, but al-Hayak offered no opinions at all about Hamas or the impact on Hamas of poor economic conditions in Gaza. Similarly, Mr. Witte quotes Abu Dan, a garment factory owner whose plant is currently closed, but Dan offers no comment about Hamas or the impact of the border restrictions on Hamas's strength. 

So much for the 4 factory owners. What about rank and file Gazans? Does this Washington Post journalist try to find out whether Hamas is being strengthened or weakened as a result of economic adversity caused by border restrictions? Mr. Witte quotes Abu Hammed, a former garment factory worker who now works as a policeman for Hamas, saying he would go back to work at the garment factory in a heartbeat if he could, because the pay is better. He didn't give his real name for fear of Hamas reprisal. Does this sound like Israel's policies of isolation are strengthening Hamas among Gazans? The other rank and file Gazan who is quoted by Mr. Witte, Sabari al-Naggar, refuses economic assistance from Hamas, because he despises the group. So much for Mr. Witte's thesis that Hamas is being strengthened by the border restrictions.

Mr. Witte conspicuously avoids any direct examination of whether a gradual erosion of Hamas's power base among Gaza residents is, in fact, taking place. In addition, while doing his best to criticize and erroneously depict Israel as alone in pursuing this policy of isolating Hamas, Mr. Witte never asks or attempts to answer the question whether any available alternatives exist for Israel, Egypt, Mahmoud Abbas's PA and the US, all of whom support the policy of isolating and thereby weakening Hamas. For instance, would lifting border restrictions result in a return of prosperity to Gaza? If so, what effect, if any, would that have on Hamas and future prospects for peace? Mr. Witte didn't ask and he made no effort to even point to the issue. So, while Mr. Witte was given the opportunity to provide quality journalistic coverage of a topic that is on the minds of everyone concerned with the future of Israel and the disputed territories, he dropped the ball. 

There is more wrong with this article. The following letter by Leo Rennert goes into detail.


From: Leo Rennert
To: Washington Post Editors, Ombudsman, Publisher and Reporter
Date: April 13, 2008
Subject: WASHINGTON POST PINS GAZA ECONOMIC WOES ON ISRAEL -- NOT HAMAS

In its Sunday, April 13 editions, the Washington Post runs an article by Griff Witte, headlined "Gaza's Unemployed Have Handouts or Hamas -- Factory Closings Under ISRAELI SIEGE Have Strengthened Islamist Group, Critics Say," which blames Israel -- and only Israel -- for the impact of the economic blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza.

It's an article with multiple distortions, omissions and selective quotes -- all designed to paint a picture of Israeli culpability for rising unemployment in Gaza and for Hamas's supposed consolidation of power.

Here's how Witte spins the article against Israel, starting with an outright falsehood:

1. Contrary to Witte's article, the economic blockade of Gaza is not just an ''ISRAELI SIEGE." It's actually an ISRAELI-EGYPTIAN SIEGE. There would be no effective blockade if Egypt hadn't also shut the Rafah border crossing into Egyptian Sinai. But Witte makes absolutely no mention of Egypt's crucial collaboration with Israel in isolating Gaza. Strange that he didn't get in touch with Egyptian officials and asked the obvious, elementary, Journalism 101 question: Why does Cairo participate in the blockade? It's as if Witte has come down with total amnesia that just a few weeks ago, Hamas engineered a violent breach of the Rafah crossing, which lasted several days while Gazans poured across to buy all kinds of provisions. Nor does he mention that in recent days, in response to Hamas threats of another violent breach, Egypt sent massive numbers of troops toward the Gaza border with stern warnings to Hamas not to try to breach Rafah again. If Witte would consult a map, he would find that Gaza borders on BOTH Israel and Egypt.

2. While Witte falsely portrays the embargo as a unilateral Israeli move, it's actually a TRILATERAL affair -- with Israel and Egypt overtly keeping the crossings closed, except for humanitarian assistance by Israel, plus covert, passive acquiescence by Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. While Abbas publicly calls for an end to the Gaza embargo, his regime has been all too happy to let Hamas stew in its own juices in Gaza. The worst thing for Abbas would be a lifting of the embargo, which Hamas would proclaim as validating its terrorist strategy by demonstrating that its violent methods are more successful than PA talks with Israel. Yet, there's not a hint of the Abbas-PA aspect of the Gaza siege in Witte's article. Nor is there any mention of how reopening of the crossings under terrorist rocket fire would obviously weaken Abbas in Palestinian eyes.

3. The lion's share of Witte's six-column article is devoted to quotes from unemployed Gazans and factory owners facing shutdowns for lack of material. But it also peddles the notion that Hamas has been the primary beneficiary of its own isolation because it's the only employer left to offer jobs to jobless Gazans. Here's how Witte seeks to turn this spin into incontrovertible fact:

"Although Israel intended for the siege to weaken Hamas, factory owners, workers and international aid officials in Gaza say the rise in unemployment and the dwindling influence of the private sector have had the opposite effect, allow the group to consolidate its control over the lives of 1.5 million people."

Never mind that even a Gaza employer, a Pepsi bottler interviewed by Witte who's facing closure of his factory, doesn't buy Witte's spin: "For this, we have to blame OURSELVES. We're giving the Israelis an excuse to do whatever they want." Witte just leaves the quote hanging as he fails to spell out why Gazans -- not Israel -- bear the blame for the economic crisis in the territory. But what else could this employer be alluding to except that Gazans overwhelmingly voted for Hamas and now have to bear the consequences of intensified rocket attacks against Israel from Hamas-ruled Gaza? Not exactly what Witte really wants to convey.

In his eagerness to celebrate Hamas' alleged consolidation of power, Witte also overlooks other inconvenient facts -- polls which show a drop in popular support of Hamas and sporadic protests blaming rocket launchers -- not Israel -- for Gaza's woes. Hamas still exercises a totalitarian grip on Gaza, but instead of celebrating Hamas's ruthless power to score a point against Israel, shouldn't Witte instead have highlighted some of the courageous Gaza voices protesting against their terrorist rulers?

4. Witte also doesn't come clean with readers about WHY Israel imposed an embargo in the first place. The first slight hint comes in the FIFTH paragraph when Witte mentions that the "Israeli siege followed the Hamas takeover of Gaza last June." There's much more to it than that, of course, but Witte doesn't want to spoil his anti-Israel theme by telling readers the real reasons for Israel's decision to isolate Hamas.

It's not until 9 paragraphs later -- in the 14th PARAGRAPH, when many readers already may have moved on to other pages -- that Witte briefly quotes a spokesman for Prime Minister Olmert as saying that the economic restrictions are undermining Hamas. And you have to wait until the 16th PARAGRAPH to get to Israel's reasons for imposing an embargo when the Israeli spokesman talks about risks of weapons shipments through the border crossings, daily rocket attacks, and cross-border infiltrations like last week's raid that killed 2 Israeli civilians at a fuel terminal on the Israeli side of the border.

Witte sandwiches (overwhelms, really) these Israeli points between much lengthier descriptions of Gaza's economic misery, rising at one point to sheer poetic heights: "On some blocks, the silence is broken only by the braying of a donkey or the turn of a rusty bicyle wheel."

5. Strange that Witte and the Post demonstrate no such empathy for hundreds of thousands of Israelis within range of rocket attacks from Hamas-ruled Gaza. No such plaintive narratives about the traumatic lives of Sderot residents who have to worry about much more than losing a job when the sirens sound and the next Qassam may end their lives.

Witte ends his piece with a quote from the owner of a garment factory: "'I consider this factory a cemetery.'" If Witte ever decides to make his first visit to Sderot, he could find many a resident who could tell him and Post readers: "I consider this house, this schoolyard, this playground a cemetery."

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Washington Post More Concerned Over Impact On Palestinians of Suspension of Fuel Than On Israeli Victims of Palestinian Gas Terminal Terror Attack

As usual, in reporting on this week's Palestinian terrorist attack on the Nahal Oz gas terminal in Israel,  the Washington Post skipped right over the Israeli victims of terrorism and focused its attention and its critical, opinionated reporting almost exclusively on Israel's response. (Gaza's Fuel Is Cut Off After Palestinian Attack on Terminal, Investigators Study How Four Gunmen Crossed Into Israel, 4-11-08, A16) The Post did accompany its article with a photograph taken at the funeral of one of the victims. However, it should not be surprising that this was a wire service photograph, because the best the Post's reporter could muster was to stay in Jerusalem, sip coffee with representatives of so-called "human rights" groups, and then dutifully quote their shrill cries that Israel is "'chok[ing] the life out of Gaza.'" 

The Nahal Oz gas terminal supplies "all the fuel for Gaza's 1.5 million residents." In seeking to focus attention and blame on Israel, the Post virtually ignores the fact that Hamas and the other terrorist groups in Gaza (who recent polls clearly show enjoy the support of a strong majority of the Palestinian population of Gaza), themselves attacked this gas terminal. The Post's reporter failed to do what any good journalist should have done, which is to ask and try to answer for readers why the Palestinian leadership in Gaza would themselves or through their proxies have attacked their own fuel supply.  By turning a blind eye to the motives behind this act of terrorism and instead focusing only on the Israeli reaction, the Post has once again lent itself as a tool to a cynical Palestinian propaganda ploy.

Leo Rennert's letter focuses on the Post's skewed focus on Palestinian discomfort and its indifference to Israeli suffering.


From: Leo Rennert
To: Washington Post Editors, Publisher, Ombudsman, and Reporter
Subject: WASHINGTON POST WEEPS FOR GAZA FUEL SHORTAGE BUT NOT FOR ISRAELIS MURDERED BY TERRORISTS
Date: April 11, 2008

One day after four terrorists crossed from Gaza into Israel and raided a fuel-supply terminal that killed 2 civilian employees working on providing fuel for Gazans, Griff Witte, the Washington Post's Jerusalem correspondent, filed an article, headlined "Gaza's Fuel Is Cut Off After Palestinian Attack on Terminal."

Witte's article, spread over four columns, deals exclusively with what he portrays as the impact of Israel's decision to suspend temporarily further fuel deliveries to Gaza while security is beefed up at the terminal. Its single thrust is to sound the alarm about terrible consequences to Gazans from such a power shutoff.

"Gaza is already suffering from a severe economic blockade that has reduced the flow of goods into the territory to only humanitarian essentials," Witte writes. He quotes human-rights advocates who warn that even a short stoppage of fuel shipments "could have drastic consequences in a place where RESERVES ARE NON-EXISTENT" Witte also passes on a comment from one of those advocates that "'to close (the terminal) is to choke the life out of Gaza.'"

And he ends his piece with a quote from a spokesman of a Gaza association of gas store owners: "'More and more it's a disastrous situation here in Gaza.'"

Well, you get the drift. 

SO LET'S EXAMINE HOW WITTE'S ARTICLE GOES OFF PROPER JOURNALISTIC RAILS AND TURNS INTO OUTRIGHT PALESTINIAN PROPAGANDA:

1. Not only does Witte hype the impact of a temporary fuel cutoff, but he gins it up beyond any semblance of truth. Unlike Witte and the Post, the Reuters news service reported the following: "An official of the European Union, which provides fuel to Gaza's lone power plant, said the plant had ENOUGH FUEL ON HAND TO LAST ABOUT A WEEK." Keep in mind that Israel immediately signaled that the terminal would be back in operation by then. And with a week's reserve, it's clear that there would be no diminution in the Gaza plant's operation.

So why tell Post readers that fuel reserves in Gaza are NON-EXISTENT? Why publish such a canard when the likely impact of Israel's brief closure of the fuel terminal on Gazans is basically NIL. NADA. But Witte isn't interested in facts. His job and purpose are to give Israel a black eye -- facts notwithstanding.

2. And while Witte confines his coverage exclusively to pumping up Palestinian pain, it's fair to ask where is his coverage of greater suffering by the Israeli families of the two murdered terminal workers? Doesn't their pain exceed that of Gazans having to wait in long lines to fill up gas tanks or having to cope with occasional blackouts? Does Witte even weigh the asymmetrical differences in human suffering between the murder of Israeli civilians helping to keep the lights on in Gaza and Palestinians importuned by a blockade of non-essential goods.? Did Witte seek out the families of these 2 civilian workers to get their reactions? Of course, not.

3. Did Witte take the trouble to interview members of a kibbutz near the Gaza border which sustained a heavy mortar bombardment unleashed by Gaza terrorists to divert attention from the raid on the terminal? The kibbutz residents had to stay put for hours in shelters while mortar shells rained down on them. Did Witte bother to record and report their pain and utter panic at not knowing if the next shell would spell death? Of course not.

4. Or has Witte bothered to spend some time in Sderot -- the most rocket-battered town on the face of the globe -- to report the suffering of its residents under constant missile barrages? Or what it feels like when a parent finds out that a rocket has just landed next to a school yard or a kindergarten? Doesn't the pain of Sderot's residents at least equal that of Gazans deprived of non-essential goods because their terrorist masters assign a higher priority to shattering or snuffing out the lives of Israeli civilians?

When will Witte and the Post finally run a major piece about Israeli pain at the hands of terrorists -- especially after the paper has spared no effort or news space to record Palestinian pain in recent years?

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Washington Post Continues to Refer to Terrorists Everywhere in the World Except Israel as Terrorists - Continues To Alter Wire Service Reports to Refer to Palestinian Terrorists As "Fighters"

The Post long ago stopped referring to Palestinian terrorists committing terrorist acts against Israel as "terrorists," and for the last several years has referred to them as "militants." At the same time the Post continues to accurately refer to terrorists in other regions of the world by what they are, "terrorists." The most recent examples of the Post's discriminatory reporting policy on Israel are in Saturday's edition of the Post. An article about the risk of terrorist attacks on US cities bore the headline "Terrorism Study Drops a Bombshell on Boise." An article on page A10 bore the headline "British Jury in Terror Case Shown 'Martyrdom Tapes.'" In an ironic twist, while not hesitating to call these British targeted acts "terrorism," the article notes that the videotapes introduced into evidence in this case showed the terrorists describing their purpose as being "to protest U.S. and British policies in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories." 

"'This is revenge for the actions of the U.S.A. in the Muslim lands and their accomplices, such as the British and the Jews," said a man identified by Wright as defendant Umar Islam, 29, one of the eight men charged with trying to destroy at least seven United Airlines, American Airlines and Air Canada jets bound for the United States and Canada.'" 

Readers of the Post should have no doubt that if this same trial were taking place today in Israel, and if the targets of the planned attacks were Israelis, the Washington Post would eliminate all references to terrorists and terrorism and substitute in their place language to make the heinous acts and their perpetrators more acceptable to readers.

And what would the Washington Post's euphemism of the day be for Palestinian terrorists? "Militant" is now considered by the Post to be too harsh. Where it once euphemized "terrorists" to "militants," The Post now actively alters wire service reports to eliminate all references to Palestinian "militants" and to substitute in their place "fighters." 

Today's Post had an excellent example. In its "Around the World" section the Post reprinted a brief AP article in which it changed the AP's reference to "Islamic militants" to "Islamist fighters." In addition, The Washington Post eliminated from its version of the article the AP's description of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades as being "known for some of the most serious suicide bombings and shootings in the conflict" and retained only the AP's statement that the group is "blamed" for 1,100 Israeli deaths. Here are the Post's two altered sentences:

"A dozen Islamist fighters who had agreed to serve jail time as a way to get taken off Israel's wanted list escaped from a Palestinian prison in the West Bank late Friday, alleging that guards beat them."

"The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of the Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, is blamed for the deaths of more than 1,100 Israelis."

The AP's version ran in newspapers around the world, but we've selected a paper in the United Arab Emirates to show that the Post's pro-Palestinian terrorist slant is so blatant as to surpass even that of news outlets in Arab lands. This is the AP's original version of the same two sentences, as reported without alteration in the Khaleej Times:

"A dozen Islamic militants who had agreed to serve jail time as a way to get taken off Israel’s wanted list escaped from a Palestinian prison in the West Bank late Friday, charging that guards beat them."

"The Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, an offshoot of Abbas’ Fatah Party, is known for some of the most serious suicide bombings and shootings in the conflict that broke out in 2001, being blamed for the deaths of more than 1,100 Israelis."

This is just one more example of the effort of many reporters and editors at the Washington Post to inject their own anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian opinions and agenda into the Post's news reporting.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Why Did Washington Post Reporter Do An Overnight Reversal In The Terminology He Employs By Changing "Disputed Territory" To "Palestinian Territory?"

Date: April 2, 2008
From: Leo Rennert
Subject: WASHINGTON POST TRANSFORMS "DISPUTED" LANDS INTO "PALESTINIAN" LANDS -- IN 24 HOURS!
To: Washington Post Reporter, Editors, Publisher and Ombudsman

What an amazing overnight switcheroo you performed from one edition to the next in writing about Betar Illit, a Jewish city of 35,000 near Jerusalem, and Pisgat Zeev, a predominantly Jewish neighborhood within the municipal boundaries of the Jewish capital! It really boggles the mind that the Washington Post can turn "disputed" places into "Palestinian" lands with such dizzying rapidity.

In the April 1 editions of the Post, the headline informed readers that Betar Illit and Pisgat Zeev are on "DISPUTED LAND." Your article referred to them as "CONTESTED TERRITORY."

In describing Betar Illit, you called it a "West Bank settlement" that Israel plans to retain "UNDER ANY FUTURE PEACE DEAL." You explained that Betar Illit, "within an easy drive of Jerusalem," is exactly the kind of built-up Jewish community that President Bush referred to when, in a letter to then-Prime Minister Sharon, he assured Israel that the U.S. did not expect it to withdraw completely from the West Bank.

Similarly, in describing Pisgat Zeev, you called it a "NORTHEASTERN JERUSALEM NEIGHBORHOOD" within expanded but internationally unrecognized boundaries of the city that were set after the 1967 war.

Twenty-four hours ago, I sent you and your editors an e-mail commending you on making it clear that, amid all the controversy over Israel building more homes within these 2 places, the fact is that they're on DISPUTED lands -- territory that is neither internationally recognized as "Israeli" or "Palestinian."

But lo and behold, in your very next article, in today's April 2 editions of the Washington Post, you seem to have forgotten what you wrote a day earlier and you suddenly and unexplainedly convert these DISPUTED LANDS into PALESTINIAN LANDS. Are you and the Post a day late in playing April's Fool?

The lead paragraph in your April 2 article now refers to Pisgat Zeev and Betar Illit as "OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN LAND."  Pisgat Zeev no longer is a northeastern Jerusalem neighborhood within the city's expanded boundaries, but now has become a "West Bank settlement" with no connection to Jerusalem whatsoever. 

Is this a case of geographic alchemy? What accounts for this startling semantic switcheroo? Did you experience a sudden epiphany that forced you to grant "Palestinian" sovereignty and ownership to these 2 places? Or did an editor remind you that you went off the reservation on April 1 and that you're expected to adhere henceforth to the news department's pro-Palestinian agenda in future dispatches?

Whatever accounts for your egregious change of designations for Pisgat Zeev and Betar Illit, the fact is that YOU WERE RIGHT ON APRIL 1 AND YOU WERE WRONG ON APRIL 2.

You were right on April 1 because as you seemed to know at the time, Israel did not capture "Palestinian" lands in the 1967 war. There was no sovereign "Palestinian" entity in the West Bank before 1967 for anyone to occupy. Nor has there been one since then. The West Bank's last sovereign was the Ottoman Empire. I doubt that even your misguided editors would countenance the Post describing Pisgat Zeev and Betar Illit as built on OCCUPIED OTTOMAN LAND. Before Israel captured the West Bank in a six-day war against Arab armies determined to wipe it off the map, Jordan occupied the West Bank for nearly 20 years. And before Jordan occupied the West Bank during Israel's Independence War in 1948-49 (a war also fought by Arab armies determined to eliminate Israel), the West Bank was part of British-ruled Palestine Mandate, which the League of Nations assigned to London pending the advent of a new sovereign occupant that would replace the defunct Ottoman Empire -- a quest that continues to this very day.

But at no time was the West Bank "PALESTINIAN LAND" -- nor has there been a "Palestinian" state, nation, or sovereignty at any time throughout recorded history.

So I would hope that in any future articles about Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem that lie beyond the 1949 armistice line or Jewish communities in the West Bank, you'll insist on reverting to your accurate April 1 terminology and not perpetuate the historical fallacies of your April 2 piece. Your reputation as a professional journalist is on the line.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Friday, March 28, 2008

The Post Is Passionate In Its Effort To Humanize Palestinian Terrorists And Comparatively Inattentive To The Humanity Of Israeli Victims Of Terror

From: Andrew Cooper
To: Letters to the Editor
CC: Reporter, Foreign Editor and Ombudsman, The Washington Post
Date: Sunday, March 9, 2008

To the Editors:

After reading yesterday's (Israel Mourns Eight Slain Students, Thousands Attend Service for Victims of Gunman Described as Despondent Over Gaza, 3-8-08, A9) coverage of the vicious terrorist attack in Jerusalem, I knew quite a bit more about the terrorist who opened fire in a library, murdering eight students and seriously injuring many more. I knew about his family's reactions, the celebrations of the murders that took place within his community, his background, his supposed motivations, and even what he and his family looked like from two prominent photographs. 

But, oddly enough, an article entitled "Israel Mourns Eight Slain Students"  forced me to leave the newspaper and surf the Internet last night to find even the names and hometowns of those merely described by the article as "victims, who ranged in age from 15 to 26." Perhaps other current Post readers are interested to learn their names, see their photos, and read about them, as well:

Yohai Lifshitz, 18, from Jerusalem; Yonatan Yitzhak Eldar, 16, from Shilo; Yonadav Haim Hirschfeld, 19, from Kohav Hashahar, Neria Cohen, 15, also from the capital, Segev Peniel Avihail, 15, from Neve Daniel, Avraham David Moses, 16, from Efrat, Roee Roth, 18, from Elkana and Doron Meherete, 26, from Ashdod.

As Publisher and CEO of the Washington Post, Bo Jones recently wrote : "But looking at the Post's coverage of this conflict over the long term, I am confident that readers have been fairly informed." By its unfortunate failure to provide such basic information, the Post undermines such confidence.

Andrew Cooper


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Washington Post Reporter Commended For Returning To Fair Definition Of Hamas and For Adding To It Accurate Statement Noting That Increasing Rocket Fire From Gaza Threatens Peace Talks

In our March 15, 2008 Alert we published a letter to Post reporter Griff Witte criticizing his use of the following definition of Hamas:

"Hamas, which calls for a state governed by Islamic law across territory that now includes Israel." 

We noted that with the words "by Islamic law" removed, the same definition could apply to any number of peaceful and tolerant political groups and parties within Israel and that this definition inappropriately left out the hate and violence preached and actually practiced by Hamas. In our letter we noted that Mr. Witte had previously used an accurate definition of Hamas and only recently had softened his description. We asked why. We didn't receive a direct response from Mr. Witte, but in today's article by Mr. Witte the following definition of Hamas was used:

"Hamas, a radical Islamist movement that has declared its intention to destroy Israel, seized control of Gaza from Abbas's government last June. Since then, intensifying rocket fire from the coastal strip into Israel has dampened hopes for a settlement between Israel and the more moderate Palestinian Authority, which still holds sway in the West Bank." (U.S. Urged to Push Hamas-Israel Truce, Fatah's Abbas, Cheney Meet in West Bank, 3-24-08, A9)

Mr. Witte should be doubly commended, first for his return to "straight talk" in describing Hamas, and second for a rare instance in which Post readers are directly told the truth about Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza being the source of the violence that threatens peace talks. All too often Post reporters describe the violence in Gaza and Southern Israel as tit for tat or as a cycle of violence, depriving it of context. They often describe a barrage of Palestinian rockets as in retaliation for an Israeli military action that day or the day before, without noting events that preceded and provoked the Israeli action. Ever since Israel withdrew its military and civilian presence from Gaza, it has faced a steady stream of terrorist rockets launched from within Gaza across the border into Israeli civilian population centers. As Israel has said repeatedly, stop the planning and launching of terrorist attacks against Israel and Israel will stop its military response. No one would expect a reporter to go into that much detail in each and every article, but there's no reason why Post reporters should not provide a clear statement that the violence originates with Palestinian rockets launched from Gaza against Israeli civilian population centers. 


Washington Times Publishes Apt Contrast Between Palestinian Citizens Celebrating Terrorist Killings of Israelis And The Absence Throughout The Entire History of Israel of Any Such Israeli Celebrations of Palestinian Deaths

The following was seen in the March 11 edition of the Washington Times, quoting from the Weekly Standard.

"THE STREETS OF GAZA were packed with thousands of joyous revelers on Thursday following the terrorist attack at a Jerusalem rabbinical seminary that killed eight people. In mosques throughout Gaza, according to news reports, many residents went to perform the prayers of thanksgiving. Armed men fired machine gun bursts into the air in celebration. Others passed out candies to random passersby on the streets.

[It] must be noted there has never been a recorded celebration in the Israeli streets over a counterterrorism incursion into the Gaza Strip. Indeed, Israelis are typically saddened by the necessity of such operations. Meanwhile, the international community takes great pains to cast the Palestinians and Israelis as having equal responsibility in the ongoing bloodshed, but the culture of violence among the Palestinians goes largely unnoticed." 

Mr. Witte was quick to comment in his news report following the recent Jerusalem Yeshiva murders that the Yeshiva terrorist "was reminiscent of" the 14 year old Baruch Goldstein rampage by a deranged Israeli settler. Many readers were outraged by the comparison, because it was a transparent effort to soften the savagery of the Palestinian act of terrorism by searching for and noting an act that the reporter believed was comparable. Mr. Witte's parallel to the Baruch Goldstein rampage skipped over hundreds of Palestinian terrorist murders in the intervening 14 years and made no differentiation between a single, isolated attack of an Israeli madman and a terrorist mission that was preconceived, planned and carried out with the assistance of terrorist groups. It also drew no distinction between Palestinian society, which celebrates the murder of Jews, and Israeli society, which views all death, even that of its enemy, as a tragedy. That would have been an apt contrast for Mr. Witte to make.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Even The Post's Letters To The Editor Section Is Used to Falsely Portray Events, While Creating An Illusion of Balance

From: Dr. Michael Berenhaus
Sent: Thursday, March 20, 2008
To: Letters to the Editor, The Washington Post

Dear Editor,

Martha Baine (Free for all March 15, 2008) complains that the lack of equal mention in The Washington Post of Israel's military strike which killed 5 Gazans, which garnered no coverage, and the story of the Palestinian "gunman" who murdered eight youths, which received front page coverage, is indication of coverage that is not balanced. Ms. Baine doesn't mention that the 5 Gazans who were killed were not ordinary noncombatants but terrorists shooting rockets at Israeli civilians, a recognized war crime. Is it that Ms. Baine can't tell the difference between students killed while going to school and the killing of terrorists who seek to murder Jewish women and children by firing rockets indiscriminately? Or is it that she feels that these are legally and morally equivalent?

The Washington Post chose to publish Baine's letter as balance to Yaffa Klugerman, who criticized the Post for saying that the murder of eight Jewish students "was reminiscent of a 1994 attack by Baruch Goldstein, a Jew who shot a group of Palestinians at prayer." The Goldstein murders were an aberration for Israeli/Jewish society. The seminary massacre was in keeping with 'normal' Palestinian practice, as seen in the hundreds of attacks (and thousands of aborted attempts) since the start of the Oslo "peace process" in '93, that have murdered more than 1,100 Israelis and wounded, often grievously, thousands more. There is no comparison. 

The Post placement of Baine's propaganda piece relying on the glaring omission of the identity of the Gazans killed shows that false balance is a poor substitute for accuracy. 

Michael Berenhaus


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Post Reporter Crops Vice President Cheney's Remarks Supporting and Praising Israel - Selectively Seeks and Reports Quotes Critical of Israel - Converts Favorable Diplomatic Visit Into Attack on Israel

Leo Rennert's letter below provides a detailed analysis of how Griff Witte, the Post's new reporter in Israel, slanted the Post's report on Vice President Cheney's visit to Israel by editing the Vice President's comments in support and praise of Israel and by searching for and selectively employing his own choice of quotes of public officials. (Cheney Focuses on Mideast Talks, Meetings With Olmert, Abbas Aimed at Reinvigorating Process, 3-23-08, A13) Mr. Witte converted a diplomatic event that was highly favorable to Israel into a news report that was critical of Israel. A comparison of the Post's report to the AP's coverage, which ran in the Washington Times and many other news publications, shows the Post reporter to have deliberately blunted the favorable atmosphere surrounding the Vice Presidential visit. While the Times and other publications that ran the AP story accompanied it with a photograph of Vice President Cheney together with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the Post inexplicably accompanied its story with a photograph of Vice President Cheney meeting with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah the day before. Mr. Rennert's letter details the manner in which the Post's correspondent clipped all of the Vice President's praise of Israel, and used his report as a springboard into a critique of Israel. An examination of the AP's report shows it to have more faithfully reported the substance of the Cheney visit.
____________

From: Leo Rennert 
To: Editors, Publisher and Ombudsman, The Washington Post
Subject: WASHINGTON POST TURNS CHENEY'S VISIT INTO AN ISRAEL-BASHING SCREED
Date: Sunday, March 23, 2008

As part of his trip to the Middle East, Vice President Cheney stopped off in Jerusalem on Saturday, March 22. During a joint appearance with Prime Minister Olmert, Cheney issued a ringing endorsement of Israel's need to fight terrorism and missile attacks. The vice president also highlighted the multiple security threats faced by Israel -- specifically from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Iran.

But if you're a Washington Post reader, you wouldn't know that. Post correspondent Griff Witte instead turns Cheney's visit into an opportunity to blame Israel for a faltering peace process. [Cheney Focuses on Mideast Talks, Meetings With Olmert, Abbas Aimed at Reinvigorating Process, 3-23-08, A13That's quite a trick, considering that the Veep is one of Israel's staunchest supporters and admirers.

But here's how Witte manages this bit of journalistic alchemy. If you read the entirety of Cheney's remarks (see full text), you find that he focused primarily on Israel's great achievements since its founding 60 years ago, its close friendship and alliance with the U.S. as two democracies with similar values fighting against a common enemy -- terrorism. In addition, Cheney relayed the Bush administration's commitment to a two-state solution and a willingness to act as an honest broker to move the peace process forward.

Witte, however, shifts the focus away from the main thrust of Cheney's remarks because he and the Post are not all that concerned about Israel's security and are much more interested in knocking Israel for lack of progress in the peace process.

Start with the headline: "Cheney Focuses on Mideast Talks." (Cheney's remarks arguably focus as much, if not more, on Israel's security needs).

The lead paragraph reads in a similar vein -- that Cheney has come to talk to Israeli and Palestinian leaders about a peace process that has yielded scant progress. The following paragraphs quote Cheney as talking about U.S. commitment to the peace process, wanting to see a resolution of the conflict, an end to terrorism, a new beginning for the Palestinians, and telling Olmert that the U.S. will never pressure Israel to take steps that threaten its security.

And that's it: FOUR paragraphs about Cheney's statements in Jerusalem in a NINETEEN PARAGRAPH article -- with Israel's security in a subsidiary position.

So let's start by checking which of Cheney's remarks were so inconvenient as far as Witte's anti-Israel agenda is concerned that he censored them out of his piece:

1. "America's commitment to Israel's security is enduring and unshakable, as is our commitment to Israel's right to defend itself always against terrorism, rocket attacks and other threats from forces dedicated to Israel's destruction. " 

2. "As we continue to work for peace, we must not and will not ignore the darkening shadows of the situations in Gaza, in Lebanon, in Syria, and in Iran, and the forces there that are working to derail the hopes of the world."

3. And Cheney's bouquet to Israel on its 60th anniversary: "The state of Israel's rise out of the ashes of World War II is one of history's great miracles."

Having found no space or shown any interest in these Cheney remarks, what else did Witte write about? Basically, the remainder of the article deals with the peace process and why Israel bears the main -- almost exclusive -- burden for lack of visible progress.

Witte tells readers that the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are designed to create a Palestinian state "in a way that does not compromise security in Israel." So far so good. But from then on, it's all downhill.

Here's how Witte puts the monkey on Israel's back for "growing disenchantment" with the way the peace process has stalled since the Annapolis conference in November:

1. "Israel has announced plans to EXPAND SETTLEMENTS." (False. Olmert has imposed a freeze on settlement expansion in the West Bank and only authorized additional home construction INSIDE existing settlements.)

2. "Major violence has flared in the Gaza Strip" (presumably a reference to Israeli ground and air operations against rocket launchers, but Witte doesn't say so))

3. "The Palestinians temporarily walked away from the negotiating table."

And that's it.

NOTE THAT THE HUNDREDS OF ROCKETS AND MORTAR ROUNDS THAT HAVE FALLEN ON SDEROT, ASHKELON AND OTHER ISRAELI COMMUNITIES SINCE NOVEMBER ARE NEVER MENTIONED IN WITTE'S ENUMERATION OF FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR LACK OF PROGRESS ON THE PEACE FRONT! They just don't count.

To buttress his anti-Israel fault-finding, Witte then devotes FOUR PARAGRAPHS to an interview with Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad, who complaints that it's all Israel's fault for not carrying out its obligations under Bush's "road map" -- (the same amount of space the article devotes to Cheney's remarks.)

But that's not the end of it. Witte is determined to pile it on with more Israel-bashing stuff. He treats readers to another complaint about Israel -- this time from Mahmoud Abbas.

At this point, Witte inserts a short, quickie paragraph about Israel countering that the Palestinians haven't met their obligations, particularly when it comes to a "crackdown on militancy," (leaving the readers to guess that this euphemism refers to continuing severe terrorist threats.)

But having given one little paragraph to a vague, grossly incomplete summary of Israel's beefs, Witte immediately returns with more Israel bashing, this time with a FOUR PARAGRAPH critique by Ami Ayalon, who accuses Israel of not doing more to prop up Abbas -- (after Israel OKd Russian delivery of 25 armored vehicles to Abbas and provided amnesty and early release from prison for hundreds of Palestinian terrorists -- events which don't figure in Witte's equation).

In Witte's article, Ayalon is identified as an "Israeli minister" as he sounds the alarm that Abbas may soon go under less Israel comes quickly to the rescue -- "He believes in two states. He believes in diplomacy. And he was elected by the Palestinian people. This is all I care about." (Presumably, Ayalon doesn't care that Abbas-controlled TV and other media continue to spew out anti-Israel incitement or that Abbas eulogizes Palestinian terrorist kingpins, or lets his own security services be used as safe havens for moonlighting terrorists -- a side of Abbas that doesn't interest Witte).

But what role does Ayalon play in Olmert's cabinet? Yes, he's a Labor Party minister, but he's the only minister without portfolio among the 25 members of Olmert's cabinet. In other words, Ayalon has the most junior, least important cabinet position; he's not in charge of a single Israeli agency -- something Witte conveniently overlooks. Because with his cherry-picking of quotable folks who will bash Israel, sometimes he's reduced to finding one in the bottom of the barrel.

If Witte had been even remotely interested in getting Israel's take on why the peace process has stalled, he might have interviewed Olmert, or Foreign Minister Livni, or Defense Minister Barak, or Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter -- all grown-ups who could have given him lots of reasons why Israel feels that Abbas and the Palestinians have fallen way short of their obligations under the peace process.

But that would have been inconvenient for Witte's determined pursuit of Israel bashers, whose comments comprise the bulk of an article supposedly devoted to Cheney's visit.

While Witte gives ample space for criticism of Israel by Fayyad, Abbas and Ayalon, his article DOESN'T QUOTE A SINGLE ISRAELI OFFICIAL IN DEFENSE OF ISRAEL'S VIEWS OF WHY THE PEACE PROCESS HAS STALLED BECAUSE OF OBSTACLES THROWN UP BY THE PALESTINIAN SIDE.

Selective journalism? You bet. Agenda journalism? For sure. Fair, balanced journalism? No way when it comes to Israel.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Washington Post Managing Editor Says Post Wants More Muslim Readers and More Muslim Journalists; Says Lack of Understanding of Islam Contributes to Faulty Media Coverage

We wish to thank Mark Lazerson for alerting us to this recent "window" into the thinking of a top Post editor. 

Philip Bennett, the Washington Post’s Managing Editor, in addressing an audience at the University of California at Irvine, Center for the Study of Democracy, on March 3, 2008 spoke of the need for greater understanding of the tenets of the Islamic faith and its terminology. Bennett claims poor Arabic translations give rise to "confusion." Reminiscent of the Post's decision to stop calling Palestinian terrorists "terrorists" (now, they're just "fighters" to the Post), Bennett reported that Washington Post editors are now having a difficult time deciding whether they ought to call Islamists "Islamists." (Media to Blame for Islamic Misconceptions, Daily Pilot, 3-3-08). We can't wait to see the Orwellian distortion that will emerge from this internal debate. 

In an earlier letter to the Post, Leo Rennert reminded Post editors of the fundamental journalistic principle against referring to a banana as an "elongated yellow fruit," yet that is precisely the type of nonsense in which Post reporters and editors seem driven to engage. Terrorists are transformed into "militants," "gunmen"  and "fighters." A goal to destroy Israel becomes a "call for a state governed by Islamic law across territory that now includes Israel." Words are avoided and discarded like so much trash, solely to support the political agendas of certain reporters and editors.

Bennett stated:

"At the Post I want more Muslim readers and I want more Muslim journalists."

Many readers think that regardless of motive, the Washington Post is doing much to further those objectives. The Post often uses Arab reporters and Arab photographers in Arab communities such as Gaza and Lebanon to give its readers up close and personal photographs and news coverage slanted in favor of Muslim communities and against the victims of Islamic extremists in those communities. The Post's ongoing whitewashing of Islamist terror organizations, its critical coverage of efforts to eliminate such organizations and its failure to differentiate between innocent civilian victims of violence instigated by these organizations and culpable civilians who support, house, nurture and hide the terrorists, all add to the Post's approval ratings among Muslim readers. 

Daniel Pipes had this to say of Bennett's comments:

"It's all very well for Bennett to sniff patronizingly at the knowledge of Islam among average Americans, but I am impressed with their learning curve since 9/11 as well as their common sense. Far less impressive to me is a group of sophisticated editors that cannot even, after all these years, decide to use the word Islamist. Someone has a problem understanding Islam, but it's Philip Bennett, not his readers."


Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Washington Post's Incremental Whitewashing of Palestinian Terrorism

Step 1. Several years ago the Washington Post was among the leaders of the media pack in whitewashing Palestinian terrorism by refusing to apply the term "terrorist" to Palestinian terrorists. The Post renamed them "militants," while it continued to refer to non-Palestinian terrorists as "terrorists," regardless of whether they were from London, Spain, Bali or Chechnya ... just not Israel or the disputed territories. Other media outlets soon followed, and as far as most of the world's media outlets are now concerned, there are no longer any Palestinian terrorists. 

Step 2. Now the Post again leads the pack in further whitewashing Palestinian terrorists. In all of the Post's recent dispatches from the Middle East, Palestinian terrorists are called "fighters," as if to invoke the image of "freedom fighters" for readers. And that would probably suit the Post just fine as the next step in its incremental whitewashing of Palestinian terrorists. If allowed free reign to say what they want about the Israeli Palestinian conflict, certain reporters and editors of the Washington Post might well refer to Palestinian terrorists as freedom fighters.

What follows is a clear instance of the Post editing the term "militants" to "fighters" in a wire service report on Sunday, March 16.

WASHINGTON TIMES
Israeli Air Strikes Kill 3 Militants

GAZA CITY — Israeli air strikes killed three Palestinian militants and wounded six yesterday, Palestinian medical and security officials said. They said the dead and wounded were all members of the Islamic Jihad group, hit in three separate raids in central and northern Gaza.

The Israeli military confirmed two strikes, in which it said five armed men preparing to launch rockets at Israeli targets were hit. Earlier, the military said, three Palestinian rockets fell in Israel but there were no reported casualties.


WASHINGTON POST
Israeli Strikes in Gaza Kill 3 Palestinian Fighters

Israeli airstrikes in the central and northern Gaza Strip killed three Palestinian fighters and wounded six, Palestinian medical and security officials said. They identified the dead and wounded as members of Islamic Jihad. Israel confirmed two strikes, in which it said five men preparing to launch rockets at Israeli targets were hit. 


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Whitewashing Hamas - Washington Post's New Reporter In Israel Learning the Post's Orwell Shuffle

To: Griff Witte, Washington Post Publisher, Editors & Ombudsman
From: Robert G. Samet, Eye On The Post, Inc. 
Date: Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Subject: Whitewashing Hamas

Mr. Witte:

In "Uneasy Calm Emerges in Gaza as U.S., Egypt Push Talks, Israel and Hamas Have Largely Been Holding Their Fire," March 11, 2008, you describe Hamas as follows:

 "Hamas, which calls for a state governed by Islamic law across territory that now includes Israel." 

One could say of any number of peaceful and tolerant political groups and parties within Israel that they "call for a state governed by [fill in one's favorite religious or secular political agenda] across the territory that now includes Israel." 

The phrase "calls for" inappropriately leaves out the hate and violence preached and actually practiced by Hamas. The fact that so many non-violent and mainstream groups could be substituted in your description illustrates that your description falls far short of telling the truth about Hamas. 

None of these other mainstream groups would do as Hamas does, which is to advocate and incite its members and supporters to violence toward achieving its goal. None of these other groups would support killing innocent civilians -- Jewish only, which therefore makes it genocide, and civilian, non-combatants, which makes it terrorism -- to achieve its goals. And since Israel was openly established by the world community as a Jewish homeland, what Hamas is really doing is engaging in genocidal terrorism toward its goal of the destruction of Israel.

In your news reports over the past couple of weeks you have explicitly stated that Hamas's goal is to destroy Israel. Suddenly you're not telling it as it is. Why the sudden whitewash?

Robert G. Samet
Chairman
EyeOnThePost, Inc.
http://www.EyeOnThePost.org

No response has been received to this letter to date.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Washington Post Reporter Compares Jerusalem Yeshiva Terrorist to Baruch Goldstein, An Israeli Who Attacked and Killed Palestinians In A Mosque 14 Years Earlier - Post Publishes Up Close Photo of Terrorist's Mother, Surrounded by Family Members, Swooning in Grief

If you read the linked articles below you will find many more examples of the Washington Post's objectionable reporting about Israel, Palestinians, terrorism and terrorists, but in the interest of avoiding overload we're limiting our Alerts to the most egregious of these recent examples.

On the morning of March 6 the Washington Post ran yet another up close and personal feature article complaining about the inconvenience and humiliation Israel's security barriers and checkpoints are causing Palestinians. (West Bank Barriers Keep Rising Despite Promises of Relief, Commute Becomes 'Daily Humiliation', 3-6-08, A14) Typical of the Post's reporting, the article employed slanted language to cast doubt on the need for such security measures. Griff Witte, the latest of the Post's correspondents to distort the news from the region, wrote that Israel's security measures were "imposed in the name of security" and quoted Palestinians referring to Israel's West Bank security barriers as "a breach of trust," a "system of suffocation," and "a policy of harassment." It isn't until paragraph 12 of the article, long after a headline and much language sympathetic to Palestinians and harshly critical of Israel, that this reporter deigned to provide the Israeli side; Palestinians have done little to uphold their Annapolis promise to improve their security services, and although Israel would like to reduce and eliminate entirely the need for such measures, it is too soon to do either. 

Ironically, this story preceded the same day Palestinian attack on a Jerusalem Yeshiva in which 8 Israelis, mostly young teenagers, were slaughtered. It is unknown how or where the terrorist secured his weapons, but the very fact that Palestinian Arabs in East Jerusalem are planning mass murders of Israelis clearly points to the continuing need for those barriers that Witte complained about in his article.

But Griff Witte either missed that point or deliberately ignored it in his report of the attack. (Gunman Kills Eight at Seminary in Jerusalem, Attack Could Strain Already Faltering Peace Negotiations, 3-7-08, A01) In search of moral equivalence and in an effort to soften the crime of the Yeshiva murders, Griff Witte inserted into his news report his own thoughts comparing the Yeshiva terrorist to Baruch Goldstein, the Israeli who attacked and killed 29 Palestinians in a mosque 14 years earlier. This was Witte's strange rumination:

"The attack was reminiscent of an earlier instance of a gunman killing people at prayer: In 1994, Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein shot dead 29 Palestinians at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron before he himself was killed."

It's telling that Witte had to leap backwards over time and over the multitude of terrorist suicide bombings of Israeli men, women and children at work, school, and play who were slaughtered over the last 14 years to come up with the lone example of Goldstein. 

Another item of interest about this article was caught by Leo Rennert. His letter below points out how Griff Witte's earlier, web site version of this article referred to the Jerusalem Yeshiva attack as a "terrorist" attack but was later edited to remove the reference to the T word -- "terrorist." The original version uploaded to the Post's web site on the day of the attack read:

"It was the highest Israeli death toll in a terrorist attack since April 17, 2006, when nine people were killed in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, according to statistics kept by the Anti-Defamation League"

The edited version in the newspaper the next morning read: 

"The deadliest attack in Israel in recent years was in April 2006, when 11 people were killed in a suicide strike at a falafel stand in Tel Aviv."

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive...” Sir Walter Scott

Finally, the Post continued today its "Palestinian-Terrorists-Are-Only-People-
With-Grieving-Mothers-And-Good-Reasons-For-Killing-Israelis"
agenda. The only problem is it's only Palestinian terrorists who warrant such propagandized treatment by the Post. If the Post treated terrorists in London, Iraq, Afghanistan, Spain, Russia or Bali with the same deference it treats Palestinian terrorists, it would be widely condemned and run out of town by its readership. But it can get away with this kind of treatment when only Israelis are the victims. Leo Rennert's letter discusses the photo in today's paper of the Yeshiva attacker's mother swooning in grief in the protective embrace of family members as well as a family photo of the attacker himself. What the Post doesn't show are the Hamas flags erected by the grieving family of the Yeshiva attacker or the throngs of Palestinians dancing in the streets and celebrating the Yeshiva attack. Readers might wonder why the Post would not show such photos? 

The following letters were sent to the Post:


From: Judge Herbert Grossman
To: Washington Post Editors, Publisher, Reporter and Ombudsman
Date: March 6, 2008

To the Editor: 

Yet another sob story about hardships facing West Bank Arabs because of Israeli checkpoints? 

Is there any value to continuing to run articles like “West Bank Barriers Keep Rising Despite Promises of Relief?”

You can’t really believe that there is someone in the public with the ability to read a newspaper who doesn’t know by now that the checkpoints are there to provide security; that if they were removed there would be a spate of attacks and suicide bombings; that such increased bloodshed would hinder, not help peace efforts; and, that it is within the power of the Palestinians to remove the barriers, merely by ceasing their attempted attacks. Everyone knows by now, even those that may publicly state otherwise, that Israeli security measures are there to protect against attacks, which they do effectively, and do not cause them.

These sob stories, at this late date, are an insult to the intelligence of the public and do not say much for yours. You should be embarrassed.

Sincerely, 

Judge Herbert Grossman
[Herbert Grossman, author of the book "J'Accuse the N.Y. Times and Washington Post: Biased Reporting from the Middle East," is a full time Federal Administrative Law Judge]  


From: Charles Katz
To: The Editors of the Washington Post
Date: March 6, 2008

On March 6, 2008 the Washington Post published yet another article on how terrible and horrible the Israelis are for daring to try and protect themselves with checkpoints and barriers. The article argues that common and standard worldwide defensive countermeasures are humiliations and collective punishment; something which it complains about with great frequency when the actor is Israel, but remains silent otherwise. At the same time the article withholds from the readership any information about the incidents behind these Israeli countermeasures, including the many recent attacks by Palestinians upon Israelis, such as the recent gang assaults in Jerusalem, the drive by shootings, the stonings, the firebombings, and the welling background of incitement. There are certainly terms for this type of writing. However, I don't believe that journalism is one of them.

I look forward to the day that the Editors of the Post, in between their bouts of suffering the humiliations of the TSA and the collective punishment of stoplights, fences, and locked doors, consider actually differentiating Washington Post reporting from Fatah agitprop.

Charles Katz


From: Leo Rennert
To: Washington Post Editors, Publisher, Reporter and Ombudsman
Date: March 7, 2008
Subject: WASHINGTON POST EXPUNGES "TERRORISM" FROM ITS REPORT ON YESHIVA
MASSACRE IN JERUSALEM

At 4:33 PM on Thursday, March 6, the Washington Post put on its website an initial draft by its Jerusalem correspondent, Griff Witte, about the attack on a Jerusalem yeshiva in which eight people were killed.

The second paragraph of Witte's story read: "It was the highest death toll in a TERRORIST attack since April 17, 2006, when nine people were killed in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv."

Witte thus acknowledged that Israel not only was a one-day target of TERRORISM but has a history of such attacks in recent years.

But a curious thing happened between Witte's initial draft and the final version that appeared in the Post's print editions the following morning of March 7:

''TERRORISM'' disappeared from his copy. Not once did the print edition of the Post refer to this deliberate attack on peaceful students at the yeshiva as an ACT OF TERRORISM, although the circumstances fit perfectly with the definition of TERRORISM.

When it comes right down to it, the Post has been able to attach a TERRORIST label on 9/11, the London subway bombings, the train bombings in Madrid and other terrorist outrages from Bali to Morocco -- but never when TERRORIST attacks happen in Israel. Which tells you something about the pervasive anti-Israel bias in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And when it comes to biased reporting, there's another telling indicator in Witte's piece, as he seeks to draw a parallel between the yeshiva attack and previous attacks on civilians. Does he recall the lengthy spate of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem in recent years when young people also were murdered in a pizzeria, at market places, on buses? NO. There are no such parallels in his article with the March 6 yeshiva massacre.

The ONLY parallel Witte is able to summon up is the following:

"The attack was reminiscent of an earlier instance of a gunman killing people at prayer: In 1994, Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein shot dead 29 Palestinians at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron before he himself was killed."

The real historical facts, of course, belie any such parallel or comparison. Goldstein's horrific act was immediately condemned and renounced by Israeli leaders and the vast gamut of Israeli society as utterly repugnant and completely indefensible In sharp contrast, the killings at the Jerusalem yeshiva were immediately applauded by Hamas, the reigning regime in Gaza, and by thousands of Palestinians who jubilantly fired guns in the air and passed out sweets.

If Witte and the Post had any real sense of history and wanted to draw a real parallel with students or worshippers being mowed down in an act of terrorism, they might have gone back to Hebron in 1929 when an Arab pogrom killed scores of observant Jews and ravaged their places of prayer.

Unfortunately, real history -- today's and yesterday's -- remains conspicuously absent from the Post's warped dispatches from the Holy Land.

Leo Rennert


From: Leo Rennert
To: Washington Post Editors, Publisher, Reporter and Ombudsman
Date: March 8, 2008
Subject: WASHINGTON POST - AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY MOURNER FOR A TERRORIST AND HIS VICTIMS

On March 7, there were separate family funerals in Israel for the 8 Jerusalem yeshiva students killed a day earlier by a terrorist who fired hundreds of bullets as the students were poring over biblical texts. In addition, there was a memorial service attended by thousands at the yeshiva. And an East Jerusalem Palestinian family also mourned for the slain terrorist amid flags of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.

The way the Washington Post covered these events tells you all you need to know not just about the paper's pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel bias, but also about its eagerness to whitewash terrorists and their despicable deeds.

For starters, the Post, in its print edition, features 3 color photos alongside the article by Griff Witte, its Jerusalem correspondent. (Israel Mourns Eight Slain Students, Thousands Attend Service for Victims of Gunman Described as Despondent Over Gaza, 3-8-08, A09) Of the 3 photos, ONLY ONE pictures throngs of mourners in the yeshiva library. Since this was a top-down, wide angle shot, not a single face of a single mourner is visible -- only a big crowd. The other 2 photos are devoted to the terrorist and his family. In one picture, a family member holds up a big photo of the terrorist (HIS face you can see). In the other photo, his grieving mother is shown being comforted by relatives. Her weeping face you can also see very clearly. What the photos don't show you is the mother hoisting Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah flags in celebration of her son's "martyrdom."

So, as far as the Post's use of photos is concerned, it's 2 for the terrorist and his family and only one for the 8 slain yeshiva students. To compound the Post's pro-terrorist distortion, THE PHOTO LAYOUT DOES NOT SHOW A SINGLE FACE OF ANY OF THE ISRAELI MOURNERS. THERE ALSO IS NO PHOTO OF ANY MEMBERS OF THE STUDENTS' FAMILIES.

Witte's article is no better and also is geared to minimize Israeli suffering and sympathize with the terrorist and his family.

Witte devotes his first 3 paragraphs to the memorial service at the yeshiva, then immediately devotes the next 3 paragraphs to the mourning of the terrorist in East Jerusalem and the praise lavished by Hamas on this mass killer.

Thus, for the first 6 paragraphs, IT'S 3 PARAGRAPHS FOR INNOCENT STUDENTS, 3 PARAGRAPHS FOR THEIR KILLER. PERFECT EQUIVALENCE!

The next 8 paragraphs are devoted to matters other than mourning by either side -- mainly about Israel's difficulties in halting attacks on its citizens, peace negotiations, etc.

After that, Witte pumps in another 3 paragraphs of close-ups of the terrorists' family mourning service, with due emphasis on relatives' accounts that the killer became "despondent" over Israel's recent offensive in Gaza against Hamas rocket-launchers.

So far, readers are treated to 3 paragraphs for the slain students and 6 paragraphs for the killer and his family.

Witte then ends his article by granting back-of-the-bus notice to the slain students and their mourners at the yeshiva -- devoting the final 5 paragraphs to the memorial service at the yeshiva.

If you count these final paragraphs (which most Post readers may not even have gotten to), Witte ends up devoting 6 PARAGRAPHS to a lamented terrorist and 9 PARAGRAPHS to his victims.

AND NOT ONCE DOES THE POST ARTICLE MAKE ANY MENTION THAT THIS WAS AN ACT OF TERRORISM. At the Post, TERRORISM occurs in many places on this earth -- but never in Israel.

ALSO, THE POST FAILS TO COVER A SINGLE FAMILY FUNERAL FOR ANY OF THE SLAIN STUDENTS. Thus, their parents and other relatives are entirely missing from both the Post's photos and its article. Not one grieving Jewish mother -- pictorially or in the article. The only grieving mother is the terrorist's. At the Post, the pain of a terrorist mother evidently counts more than the pain of a Jewish mother.

AND WHILE THE POST PUTS A NAME TO THE TERRORIST AND TO THE TERRORIST'S MOTHER, IT NOT ONCE NAMES ANY OF THE STUDENT VICTIMS.

So let's compare the Post's coverage with the New York Times version:

1. The Times has a single, black and white photo of the funeral procession for the yeshiva students, in which, in contrast to the Post, grief-stricken faces of mourners are clearly visible.

2. Unlike the Post, which limited its coverage to the memorial service at the yeshiva, the Times starts its article from Gush Etzion and devotes the first 5 PARAGRAPHS to the family funeral service for Avraham David Moses, a 16-year-old, and to the grieving comments of his stepmother who calls him "a really good kid -- an incredible blessing." While the Times provides its readers with a personal profile of one of the dead boys and lets readers know how his stepmother felt, such solicitude and empathy are reserved in the Post to the killer and his mother.

3. The Times devotes a total of 14 PARAGRAPHS to the mourning for Israel's dead and only TWO paragraphs to the terrorist and his family.

4. So, strictly in quantitative terms, while the Post has a 9-to-6 paragraph ratio in its coverage of the mourning for the 8 students vis a vis the mourning for the terrorist, at the New York Times, the ratio is 14 to 2 paragraphs.

5. Finally, the fifth paragraph in the Times reads as follows: "Avraham David was one of eight seminary students killed Thursday night IN AN ACT OF TERRORISM, shot by a Palestinians from East Jerusalem who sprayed them with hundreds of rounds of automatic weapons fire before being killed himself. Ten other students were wounded, three of them seriously."

The Post makes no mention of the wounded and NO MENTION OF TERRORISM.

Does one need any more evidence of the Post's anti-Israel bias or how the paper stretches to establish EQUIVALENCE between TERRORISTS AND THEIR VICTIMS?

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Washington Post Beats Palestinians for Mendacity Award - Israel Says Only 10% of Gaza Casualties in Recent Israeli Offensive Were Civilians - Palestinians Say 1/3 to 1/2 Were Civilians - Washington Post Reporter Says "MOST" Were Civilians

Date: March 5, 2008
From: Leo Rennert
Subject: BLAME-ISRAEL-FIRST ARTICLE IN WASHINGTON POST -- WITH PHONY STATISTICS
To: Reporter, Editors, Publisher, Ombudsman, Washington Post

In its March 5 editions, the Washington Post runs a story by Glenn Kessler from Ramallah, "Abbas Stays Noncommittal on Peace Talks," that's emblematic of a reporter putting together a dispatch not to fit the facts, but to fit an agenda (in this instance, anti-Israel).

Kessler begins by trying to explain why Mahmoud Abbas suspended peace talks with Israel: "The Israeli offensive, which began last Wednesday, left 126 Palestinians dead and nearly 400 wounded, MOST OF THEM CIVILIANS," Kessler writes.

Why, one might ask, doesn't Kessler provide the source for his "civilian" casualty count? Is it because the source is really Kessler and nobody else?

Because his source couldn't be Palestinian officials in Gaza, whose estimates of "civilian" casualties have run from about ONE THIRD (according to the BBC, no great friend of Israel either) to ABOUT HALF. A review of various media accounts over the last several days fails to show up any Palestinian claims that A MAJORITY -- MOST -- casualties were "civilian."

And his source certainly couldn't be the Israeli side, which estimated that ONLY 10 PERCENT of Palestinian fatalities were civilians.

But if you're determined to pin the blame on Israel, why not pump up "civilian" casualty counts to give your story more heft.

A responsible reporter not only would have checked what each side has put out in terms of civilian casualty figures, but also inquire about how each defines "civilian" in this type of asymmetrical warfare where one side (Hamas) commingles "civilians" and "combatants." Is a youngster who runs to retrieve a rocket launcher for later refire a civilian or a combatant? Is a family that proudly harbors a Hamas terrorist a group of civilians or combatants?

A responsible reporter would try to find out more precisely how many Hamas and other terrorist operatives and activists were among the 126 Palestinian fatalities as well as among the wounded.

And a responsible reporter would point out to Post readers that ALL ISRAELI CASUALTIES DURING THIS PERIOD WERE CIVILIANS -- 100 PERCENT.

But that's not Kessler's concern, as he makes clear when he again later in his article baldly puts the monkey on Israel for messing up Secretary of State Rice's trip to the region. Here's how he puts it:

"BUT HER PLANS WERE UPENDED BY THE SUDDEN ISRAELI ASSAULT, FORCING HER TO SPEND MUCH OF HER TIME ON THE GAZA CRISIS DURING HER 32-HOUR VISIT TO THE REGION."

According to Kessler there's a Gaza crisis solely because of a SUDDEN ISRAELI ASSAULT. Not because Hamas upped the stakes and started using longer-range, more accurate missiles to hit Ashkelon. Not because Hamas escalated its rocket attacks against Sderot. Take it from Kessler, Rice's peace-brokering agenda was upended exclusively by Israel exercising its right to self-defense. The Palestinians, according to Kessler, are left blameless.

And this passes for fair, objective, even-handed journalism at the Washington Post.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Monday, March 3, 2008

Post Ombudsman Discourages Use of Euphemisms By Reporters Because They Obscure Reporting the Truth ... Except In the Case of Palestinian Terrorists Killing Israelis, In Which Case They're Acceptable


From: Leo Rennert
To: Washington Post Ombudsman, Deborah Howell
Date: Sun, 02 Mar 2008
Subject: THE IMPORTANCE AND MEANING OF WORDS IN THE WASHINGTON POST

Dear Deborah:

Congratulations on your Sunday (March 2) ombudsman column about the Washington Post's coverage of illegal immigrants.

I fully agree with you and the Post's stylebook that "illegal immigrant" -- not "undocumented worker" -- is the correct way to describe people who are illegally in this country.

As you point out: "Undocumented worker" is discouraged at the Post. "The Post style book says of 'undocumented': 'When used to describe immigrants, this is a EUPHEMISM THAT OBSCURES AN IMPORTANT FACT -- THAT THEY ARE IN THIS COUNTRY ILLEGALLY."

So, I would hope that you and Posts editors would apply the same descriptive test to Palestinian groups and individuals who to kill, injure, maim, traumatize, terrorize civilian populations in pursuit of a political agenda to eliminate the Jewish state. These people are NOT "fighters," as the Post currently describes them, or even "militants" as it used to describe them.

My dictionary defines "fighter" as someone who takes part in a physical struggle or battle, who is pugnacious, a prizefighter, a pugilist. It defines "militant" as someone who's ready to fight, warlike, combative.

Like "undocumented worker," "fighter" and "militant" are -- to borrow your words -- "euphemisms that obscure an important fact" -- in this instance, that suicide bombers and/or rocket-launching crews deliberately target CIVILIANS and hide among CIVILIANS in carrying out their lethal attacks.

As you know, the Post has not shied away from using TERRORIST to describe the 9/11 bombers, or the London subway bombers, or the Madrid train bombers. So what's the semantic difference when civilians in Sderot and Ashkelon come under rocket barrages fired by terrorists in Gaza?

Isn't it finally time to put aside "fighters" and "militants" and acknowledge that they are EUPHEMISMS THAT OBSCURE IMPORTANT FACTS?

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Changes at the Washington Post - Scott Wilson, Middle East Reporter With Anti-Israel, Pro-Palestinian Agenda, Promoted to Foreign Editor - Bo Jones Replaced by Katherine Weymouth As Publisher - New Reporter In Israel Starts Out With Distortions But Quickly Corrects A Few

Although a prominent announcement by the Post has yet to be made, in October 2007 the Post named Scott Wilson as its new Foreign Editor. Readers hoping for some fairness and balance in the Post's reporting about Israel and the disputed territories should expect no help from the level of foreign editor down. Mr. Wilson, during his stint as the Post's bureau chief in Jerusalem, brazenly distorted his news reports to advance a political agenda blaming Israel for the conflict, airbrushing and justifying terrorists and terrorist organizations and depicting Palestinians as the innocent victims of Israeli aggression. 

At the same time, Katherine Weymouth, daughter of Newsweek Senior Editor Lally Weymouth and granddaughter of chairman Katharine Graham, has replaced Bo Jones as Publisher of the Post and in addition, will head a new division called Washington Post Media, that will oversee the Post's web site and newspaper. (Post Co. Names Weymouth Media Chief and Publisher, 2-8-08, A1)

The appointment of Scott Wilson to the position of Foreign Editor despite his demonstrably and harshly anti-Israel agenda demonstrates a meeting of the minds at some upper level of the Post, but precisely how high up this animus toward Israel goes is unknown. One can only hope that Ms. Weymouth, after a period of acclimation, will exercise some leadership from the top down in bringing a semblance of fairness to the Post's reporting.

The Post's latest reporter in Israel and the disputed territories is Griff Witte. His early reports have demonstrated some of the same distorted language and slanted reporting that have characterized the Post's reporting from the region. For instance, one of his earliest reports contained the following description of Hamas:

"Hamas, an armed movement with a network of social services, has vowed to continue the attacks, saying it is carrying out legitimate resistance to Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank. The Hamas charter calls for the creation of an Islamic state across territory that now includes Israel, although its military focus is to end the Israeli occupation of land taken in the 1967 Middle East war." (Strikes Destroy Ministry in Gaza, Kill 10 Palestinians; Rocket Attacks By Hamas Leave One Israeli Dead, 2-28-08, A11

Letters from readers alerting Mr. Witte to facts about the nature of Hamas and its dedication to the destruction of all of Israel apparently brought a slight adjustment to his reports. The very next day his report described Hamas as follows:

"Last June, Hamas seized control, ending a power-sharing deal with the secular Fatah party, which favors negotiations with Israel. Since then, the volume of rocket fire has increased and pressure has grown on the Israeli government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to topple Hamas, a radical Islamic movement that has both a military wing and a network of social services and that seeks to eradicate Israel." (Strikes in Gaza Kill 18 Palestinians; Hamas Rocket Barrage Injures 2 Israelis, 2-29-08, A15)

Mr. Witte still accepts and reports without question Palestinian characterizations and numeric counts of civilian versus terrorist injuries and deaths. He hypes the civilian death toll and fails to point out that many of the so-called "civilians" are providing a support role to the terrorists. However, his early willingness to reconsider the fairness of some of his descriptions may provide readers with hope for increased accuracy and balance in future reporting. 

The following letter from Leo Rennert provides an analysis of Mr. Witte's report in this morning's paper. Of particular interest is Mr. Rennert's closing comment in which he notes that one possible reason for some of the imbalance and inaccuracy in the Post's reporting from Gaza may be the use of "Special Correspondents" Islam Abdulkarim and Reyham Abdulkarim in contributing to his reports. Mr. Rennert asks a fair question: Why, if the Post is not going to report with equal intimacy and detail Israeli suffering in Sderot, can't the Post use "Special Correspondents" stationed in and reporting from Sderot. 


From: Leo Rennert 
To: Griff Witte & Publisher, Editors, and Ombudsman of Washington Post
Date: March 1, 2008
Subject: Washington Post Hypes Palestinian Casualties, Downplays Israeli Ones

Dear Griff Witte:

I was just reading your March 1 dispatch on the Washington Post website about the escalation of violent clashes around Gaza -- a dispatch slated for publication in the Sunday, March 2 print editions of the Post. (60 Gazans Killed in Incursion By Israel, Operation Follows Use of Longer-Range Rockets by Hamas, 3-2-08, A01)

In reporting Palestinian casualties from Saturday's Israel ground and air operations, you mention a grand total of 45 Palestinian fatalities, then add that half of them were "civilians." If that were the case, the number of "civilian" fatalities would be about 22 or 23. Yet, based entirely on Palestinian sources, you come up with only 18 "civilian" deaths.

The reason I put "civilian" between quotes when it comes to Palestinian casualties is that there's a long history of Palestinian officials being quick to count as "civilians" Palestinians who are Hamas or Islamic Jihad cadres, or teenagers who help with rocket attacks against Israel by retrieving launchers for reuse after rockets are fired. In their respective roles, some of these "civilians" really are combatants.

I do not doubt that among the 18 "civilian" fatalities in your report there were some innocent civilians. But even in their case, what you fail to report -- as the NY Times, for example, does report in its editions tomorrow -- is that Israeli special forces moved into Gaza a couple of miles in an area "where rockets are launched from among the civilian population."

This terrorist tactic of rocket launchings from amid populated areas is missing from your piece, which thus leaves an unfair and erroneous impression that the entire onus of Palestinian civilian casualties falls on Israel.

For example, missing from your report is a telling comment by Hussein Dardeouna while burying his 14-year-old son, who, according to the NY Times, "was killed while playing with friends by an Israeli air strike aimed at rocket launching teams." How did the NY Times know that the real targets were the rocket launchers? Here's what the distraught father, helpless in the face of Hamas intimidation, had to say: "I'M AGAINST THESE ROCKETS. BUT I AM AFRAID. WHAT CAN I DO? IF I PROTEST, THEY WILL HIT ME, THEY WILL KILL ME."

And that's precisely what's so conspicuously absent from your article -- the self-inflicted aspect of Palestinian casualties, due to Hamas & Co. using innocent Palestinians as human shields for their rocket barrages against civilians in Israel.

Another example: Reuters reports a telephone call from a Palestinian in a Jabaliya building, who informs the wire service that "the building is SHAKEN BY MINES THE PALESTINIANS ARE SETTING OFF AGAINST THE SOLDIERS."

Here, again, Hamas has no compunction about the lives of Palestinian civilians when it sets off mines in their midst. Why would you ignore that aspect of Saturday's fighting?

And when you do mention that there were seven children among the Palestinian fatalities, you seem to have included the death of a six-year-old girl, which Hamas sought to pin on Israeli forces, but which local residents told foreign correspondents was due to a Hamas rocket aimed at Israel, which fell short and ended up killing this girl.

Is this why you find it possible to report that 7 Palestinian children were killed, while the New York Times reports a total of only 4?

Finally, you include in your article up-close and personal accounts of frantic activities in a Gaza hospital treating many of the wounded, which is perfectly pertinent.. Except you show no similar interest and empathy for Israelis who were wounded by rockets on Saturday. You quickly pass over their hurts by merely reporting that 40 rockets were fired from Gaza, including 7 that reached Ashkelon, and 6 Israeli civilians were wounded. Period.

But if only 6 Israeli civilians were wounded, how come 22 residents of Sderot and Ashkelon had to be treated in an Ashkelon hospital? And why is there absolutely no mention whatsoever of Sderot at all and no up-close and personal accounts of the wounded in either Sderot or Ashkelon, as there is about the wounded in Gaza?

Could it be that, as you point out at the end of your article, that Islam Abdulkarim and Reyham Abdulkarim are Post special correspondents in Gaza who assisted in your report? Again, very commendable. But then why doesn't the Post also have special correspondents in Sderot and Ashkelon, who might help provide a balanced coverage that remains sorely missing?

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Monday, February 18, 2008

Washington Post Steps Up Its Effort To Protect Hamas's Image - The Term "Militants" is Now Being Replaced By "Fighters"

Leo Rennert, in a letter today to the Washington Post, noted that the Post is now sanitizing AP wire service reports. Where the AP refers to Hamas terrorists as "militants," the Post selectively airbrushes the AP dispatch with its own euphemism du jour, "fighters:" 

"What is especially instructive -- and gives away the Post's semantic game -- is that the Feb. 18 article in the Post was not written by Post staff. It's word for word -- with one notable exception -- the exact version sent to client newspapers by the Associated Press. Except the AP's lead was that Olmert had given his military a "free hand" to attack MILITANTS.

And the third paragraph, where the AP reported that three Palestinian MILITANTS were killed in a clash with Israeli forces, was changed by the Post to read that three Palestinian FIGHTERS were killed.

There was a time when the Post did use such nouns or adjectives as MILITANT, EXTREMIST, RADICAL to attenuate the TERRORIST nature of Hamas & Co. But the Post has moved on to bestow an outright complimentary label on terrorists these days. They have been converted into FIGHTERS -- a term of actual approbation. Yeah, FIGHTERS!" 

What's next? Warriors? Partisans? Or will the Post just as brazenly tack on the word "freedom" before "fighters" to give readers the impression it really seeks to convey?


Major Disparity In Post's Coverage of UN Humanitarian Official's Visit To And Comments on Gaza Versus His Visit To and Comments on Sderot

Mr. Rennert's letter today goes on to note the disparity in the Post coverage between the visit of John Holmes, the UN's humanitarian chief, to Gaza versus his visit to the Israeli city of Sderot. The Post republished, with a headline critical of Israel, a full length AP article on February 16 covering Mr. Holmes' visit to Gaza in which he deplored the conditions as "grim and horrible" and stated that these conditions "deprive Palestinians of their basic dignity." (U.N. Official Criticizes Gaza Closure, 2-16-08, A18) That article noted that Mr. Holmes would next be visiting Sderot. He did visit Sderot yesterday and made equally as extensive comments condemning Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel and sympathizing with the people of Sderot. The AP gave full coverage to those remarks, but the Post chose to ignore most of it, reporting only that Holmes "called for an end to the daily salvos." Mr. Rennert observed:

"The Feb. 18 article, reflecting another pattern of biased coverage, also demonstrates a glaring gap between the Post's eagerness to depict miserable conditions in Gaza, while sloughing off the horrific impact on Sderot civilians from daily Qassam barrages.

For example, two days earlier, in its Feb. 16 editions, the Post gave extensive coverage to a visit to Gaza by John Holmes, the UN humanitarian chief. mentioning rising poverty and unemployment due to border closures. It quoted Holmes as describing conditions in Gaza as "as grim and miserable" -- "All this makes for a grim human and humanitarian situation here in Gaza, which means that people are not able to live with the basic dignity to which they are entitled," the Post quoted Holmes as declaring during his Gaza visit.

In sharp contrast, in its Feb. 18 editions, after Holmes also had visited Sderot, the Post merely mentioned, in less than one sentence, that he "called for an end to the daily salvos." And that was the sum total of what Post readers were treated to when it came to Holmes' visit to Sderot -- no balance whatsoever with the expansive quotes by Holmes that the Post used to chronicle his Gaza visit 48 hours earlier.

The Post relied on the AP for Holmes's visits to both Gaza and Sderot. So here's what the AP reported about his visit to Sderot, which the Post chose NOT TO PUBLISH: Holmes condemned the Qassam fire, saying the real victims were civilians and this was a violation of all principles of human rights. He stressed that children were suffering emotional damage. "We condemn absolutely the firing of these rockets. There's no justification for it. They are indiscriminate, there's no military target."

None of this appeared in the Feb. 18 editions of the Washington Post. At the Post, the only human suffering that merits attention occurs in Gaza."


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Never Use "Elongated Yellow Fruit" When Referring To A Banana - Lesson of Journalism 101 Routinely Ignored By Washington Post, Which Is More Focused On Searching For Moral Equivalence Than With Reporting The Truth

At Washington Post, Terrorism, The Evil That Dare Not Speak Its Name

To: Washington Post Editors, Publisher & Ombudsman
From: Leo Rennert
Date: February 14, 2008
Subject: At Washington Post, Terrorism, The Evil That Dare Not Speak Its Name

In its Feb. 14, editions, the Washington Post devotes extensive coverage to the killing in Damascus of Imad Mughniyah, an arch-terrorist who virtually wrote the book on suicide bombings, airliner hijackings, kidnappings and the wholesale murder of innocent civilians. (Bombing Kills Top Figure In Hezbollah, Commander Linked to Anti-U.S. Attacks, 2-14-08, A01) Hundreds of Americans, Israelis and Argentine Jews were among his victims. In many respects, as Hezbollah's terrorist chief, Mughniyah was the inspirational fountainhead for Osama Bin Laden.

So the Post was right to start with a major article on the front page and then jump and continue its coverage with a separate personal profile of Magniyah plus a graphic detailing his deadly attacks that took up almost an entire inside page. So far, so good.

But when it comes to describing Mughniyah's bloody deeds, something is conspicuously missing from all these many paragraphs -- the words TERRORIST and TERRORISM.

NOT ONCE in its entire package of articles does the Post call Mughniyah a TERRORIST.

Start with the front-page headline: "Bombing Kills Top Figure in Hezbollah -- Commander Linked to Anti-U.S. Attacks"

Then proceed to the first paragraph of the main story, which describes Mughniyah as a "shadowy Hezbollah leader" blamed for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and Israelis and credited with "the most spectacular attacks in a generation whose brand of political violence matched devastating carnage with ruthless effectiveness."

All true -- Yet, a questionably ultra-long string of words that every dictionary will summarize as pure TERRORISM. Reminds me of sage advice I received as a rookie reporter from a more seasoned colleague: Never use "elongated yellow fruit" when you refer to a banana.

Further down in the article, readers are told that Mughniyah was "celebrated as a legend" within Hezbollah, that his elusiveness rivaled Osama Bin Laden's, and that Hezbollah's "military wing" has borne "the imprint of Mughniyah, described by Lebanese officials as more action-oriented than devout." Not only is the "T" word still missing but in its semantic stretch to soften all this evil, the Post suggests that it extends only to Hezbollah's military wing -- as if Hezbollah were not a single, integrated terrorist outfit with a single command-and-control structure under the same ideological roof.

Moving on to Robin Wright's sidebar, headlined "Commander Became Prototype of Extremism -- Suicide Bombing Tactics Adopted Widely," readers are told that Mughniyah was a "high school dropout who became the prototype for a generation of extremists" -- again NOT terrorists.

Still, in all this coverage, there actually are a couple or three references to terrorism, but only when they are attributed to comments from other people -- not as the Post's own description. Thus, use of the "T" word is ascribed to the State Department spokesman, to the FBI and to a former head of Mossad. But the Post still dare not speak its real name.

So, what gives? Is there an absolute prohibition against the "T" word at the Post? Not quite. There's a local story about a U.S. intel official warning that Al Qaeda "terrorist" cells pose a greater threat to Europe than to the U.S. Another article headlines that "U.S. Increases Sanctions On Syria Over Terrorists."

What seems to be going on is that pervasive aversion to use of the "T" word is principally confined to the foreign news desk, while national and local news reporters are not similarly constrained. But making the "T" word taboo in coverage of foreign news, especially news from the Mideast -- the geographic heart of modern terrorism --greatly disserves readers, who would prefer to see the paper speak this evil's real name.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Another Instance Of The Post Using A Headline to Inject Its Own Spin Depicting Israel as The Aggressor

From: Leo Rennert
To: Editors, Publisher and Ombudsman of The Washington Post 
Subject: Washington Post Jumps The Gun, Blames Israel For Cross-Fire At Lebanese Border
Date: February 4, 2008

In its February 4 editions, the Washington Post reports that, according to Lebanese officials, Israeli forces opened fire across the border, killing one person and wounding another. In the same paragraph, the Post reports that, according to the Israeli military, Israel was responding to fire from the other side of the Lebanese border.

Thus, there's a clear conflict between the Lebanese and Israeli versions. And according to the Beirut-datelined wire report used by the Post, no way of immediately finding out who fired first. It's a he-said-versus-he-said situation. The Post didn't have a reporter at the border to validate either version. Neither did the wire service. Each was forced to rely on conflicting Israeli and Lebanese reports.

What is evident from both versions is that there was fire across the border and that one person was killed and another injured in Lebanon.

So, if you were a responsible headline writer, what headline would you come up with? Shootout across Israeli-Lebanese border? Exchange of fire at Lebanese-Israeli border? 

Sadly, not at the Post, always looking for a way to tar Israel.

Here's the actual headline in the Post:

"ISRAELI FORCES FIRE ACROSS BORDER."

And since many (most?) Post readers probably never got beyond the headline, the dig at Israel is all too clear.

Leo Rennert


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Washington Post Eliminates Context From Its News Report On Israel's Gaza Border Closing - Fails To Report Massive Escalation in Rocket Attacks in Five Day Period Leading Up To The Border Closing

From: Robert G. Samet
To: Bo Jones, Publisher & Chief Executive Officer, The Washington Post
Date: January 28, 2008

Dear Mr. Jones:

On January 17, 2008 the Washington Jewish Week published a letter to the editor written by you in response to a news article in that paper about Eye On The Post's campaign to educate Washington Post advertisers about the Post's biased reporting on Israel. You wrote that the Washington Post's coverage of Israel and the disputed territories "is not driven by a political agenda" and that Post "reporters and editors try their best to be fair and accurate...."

How do you explain the fact that Ellen Knickmeyer's article today on Israel's electricity and fuel cuts completely avoids mention of the massive escalation in rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza that immediately preceded Israel's fuel cuts last week? (Israeli 'Economic Warfare' to Include Electricity Cuts in Gaza, 1-28-08, A17) All Ms. Knickmeyer provided Post readers as context for Israel's fuel cutoff was: "Israel halted deliveries of food, fuel and other supplies into the strip for 4½ days this month, saying it was acting in response to rocket attacks from Gaza on southern Israel."

There were 225 rockets in a five day period. Don't believe me? Look at the Post's own Editorial, Breach In Gaza, January 24, 2008, A18. That's 10% of the total number of 2007 rocket attacks launched in only a five day period. That's quite a bombardment, wouldn't you say? Why would Ms. Knickmeyer leave out this fact that is vitally important for its readers to understand why Israel is doing what it is doing? Aren't the security threat and provocation to Israel important? Isn't context important?

There are numerous other examples of a lack of fairness, balance and accuracy in this article, but how can this reporter and through her, the Washington Post, justify completely eliminating the context? As long as your reporters are butchering the truth in this manner, how can you tell readers of the Washington Jewish Week that your "reporters and editors try their best to be fair and accurate?"

Robert G. Samet
EyeOnThePost, Inc.
http://www.eyeonthepost.org
info@eyeonthepost.org


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Another Appalling Disconnect Between The Post's Editorials And Its News Coverage  - The Post's Editorials Are The Only Place In The Post Still Reporting With Some Accuracy And Fairness About Israel And The Disputed Territories  

Why can't the leadership at the Washington Post get its news reporters and editors to report the news with accuracy, fairness and balance in the same manner its Editorial writers are covering the conflict? The Post's Editorial on the Hamas engineered breach of the border fence between Gaza and Egypt is a breath of fresh air in bringing to the pages of the Washington Post facts that have been ignored, buried, downplayed and distorted by the Post's own news reporters and news editors. (Breach In Gaza, As Thousands Stream Across The Border To Egypt, Hamas Blockades The Peace Process, Editorial, January 24, 2008, A18)

The Editorial reports: 

"As tens of thousands of residents of the Gaza Strip surged across the border into Egypt, Hamas security forces directed traffic; earlier, they stood by as organized groups of militants blew up the fence along the previously sealed border." 

The Post's news reporters either buried or failed to report evidence that the border breach was planned, engineered and facilitated by Hamas, preferring instead to depict it as the result of hordes of starving and deprived Palestinian civilians suffering under the Israeli border closure. The Post's editor who wrote this Editorial must be receiving his/her news from elsewhere than the pages of the Post.

The Editorial reports: 

"In fact, as Mr. Mubarak well knows, no one is starving in Gaza -- though food, fuel and cigarettes are much cheaper across the border." 

The Post's news reporters and editors bend over backward to depict Gazans as starving, wretched and deprived. Empty bakery shelves or long lines outside of bakeries seems to be one of their favorite portrayals. The Post's MO is to publish front page feature articles on the shortage of food and other necessities, such as hearing aid batteries for Gaza's deaf children, never once explaining to readers how it is that Hamas has a plentiful supply of rocket parts and weapons smuggled into Gaza from Egypt, but apparently cannot smuggle in a tiny hearing aid battery. Again, the Post's editorial writer must be receiving his/her news from elsewhere than the Post.

The Editorial reports: 

"Israel closed its border with the territory and disrupted power supplies over the weekend in response to a massive escalation of Palestinian rocket launches from Gaza at nearby Israeli towns -- between Tuesday and Saturday last week, some 225 rockets were aimed at the town of Sderot, where more than 20,000 Israelis have been relentlessly terrorized." 

The Post's news reporters either buried or grossly downplayed the magnitude of the escalation in rocket attacks that provoked the Israeli response. They called it a "spike." In fact, in a five day period preceding the Israeli border closure, almost 10% of the number of rockets launched for the entire year 2007 were launched from Gaza into Israel. Post reporters have been virtually silent about the ongoing rain of rockets from Gaza into Israel, and while the NY Times published a front page feature article on the suffering of Israeli civilians under the incessant bombardment by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, the Post's news reporters have been virtually silent on the subject. The Post's news reporters rarely, if ever, visit Sderot, where the bulk of the rockets fall, but they charge to Gaza at every hint of a story featuring Gaza suffering, this time rushing to Gaza the moment Hamas turned off the electricity. And when was the last time a Post reader ever saw Palestinian terrorism referred to as such? This editorial refers to the bombardment of rockets as terrorism. Why should Post readers have to rely on Post editorials for accurate and balanced reporting?

There is more that we have not mentioned in this Editorial by way of truth and fairness. It is a worthwhile read, if only to bear witness to the shameful contrast between the Editorial and the substance and tenor of the Post's news articles from the region. The sad fact is that one cannot read this Editorial without shaking one's head at what the Post's news reporting could be if only some editorial supervision was exercised from the top. 


Monday, January 21, 2008

Exaggeration and Hyperbole Characterize Washington Post Effort To Bolster Manufactured Palestinian Claim To A Humanitarian Crisis

In the midst of a balmy day in Gaza on the western edge of the Negev Desert, with a high of 68 degrees, the headline in the Washington Post today read: 

"Gaza Gripped by Cold and Darkness After Israel Blocks Delivery of Fuel."  

The opening paragraph of this melodramatic effort to evoke sympathy for Palestinians and condemnation of Israel stated:

"Gaza's only power plant ceased operating in the Gaza Strip on Sunday night, plunging much of the territory of 1.5 million Palestinians into darkness and winter cold. Palestinian officials said a three-day-old Israeli blockade had exhausted the fuel needed to run the plant." (Gaza Gripped by Cold and Darkness After Israel Blocks Delivery of Fuel, 1-21-08, A10)

"Winter cold???" Brrrrrr...

The Post reporter, Ellen Knickmeyer's, turn of phrase describing a plunge into darkness implied suddenness and lack of warning, as if Israel had pulled a lever. However, the turn off of electricity in Gaza was actually brought about by the Hamas government shutting down its power plant, allegedly because of low supplies of fuel needed to run the plant. 

Ms. Knickmeyer repeated the hyperbolic word "blockade" 4 times in the article. There was no "blockade." Israel simply shut down its border crossing points into Gaza in response to over 150 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel this past week. Israel did not cut off or even reduce the electricity it supplies to Gaza, and it did not have the ability to seal Gaza's border with Egypt, so the use of the term "blockade" was highly inappropriate. Furthermore, it wasn't until the last paragraph of the article that Ms. Knickmeyer noted that after the border crossings were shut down the number of terrorist rockets was dramatically reduced to only 4 in the past two days. The closings served their purpose, although apparently Ms Knickmeyer did not want the vast majority of readers, who don't read to the end of news articles, to know that.

The article was filled with Palestinian quotes about collective punishment, allegations about the impact upon hospitals, descriptions of Palestinians forming lines at bakeries to stock up on food, all designed to evoke sympathy and a sense of panic. It isn't until much later in the article that Ms. Knickmeyer mentions that 70 percent of Gaza's power is supplied by Israel and that it wasn't even reduced, much less cut off. Some "blockade." Some "winter cold." The Post continues to do a wonderful job as a propaganda arm of the Palestinians.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Washington Post Continues To Focus Spotlight On Israeli Settlers, While Giving Palestinian Incitement And Terrorism A Free Pass

Sunday's edition of the Washington Post contained another huge feature article depicting the settlement outposts in the West Bank as the primary obstacle to peace, avoiding almost completely any focus on continued Palestinian incitement and terror attacks on Israeli civilians. (West Bank's Jewish 'Outposts' Dig In, Many Answer Bush's Demand For End to Illegal Settlements By Starting New Construction,1-13-08, A18

The Post's web site featured a front page teaser to the article that stated: "Unauthorized Jewish settlements have emerged as a front line amid struggle for land in West Bank."

The free pass given to the Palestinians is not justified. Incitement and terrorism is coming not only from Hamas in Gaza but also from Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah organization, which still sponsors a huge, active terror organization in the West Bank; a terror organization that necessitates almost daily seizures of explosives, explosive labs and terrorists by Israeli forces. Palestinian media outlets, mosques and schools continue to preach hate, violence and martyrdom as virtues, in contravention of their roadmap obligation. The Palestinian Authority's efforts to dismantle the terrorist organizations as required by the roadmap have been no more substantive than Israel's efforts to dismantle settlement outposts. Terrorists in police uniforms have already been discovered in the PA's so-called police force. Yet the Post is making no effort to balance its reporting by focusing an equivalent spotlight on the desultory Palestinian efforts. The Post can't even call a "terrorist" a "terrorist," so it's no wonder its reporters avoid examining the sincerity of Palestinian efforts to put a stop to it. 

Leo Rennert's letter exposes the Post's one-sided depiction of Israel as standing in the way of peace.


From: Leo Rennert
To: Jonathan Finer
CC: Chairman, Editors & Ombudsman, The Washington Post
Date: January 13, 2008
Subject: Washington Post Spotlights Outposts, But Blind To Palestinian Incitement, Terrorism

Hi Jonathan,

In the Jan. 13 editions of the Washington Post, you have a huge by-line story from the West Bank. with two large pictures and a map, that takes up a FULL THREE QUARTERS OF AN ENTIRE PAGE ("West Bank's Jewish 'Outposts" Dig In -- Many Answer Bush's Demand for End to Illegal Settlements By Starting New Construction.")

While it's fair to note that under Bush's road map, Israel has yet to comply with its obligation to dismantle illegal outposts in the West Bank, balanced journalism also would require the Post to give equal prominence to the failure of the Palestinians to comply with their initial obligations under the road map -- to end all anti-Israel incitement in media, mosques and schools; and to dismantle terrorist organizations.

Each of these 2 basic Palestinian road-map obligations should also rate equal full-scale coverage in the Post if you and your editors adhered to basic journalistic criteria of fairness, even-handedness and a desire to give readers the FULL picture, not just selective anti-Israel pieces.

After all, since you're citing President Bush's agenda, he also stated categorically during his recent visit to Jerusalem that a Palestinian state will NEVER be built on TERRORISM.

So I'll be watching and waiting to see comparable exposes of vicious anti-Israel incitement not only on Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV, but also in official organs of Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority, along with an appropriate expose of the charter of Fatah, Abbas's political movement, that still calls for the total elimination of the Jewish state. All that certainly is as much a violation of the Bush road map as the outposts you describe in your Jan. 13 article.

Also, I would expect a similarly lengthy expose of the human pain and casualties inflicted on a daily basis by rocket barrages from Gaza, especially on the Israeli residents of Sderot. The human costs there are more than on a par with the hurts of Palestinians living near illegal Israeli outposts. Steven Erlanger of the New York Times recently did a huge up-close and personal piece on Sderot to show his readers the daily traumas experienced by parents and children as Qassams slam into their homes and schools, while siren warnings give them only a few seconds to seek cover. And Palestinian terrorism is not just a problem from Gaza. The West Bank still is replete with terrorist cells and attempts by would-be suicide bombers to infiltrate into Israel.

As long as the Post so conspicuously ignores Palestinian road-map obligations, you as a reporter and your editors rightly will be portrayed by many Post readers as anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian propagandists. In the 28 PARAGRAPHS of your Jan. 13 article, the only "balance" you provide is a brief, single sentence tucked at the end of one paragraph that mentions a Palestinian requirement to halt violent attacks on Israel.

Is that brief sentence your professional journalistic idea of fair and properly balanced journalism?

Leo Rennert

P.S. Your article also faults the Israeli side for allowing settlers to appropriate some Palestinian land for outposts. What about Jordanian appropriation of Jewish land and properties in the Old City of Jerusalem and East Jerusalem neighborhoods like Har Homa during its illegal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem from 1949 until 1967. And what about Jewish properties in Hebron before a bloody Arab pogrom in the 1920s cleansed Jews from its second holiest city?

But since you and the Post arbitrarily use the sixth day of the Six-Day War in 1967 as your historically baseline for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I don't hold out high hopes of ever seeing in the Post stories about all the lands taken from Jews in the Holy Land, say starting after the 1917 Balfour Declaration, ratified by the League of Nations, that earmarked all of formerly ruled Ottoman Palestine for a Jewish homeland, including what is now all of Jordan and all of the West Bank.

A fair look at history would show that Israel already has given up and is prepared to give up much more land than has been appropriated from Palestinians if Palestinians were to genuinely accept a realistic two-state solution. 

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Friday, January 11, 2008

Israeli Suffering Not Newsworthy To Washington Post - Post Downplays And Conceals Daily Palestinian Terrorist Bombardment Of Israeli Civilians And Turns A Virtual Blind Eye To Israeli Suffering From The Terrorist Attacks


BURYING THE LEAD
Stephen A. Silver
San Francisco, California

On Jan. 8, 2008, the Washington Post reported that 303 rockets were fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip during the month of December 2007, and noted that "January's tally, which includes a Katyusha rocket attack that Israeli officials said was the deepest strike ever from Gaza, is on pace to exceed that total." That's an average of about 10 missile attacks a day, every day, all deliberately targeted at Israeli civilians! 

This is clearly important news, illustrating Israel's plight under daily attack from Palestinian terrorists. It should have been on the Post's front page, in the lead paragraph of its own story. But instead, it was buried in the fourth paragraph of a story on page A13. ("On First Trip to Israel, Bush Hopes to Inject Vigor Into Peace Talks," Jan. 8, 2008.) 

Contrast the Post's understated coverage of the missile situation in Israel with a Jan. 9, 2008, New York Times article titled "At Gaza's Edge, Israelis Fear Rockets' Whine." In contrast to the Post piece, the Times article related the perspective of Israelis who must live with the threat of incessant terror. The Times noted that people in the Israeli town of Sderot -- the chief target of the Palestinian missile attacks -- have only 15 to 20 seconds to take cover from the time a warning signal sounds to the time the missile strikes. The piece also noted that eight civilians in Sderot have been killed, children living there are too traumatized to go to school, and nearly one-third of Sderot's 24,000 residents have left their homes and fled. 

Why has the Post taken comparatively so little interest in this ongoing atrocity targeting a purely civilian population? 

Unfortunately, this is hardly the first time the Post has underreported the plight of Israeli civilians in Sderot. For example, on May 16, 2007, the New York Times reported that a barrage of rockets fired at Sderot from Gaza had struck an Israeli house and school ("Hamas Attacks Against Fatah Kill 14 and Add to Gaza Chaos"). This news did not appear in the Post. Likewise, when the Times reported that "During the last two weeks of May [2007], Palestinian militants in Gaza fired nearly 300 rockets at Israel" ("6 Gaza Militants Killed in Clashes With Israel," June 20, 2007), the Post neglected to report this revealing statistic, too. 

On Jan. 18, 2005, a 17-year-old Israeli girl, Ayala Haya Abukasis, died of injuries suffered from one of these missile attacks. The deadly attack was briefly noted, albeit as a mere afterthought, buried in the eighth paragraph of a January 20, 2005 Post story by then-correspondents John Ward Anderson and Molly Moore about plans for Israeli and Palestinian officials to meet. Unknown to Post readers, however, Ayala died a hero. As reported elsewhere (but not in the Post), when Ayala heard the warning of an imminent attack, she threw herself on top of her 10-year-old brother, Tamir, to shield him from the exploding missile. Her courageous and selfless act spared her brother from the full force of the terrible blast and saved his life. But tragically, shrapnel from the Palestinian rocket caused Ayala to suffer head injuries that took her life. 

In a war of terror in which Palestinians arrogate to themselves the title of "martyr" when they coldly massacre scores of Israeli children, Ayala truly was a martyr in the most genuine and courageous sense of the word. And she was a genuine heroine, too. But the Post didn't bother to report her heroic story. 

The Post has not completely ignored Sderot. It did devote a feature story to the plight of residents of the Israeli town on June 24, 2006. Even then, however, it portrayed Israeli government neglect as the city's "real problem," disingenuously playing down the psychological terror inflicted on the town by the Palestinian terrorists' deadly rocket attacks. 

It is not that the Post lacks interest in reporting on the Middle East conflict. The problem is that the Post's coverage is systematically biased against Israel and not necessarily even constrained by the facts. 

For instance, twice in December 2007 ("Sealed Off by Israel, Gaza Reduced to Beggary," Dec. 15, and "For Israel's Arab Citizens, Isolation and Exclusion," Dec. 20), the Post found room on its front page for lengthy, one-sided feature pieces with incendiary headlines that unfairly maligned and vilified Israel. 

And on Jan. 8, 2008 (the same day that the Post buried the news of the missile situation in Sderot), the Post's web site prominently featured an opinion piece by Arun Gandhi ("Jewish Identity Can't Depend on Violence") that clearly crossed the line into unabashed anti-Semitism. It equated Jewish identity with violence, stated that the refusal of Jews to "shed" their "holocaust experience" (note the lower-case "h"!) was "a very good example of [how] a community can overplay a historic experience to the point that it begins to repulse friends," and concluded: "Israel and the Jews are the biggest players" in a "Culture of Violence."

A subsequent "Apology for My Poorly Worded Post" by Mr. Gandhi a few days later merely clarified that while he stood by his comments equating the Israeli government with violence, his criticisms did not extend to those Jews who oppose Israel's policies (but implicitly did include those Jews who support Israel). He also acknowledged that the Holocaust (note that this time the H was capitalized!) "was historic in its proportions," but reiterated his view that those who hold onto this historic grievance bear responsibility for "bitterness and the loss of support from those who would be friends." 

It is difficult to understand, much less justify, why the Post has gone to such great lengths to vilify Israel, while giving so little attention to Israel's side of the story, particularly with respect to the plight of Israeli civilians in Sderot who are daily targets of Palestinian terror. The time has come for the Post to start holding its reporters and contributors accountable for fully and accurately reporting the facts, including conveying to Post readers the Israeli perspective, rather than merely providing a forum for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda and biased news coverage.


 

Friday, December 21, 2007

Washington Post Continues Its Campaign to Denigrate Israel, This Time Publishing A Front Page Article Depicting Israel As Employing Racist Policies Against Its Own Arab Citizens

The latest salvo in the Post's ongoing campaign against Israel was yet another front page article on December 20 by the Post's correspondent in Israel, Scott Wilson, depicting Israel as mistreating and discriminating against its Arab citizens. (For Israel's Arab Citizens, Isolation and Exclusion, 12-20-07, A01) Mr. Wilson's depiction is a glass-half-empty portrayal, rather than a glass-half-full portrayal. He stripped his article of the vital history and context necessary to understand that the reality is much more positive than might be predicted from the circumstances. 

Wilson fails to note that Jews have been expelled from virtually every Arab country in the Middle East, so to find Arabs and Jews living together in peace inside Israel is quite remarkable. 

Enmity between Jews and Arabs in Israel today can be traced historically to violence against and the mass murders of Jews in Palestine long before the Jewish state was formed. When the Jewish state was established Palestinian Arabs fought against its formation and sought to annihilate its founders. Those who stayed have continued to demonstrate disloyalty to Israel and hostility to Israelis. Israeli Arabs join in the commemoration of the formation of Israel by labeling the historical event "The Catastrophe." As recently as last year, Arab citizens of Israel cheered the rain of Hezbollah rockets that fell upon Israel.  This is not exactly the type of shared values, hopes, aspirations and attitudes that bring communities together. Is it any wonder that divisions and distrust continue to exist?

Yet despite their disloyalty to the State, Arabs in Israel share full civil rights with Jewish Israelis, have been able to live and work in peace throughout the country, vote in national elections, serve in the Knesset, obtain top notch educations, experience some of the best medical care in the world and enjoy the highest standard of living of any country in the Middle East. Are there inequalities? Yes, of course. There are comparable and even far worse ethnic and cultural separations in virtually every other country in the world, including the US. Should the Post and Mr. Wilson be exaggerating these inequalities between Israeli Arabs and Jews and splashing them across the front page of the paper in an effort to damage the reputation of Israel? No. Other than in its front page coverage of Israel, does the Post offer up close and personal analyses of ethnic inequalities within countries around the world? No, it doesn't. So, readers should ask the Post why it is focusing this type of front page attention on Israel? 


From: Leo Rennert
To: Scott Wilson, Washington Post Correspondent In Israel, Editors and Ombudsman, Washington Post
Subject: Washington Post's Highly Distorted Depiction of Arabs In Israel
Date: December 20, 2007

In the latest installment of your incessant anti-Israeli articles, you give Post readers a caricaturish view of Arabs in Israel -- selecting only instances of second-class treatment while totally ignoring the progress, achievements and great successes of many Arabs in the Jewish state. It's a cherry picking kind of journalism that ends up with a cartoonish, one-dimensional, and ultimately false picture of Arab living conditions in Israel.

The headline neatly sums up the thrust of your piece: "For Israel's Arab Citizens, Isolation and Exclusion."

And undoubtedly, the overall socioeconomic status of Arabs when it comes to jobs, housing and employment is not on an exact par with that of Jews in Israel. (Neither is it for residents of Anacostia in comparison with whites in other DC neighborhoods -- the very home turf of your own newspaper) But that doesn't mean that both in Israel and Washington, DC, considerable progress hasn't been made in efforts to narrow the gaps. And that's of course what you blatantly omit from your article.

In Israel, the complexity of Jewish-Arab relations is further heightened by the fact that only a few generations ago, the same Arabs or their parents fought against creation of the Jewish state, as mandated by the U.N., rejected a two-state solution in 1947, and then aligned themselves with half a dozen Arab armies that tried to push the Jews into the sea. Even so, from the very first, the Jewish state accorded full legal and political rights to its Arab citizens.

Furthermore, the picture is also far more multi-faceted than you convey because Israel is a JEWISH state, created as the only JEWISH homeland for Jews throughout the world, a guaranteed sanctuary for whenever and wherever Jews are persecuted. Thus, since its founding, Israel -- while working on bettering Arab living conditions -- also has had the formidable task of absorbing hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from Arab countries, to say nothing of other huge immigration waves of Jews from the Soviet Union and Ethiopia.

Yet, despite these multiple challenges, Arabs in Israel have made great strides in bettering their lives and rising to greater prominence in every sector of Israeli society.

For starters, Israeli Arabs are better educated and more prosperous than Arabs in Arab countries. While Israeli Arabs support creation of a Palestinian state, Arabs in the eastern part of Jerusalem are clamoring to remain in Israel and stoutly reject any desire to become part of a Palestinian nation. Curious that you didn't mention that in your article.

On the economic side, Israeli Arabs -- who were mostly day laborers before the creation of Israel -- have been moving on up to better jobs and professions -- as small businessmen, large industrialists, heads of construction companies, school principals, hospital chiefs and in many other non-menial occupations. In fact, Israeli Arabs have climbed the economic ladder to such an extent that they're no longer available for menial work. As a result, when there has been relative quiet on the Palestinian front, Israel has had to rely on huge numbers of Arabs from the Palestinian territories for this work. And since the start of the latest Palestinian terror war, those jobs haven't been filled by Israeli Arabs -- but by foreign workers. Strange that you didn't mention that.

On the demographic side, there were 150,000 Arabs in Israel in 1948. Today, there are 10 times as many. If conditions had been as bad as you depict them, would they have grown in such numbers?

In government and politics, Arabic is one of Israel's official languages. An Arab sits as a member of the Israeli Supreme Court. Another Arab is a member of Ehud Olmert's cabinet. Still another Arab chairs the committee that selects top-level civil servants. Still another Arab is head of a government hospital. In Israel's Parliament, the Knesset, 10 of the 120 members belong to Arab parties. In recent years, Israel has sent Arab ambassadors to Finland, Vietnam and Ecuador and consuls-general to Atlanta and San Francisco. An Arab major-general has headed the Israeli border police, a rather sensitive security post, wouldn't you say. Funny you forgot to mention any of this.

Nor did you mention that a not insignificant number of Israeli Arabs have turned to a radical, separatist agenda that hampers integration efforts (just as "black power" advocates hampered the integration efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr., in our country). Or that some Israeli Arabs have become active collaborators with Palestinian terrorists, helping them to kill Israelis. As you can see, if you'd only remove your ideological blinkers, the Arab picture in Israel is not as simple as you depict it.

Israel isn't perfect, but when it comes to its basic values and progress in dealing with multi-ethnic and multi-cultural affairs, it is light years better than any Arab country you can mention (but unfortunately won't). Is Saudi Arabia, for example, willing to admit Jews and Christians as full-fledged citizens, and give them political and religious rights? And if a Palestinian state comes into being, is there any likelihood that Jews now residing in Palestinian areas will be treated one tenth as well as Israel now treats its Arab citizens?

Well, you and I know the answer to these questions. But since your and the Post's journalism is poisoned by an unbounding animus against Israel as a Jewish state, it comes as no surprise that your and the paper's obsessive focus on Israel always is limited to whatever imperfections you can dig up in Israel, while handling its neighboring Arab countries with kid gloves.

If I were still an active journalist and practicing Scott Wilson-type of reporting, I could easily patch together an article that would command the opposite headline of yours: "For Israel's Arab Citizens, Full Integration and Equality." And, of course, that would be just as off-the-mark as yours. The only difference, Scott, is that in my journalism, I did my best to see both sides of an issue. You never do.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


To: Editor, The Washington Post
From: Judge Herbert Grossman
Date: December 20, 2007

In "For Israel’s Arab Citizens, Isolation and Exclusion" (front page, Dec. 20), Scott Wilson blames the Jews of Israel (his usual scapegoat), who treat minorities far better than Arabs do in any country they rule, for the sorry state of relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel. But there are no dhimmis, abused and terrorized second-class citizens dependent on the "protection" of the majority, in Jewish or Israeli practice, the status of non-Muslims in Arab countries.

It was the minority Israeli-Arabs, not the majority Jews, who formed marauding gangs that assaulted pedestrians and motorists of the other ethnicity for six straight days after the Palestinians launched the intifada in the fall of 2000. And it was the Israeli-Arabs who publicly called for Hezbollah to continue firing rockets into Israel, even though some may land in Arab communities, as long as Hezbollah kept aiming at Jews. And it is the Israeli-Arabs who continue to elect representatives to the Israeli parliament to preach sedition against Israel and solidarity with enemy countries, who deny Jews the right to a state, and who refuse national service so as not to help support a Jewish one. 

Yes, despite the entreaties of the “peace” and leftist groups to offer friendship and camaraderie to their Arab fellow citizens, which once commanded an almost universal acceptance, Israeli Jews are now more circumspect. Especially after the Hezbollah-Israeli war, they now recognize the enemy within, the lurking fifth column, happy to maintain the economic benefits and freedom of living in Israel, but more eager to participate in its destruction and the annihilation of its Jewish inhabitants if the opportunity presents itself. 

Once those hostile intentions have been exposed, with all their terrifying implications, self-delusion is no longer possible. And blaming the Jews for their logical reaction, of wariness and individual reluctance to live alongside a member of this self-proclaimed enemy, is reversing cause and effect.

Sincerely, 

Judge Herbert Grossman
[Herbert Grossman, author of the book "J'Accuse the N.Y. Times and Washington Post: Biased Reporting from the Middle East," is a full time Federal Administrative Law Judge]


Finally, one of our correspondents in Israel wrote: "Just wanted to point out the new Scott Wilson story - he calls Lod an Arab city and says that Israeli Arabs are excluded from the IDF. Both these claims are false. Lod is a mixed Arab and Jewish city that is known as the "drug capital" of Israel, and Israeli Arabs are not barred from service, but most prefer not to enlist. The artice is rife with similar innacuracies and agenda driven storytelling. Keep up the good work."


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Washington Post Publishes Another Distorted Front Page Story Dripping With Sympathy for Palestinians in Gaza, Blaming Israel For Palestinian Hardships And Giving Short Shrift to Incessant Palestinian Rocket Attacks From Gaza Into Israel

We will soon publish Leo Rennert's correspondence with David Hoffman of the Washington Post that is referenced in Mr. Rennert's letter which follows. But first we must alert readers to the latest example of the egregiously one-sided, anti-Israel propaganda that the Washington Post continues to run on its pages. Scott Wilson, the Post's correspondent in Israel, looks for every opportunity to slam Israel by injecting tendentious and inflammatory language into his reports. Terrorism is the root cause of Israeli attacks on Gaza and its continued isolation, but Mr. Wilson seeks every opportunity to blame Israel. At the same time, the Post rarely provides any coverage of the daily rocket launchings into Israel by Gaza terrorists. There have been more than 2,000 such rockets and missiles launched into Israel from Gaza in the past year, yet a recent poll Commissioned by The Israel Project shows that approximately 60% of Americans are largely unaware of these rocket launchings. They are unaware because the world's media, often taking its lead from newspapers such as the Washington Post and NY Times, ignores the Palestinians' daily attacks upon Israel. Today's two articles (one on the front page) by Mr. Wilson are in the best tradition of the Post's war on Israel. The headlines and lengthy articles, supported by hyperbolic language -- 

"This punishing seal has reduced Gaza ... to beggar status"

"'...people who have lost jobs and the dignity of work....'" 

"'...humanitarian situation is atrocious....'" 

"...Gazans, caught between Israel's concrete gun towers and the Mediterranean...."

"...sense of crisis is pervasive..."

"'I hold every man, woman and child in Israel responsible for this....'"

"....what she calls Israel's practice of collective punishment."

"'They have turned Gaza into an animal farm...'"

--  pictures and front page placement, are designed to evoke sympathy for Palestinians and condemnation of Israel:

Sealed Off By Israel, Gaza Reduced To Beggary
Saturday, December 15, 2007; Page A01


A Palestinian Girl's Plight Shows Two Faces of Israel
Saturday, December 15, 2007; Page A18

Contrast Mr. Wilson's sympathetic coverage of Gazans in today's Post with today's Reuters report on the 300,000 to 500,000 Gazans who turned out today to demonstrate their support for Hamas on its 20 year anniversary. In today's demonstration Hamas promised Israel another Intifada. Reuters, unlike the Post, does not mince its words when it tells readers that Hamas "has a charter that calls for the elimination of the Jewish state." Why is the Washington Post not telling its readers the truth about Palestinian aggression and Israel's defense against daily terrorist attacks?


To: David Hoffman, Assistant Managing Editor For Foreign News
From: Leo Rennert
Date: Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dear David:

It was only a few days ago that you righteously took issue with my repeated contentions that Post coverage is one-sided -- anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. In your correspondence, you firmly denied that this was the case, arguing that the Post does provide balanced reports about the suffering of Palestinian residents in Gaza and the suffering of Israeli residents in rocket-battered Sderot.

Sad to say, it took only a couple of days for you and the Post to demonstrate that your protestations were baseless and to confirm my own view that the paper gives ample coverage -- extensive, on-the-scene, personal, up-close, sympathetic depictions of human misery -- to Gaza, while the paper refrains from similar, in-depth exploration of the suffering in Sderot.

In the Post's Saturday, Dec. 15, editions, you run a 42-paragraph article by your Jerusalem correspondent, Scott Wilson, with a four-column, front-page headline: 

"SEALED OFF BY ISRAEL, GAZA REDUCED TO BEGGARY."

From beginning to end, Wilson's piece -- in tune with the headline -- provides extensive details about how Israel has cut off deaf children in Gaza from sufficient supplies of hearing-aid batteries, how some seriously ill Gazans can't get to hospitals in Israel and how vocational programs can't obtain thread for embroidery, wood for painted boxes and pottery glazes. In between, there are copious quotes from a hospital official, an educator and a U.N. relief director -- all blaming Israel. Here and there, the torrent of anti-Israel copy is laced with brief references to persistent rocket attacks on southern Israel and the Hamas takeover of Gaza.

But the entire thrust of the piece -- the headline, the 3-column photo of deaf first-graders having to use sign language because of unworkable hearing aids, and quotes of locals raging against Israel -- make this but the latest example of Scott Wilson's biased reportage: Putting Israel in the dock for self-inflicted Palestinian woes.

Specifically, there are TWO SERIOUS PROBLEMS going to lack of journalistic fairness and even-handedness with this Post article:

1. To start with, Wilson and other journalists DEFINITELY SHOULD COVER human suffering in Gaza. But the Post and other media should devote EQUAL coverage to the pain and suffering of the residents of Sderot, who have been terrorized by thousands of Qassam rockets in the last 6 years. And this is something that the Post spectacularly has failed to do. Wilson has never embedded himself in Sderot for a sufficient stay to experience first-hand what it feels like to be the constant target of missiles swooping down on homes, schools, and factories. Nor has he reported with equal sympathy, and up-close and personal descriptions, the traumas of children and parents in Sderot -- how their lives are turned upside down, what toll is exacted from not knowing whether the next Qassam is going to kill your child, what happens when the sirens sound and you have only seconds to find shelter.

Thus, my question to you, David, as the assistant managing editor for foreign news, is simply this: Why doesn't the Post show similar empathy by publishing extensive reports and heartrending photos of what happens every day in Sderot? I repeatedly, for many months have urged Wilson to spend some time in Sderot and give readers the kind of passionately caring dispatches he often files from Gaza -- all to no avail. Yet, until he and the Post do that, your assertions that the paper's coverage is fair and objective ring hollow.

2. Now, taking a look at today's lengthy piece just as a stand-alone article, there also are a number of distorted renderings about what's going on in Gaza today. To wit:

--The most obvious anti-Israel slant is right in the headline, that's carried through into the article: "SEALED OFF BY ISRAEL...." Notwithstanding the Post's effort to saddle Israel -- and Israel only -- with the economic blockade of Gaza, this just ain't so. Gaza crossings to the outside have been sealed off BY BOTH ISRAEL AND EGYPT. Cairo has as much to do with Gaza's isolation as Jerusalem. And there's a THIRD PLAYER who also has an important hand in sealing off Gaza -- MAHMOUD ABBAS AND THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY, which have given their tacit political blessing to letting only humanitarian aid get into Gaza. So, why splash a false report that ONLY ISRAEL is involved in isolating Hamas-ruled Gaza.

--Wilson cherry picks people in Gaza who he knows will readily give him the most inflammatory quotes against Israel and who will blame only Israel for the sad state of affairs in Gaza. Yet, since the Hamas takeover in June, there have been lots of reports in various media from journalists who also have visited Gaza and found quite a few residents who instead blame Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the other rocket-launching terrorist groups for their own woes. Yet, Wilson ignores rising feelings by Gazans against Hamas and rising recognition that Qassam attacks -- not Israeli counter-strikes or economic sanctions -- are the real cause of the suffering inflicted on Gaza's population. Why, in an article that runs nearly a full page, didn't Wilson manage to find a single Gazan willing to blame Hamas?

--Why didn't Wilson follow elementary journalistic rules for this kind of an article and interview at least one Hamas official and ask that official a rather elementary question: Why don't you stop the Qassam barrages so Gazans can aspire to have a normal, prosperous life? Why let Hamas off the hook for Palestinian suffering in Gaza?

--Why did Wilson wait until the 28th paragraph before running a quote from a single Israeli official -- well after all the vociferous blame-Israel quotations in his article?

--Why did Wilson wait until the 37th paragraph before reporting that this same official assured Wilson that batteries for hearing aids -- the emotional peg for the entire article -- would be allowed through the crossings?

--Why didn't Wilson enumerate the extensive kinds of humanitarian aid and supplies -- food, medical, fertilizer -- that Israeli allows to enter Gaza through the crossings every day?

AS FOR A SECOND, 10-PARAGRAPH ARTICLE, ALSO BY WILSON, THAT'S PART OF TODAY'S REPORTAGE, this merely reinforces the Post's exclusive concern with Palestinian suffering and Israel's purported responsibility for same.

Headlined "A PALESTINIAN GIRL'S PLIGHT SHOWS TWO FACES OF ISRAEL," the article tells the story of a 6-year-old Gaza girl -- "with curly dark hair and a wide smile" -- who was severely injured last year when a taxi carrying her family passed a car carrying a leader of Islamic Jihad and was hit by missiles that slammed into both cars. Her spine was virtually severed. Israel rushed her to a Jerusalem hospital where she's getting the best possible treatment.

As the companion piece to the much longer article, this one also says it all in the headline The girl's plight shows "TWO FACES OF ISRAEL" -- presumably the face of Israel trying to give her the best care as against the "other face" of an Israel that shattered her life. Thus, once again, neither the headline nor the article zeroes in on a terrorist group that kills innocent Israelis as the real culprit for the girl's injuries. Even when Israel does the right thing, the clear inference remains that it's all Israel's fault.

This story, like the larger one, also features the plight of a Palestinian child -- in this instance, the girl in her wheelchair.

So again, David, I ask you: When will Scott, with his camera, and you as his boss provide Post readers with similarly heart-rending photos and articles about the suffering of ISRAELI CHILDREN IN SDEROT or ISRAELI CHILDREN IN REHABILITATION WARDS IN ISRAELI HOSPITALS AFTER HAVING BEEN INJURED IN TERRORIST SUICIDE ATTACKS? When will the Post run stories about Israeli children "with curly dark hair and a wide smile" who were injured by Qassam rockets or suicide bombings?

As I told you in my last correspondence, the Post still has a long way to go before achieving journalistic even-handedness in its coverage of Israel and the Palestinians.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


 

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Washington Post Conceals Both the Terrorist Identity of the Victims of Israeli Attacks in Gaza And The Reason for the Attacks, i.e., The Incessant Rocketing Of Israeli Towns From Gaza

From: Leo Rennert
To: Editors & Executives of The Washington Post
Date: December 12, 2007
Subject: Washington Post Outdoes Itself In Libeling Israel Over Gaza Incursion

In its Dec. 12 editions, the Post runs the following at the top of its "World In Brief" column:

"Six PALESTINIANS KILLED in Israeli Incursion.

''Israeli armored forces backed by aircraft thrust into the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, KILLING FIVE PALESTINIANS a day before Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were to begin laying the groundwork for peace talks. ANOTHER PALESTINIAN WAS KILLED in an airstrike.

"Palestinian witnesses said 30 armored vehicles moved into the area. But an Israeli army spokesman said 'a few' tanks took part."

And that's the sum total of the Post's report.

So what are Post readers to make of this story, but that Israel, without provocation, moved aggressively into the Gaza Strip, killing indiscriminately half a dozen Palestinians? Neither the headline nor the story gives the slightest hint of the identity of these 6 PALESTINIANS. Were they civilians going about their lives? Were they children at play? Perhaps. The article certainly doesn't rule it out.

Nor does the story inform readers WHY the incursion occurred in the first place, except to suggest that Israel wanted to torpedo the start of peace talks the following day.

But, of course, NONE OF THIS IS TRUE.

To begin with, the 6 PALESTINIANS who were killed were ALL TERRORISTS and so identified in wire dispatches and other media. The New York Times, for example, reports that three belonged to Islamic Jihad and the other three to the Popular Resistance Committees. A Times reader would know immediately that the six killed Palestinians were not innocent civilians. A Post reader, however, would NOT know that and could NOT tell.

As to why Israel moved into the Gaza Strip, the New York Times -- but NOT the Washington Post -- clearly spelled out that this was an "effort to disrupt rocket and mortar assaults" on southern Israel from Gaza. In fact, the Times article places the total Palestinians killed at EIGHT, reporting that two other "fighters" were killed in "operations aimed at those trying to fire rockets or mortar rounds toward Israel."

The Post, however, ignores (censors?) all such crucially relevant details. Usually, the paper tries to sanitize Palestinian terrorists who aim to KILL as many ISRAELI CIVILIANS as possible with all sorts of Orwellian euphemisms like "fighters," "Islamic radicals," "gunmen" or "militants." But at least in those instances, many (but by no means all) Post readers can do the translation for themselves and guess the real identity and agenda of these misnamed terrorists. In this latest instance, however, there is no semantic peg whatsoever on which to hang the real identity of these terrorists. They are just PALESTINIANS in the "news" section of the Post.

Thus is Israel falsely tarred by the Post as a villain using superior military force to KILL PALESTINIANS, while Post readers are shielded from any information that NO CIVILIANS were killed, only TERRORISTS who have launched more than 2,000 rockets and mortar rounds against Israel since the start of 2007, terrorizing tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

At the Post, Palestinian lives, including the lives of terrorists, count for more than the lives of Israelis.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Washington Post Reports Only Israeli Strikes on Palestinian Terrorists in Gaza and Conceals The Reason For Israel's Strikes, The Daily Launching of Rockets Into Israel 

From: Leo Rennert
To: Editors & Executives of The Washington Post
Date: December 11, 2007
Subject: Washington Post Yawns About Palestinian Terrorism, Wakes Up Only When Israel Fights Back

Reading the Washington Post, one wouldn't know that Israel is under near-daily attacks by rocket barrages fired from Hamas-ruled Gaza. But let Israel strike back, usually with great precision, at the rocket launchers and kill terrorists who fire these Qassam missiles and the Post is far more apt to run with that kind of a story. In other words, pain and death inflicted on Israel matters far less than pain and death inflicted on terrorist perpetrators.

The latest example:

In the World in Brief column in the December 11 editions, there is a short report under the headline, "Palestinian Gunman Killed." The single-paragraph story states: "A Palestinian gunman was killed and at least two dozen others were wounded in an Israeli missile strike in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, military sources and medics said. An official from the radical Islamic Jihad organiztion said the man killed was a member of that group."

And that's the sum total of this report. No mention whatsoever of WHY Israel would kill this "gunman." No mention that Islamic Jihad is the primary Palestinian terrorist group in Gaza responsible for incessant rocket fire into Israel. No mention that, during the same news cycle, a Qassam rocket slammed into a factory in the southern Israeli city of Sderot and that at least one person there had to be treated for shock. No mention in either the December 11 or earlier Post editions that Israel this year has been targeted by MORE THAN 2,000 rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza.

The brief December 11 report is part of a pattern of the Post paying virtually no attention to what Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups are up to in Gaza, while surfacing with "news" only when Israel strikes back and takes out some terrorist aggressors.

To comprehend how utterly skewed such reporting is, imagine for a moment that a rogue terrorist outfit was embedded in and around Tijuana and regularly fired short-range rockets at San Diego, sometimes hitting their targets, sometimes not. And suppose that, with Mexican authorities unable or unwilling to halt such attacks, the U.S. strikes back at the rocket launchers. How would the Post cover such a story? Would it just focus on the impact of counter-strikes on the Mexican side, without documenting the rocket attacks on U.S. territory and whatever casualties and property damage they caused? I don't think so. You'd have a whole team of reporters in and around San Diego describing the mayhem caused by such rocket attacks and the pain inflicted on local residents.

So why does the Post blind itself to Sderot's traumas, and deems only Israeli responses newsworthy?

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Washington Post Once Again Prunes The News To Advance An Anti-Israel Agenda - Conceals Remarks of Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Arab Audience Defending Israel As Not Posing A Nuclear Threat

The following letter by Leo Rennert exposes yet another instance in which the Washington Post conceals news from its readers, because the news is not consistent with the negative image of Israel the Post seeks to convey. And as Mr. Rennert's letter reveals, even the New York Times, which itself regularly depicts Israel in a negative light, did not resort to this deception. Readers deserve an explanation for this omission. 


From: Leo Rennert 
To: Washington Post Editors & Ombudsman
Date: 12-9-07
Subject: Gates' Vigorous Defense Of Israel's Nuke Program -- Invisible In The Washington Post

On Saturday, Dec. 8, Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivered a very detailed and explicit defense of Israel's nuclear program -- and he did so without pulling any punches before an Arab audience at a Gulf security conference in Bahrain. But readers of the Washington Post wouldn't know it if they relied on the newspaper's article by Ann Scott Tyson, a Post reporter who accompanied Gates to Bahrain.

While Gates's speech dealt mainly with the strategic threat posed to the region by Iran and its nuclear ambitions, the secretary gave a spirited response during the question-and-answer period when he was asked about Israel's reputed nuclear weapons and why they're not as much of a threat to peace in the region.

In a full column-length story, the sum total of the Post's report dealing with Bush's statements about Israel was a single paragraph -- the 12th paragraph (well below the fold) to be precise. (Iran Aims 'To Foment Instability,' Gates Says, Nuclear Program Could Be Restarted, Defense Chief Warns, 12-9-07, A27) Here is that paragraph in its entirety:

"In questions following Gates's speech, attendees voiced both approval and suspicion. Some accused the United States of a double standard for failing to object to Israel's possession of nuclear weapons. Asked whether he thought Israel's nuclear arsenal posed a threat to the region, Gates initially gave a FOUR-WORD answer: "NO, I DO NOT." 

And that's all that readers got on this particular topic. Not one additional word.

ONLY A FOUR-WORD ANSWER BY GATES? Not exactly. Not by a long shot. According to wire dispatches, Gates gave a 72-WORD ANSWER. Here's how Gates actually responded, including the 68 WORDS the Washington Post did not deem newsworthy:

"No, I do not. Israel is not training terrorists to subvert its neighbors. It has not shipped weapons into a place like Iraq to kill thousands of innocents covertly. It has not threatened to destroy any of its neighbors. It is not trying to destabilize the government of Lebanon. So I think there are significant differences in terms of both the history and the behavior of the Iranian and the Israeli governments."

Quite a contrast between what the Post dismissed as a mere FOUR-WORD ANSWER and Gates telling Arab leaders to their faces that, unlike Iran, Israel is a good citizen of the region who doesn't destabilize its neighbors, doesn't train and furnish terrorists with weapons, and hasn't vowed to destroy another nation.

Quite a contrast also between the Post and New York Times versions of the same event.

The Times, while also leading with Gates's insistence that Iran's nuclear program remains a critical threat, didn't wait until the 12th paragraph to report the secretary's remarks about Israel. The Times got to those comments high up in its article, starting with the 3rd and 4th paragraphs, which read as follows:

"In a speech to the conference on regional security here, Mr.Gates dismissed those who suggested that the United States had a double standard on nuclear arms in the Middle East and that a nuclear-armed Israel was the real danger. He said that, unlike Iran, Israel had never threatened to destroy a neighbor.

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made aggressive comments toward Israel, including a call in 2005 for Israel to be 'wiped off the map,'''

The Times didn't end there. Later on in the article, it rounded out its report on Gates's comments about Israel with another two paragraphs, which read:

"During a lively question-and-answer period, Mr. Gates was pressed on whether the United States had a double standard in organizing the world community to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons but not working to disarm Israel.

"'Israel is not training terrorist to subvert its neighbors, it has not shipped weapons to a place like Iraq to kill thousands of civilians, it has not threatened to destroy any of its neighbors, it is not trying to destabilize the government of Lebanon,' Mr. Gates said."

Thus, the Times spelled out high up in its story Gates's rationale for refuting criticism of Israel's nuclear program, while the Post totally omitted his rationale for his assertions. Moreover, the Times evidently felt that Gates's remarks about Israel were sufficiently newsworthy to return to them and to quote them in great detail, which the Post of course failed to do.

So here again is the Washington Post -- always eager to devote reams of copy to blacken Israel's reputation -- blanking out important news that redounds to Israel's advantage and affirms its proper behavior toward its neighbors.

Was it the reporter who decided not to publish Gates's pro-Israel comments? Or was it editors at the foreign news desk here in Washington? It doesn't matter. Either way, Post readers were badly shortchanged, especially in view of the Post's well-established pattern of pejorative coverage of Israel.

Still, in terms of accountability to itself and to its readers, it might behoove the newspaper's ombudsman to demand to see the actual copy filed by Ann Scott Tyson and compare it with what got in the paper. The ombudsman might ask why the Post article mentions that Gates "INITIALLY" gave a FOUR-WORD ANSWER. ''INITIALLY'' suggests there's more to come. But more never came. So did Tyson quote Gates at some length, but all the quotes were taken out at the desk in Washington? And, if so, why?

The Post, like most newspapers, trumpets the need for transparency when it comes to government agencies and corporate affairs. But it's not nearly as gung-ho when it comes to transparency about what gets into the paper -- and sometimes more importantly what doesn't.

Leo Rennert
[Leo Rennert is a journalist and former White House correspondent]


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Washington Post Portrays Israeli Officials As Murderers And War Criminals Avoiding Apprehension By Law Enforcement Authorities Of Western Nations - Fails To Report Other Major Post-Annapolis Events Reflecting On Sincerity of Palestinians' Quest For Peace

The article that is the subject of the following letter by Mr. Rennert is a prime example of the anti-Israel animus permeating the newsroom at the Washington Post. In 3 brief paragraphs this article takes a swipe at Israel and Israeli government officials by portraying them as internationally isolated war criminals accused of murder, sought by and hiding from law enforcement authorities in law abiding Western nations, in this case Great Britain. And as Mr. Rennert notes, events taking place in the wake of Annapolis and far more important to the prospects for peace are conspicuously avoided by the Washington Post. 

From: Leo Rennert
To: Washington Post Editors & Ombudsman
Date: December 7, 2007

In its Dec. 7 editions, the Washington Post carries a three-paragraph article about Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter declining an invitation to visit Britain to speak at a conference on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process out of concern that he might be arrested on war crimes charges for his role in the 2002 assassination of Salah Shehada, a "senior Hamas FIGHTER." The bomb dropped on Shehada's home also killed his bodyguard and 13 bystanders, including 9 children.

The Post's report, however, errs abysmally in its euphemistic identification of Shehada and in its failure to explain to readers British law that allows any private individual or individuals to trigger arrest warrants of foreign visitors on the flimsiest allegations that no British prosecutor ultimately would take to court. To wit:

  • Shehada a FIGHTER, as the lead paragraph describes him? No way. That doesn't begin to describe his nefarious TERRORIST role as HEAD OF HAMAS'S MILITARY WING in 2002 at the peak of the intifada when he was sending waves of suicide bombers to kill Israeli civilians on buses, in markets, in pizzerias and discos. Ha'aretz, the Post's favorite Israeli newspaper, had no problem in so identifying him. The AP and the Times of London identified him as a "senior Hamas MILITANT," an Orwellian euphemism which nevertheless, by constant media repetition, has become a politically correct synonym for TERRORIST. But leave it to the Washington Post to call Shehada neither a TERRORIST nor a MILITANT, but a FIGHTER -- a term usually reserved for admirable figures, worthy of emulation.