CAMERA Top Ten Mideast Media Mangles of 2012

Every day, Israel is assailed with false accusations from the media. And every day, CAMERA is on the front lines in the battle for accuracy and fairness.This year, our researchers and analysts tackled many of the worst offenders. Among them, our…

Top Ten MidEast Media Mangles for 2012:

1. “60 Minutes” Indicts Israel for Suffering of Christians
During a segment entitled, “Christians of the Holy Land,” Bob Simon, “60 Minutes” and CBS deceived viewers by downplaying Muslim hostility toward Christians and falsely portraying Israel as an oppressor – instead of an island of safety in a region where Christians are increasingly under siege. In addition to launching a letter writing campaign, CAMERA Board Members attended a May CBS Shareholders meeting to raise concerns directly, distributing a letter to the CBS Board detailing the falsehoods in the report. When Jeffrey Fager, Chairman of CBS News and Executive Producer of 60 Minutes, disregarded the substantive concerns raised claiming the broadcast “was fair and accurate reporting about a newsworthy subject,” CAMERA ran an ad in the Wall Street Journal laying out the facts and calling for public action.

2. Washington Post Photo Coverage of Gaza Conflict Grossly Biased
Alongside text coverage of “Pillar of Defense” and its aftermath, The Washington Post published 28 photographs in less than two weeks; nineteen featured Palestinian Arabs, four of them on page one, and nine featured Israelis, none of those on page one. Even prior to the recent operation, however, the newspaper demonstrated a pattern of unbalanced photo coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Rather than addressing this issue, Post Ombudsman Patrick Pexton wrote a column defending the newspaper’s photographic coverage and saying, memorably, that “the overwhelming majority of rockets fired from Gaza are like bee stings on the Israeli bear’s behind.”

3. Ha’aretz Drives the Apartheid Canard
With the publication of a front-page news story and accompanying commentary by Gideon Levy falsely claiming that a poll showed a majority of Israelis advocated anti-Arab policies, (a headline declared that “most Israeli Jews support an apartheid regime in Israel,”) Ha’aretz promoted the message, as Levy neatly put it, that “We’re racist …and we even want to live in an apartheid state.” The incendiary story quickly inspired headlines in mainstream international media outlets including the Guardian, The Independent, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Telegraph, The Globe and Mail, Agence-France Presse, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Calgary Herald, as well as Al Jazeera and fringe anti-Israel outfits. Presspectiva, CAMERA’s Hebrew site, was the first to publish an in-depth analysis in Hebrew demonstrating how Levy misrepresented the poll results and was the first Hebrew site to provide the complete poll results. The analysis was cited by every major Hebrew blog that discussed the Ha’aretz “apartheid” poll scandal. Ma’ariv’s Ben-Dror Yemini, who also wrote a detailed piece critical of the Ha’aretz “apartheid” poll coverage, cited CAMERA/Presspectiva extensively. Five days after the deeply flawed articles first appeared, Ha’aretz issued clarifications, but the clarifications did not address all of the problems with the newspaper’s coverage, and did not begin to douse the flames ignited by the false front-page stories. The newspaper eventually published critical op-Eds as well as a partial and disingenuous “apology” by Levy himself. Following the “apology,” CAMERA noted that Levy has a long history of deceiving the public.

4. Media Misconstrue E-1 Facts. Israeli Building Would NOT “Bisect” West Bank
The media, led by The New York Times but also including The Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, the Jewish Daily Forward and many others, have dramatically misinformed the public about Israeli construction in the area known as “the E-1 corridor.” Among the false allegations are that construction of new homes by Israel would bisect the West Bank, cut off Palestinian cities from Jerusalem, make a contiguous and viable Palestinian state impossible, and
destroy any chance for a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Communications from CAMERA prompted The New York Times to issue several corrections. Many other media outlets have not yet corrected their misrepresentations. CAMERA’s new monograph, Indicting Israel: New York Times Coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, details how The New York Times treats Israel with a harsher standard, omits context, and shows a clear preference for the Palestinian narrative.

5. The Guardian‘s Ever-Changing Israeli Capital
Originally, The Guardian correctly stated in the caption of a photograph that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Days later, they issued a “correction” saying they had “wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: ‘Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is.’” Nearly four months after that, following many complaints, The Guardian re-corrected, sort of, writing “A correction to a picture caption said we should not have described Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. It went on to relay the advice in our style guide that the capital was Tel Aviv. In 1980 the Israeli Knesset enacted a law designating the city of Jerusalem, including East Jerusalem, as the country’s capital. In response, the UN security council issued resolution 478, censuring the ‘change in character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem’ and calling on all member states with diplomatic missions in the city to withdraw. The UN has reaffirmed this position on several occasions, and almost every country now has its embassy in Tel Aviv. While it was therefore right to issue a correction to make clear Israel’s designation of Jerusalem as its capital is not recognised by the international community, we accept that it is wrong to state that Tel Aviv – the country’s financial and diplomatic centre – is the capital. The style guide has been amended accordingly.” Got it?

6. Before and After the Toulouse Massacre, Media Silent on Hate-Indoctrination
On March 19, in Toulouse, France, during the busy morning school drop-off period, Mohammed Merah rode up to the Ozar HaTorah Jewish School on a scooter, killed Rabbi Yonatan Sandler, his six-year-old son Aryeh, and his three-year-old son Gabriel then chased down and murdered seven-year-old Myriam Monsonego. “As regards the killing of the children at the Jewish school in Toulouse, he was very explicit,” said Interior Minister Claude Guéant. “He said he wanted to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children.” Major media, The New York Times chief among them, have failed over many years to report accurately, consistently and with due prominence the pervasive and genocidal rhetoric against Israel and the Jewish people, giving only passing attention to the issue. Their dereliction on this issue has done incalculable harm, not least in signaling to the hate-mongers that no price is to be paid for promoting extreme bigotry.

7. Spanish Newspaper El Pais Claims Gilad Shalit “Involved in a Gaza Massacre”
In the sub-headline of an article about kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit being invited to a Barca-Real Madrid football (soccer) match, influential Spanish newspaper El Pais falsely claimed that Shalit was “involved in a Gaza massacre.” The paper also wrote that he was eventually freed in exchange for 477 Palestinian prisoners. The newspaper published a letter from ReVista de Medio Oriente, CAMERA’s Spanish-language Web site, and one from the President of the Federación de Comunidades Judías de España (Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain). The newspaper also published a correction, saying “Corporal Gilad Shalit was not involved in any killing in Gaza,” and continuing on to state “Shalit was apprehended by Hamas on the Gaza border in 2006 and was held captive for five years until he was exchanged for 1027 Palestinian prisoners, not 477 as stated on Wednesday and yesterday.”

8. AFP “Fauxtography” Picked Up by Global Press
A January 25 Agence France-Presse photograph, in which a Palestinian construction worker is said to be screaming in pain after he was run over by a trailer driven by an Israeli soldier, prominently appeared in the print editions of the International Herald Tribune (January 26) and The Washington Post (January 27), and was featured on the Web sites of The Wall Street Journal, the Guardian and MSNBC (slide 13), among others. At worst, this incident was staged and the man pretended to be run over and injured, while neither happened. At best, there was zero independent confirmation that he was injured. After much work by CAMERA’s Israel office highlighting the dubiousness of the claims, the Journal commendably clarified, though AFP regrettably defended the photograph despite the lack of credible evidence that such an incident occurred.

9. NPR, No Perspective Radio, Falsely Claims Israelis Violent to Palestinian Arabs
NPR’s“All Things Considered” program featured a segm
ent reported by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro entitled “Report: Violence Against West Bank Palestinians Is Up.” The thrust of the story was that Israeli residents are violent toward Palestinian residents of the West Bank and that violence is systemic. While statistics refute this assertion, Garcia-Navarro quoted four people to bolster that position and only one to negate it. The report which presumably serves as the basis for the story actually shows that during the week of the incident featured, the same number of Palestinian Arabs and Israelis were injured in the disputed territories, four. CAMERA has reported numerous times on troubling coverage of the Middle East by National Public Radio.

10. Journal of Palestine Studies Defends Ilan Pappé’s Fabricated Quotation with Another Fabrication
After CAMERA informed the Journal of Palestine Studies (JPS) of a falsified quote published in its pages, attributed to Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion by revisionist historian Ilan Pappé, editors nonetheless defended “the overall accuracy” by pointing to another purported statement by Ben-Gurion that they claimed showed Pappé was essentially correct. Pappé claimed that Ben-Gurion wrote, “The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.” JPS maintained this quote, while incorrect, was close enough to what they say Ben-Gurion actually wrote, namely that “We must expel Arabs and take their place.” There is no evidence that he ever believed either sentiment. In fact, all evidence suggests Ben Gurion always intended just the opposite – and actually wrote “that there is enough room for us and for the Arabs in the land.”

Can we expect 2013 to be a better year for Israel and media coverage? While CAMERA is gratified at the many instances of responsible action by members of the media, it’s also obvious there will be many challenges!

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