The Failures of Journalism in the 21st Century: Richard Landes, Augean Stables, May 15, 2016 — Towards the end of 2000, a professional failure of epic proportions took place among Western journalists.
The Accelerating Erosion of the Post-Zionist Hebrew Media: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Aug. 31, 2016 — Haaretz, Israel’s oldest Hebrew daily newspaper, was established in 1918 by a group of left-leaning businessmen.
Greens Should Follow Germany's Lead And Reject Israel Boycotts: Benjamin Weinthal, Huffington Post, Sept. 20, 2016 — While Iran's regime continues to expand its nuclear facilities and Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's war has caused a half million deaths, the Green parties in North America are bizarrely preoccupied with boycotting the Jewish state.
Attention Norway: Stick to Polar Bears, Disregard BDS: Judith Bergman, Israel Hayom, Sept. 2, 2016 — One of the world’s northernmost inhabited places is Longyearbyen, a small town of about 2,000 people in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole.
Lethal, Own-Goal Journalism Creates Caliphater BDS: Definitions: Richard Landes, Augean Stables, Sept. 23, 2016
Newsweek Middle East Editor Goes on Anti-Semitic Twitter Rant: Tower, Sept. 14, 2016
California Governor Signs Anti-BDS Bill into Law: Jerusalem Post, Sept. 25, 2016
Telling Our Positive Story Against BDS: Jon Haber, Algemeiner, Sept. 25, 2016
Augean Stables, May 15, 2016
Towards the end of 2000, a professional failure of epic proportions took place among Western journalists. This failure began among Middle East correspondents reporting on the conflict, which broke out anew in late September 2000, between Israel and her Arab (triumphalist) neighbors. In this phase of “lethal journalism” Western reporters, almost as a pack, systematically reported Palestinian accusations against Israel – lethal narratives – as if they were eminently credible, indeed as if they actually happened, in other words as news. These reports had their desired effect in the conflict, supporting the “underdog” and “leveling the playing field,” prolonging the war, protecting the Palestinians from Israeli efforts to prevent their terror attacks, and severely damaging Israel’s global image.
The impact, however, went far beyond what these reporters imagined. They had an electric effect on Muslims the world over, including the West. Given overwhelming proof – the Western media reported it – of the victimization of Muslims in Palestine, many a triumphalist Muslim awoke to the siren call of Jihad. Demonstrations in the West made ample room for a newly aggressive Muslim Street, and recruiting for Jihad made great headway in the heart of the enemy. In particular, Europe’s largely unassimilated Muslim population radicalized significantly.
Indeed, lethal journalists, in their cognitive disorientation, didn’t realize that, in purveying Palestinian propaganda as news, they greatly amplified not Palestinian “nationalist” efforts to get their “self-determination,” but instead they mainstreamed Jihadi war propaganda that targeted their own societies as much as Israeli – all kufar to be either converted, dhimmified, or eliminated. In so acting, they engaged in an unprecedented form of war journalism, not the traditional patriotic version of lying for your own side, but own-goal war journalism, where the journalists lied for their side’s enemies.
Why did they do this? A close look at the lethal journalism at work against Israel reveals a striking underlying pattern: not only did it report often false accusations against Israel that incited outrage and hatred, but it did not report (or played down) often true stories about the Palestinians – their terrorism, their mistreatment of their own people, and their genocidal incitement to hatred of the Jews.
Here was pattern of compliance with Palestinian “Media Protocols” that essentially demanded that journalists report the conflict as a black and white morality tale: Israelis were always the aggressors and Palestinians always the victims, resisting the occupation. This obedience to the demands of Palestinian Jihadis in fact replicated itself in the broader journalistic coverage of global Jihadi efforts. In this sense, both the lethal, own-goal war journalism of the journalists reporting from the Middle East, and the disastrous misreporting on triumphalist Islam in the West, constitute what can best be described as Dhimmi journalism, that is, journalism that follows the rules of the dhimma: do not offend Muslims and attack those who do offend Muslims. Of all the things that help us understand why the West has fared so badly in countering Jihadi cogwar in the 21st century, this across the boards failure of the Western MSNM, stands at the head of the list.
Prof. Landes, a CIJR Academic Fellow, delivered the keynote address
at CIJR’s Dateline Middle East Student Magazine launch, Sept. 26, 2016
Candidly Speaking, Aug. 31, 2016
Haaretz, Israel’s oldest Hebrew daily newspaper, was established in 1918 by a group of left-leaning businessmen. In 1937, Salman Schocken bought the newspaper and it was edited by his son Gershom until his death in 1990. Although its circulation was never high when compared to the tabloids Maariv and Yedioth Ahronoth, it has for many years been regarded as the most influential intellectual newspaper in Israel with its readership including leading political and economic elites. It was considered a liberal newspaper although its economic section was conservative, and it published many outstanding feature articles.
After Gershom died, his son Amos assumed the role of chairman, CEO and publisher. In August 2006, 25% of the shares of Haaretz were sold to the German publisher M. DuMont Schauberg, whose father was a Nazi party member and whose publishing enterprises promoted Nazi ideology. Although he passionately denies being post-Zionist, Amos imposed his radical left-wing ideology onto the newspaper which has now been transformed into a vehicle that provides much of the anti-Israeli sentiment and even anti-Semitic lies and distortions that are a boon to our adversaries.
It is difficult to comprehend the depths to which this once highly regarded newspaper has descended. There are still a number of level-headed commentators, such as Ari Shavit and Shlomo Avineri, and occasional “fig leaf” conservative columns contributed by Moshe Arens and Israel Harel. But the opinion section is overwhelmingly dominated by delusional anti-Zionists such as Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, who promote the idea that Israel was born in sin. Levy repeatedly reiterates that Israel is one of the world’s most brutal and tyrannical regimes in existence today and repeatedly accuses the Jewish state of being an apartheid state. Even publisher Schocken wrote a column titled “Only international pressure will end Israel apartheid.”
These demonic views of their own country would be more appropriate for publication in the Palestinian media than in an Israeli newspaper. Furthermore, even the reporting became as opinionated as op-ed articles, frequently totally distorting news events and placing Israel in the worst possible light. The reporting has also become selective in its news coverage, a prime example being the suppressed coverage of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s alleged corruption, in order not to create problems for the Gaza disengagement.
If Haaretz was restricted to an Israeli audience, its impact would be minimal as it has a small circulation and few Israelis are influenced by what it publishes. The real problem is the English language edition and its internet site, which is monitored by diplomats and reproduced by the global media. It serves to demonize and delegitimize Israel to countless internet readers throughout the world who are under the illusion that they are reading a reputable liberal Israeli newspaper. Pro-Israel Diaspora activists who would normally have protested the bias and even the anti-Semitic slant of anti-Israeli media outlets, have been confronted by editors who defended their approach on the grounds that it reflected the editorial policies of a respected daily Israeli newspaper.
The damage is incalculable. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that in recent years, the newspaper has caused more harm to the image of Israel than the combined efforts of our adversaries. Nothing demonstrates this more than the front-page headlines in 2009 based upon unsubstantiated evidence from the discredited Breaking the Silence group which first promoted the lie that Israeli soldiers were committing war crimes. After successive days in which Haaretz highlighted this blood libel, the IDF chief military advocate general released a report describing the accusations as “categorically false.” Instead of apologizing and expressing remorse, Haaretz responded sarcastically, suggesting that while the report showed the IDF to be “pure as snow,” implying that the accusers —fighters and commanders from some of its best combat units — were a bunch of liars and exaggerators.
Despite the unequivocal repudiation of these false allegations, the damage was done. The global media enthusiastically highlighted the news from the “influential” Israeli newspaper. This paved the way for subsequent allegations of Israeli war crimes, culminating in the now discredited Goldstone report, which remains a central feature of the defamation leveled against us by our adversaries. In this context, it should be mentioned that the recently appointed editor of the English edition, Noa Landau, is the life partner of Avner Gvaryahu, one of the most vocal and vicious activist leaders of Breaking the Silence.
Another notable example was the 2014 Haaretz Conference held in New York, where in deference to Palestinian Authority spokesman Saeb Erekat, who addressed the conference, the Israeli flag was removed from the podium. The situation has continued to deteriorate, with more readers canceling subscriptions, even including many prominent left-wing supporters who can no longer tolerate the ever increasing anti-Israel hysteria that fills the pages of the paper. Irit Linur, a liberal columnist for the weekend edition, wrote to Schocken, “I feel that the State of Israel fundamentally revolts you. … I don’t want to subscribe to a newspaper that tries in every way to make me ashamed of my Zionism, my patriotism and my intelligence — three qualities that are most precious to me.”…
The harshest blow came from liberal American journalist icon Jeffrey Goldberg, who is regarded as the principal media source used by U.S. President Barack Obama in relation to Israel and Jewish affairs. Goldberg erupted after two American Jewish historians published an article in Haaretz accusing the U.N. of establishing a Jewish racist state that is today an extension of Western colonialism. They proudly announced that they would never set foot in any synagogue that supported Israel. Goldberg also responded to a recent Levy op-ed titled “Yes, Israel is an evil state” – which described Israel as an entity based on “pure evil. Sadistic evil. Evil for its own sake”. He announced that he was canceling his subscription, tweeting that “when neo-Nazis are emailing me links to Haaretz op-eds declaring Israel to be evil, I’m going to take a break.” He also noted that “I can read anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli things like this on other websites. There really no need for an Israeli website like this.”…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Huffington Post, Sept. 20, 2016
While Iran's regime continues to expand its nuclear facilities and Syrian dictator Bashar Assad's war has caused a half million deaths, the Green parties in North America are bizarrely preoccupied with boycotting the Jewish state. The parties' counterpart in Germany is, however, a vehement opponent of the anti-Semitic boycott movement. The German Greens should serve as a model for Canadian and U.S. Greens to revise their anti-Israel positions.
Last month, the Green Party of Canada became the country's first party to endorse the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS) targeting Israel. BDS claims to seek concessions from Israel to advance the cause of Palestinian statehood. The movement is actually against peace because it seeks to dismantle Israel and to impose a one-state solution, rather than two states for two peoples. While Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May personally rejects BDS as polarizing, she was overridden on the issue by voting delegates at her party's annual convention.
It is a topsy-turvy world when a political group devoted to protecting the environment prioritizes BDS over opposing Iran's nuclear aims — which have the potential to devastate humanity and the environment — and the Assad regime — which, along with its sponsors Iran, Russia and Hezbollah — has engaged in a scorched-earth policy in Syria. Iran's Lake Urmia is drying up, Tehran is beset by major air pollution and one of its nuclear facilities — Bushehr — lies on an earthquake-prone area.
Yet the Canadian Greens debated only two foreign policy resolutions at their convention, and both pertained to Israel. In addition to BDS, the other unsuccessfully called on the Canada Revenue Agency to remove the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund, an organization at the forefront of protecting the natural environment in Israel for the benefit of all residents.
Across the border in the United States, Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate, defended her support for BDS during an August CNN town hall discussion. Stein mirrors her Canadian counterparts in their apparent lack of concern regarding, for example, the Islamic State's genocidal acts toward Middle East Christians and Yazidis.
Fortunately, BDS remains controversial to many on the left in both the United States and Canada. Polling done within Canada's Green Party following the convention revealed that 44 per cent of the respondents believe that the party's anti-Israel boycott policy should be repealed entirely, while 28.1 per cent believe that it should "not [be] tied to one actor or one movement" — such as Israel. More broadly, in a statement largely ignored by the print media, the former democratic socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders linked BDS to modern anti-Semitism. When asked if he agreed with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton that BDS can be equated with anti-Semitism, Sanders told MSNBC: "I think there is some of that, absolutely."
The most powerful and influential Green Party is in Germany. The German Greens served as a coalition partner to the Social Democrats in the federal government from 1998 to 2005. The party is represented in state governments across the Federal Republic. In Baden-Württemberg, where a Green Party politician is the governor, party spokeswoman Eva Muszar said in June: "We Greens reject a boycott of Israel, as well as BDS. The BDS campaign aggressively calls for a boycott of Israeli goods and organizations, and is collectively directed against Jewish Israelis and uses anti-Semitic prejudices."
Just this month, the national teachers' union in Germany, with its nearly 281,000 members, termed BDS anti-Semitic. Moreover, the BDS campaign deceptively listed Greenpeace Germany on a petition as a supporter, prompting the NGO to demand that the BDS campaign immediately remove its name from the document. All of this may reflect the fact that Germans have a greater than usual consciousness about where boycotts of Jews lead. After all, the first phase of the Hitler movement was a nation-wide boycott of Jewish businesses. But aside from any historical sensitivities, the opposition of the Green Party — and of other left-of-centre parties in the Federal Republic — to BDS is premised on the notion that the boycott movement is discriminatory, harmful to many Palestinians employed by Israeli companies, and destructive to hopes for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Another reason to be suspicious of the BDS movement is for its links to terrorism, which has been a recurring theme in the media and in policy debates. One of Austria's largest banks, BAWAG, pulled the plug on the account of the pro-BDS Austrian-Arab Culture Center (OKAZ) in June. OKAZ had sponsored a lecture with Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which has been designated by Canada and the EU as a terrorist organization. Khaled helped hijack TWA Flight 840 in 1969. A year later, she participated in the hijacking of EL AL Flight 219.
Bret Stephens recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal of a disturbing finding: In the case of several American organizations that were designated, shut down or held civilly liable for providing material support to the terrorist organization Hamas, a significant contingent of their former leadership appears to have pivoted to leadership positions within the American BDS campaign. French and German banks have closed BDS accounts in their countries. France has the most robust anti-BDS law in Europe. France's 2003 Lellouche law has been applied to punish Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions activists for singling out Israel based on national origin…If Green parties wish to enter the mainstream, they should replicate the forward-thinking policies of the German Greens and their rejection of BDS. BDS is a dead-end street filled with potholes of terrorism and discrimination.
Israel Hayom, Sept. 2, 2016
One of the world’s northernmost inhabited places is Longyearbyen, a small town of about 2,000 people in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. Svalbard is a place of indescribable beauty, filled with an untouched arctic wilderness that will leave you in constant awe, simply grateful to be alive to witness such staggering wonders: untouched arctic landscapes, blueish glaciers and frozen tundra, which is home to an arctic wildlife that includes polar bears. Indeed, the most dangerous neighbors a human being can come across in Svalbard are polar bears, which is why it is prohibited to venture outside Longyearbyen without a weapon. Longyearbyen’s residents come from all over the world and the place feels as far removed from any kind of international politics as you could possibly imagine.
Ever since my husband and I visited this place, we have spoken about going back, and my husband has even taken to reading Svalbardposten — the world’s northernmost newspaper. It was during the perusal of this usually apolitical source of news — it is not uncommon for nine out of 10 headlines to include polar bears in some form or other — that my husband jumped from his chair, pointing to the computer screen in horror. I looked at the headline, which said, “Boycott Israel!”
So there it was: the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement had made its way to the northernmost inhabited place on earth. The text was a letter to the editor, written last summer by a local priest, Leif Magne Helgesen, in which he was peddling the most outlandish claims, including that Israel is “a military regime” and encouraging his fellow Longyearbyen residents to boycott Israel. The priest had spent his summer vacation in a Palestinian-Arab village and had returned a full-fledged BDS warrior, ready to go against Israel, which he continued throughout his lengthy diatribe to describe as a “regime.”
There is something deeply ironic, tragicomically so, about a priest who does his business in the northernmost spot on earth, surrounded only by the Creator’s beauty and the occasional scare from a polar bear, isolated from the rest of the world and certainly from the issues of the Middle East, venting his antisemitic fury and rage at a country that could not possibly be further removed from him than Israel. It is also telling that this man is, of all things, a priest.
Unfortunately, it should not surprise us. Svalbard belongs to Norway, which according to a recent report by watchdog group NGO Monitor, has recently joined Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands in contributing funds to an organization funding NGOs that promote a boycott of Israel. According to the Norwegian Foreign Ministry’s website, 5 million Norwegian kroner (over $600,000) was allocated to the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (HR/IHL) Secretariat in the second half of 2016. According to the NGO Monitor report, the “HR/IHL Secretariat is an intermediary that distributes funds to nongovernmental organizations … active in BDS … campaigns and other forms of demonization against Israel. It is managed by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University (IoL-BZU) in Ramallah and the NIRAS consulting firm, based in Sweden.”
Also according to the report, “80% of the HR/IHL Secretariat’s distributions are allocated to core NGO funding. NGO Monitor research shows that out of 24 core recipients, 13 support BDS, receiving $5.78 million (more than half) out of an operating budget of $10.38 million over the course of four years. Some grantees have also promoted antisemitic rhetoric and have apparent links to the PFLP terrorist organization. Core group members receiving funding include BADIL, Al-Haq, Addameer and MIFTAH, all vehemently anti-Israel NGOs at the forefront of BDS campaigns.”
How surprising is it, then, that a Norwegian citizen, even in such a remote and apolitical place such as Longyearbyen, joins the BDS bandwagon? It is not surprising at all. Official Norway, naturally, denies all wrongdoing. This was the response of the Norwegian Embassy in Israel to the findings of NGO Monitor: “We do not find their characterizations to be representative of the work that these organizations are doing. Norway does not tolerate hate speech, efforts to delegitimize Israel, or anti-Semitism and have close dialogue with all our partners to make sure this is understood. … Norway does not provide financial support to organizations whose main goal is to promote the BDS campaign.” How lovely it would be if Norwegians could just stick to looking out for polar bears instead of pathetically attempting to meddle in Israel’s business and then not even having the backbone to admit it.
Lethal, Own-Goal Journalism Creates Caliphater BDS: Definitions: Richard Landes, Augean Stables, Sept. 23, 2016—The following is a set of definitions I will be using in a talk I’m giving on Sunday. They are, I think, critical terms in understanding what has happened in the 21st century, and why we’re losing a war of the minds with triumphalist imperialist zealots. I will post the talk after I deliver it.
Newsweek Middle East Editor Goes on Anti-Semitic Twitter Rant: Tower, Sept. 14, 2016—An editor of Newsweek Middle East launched into a Twitter tirade invoking several anti-Semitic tropes late last week, including that Jews are greedy and are not descended from biblical Hebrews, and therefore have no historical connection to Israel.
California Governor Signs Anti-BDS Bill into Law: Jerusalem Post, Sept. 25, 2016—California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a measure that prevents companies that boycott or discriminate against any sovereign state, including Israel, from doing business with the state.
Telling Our Positive Story Against BDS: Jon Haber, Algemeiner, Sept. 25, 2016—Anyone involved with organized pro-Israel politics has likely gotten caught up in heated discussions over how to set a narrative and get activists to stick with it during the course of a campaign. Themes, messaging calendars and lists of talking points are several of the devices that have been proposed, and sometimes implemented, to get our side to settle on and consistently tell the same story.