Category Archives: journalism

On the Corruption of the Media: Attkisson’s Testimony Helps Understand Mideast Coverage

If Matti Friedman tore off the veil from the AP’s modus operandi in covering the Arab-Israel conflict, then apparently, Sharyl Attkisson has done it for CBS’s modus operandi when it came to the White House over the past two decades. Apparently, Attkisson’s book is an update on Bernie Goldberg’s chronicling of a media militating for Obama with their coverage (A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media2009).

It’s still not out, but the following article by Kyle Smith offers some extensive examples of partisan corruption of the mainstream news media that we in Israel know intimately. Below I draw some (of many) parallels, in order to highlight the way the mainstream news media’s Augean Stables of encrusted bad practices has become a transnational phenomenon.

(H/T Amos Ben-Harav)

Ex-CBS reporter’s book reveals how liberal media protects Obama

Sharyl Attkisson is an unreasonable woman. Important people have told her so.

When the longtime CBS reporter asked for details about reinforcements sent to the Benghazi compound during the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack, White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor replied, “I give up, Sharyl . . . I’ll work with more reasonable folks that follow up, I guess.”

Modal Trigger

Another White House flack, Eric Schultz, didn’t like being pressed for answers about the Fast and Furious scandal in which American agents directed guns into the arms of Mexican drug lords. “Goddammit, Sharyl!” he screamed at her. “The Washington Post is reasonable, the LA Times is reasonable, The New York Times is reasonable. You’re the only one who’s not reasonable!”

It’s natural for any stakeholder (political, corporate, personal) to want to protect itself from revelations that embarrass it. Anybody who can (i.e., has power), threatens with loss of access, hence access journalism. Nobody who can does not favor favorable journalists, and punish with exclusion (at the least) those who tend to reveal unpleasant information. The question is, how far will they go? How does the naturally self-protective agent respond to the failure of access journalism to control the situation?

The role of the journalists in a democracy is to fight against this disadvantage for reporters who need access, to resist the kinds of pressures that powerful and influential people can exercise. The remark by White House deputy press secretary Eric Shultz, enumerates some of the more prominent of the submissive journals: Wapo, LATimes, the Grey Lady. They all play nice (reasonable).

Sharyl, on the other hand, is doing her job as a professional journalist with a code. Her kind of journalist was once the pride of the profession. She has, however, become “unreasonable.” “Reasonable” here means someone who knows that, in order to stay in the game (that of access journalism, not real journalism), they will submit their work to a self-imposed censure.

For those trying to understand the Middle East conflict, if mere partisanship (liberal vs. conservative) in the West could produce such damage to the screens upon which we observe our world, imagine what kind of an impact the implicit, constant threat of sudden death, has on reporters working in Palestinian territories.

Le plus grand gagnant de l’opération perdante-perdante “Bordure Protectrice”

Le plus grand gagnant de l’opération perdante-perdante “Bordure Protectrice”

Dans l’univers à l’envers de la politique du Moyen-Orient, rien ne réussit comme un échec sur le champ de bataille et rien n’échoue comme un succès militaire. Alors, qui a gagné la guerre de Gaza ?

Traduction par Isabelle Sfez de l’article publié par American Interest le 04 septembre 2014

Une traduction polonaise par Malgorzata Koraszewska est aussi disponible.

Après des semaines passées à suivre les combats dans la bande de Gaza, les experts se posent maintenant la question : «Qui a gagné?”. Le Hamas revendique des points juste pour survivre, malgré le pilonnage massif que son leadership et ses structures ont subi, et certains experts disent qu’Israël (1), quels que soient ses gains sur le champ de bataille, a sérieusement perdu la “guerre cognitive”. Dans l’univers à l’envers de la politique du Moyen-Orient, rien ne réussit comme l’échec sur le champ de bataille et rien n’échoue comme le succès militaire.

Parmi les joueurs auxiliaires, il ya des perdants partout. La crédibilité de journalistes a été dangereusement endommagée. Le Conseil des droits de l’homme et les ONG des « droits de l’homme » ont été honteusement partisans; le secrétaire d’Etat des Etats-Unis John Kerry et le président Obama, étonnamment naïfs et maladroits; la gauche intellectuelle, honteusement d’extrême-droite (2), dans son adoption du discours antisémite. De nombreux analystes s’accordent pour dire que l’opération Bordure Protectrice (OPE) n’a produit que des perdants, et parmi eux de grands perdants (3).

Pourtant, un groupe sort gagnant de l’Opération Bordure Protectrice : les djihadistes européens. Pendant qu’Israël pilonnait un ennemi qui se cachait derrière des civils, des manifestants ont occasionné de graves débordements dans les rues, en Occident et des villes musulmanes dans le monde entier pour protester contre le “génocide des Palestiniens par Israël,” (4), ils ont même crié « Mort aux Juifs ! ” et “Juifs aux fours ! ” et utilisé sur Twitter le hashtag #Hitlerwasright. Des magasins juifs ont été saccagés, et il a été refusé des soins médicaux à des juifs (5), ils ont été agressés lors d’émeutes (6). Les commerces juifs ont été boycottés (7). En Allemagne, le cri se fit entendre : “Hamas! Hamas! Juifs au gaz! ” (8). En France, c’était “Mort aux Juifs! Égorgez les Juifs!” (9) Alors que les médias minimisent la violence et la haine, que la police et la justice résistent mollement, les Juifs européens font leurs valises (10).

The Biggest Winner in the Lose-Lose “Operation Protective Edge”

The Biggest Winner in the Lose-Lose “Operation Protective Edge”

A shorter version (edited for tone and length) is up at American Interest. If you leave comments here, I recommend you also leave them there.

After weeks of combat in Gaza, pundits sort out “Who won?” The weak side (Hamas) claims points for just surviving, despite the massive hammering its leadership and its constituents endured, while the strong side (Israel), whatever its battle-field gains, lost the “cognitive war” — big time. In the topsy-turvy universe of Middle East politics, nothing succeeds like failure on the battlefield and nothing fails like military success.

As for the ancillary players, more losers all around: journalists’ credibility dangerously damaged; UNHRC and UNRWA behavior, embarrassingly partisan; Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama, astonishingly clueless and blundering; intellectual left shamefully right-wing in its embrace of anti-Semitic discourse. Consensus assessment of many analysts: Operation Protective Edge (OPE) has produced only losers and bigger losers.

Only one group emerged from OPE a grand winner: European Jihadis. During the weeks of Israel pounding Hamas while Hamas hid behind civilians, demonstrators spilled out into the streets of Western and Muslim cities the world over to protest “Israeli genocide of the Palestinians,” even as they shouted “Death to Jews!” #Hitlerwasright, “Jews to the ovens!” Shops ransacked, Jews refused medical services, attacked in riots, Jewish businesses boycotted. For Jihadis, OPE offered a whole new, and possibly permanent, level of public violence. In Germany: “Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the Gas!”; in France, “Death to Jews! Slit Jews Throats!” This time, the chant has become a battle cry for bands of “youths,” armed with metal bars, running after Jews. And European Jews are packing their bags.

In the Jewish diaspora community and Israel, the alarm was palpable. “Time to go?” asked Shmuel Trigano rhetorically about France. Why? Not only because once again, people killed and sought to kill Jews in the streets of Europe, but because the news media continually played down the amplitude of the violence and hatred, and the authorities, both police and judiciary, resisted it half-heartedly. In France, as in England, anti-Semites no longer hide; unafraid of police, they roam the streets like the brown shirts of yore. Is this the “beginning of the end” of a two-millennia-long Jewish presence in Europe?

Jihadis, of course, delight in these new levels of both hatred and violence. For them, it’s a quadruple win: 1) depict Israel as the Dajjal (Antichrist) to Western audiences; 2) roam through the streets of Western cities yelling Jihadi slogans; 3) accelerate the expulsion of Jews from Europe as preparation for its conquest; and 4) keep the Europeans thinking this violence only targets Jews, and only because of Israel. For Jihadis, these past weeks confirm what they have long believed: that this is the Muslim century in which, among others, Europe joins Dar al Islam.

How did this happen? How did it get so bad before we noticed it? Are we observing changes of civilizational magnitude?

Global Consequences of Lethal Journalism: The Muslim Street

Honor Shame and the Media’s Adherence to Omertà

Omertà, or the code of silence, is a classic example of how honor-shame concerns (the term comes from “manliness”) can shape a discourse, even a formal or informal conspiracy of silence. One’s honor depends on adhering to a “code of silence,” and breaking it not only brings shame, but in cases where the stakes are high, deadly retaliation. The effects of omertà guarantee that not only does one not talk about the forbidden topic, but one also denies the existence of omertà itself.

The great moral challenge to honor-shame systems concerns the problem of what to do when one must choose between lying for the sake of public honor and keep guilt private, or telling the truth and receiving public opprobrium but maintaining integrity privately. (The classic paradigmatic narrative is when Judah renounces an “honor-killing” for the sake of his own integrity.) In some senses, the emergence of democracy depends on the ability of key players to prefer the painful truth to the face-saving lie, and key “honor-groups” to respect that decision rather than to view admission of fault as a weakness that invites aggression.

Right now the evidence is strong that our mainstream news media (MSNM) are operating within a system of intimidation that imposes on them a code of silence about both reporting on the shocking behavior of Hamas in deliberately maximizing its own civilians’ casualties (bona fide war crimes), and the intimidating violence and surveillance of journalists with which they enforce that silence. They are therefore caught in a classic formulation of the honor-shame dilemma:

1) accept public shame and discrediting in order to uphold the integrity of journalistic ethics by admitting that they have been so systematically intimidated, or

2) save face publicly and be guilty of preserving an illegitimate credibility by denying the intimidation to which they submit and do not have the courage to challenge.

The result of their unwillingness to admit what’s going on is a public secret. Anyone who pays attention knows it’s true, but no one will admit to it. On the contrary, rather than admit, some, in order to deal with the cognitive dissonance of lying to their primary audience (Western information consumers) and enabling war crimes (Jihadi practices), they lie to themselves and pretend that they willingly, proudly, embrace the positions dictated to them.

One of the characteristics of people with Stockholm Syndrome is, in fact, that they are so thankful to be spared the violence of their captors, that they become their captor’s most ardent ideologues. How much of the media vindictiveness towards Israel reflects this metabolizing of intimidation into advocacy: I’m not intimidated, why no one will intimidate me; I’m for the little guy. Possible explanation for the widespread popularity among journalists of Underdogma.

In any case, it’s apparent to me that not only do journalists suffer from the potentially violent retaliation of Jihadis for whom journalism is a weapon of war, and journalists are either on their side or on their enemy’s side, but also from fellow journos who enforce the code culturally by punishing and banishing any journalist who might break the silence or defy what one journalist in an unguarded moment called, “the procedures for reporting from Palestine”, or, what I’d call “the Hamas Media Protocols.”  Indeed, where are the journalists willing to “break the silence.” Or is it just the IDF that should have such self-critical members?

Tribal honor-shame solidarity anyone?

The Gruesome and the Grotesque: Gaza Hospitals, Hamas, and Western Useful Infidels

The Times of London, not normally a paper that favors Israel has a great political cartoon out:

Brookes, Gaza Hospital Cartoon

In part, it’s a response (finally) to a piece by a Palestinian French journalist who was interrogated by Hamas thugs inside Shiffa Hospital in Gaza City. The article, which was published by the French (very anti-Israeli) newspaper Liberation, has since been removed by the request of the author who apparently fears for his safety as long as it’s up. The Tablet has a copy of the article up. Elder of Zion published a translation, further discussed at the Algemeiner.

Hamas has threatened journalists not just for articles, but for tweets. One cannot underestimate the role of intimidation in shaping the news we read and hear. If one looks at the role that ideological advocacy plays among lethal journalists and their colleagues who tag along, it corresponds exactly to what one would expect from journalists for whom fear of Palestinian retaliation for publishing the truth about them, is only matched by lack of Israeli retaliation for telling lies of Israel.

The Times of London also published an excellent op-ed by Richard Kemp, British colonel who served with NATO forces in Afghanistan and has the nerve to call the Israeli army the most moral (by far) in the world.

Palestinian rockets are like the Nazi V1s. Civilian casualties were inevitable then and now

‘The Israelis are doing it all wrong. The RAF didn’t fly off to bomb Belfast in the troubles.” These words from a respected media commentator embody the extraordinary lack of understanding by so many in this country who think the Israelis’ fight with Hamas is like ours with the IRA and can be dealt with in the same way.

The Media. If only…

H/T Ed Driscoll

 

See also, Roger Simon, IRS: Shame and Loathing on the Media Trail”

La Terreur: Couteau à la gorge dans la Guerre Cognitive

J’ai recemment fait une presentation sur la guerre cognitive au MPCT (Mouvement pour la paix et contre le terrorisme) à Paris. Voici le PPP. Textes supplementaires dans un autre posting.

Le francais n’est pas corrigé. Je reçois volontiers des leçons à apprendre. rlandes-at-bu-dot-edu

La Terreur: Couteau à la gorge dans la Guerre Cognitive

Définitions/Terminologie:
La Guerre Cognitive
• Guerre asymétrique: Guerre entre deux entités de combat, l’une étatique et l’autre non-étatique, sur un champ de bataille “kinétique” (militaire). Ce type de guerre oppose des résistants non-étatiques faibles ou supposés tels (des Macchabées aux Vietcongs) aux militaires d’une armée régulière d’état.
• Guerre cognitive (GC): 

L’art de manipuler l’ennemi, considéré plus puissant en termes militaires, afin qu’il n’utilise pas ses forces armées ou, au moins, qu’il s’en abstienne. C’est le terrain de combat préféré des “faibles” dans la guerre asymétrique.

• Espace public: le théâtre principal ou se mènent les campagnes de guerres cognitives.
• Térrorisme: attaques ciblant les civils. Compagnon de la guerre cognitive, employé pour intimider, afin d’aboutir à des victoires dans l’espace publique ciblé.
• Insurrections agressives: forme insolite de guerre asymétrique qui cherche à envahir la société de la partie la plus puissante – donc, la bataille cognitive doit convaincre l’ennemi de ne pas se défendre sur son propre terrain. De tels campagnes de guerre doivent gagner dans la sphère publique de l’ennemi.
• Démopathes:

les combattants cognitifs qui utilisent le discours/lexique des Droits de l’Homme pour paralyser l’auto-défense des personnes soucieuses desdits droits. De fait, ces combattants n’ont que du dédain à l’égard des Droits de l’Homme (d’autrui), et ne font qu’employer la démocratie (les règles de ce mode de gouvernance) pour démolir la démocratie.

• Les années zéros, ‘00s: la première décennie du 21ème siècle, le moment où tout bascule, et où l’Occident commence à perdre la guerre cognitive à grande échelle.
Définitions/Terminologie:
Millénarisme apocalyptique
•Millénarisme: la croyance en l’avènement d’un monde parfait ici sur terre. Peut être soit religieux (Anbaptists, Taiping) soit laïc (Communisme, Maoisme).
Millénarisme hiérarchique: la perfection est imposée d’en haut, pureté coercitive (“Dernier Empereur”). Impérialisme monothéiste: “Un Dieu, un empereur.”
Millénarisme démotique: égalitaire, la perfection vient d’une pulsion d’en bas, anarchie sainte, fin des distinctions de classe. Monothéisme démotique: “Pas de roi sauf Dieu.”
Apocalypticisme: la croyance que le moment pour accéder au millenium (ou la fin du monde) est arrivée. Aussi le scénario par lequel on arrive au millennium.
Scenario apocalyptique cataclysmique: la transition entre ce monde et celui à venir passe par une immense destruction (e.g., l’Apocalypse de Jean)
Apocalypticisme transformateur: la transition se fait volontairement, sans ou avec peu de violences et destructions (e.g., Isaïe, 2)
Apocalypticisme actif: les croyants sont chargés d’effectuer le processus de transition vers le monde parfait.
l’apocalypticisme actif, cataclysmique prône la mégamort. Ceux qui visent un millenium hiérarchique par un cataclysme qu’ils sont eux-mêmes chargés d’accomplir, représentent l’idée la plus dangereuse de toutes les idéologies religieuses ou laïques.
Avertissement

Avant de procéder à l’examen du Djihad global contemporain, je tiens à préciser une chose importante. L’islam que je vais décrire, cet islam qui mène une guerre d’aggression contre les democraties occidentales, n’est pas le seul representant de l’islam. Je reconnais volontiers l’existence d’un Islam démotique, qui a renoncé à l’impérialisme monothéistique, un Islam différent de celui qui, à présent, lutte contre les pays des infidèles. J’en aurais d’avantage à dire à ce sujet plus tard. Mais pour le moment, je précise que les définitions des termes islamiques que je présente ci-dessous ne sont pas les seules définitions qui existent chez les musulmans.

Pas tous les musulmans qui s’ecrient “Allahu Akhbar” le font avec le sens de “tuer les ennemis d’Allah!” Mais c’est precisement ce que voulait dire Muhammed Atta:

When the confrontation begins, strike like champions who do not want to go back to this world. Shout, ‘Allahu Akbar,’ because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers. Allah said: ‘Strike above the neck, and strike at all of their extremities.’ (911 Muslim terrorists)

Et depuis, partout dans le monde, nous témoignons d’une telle crie de guerre.

Je tente ici un exercise : penser à la manière d’un de ceux qui poursuivent ce que j’appèle le Djihad global. C’est eux les ennemis à la fois des infidèles du monde entier, et des musulmans qui ne s’accordent pas à leur lecture de l’Islam. En fait, les musulmans qui divergent de cette lecture agressive sont les premières cibles et les victimes les plus constantes du Djihad militaire.

Quand je dis “nous” dans la présentation suivante, je parle de tous ceux – hommes, femmes, monothéistes, polythéistes, laïcs – qui veulent vivre dans des sociétés libres, où la dignité et les droits de tous et toutes – y compris le droit de dissidence – sont respectés.

Victor Perez dévoile la malhonnêteté d’Enderlin et son anti-israelism

Charles Enderlin posted at his blog an essay on “Netanyahu’s Vision,” which reveals all the sloppy prejudices that he has internalized from an international consensus that it’s all Israel’s fault. Victor Perez at his blog, manages to draw out many of the elements the explain why Charles’ readership is so fully misinformed.

La vision idéologique de Charles Enderlin

Certains s’interrogent sur les raisons de la poussée de l’antisémitisme en Europe et principalement en France. Une hostilité systématique envers les Juifs cachée sous le paravent d’un anti-sionisme développé dans les médias nationaux par la bouche et/ou les écrits des journalistes à demeure, ou envoyés, en Israël.

L’envoyé permanent de France 2 à Jérusalem, pourtant juif, israélien et, paraît-il, ayant fait son service militaire ne déroge pas à la règle de ses employeurs. Charles Enderlin en bon petit soldat de la guerre larvée qui se joue contre l’Etat du peuple juif a une idéologie à soutenir.

La logique et le bon sens ont, vraisemblablement, déserté sa réflexion !

Dans un texte intitulé « La vision de Netanyahu », publié dans son blog, il confirme que tout le mal vient des Israéliens ! Il nous affirme qu’il « sera quasi impossible d’évacuer cent mille colons installés au cœur de la Cisjordanie, les 260000 autres étant regroupés dans des blocs d’implantations. En admettant que cela se fasse, resterait le problème de Jérusalem Est (…) »

Terrorist chic en France, de l’exposition du Jeu de Paume, à Al Durah, à Mohamed Merah

Terrorist chic en France, de l’exposition du Jeu de Paume, à Al Durah, à Mohamed Merah

Une nouvelle exposition controversée célèbre les meurtriers de masse et élève la propagande de guerre au niveau de grand art.

Richard Landes – 30 juillet 2013

Traduction d’Isabelle Sfez

Pour consulter liens hyperliens, consultez l’article originale.

Cet été le musée national français du Jeu de Paume, en son temps célèbre pour ses accrochages de peinture impressionniste, héberge une étonnante exposition de photographies, Phantom House. Le travail d’une femme bédouine israélienne, Ahlam Shibli, rassemblant une série éclectique de photos qui dépeignent un certain nombre de groupes différents, dont les maisons ne sont pas les leurs, ou qui n’en ont pas – des gens qui “vivent sous oppression”.  Il s’agit de Bédouins “trackers” (pisteurs, traqueurs) qui s’enrôlent dans l’armée israélienne, de “palestiniens” vivant en Galilée et en Jordanie, d’enfants polonais dans des orphelinats, de militants LGBT du Moyen-Orient vivant dans des pays occidentaux, de français de Corrèze pendant l’occupation nazie, et, de loin les plus élaborés des séries de clichés, les familles de “martyrs” qui “résistèrent” à “l’occupation”, debout avec les photos, les affiches et les tombes de leurs proches “disparus”.

L’exposition a suscité une controverse prévisible. Ces prétendus “martyrs”, qui ont “pris le contrôle de leur propre mort”, objets d’une ardente dévotion par leur famille, sont en fait des meurtriers de masse qui se sont tués eux-mêmes dans le but d’assassiner le plus possible d’enfants, de femmes, de civils.

Comme la plupart des récits palestiniens, ces photos ne laissent aucune place à “l’autre”, exceptée celle de l’oppresseur colonial sans visage. Pour une femme juive, mécène du musée, l’expérience fut horrible. En regardant ces photos de “martyrs”, elle a reconnu ceux qui avaient fait exploser des restaurants, des bus, des marchés qui ont été choisis comme cible justement pour la présence d’enfants dans ces lieux.

Les réactions de protestations outrées affluèrent. La réponse du musée fut d’afficher un avis soulignant que cette exposition n’était pas de la propagande, et, à propos de l’artiste, précisant qu’elle n’était “pas une militante, qu’elle ne jugeait pas”.

Evidemment, tout cela est absurde. Si ce n’est pas de la propagande (comme la fameuse pipe qui n’en est pas une), c’est une exposition qui présente avec bienveillance des photos de propagande. L’artiste émet assurément des jugements, en présentant ses cousins bédouins qui servent dans l’armée israélienne, comme pathétiquement vendus à un régime colonial (ils apparaissent étonnement confortables et bien dans leur peau sur les photos), elle émaille son exposition de victimes françaises de l’occupation nazie, commentant la façon dont ils se retournèrent après la Libération et devinrent des oppresseurs coloniaux en Indochine et en Algérie. La parfaite admiration pour la “résistance à l’occupation” des Palestiniens, calquée sur celle de la résistance aux nazis, joue sur un thème commun, grotesque, de propagande palestinienne – que les israéliens sont les nouveaux nazis et les palestiniens les nouveaux juifs.

The Media’s “Take” on Negotiations: How Palestinian Cogwar has Checkmated Israel in Western Public Opinion

My friend Avi Bell sent me the following. While exaggerated for effect, it’s a recognizable Catch 22 for Israel and a “get-out-of-responsibility-free card” for the Palestinians. Heads we lose, tails, they win.

It’s a good example of a complete cogwar victory for the Palestinians. It shows that and how (but not why) our current herd of independent journalists so extensively plays voluntary dhimmi to the Palestinian cause. When Riccardo Cristiano told Yasser Arafat that his network always reported according to “the procedures for reporting from the Palestinian territories,” he meant, among many other things, this:

If Israel refuses to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it refuses to negotiate.

If the Palestinians refuse to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see negotiations with Israel are pointless.

If Israel makes preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it is trying to avoid negotiations.

If the Palestinians make preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians have to force Israel to be serious in the negotiations.

If Israel makes no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace.

If the Palestinians make no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see that making offers of peace with Israel are pointless.

If Israel makes an offer of peace and the Palestinians reject it, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because Israel is not willing to make the kind of offer the Palestinians would accept.

There are variations on this, e.g.,:

If Arabs make war, but offer to end it, that proves that Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because the Arabs offered peace. (Thomas Friedman/Arab “peace” initative)

If Israel makes war, but offers to end it, that proves that Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel made war. (Defensive Pillar, Lebanon II, etc.)

If Arabs attack, that proves Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel provoked the Arabs to attack.

If Israel attacks, that proves Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel attacked.

If Palestinians carry out acts of terrorism, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because the Palestinians feel they have no choice but to carry out acts of terrorism.

If Palestinians try to carry out acts of terrorism, but Israel foils them, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because Israel is carrying out anti-terror actions against the Palestinians even while there is no terrorism.

If Palestinians don’t try to carry out acts of terrorism, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because the Palestinians are good and innocent and Israel uses terrorism as an excuse to mistreat Palestinians.

Now why the intelligentsia would want to double handicap the Israelis and double empower the Palestinians may strike a sound and sober reader as not only unfair, but pretty stupid, given the kinds of voices that dominate the Palestinian public sphere. But to people inebriated by their power to “level the playing field” by giving the weak “underdog” a break, it’s something virtually no one in the news media would question.

Suicidal intelligentsia’s anyone?

Karsenty-Enderlin Court Decision

Arrêt Cour Appel 26 juin 2013

Will provide translations of critical passages and commentary over time. Anyone interested in transcribing/translating the text or parts, please communicate with me.

 

If the MSNM were to report accurately what was going on… a lot would change: Interview with me at AIS

In addition to the talk that I gave, Scott Jacobsen also recorded an interview with me on the news coverage in the Middle East. I think I’ve given better interviews, but not ones that are up on Youtube, so if you’re interested, here are some his questions and my answers:

The Egyptians Get It: A bullet kills a man, a lying camera kills a nation.

Just as the suicide bombing that Arab Muslims cheered eagerly when the Israelis were the target has since been turned against them (in far greater numbers), so now the cognitive warfare so acceptable when Israel was the target has begun to upset the Egyptians when it targets them, especially from an Arab news agency like Al Jazeera.  Here are two examples of the way they fight back. (Both pictures include the logo of Al Jazeera.)

egyptian pamphlet2 against al jazeera

 

egyptian pamphlet1 against al jazeera

Conning the Public: The Clash between Lethal Journalism and Journalistic Ethics

One of the most salient features of lethal journalism is the stark conflict between journalistic ethics and the actions of journalists who purvey lethal narratives as news. Given the (inexplicably?) overriding commitment of some journalists to these narratives no matter how obviously false, they must avoid facing up to their professional commitments to accuracy and fairness. Often this leads to a situation of a “public secret” in which they privately admit things (they’re intimidated, the Palestinians stage stuff all the time) which they publicly deny.

CAMERA has a brief video about just this kind of situation. For reasons that perhaps only he (and Bob Simon) can explain, the public face of the station – “if you make a mistake, own up to it” is the opposite of the way they make their sausages. Is the man a hypocrite? Does he not know what he’s doing? Does he think it doesn’t matter when the subject of the mistake is Israel? Is he, like Charles Enderlin, someone who pushes cognitive dissonance to the point of dissociation?

 

By the way, the comment about Bethlehem surrounded by wall and therefore an open-air prison is only the most egregious of errors in Simon’s report, which is a classic example of lethal journalism disguised as investigative journalism.

The Place of Journalism in Palestinian Cognitive Warfare (Talk at AIS, Haifa, June 2012)

[I thought I had posted this last year when I gave it, but find I haven't. So here it is, particularly relevant in light of the latest Al Durah developments.]

The Place of Journalism in Palestinian Cognitive Warfare
Paper delivered at Association of Israel Studies, Haifa, Israel, June 2012

Everyone knows that the news media constitute a key battleground in the conflict between Israel and its neighbors, that both sides try to influence the manner in which the news depicts what’s going on. Indeed, both sides of the conflict and their ideological allies in the West have produced prodigious efforts to depict the “other” side as cheating.

Those inclined to even-handedness find such formulations as above attractive. There’s something balanced and fair about them, something approximating such prized journalistic values as objectivity and openness to “all sides.”

And yet, I argue, and I think that the historians of the next generation who look back on the Middle East journalism of the early 21st century will agree with me, that those very people who so valued these principles, systematically failed to either exercise or defend them against a systematic assault. Those journalists who could not distinguish reliable testimony from lethal narrative, who could not tell the difference from the arsonist and the firemen, who even as they sought to be “even-handed” played into the stratagems of one side, and the wrong side, these people failed to play their role as professional journalists, indeed, ended up often enough, willy-nilly, playing the role of arsonist. To paraphrase Pascale, more they more they sought to put out the fires of conflict, the more they fed those fires.

Derfner’s Brand of Kool-Aid: You Gonna Believe me or your Lying Eyes?

Really didn’t want to do this. Have responded thrice in the Spring of 2008 to Dernfer’s rattling his cage about Al Durah – here, here, and here – and I probably should leave him to rattle in peace. But there’s something about his tone which I think is particularly revealing, and that readers should be aware of when they hear it. It’s the sound of a lethal journalist being denied his foundational myth.

And the irony is that, at the end of the article, he concedes major terrain in the argument, even as he maintains his tone of contempt… a little like the naked emperor who, realizing everyone knows he’s naked, continues his charade showing even more disdain for the crowd.

In the following article there is not one substantive argument, only one case where Derfner grapples (unsuccessfully) with the empirical evidence (which I’m beginning to think he hasn’t watched – or watched peremptorily). It’s all about name-calling (when it happens to them, people like Derfner like to use the word “smear,” as in the critics are “Desperately smearing Goldstone“), and circuitous arguments all drawn directly from Charles Enderlin. In some senses, the best parallel to Derfner’s prose is the Vultures, except that Derfner does it in public.

Warning in advance. This is long. I will extract the key issues for an article next week, but each of the elements of Derfner’s article deserve analysis, if only because so many people, especially journalists, share his attitude.

On the al-Dura affair: Israel officially drank the Kool Aid

A look at the right-wing conspiracy-nut thinking that informed this week’s blue-ribbon report on the infamous 2000 killing of a Palestinian boy in Gaza. 

In the 13 years since Muhammad al-Dura was killed in an Israeli-Palestinian shootout in Gaza while cowering behind his father, masses of right-wing Jews have eagerly embraced a conspiracy theory of the 12-year-oid boy’s killing – that it was staged, a hoax perpetrated by Palestinians to blacken Israel’s name. This theory, promoted most avidly by Boston University Prof. Richard Landes and French media analyst Philippe Karsenty, depends on a view of Palestinians being superhumanly clever and fiendish, and a view of reality that comes from the movies.

As I noted at your site: The difference between you and me is you think the journos are too sharp to be fooled by anything unless it’s a major conspiracy, whereas I, looking at the evidence, sadly come to the conclusion that the Palestinians can put out the shoddiest crap (Talal’s pathetic 60 seconds) and our journos (led by the lethal journalists who pass on anything the Palestinians cook up) will gobble it up. Given your long career as one who regularly feeds these Palestinian lethal narratives to your readers as news, it’s probably no surprise that you need to believe in the necessity of conspiracies that can’t exist, in order to keep on trucking.

The mentality here is essentially the same one that drives the 9/11 “truthers,” the anti-Obama “birthers,” those who say the Shin Bet assassinated Rabin, or those who say ultra-rightists assassinated JFK – a fevered imagination activated by political antagonism that knows no bounds. In the right-wing conspiracy theories of the al-Dura shooting, the boundless antagonism goes out to the Palestinians and their supporters.

Aside from comparing the Al Durah scam, where at most a couple of dozen people were necessary to pull it off, with schemes that took massive levels of participants (9-11, Kennedy Assassination), there’s a fascinating reversal embedded in this comment: the boundless antagonism in this conflict comes from the Palestinians, it not only drove the creation of the Al Durah story, but its systematic deployment as an icon of hatred in order to inject a death cult into Palestinian culture. Of course people like me are hostile to this kind of appalling behavior and hostile to people, like you, who, instead of condemning it roundly, constantly run interference for, and encourage it. As often in conspiracy theories, the person accusing the other of secretly evil intentions projects his own behavior and attitudes.

This week, the State of Israel officially joined the movement. Its report on the al-Dura affair adopts the conspiracy theory in full. (To be precise, it adopts the relatively “restrained” conspiracy theory – that the al-Duras were never shot. The other, wholly unrestrained conspiracy theory in circulation holds that the Palestinians killed the boy deliberately to create a martyr.)

Welcome, Refugee from rekaB Street: Shmuel Rosner’s Mea Culpa

In the flood of commentary and analysis of the Al Durah controversy, I’ve tried to fisk the most important typical responses. And of course, I have a backlog of articles to fisk. But this one by Shmuel Rosner jumped to the top of the pile because of its honest reappraisal. It helps to understand some of the factors that played at the time the story broke, and answer Vic Rosenthal’s question:

Why didn’t then Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and then Prime Minister Ehud Barak demand that all the footage shot by France 2 on that day be placed at Israel’s disposal to do a proper investigation?
Before adding my commentary to Rosner’s mea culpa, I’d like to acknowledge the courage involved in this piece, and the remarkable fact that the New York Times published it. As someone laboring in the wilderness for a decade, all I can say is, this is unexpected.
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The Skeptic’s Curse

By SHMUEL ROSNER
On Oct. 6, 2000, Palestinian boys in the Gaza strip walked past graffiti representing Muhammad al-Dura as he was shown in a television report.Ahmed Jadallah/ReutersOn Oct. 6, 2000, Palestinian boys in the Gaza strip walked past graffiti representing Muhammad al-Dura as he was shown in a television report.

TEL AVIV — In late September 2000, at the beginning of the second Palestinian intifada, the French TV station France 2 aired some 60 seconds of footage allegedly showing the killing of a Palestinian boy in the Gaza Strip.

Muhammad al-Dura, who was 12 at the time, and his father are shown caught in an exchange of fire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters. The boy cowers behind his father, with what sounds like gunshots crackling in the background. Smoke then blocks our view. When it lifts the boy is flattened, listless, and his father is lying against the wall, apparently in serious physical distress. The footage soon became one of the most memorable and heart-wrenching of the bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

No one knows what happened exactly at the Netzarim Junction that day. The French broadcast claimed that gunfire from Israeli soldiers killed the boy. That version of the facts immediately became the official Palestinian account. Israel did not accept responsibility, nor did it deny being involved. And so the French-Palestinian narrative stuck.

But this Sunday, the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs released a report undermining that account. The document concludes there is “strong evidence” that Muhammad and his father “were not hit by bullets at all in the scenes filmed.” It also details many errors, omissions and open questions in the widely accepted narrative of the event.

I first heard that there might be a problem with the al-Dura story soon after the incident. I was the head of the news division at Haaretz at the time, and a young reporter approached me to say that a high-ranking official at the Israel Defense Force would be staging, in front of a crew from “60 Minutes,” a re-enactment of the shooting to prove the French and Palestinian chroniclers wrong.

I believed the initial story about al-Dura, and I was highly suspicious of the motivations of anyone attempting to disprove it.
Note a few things here. “I believed the initial story about al-Durah.” This readiness to believe the worst of the Israeli army – that they’d target a father and child and rain down bullets upon them, was pervasive, particularly among the journalists who were most proud of their self-critical attitude. As Bet Michael said to me in November of 2003 (after I had studied with Shahaf and seen the France2 raw footage with Enderlin),

BM: 100%. The israelis killed the boy.
RL: Really? Are you aware of the investigation and its findings?
BM: The investigator was a nut… some engineer with the army who argued a conspiracy theory that he kid committed suicide.
RL: Suicide?
MS: (to me while BM waxed eloquent to NB)
NB) He’s being sarcastic.
RL: Were you being sarcastic?
BM: Not at all. I meant every word.
RL: Suicide?
BM: Oh, that was sarcastic, but since then the IDF has killed over 200 palestinian children, you can check with B’tselem.

Here’s a close-up view of the world of aggressive lethal journalism, backed by their “researchers” who systematically compile the lethal narratives. At the time I did not realize it, but I should have after Jenin in 2002, that the lethal journalists – in the case of many, probably not even knowingly – were now dominant in the journalistic scene in Israel.

The Al Durah Affair: What makes journalists behave so badly?

The Israeli government finally came out with a report – thirteen years late – on the Muhammad al Durah affair. It’s thirteen years late. But not too late. It can never be too late to take on so nasty a tale, and particularly from the perspective of any journalists, this may be the biggest hoax in modern history – at once the longest and the most damaging to everyone but the war mongers.

The scandal today is not that the Palestinians faked it. We’ve seen them at work time and again, exploiting every occasion to paint the Israelis as child-killers, even when they themselves killed their children. The scandal today is, thirteen years later, the journalists themselves not only have not confronted their shocking initial failure – dupes of a cheap fake – but their continued refusal to reconsider even as they continue to fall dupe to subsequent hoaxes. On the contrary, the go on practicing the kind of “lethal journalism” that the Al Durah affair epitomizes – injecting the information circulation system with malevolent lethal narratives designed to incite hatred, vengeance and war.

How many of the journalists who have written about this report have even seen the evidence? I’m betting, although I’d be glad to be proven wrong, that the Daily Telegraph Middle East correspondent, Robert Tait hasn’t even seen the evidence that the Israeli report analyzes. If so he’d be like so many of the journalists who signed the petition protecting Charles Enderlin from criticism from – horrors – non-journalists.

In part this is the Israeli government’s fault. They should have held a press conference and forced the journalists to look at the damning evidence. But anyone who wants to examine it can consult the best (only) compendium of the evidence at The Al Durah Project. Once they’ve viewed the evidence, they can move on to the analysis.

Tait, however, prefers a different line, one taken by a number of journalists who do not want to confront the unhappy truth that the community of journalists – including many Israeli ones – has, willy nilly, carried on a devastatingly damaging fraud for over a decade, despite the overwhelming evidence that it’s not only staged, but very badly done.

On the contrary, to inform his readers what to think of this new report, he goes for Charles Enderlin’s “conspiracy theory.” And to do so, he interviews the director of one of the most far left media sites (the equivalent of FAIR or Media Matters in the USA), on whose board Charles Enderlin sits.

“I believe [italics mine] that what we saw on the France 2 news item was exactly what happened and the camera caught exactly what happened,” [Yizhar Be’er] told The Daily Telegraph. “It is mission impossible to fake such a huge event. Nobody, least of all the Palestinians, can create such a fabrication.”

Now despite Tait’s assuring his readers that Be’er and his organization “have extensively studied the case,” their site shows no evidence of such a study.

Be’er’s use of the word “believe” may give us a clue to his astonishing statement that the camera caught exactly what happened (by which presumably he means what Charles Enderlin says happened). As Jon Randall told Anne-Elisabeth Moutet:

Charles Enderlin is an excellent journalist! I don’t care if it’s the Virgin Birth affair, I would tend to believe him. Someone like Charles simply doesn’t make a story up.

Neither Randall, nor Be’er could have seen the evidence and made such professions of belief. Even if you don’t want to see it, even if you want to claim it’s not staged, it’s impossible to look at the footage Talal Abu Rahma shot and insist that it confirms Enderlin’s narrative, not the “targeted by fire from the Israeli position” nor the “the child is dead” when twenty seconds later he’s moving quite deliberately. Asked how he could proclaim the child dead two scenes earlier, Enderlin replies:

I’m very sorry, but the fact is the child died. Maybe not at the precise moment I showed. But this is the way I do a story. “The child is dead,” is a statement. What’s your problem with it?

Not looking at the evidence is bad enough. But using a conspiracy theory to excuse it just compounds the problem. Be’er’s comment illustrates exactly what’s wrong with the current media scene:

“It is mission impossible to fake such a huge event. Nobody, least of all the Palestinians, can create such a fabrication.”

Be’er (and Enderlin whom he’s channeling) assume that the Palestinians are too incompetent to fool them, and only a massive conspiracy – which they assume couldn’t happen – could have fooled them. Enderlin, confronted with the extensive staging visible in his own cameraman’s footage, responded, “Oh they do that all the time.” But dismissed the possibility they did it with Al Durah: “they’re not good enough” – a comment echoed in Be’er’s “least of all the Palestinians.”

The sad thing, the pathetic thing, is that it didn’t take much to fool them. If I were a professor of videography and a student came to me with this footage, I’d give him an F: get better focus, have the kid look wounded rather than stretched out, have him clutch his stomach rather than his eyes, give him some blood to spill, don’t break it up into short clips. It turns out it’s “mission easy” to put together a shoddy piece and, as long as it’s the kind of story for which too many Westerners and way too many journalists have an insatiable appetite – lethal narratives about Israel – they’ll bite at the poison meat no matter how rancid, no matter how ultimately self-destructive for their own profession and society that depends on them.

The conspiracy theory depends on the idea that the news media is full of sharp, skeptical professional journalists who can’t be fooled easily and it would take a massive and elaborate scheme to do so. The story, alas, is the opposite: no need for conspiracy, not even for high quality staging. Apparently the journalists, like Charles Enderlin, are so used to looking at this staged material that they no longer see it as anything but “reality.” As Enderlin put it to Esther Schapira of ARD:

This is not staging, it’s playing for the camera. When they threw stones and Molotov cocktails, it was in part for the camera. That doesn’t mean it’s not true. They wanted to be filmed throwing stones and being hit by rubber bullets. All of us — the ARD too — did reports on kids confronting the Israeli army, in order to be filmed in Ramallah, in Gaza. That’s not staging, that’s reality.

This comes from a man who’s “gone native.” Staging is reality in the Palestinian world, and apparently his too. Enderlin has the famous quote from Tom Friedman at the top of his blog: “In the Middle East, if you can’t explain something with a conspiracy theory, don’t bother.” For Charles, if your own incompetence has put you in a terribly embarrassing situation, cry conspiracy theory. And count on journalists like Jon Randall and Robert Tait, and all the people who work on blind faith, to give him support. And alas, just as the Palestinians are right that they can put anything (French: n’importe quoi) out and have the Western media snap it up, so Charles Enderlin can make the most outrageous comments (at least where professional journalism is concerned), and have his colleagues circle the wagons.

Alas for Western civilization. Democracy and a free and honest press were such a good idea.

Reflections on Al Durah Staged and Conspiracy Theory

One of Charles Enderlin’s favorite defenses is to accuse his critics of believing in “conspiracy theories.” Here is Larry Derfner, whom Charles cites approvingly in his book on the subject, dismissing Philippe Karsenty and me as “conspiracy nuts”:

No doubt about it – Phillippe Karsenty and his allies have a lot of evidence that the killing of Mohammed al-Dura was a hoax, that it was staged by France 2 TV in cahoots with the Palestinians. In fact, Karsenty, Richard Landes and the rest of the conspiracy theorists have so much evidence that it may even add up to .001% [Enderlin mistranslates as 100% - rl] of the evidence that the Mafia, or Castro, or the Pentagon killed JFK. They may have the merest, slightest fraction of the evidence there is that Shimon Peres masterminded the Rabin assassination, or that the Mossad was behind 9/11.

Now that the Israeli government has come out with a report on the al Durah affair which is at least as sharply critical of his work as the French Court of Appeals in 2008, we can expect Charles and his defenders to come out with both conspiracy barrels blazing.

There is, however, a fundamental difference between a “coup montée” (a planned sting) and a conspiracy.

In the former case, it’s a small group of people who coordinate their activities in order to violate rules without the knowledge of the wider public. In this case, we are dealing with a cognitive or narrative hoax, in which some group of players wants the public to believe even though it didn’t happen. These are common in the history of the modern press, and they play a key role in broader “propaganda” campaigns aimed at swaying public opinion.

The Al Durah coup was pulled off by a core of planners and actors, a larger circle of people who cooperated once the tale had been set in motion, and finally a broader circle of believers who were duped by the coup. In a basic sense, the issue is how many people need to know it’s a fake, and how many are duped? If it takes a really broad group of people who know it’s a fake and play along (including people at high public levels), then we’re dealing with a conspiracy. If it only takes a few who know and many more who are duped, it’s a sting.

Here are a survey of the minimum of planners of the hoax to pull this off the Al Durah hoax:

  • the crew at the site:
    • certainly: Talal abu Rahmah, the gang around his shouting and yelling “The boy is dead” when he’s still sitting up, the al Durahs, the people charged producing automatic gunfire, the “street” who watched this, as other staged scenes.
    • possibly: The two other cameramen (AP Reuters) who left when their jobs were done, a Palestinian marksman tasked with firing at the scene, starting with the jeep scene…
  • at the hospitals (Gazan and Jordanian):
    • certainly: Gazan doctors willing to identify the body of an older boy with a tattoo as that of Muhammad al Durah and to produce an official report; Jordanian doctors willing to continue the hoax of the father’s “wounds”.
    • possibly: a wider range of hospital officials and journalists.
  • at the funeral:
    • certainly: the people who had already prepared posters of the “dead boy.”
    • possibly: a larger group of people who knew this was a fake

The key to understanding how this is not a conspiracy theory is to understand that it did not have to be a conspiracy, that on the contrary, a small group of people could work together to launch the hoax and a much larger circle of people, for various reasons well worth considering, eagerly adopted the hoax.

The circle of dupes involves most of the people Enderlin cites when he mocks the notion of a conspiracy:

  • in the media
    • a Western chief correspondent willing to edit the material in a way to give it believability and a TV station ready to run with the story. Charles Enderlin may or may not have been part of the planning committee. My guess is, he’s a dupe, at least in part because of his arrogance. When he admitted to me that the Palestinians stage scenes all the time, I asked him if so, why not al Durah? To which he responded, “They’re not good enough to fool me.” Apparently not. As for his superiors in France2 who gave him the green light, they were almost certainly fooled by believing in their correspondent.
    • a compliant press ready to run with the story once it broke. Among these, most notably, were journalists like Suzanne Goldenberg and Robert Fisk who found proof of abu Rahma’s account at every turn, and fed the flames of a post-moden blood libel.
  • in the higher echelons of Arab culture
    • King Hussein of Jordan, who visited Jamal al Durah in the hospital and donated blood almost certainly did not know that he was being duped. He had no reason to question the fact that the bandages and blood on Jamals wounds might not be real.

The difference between a conspiracy theory and a scam/hoax/sting is that in order for a conspiracy to take place on a large scale (e.g., the US government planning the 9-11 attacks, or the Jews planning to take over the world), it would take thousands of people in very high places. In order for a hoax to take place it just takes a lot of dupes. And in the case of Muhammad al Durah, it was a lot of willing, even eager dupes.

When people think that claiming al Durah was staged necessitates a conspiracy, they assume that the mainstream news media could not be fooled across the board by a fake, that if there were serious evidence against the story as the media reported it, then surely investigative journalists would have spoken up.

Alas, no. The current state of the mainstream media, especially where coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict is concerned, is an Augean Stables of encrusted bad habits. As Charles Enderlin said, when confronted with evidence that his cameraman Talal abu Rahma had filmed multiple staged scenes, “Oh yes, they do it all the time.” And the journalists who should have put an end to such behavior, apparently had/have no problem with that.

Poisoning the Western Public Sphere: The Roths on the Tamimis and the NYT that Romanticizes Them

When I saw the cover story on the NYT Magazine yesterday, my stomach sank. It didn’t take more than a few moments to know what kind of a fluff piece for the Palestinians and hit-job against the Israelis it would be… part of a systematic campaign against Israel that the NYT is engaged in, documented by CAMERA, illustrated only recently by a cruel piece by Joseph Levine (soon to be fisked here), and again today with a piece by Jodi Rudoren predicated on the principle that the Palestinians should and must have a piece of Jerusalem for their own, and therefore anything the Jews do to jeopardize that outcome is hostile to peace.

Fortunately someone – a man I greatly admire for his work on these painful issues – Arnold Roth and his wife Frimet, took up the cudgels and critiqued yet another example of the sickness of self-loathing and the romanticization of hatred that so characterizes the NYT coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Please read it all.

17-Mar-13: A little village in the hills, and the monsters it spawns

If you want to affect how people think about an issue, putting your case onto the cover of the New York Times Magazine must be one of the most effective things you can do. And, given the intense competition, one of the hardest.

So if the editors of the NYT (108 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other news organization; 30 million unique visitors per month to its website; the largest local metropolitan newspaper in the United States – according to Wikipedia) give you the cover of the prestigious Magazine, it’s a massive vote of confidence, a huge privilege, a platform of the most effective kind that (probably) can’t be bought for money.
Friends have pointed us to this week’s NYT Magazine cover story, published today. It’s devoted to a Palestinian Arab village set in the hills a few kilometers north of where we live in Jerusalem. It’s a place the author calls “spirited”, where “on warm summer evenings, life… could feel almost idyllic. Everyone knows everyone.” He says “a pilgrimage”to this magical place “has achieved a measure of cachet among young European activists, the way a stint with the Zapatistas did in Mexico in the 1990s”.
Read the rest.