Powered by WebAds

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Exposed: How 'Palestinian' fixers manipulate the media

Israel has long been aware of the problem of 'Palestinian' stringers or 'fixers' who manipulate the media outlets for whom they work. In Judea, Samaria and Gaza, they are far more than translators and drivers.
Most foreign journalists are not fluent in either Arabic or Hebrew, rendering them dependent on a network of local Palestinian "fixers," mostly young, educated Palestinians who speak Arabic, Hebrew, and English. Palestinian fixers, who until recently have been fully accredited by Israel's Government Press Office, know their way around Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, arrange interviews with Palestinian officials, and introduce journalists to their own circle of local acquaintances. As a rule, working with a good fixer translates into getting interviews with top Palestinian leaders and moving safely around the territories. An Arabic-speaking Israeli journalist who avoids using fixers noted that most fixers trumpet the PLO narrative and terminology of the conflict, which frequently collides with established historical facts and international law. Moreover, Palestinian security forces watch carefully what is said by local residents to both foreign and local journalists.

According to senior foreign news sources based in Jerusalem, the vast majority of Palestinian fixers - often close friends of Palestinian employees of Jerusalem-based foreign news agencies - are ideologically motivated by the Palestinian cause, and actively encourage journalists to report exclusively on the "evils" of the Israeli occupation, rather than on the lack of democratic freedoms or human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza.


Palestinian camera operators, frequently residents of the West Bank, today film the vast majority of foreign TV news coverage in the territories. Foreign news agencies have become dependent on Palestinians, since Israeli camera people are prohibited by the IDF from working in the Palestinian areas. Palestinian camera operators are also far less expensive than their Israeli or foreign news colleagues.

The result is that TV news pictures, broadcast internationally from the territories, focus daily on Palestinian dead and wounded, massive demonstrations and funerals, close-ups of local hospital and morgue victims, homes of mourning Palestinian families, and destroyed Palestinian buildings and fields. Missing is a measure of balance that might show images of the Palestinian-initiated violence, including shootings, bombings, and rocket attacks on Israeli troops and civilians, that prompt Israeli military responses.
Usually, the fixers are smart enough not to make it blatantly clear that they are promoting a viewpoint. But recently, a former (well, maybe former, but that's a separate issue) CNN employee named Nidal Rafa got into a shouting match with Danny Ayalon, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, who was recently elected to the Knesset as part of the Yisrael Beiteinu party. Rafa either did not know or did not care that Tom Gross was in the audience with his video camera and got the whole thing on video (Hat Tip: Debbie Schlussel).

Let's go to the videotape.

For those of you who had trouble making out what she was saying, here's part of the transcript:
NR: The thing is, do you agree that there will be in the future one Palestinian state [..] that all the Palestinians want is to be treated as anyone else in the world....[sic]...when you are making life equal for the people [..] when [their] dream to see Jerusalem... and in the West Bank, and Ramallah and in Jenin [..] you are not suffering at the end of the day and you want people to believe...

DA: Please, don't get excited, of course I'm not suffering because I'm not killing anybody.

NR: And you want to decide, you want people to believe, that you as previous ambassador to the UN, sorry to say fascist, fascist [..] party... where this party... I am the indigenous people, I have been here as my grandfather was here before the State of Israel [..]

Crowd: What's the question, what's the question?

NR: ...the whole thing you are talking about is bullshit, you don't want to open your eyes and you keep [being] blind, not to see what's the problem, and it is occupation.

DA: Now you know why you don't have a state.

NR: And the only guarantee to live here is ending the occupation. Do you not recognize that there is an occupation? Yes or no? YES OR NO? Do you agree that there is an occupation? Do recognize the occupation? Yes or no? Give me an answer and then you can go.

DA: I would like first the eradication of terror, first of all, and secondly, your recognition that I have the right to be here, that this my country, I'm not here by anybody's favor. This is my country, this is my land.

NR: It's Palestinian land.

DA: No its not Palestinian land, this is Jewish land, this is what you have to accept, and if you don't accept it, then we don't even have anything to talk about.
Tom Gross completes the story of Nidal Rafa:
I spoke with Kevin Flower, the Jerusalem Bureau chief for CNN, and he says Rafa’s contract with CNN has been discontinued though he declined to provide a specific reason.

Despite this, Rafa handed out her CNN business card to several people, including myself, after her outburst against Danny Ayalon, and said she was still working for CNN. Even if she no longer works there, the question is why CNN employed someone like this for at least the last two years?

(There are many examples of anti-Israeli articles co-authored by Rafa on cnn.com. For example, “Jewish settlers on ‘terror’ rampage,” December 4, 2008.)

When I spoke to Rafa it was clear that, like many (but by all means not all) Arab journalists working for CNN, Reuters, the Associated Press and other major Western news providers in the Middle East, she didn’t think there was any contradiction between working as a journalist for an international news outlet and holding extreme anti-Israeli views.
Gross' post continues with some very serious charges against the BBC. Read the whole thing.

HonestReporting has a lot more on Nidal Rafa. The key to the story is that there is little doubt that CNN knew all about her biases when they hired her. In other words, CNN knowingly slanted the news. (I'm sure you're all not shocked).
How could CNN employ Rafa and how has she been able to push her political agenda on to other media outlets? Some more research reveals that the incident above is not an isolated one.

Nidal Rafa's political activism was certainly no secret when various media outlets employed her. An archived Jerusalem Post article from May 30, 2001 referred to three aspiring Israeli women politicians shadowing UK politicians to experience the British democratic process. One of these women was Rafa, who is described as a "Balad activist" and the chair of the radical Arab party's women's unit.

Evidently, Rafa spent some time working as a fixer for other media, including Fox News, before landing a position at CNN. Ha'aretz, in a feature several years ago, accompanied Fox News correspondent at the time, Jennifer Griffin, on a trip to Israel's Wadi Ara region:
It is Griffin, aided by an interpreter, who conveys what the Arabs have to say. Here, she is totally dependent on her interpreter Nidal Rafa. Rafa, who is considered a top professional, is an Israeli Arab from Haifa, definitely a Palestinian and a graduate of Bir Zeit University in the West Bank - and she possesses clear political awareness. She is young, opinionated and assertive, and - to put it mildly - she pretty well manages the event.

She is not pleased about the team from Ha'aretz Magazine that accompanied Griffin to Bartaa. My initial attempts to strike up a conversation with Griffin were loudly interrupted by the interpreter. When Griffin asks what I can tell her about the Wadi Ara region, as background, I don't manage to get out even one whole sentence before Rafa interjects herself, in English, with an obvious edge to her voice: "I will give you the background," she says: "This whole area was expropriated by Israel from the Arabs. Everything here belonged to the Arabs. There are Jewish settlements such as Katzir and Harish above: villas, beautiful homes. And all of it on our land."

During Griffin's interview with the bereaved father, Rafa decides what to translate and what to leave untranslated. "Do you condemn Hamas for sending the suicide bomber who killed your son?" Griffin asks. Rafa translates. Razi Kabha gives a general, unfocused answer, about the protracted conflict. "So you don't condemn Hamas for this suicide bombing?" Griffin wants to know. Rafa gives her a piercing look: "He already answered that. Go on to the next question."

Griffin persists. "Nidal, I need you to ask him that again." Rafa argues the point. The two conduct a discussion in English (the camera has been turned off) while the father sits mutely, not understanding what is going on. Finally, Rafa is persuaded and asks the question again, though making it obvious that she is doing so against her will. And so it goes on.

Griffin's original plan was to interview the family and the head of the local council in the village. But the plan got changed. Rafa channeled the visit to include the section of the village on the other side of the Green Line. She persuaded Griffin that the visit would be incomplete without visiting the Palestinian section. And so on and so forth. Did Rupert Murdoch and Roger Aisles take this kind of thing into account? Not necessarily. What is certain is that last Thursday, the person who finally decided what their news channel would broadcast from Bartaa was Nidal Rafa.
And I'm sure none of you will be surprised to hear that it's not just CNN that hires 'fixers' and uses 'Palestinian' stringers in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Remember Muhamed al-Dura?

The France 2 video that went around the world that 'showed' that IDF troops had shot 12-year old Muhamed in 2000 was shot by a 'Palestinian' stringer named Talal Abu Rahmeh. The fraud was exposed by a French media website run by Philippe Karsenty. Recently someone forwarded me an email from Karsenty that told the following story (Hat Tip: Red Tulips).
I’m writing to inform you of a new documentary by the German public TV station ARD as well as unprecedented support from the Israeli minister of Foreign Affairs.

The German public TV, ARD, broadcast, on March 4, 2009, a documentary which confirms that the news report, narrated by Charles Enderlin and broadcast by France 2 on September 30, 2000, is a fraud.

Here is the evidence revealed, and confirmed, by this documentary:

· Thank to a biometric analysis of the faces, it has been proven that the boy who was filmed by France 2 is not the boy presented at the Gaza morgue and buried later. The eyebrows and the lips are very different.

· The German TV used the lip-reading technique to read the father’s lips. They discovered that Jamal al Dura gave instructions to the people who were behind France 2’s cameraman during the filming of the scene.

· The boy filmed by France 2 moves a red piece of cloth down his body for no specific reason.

· In France 2’s news report, there is no blood - neither on Mohammed nor on Jamal al Dura’s body, whereas the two were supposed to have received 15 bullets all together.

· The boy shown at the funeral as Mohammed al Dura arrived at the hospital before 10am, whereas France 2’s news report was filmed after 2:30pm.

German media outlets widely covered the ARD documentary. Specifically, the prestigious Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published two pieces about the film.

In order to read a press review about all this, click here.
Folks, when you see, hear or read anything from Judea, Samaria or Gaza, you must do so critically. Most of the time, someone is trying to fool you. You cannot just believe what you see or hear.

Read the whole thing.


At 3:09 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

True enough. For years I've wondered why Western newscasts and reporting from Israel is so slanted against the country. That mystery has now been cleared up. Bottom line: people cannot even trust an Israel story by-line. In most cases, the person reporting the story does not have the relevant information first-hand, which is usually provided by a local stringer. Its safe to say in nearly all of the cases that person will be an Arab rather than a Jew.

News consumer, beware!

At 6:00 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

For a look at how the picture of Israel gets distorted in the Western media, here is a New York Times The headline makes the point better than anything I could say.

After Gaza, Israel Grapples With Crisis Of Isolation

Ethan Bronner's piece shows how lonely Israel is these days. What Arab stringers in Israel do to manipulate the media only adds to the sense Israel will never get a fair shake in the world press.

Read it all.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger YMedad said...

At the same time I was working in the Knesset, as parliamentary aide to members of the same, Nidal was the aide to MK Azmi Bishaarah, one of the most radical Arab MKs and who eventually fled the country for fear of prosecution for subversion and espionage. And I debated her once for CNN.

At 9:43 AM, Blogger YMedad said...

I won.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Unfortunately, anti-Israel fixers is only a half of the problem. The other half, of course, is anti-Israel editors and their bosses who need to justify their disproportionate fixation on Israel, so the stream of dirty "news" has to continue no matter what. Sometimes media produces sensationalist and scandalous coverage simply in order to increase readership. There is no such thing as bad publicity, especially when no one is held accountable.

At 5:49 PM, Blogger Jeffrey Green said...

Do you really believe that everything Israel has done is above all criticism, and if only the world media were fair, everyone would realize that, too? I share your anger at biased reporting against Israel, but I also am ashamed of many actions taken in my name by my government (I've been an Israeli citizen since 1976, I served in a combat unit for 11 years, including service in the West Bank and Gaza, and I don't believe my adopted country is above reproach).


Post a Comment

<< Home