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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Sunday, February 26.
1) New York area congressmen attack; not news in the New York Times

Ethan Bronner reported Palestinians Clash With Police at Jerusalem Holy Site:
Several hundred Palestinians clashed with Israeli police at Jerusalem’s holiest site on Friday, after calls posted on right-wing Jewish Internet sites for Jews to push Muslims from it prompted Palestinians to mass there in resistance.
Anticipating trouble, police officers, as well as Palestinian news photographers, gathered at the site of the expected standoff, the plaza by Al Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, two of Islam’s holiest shrines, which sit above the remains of two Jewish temples. Tensions have always been high over control of the space, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.
The "right-wing Jewish Internet sites" had a call for the Jews to take over the Temple Mount, falsely made in the name of Likud politician, Moshe Feiglin. As a precautionary measure, two weeks ago Israeli police barred Feiglin from his usual visit to the Temple Mount. Similar sentiments have been posted at the same site since then too. Apparently these are limited to the internet.

The Palestinian media has been attempting to fan the fears of Jewish plotting to take over the Temple Mount. But as Elder of Ziyon observed:
Makor Rishon reported some statistics. In January, 1,119 Jews visited the Temple Mount. In 2011, some 9,000 Jews visited, among 370,000 tourists.

In other words, if thirty Jews visited today, that is pretty much the average number of Jews who visited every day for the past year (excluding Shabbat.)

This is a manufactured hysteria that is meant to incite Muslim Arabs against Jews and to try to pressure Israel to ban Jews from their holiest spot.
In addition to missing the story of Feiglin's being barred from the Temple Mount, the New York Times missed the Palestinian incitement, which "prompted" Palestinians to offer "resistance." What other news from Jerusalem did the New York Times miss on Friday?

Two area congressman were attacked on the Mount of Olives! (h/t Israel Matzav)
Two US congressman were attacked by rock-throwers on Friday in front of a mosque in the Ras Al-Amud neighborhood of Jerusalem. Congressmen Eliot Engel and Jerrold Nadler from New York State were on a tour of the Mount of Olives Cemetery, along with Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Malcolm Hoenlein, and Rabbis Abraham and Menachem Lubinsky, founders of the International Committee for the Preservation of Har HaZeitim. Their tour, which included some 40 Jewish American leaders, was guided by JewishPress.com Managing Editor Yishai Fleisher.
Two local congressman were attacked and it didn't make it into the New York Times's coverage.

2) Too much news from Israel?

The New York Times report on Friday's rioting in Jerusalem contained the following elements:
  • Area is called Temple Mount by Jews and Noble Sanctuary by Muslims
  • Message on Israeli website to take over Temple Mount
  • Rioting near Ramallah where a protester was killed after he reportedly fired fireworks at police
If you read the report in Al Arabiya, you will find out the same information. While the focus of the Al Arabiya article is on the protests following the death of the protester, the rest is barely distinguishable from what was reported in the New York Times.

However the Jerusalem Post also reports:
Arab press, including Palestinian and Jordanian newspapers, wrote a number of inflammatory articles about right-wing attempts to exert sovereignty over the Temple Mount, which incited worshipers to riot on Friday following weekly prayers.
...Police raided an apartment in Jerusalem's Ramot neighborhood overnight on Monday and found extremist right-wing materials related to the Temple Mount, including flyers from an extremist website. Police arrested one activist and took him for questioning. The activist is familiar to police as one of the central figures in the extremist website “Our Temple Mount,” said Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby.
Also on Friday, Conference of Presidents head Malcolm Hoenlein and US Congressmen Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) had stones thrown at them while visiting the Mount of Olives cemetery in east Jerusalem. No one was injured and police pursued the stone throwers, though no arrests were made. Hoenlein is involved in efforts to improve the security situation at the Mount of Olives cemetery, including halting grave desecration and stone throwing.
There are three elements missing from both the New York Times and Al Arabiya:
  • Incitement in Arab media
  • Israeli actions against extremists
  • The attack on American congressmen
These three elements are all newsworthy and yet the New York Times didn't report them.

This comparison is instructive because of Shmuel Rosner's recent article More of the News That’s Fit to Print!
Fifteen years ago, English-speaking Israelis and tourists had only the Jerusalem Post to read. In 1997, they got Haaretz. Then over the past decade Ynetnews.com and Arutz Sheva and Israel Hayom popped up online. English-language journalism is now a very crowded field in Israel — especially if you count all the blogs and all the Israeli outcrops of American-Jewish Web sites. Still, just last week appeared the first issue of the Web-based Times of Israel. It promises to be “the one-stop site for Israel, the region and the Jewish world.”
You’d think this would be a cause for celebration for people like me who live off Israeli journalism. But there’s a disheartening side to this story. One or two or three publications aren’t enough to make Israelis believe the news is properly covered. They need more choices and more voices, more checks and balances, more ways of comparing and contrasting the many nuances of reporting. The people of the book don’t trust the printed word anymore.
(Arutz-7 has been on the web since the mid '90's, but that's a nitpick.)

First of all, Rosner's premise that somehow Israel is over-saturated with media coverage seems overstated. New York City with slightly more than the population of Israel, has 3 or 4 daily newspapers. (Depending on whether or not you count Newsday.) In addition it has a weekly paper.

His observation about people not trusting the news, though, is accurate. But it isn't the fault of picky readers looking for nuance; it's the fault of the news providers who often report (or don't report) what doesn't fit their view of the world. As demonstrated above, readers of the New York Times would be unaware of a number of significant facts regarding the recent violence if they depended on the Times for coverage of Israel. (The same applies to readers of Ha'aretz.)

Rosner's synopsis later on is also troubling.
“I’m sure all the Israel-based English sites feel that they add something unique to the mix — a particular agenda perhaps, or a specific focus,” David Horovitz, the editor of the Times of Israel and formerly the editor of the Jerusalem Post, told me last week. In this era of news à la carte, Horovitz’s Times seems to be eyeing a spot between the rightward-tilted Post and the far-left-tilted Haaretz, between the Netanyahu-can-do-no-right hecklers at +972 and the Netanyahu-can-do-no-wrong apologists of Israel Hayom (which is owned by Netanyahu’s and Newt Gingrich’s benefactor, Sheldon Adelson).
Is the Jerusalem Post really "right leaning?" Maybe it is compared to Ha'aretz. (h/t Noah Pollak) Rosner's problem is that he looks at labels rather than the main thing the media should be focused on: whether or not it is accurate, as David Ha'Ivri recently argued. If the existing options don't have credibility with the Israeli public, they will turn to new choices.

3) Saying "uncle?"

Last week the Muslim Brotherhood had a chance to distance itself from the prosecution of American NGO workers pursued by a holdover from the Mubarak regime. Instead, as the New York Times reported Egyptian Party Threatens to Review Treaty With Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood, instead of taking a stand against the military's outrageous assault on liberty; instead it supported the crackdown.

Now the New York Times reports Scramble Is on to Find Deal for 16 Americans in Egypt.
American diplomats, Egyptian lawyers and others involved in the case said the efforts had foundered amid a breakdown in the lines of authority within the military-led transitional government in the final months before the generals have pledged to leave power. American officials say they have tried to find Egyptian counterparts who might intercede, but Egyptian leaders say they cannot intervene in the judicial process.
If the case is not resolved, Congress and the Obama administration have vowed to cut off the $1.55 billion in annual aid to Egypt, potentially rupturing the three-way alliance among Washington, Cairo and Jerusalem that has been a linchpin of regional stability.
If American diplomats are "scrambling" it would appear that cutting off aid is viewed as a last resort, to be avoided at all costs. If Egypt knew that it faced a real risk of losing the aid, it would do everything necessary to free the Americans. Egypt knows that it can make America jump through diplomatic hoops with no cost.

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At 1:47 AM, Blogger Empress Trudy said...

Personally I hope the 16 Americans are put on trial, found guilty and given long long sentences. Just to watch the smug 'mission accomplished' look on Obama's face as he declares it a great victory for the newly democratic Egypt, in'shallah.


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