Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

24 September 2011

Palestinian Ambassador Reiterates Call For A Jew-Free Palestinian State

During a breakfast briefing hosted by the Christian Science Monitor on Tuesday, 20 September 2011, Palestinian Ambassador to the United States Maen Rashid Areikat reiterated his call to create a Jew-free Palestinian state.

When asked if he could imagine a Jew being elected mayor of the Palestinian city of Ramallah in a future independent Palestinian state, he replied:

“Well, I personally still believe that as a first step we need to be totally separated, and we can contemplate these issues in the future, but after the experience of 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it will be in the best interests of the two peoples to be separated first.”

Last year, Areikat made a similar statement during an interview with Tablet magazine. Asked whether it would be neccessary to transfer and remove “every Jew” from a future Palestinian state, Areikat responded:

“I’m not saying to transfer every Jew, I’m saying transfer Jews who, after an agreement with Israel, fall under the jurisdiction of a Palestinian state.  I think this is a very necessary step, before we can allow the two states to somehow develop their separate national identities, and then maybe open up the doors for all kinds of cultural, social, political, economic exchanges, that freedom of movement of both citizens of Israelis and Palestinians from one area to another. You know you have to think of the day after.”

Asked after the Tuesday breakfast to clarify if he was truly calling for a Jew-free state, Areikat said that "perhaps one day in the future things will be different."

“Listen, again, we have nothing against Jews. This is a political conflict.  Once the political issues our resolved, every Palestinian should be welcomed in Israel. Every Israeli should be welcomed in Palestine. But under the current circumstances — an occupation power occupying a people against their will — this is something we are trying to end.”

Can I get a "Hoo-Yah!" from all of the ethnic cleansers out there?   C'mon, ya know ya wanna!

23 September 2011

Home Alone IV: The Iranian Nuclear Missile Crisis While The Grown-Ups Are Away And The Children In The White House Are Left Alone With The Red Phone, A Funny Button With 'بازنشانی' On It, A Cute Football, And A Strange Code" Edition

By Peggy Noonan

A small secret. In writing about the White House or Congress, I always feel completely free to attempt to see things clearly, to consider the evidence, to sift it through experience and knowledge, and then to make a judgment. It may be highly critical, or caustic, even damning. But deep down I always hope I'm wrong—that it isn't as bad as I say it is, that there is information unknown to me that would explain such and such an act, that there were factors I didn't know of that make bad decisions suddenly explicable. Or even justifiable.

I note this to make clear the particular importance, for me, of Ron Suskind's book on the creation of President Obama's economic policy, "Confidence Men." If Mr. Suskind is right, I have been wrong in my critiques of the president's economic policy. None of it was as bad as I said. It was much worse. 

The most famous part of the book is the Larry Summers quote that he saw it as a "Home Alone" administration, with no grown-ups in charge. But there's more than that. Most of us remember the president as in a difficult position from day one: two wars and an economic crash, good luck with that. But Mr. Suskind recasts the picture. 

The president addresses the opening of the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 21.

Like FDR, Mr. Obama had big advantages: "overwhelming popular support, Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, and the latitude afforded by crisis." But things were weird from the beginning. Some of his aides became convinced that his "lack of . . . managerial experience" would do him in. He ran meetings as if they were afternoon talk shows. An unnamed adviser says the 2009 stimulus legislation was the result of "poor conceptualizing." Another: "We should have spent more time thinking about where the money was being spent, rather than simply that there was this hole of a certain size in the economy that needed to be filled, so fill it." Well, yes.

The decision to focus on health care was the president's own. It could have been even worse. Some staffers advised him—this was just after the American economy lost almost 600,000 jobs in one month—that he should focus on global warming.

Mr. Suskind's book is controversial, and some of his sources have accused him of misquoting them. The White House says Mr. Suskind talked to too many disgruntled former staffers. But he seems to have talked to a lot of gruntled ones, too. The overarching portrait of chaos, lack of intellectual depth and absence of political wisdom, from a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter at this paper, rings true.


Let me say here clearly what I've been more or less saying in this column for a while. It is that Mr. Obama cannot win in 2012, but the Republicans can lose. They can hand the incumbent a victory the majority of American voters show themselves not at all disposed to give him. (No column is complete without his latest polling disasters. A Quinnipiac poll this week shows Florida voters disapprove of the job the president is doing by 57% to 39%.)

Republicans only six months ago thought the president was unbeatable. Now they see the election as a bright red apple waiting to fall into their hands. It's not. They'll have to earn it.

Mr. Obama isn't as resilient as a Bill Clinton, with his broad spectrum of political gifts and a Rasputin-like ability to emerge undead in spite of the best efforts of his foes. His spectrum of political gifts is more limited. That's a nice way to put it, isn't it?

But consider what happened this week in New York.

Mr. Obama's speech Wednesday at the United Nations was good. It was strong because it was clear, and it was clear because he didn't rely on the thumping clichés and vapidities he's lately embraced. When the camera turned to the professionally impassive diplomats in the audience, they seemed to be actually listening.

"It has been a remarkable year," he said: Moammar Gadhafi on the run, Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali deposed, Osama bin Laden dead. "Something is happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way they will be." Technology is putting power in the hands of the people, history is tending toward the overthrow of entrenched powers. But "peace is hard. Progress can be reversed. Prosperity comes slowly. Societies can split apart."

On the Mideast conflict: "The people of Palestine deserve a state of their own." But the proposed U.N. statehood resolution is a "shortcut" that won't work: "If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now." Peace can be realized only when both parties acknowledge each other's legitimate needs: "Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state." Friends of the Palestinians "do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine."

"I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress," the president said. "So am I." All in all, it was a measured statement at a tense moment. It was meant to defuse tensions, to cool things down.

Contrast it with the words of Rick Perry, who zoomed into New York to make his own Mideast statement the day before the president's speech. The Obama administration's policy, the Texas governor said, amounts to "appeasement." It has encouraged "an ominous act of bad faith." We are "at the precipice of such a dangerous move" because the Obama administration is "arrogant, misguided and dangerous." "Moral equivalency" is "a dangerous insult."

This was meant not to defuse but to inflame. It does not seem to have occurred to Mr. Perry that when you are running for president you have to be big, you have to act as if you're a broad fellow who understands that when the American president is in a tight spot in the U.N., America is in a tight spot in the U.N. You don't exploit it for political gain.

Perry competitor Rick Santorum responded: "I've forgotten more about Israel than Rick Perry knows about Israel," he told Politico. Mr. Perry "has never taken a position on any of this stuff before, and [the media is] taking this guy seriously."

The Israeli newspaper Ha'artez likened Mr. Perry's remarks to "a pep rally for one of Israel's right-wing politicians, and a hard-liner at that," adding that the governor "adopted the rhetoric of Israel's radical right lock, stock and barrel.

I'd add only that in his first foreign-policy foray, the GOP front-runner looked like a cheap, base-playing buffoon. 

As I said, Mr. Obama can't win this election, but the Republicans can lose it by being small, by being extreme, by being—are we going to have to start using this word again?—unnuanced.
"They talk to us about the Jewish state, but I respond to them with a final answer: We shall not recognise a Jewish state."

- Mahmoud Abbas, 09.23.11

Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews

Note from Sophie:  Photos and Videos additions are mine.

Behind the Humanitarian Mask:   The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews

The Cut-and-Omit News

Odd Sverre Hove, February 2009

On Friday night, 29 September 2000, this author was watching the evening news on Norway's most important TV news program, the NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Authority) channel's Dagsrevyen. The Second Intifada was just breaking out. In Israel it was the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Before the violence erupted, the Arabs of Jerusalem held Friday prayer services in the Temple Mount Mosque. Many Israelis had been praying at the Western Wall before sundown.

The anchor announced: "Violent clashes in Jerusalem and Bethlehem between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli soldiers" (hasty images of Arab teenagers throwing stones, Israeli soldiers shooting). "Riots started after Ariel Sharon yesterday visited a place in Jerusalem that is holy to both Palestinians and Jews." A report by Middle East correspondent Lars Sigurd Sunnanaa is aired. Again there are images of Palestinian boys and teenagers throwing stones; Israeli soldiers taking cover behind military vehicles, aiming, and firing; Palestinians carrying wounded children to ambulances; Palestinian doctors in hospitals; clips from Ariel Sharon's walk on the Temple Mount. Sunnanaa's voice seems to suppress anger as he describes how the Palestinian "children" only demonstrated whereas the Israeli soldiers fired.

The next evening, Rosh Hashanah in Israel, the anchor introduces the news: "The new unrest in the Middle East is putting the peace process in danger." Sunnanaa reports on "clashes between Palestinian youngsters and Israeli soldiers." Images: Arab youngsters throwing stones, Israeli soldiers shooting. Throughout his lengthy report Sunnanaa calls the Arabs "demonstrating youngsters." "The Palestinians are throwing tons of stones. Israeli soldiers respond with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets."

On the third evening, the second day of Rosh Hashanah in Israel, the news begins with the announcement: "Shooting in the Middle East." Sunnanaa intones that there are "clashes between demonstrators and soldiers" in Israel. "But strong emotions erupt after an Israeli rainstorm of bullets killed a twelve-year-old in Gaza." This is the first showing on this news program (out of several) of the Mohammed al-Dura clip. "Sharon," says Sunnanaa, "started the conflict with his provocative visit to the Holiest of Holy for both Jews and Arabs." Sunnanaa describes "the Koran story" about Muhammad and his spiritual visit to Jerusalem. This is "one of the most important stories in the Koran." The Palestinians are once again only youthful "demonstrators"; Israeli soldiers are shooting at them.

Terrifying for Mohammed al-Dura, I'm sure, but Agitprop for the PLO.

Such reporting continued every evening for weeks. On 2 October, Dagsrevyen announced "a situation of war in the Middle East" and gave a second showing of the Mohammed al-Dura clip (this time he was thirteen years old). The next day the show announced that Nazareth had become a ghost town because Israelis were shooting at Arabs there. The following day Israeli soldiers were said to have shot at a ten-year-old boy who had only been demonstrating. On 5 October the focus was on a wounded Palestinian teenager, with Palestinians the underdog against "Israeli battle helicopters, rockets, heavy guns, and other advanced war equipment." But "wave after wave of unarmed Palestinian youngsters continue to demonstrate."

Like Colonel Moammar Qaddafi's "dead" daughter, Hana, Mohammed al-Dura was not killed..,by Israel or America or any other Infidel country.

On 6 October the situation in the Middle East "worsens dramatically" with an Arab Day of Rage and "ten thousand demonstrators in Nablus." It was not until 20 October that the news did not include an intifada report. But, if not as intensively as in the first three weeks, the loaded and selective reporting continued in the weeks to follow.[1] 

Distorted Coverage 

This author is editor in chief of a Christian daily newspaper, Dagen. It is published in Bergen and has about ten thousand subscribers throughout Norway. Most subscribers presumably share the Evangelical Protestant faith, belonging either to the Lutheran (state) Church of Norway or to smaller Protestant churches. One of Dagen's priorities has always been to present alternative Middle East news.

On 29 September 2000, the frustration was double. Since it was Friday evening, there would not be a new edition of Dagen to compete with the TV news before Monday. And since it was the start of the High Holiday season in Israel, during most weeks for more than a month there would be several consecutive days without Israeli newspapers to supply alternative versions of events.

The next week Dagen reported the story of Tuvia Grossman, an American Jewish yeshiva student in Israel who was almost lynched in Jerusalem by an Arab mob on 29 September.[2] Thus Dagen readers were given a first alternative impression of the nature of the intifada. But as the biased TV news continued, Dagen readers demanded further alternative information. So one day a decision was reached: this author's colleagues at Dagen would take over his usual responsibilities for a few weeks so he could work on a more in-depth report on the "Media War against Israel."

It had been done once before in Norway. In 1982-1983, Carl Chr. Hauge produced a TV video on Dagsrevyen's news coverage of the First Lebanon War.[3] This effort prompted a more official investigation by a Middle East scholar, which was heavily critical.[4] But both these reports were buried and forgotten as quickly as possible by those responsible within NRK.

This author decided on a different method. I spent a week in the studio of a media watch organization, Kristelig Kringkastingslag (Christian Media Watch),[5] working my way through their complete video recordings of Dagsrevyen during the eight weeks from 27 September to 21 November 2000. I made extensive notes of everything verbal in the news reports and supplemented them with descriptions of the images shown. All these notes were organized chronologically according to the TV reports.

I then worked my way through the same eight weeks, date by date, in all the Israeli and international news sources available in Dagen. From Israel this included Yediot Aharonot, Maariv, Hatsofeh, IBA (Israel Broadcasting Authority) 7 a.m. radio news, Israel Military Radio 10 a.m. news,[6] as well as the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, Israel National News, the Jerusalem Report, and David Dolan's Internet-distributed "Crisis Update" from CFI (Christian Friends of Israel).[7] Also surveyed were international sources such as USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, the Telegraph, and so on. From all these sources, day-by-day comparisons yielded a "Normal News Picture" for each particular date.[8]

Finally, a day-by-day comparison between "The Middle East News According to NRK Dagsrevyen" and "The Middle East News According to the Normal Daily News Picture" demonstrated a strong and systematic trend of biased news reporting by Dagsrevyen throughout the selected eight weeks.

 A Pattern of Falsehood 

During those weeks Dagsrevyen gave a total of twenty-nine reports from the Middle East, lasting from 90 seconds to 15 minutes. Most of these were by Middle East correspondent Lars Sigurd Sunnanaa; a few were by other correspondents. Some of the videos seem to have been filmed exclusively for NRK but most were probably bought from Reuters TV News or AP TV News.

The most striking finding was a pattern of constantly repeating a particular sentence with only minor variations in wording. An example is "Israel has been shooting today at Palestinian children and teenagers who demonstrated and threw stones." In the twenty-nine news reports, this sentence was repeated without images forty-seven times, and augmented with images another thirty-three times, for a total of eighty instances. The sentence occurred, then, an average of 2.8 times per news story.

When watching TV news, one receives information and forms an ethical judgment based on preexisting norms. This is a rapid, implicit process. But if, in the first step, one has been falsely informed, the ethical judgment also is likely to be false. 

Dagsrevyen's repeated sentence, sometimes accompanied by images, basically contains two pieces of information (version a+b): 
a. Israel has been shooting today at Palestinian children and teenagers.
b. Palestinian children and teenagers have been demonstrating and throwing stones today.
Out of all the information available each day, Dagsrevyen decided to choose these two bits and give them a sort of monopoly with 2.8 iterations per news story.

The falsity of this account is one of omission. During the period of the study, an alternative, daily pattern of information emerged (version a+b+c):  
a. Palestinian children and teenagers have been demonstrating and throwing stones today at seventy-two locations (the daily average) in Israel and the territories.
b. At twenty-four of these locations (the daily average) they also threw Molotov cocktails and/or were supported by Tanzim terrorists firing at Israeli soldiers from within the midst of the youngsters.
c. Israeli soldiers were ordered to return fire at most of these twenty-four locations, sometimes unintentionally hitting the teenagers and children.[9]
The main difference between version a+b and version a+b+c is the additional information in the latter. Throughout the first eight weeks of the intifada in 2000, this additional information never found its way into the Dagsrevyen reports.

If one is informed only by version a+b, one's ethical judgment is to condemn Israel: "They are shooting children and teenagers for no good reason!" Version a+b+c, however, leads to an opposite judgment: "The Israeli soldiers are defending themselves in an ethically just way."[10] 

Dagsrevyen's main method of biasing the TV news, then, was a systematic falsification of information via omission.

Continued in Part II.