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Media Analyses





Yahoo News Promotes Al Jazeera's Anti-Israel Propaganda


Verizon is reportedly offering $3 billion for Yahoo's internet business. If the deal goes through, Verizon is expected to benefit from additional advertising revenues. But it would also inherit an ongoing problem: Yahoo News and its penchant for hateful propaganda.

CAMERA recently prompted Yahoo to remove from its "news" rotation two virulent hate sites. Yahoo News had promoted the sites seemingly because, along with their Holocaust denial, 9/11 conspiracy theories, homophobia, and anti-Semitism, they frequently published anti-Israel agitprop. (See here and here for more details about Yahoo News's promotion of hate sites Veterans News Now, Mint Press, and American Herald Tribune.)

Unfortunately, despite its step in the right direction, Yahoo News, headed by former New York Times editor Megan Liberman, continues to pursue and promote radical anti-Israelism at the expense of decency and accuracy. Yesterday, for example, the internet giant directed readers to a multimedia feature by Al Jazeera entitled "Vanishing Palestine: The making of Israel's occupation."

There have been plenty of unflattering things said about Al Jazeera as a whole. This article, though, will focus on the specific Al Jazeera feature promoted by Yahoo News.

The feature is largely based on a set of maps, sometimes referred to as the "Disappearing Palestine" maps, that have been broadly and conclusively discredited. After approvingly referencing those maps in a broadcast, MSNBC reporters later apologized, acknowledging that the images were "not factually accurate." Similarly, publisher McGraw-Hill withdrew a textbook containing the maps because, as a statement by the publisher explained, an internal review "determined that the map did not meet our academic standards."

In its feature, Al Jazeera took the inaccurate message of the maps and expanded on it with an error-ridden voice-over and introductory text that, from the very first sentence, wildly misleads. "On June 5, 1967," the opening sentence absurdly claims, "an unprovoked Israel invaded Palestinian, Egyptian, and Syrian territories at once."

In reality the event described by that passage, the start of the Six-Day War, came only after repeated and severe provocations by Israel's neighbors. Egypt, for example, expelled the UN peacekeeping force from the territory separating Israel from the Egyptian mainland, poured its own troops into that territory, blockaded an Israeli port, and planned an attack. "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel," its leader promised. It was only in response to these threats and acts of war that Israel preemptively struck at Egypt's army.

The idea that Israel invaded Palestinian and Syrian territory without provocation is doubly ridiculous. It was only after Jordan attacked Israel from the West Bank (which Al Jazeera anachronistically describes as "Palestinian territory") and Syria attacked the Jewish state from the Golan Heights that Israel counter-attacked on those fronts.

The falsehoods, prepared by Al Jazeera and distributed by Yahoo News, continue in rapid fire. Israel's occupation is "illegal," Al Jazeera states, a claim disputed by international legal scholars, and one that has been recently corrected by The New York Times. Israel's blockade prevents "medical equipment, clean water, food and materials necessary to rebuild homes" from entering the territory, Al Jazeera claims, although Israel in fact facilitates the transfer of all of the above through its border crossings.

The voice-over picks up where the text leaves off: "In order to create an exclusively Jewish state, the original inhabitants of the land, the Palestinians, had to be removed. That was the Zionist vision." This is a warped and falsified history. Putting aside the partisan claim that Palestinian Arabs are not more indigenous to the land than Jews — those taking a longer view of history could argue that they are less so — it is not true that the "Zionist vision" was an "exclusively Jewish" state. In fact, Zionist leaders repeatedly emphasized their willingness and desire to live in harmony alongside their Arab neighbors.

This "Zionist vision," the voice-over goes on to insist, is responsible for the 1948 war — a war that, in fact, was launched by Palestinian militias and Arab states seeking to abort the new Jewish state. In Al Jazeera's alternate reality, the onslaught of violence by Palestinians against their Jewish neighbors never even happened.

This excising of anti-Jewish violence is a theme. According to Al Jazeera, Palestinian violence, Jewish counterattacks, and invasion by five Arab armies of the fledgling Jewish state was nothing more than "a widespread ethnic cleansing campaign" by Zionists. (The ethnic cleansing of Jews from Jerusalem and the West Bank during that war is, of course, ignored.)

The images in the feature likewise deceive. A table at the top left of the screen quietly shuffles through various distortions, the last of which is the bizarre claim that today Arabs control zero percent of the land while Jews control 100 percent of it, never mind that the Gaza Strip is entirely controlled by Hamas extremists and the West Bank's Area A, which includes an overwhelming majority of the territory's Palestinian population, is largely under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

One could go on and on. But an endless rebuttal of Al Jazeera's presentation distracts from what is perhaps the more important point. With its history of questionable reporting and its relationship to its patron state Qatar, many already understand that Al Jazeera is biased, and don't take the network seriously. (See, for example, the spectacular failure of Al Jazeera America after low ratings and amidst allegations of sexism and anti-Semitism.)

But Yahoo is seen as something different. It's a trusted gatekeeper for many Americans, and recently bolstered its mainstream news credibility by recently hiring the popular journalist Katie Couric and partnering with ABC News. It is from this position of power and influence that Yahoo News legitimizes the anti-Israel propaganda of Al Jazeera, just as it had previously legitimized the over-the-top bigotry of hate sites like Veterans News Now.

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