Middle East

An insiders guide to reporting on Israel/Gaza conflict

Journalists over looking Gaza from Sderot   Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

Journalists over looking Gaza from Sderot Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

Tablet has an essay about the media manipulations in reporting the Israel/Gaza conflict.

It is by  Matti Friedman who is a former AP correspondent who explains how and why reporters get Israel so wrong, and why it matters. What she writes echoes what I saw in Israel.

The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues.

While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.

She looks at the disproportionate staffing and reporting on Israel compared with other countries.

Staffing is the best measure of the importance of a story to a particular news organization. When I was a correspondent at the AP, the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined. It was higher than the total number of news-gathering employees in all the countries where the uprisings of the “Arab Spring” eventually erupted.

To offer a sense of scale: Before the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the permanent AP presence in that country consisted of a single regime-approved stringer. The AP’s editors believed, that is, that Syria’s importance was less than one-40th that of Israel. I don’t mean to pick on the AP—the agency is wholly average, which makes it useful as an example. The big players in the news business practice groupthink, and these staffing arrangements were reflected across the herd. Staffing levels in Israel have decreased somewhat since the Arab uprisings began, but remain high. And when Israel flares up, as it did this summer, reporters are often moved from deadlier conflicts. Israel still trumps nearly everything else.

The volume of press coverage that results, even when little is going on, gives this conflict a prominence compared to which its actual human toll is absurdly small. In all of 2013, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago. Jerusalem, internationally renowned as a city of conflict, had slightly fewer violent deaths per capita last year than Portland, Ore., one of America’s safer cities. In contrast, in three years the Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 190,000 lives, or about 70,000 more than the number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict since it began a century ago.

News organizations have nonetheless decided that this conflict is more important than, for example, the more than 1,600 women murdered in Pakistan last year (271 after being raped and 193 of them burned alive), the ongoing erasure of Tibet by the Chinese Communist Party, the carnage in Congo (more than 5 million dead as of 2012) or the Central African Republic, and the drug wars in Mexico (death toll between 2006 and 2012: 60,000), let alone conflicts no one has ever heard of in obscure corners of India or Thailand. They believe Israel to be the most important story on earth, or very close.

That is an indictment in itself right there. That is a massive news imbalance.    Read more »

Rocket fire resumes from Gaza

I was sitting at Blue Sky restaurant atop the Carlton Hotel in Tel Aviv having dinner with two Israeli bloggers talking about LGBTQ issues in Israel.

As we were eating dinner Hamas launched a rocket attack.

Iron Dome started firing and I have to say it was impressive.   Read more »

Jon Voight takes on F.A.G.

Jon Voight is standing up to the Hollywood luvvies who have signed an letter denouncing Israel.

He tells a few home truths…I wonder if his daughter, Angelina Jolie, will take pause to read what her father has written.

From Hollywood Reporter:

My name is Jon Voight and I am more than angry, I am heartsick that people like Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem could incite anti-Semitism all over the world and are oblivious to the damage they have caused.

They are obviously ignorant of the whole story of Israel’s birth, when in 1948 the Jewish people were offered by the UN a portion of the land originally set aside for them in 1921, and the Arab Palestinians were offered the other half. The Arabs rejected the offer, and the Jews accepted, only to be attacked by five surrounding Arab countries committed to driving them into the sea. But the Israelis won. The Arabs tried it again in 1967, and again in 1973, launching a sneak attack on the holiest Jewish holiday. Each time the Jews prevailed but not without great loss of life.  And when Israel was not fighting a major war, it was defending itself against terrorist campaigns.   Read more »

Face of the day

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Obama wants to stop female genital mutilation.

After my Face of the day yesterday about the man who had his genitals allegedly removed by a hospital in a circumcision gone wrong, I can only cross my legs in horror at the thought of my special bits being removed. Ask yourself what kind of mind set, what kind of attitude towards women does Genital mutilation reveal about a religion or race? Women are chattels much as they were more than a hundred years ago in European culture. Thank fully we have evolved but we are still dealing with religions and cultures that have not evolved. They control women and they mutilate women.

Read more »

The Middle East problem explained

This is probably the most important video about Israel ever made.

The Middle East conflict is framed as one of the most complex problems in the world. But, in reality, it’s very simple. Israelis want to live in peace and are willing to accept a neighboring Palestinian state.

And most Palestinians do not want Israel to exist.

As Dennis Prager explains, this is really all you need to know.

In 5 minutes, understand how Israel was founded, and how, since that auspicious day in 1948, its neighbors have tried to destroy it, again and again.

Read more »

Another terrorist ratbag gets his beans, this time in Syria

When you go and play in war zones there is a good chance that you will get killed. And so it has come to pass with a New Zealander fighting in Syria getting himself killed.

A New Zealander has been killed while fighting in Syria – the first Kiwi casualty in the civil war.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) said it is aware of “unconfirmed reports” a New Zealander has died fighting in the Middle East country.

It did not say when the death happened but confirmed the ministry provided consular assistance.

MFAT refused to release any further details, citing several reasons including privacy and a threat to national security.

The Kiwi’s death was also mentioned in a public statement by Syria’s permanent representative in New York, in which he referred to “criminals, mercenaries” from around the world.

“Thousands of innocent Syrians got killed, thousands were wounded, because of so-called cross border terrorists. They call themselves roundly speaking jihadists, they are not.

“For your information some of the terrorists who got killed came from Burkina Faso, some of them came from New Zealand … this is just to let you understand how absurd the issue we are dealing with.”

Read more »

Camel Jockey Disease found in US

They couldn’t used CJD for the disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease already has that so they called it MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).

Nevertheless Camel Jockey Disease has made it to the US.

Along a stretch of rust-belt suburbia in Indiana, the Community Hospital in Munster now claims the dubious distinction of being the first U.S. facility to admit a patient with the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

State and federal health officials confirmed the first U.S. case of the virus on Friday. The patient, a male healthcare worker, had traveled to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and began exhibiting symptoms upon his return to the United States, they said.

Separately, Saudi officials on Saturday said the rate of infections was on the rise in the country, where MERS was first discovered in 2012. The total number of cases in the kingdom is 396, of whom more than a quarter have died.

At Community Hospital, however, the news did not seem to create panic among Munster residents soon after it was broadcast on local news outlets. The emergency room was bustling with patients on Friday night, and every one of the nearly 20 seats in the dimly lit waiting area was taken.

“Nobody’s freaking out or anything, at least that I can see. Maybe they’re all wearing masks upstairs, but not down here,” said 24-year-old Michael Gibson, of nearby Hammond, Indiana, who had brought his girlfriend to the hospital for treatment.

He said he saw local news coverage of the MERS finding earlier that day, but trusted that the hospital took proper precautions to protect its patients. A previous visitor to the Community ER, he said that the number of patients seemed no lighter than normal.

The MERS patient had traveled via a British Airways flight on April 24 from Riyadh to London, changing planes at Heathrow airport to fly to Chicago. From there, he boarded a bus to Indiana. Munster, which is close to Indiana’s border with Illinois, is about a 45-minute drive from downtown Chicago.

Health officials in Britain were contacting any passengers who may have sat next to the patient. U.S. health authorities stressed the case represents a very low risk to the public.

But concerns remain, given how little is know about the way MERS is spread, other than it can be transmitted between people who are in close contact. That has made healthcare workers particularly susceptible to falling ill with the MERS virus, for which there is no treatment.

Read more »

KIwi al Qaeda sympathisers fighting in Syria

Andrea Vance reports on Kiwi al Qaeda sympathisers fighting in Syria, or attempting to fight in Syria.

New Zealand passport holders have been identified fighting alongside anti-Government forces in Syria, Prime Minister John Key says.

In some instances, the Department of Internal Affairs had cancelled their passports – some were dual nationality, including Australians, he said.

A small number also had their documents confiscated before they were allowed to leave for the civil war-torn Middle Eastern state, the prime minister said.

Rebel factions have been battling to topple President Bashar al-Assad since 2011.

Key refused to say how many Kiwis have been fighting, or give any details.

He knew of no prosecutions, saying “it was handled in a different way”.

The revelation comes after weekend reports that Australians were “flocking” to the front line. Across the Tasman, the government fears the fighters will return as hardline radicalised Islamists, ready to launch domestic terror attacks.

“Yes, there is likely to … have been a small number of New Zealanders who have fought with the rebels in Syria,” Key said today.

“There are a small group of people that have gone to Syria to fight. There’s a small group that were going to Syria that we stopped … we have physically stopped some and we are clearly aware of others who are in Syria.”  Read more »

Clapped out Iranian Navy ships ‘threaten’ US shores…snigger

Clapped out Iranian ship 'menacing' US shores

Clapped out Iranian ship ‘menacing’ US shores

Some ships from the Iranian Navy are currently marauding in the Atlantic Ocean in a deployment that is a supposedly response to U.S. naval deployments near Iran’s coastlines and they are sending a message.

In other news the Afghan Air Force are going to fly their stealth bombers to the edge of US airspace just to add to the tension.

This must be a worrying time for the seppos,  we should offer our air combat wing in case they need some back up.

Iranian warships dispatched to the Atlantic Ocean will travel close to U.S. maritime borders for the first time in a bid to send ‘a message’ to the White House.  Read more »

Muslims, always seem to find new and interesting ways of shortening their followers lives

The religion of peace doesn’t seem too keen on wanting women to live….making it hard for paramedics to attend to a heart attack victim.

A Saudi university student has died of a heart attack after male paramedics were prevented by authorities from entering the women-only campus to treat her for more than an hour.

Thousands of people took to twitter to vent their anger at the treatment of Amna Bawazeer and blame the kingdom’s segregation rules for her death.

She collapsed at King Saud University in the country’s capital Riyadh on Wednesday at about 11am but did not get seen by the ambulance crews until 12.45pm.

When they were finally allowed to care for the victim she had died, it was reported.

The university’s rector, Badran Al-Omar, denied the report, saying there was no hesitation in letting the paramedics in. He added that the university did all it could to save the life of the student.   Read more »