Following five instances in which The Press failed to allow adequate rebuttal in its letters column to false and defamatory charges against Israel and KBRM, an appeal was lodged with the NZ Press Council, as follows:
We believe that if a newspaper prints false and defamatory charges, they have an obligation to see that the charge is rebutted. This is the essence of our complaint. Even in the letters column, where editors are granted great leeway, Principle #12 calls for fairness, and fairness surely requires that false and defamatory statements be corrected. If a letter or cartoon (which are also given leeway) contains false and defamatory charges against a person, a nation, or an ethnic group, we believe the newspaper has an obligation to see that the charge is refuted. When the false attacks are against Israel, the only Jewish nation in the world, and groups like KBRM who try to fight lies about Israel, they are of special concern because they feed the fires of a growing anti-Semitism (see Bigotry Box) (read more)
When KBRM was created, its mission was to combat anti-Israel bias in the NZ media and to present ‘the missing truth’, as do other groups like CAMERA (www.camera.org) and Honest Reporting (www.honestreporting.com) . As KBRM has grown, there have been suggestions that it broaden its focus to include biased reports about other countries, like Iraq. After a spirited discussion among the Action Group (our ‘Board of Directors’, so to speak), it was decided to stick with the original mission, for reasons expressed in the following letter that was part of the discussion:
I do not think that the reporting about Iraq, Pakistan or Afghanistan is biased or unbalanced in the way the media reporting about the Arab-Israeli conflict is biased. The Allied ‘invasion’ of Iraq is controversial because it was literally a foreign, multinational military force invading a sovereign nation in order to bring down that nation's government, however good, bad or ugly that government was. The basis for the initial ‘invasion’ (Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction) may have been overstated or entirely fabricated.
I think that the bias against Israel is different and unique in that it comes not from the media, but from the UN, from Arab and Islamic states, Islamist organisations and ‘left-wing’ political organisations (such as Trade Unions); it is consistently applied across all media (TV, radio, print and internet ); it is intense and is totally focussed on undermining Israel's right or ability to exist, and it is becoming universal — there is little debate allowed about Israel's right to exist.
It is also unique in that it focuses its scrutiny and criticism on one tiny nation, while turning a blind eye to the misdeeds and injustices committed against Israel and perpetrated by other nations around the world. (read more)
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal by a former Jerusalem correspondent tells of a startling discovery during his latest visit to the West Bank and Gaza. With the help of the Israeli Government, he wrote, great progress has been made in rehabilitating and invigorating the economy and raising living and health standards in areas that are usually portrayed as depressed and down-trodden. The Israeli expertise and assistance are given and accepted in a spirit of co-operation, tolerance and goodwill, with Israel's Prime Minister saying real peace can only come when the life of the ordinary person in the street is improved and Palestinians are able to live in dignity and peace.
The author also posted photos from an Arabic website that provide pictorial evidence of this prosperity.
(Right: Pictures of a new shopping mall in the West Bank town of Jenin)
This website was examined by a KBRM member fluent in Arabic, and the text is consistent with these pictures of prosperity — without, however, any anti-Israel statements that are usually made when addressing the outside world. This member has seen first-hand how Palestinian patients are cared for and cured in Israeli hospitals — a recent example being the five Gazans suffering from Swine Flu who were transferred to Israeli hospitals for treatment.
The article was sent to six major NZ newspapers in the hope that the editors would want their readers to see the ‘other side of the story’. It was not printed in any. (read more)
The Sunday Star-Times featured an article ‘Mosque attack escalates conflict over settlements’. This article typified the anti-Israel focus of many reports in NZ newspapers. The burning of a mosque in the West Bank by a Jewish extremist was reprehensible, but by focusing only on Israeli actions as ‘sources of tension’ and even including an unrelated Reuters photo of an old Palestinian woman with armed Israeli soldiers nearby, the SST failed to describe more fundamental sources of tension. The following letters were submitted to the SST by KBRM members:
Submitted to the Sunday Star Times on December14, 2009
The article about the burning of books at a mosque (December 13, p. A17) exemplifies the way NZ media present only one side of the Middle East conflict. In this case, non-violent attacks by ‘Jewish extremists’ and the demolition of homes built illegally were reported as ‘sources of tension’. Of course right-thinking people, including most Israelis, felt revulsion over the mosque attack, but...
Where are the articles about how Jewish extremists who commit acts of violence are brought to justice, while Palestinian terrorists who kill Jews are hailed as heroes or martyrs?
Where is the story about the young Jewish woman stabbed by a terrorist while standing at a bus stop last Saturday?
Where are the stories about the almost-daily attacks on Israelis from Gaza and the West Bank?
Where is an article about the inconsistency between the Palestinian desire to keep the West Bank and Gaza Jew-free while 1.4 million Palestinians live in Israel with equal rights?
Where is the story about the real source of tension: the refusal by Palestinian groups to recognise the right of Israel to exist?
With this kind of one-sided reporting, it is no wonder that many New Zealanders have anti-Israel feelings. (read more)
Radio New Zealand's Sunday programme (22 Nov) featured interviews with both sides about the Middle East peace process. During the programme, Chris Laidlaw, the interviewer, made evident his own very clear sympathy for the Palestinians and his animosity toward Israel. Laidlaw's interviews were in stark contrast to Kathryn Ryan's interview with Rabbi David Rosen on the following Thursday, during which she asked neutral questions and allowed her subject to hold the floor. A KBRM member wrote to Mr Laidlaw as follows:
...You seem to have bought wholly into the line that it is the Jewish settlements that are the main impediment to peace. Not decades of Palestinian intransigence, violence and terrorism, all underscored by withering and hateful rhetoric against Jews. Nor the series of disastrous wars initiated against Israel from the day of its inception, wars that have conditioned Israel to aggressive self-defence. No, listening to Laidlaw and Barghouti, it all comes down to a series of Jewish settlements dotted around Jerusalem..." (read more)
After not ‘reopening the debate’ on five earlier occasions when KBRM members wanted to rebut false charges against Israel (see posts of April 24, May 21, Aug 7, Sep 29 and Oct 17), The Press (Chch) reopened it on Nov 14 for an attack on KBRM, accusing us of ‘Orwellian propaganda’, and accusing Israel of ‘destroying a neighbouring country’. At least six letters were submitted in rebuttal, but only one was published, after being ‘toned down’ with editing:
In response to ________ (Nov. 14), the following facts are beyond question:
Israel has no intention of destroying a neighbouring country, and never has. In 2005 it removed its soldiers and citizens from Gaza, hoping to ‘live and let live’.
Hamas has repeatedly declared its intention of destroying Israel and carried out 7000 rocket attacks after Israel withdrew.
Israel attacked Gaza in December after trying to persuade Hamas to stop its attacks. It withdrew after destroying some (but not all) of Hamas' military capability.
The life of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank did not deteriorate in 1967 when Israel took over administration from Jordan and Egypt (which had seized them in 1948). It actually improved.
To deny these facts and attack an advertisement that consisted of quotes by recognised authorities as ‘Orwellian propaganda’ is only to show one's ignorance.
Incredibly, The Press then 'reopened the debate' a second time for the same writer to repeat the same accusation. ...(read more)
On Nov. 1, TVNZ showed a programme that painted a false picture of the Israeli-Arab conflict (see Nov. 1 post). KBRM filed the following formal complaint:
We wish to lodge a formal complaint with TVNZ about the documentary ‘Across the Divide’ which screened on the Sunday programme, 1 November 2009. We maintain that this documentary breached the following standards of the Broadcasting Standards Authority:
Standard 4. Controversial Issues — Viewpoints
This 16-minute programme provided a one-sided and highly emotive view of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and criticism of Israel. Arab Palestinian complaints were accepted and treated with sympathy, while answers to them were challenged or met with scepticism, the ratio between the two being about 11-1. Following are some examples of the one-sided nature of the programme: ...(read more)
It is not unusual for anti-Israel letter writers to criticise KBRM's advertisements (‘the missing truth’) as ‘Zionist propaganda’, accompanied by anti-Semitic tirades (see Bigotry Box on Feedback page). It amazes us that some people see any favourable news about Israel as ‘Zionist propaganda’. The fact is that KBRM has many non-Jewish members and has no connection with Israel. Thus it was gratifying to receive the following letter:
I have just learned that KBRM is not a Jewish organisation, which should, in the eyes of the bigot, take their focus off Jewish or Palestinian prejudices and concentrate on balanced reporting. Our family supports Israel wholeheartedly, having read widely about her background, and its true entitlement to the land. The facts about this entitlement have been fuzzied and twisted over the last 30-40 years, and, along with the media's very unbalanced reporting, have blinded many right around the world. ...(read more)
A KBRM member now living in Israel describes how Christians from all over the world converged on Jerusalem during the Festival of Tabernacles to join with Jews in celebrating this ancient Biblical Festival. The article was distributed to all the main NZ metropolitan newspapers, but was only printed by the Otago Daily Times.
The streets of Jerusalem were recently thronged with thousands of Christians from every corner of the globe celebrating and marching in solidarity with Jews during the annual Feast of Tabernacles. As a Jewish Kiwi now living in Jerusalem, it is always a pleasure to welcome visitors and doubly so when those visiting are genuine friends who return annually. During the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles which occurs around October, thousands of Christian pilgrims converge on Jerusalem from all points of the globe to demonstrate their solidarity with Israel and the Jewish People. Why this particular occasion and what is it that draws increasing numbers of Christians to the Holy Land at this time of the year? (read more)
TVNZ's Sunday programme featured a 16-minute segment, ‘Across the Divide’, that purported to present a balanced version of the conflict between Israel and Arab Palestinians. The programme began with 7½ continuous minutes showing sympathetic pictures of Palestinian families evicted and houses demolished in East Jerusalem amid constant criticism of Israel. A six-month-old rent dispute was portrayed as Israeli oppression. (Note: Demolitions also occur in New Zealand, as witness a headline in the Wanaka Sun, November 12: ‘Family faces demolition’.) The only presentation of Israel's side came during a later interview with a Kiwi who lives in the nearby town of Efrat. Most of this interview was about the situation in Efrat, but one minute was given to his responses to hostile questions about the evictions (of which he had no direct knowledge). Even this was preceded by and overlaid with sympathetic images of the evicted Palestinian children. The Kiwi, who is a member of KBRM, lodged a formal complaint with TVNZ:
As the New Zealand Israeli interviewed for the above documentary, I protest most strongly about, not only the actual screened programme, but the events which led up to me being interviewed in the first place. (read more)
Two articles appeared in the New Zealand Herald today. ‘Israelis deny Palestinians water’ focussed on controversial accusations levelled against Israel about water shortages in the Palestinian Authority, ignoring the four year drought that the region has suffered and the Palestinian Authority's refusal to abide by the commitments it made in the Oslo Accord about water and sewage treatment. ‘Rabbis’ ban elevated to include even kosher lifts" was about rabbis debating the use of elevators on the Sabbath. One can only wonder why, in a world of political conflicts, natural disasters, medical breakthroughs and scientific discoveries, the NZ Herald considered this story newsworthy. The stories prompted a flood of letters from KBRM members:
Your article ‘Israelis deny Palestinians water’ is a model of unbalanced journalism. Israel's water authority has issued a point-by-point refutation of the claims made by Amnesty (which clearly didn't bother to seek Israeli views before publishing its report) and identifies numerous abuses of water and sewerage rights on the Palestinian side. This was dismissed in a few lines of a lengthy article.
The fact that your source — the UK Independent — chose to publish only one side of the story doesn't free the Herald from responsibility for carrying out normal journalistic checks. Even a cursory search of published sources would have revealed the whole truth. (read more)
After a lapse of over four months, KBRM renewed its advertising campaign. The new ad (#9) is directed at the negative coverage of Israel following the release of the UN ‘Goldstone’ report. It consists mostly of excerpts from the testimony of Colonel Richard Kemp, an expert on terrorism, and a Guardian article by Sir Harold Evans, former editor of the Sunday Times. Col. Kemp said, in part:
...based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare. Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capa bility behind the human shield of the civilian population. Hamas, like Hizballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews con demning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incident...
October 24, 2009
Although a recent blog post by Minto on the schoolboy Nazi imbroglio (www.stuff.co.nz; see earlier post on this website) was largely free of his usual vilification of Israel, he nonetheless supported his argument with a hoary old chestnut that couldn't go unchallenged, saying ‘Some Jewish groups go so far as claiming any criticism of Israel is fuelled by anti-Semitism. This is a form of emotional blackmail which means Israel gets away with much less criticism than it should.’ The KBRM Chairman wrote to Mr Minto as follows:
As chairman of a group (although not a ‘Jewish group’) that tries to fight lies about Israel, I would appreciate it if you could give me just one example of ‘Jewish groups [that] go so far as claiming any criticism of Israel is fuelled by anti-Semitism’ (22 Oct). Personally, I don't know anyone or any group, Jewish or otherwise, that claims such a thing or that objects to valid criticism of Israel.
However there is no doubt that some criticism is tainted by conscious or unconscious anti-Semitism. If you will look at the 15 letters in the KBRM Bigotry Box (see Feedback Page... or just click here), you will see the tip of an anti-Semitic iceberg.
If you can't come up with an example, perhaps you would consider a retraction.
Mr Minto did not respond.
On Oct. 17, The Press printed a letter that defended the Lincoln University ‘Nazi’ party on the grounds that when confronted with horror and inhumanity, humour can be a valuable tool. The writer then added, ‘in the interests of maintaining a level playing field, for next year might I suggest a burlesque-themed Gaza strip’. The Letters Editor left this sentence in, just three days after he had deleted a mild reference to Israel as ‘the much maligned, multicultural, democratic, single Jewish State’ (see October 10 post). For the editor, it is not OK to say that Israel is much maligned, multicultural, and democratic (an obvious fact), but it is OK to suggest that Israel's actions in the Gaza strip are comparable to the Nazis' (demonstrably false). [The letter writer later contacted KBRM to explain that this sentence was meant humorously and not to suggest that Israel's actions in Gaza were really comparable to those of the Nazis. KBRM accepts this, but believes that many readers might take it otherwise.] The KBRM chairman complained to the editor-in-chief as follows, citing a long list of untruthful charges in the letters column (see posts of April 24, April 25, May 21, Aug. 7, Sep 23, Sep. 29 and Oct 10):
This letter is about accuracy in your newspaper. Every week you publish corrections, sometimes even minor ones. Should not the same concern apply to the letters column? Yes, it's harder to achieve, as the letters are not written by your staff, nor can Mr Vance, your letters editor, be expected to check all statements. Nevertheless, when false statements appear, especially if they are attacks on an individual or a group, should not there be a mechanism for correcting them? If, for example, someone wrote that ‘John Smith killed his two children’, and this was a false statement, would you not see that a correction was printed? (read more)
Answer: When Palestinians paint stripes on it to make children think it's a zebra. This news item, with an accompanying photo of two donkeys with painted stripes, appeared in many newspapers and TV news programs. Ironically, the Reuters text used inappropriate words and missing facts to convey another false impression: that the Palestinian in Gaza are innocent victims of Israeli aggression. Several KBRM members wrote as follows:
The word ‘resistance’ implies resistance against an aggressor. Yet Reuters (10.10.09, p. 15) described Hamas, whose goal is to destroy Israel and who has fired thousands of rockets at Israeli towns, as refusing to give up ‘armed resistance against the Jewish state’, implying that Israel is the aggressor and Hamas the defender. This is an inversion of reality. Reuters also mentioned Israel's embargo of Gaza without stating that it was instituted after Hamas took over Gaza and began raining rockets on Israel, again inverting aggressor and defender. The result was as false a picture of Israel as the donkeys that were painted with stripes to look like zebras. (Sent to Otago Daily Times)
Another letter was sent to The Press and once again the Letters Editor showed his bias. (read more)
A headline in the Otago Daily News ‘In brief’ section read ‘Israel attacks Gaza’. What really happened, as the report states, is that Gaza fired two missiles at Israel on Saturday, after which Israel bombed a weapons workshop and two weapons-smuggling tunnels. Yet one never sees a headline saying ‘Gaza attacks Israel’. This led to the following KBRM letter to the editor:
On Oct 2, Gaza launched two more attacks on Israel, a mortar and a rocket, aimed at civilian areas. In response, Israel precision-bombed a weapons workshop and two weapons-smuggling tunnels in Gaza. No one was hurt in either action. On the same day Israel complained to the UN about the escalation in rocket attacks from Gaza (as if the UN cared!). Yet the headline in the ODT (5.10.09) read ‘Israel attacks Gaza’. Many readers who only read headlines are left with the impression that Israel is ‘once again’ beating up Gazans without reason — the opposite of what really happened. No wonder there is so much anti-Israel feeling in New Zealand
The letter was printed on October 8, followed by a response from the editor that, quite amazingly, missed the point:...(read more)
Radio New Zealand National carried a BBC report on its Midday Report World Watch programme that gave a very one-sided view of recent events at Jerusalem's Temple Mount. Two KBRM members expressed their concerns at the BBC's biased reporting in the following letters.
Although I usually appreciate the breadth and depth of news reporting in the Midday Report programme, I was disappointed to hear today's World Watch report on the closure of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Although I recognise that Radio New Zealand did not produce the BBC report that was used, the BBC's reporting was misleading by the facts it left out. ...(read more)
The Press continued its policy of favouring anti-Israel letters (see May 21, Aug 7 and Sep 23 posts) by printing an unprovoked attack on Israel. The letter claimed that Israel's claim to their land comes ‘only from the Bible’ — one of the most outrageous falsehoods KBRM has seen. At least four KBRM members wrote rebuttals, as follows. Not one was printed.
____'s criticism of Israel is misplaced. His assertion that the Jewish people's claim to Israel is based solely on the Bible demonstrates an ignorance of the continuous Jewish presence in the Holy Land, spanning three millennia, despite the efforts of successive historical empires to dispossess them of their sovereign territory. Even following the Roman expulsion, thriving Jewish communities continued to exist in their ancient homeland, renamed ‘Palestine’. ...(read more)
September 24, 2009
Have you ever noticed how the anti-Israel (read anti-Semitic) crowd often seizes on atypical acts or quotes, and sometimes outright fabrications, to condemn Israel] An example of this occurred in a letter received by KBRM that contained 28 quotes under the heading ‘Examples of Hate Speech’. One of the quotes, attributed to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, began ‘Our race is the Master Race...’ The KBRM spokesperson replied as follows:
Thank you for your reply. To the extent that these quotes are true, I agree that these quotes are examples of hate speech. I say ‘to the extent they are true’ because I checked a few and quickly found that many of these quotes are complete fabrications. [This was followed by quotes from camera.org dissecting the last of the quotes, plus several other websites:
example # 1 and example # 2.]
These are just a few examples of how the media and individuals with specific interests can distort the truth and the true reality of the situation.
But the more important point is that while some Jews and Israelis have undoubtedly said deplorable things, this is not and never has been Israeli policy. The war in 1948 was started by Arabs who tried to destroy the new-born state of Israel. Israel was forced to fight for its survival. Today, Israel does not attack its neighbours except as an act of self-defence against continuing attacks by Arabs. Today it is Israel that has embraced an Arab population of 1.4 million and given them full citizenship rights, in stark contrast with the unwillingness of the Palestinians to tolerate even one Jew in their midst. These are facts, not words.
After a vicious anti-Israel cartoon (see May 21 post), the letters editor at The Press (ChCh) refused to print any letters in rebuttal. However when a cartoon appeared attacking Iran (see Aug 7 post), he quickly published a letter condemning the cartoon, along with one defending it, for balance. Then on Sep 23 a single letter appeared that compared Israel's ‘injustice to the Palestinians’ with the Nazis' treatment of Jews. Five days later a rebuttal by a KBRM member was published in the ‘In a few words’ section:
_______ seizes upon the Lincoln students' insensitivity to imply that the Israelis are the new Nazis (Sept 23). Not only does this ploy of Holocaust reversal ignore the evidence of history, it founders on the reality that the only group in the Middle East calling for genocide is Hamas....(read more)
September 17, 2009
When a news item contains something favourable to Israel, have you noticed how it is usually accompanied by ‘Israel said’? For example, a sidebar in the Southland Times, that accompanied a lead article about the UN report on Gaza contained the sentence, ‘Israel said it [the Gaza war] was launched to stop Hamas rocket attacks’, as if there were some doubt. A KBRM member wrote as follows (published on 22 September):
In the Southland Times (17 Sep) we read that Israel said the Gaza attack was launched to stop Hamas rocket attacks. Why the qualifier ‘Israel said’? What other reason could there have been? Does anyone think Israel sent its soldiers to risk their lives to kill Palestinians for the joy of it? If New Zealand had been subjected to rocket attacks over a period of years, would it have done less?
As to differing reports of civilian casualties, in a war where the enemy doesn't wear uniforms and where mosques are used to launch rockets, it can be hard for both soldiers and after-the-fact analysers to determine who was a civilian and who wasn't. I have examined both Israel's and Palestinian reports of casualties and found compelling evidence to substantiate Israel's.
KBRM has received much mail that displays overt anti-Semitism (see Bigotry Box on Feedback Page) Is anti-Semitism a factor in the willingness of Kiwis to believe false or unfair accusations against Israel, or to discount information favourable to Israel? The background was examined in a short article by a KBRM member that was sent to most New Zealand newspapers, but not (to our knowledge) published. The article reads:
KBRM promotes balanced reporting of events in the Middle East, We receive a number of letters about Israel, most supportive, others critical. The latter fall into two groups: (read more)
The World Focus section of the Otago Daily Times featured a two page attack on Israel, calling it an ‘apartheid state’, with three colour photos. At least six letters of protest were written by KBRM members, but only one was published, after being abridged from 150 words (the suggested guideline) to 85 words:
I was dismayed to read your heavily biased ‘World Focus’ feature page about Israel (31/08/09). Rather than publishing two articles that balanced one another, allowing readers to gain an understanding of both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict, your paper presented only one side of the debate. The Otago Daily Times cannot pretend to be an objective or reliable source of news and information about the Middle East while it provides a soapbox for anti-Zionist apologists, rather than a forum for even handed debate and analysis. (read more)
Anti-Israel bias is seen all over. It is not unusual to see weblogs that are dedicated to bashing Israel, and biased articles often appear often on ostensibly neutral sites. An example is the article ‘What is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict about?’ that appeared on thecasualtruth.com, a blog that was promoted by mail to a number of prominent Kiwis. This unattributed article contained many errors, as pointed out by comments added by KBRM members, starting with:
Surely this poorly researched, unbalanced and simplistic article cannot be taken seriously.
That the Guardian and The Independent are clearly sources indicates the paucity of research carried out and the lack of knowledge of the author.
In summary — substandard. If this is going to be the standard of commentary on this site it will be best avoided...’ (read more)
August 20, 2009
A young Kiwi (who later joined KBRM) was shocked to see a propagandistic anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian display in the Christchurch Central Library. It consisted of two poster boards (see photo of one) with statements like ‘Support the Palestinian cause... Write to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs Minister demanding (a) Sanctions against Israel, (b) Suspension of Israel's diplomatic mission to NZ... Join with others from around the world in boycotting Israeli goods...’ When the library was approached by KBRM they agreed to display a poster with balancing material (mainly a time line of Middle East history), a leaflet that describes KBRM, and excerpts from a KBRM article about Palestinian children treated in Israeli hospitals (see Ad #8) that concluded:
All in all, Save a Child's Heart has brought more than 1,700 children from 28 countries to Israel for lifesaving heart surgery. More than half of the patients have been Palestinians, Jordanians and Iraqis. The families of these children understand full well the true situation in Israel. As the mother of an Iraqi child treated in 2007 said, ‘Israel is a good country. It's a country that has mercy on other people.’ Yet this mother would not give her last name for fear of retribution from Islamic militants who reject Israel's existence.
August 11, 2009
Following is a complete news item from the Southland Times ‘In Short’ section:
Strike on tunnels
Israeli warplanes bombed a tunnel along the Gaza Strip border with Egypt yesterday, the Israeli military reported. There were no immediate reports of casualties from the pre-dawn raid in the Palestinian coastal territory, ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement. The raid was launched in response to recent mortar and rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel, an Israeli military spokeswoman said.
Note that the lead item in the headline and first sentence is an Israeli attack on Palestinians. The rocket and mortar attacks on Israel — the reason for the raid — are only mentioned at the end. These Palestinian attacks were previously unreported in the newspaper. Note that the tunnel is not identified as one that is used for smuggling rockets. Even though this is a small item, with no glaringly obvious bias, it is understandable that casual readers get the wrong impression.
August 7, 2009
When The Press published a cartoon implying (incorrectly) that Israel's Prime Minister wanted to evict Arabs from the West Bank, the Letters Editor, Michael Vance, refused to publish letters pointing out this inversion of the truth (see May 21). Yet when another cartoon by Moreu appeared that (correctly) criticised Iran's leadership for warmongering (see Aug. 5 post), two letters were published: one praising and another attacking the cartoon. While Mr. Vance is to be commended for balance, he seems less concerned with the truth. This led the KBRM Chairman to write as follows:
_________ (Aug. 7) claims that Moreu's cartoon of Aug. 6 was ‘baseless caricaturing’. While caricaturing is usually a cartoonists stock-in-trade, Moreu's cartoon was spot on in its depiction of Pres. Ahmadinejad of Iran holding a sign saying ‘Death to Israel!’. At a 2005 conference titled ‘The World Without Zionism’, Ahmadinejad said ‘....I need to thank you for choosing this valuable title for the conference... They say it is not possible to have a world without the United States and Zionism. But you know that this is a possible goal and slogan... Our dear Imam said that the occupying regime [referring to Israel] must be wiped off the map [removed from the pages of history may be a better translation] and this was a very wise statement. We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine... The issue of Palestine is not over at all. It will be over the day a Palestinian government, which belongs to the Palestinian people, comes to power.’
If this is not saying ‘Death to Israel!’, I don't know how much clearer he could be. New Zealanders should not close their eyes to this evil.
Mr. Vance replied that the two letters — one praising and the other criticising the cartoon — were enough.
August 5, 2009
Mike Moreu's cartoon in The Press today made the point that given Iran's ability to build a nuclear bomb, the fate of peace in the Middle East depends upon supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's ‘cool head, common sense, and sound judgment’. The cartoon then showed the Ayatollah ‘heartily endorsing Ahmadinejad’, who is holding a sign saying ‘Death to Israel’. The caption for this panel was ‘Prepare for Armageddon’ (see www.stuff.co.nz/opinion/cartoons).
This is the same cartoonist who earlier had implied that Israel wants to ‘evict all Palestinians’ from the West Bank, which of course is not true (see June 21 post). Moreu is to be congratulated for showing the other side of the story. As two KBRM members wrote to The Press:
Kudos for Mike Moreu's cartoon (Aug. 5) that correctly depicts the leaders of a Muslim nation (Iran) as hotheads bent on oppression and destruction. What a refreshing change from the usual ‘party line’ that (incorrectly) makes that charge against Israel. The fact is that Israel wants to live in peace with its neighbours, if they would only let it. It is the determination by Muslim nations and groups to wipe out Israel that has been the obstacle to peace in the Middle East for sixty years — and still is. As Moreu points out, a nuclear-armed Iran would mean ‘Death to Israel’.
Two KBRM members wrote an article about religious freedom and tolerance, which are threatened or nonexistent in the Muslim Middle East while Israel, the area's only true democracy, finds itself under increasing attack for religious oppression. It is an unfortunate sign of today's double standards concerning the Jewish State that all of the publications approached, except for the NZ Jewish Chronicle, refused to print the article:
...In the democratic, secular West, freedom of worship and religion are taken for granted as basic human rights. Yet it is a sobering fact that institutionalised religious discrimination and persecution against Christians and people of other non-Islamic faiths is commonplace throughout the Muslim world, while the secular West turns a blind eye. Among Middle Eastern nations, only Israel allows freedom of religion and worship to its citizens, whether they are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or adherents of any other faith. Ironically, only Israel is openly accused of causing the decline of a Christian community in the Middle East... the followers of [Baha'i], which was founded in 19th century Persia by M�rzá Husayn‘Alí Nuri (Bahá‘u'lláh), have established their world headquarters in Israel, the only country in the Middle East in which they can practice their faith openly, without fear of persecution...’ (read more)
July 18, 2009
These statements are taken from a recent letter sent to KBRM. While most mail we receive is supportive, some letters contain strong attacks — many with an overt anti-Semitic bias (see Bigotry Box on our Feedback page). This naturally raises the question of how much hidden anti-Semitism lies behind the other attacking letters. Are the bigoted letters an isolated phenomenon, or the tip of an anti-Semitic iceberg?
One could readily understand and forgive those who form a negative opinion about Israel based on misinformation in the press, but one would expect such people to be open to the ‘missing truth’. They might say, for example, ‘I'm so glad to see that Israel is not guilty of the things it has been charged with’, or at least, ‘Well, I see there's another side to the story that might change the picture.’ But when facts that show Israel in a positive way are ignored or dismissed out-of-hand as ‘Israeli propaganda’, as so often happens in the attacking letters, one can only wonder about the fairness and open-mindedness of the writer.
A KBRM member writes to Radio NZ's Saturday morning show after its airing of yet another anti-Israel diatribe, this time from former US diplomat Edward Peck on the 13 June show:
‘Peck is just one of a long list of people who think that Hamas' win at the ballot box obligates Israel to join it at the table, whatever its actions. But Hamas' democratic credentials are neither here nor there. What Israelis really take issue with is the fact it has fired upwards of 7,000 rockets at civilian targets in Israel since winning office...’ (read more)
June 12, 2009
Following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with United Stated President Barak Obama, Fairfax newspapers ran cartoons by Mike Moreu and Tom Scott on Thursday 21 May, 2009. Both cartoons portrayed Israel in a negative light, but Moreu's cartoon presented a distorted misrepresentation of Israeli policy on settlements, and Scott's cartoon, depicting Israel as an aggressive dog wearing a kippar or yarmulke, was considered culturally offensive by some of KBRM's members. Although it is acceptable for individual opinion pieces published in newspapers to be unbalanced, it is important that newspapers take seriously their responsibility to endure that a balanced range of opinions are presented. In the case of these cartoons, some papers were less willing to provide that balance than others.
May 25, 2009
In another inversion of the truth, an Aucklander complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that our 61st Anniversary advertisement was ‘racially biased and designed to promote racial prejudice and racial violence’. ‘It is disgusting to see this type of advertisement’, he added. Yet this advert, which featured quotes from Israeli leaders showing Israel's desire for peace with its neighbours and quotes from Arab leaders showing their determination to eliminate Israel, was a valid depiction of the Middle East conflict. (Arabs to this day refer to the creation of Israel as al-naqba, or the catastrophe.) The ASA ruling concluded with:
The Chairman noted that the identity of the Advertiser was apparent as required in such advertisements. In her view the advertisement met the requirements of the Code for People in Advertising and would not be likely to cause serious or widespread offence in the light of generally prevailing community standards. Accordingly, the Chairman said there was no apparent breach of the Advertising Codes. The Chairman ruled that there were no grounds to proceed. View advert
Following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with United Stated President Barak Obama, Fairfax newspapers ran cartoons by Mike Moreu and Tom Scott on Thursday 21 May, 2009. Both cartoons portrayed Israel in a negative light, but Moreu's cartoon presented a distorted misrepresentation of Israeli policy on settlements, and Scott's cartoon, depicting Israel as an aggressive dog wearing a kippar or yarmulke, was considered culturally offensive by some of KBRM's members. Although it is acceptable for individual opinion pieces published in newspapers to be unbalanced, it is important that newspapers take seriously their responsibility to endure that a balanced range of opinions are presented. In the case of these cartoons, some papers were less willing to provide that balance than others. (read more)
A KBRM member has written about her experiences as a nurse in both Arab and Jewish hospitals in Israel and the West Bank while working with Shevet Achim (‘Brothers Together’) and Save A Child's Heart (SACH). Her on-the-scene account tells a remarkable story about a side of Israel that is seldom, if ever, presented in the NZ press. During her most recent stay, one of the patients treated was a close relative of a senior Hamas leader, even while Hamas was raining rockets on Israel. The article concludes:
...All in all, Save a Child's Heart has brought more than 1,700 children from 28 countries to Israel for life-saving heart surgery. More than half of the patients have been Palestinians, Jordanians and Iraqis. The families of these children understand full well the true situation in Israel. As the mother of an Iraqi child treated in 2007 said, ‘Israel is a good country. It's a country that has mercy on other people.’ Yet this mother would not give her last name for fear of retribution from Islamic militants who reject Israel's existence. (read more)
May 7, 2009
Since KBRM began its advertising campaign in January, the volume of mail has been immense. Over 100 letters have been received. Most are extremely complimentary and sometimes contain contributions. It is most gratifying to know that there are so many Kiwis who have not been taken in by the one-sided reporting and who appreciate what we're doing. Some of it, however, is highly critical, including some blatantly obscene and bigoted letters that have to be seen to be believed. Selected letters can be seen on our new Feedback page, including a ‘Bigotry Box’ for the latter type. All mail can be seen on the Archived Letters page. In addition, an FAQ page is being prepared that will provide online answers for most of the complaints.
The seventh KBRM ad appeared in the NZ Herald as a 1/2-page ad (1/4-page in other papers). The ad features a series of quotations through the years that show how Israel's hand of friendship to the Arabs was rejected over and over. The ad concludes:
...What followed was 61 years of terror, tribulation and tears for all concerned. Perhaps one day the hand of friendship offered by Israel will be grasped and a new era of peace, mutual respect and co-operation will be established for the benefit of all citizens in the region. (See whole ad at Advertisements)
A letter was printed that attacked the KBRM chairman and our advertisements. The chairman responded:
What a shocking tirade against me by ____, full of inaccuracies and distortions. To set the record straight... (read more)
A letter appeared in The Press under the heading ‘Not anti-Semitism’ that was filled with lies about Israel. Yet the writer wrote ‘Condemning Israel war crimes� is completely different from anti-Semitism, which I wholeheartedly condemn.’ A KBRM spokesperson responded:
... Blaming the only Jewish nation for ‘war crimes’ and violations of human rights, while ignoring evidence to the contrary and also ignoring deliberate war crimes and human rights violations by its enemies, is about as anti-Semitic as you can get. But isn't it nice that the writer ‘wholeheartedly condemns anti-Semitism’? (read moret)
April 17, 2009
Whatever bias may be present in the ODT World Focus section ‘see April 6 post’, the letters column has generally been even-handed. In fact, on March 18 the KBRM chairman was granted the ‘right of response’ to a letter criticising KBRM advertisements (see KBRM Letters, March 18). However on March 25 another letter by the same writer was published under an extra-large headline, with shading for emphasis and an accompanying photo of a destroyed Palestinian home. The KBRM response was printed on March 31 with no added emphasis or photo, despite requests for such. (We had suggested a photo of a bombed Israeli school.) Then on April 9 the ODT published a letter (by another writer) that personally attacked the KBRM chairman, using words like ‘ludicrous’ and ‘delusional’. A response was submitted but it was rejected (although a third party letter was printed on April 17). Publishing a letter with such a vicious personal attack and not allowing that person to defend himself is surely beyond the pale of acceptable journalism. Here is the letter that the ODT refused to publish:
Despite _______‘so insulting words (9.4.09), he did not attack or even question one statement in my letter (31.3.09). Strange.
As for his statements —yes, it is true that Hamas was democratically elected, but then so was Hitler. That doesn't mean they didn't evolve into a dictatorial regime, as did Hitler's. (Read the March 25 post for details.) Hamas' avowed goal is to destroy the state of Israel, not to regain land taken over the past 50 years. This fact is at the root of the conflict and should be understood by everyone.
April 13, 2009
Because of the recent onslaught of ‘war crimes’ charges against Israel, KBRM accordingly stepped up the size of its advertisements. Ad #6 continued the theme of ‘The missing truth’, showing that the charges were either completely false or greatly exaggerated. The ad concluded with:
...No country is perfect, nor is every soldier a saint. Nevertheless, Israel's war record is better than that of most countries, while Hamas flagrantly commits war crimes every day. The question is, why does the media give so much space to false accusations against Israel and so little to correcting them, or to the war crimes of its enemy? Why is it necessary for KBRM to pay for advertising in order for you to know ‘the missing truth’? (see ‘Advertisements’ for complete text)
April 11, 2009
Amidst concerns about the one-sided nature of the upcoming Durban 2 conference, KBRM wrote the following letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs:
Dear Mr McCully:
KBRM is an organisation devoted to fair and balanced reporting about the Mideast. As such, we support New Zealand's even-handed position.
We are writing to express our concern about the upcoming Durban 2 conference which, given its history and early draft documents, could turn out to be a one-sided effort to castigate Israel. Indeed, several countries have already decided to boycott the conference for that reason, and we understand that New Zealand is considering doing the same.
If New Zealand should decide to attend, we urge you or New Zealand's representatives to be alert to efforts to turn the conference into a one-sided attack on Israel. If that should happen, we hope that New Zealand would refuse to be associated with such an agenda and would walk out. Merely abstaining would not be an acceptable alternative.
KBRM has received much mail during its advertising campaign (see Feedback). While most of it is complimentary, there is also critical mail. Some of this is blatantly anti-Semitic, but there are also reasonable letters, without apparent bigotry, and these are answered by a KBRM spokesperson. An excellent example of such a letter was received today. It is only by looking closely that one sees the errors in fact and logic that are caused by bias. (read more)
April 6, 2009
The Otago Daily Times lately has had a poor track record of balance. Five recent articles in ‘World Focus’ were all critical of Israel (‘The lying silence of those who know’, Jan. 19, ‘Tension between Israel, aid groups’, Jan. 19, ‘Israel has upper hand on Net’, Jan. 26, ‘Fearful of anti-Semitism after Gaza’, Feb. 2, ‘Hamas claims moral high ground’, Feb. 2), as were three recent news articles (‘Israel violates laws of war, reports say’, Mar. 21, ‘Gaza assault war crime: UN envoy’, Mar. 21, ‘Boy used as human shield: UN’, Mar. 25). When other papers carried reports of an attack by an axe-wielding Palestinian terrorist (‘Man with axe kills boy, 13’, The Press, ‘Palestinian axeman kills settler teenager’, Southland Times, etc.), the ODT chose to print, instead, a Reuters dispatch that criticised the ‘new rightist Government in Israel’ (‘Two-state solution tricky: US’, Apr. 4). On April 6, a World Focus article about the new prime minister, while apparently balanced, nevertheless focused on criticism (Back to establish ‘lasting’ ‘peace’’). ODT, there are two sides to every story.
The theme of Radio Rhema's Sunday Night Live talkback programme on April 5 was "Israel, Palestine and the Peace Process". The talkback was well balanced, largely due to the efforts of Tim Sisarich to look at the Middle East conflict from both Israeli and Palestinian perspectives. KBRM member Kirsty Walker listened to the programme and emailed Radio Rhema during the talkback, and her email was read on air:
‘If you want to talk about the Arabs who left Israel when the Arab nations invaded it in 1948, don't forget the more than 800,000 Jews who were ethnically cleansed from ALL the Arab nations following the establishment of Israel. They were forced to leave their ancestral homes, leaving property and possessions, ending up as refugees in Israel.’ (read more)
On Jan. 11, the Sunday Star Times published a cartoon by Bromhead that showed an Israeli soldier shooting at Palestinians, saying ‘Ten innocents, one Hamas.... Twenty innocents, Two Hamas...’ KBRM asked that the newspaper publish a correction with the true ratio (or at least a range). When the editor refused, we appealed to the Press Council, but the appeal was not upheld. The KBRM chairman then wrote to the cartoonist:
...I can understand how you would come to that view, given the press coverage in the NZ press. However, if you will read the articles cited below, you will learn that in all probability the ratio was in the other direction; that is, fewer than half of the deaths in Gaza were civilians. You will also learn that Israel made every effort to reduce civilian casualties, something which is not easy when your enemy has no uniforms and operates from civilian areas... (read more)
April 4, 2009
The Southland Times has a record of balanced reporting on the Mideast that other papers would do well to emulate. While giving adequate coverage (with photo) to reports of war crimes (‘Israelis tell of murder orders’, Mar. 21, ‘Israeli soldiers ‘shot children’’, Mar. 25), they also printed Israel's rebuttal (‘Troops’ killing of women and children ‘hearsay’ claim Israeli investigators’, Apr. 1). They were one of the few papers to publish Israel's analysis of civilian casualties (‘Gaza death toll disputed’, Mar. 21), and they reported Israel's attack on a convoy in Sudan with a balanced headline (‘Israeli jets foil delivery of arms’, March 28). While other papers were reporting speculative criticism of Israel's new Prime Minister, the ST reported the immediate obstacle to peace posed by Hamas (‘Progress difficult’ with Hamas in Gaza, Apr. 3). Their report on the axe attack (‘Palestinian axeman kills settler teenager’) was accompanied by a colour photo of the grieving Israeli family, something most newspapers reserve for Palestinians. Even the letters column is often filled with letters from people who do not swallow the anti-Israel propaganda. Maybe Southerners really do think independently.
The membership of KBRM is broad and includes people from diverse ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds who are united in their belief that Israel deserves to have the truth told about it. Here is a comment from a Christian member as to why she continues this battle against what sometimes seem to be overwhelming odds.
The reason I don't give up is my deeply-held concern that the world is sleepwalking (rather than goose stepping) towards another holocaust and I cannot look the other way and say nothing... If the worst comes to the worst and the world witnesses a second holocaust, how will I live with myself, how will I face my children, how will I answer before God, if I know I didn't even lift a pen in the defence of the Jewish people? That is why I write. It's not much, but it's the least I can do. (read more)
As charges of Nazism aimed at Israel accumulate, KBRM submitted the following article to leading NZ newspapers. A condensed version will be used for KBRM's next advertisement.
In recent days it has not been uncommon to hear Israel compared with Germany's Nazi regime of the 1930s and 1940s, to hear Arab Palestinians likened to European Jews of the Nazi era and the Gaza Strip equated with the Warsaw Ghetto. Although likening Israel with the Nazi regime is calculated to be the most offensive accusation that could be levelled against Israel, an honest comparison demonstrates that this charge against Israel is groundless... (read more)
Following repeat accusations of Israeli 'apartheid' by columnists John Minto and Matt McCarten, a KBRM article was prepared and submitted to major newspapers. The article was accepted by the Gisborne Herald for its website and was also used as the basis for KBRM ad #4. The article began:
Israel has often been accused of apartheid by people ranging from New Zealand columnists John Minto and Matt McCarten to US ex-President Jimmy Carter. Before you accept their conclusion, however, please consider the following facts that are missing from the usual accounts. (read more)
The third in the ‘Missing truth’ series of ads was sent to five newspapers.
The ad reads in part:
Headlines about civilian casualties in Gaza have created much anti-Israel feeling in New Zealand. No one likes to see innocent people, especially children, killed or injured in a war. Yet little attention was paid to the 123 Israeli children murdered during the last 8 years by Palestinian terrorists, and most Kiwis are probably unaware of it...
The Israeli Defence Force just completed a name-by-name analysis of 1200 Palestinian fatalities in which the identity numbers, circumstances of death, and affiliated terrorist group of each were examined. The report concluded that one-third of the fatalities were civilians, or a ratio of two militants for each civilian — the reverse of the impression created by Palestinian reports... (read more)
The Sunday Star-Times editor responded to KBRM's appeal about the cartoon that depicted a ‘10 innocent for every Hamas’ kill ratio in Gaza (see Jan. 11 post). He defended the right of columnists and cartoonists ‘to express their opinions, and this is exactly what happened in this case.’ KBRM responded:
KBRM is in full agreement with what Mr. Murphy has written in his response. Without a doubt columnists and cartoonists are employed to express their opinions. We also accept that the item in question appeared on a page labeled ‘Comment and Review’. What Mr Murphy has failed to do is address the basis for our appeal, which is that the item in question went beyond ‘opinion’ and presented a statement that was a factual error — indeed a statement that would be libelous if it were applied to a person... (read more)
A KBRM member loses patience with RNZ's one-sided presentation of the conflict in Gaza across a number of its programmes, and pens a comment to the Sunday Programme.
I've asked myself how informed RNZ staff are of the constant violence and harassment Israel has has to put up with since virtually the day of its inception: from RNZ's coverage, you'd be little the wiser as to the background to Israel's actions in Gaza. Listening to Lynn Freeman the other day -- citing, among other things, alleged Israeli atrocities that had already been debunked - I found myself wondering whether she was aware of even basic facts, including Hamas operatives firing upwards of 8,000 rockets into Israel over three years. Did RNZ ever report on this?... (read more)
The second in a series of articles to be used as the basis for KBRM advertisements was sent to eight newspapers and magazines. The Gisborne Herald, which had previously printed several highly-polarised articles, was the only one to use the article, printing an excerpt and posting the full article on their website. The printed excerpt reads, in part:
Defending Israel's right to exist
There have been recent accusations in New Zealand that Israel has no right to exist — that it's founding was either illegal or immoral or both. Here are some facts, missing or overlooked in such accounts, that may lead you to decide that Israel's existence has a sounder basis than that of most nations... (read more)
In the proof of the upcoming KBRM article in the Gisborne Herald (see Feb. 4 post), there was a sidebar claiming (incorrectly) that there was no Jewish presence in Palestine since Biblical times. KBRM responded immediately, and the correction was made in time.
...Please don't say that Jews ‘scattered throughout Europe during a series of persecutions’ without also saying that many stayed behind. Please don't say that Israel was formed ‘as the result of immigration on the part of European Jews‘ without adding that there were already 650,000 Jews there before the immigration. These are part of the current myths created by those who want to delegitimize Israel. ... (read more)
The Dominion Post published a Tom Scott cartoon, ‘School Daze’, that showed three Palestinian children picking their way through a devastated classroom, saying: ‘Before we get on our high horse, remember this was an act of self-defence.’ ‘Yeah, our teachers must have been planning to shell one of their schools.’
‘Thank God they [the Israelis] never act out of rage or spite.’ It elicited three responses from KBRM members, none of which was published:
...Where is Scot''s cartoon portraying the Jewish Israeli children who have endured years of Palestinian suicide bombings and rocket and missile attacks on their families, their homes, their playgrounds and schools?... Where is his cartoon about Palestinian children draped in explosive belts, toting machine guns as their parents and teachers fill them with ‘rage and spite’ and train them to hate and kill their Jewish neighbours?... (read more)
On January 23, the Northern Advocate published a second article by KBRM member Michael Kuttner (see also Jan. 9 post). Instead of a deluge of oppositional mail, a supporting Guest Column appeared (see excerpt below). One wonders if the NZ public (or at least the Northland public) is perhaps not buying the vilification of Israel that is so common in the press.
...Did you read the guest column in last Friday's Northern Advocate? A totally truthful succinctly written explanation of why Israel is being misjudged about its response to Gaza terrorism... Michael Kuttner puts his finger with precision on the whole scene and it's all you need to know about it.... The world will realise, albeit slowly, the truth of the matter... (read more)
The New Zealand Herald published an article under the headline ‘Israel denies killing fleeing Gazans’ that was based on uncorroborated testimony of Palestinian civilians in Gaza who spoke to the BBC and the human rights group, B'tselem. ‘B'tselem said it had been unable to corroborate the testimony it had received, but felt it should be made public.’
This publication of unsubstantiated reports by the New Zealand Herald struck KBRM member Kirsty Walker as irresponsible journalistic practice. She wrote to the NZ Herald as follows:
In their reporting of the Mohammad al-Dura ‘affair’ and the Jenin ‘massacre’, the western media were fooled by Islamist groups, distributing reports and video footage that later proved to be exaggerations and misrepresentations of actual events. I would have hoped that the Herald would have learned from these embarrassing and damaging lapses in journalistic judgement. It would be responsible, ethical journalistic practice for the western media to wait, before reporting on events in the Middle East, until corroborated evidence emerges from Gaza, rather than distributing what may turn out to be deliberate misinformation. (read more)
KBRM launched its advertising campaign, based on articles that were submitted for publication but rejected. The theme will be ‘The missing truth’, reflecting KBRM's goal of truth and balance in the media. The first in the series, based on the article published by The Press (see Jan. 7 post), was sent to four leading newspapers — Sunday Star-Times, NZ Herald, Dominion Post, and Otago Daily Times. The Otago Daily Times was the first to run the advert, under the caption:
On the same day, KBRM received two positive responses (and no negative ones) through the web site, including the following:
Hi to the balanced media folk,
Made my day/week/month etc. to come across your advert. in this morning's ( Jan. 22 ) ODT. Then on to your computer site. Excellent, excellent, excellent. Because of your going public like this, many people who are being ( often unknowingly ) brainwashed, will , hopefully, see the truth.
I'm absolutely sick of this anti-Israel bias. I angrily switch off the BBC when their constant bias is parroted.
Thanks again... (read more)
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 diatribe by John Pilger and a Washington Post article that blamed Israel for the ‘humanitarian disaster in Gaza’. The KBRM chairman replied as follows:
...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?.. (read more)
The letter went on to suggest several articles that could be printed as a counterbalance, including two by KBRM members. Will the ODT do this? We'll see.
The Southland Times of Invercargill, where the Turkish cafe incident occurred, published five letters that unanimously condemned the cafe owner for refusing to serve Israelis. Four out of five also expressed an understanding of Israel's actions, pointing out the role of Hamas in causing the conflict. As one of the letters stated:
...For the record: Hamas (the terrorist organisation governing Gaza) has been sending rockets into Israel for eight years to kill and terrorise men, women and children (not military targets) and they hide among their own civilians and use them for human shields, showing no respect for the lives of their own people. Their leader... urges them to keep killing Israelis. Only after eight years of provocation and long suffering has Israel decided now to deal with them. In short, if the Arabs lay down their weapons, there will be no fighting. If Israel lays down its weapons there will be no more Israel. (read more)
The concern voiced by much of the media about casualties in Gaza has led to a spirited defence of Israel's actions, not only by KBRM members, but by a British Army Colonel on BBC (which has been among Israel's worst critics). Col. Richard Kemp, a former senior advisor to the British government on the Middle East, said,
...Israel doesn't have any choice other than to defend its own people.... I don't think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza... Hamas, the enemy that they are fighting, has been trained extensively by Iran and by Hizbollah to fight among the people, to use the civilian population in Gaza as a human shield, and they, Hamas, factor in the use of the civilian population as a major part of their defensive plan... (See YouTube video)
For KBRM letters, (read more)
In Invercargill, the owner of the Mevlana Cafe ordered two women and their children out of his restaurant when he heard them speaking Hebrew and identified them as Israelis, saying ‘I have decided as a protest not to serve Israelis until the war stops.’ The owner of a neighbouring Turkish kebab shop sided with him, saying exactly the same thing. This provoked a storm of criticism, including a column by Michael Laws and a statement by the Human Rights Commissioner Joris de Bres. A cartoon in the Herald on Sunday perhaps expressed the point the best:
The cartoon showed a customer at the cafe saying, ‘Fine, I refuse to be served by a Muslim - as a silent protest against suicide bombers’. The owner responds, ‘That is blatant discrimination and a breach of human rights!! Joris de Bres will be hearing from me!!’. (read more)
D-Scene, a weekly community newspaper in Dunedin owned by Fairfax published an interview with Simon Kuttner, a KBRM member:
...‘When your kindergartens and schools are being missiled and rocketed day after day, Israel has to do something. Israel is not indiscriminately shooting parents and children. They are going after terrorists who are using these people as human shields.’...
This was followed the next week by two angry letters, but responses to them the following week were not published. (read more)
Waikato University's Professor Dov Bing was interviewed by the Waikato Times about events in Gaza and Israel. Despite Prof. Bing's reasoned defence of Israel's actions, the WT put more emphasis on its own accusations, accompanied by a large photograph of a bloodied Palestinian on a stretcher in Gaza. In response, KBRM member Kirsty Walker wrote in an (unpublished) letter to the editor:
Professor Dov Bing... has an excellent understanding of the intricacies and subtleties of Arab/Israeli history and politics. Evidently, The Waikato Times' Bruce Holloway does not. ... If the Waikato Times is serious about wanting to inform its readership about important international events, it would do better to let experts, such as Professor Bing, speak for themselves. (read more)
A cartoon by Bromhead in the Sunday Star-Times showed an Israeli soldier firing a machine-gun, saying ‘Ten innocents, one Hamas... twenty innocents, two Hamas...’ KBRM requested a correction, saying:
This is not only wrong, it is an inversion of the truth. Israeli forces don't relish killing civilians; they try to hold civilian casualties to as low a level as possible, even to the point of alerting occupants of an upcoming attack so they can evacuate. But apart from motivation, there is the numerical error that cries for correction. The actual number of civilians killed is hard to determine, but estimates range from around 35% (by Israe!) to 50% (by Palestinian authority) — a far cry from Bromhead's 10-to-1 ratio...
The SST refused, and KBRM appealed to the Press Council. (read more)
The Sunday Star Times columnist Michael Laws countered some of the blame being heaped upon Israel by such people as John Minto, Catholic priest Gerard Burns who daubed his blood over a peace monument, and MP Keith Locke who accused Israel of war crimes.
‘...Almost without exception, liberals accept that the Israelis are the baddies. ....
The truth is considerably different. The Gaza Strip is a territory controlled by an Islamic fundamentalist faction that has sworn to wipe Israel from the planet. It has been doing its best by launching rockets at Jewish settlements, arming and directing suicide bombers, and ending the uneasy ceasefire...’
A week later the SST published a letter from a KBRM member: (read more)
The Northern Advocate (Whangarei), one of the better-balanced newspapers in its Mideast coverage, printed an article entitled ‘Why is Israel bombing Gaza?’, written by a member of KBRM. The article concludes with:
Until a peace-oriented Palestinian statesman finally arises with the courage to commit their people to a peaceful future with their neighbours, Hamas is probably here to stay. We can only feel sorry for the Palestinians doomed to ignorance and poverty, through fanaticism and war — the inevitable result of fundamentalist Islamic rule. (read more)
Following the usual news reports in the Waikato Times that put the blame on Israel, a KBRM member wrote the following letter:
In 2005 Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in an attempt to exchange ‘land for peace’... The withdrawing Israelis left behind the remains of their homes, the infrastructure they had built and their synagogues.... What did the Palestinian leadership do with this land for peace ? They desecrated and burned the synagogues, ransacked and shattered the glasshouses. They turned what could have been a haven for the Palestinian people into a wasteland. Now they and their people are reaping what they, not Israel, have sown. (read more)
When Israel, after enduring a wave of rocket attacks from Gaza, launched an offensive, there were many headlines and photos in the NZ media that emphasised civilian casualties and even accusations of a massacre. KBRM sent the following article to five leading NZ newspapers. It was published by only one, The Press. It began as follows:
The recent coverage of Israel's attack on Gaza has raised the questions of who is to blame, and what can be done about it. Readers confronted with headlines like ‘Slaughter in Gaza’ and photos of dead Palestinian children will naturally tend to see Israel as a strong nation attacking and killing defenceless innocent people. Before jumping to that conclusion, however, here are some often-unreported facts that Kiwis should be aware of. (read more)
In the Herald on Sunday, columnist Matt McCarten charged that the Israeli government ‘ordered in war jets to slaughter and mutilate hundreds of citizens trapped on the Gaza Strip... The Nazis used a similar policy during World War II in their occupied territories’. He then pulled the race card, saying ‘More people around the world are coming to see the Israeli state as an apartheid state... [Israel treats] the Palestinians in the same way blacks were in South Africa.’ This led to KBRM letters and complaints, such as:
... according to the New Zealand Human Rights Commission neither [Mr McCarten] nor the Herald on Sunday are entitled ‘to publish an inaccurate or misleading report which uses statements out of context or which omits qualifying or balancing words.’ You are also not entitled to publish material which is ‘abusive or insulting’ and likely to bring a group of people ‘into contempt, because of their race, colour, nationality or ethnicity...’ (read more)