Ben-Dror Yemini: Tears of hypocrisy
Op-ed: We can’t prevent what is happening in Syria or in Somalia, but we can prevent a similar future in Israel. This bloodbath is the outcome of placing hostile populations within ‘one state.’ If it won’t work between Muslims and Muslims, why does anyone think it can work between Jews and Arabs?
The world is hurting over the situation in Aleppo. Emotional articles and posts are being published here and there. Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah are extremely moved. They know that no one will lift a finger to help. Interior Minister Aryeh Deri has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to turn to the United Nations. Oh, come on.
US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power delivered a firm and moving speech in a recent Security Council briefing. “Are you truly incapable of shame?” she asked. “Is there no execution of a child that gets under your skin?” She knows how to speak. There were even tears. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei were unmoved.
The massacre won’t stop without action. And those who are getting all emotional, might I remind you, usually lead the camp that is against action. They lauded and praised US President Barack Obama for not intervening, even when it may have been possible to stop the bloodbath.
These emotions are the result of exposure to information. Because there are much greater tragedies occurring in other places as we speak. On the border between Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, there are 1.4 million children who have become refugees, and 75,000 of them are on the verge of starvation. In Somalia, 200,000 have already died because the local jihad organization, al-Shabaab, has halted food deliveries, and 38,000 children under the age of five are in danger of starving. The Nigerians and Somalis’ situation is much worse than the Syrians’ situation. But they don’t have any Internet access, and no one there has heard about social media. So no one is moved.
HonestReporting: The 2016 Dishonest Reporter of the Year: Why Headline Writers Won
The Dishonest Reporting Award typically goes to a clear-cut winner. Last year, the BBC won for a steady output of problematic coverage throughout the year. In 2014, the award went to Gaza war correspondents for their problematic handling of Operation Protective Edge. But 2016 didn’t have any comparable singular outrages like, say, journalist Donald Bostrom’s Swedish blood libel of 2009.
Since a wave of Palestinian stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks began in 2015, 36 Israelis, two Americans and an Eritrean national have been killed. According to AFP‘s count in mid-December, 238 Palestinians, a Jordanian and a Sudanese migrant were also killed — mostly while carrying out the attacks, in clashes with the IDF in the West Bank or along the Gaza border, or in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. HonestReporting readers objected to the slow and steady drip of headlines which, at times, mangled facts, lacked context, used loaded language or — in some cases — were poorly revised after being published.
Headlines don’t just skew our sense of the world as we scroll through our social media feeds. They also impact the way we read and remember content. We elaborate on this issue, in Why Headlines Matter.
We took some of the worst headlines of 2016 and broke them down to four categories. The first three are associated with The Eight Categories of Media Bias. The fourth reflects that sometimes, a revised headline can actually be worse.
1. Distorting the truth
2. Lack of context
3. Loaded language
4. Regressive revisions
Here’s what we found from a range of papers in the US, Europe, Canada, Australia, and international wire services.
Headlines certainly deserve scrutiny. It’s well-known that we don’t read most of the articles in our daily papers; we skim the headlines before being drawn to whatever draws our attention. The same habits apply on social media, where we scroll through our Facebook or Twitter feeds and click on whatever catches our fancy.
An April, 2016 academic study of bit.ly links shared on Twitter to BBC, CNN, Fox News, New York Times and Huffington Post articles found that 59 percent of the links were never clicked. And another study of push-through news alerts to mobile phones found that “People click on the alert about half the time.”
So for many casual readers who don’t follow closely follow the Israeli-Arab conflict, all they know about the latest in the Mideast is from the headlines and alerts of articles they don’t read.
This Columbia Journalism Review observation about the mobile alerts would also apply to headlines:
But push notifications are not news stories. They are snippets often written on deadline, akin to headlines that deliver the jist [sic] of a complicated event but little more. Yet there’s growing anecdotal evidence to suggest that readers may view news alerts as standalone stories, taking them at face value without clicking through to read more.
Hamas slammed the Muslim monarchy of Bahrain for hosting a Hanukkah lighting ceremony which resulted in what it called a “humiliating and disgraceful” viral video of keffiyeh-wearing sheikhs dancing with Orthodox Jews to Hasidic music.
On Saturday night, the kingdom, ruled by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, held a candle-lighting ceremony for the first night of Hanukkah in which Jews, businesspeople and other Bahrainis took part.
Hamas, an Islamist terror group which runs the Gaza Strip, said it was “amazed and deplored” that Bahrain had hosted “a Zionist, racist and extremist Jewish delegation and danced with them in a humiliating and disgraceful spectacle,” an official statement on the group’s website read.
The statement called on Bahrain to “fully stop any form of normalization with the Zionist enemy.”
The video of the event currently has over 10,000 views on YouTube.
“The pyramid of martyrs haunts the earth.” Remembering Aleppo, this line from René Char’s wartime poem comes back to me like a slap in the face. And I feel shame.
Not for Vladimir Putin, that vulgar little czar, that kapo of a gangster state who, between photo shoots and displays of testosterone, sent his planes to bomb the ruins of a city: To him, Aleppo was nothing more than another theater for his furious narcissism, and he was just playing his role.
Nor for Bashar al-Assad, behind whose leaden silhouette lies the vilest, darkest, most craven soul of our time: Men of his sort long ago resigned from the human race; eventually he will have to answer to humanity for his crimes.
No, I am ashamed of myself because I pleaded, cried in the wilderness, wrote countless columns and screeds — only to find myself face to face with my impotence, choking on my anger.
But I am also ashamed of you — of all of us — because today, at the close of 2016, there are still people who are treated as game, chased because they still have two arms, two legs, a head and have not yet been converted into the heaps of bone, gut and muscle that the Syrian government and its allies seek to reduce them to; shame because, in the face of this cruel game, we have done next to nothing and had precious little to say.
Security forces have foiled some 180 shooting attacks across Judea and Samaria in 2016, a senior defense official revealed Sunday.
The military and Shin Bet security agency have been collaborating closely to prevent such terrorist attacks, he told the Walla news website.
The Gush Etzion and Binyamin areas saw the most shooting attacks in 2016, but according to the official, the majority of terrorist cells uncovered were local, devoid any direct affiliation with any of the major terrorist groups.
“Hamas is encouraging terrorist attacks, but these cells don’t receive their orders from it. There’s an atmosphere of violence, and much of it is inspired by the Islamic State group and the terrorist attacks in Europe,” the official said.
According to the report, the defense establishment’s data indicates that terrorist cells operating across Judea and Samaria target IDF posts and bus and hitchhiking stations. Terrorists also ambush Israeli vehicles traveling on the area’s roads, or target them in drive-by shootings.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Monday has asked Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit to order a police investigation into Joint Arab List MK Hanin Zoabi for alleged incitement.
Over the weekend Zoabi too to social media, and accused the Israel Prison service of allowing Palestinian prisoners to die of terminal illness and harvesting their organs.
“Among the prisoners there are cancer patients, the IPS’ medical center waits for the disease to spread, and later, they remove their organs one by one,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
Erdan maintains the accusation constitute criminal incitement against Israel Prison Service personnel.
The public security minister described Zoabi’s allegations as “outrageous, false and contemptible,” saying that “it describes imaginary events and incites against public employees.”
Prof. Miriam Elman previously documented how anti-Israel protesters try to hijack Christian holidays and symbols, particularly Christmas: Guide to How Anti-Israel Activists Hijack Christmas.
This takes place as the majority Palestinian Muslims systematically ethnically cleanse areas under Hamas and Palestinian Authority control of Christians:
The only place in the Middle East where the Christian population is safe and growing is in Israel. Which makes the cultural appropriate of Christmas for anti-Israel protest purposes and photo-ops sickly gruesome.
This cultural appropriation of Christmas by Palestinian activists is part of the same Settler Colonial ideology that hijacks and subjugates other peoples and movements, such as the Standing Rock Sioux pipeline protests, and redirects them to the anti-Israel cause.
One annual example of this phenomenon is the “Tear Gas Santa” photo op. Palestinian protesters, who on other days just wear a Keffiyeh and gas mask, put on a Santa Claus costume. They then stage a provocation, such as rock throwing or charging a checkpoint, precipitating a tear gas response or pushback – and bang, there is the photo op.
In July 2006, Israel fought a bitter defensive war against the Lebanese Islamist organization Hezbollah. The hostilities, which saw thousands of rockets fired at Israel by Hezbollah terrorists, as well as the displacement of nearly 500,000 Israelis from their homes, ended one month later with a United Nations-brokered cease-fire.
Hezbollah had been temporarily chastened, but the disarmament demanded by the U.N. Security Council never happened, and the threat it poses has only grown during the intervening decade, most recently demonstrated by the terror organization’s participation in the atrocities that accompanied the conquest of Aleppo in Syria.
Throughout 2006, the global left adopted Hezbollah as a cause célèbre, embracing the group as the advance guard of the justified resistance against “Zionist aggression.” In this imagining, Hezbollah was depicted as a Middle Eastern equivalent of the plucky leftists who courageously fought the fascist armies of General Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War—and not as the anti-Semites, homophobes, misogynists, and fascists that this collection of stormtroopers truly are.
Two and half thousand Europeans plan to march into Aleppo waving white flags in a three month long, 2,000 mile demonstration against the civil war taking place in Syria.
This year, like last, has been characterised by the massive flow of people northwards through Europe, many of them Syrians fleeing the bombs of Assad and the opposition factions. But a group of Europeans has decided to make the trek in the other direction in order to bring an end to the war, now in its fifth year.
“We’re carrying these white flags to let the whole world know our message: Enough is enough. This war has to stop!” the group say in their manifesto.
The march, which departs Berlin on Boxing Day, 26 December, was organised by journalist Anna Alboth.
“I was having dinner with Syrian women I know in a refugee centre and they were showing me photos of a lot of people who had died,” she told the BBC.
“People like me in safe countries can’t take it any more, and we see this as a chance to transform things.
“Refugees who hear about it say that if we are willing to give up our comfortable lives to do this, then it is a real demonstration.”
Anti-Israel activists at the University of Maryland (UMD) are calling on the administration to defend them against antisemitism allegations and allow them to operate “without fear of consequence,” the independent student newspaper The Diamondback reported.
According to the report, in a “List of 64 Demands for New Programs, Resources and Initiatives,” sent to UMD President Wallace Loh in late November, ProtectUMD — a coalition of 25 campus groups, including Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) – called themselves “marginalized students” in need of support.
According to self-described “pro-Palestine” and Muslim student community members, UMD must:
Support and defend activist groups by nullifying slander and smear campaigns from bigger groups. Example: Many members of SJP were slandered as antisemitic for being pro-Palestine…
Provide protection during campus events that might make students feel unsafe because of their political implications (i.e. Israel Fest for Muslim and Arab students…)…
[Encourage] positive representation of Pro-Palestinian human rights activists on campus… [s]pecifically condemning the conflation of Pro-Palestinian activism with racism and antisemitism.
The document defines “pro-Palestinian activists” as “people who seek the fair treatment of Palestinians in Palestine and the rest of the world,” claiming that “[p]ro-Palestinians do not reject the human rights of any group of people, and encourage a fair and just system of governance across the globe.
US documentary maker Ami Horowitz travelled to Stockholm to explore how the Swedish capital had changed as a result of the European migrant crisis.
A sound recording captured the dramatic moment when he was allegedly the victim of an “unprovoked attack” after entering the Husby area – a part of the city the police have branded as “no-go”.
Mr Horowitz claimed he was punched, kicked and choked by five migrants who took objection to him filming in the area.
Discussing the vicious assault on Fox News, the filmmaker said the number of “sex attacks” in Sweden has “almost doubled” and attributed it to a “surge in Islamic immigration” into the country.
He added: “The problem with the Swedes themselves is that they refuse to acknowledge it.
“The police describe them as no-go zones. The problem is in the inteligencia out there – if you watch the BBC, NPR or CNN – they’ll have an actual debate whether or not these no-go zones even exist.
“I can tell you I went there – I know they exist.”
As America’s long tradition of bipartisanship continues to undergo attack, there is one area we, a Democrat and a Republican, urge college students from our respective parties to refuse to abandon as a bipartisan cause: Israel’s right to exist.
In a year where all things political seem to be inverted, America’s refusal to veto the United Nation’s resolution to condemn Israeli settlements is not out of character. This is a symptom of a long evaporating support for Israel on the American left; a trend which seems unlikely to be reversed in the foreseeable future. This coincides with a growing anti-Israel sentiment manifesting within America’s liberal youth. According to Pew Research earlier this year, over a quarter of the millennial demographic have come to side more closely with Palestine, while less than half support Israel.
Campus trends such as the popularity of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which advocates a desire to destroy the Jewish state, point towards a bleak future in which the defense of a people’s right to call a place home has become a partisan issue. SJP has in the last fifteen years swelled in size, with chapters in 126 universities across the United States. While there continue to be many progressive students who are staunch supporters of Israel, many now feel as though they are reactionaries for supporting citizens to live peacefully. This is especially ironic considering historical Jewish support for American progressive causes. Something has clearly gone amiss.
The narrative promoted in those reports was uniform and conformed to existing BBC editorial policy.
a) BBC audiences were repeatedly told that the resolution related to Israeli communities on “occupied” – rather than disputed – land and that the said territory is “Palestinian”.
b) BBC audiences were also repeatedly told that Israeli communities in Judea & Samaria and parts of Jerusalem are “illegal” and breach “international law” while the presentation of alternative views on that issue was limited to a box-ticking reference to the Israeli view with no further detail or explanation.
c) The reports failed to distinguish between “settlement building” and construction in existing communities, thereby giving audiences the mistaken impression that new communities are being built.
d) One of the reports promoted the inaccurate implication that construction under the current Israeli government is exceptional.
e) The reports uncritically amplified the PLO narrative of ‘settlements as an obstacle to peace’.
f) References to the parts of the resolution condemning terror and incitement were to be found in just one of the BBC’s reports. In contrast to the impression given to BBC audiences, the word ‘Palestinian’ is in fact not included in that part of the text.
g) While some of the later reports included reactions from “the Palestinian leadership”, none of them informed audiences of the fact that the resolution was hailed by the terror organisations Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
h) Three of the later articles (reports 4, 5 and 6) quoted the US ambassador to the UN as saying that “even if all settlements were dismantled, both sides would still have to acknowledge “uncomfortable truths” and make “difficult choices” to reach peace” but none of the reports reminded BBC audiences that although Israel did indeed remove all ‘settlements’ and ‘settlers’ from the Gaza Strip in 2005, peace was not forthcoming and the Hamas terror group continues to seek the destruction of Israel.
i) None of the reports reminded BBC audiences of the 2009 freeze of construction in communities in Judea & Samaria and the fact that the Palestinians refused to negotiate during most of that ten-month freeze.
j) None of the reports provided readers with the relevant context of the Palestinian Authority’s attempts to impose an outside ‘solution’ to the conflict in preference to negotiations.
k) None of the reports provides any relevant historical background on the subject of the 1948 Jordanian occupation of Judea & Samaria and parts of Jerusalem or the 1967 Jordanian attack which subsequently left Israel in control of those areas.
The Community Security Trust (CST) recently published its annual report (available here) on the topic of Antisemitic Discourse in Britain for the year 2015.
The section of that report documenting reactions to the 2015 terror attacks at the Hypercacher supermarket in Paris and the Synagogue in Copenhagen includes:
“…examples show[ing] a range of mainstream media and political responses to the Paris attacks […]. They include cases where hostility to Israel appeared to dictate reactions to the killings of French Jews.”
Readers will no doubt recall that in response to complaints concerning that broadcast, the BBC originally claimed that Willcox’s subsequent apology on Twitter sufficed. Having received a large number of complaints, the BBC then decided to consolidate them. Concurrently, additional complaints made to OFCOM were rejected.
A social media bill initiated by two Israeli cabinet members who have been spearheading the campaign against incitement to violence on the Internet was approved by the Knesset’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday, the Hebrew news site nrg reported.
The “Facebook Law,” promoted by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan — who also serves as minister of strategic affairs and information — aims to empower the Administrative Court, at the state’s request, to issue injunctions to Internet content providers, such as Facebook and Google, to remove incitement from their pages.
Such injunctions will be issued, according to the bill, when posts are deemed to be criminal or to imperil the safety of an individual Israeli, sector of society or the country as a whole.
Shaked said that the cyber-security department of the State Attorney’s Office has been working for the past year to have content that meets the above description barred or removed from the Internet. So far, she said, there have been 1,755 appeals to websites on this matter, some 71 percent of which were fully addressed.
“I am happy to see Internet platforms cooperate, but it is important for this cooperation to be obligatory,” Shaked said. “People’s lives are at stake, and therefore incitement on the web must be treated as a clear call for violent action, and networks must be forced to respond to those who incite to violence with the full extent of the law.”
The principal of a Taiwan high school where students staged a controversial Nazi-themed parade resigned Sunday, saying he would take full responsibility for an event that caused uproar from local officials and condemnations from Israel and Germany.
Cheng Hsiao-ming, who heads the Hsinchu Kuang Fu High School, apologized to the public and to victims of the Nazi regime.
Photos emerged online Saturday shortly after the school event showing students dressed in black uniforms with swastikas on their arms, waving swastika flags, and giving the Nazi salute, prompting the Taiwanese President’s Office to demand the school apologize to Israel and Germany.
The school complied, with the principal and dean publicly bowing to show remorse, but Cheng then followed up by tendering his resignation.
“To take full responsibility for the matter, I hereby announce my resignation from the post as president (of the school),” Chen said in a statement reported by the Focus Taiwan website.
A local synagogue entrance was smeared with feces and food in an apparent antisemitic attack on the first night of Chanukah on Saturday night.
Congregants arriving for prayers on Sunday morning at the Living Torah Center, a synagogue affiliated with the Orthodox Chabad movement, were shocked by the vandalism, which one of the rabbis cleaned as best he could before services.
Some feces remained lodged in the upper corner of the building’s facade, and marred a window facing Wilshire Boulevard.
Rabbi Boruch Rabinowitz told Breitbart News that the attack was not random. Assistant Rabbi Dovid Tenenbaum, who serves as a chaplain with the local police department, called in a report.
The synagogue may have attracted additional attention because of the menorah lit in the window. Jewish law dictates that the Chanukah menorah be placed in a window facing the outside world in order to publicize the holiday.
White supremacist Richard Spencer’s Spencer’s Mom recently published an article about being forced to sell her home because of her son’s views. As evidence, she made public her emails with a Jewish real estate agent named Tanya Gersh.
Neo-Nazi The Daily Stormer’s founder Andrew Anglin has ratcheted up his campaign of harassment against the Jewish community in and around Whitefish, Montana, including announcing an armed march in the town by white supremacists that he has scheduled for January, ADL reported last week. Why Whitefish, Montana? Because that’s the home of the parents of white supremacist Richard Spencer.
Richard Spencer, the white supremacist most closely associated with the alt right, appears to be making common cause with neo-Nazis, according to the ADL, “something that did not seem likely even a few years ago.” On December 14, Spencer appeared on a podcast on The Right Stuff (TRS), a virulently anti-Semitic site, with neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin of The Daily Stormer and Mike Enoch, the pseudonym of the person who founded TRS. On the show, the three spoke amicably about their different approaches to white nationalism. Indeed, they appeared to salute each other’s efforts to gain traction with mainstream whites who have not embraced white nationalism.
Richard Spencer’s Mom recently published an article about being forced to sell her home because of her son’s views. As evidence, she made public her emails with a Jewish real estate agent named Tanya Gersh.
The emails reveal Sherry Spencer’s torment over her personal conflict between loving her son and recognizing that he is a slimy bigot. according to one email, Sherry issued a statement of reconciliation with her community of Whitefish, and repudiated the views of her son’s many affiliates in the alt right movement. She stressed that “I have recently come to believe that because of my son’s activity and leadership in the white nationalist movement his presence in Whitefish is hurting the people here. I want to mend this damage and that is why I am making this announcement.”
If a Polish ultranationalist student intended to delegitimize his university’s main Hanukkah event, his plan seems to have backfired.
On Monday, on the Facebook invitation for a Hanukkah event at the University of Warsaw, Konrad Smuniewski inveighed against “Jew communists” and called Judaism a “criminal ideology” of “racism, xenophobia and hatred.”
His posts, however, generated a backlash that propelled the normally modest Hanukkah party at the university’s Judaic Department into the spotlight — garnering coverage in the Polish media that was highly critical of Smuniewski’s remarks and leading to a doubling in attendance at the event the following day.
“I cannot accept this sort of behavior, which I do not understand,” said Asia Bakon, 19, who is studying the history of arts and Hebrew, though she is not Jewish.
Bakon said she and approximately 40 other non-Jewish students came to the Hanukkah party for the first time this year “mainly out of solidarity over these hateful comments” by Smuniewski.
In a country where many left-wing liberals are accusing the rightist government of mainstreaming xenophobia since its rise to power last year, the anti-Semitic views expressed by Smuniewski — a devout Catholic and Donald Trump fan who studies history at the university — were particularly shocking to some of his critics because he couched them in pseudo-academic language.
“The phrase ‘Jew communists‘ is a scientific term. What’s offensive about it?” Smuniewski told the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, which many consider Poland’s daily of record, in a 600-word article on the incident published Wednesday.
An Israeli company, eVigilo, is behind the timely mass evacuation in Chile on Sunday, that likely saved countless lives from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit the country’s southern coast.
After a 7.7-magnitude earthquake was registered on Sunday by Chile’s naval oceanographic service, Chile’s National Emergency Office (Onemi) ordered an evacuation of more than 4,000 residents and tourists from the nearby coastal areas in anticipation of a potential tsunami.
The timely warning and evacuation alert were issued through the platform of Netanya-based eVigilo to thousands of cellphones in the threatened area.
“Our company specializes in Mass-Notification and we have the ability to spread countless messages in seconds through any platform with a digital signal. Our platform is especially suitable for emergency situations and national crises,” eVigilo’s CEO Lior Shalev told the Jerusalem Post.
Six Israeli minors were briefly detained Sunday night for lighting Hanukkah candles on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.
The six were stopped by police after they lit candles at the Iron Gate and the Cotton Merchants’ Gate, two of the gates leading to the Temple Mount compound, according to the Hebrew-language news website Arutz Sheva.
They were taken to a nearby police post, searched and released soon afterward.
Jewish prayer and ritual at the Temple Mount — considered the holiest site in Judaism — is strictly forbidden as part of a decades-old status quo agreement between Israel and the Muslim Waqf, which administers the site. The compound is known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, meaning Noble Sanctuary in Arabic, and is considered the third holiest site in Islam due to the presence of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa, Israel, often is referred to as Israel’s MIT. Several years ago, some students at Technion created a video of “Rube Goldberg” style Hanukkah candle lighting. The video now has over 500,000 views on YouTube, and probably millions more on Facebook and elsewhere:
Technion students Eyal Cohen and Tomer Wassermann from the Mechanical Engineering faculty and Matan Orian and Dvir Dukhan of Industrial Engineering and Management take on the challenge to build a Rube Goldberg machine that lights the Chanukah menorah. Hanukkah is the holiday of miracles and here is another one.
Eyal Cohen and Matan Orian are winners of the annual Technion Dr. Bob’s TechnoBrain competition, supported by Dr. Robert Shillman in memory of Technion student Neev-Ya Durban. The film was made in the Computer Integrated Manufacturing and Robotics Laboratory in the William Davidson Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management
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