Kiwis for Balanced Reporting on the Middle East

Kiwis for Balanced Reporting On The Mideast New Zealand Media bias

January 19, 2009

ODT fires double-barrelled blast at Israel

After several editorials in the Otago Daily Times that expressed a balanced point of view, an eruption of anti-Israel bias appeared in the World Focus section, including a lie-filled diatribe by John Pilger and a Washington Post article Washington Post article that blamed Israel for the ‘humanitarian disaster in Gaza’. The KBRM chairman replied to Barry Stewart, editor of World Focus, as follows:

Dear Mr Stewart,

I was dismayed to see two full-page articles attacking Israel in yesterday's World Focus, with nothing on the other side. And when I say attacking Israel, I mean highly unbalanced articles that included lies and half-truths. The first article by John Pilger is 2171 words long (!), accompanied by a photo shouting ‘CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY.’ It states, among other things, "‘Palestine's right to exist was cancelled 61 years ago and the expulsion and, if necessary, extinction of the indigenous people was planned and executed by the founders of Israel.’ (The 1.4 million Palestinians living within Israel today surely give the lie to that.( The second article by Craig Whitlock has fewer words but more sympathy-evoking pictures. The first sentence sets the anti-Israel tone: ‘The humanitarian disaster in Gaza - hundreds of dead civilians, overflowing shelters, an acute shortage of anything to eat...’

Don't you think your readers are entitled to see both sides of the story, as was presented in your well-balanced editorials of Dec. 30 and Jan. 7?

I note that two articles from the Washington Post (‘Hard Truths About the Conflict’ and ‘Why Israel Is Bombing Gaza’), as well as my own article, which I had sent earlier were all rejected.

I am enclosing several more suggestions below. I hope you can find among them two pages of material that, along with appropriate photos (perhaps showing Israeli suffering, or Palestinian children carrying guns), will balance the very one-sided picture that you presented on Jan. 20. Frankly, I think they all should be published, as each one tells an important story.

Rodney Brooks, Chairman
Kiwis for Balanced Reporting on the Mideast

Following are the articles that were enclosed:

Stark contrasts by Michael Kuttner (KBRM member)

Israel has been suffering from suicide terror tactics for many years. Men, women and even children have been sent by terror leaders to cause maximum death and mayhem by blowing themselves up in the midst of shoppers, commuters & worshippers. This cult of death and human sacrificial ritual, guaranteeing eternal pleasures in paradise, has become popular amongst certain Islamic groups but it seems to have escaped the notice of all those demonstrators who today are convulsing themselves on the streets of many countries. The loss of life and injuries & damage caused to Israeli citizens, schools & old age homes (amongst others) over several years does not rate any consideration. It is only when Israel, after many warnings, takes steps to defend its citizens against these terror tactics that those who previously remained silent suddenly spring into life.

Maps discovered in Gaza by Israeli troops show the deliberate use by Hamas of Mosques, hospitals, schools and homes for storing weapons and ammunition as well as for firing rockets against Israeli civilians. The contrast between Israel and the terrorists could not be clearer. Israel makes sure that its civilians are as safe as possible by building shelters and protected areas for them to take safety in. The rulers of Gaza on the other hand make sure that their civilians, especially women and children, are placed in the midst of greatest danger. Israel issues warnings to evacuate buildings where terror leaders are hiding and from where snipers and rockets are operating. Instead of evacuating, the terrorists deliberately use their women & children as human shields, thereby guaranteeing their ‘martyrdom’ and ensuring the maximum number of civilian casualties. The fact that so many Palestinians have been brainwashed into believing that they will enjoy paradise is an indication of the sickness which now afflicts that society.

The fact that 3 years of constant rocket attacks by these terror groups against Israeli civilians has not produced a large number of deaths is not because the rockets are harmless but rather because the Israeli Government values life above all else. Therefore the safety of its citizens takes top priority. On the other hand, those in control in Gaza value death above all else — hence their conscious decision to sacrifice those most vulnerable by placing them in the very midst of their terror actions. The obvious aim of this tactic is to bring down on Israel the wrath of the Western world and in this they have succeeded.

Thanks to misinformation and a reluctance by many people (and Governments) to face the real truth and acknowledge the ultimate aim of this terror campaign waged against civilized society, Israel stands accused of ‘over-reaction’, despite years of incessant & blatant terror. Those demonstrating so violently now against Israel's actions were conspicuously silent whilst Israeli civilians sheltered from daily rocket attacks and old age homes & schools were hit. All innocent loss of life should be deplored but surely when one side deliberately puts its civilians in the firing line that also should be condemned.

Unfortunately double standards rule and the perpetrators of terror over many years become the heroic victims of today. Perhaps one day the lion will lie down with the lamb — but you can be sure it won't be as a result of appeasing evil.

On solving world problems by Simon Kuttner (KBRM member)

In order to solve world problems, we must properly think and truly understand situations. Otherwise, we are destined to repeat mistakes. For years, there has been fighting in the Middle East. For years people have been trying to arrive at a solution to end the violence. It has never worked. Why? I think one of the problems is that the Middle East situation is viewed in a very simplistic manner. Israel is strong, the Palestinians are weak, Israel must stop ‘oppressing’ the Palestinians and let them live in peace by giving back more land etc. Strong versus weak occurs many times in the world. Look at the chaos in Zimbabwe, Sudan, Rwanda where innocents are killed by those who are strong. However, each case must be looked at separately and not reduced to the reductionist formula of strong versus weak — and the weak overcoming the oppression of the strong. To compare the Israeli case with Sudan or Rwanda is a grave injustice and untruth.

If people (ordinary citizens, nations of the world) analysed the situation with an open and unbiased mind, this chaos could come to an end. If they truly thought about what is happening, they would realise the following:

  • Israel, since its withdrawal from Hebron in 1997, has little control over the Palestinians' lives. Palestinians have been their own rulers with their own leaders. Any control Israel has exerted is not done out of pleasure but for security reasons.
  • Israel has continued to supply food, medicine, water, and power to the Palestinians free of charge.
  • Every year, the European Union, the USA, and Israel pours millions of dollars into the Palestinian economy so that they can build the infrastructure necessary to create their own state. Israel also provides the Palestinians with water and power free of charge because they have not yet been able to organise their own independent facilities.
  • Israel, since 1948, has repeatedly offered the Palestinians land in return for peace. The Palestinians have repeatedly rejected this offer. The latest offer came in 2001 with Ehud Barack offering them 98 percent of the West Bank, and East Jerusalem! Arafat rejected this offer and turned to war, without even an attempt to negotiate.
  • In 2005, as a sign of goodwill, Israel uprooted its own citizens from the Gaza Strip and handed the land over to the Palestinians, a people who did not recognise Israel's right to exist. Such is Israel's craving for peace. This resulted in missiles and rockets being fired from those very areas ever since.
  • When Yasser Arafat died, estimates of his wealth ranged to a billion dollars or more. His people are among the poorest in the world.
  • Hamas, a terrorist organisation whose charter calls for the complete destruction of Israel, was voted in by the Palestinian people to be their leaders.
  • The Palestinians promote a culture of hatred and death: Schools do not include Israel on maps; hundreds of thousands of people celebrate in the streets when a pregnant woman blows herself up on a bus and kills innocent mothers and children.

If you speak to average Palestinians (who just want to bring food home for their children every evening) and ask them why there is such a mess, 98 percent of them will say that it is because of Israel's oppression or cruelty or theft of their land. Not ONE word will leave their mouths that maybe they are also partly to blame, that maybe they could do more to bring peace. NO self-reflection is evident. No conscious, deep appraisal of what has brought them to such a mess. This for me is the crux of the problem, the lack of self-appraisal by the Palestinians.

Israel is a democracy. It has Arab members of Parliament, members who if they were in any of the 22 countries surrounding Israel would have no say at all. Israel has a left, centre and right. Israel is not perfect. Israel kills innocent people who are used by the Hamas as human shields, people who are forced to stay in schools or homes and are not evacuated. In such a situation, tragic things happen. Israel admits it makes mistakes. It analyses every mistake thoroughly with inquiries and subsequent punishment of army officers involved. It does not cover up mistakes. It does not purposely attack innocent people and celebrate when it unfortunately kills innocent people.

The world is up in arms. Protests are taking place in New Zealand, demanding a stop to Israel's cruel attack. But this only perpetuates the chaos. Especially when the people protesting analyse the situation in the simplistic manner mentioned above. After the present chaos, there will be another chaos. Only if the world changes its view, will the chaos stop. Just maybe, maybe just once, it would be worthwhile for the world, instead of condemning Israel, to say to the Palestinians: Develop some honest, peace loving leaders, use your money to build life giving structures, be productive, do not use Israel as an excuse, channel your constant hatred of Israel into making your own state that wants to LIVE, stop promoting death through your education systems. Leave Israel alone. You can get the money — even from Israel, but ONLY if you do not use it for death. You have rejected time after time offers of land and turned to war. This cannot be accepted anymore. The world cannot help you forever, provide you with aid and money 24/7. A time comes when you must go out into the real world by yourselves. You must try and be independent, build a home for yourselves and leave Israel alone. If you do this, great things can happen. You might even create a flourishing state, a state you could have had years ago if you had turned to life and not death.

I don't believe this will happen. I believe the world will ask Israel to give back more land, the world will ask Israel not to respond to more missiles, international peacekeepers will be sent who turn a blind eye to terrorists smuggling weapons, and the world will give more money to the Palestinians, money that will be used for death, not life. The situation will only change when the world stops preaching double standards and demands that the Palestinians take responsibility and build a state of LIFE, a state that does not exclude Israel from geography maps, a state that does not dress children in explosives, a state that does not celebrate when a pregnant woman blows herself up on a bus full of Israeli mothers and children, a state that realizes that poverty is no excuse for doing such things, a state that can reach a state of consciousness that feels it can live alongside the state of Israel, a state that promotes LIFE as strongly as Israel craves PEACE, a state that stops relying on the rest of the world that blindly helps to perpetuate the Palestinians' state of neediness. This change can only happen when we, the citizens and governments of the world, begin to understand this.

Living next door to a serial killer by Barry Rubin

Israel has won a huge military victory in a defensive war against the radical Islamist Hamas group which rules the Gaza Strip.
So what does Israel want? Its first choice would be a moderate movement running the Gaza Strip which would negotiate a deal for a Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel, resettling refugees there, and being a prosperous, stable state. All Israel desires is that such a country wouldn't attack it with rockets, war, terrorism, or inciting such terrible hatred as to ensure future wars... (for the remainder, see ‘Living next door to a serial killer‘ by Barry Rubin)

Noa's open letter to Palestinians

Internationally renowned Israeli singer Noa has written an open letter to Palestinians in Gaza that is very moving. The letter was published on the Israel-based iPeace website, an international social network which has more than 14,000 members from 180 countries.

Dear Palestinian brothers,
It is with a heavy heart I write to you today. Gaza is burning. The border with Israel is under fire. Children on both sides of the fence are terrified, traumatized for life, wounded in body and soul. Life!! Life is lost. Blood flows! Pain and tears and anguish abound.
How familiar it all is, my brothers? How well we know these images, this fear clutching our throats, hope slipping away from our hearts? (for the remainder, see ‘Noa writes open letter to Gazans’)

Hamas is a war crimes (case study) from the Jerusalem Post

The fighting tactics and ideology of Hamas are a (case study par excellence) of a systematic violation of international humanitarian law, according to a leading expert in international law who visited the Gaza periphery region on Tuesday. There is (almost no comparable example) anywhere in today's world of a group that so systematically violates international agreements related to armed conflict, Irwin Cotler — a former Canadian justice minister, MP and law professor at Montreal's McGill University — told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Hamas is committing at least six violations of international law, Cotler explained. (for the remainder, see Law professor: Hamas is a war crimes ‘case study’)

War in Gaza a windfall for Hamas by Ethel C. Fenig

Writing in Forbes , Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, director of the American Center for Democracy and author of Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It, explains that despite those pictures of pitiful, poverty stricken Arabs in Gaza, Hamas has plenty of money for its people.

Although piously proclaiming to stop funding Hamas, international aid organizations continue to send so called humanitarian aid to Gaza which is funded through...Hamas. (for the remainder, see ‘War in Gaza a windfall for Hamas’ by Ethel C. Fenig)