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Do You Have to be Jewish to Report on Israel for the New York Times?

Posted by terres on February 27, 2010

Jewish Reporters in Israel and Conflicts of Interest

Ethan Bronner and Conflicts of Interest

By JONATHAN COOK

February 25, 2010

A recent assignment of mine covering Israel’s presumed links to the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh provoked some more thoughts about the New York Times reporter Ethan Bronner. He is the Jerusalem bureau chief who has been at the centre of a controversy since it was revealed last month that his son is serving in the Israeli army. Despite mounting pressure to replace Bronner, the NYT’s editors have so far refused to consider that he might be facing a conflict of interest or that it would be wiser to post him elsewhere.

Last week, when suspicion for the assassination in Dubai started to fall on the Mossad, a newspaper editor emailed to ask if I could ring up my “Israeli security contacts” for fresh leads. It was a reminder that Western correspondents in Israel are expected to have such contacts. The point was underlined later the same day when I spoke with a leftwing Israeli academic to get his take on Mabhouh’s killing. I had turned to this Ashkenazi professor because he counts many veterans of the security services as friends. At the end of the interview, I asked him if he had any suggestions for people in the security services I might speak with. He replied: “Talk to Eitan Bronner. He has excellent contacts.” Naively, I asked how I could reach this expert on the veiled world of the Israeli security establishment. Was he employed at the professor’s university? “No, ring the New York Times bureau,” he responded increduously. Oh, that “Eitan”!

A more interesting question than whether Bronner is now facing a conflict of interest over his son serving in the Israeli army is whether the NYT reporter was facing such a conflict long before the latest revelations surfaced. Could it be that it is actually incumbent on Bronner, as the NYT’s bureau chief, to have such a conflict of interest?

Consider this. The NYT has form when it comes to turning a blind eye to reporters with conflicts of interest in Israel — aside, I mean, from the issue of the reporters’ ethnic identification or nationality. For example, I am reminded of a recent predecessor of Bronner’s at the Jerusalem bureau — an Israeli Jew — who managed to do regular service in the Israeli army reserves even while he was covering the second intifada. I am pretty sure his bosses knew of this but, as with Bronner, did not think there were grounds for taking action.

Shortly after I wrote an earlier piece on Bronner, pointing out that most Western coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict is shaped by Jewish and Israeli journalists, and that Palestinian voices are almost entirely excluded, a Jerusalem-based bureau chief asked to meet. Over a coffee he congratulated me, adding: “I’d be fired if I wrote something like that.”

This reporter, who, unlike me, spends lots of time with the main press corps in Jerusalem, then made some interesting points. He wishes to remain anonymous but has agreed to my passing on his observations. He calls Bronner’s situation “the rule, not the exception”, adding: “I can think of a dozen foreign bureau chiefs, responsible for covering both Israel and the Palestinians, who have served in the Israeli army, and another dozen who like Bronner have kids in the Israeli army.”

He added that it is very common to hear Western reporters boasting to one another about their “Zionist” credentials, their service in the Israeli army or the loyal service of their children. “Comments like that are very common at Foreign Press Association gatherings [in Israel] among the senior, agenda-setting, elite journalists.”

My informant is highly critical of what is going on among the Jerusalem press corps, even though he admits the same charges could be levelled against him. “I’m Jewish, married to an Israeli and like almost all Western journalists live in Jewish West Jerusalem. In my free time I hang out in cafes and bars with Jewish Israelis chatting in Hebrew. For the Jewish sabbath and Jewish holidays I often get together with a bunch of Western journalists. While it would be convenient to think otherwise, there is no question that this deep personal integration into Israeli society informs our overall understanding and coverage of the place in a way quite different from a journalist who lived in Ramallah or Gaza and whose personal life was more embedded in Palestinian society.”

And now he gets to the crunch: “The degree to which Bronner’s personal life, like that of most lead journalists here, is integrated into Israeli society, makes him an excellent candidate to cover Israeli political life, cultural shifts and intellectual life. The problem is that Bronner is also expected to be his paper’s lead voice on Palestinian political life, cultural shifts and intellectual life, all in a society he has almost no connection to, deep knowledge of or even the ability to directly communicate with … The presumption that this is possible is neither fair to Bronner nor to his readers, and it’s really a shame that Western media executives don’t see the value in an Arabic-speaking bureau chief living in Ramallah and setting the agenda for the news coming out of the Palestinian territories.”

All true. But I think there is a deeper lesson from the Bronner affair. Editors who prefer to appoint Jews and Israelis to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are probably making a rational choice in news terms — even if they would never dare admit their reasoning. The media assign someone to the Jerusalem bureau because they want as much access as possible to the inner sanctums of power in a self-declared Jewish state. They believe – and they are right – that doors open if their reporter is a Jew, or better still an Israeli Jew, who has proved his or her commitment to Israel by marrying an Israeli, by serving in the army or having a child in the army, and by speaking fluent Hebrew, a language all but useless outside this small state.

Yes, Ethan Bronner is “the rule”, as my informant notes, because any other kind of journalist — the goyim, as many Israelis dismiss non-Jews — will only ever be able to scratch at the surface of Israel’s military-political-industrial edifice. The Bronners have access to power, they can talk to the officials who matter, because those same officials trust that high-powered Jewish and Israeli reporters belong in the Israeli consensus. They may be critical of the occupation, but they can be trusted to pull their punches. If they ever failed to do so, they would be ejected from the inner sanctum and a paper like the NYT would be forced to replace them with someone more cooperative.

When in later years, these Jerusalem bureau chiefs retire from the field of battle and are promoted to the rank of armchair general back at media HQ – when they become a Thomas Friedman paid to pontificate regularly on the conflict — they can be trusted to talk to those same high-placed officials, explaining their viewpoint and defending it. That is why you will not read anything in the NYT questioning the idea that Israel is a democratic state or see coverage suggesting that Israel is acting in bad faith in the peace process.

I do not want here to suggest there is anything unique about this relationship of almost utter dependence. To a degree, this is how most specialists in the mainstream media operate. Think of the local crime reporter. How effective would he be (and it is invariably a he) if he alienated the senior police officers who provide the inside information he needs for his regular supply of stories? Might he not prefer to turn a blind eye to a scoop revealing that one of his main informants is taking bribes, if publishing such a story would lose him his “access” and his posting? This is a simple cost-benefit analysis made both by the reporter and the editors who assign him that almost always favours the powerful over the weak, the interests of the journalist over the reader.

And so it is with Israel. Like the crime reporter, our Jerusalem bureau chief needs his “access” more than he needs the occasional scoop that would sabotage his relationship with official sources. But more so than the crime reporter, many of these bureau chiefs also identify with Israel and its goals because they have an Israeli spouse and children. They not only live on one side of a bitter national conflict but actively participate in defending that side through service in its military.

This is a conflict of interest of the highest order. It is also the reason why they are there in the first place.

***

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jkcook.net

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To confirm Johnathan Cooks assessment, RTSF reminds its readers that as of now the entire “news” teams of both the CNN and BBC in Israel consists of Jewish “reporters.”

Come to think of it, there are very few people on the Zionist News Networks who are not Jewish, or Jewish-embedded.

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Posted in Conflicts of Interest, Gaza, Jewish-embeded, OPT, Zionist | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

NO Water for Palestinians

Posted by terres on October 27, 2009

Israel’s Final Act of Genocide

The following report was released by Amnesty International on October 27, 2009

Israel rations Palestinians to trickle of water

Amnesty International has accused Israel of denying Palestinians the right to access adequate water by maintaining total control over the shared water resources and pursuing discriminatory policies.

daily water occupied West Bank

Daily consumption of water per person in the occupied West Bank. Image created by RTSF based on AI data.

These unreasonably restrict the availability of water in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and prevent the Palestinians developing an effective water infrastructure there.

“Israel allows the Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources, which lie mostly in the occupied West Bank, while the unlawful Israeli settlements there receive virtually unlimited supplies. In Gaza the Israeli blockade has made an already dire situation worse,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s researcher on Israel and the OPT.

In a new extensive report, Amnesty International revealed the extent to which Israel’s discriminatory water policies and practices are denying Palestinians their right to access to water.

Israel uses more than 80 per cent of the water from the Mountain Aquifer, the main source of underground water in Israel and the OPT, while restricting Palestinian access to a mere 20 per cent.

The Mountain Aquifer is the only source for water for Palestinians in the West Bank, but only one of several for Israel, which also takes for itself all the water available from the Jordan River.

While Palestinian daily water consumption barely reaches 70 litres a day per person, Israeli daily consumption is more than 300 litres per day, four times as much.

In some rural communities Palestinians survive on barely 20 litres per day, the minimum amount recommended for domestic use in emergency situations.

Some 180,000-200,000 Palestinians living in rural communities have no access to running water and the Israeli army often prevents them from even collecting rainwater.

In contrast, Israeli settlers, who live in the West Bank in violation of international law, have intensive-irrigation farms, lush gardens and swimming pools.

Numbering about 450,000, the settlers use as much or more water than the Palestinian population of some 2.3 million.

“TARGET PRACTICE” – SOLDIERS SHOOTING AT WATER TANKS

A feature which distinguishes the roofs of homes in Palestinian towns and villages from the
Israeli settlements in the OPT are the rainwater collection tanks. Virtually every Palestinian
house has at least one such tank and most have several. The reason is the perennial water
shortage which the Palestinians face but which does not affect Israeli settlers.

Where’s the Water?

An empty Palestinian agricultural reservoir near Jiftlik in the West Bank - AI
An empty Palestinian agricultural reservoir near Jiftlik in the West Bank. © AI

Israeli settlers in Maaleh Adumim enjoy a swim - AGG
Israeli settlers in Maaleh Adumim enjoy a swim. © Angela Godfrey-Goldstein

In the Gaza Strip, 90 to 95 per cent of the water from its only water resource, the Coastal Aquifer, is contaminated and unfit for human consumption. Yet, Israel does not allow the transfer of water from the Mountain Aquifer in the West Bank to Gaza.

Stringent restrictions imposed in recent years by Israel on the entry into Gaza of material and equipment necessary for the development and repair of infrastructure have caused further deterioration of the water and sanitation situation in Gaza, which has reached crisis point.

poisoned-water-palsolidarity-copy
Sewage Contaminated Water from a Palestinian Well. Source: Australians For Palestine

To cope with water shortages and lack of network supplies many Palestinians have to purchase water, of often dubious quality, from mobile water tankers at a much higher price.

Others resort to water-saving measures which are detrimental to their and their families’ health and which hinder socio-economic development.

“Over more than 40 years of occupation, restrictions imposed by Israel on the Palestinians’ access to water have prevented the development of water infrastructure and facilities in the OPT, consequently denying hundreds of thousand of Palestinians the right to live a normal life, to have adequate food, housing, or health, and to economic development,” said Donatella Rovera.

Israel has appropriated large areas of the water-rich Palestinian land it occupies and barred Palestinians from accessing them.

It has also imposed a complex system of permits which the Palestinians must obtain from the Israeli army and other authorities in order to carry out water-related projects in the OPT. Applications for such permits are often rejected or subject to long delays.

Restrictions imposed by Israel on the movement of people and goods in the OPT further compound the difficulties Palestinians face when trying to carry out water and sanitation projects, or even just to distribute small quantities of water.

Water tankers are forced to take long detours to avoid Israeli military checkpoints and roads which are out of bounds to Palestinians, resulting in steep increases in the price of water.

In rural areas, Palestinian villagers are continuously struggling to find enough water for their basic needs, as the Israeli army often destroys their rainwater harvesting cisterns and confiscates their water tankers.

In comparison, irrigation sprinklers water the fields in the midday sun in nearby Israeli settlements, where much water is wasted as it evaporates before even reaching the ground.

In some Palestinian villages, because their access to water has been so severely restricted, farmers are unable to cultivate the land, or even to grow small amounts of food for their personal consumption or for animal fodder, and have thus been forced to reduce the size of their herds.

“Water is a basic need and a right, but for many Palestinians obtaining even poor-quality subsistence-level quantities of water has become a luxury that they can barely afford,” said Donatella Rovera.

“Israel must end its discriminatory policies, immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians’ access to water, and take responsibility for addressing the problems it created by allowing Palestinians a fair share of the shared water resources.”


“Water resources in the Gaza Strip were already
in the throes of an environmental crisis prior to
the latest escalation of hostilities; the recent
events aggravated the situation… the collapse of
sewage treatment during the period accelerated
the pollution load into the underlying aquifer.”

UNEP, September 2009

Sewage mains in northern - AI
Sewage mains in northern Gaza destroyed by Israeli air strikes in December 2008/January 2009 © AI

TROUBLED WATERS – PALESTINIANS DENIED FAIR ACCESS TO WATER
ISRAEL-OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  • Lack of access to adequate, safe and clean water has been a longstanding problem for Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), principally as a result of discriminatory Israeli policies and practices. Palestinians use about 70 litres of water per capita a day, barely a quarter of the amount used by Israelis.
  • Access to water resources for Palestinians in the OPT is controlled by Israel and is restricted to a level that does not meet their needs and does not constitute a fair and equitable share of the shared water resources.
  • Some 180,000-200,000 Palestinians in rural communities in the West Bank have no access to running water. Some are surviving on less than 20 litres a day, the minimum recommended for emergency situations response. Even in towns and villages connected to the water network, the taps often run dry – sometimes for weeks or even months.
  • In Gaza the aquifer is depleted and contaminated – more than 90 per cent of the water supply is unfit for human consumption. The Israeli blockade of Gaza prevents the entry of desperately needed material for the construction and repair of water facilities and has made an already dire situation worse.
  • The water shortage has hindered social and economic development for Palestinians in the OPT and has resulted in violations of their right to an adequate standard of living, including the rights to water, food, health, work and adequate housing. [Copyright AI]

Vegetable crops and irrigation network being uprooted by an Israeli army bulldozer in Jiftlik
Vegetable crops and irrigation network being uprooted by an Israeli army bulldozer in Jiftlik, Jordan Valley, 11 March 2008.
© Amnesty International

See Also: The day the bulldozers came…

Related Links:

Posted in Gaza, Gaza Strip, Gaza Strip environmental crisis, Israeli settlers, Maaleh Adumim, OPT, Water in Palestine | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Netanyahu to Obama: Mind Your Own Business!

Posted by terres on May 25, 2009

“We’re only following G_d’s orders [sic.]” —Israel

Netanyahu defies “spineless Obama” on Israeli settlement freeze [on “divine technicality”]

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says settlements in the occupied West Bank will be allowed to expand.

When Mr Netanyahu’s visited the US last week, he was told by President Barack Obama that all settlement activity must end, a message he has chosen to ignore.

“Israel has sanctioned 121 settlements over the years and Jewish settlers have put up an estimated 100 outposts since the early 1990s.” BBC reported.

“Netanyahu’s defiant stance set the stage for a possible showdown with President Barack Obama, who, in talks with the new Israeli prime minister in Washington last week, pressed for a halt to all settlement activity, including natural growth, as called for under a long-stalled peace ‘road map.'” Reuters said.

“Half a million Jews live in settlement blocs and smaller outposts built in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem, all territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War.”

Palestinians regard the illegal occupation by the settlers “as a land grab meant to deny them a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

“The demand for a total stop to building is not something that can be justified and I don’t think that anyone here at this table accepts it,” Netanyahu told his cabinet, referring to Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Reuters reporetd an official as saying.

“A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Netanyahu’s government hoped to sidestep U.S. pressure by committing to uproot smaller hilltop outposts built without official authorization, a step also set by the road map.” Reuters said.

Related News Links:

Related Links:

Posted in Arab East Jerusalem, Gaza, Gaza Strip, Israeli land grab, spineless Obama | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Israeli Tank Fire Kills Three Sisters and a Cousin

Posted by terres on February 5, 2009

Israel: Murder of four teenage girls was “reasonable”

Israeli tanks fired two shells into a Palestinian doctor’s house in Gaza killing three of his daughters—aged 13 to 19—and his niece, 17, wounding another daughter.


Israel continues to exercise its right to murder Palestinian children as the ‘Pirates of Davos’ applaud.

“Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish is a Gazan and a doctor who has devoted his life to medicine and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.” A report said.

The devastated Palestinian father said: “I hope that my children will be the last price.”

The Israeli military called the coldblooded murder “reasonable.”

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Posted in Gaza, illegal occupation, Israeli Occupation Forces, palestine | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Turkish PM Shouts at Israeli Chief Terrorist

Posted by terres on January 30, 2009

“I find it very sad that people applaud what you have said because many people have been killed”

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan stormed out of an angry debate on the Gaza war with Israel’s President and Chief Terrorist Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday.

erdogan
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (L) leaves a debate with Israeli Chief Terrorist and President Shimon Peres. Photo: AFP. Image may be subject to copyright.

Erdogan complained that his comments on the conflict were cut short and walked off the stage in front of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other panel members.

“I do not think I will be coming back to Davos after this because you do not let me speak,” the prime minister shouted as he left, though he said later he could reconsider.

Erdogan criticized the audience of international officials and corporate chiefs for applauding Peres’s emotional defense of Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead and nearly 6,000 others injured.

“I find it very sad that people applaud what you have said because many people have been killed,” he shouted at Peres.

Related News Links:

Posted in Davos, Gaza, Israeli Occupation Forces, palestine, World Economic Forum | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

GAZA Killing Fields: Images of a New Millennium

Posted by terres on January 23, 2009

The ZIONATZI Israelis doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to some of their  grandparents by NAZI Germany 70 years ago …

But why to the Palestinians?


More of these horrific photos are posted at Norman G. Finklestein website.


“If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that,” Obama said while visiting Israel. “And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.

What if you and your two daughters lived on the ‘wrong’ side of the border? Wouldn’t you still do everything in your power to stop that?

A Moral Dilemma for Obama: If President Obama believes the Israelis have a right to massacre Palestinians for any reason whatever, does it NOT follow that he would have also approved of Nazi atrocities against the Jews had he been around during WWII?

Posted in Barack Obama, Gaza, Israeli murderers, Jews, palestine | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

U.N. Ban Ki-moon Condemns Israel after Gaza Bloodbath

Posted by terres on March 2, 2008

Israeli Occupation Forces Murder 96 Palestinians

Addressing an emergency session of the Security Council after four days of Israeli bombardment in which 96 Palestinians have been murdered, 61 of them in one day, UN chief condemned Israel for using excessive force in the Gaza Strip and demanded a cessation to its offensive. Report

Posted in Bloodbath, Gaza, GENOCIDE, Israel, palestine, UN | Leave a Comment »

Israeli Occupation Forces Continue to Bombard Gaza

Posted by terres on February 29, 2008

Four Palestinian children were killed in an Israeli attack bringing the total death toll in Gaza Strip  to 36 in as many hours. Original Report


Gaza: A living Hell (Photo: AP)
Fair Use Notice

Posted in Gaza, Israel, Israeli Occupation Forces, living hell, palestine | Leave a Comment »

Gaza’s Reality

Posted by terres on January 8, 2008

Forced to Live Like Caged Animals

Another year started for more than 1.5 million Palestinians who are forced to live as caged animals in Gaza, the most densely populated [Israeli] open-air prison in the world!

Losing the Will to Live! (Video Runtime 5:24 minutes)

Posted in Caged Animals, Gaza, Israel, Palestinians, Will to Live | Leave a Comment »

SUE ISRAEL FOR GENOCIDE!

Posted by terres on October 26, 2007

Originally published by MSA News, March 20, 1998

PALESTINE:

SUE ISRAEL FOR GENOCIDE BEFORE THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE!

by Francis A. Boyle
Professor of International Law
In Honor of the Tenth Anniversary of the Intifadah, Gaza City, Palestine – 13 December 1997

I would like to propose publicly here in Gaza, Palestine–where the Intifadah began ten years ago at this time–that the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine and its President institute legal proceedings against Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague (the so-called World Court) for violating the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.   I am sure we can all agree that Israel has indeed perpetrated the international crime of genocide against the Palestinian People. The purpose of this lawsuit would be to demonstrate that undeniable fact to the entire world. These World Court legal proceedings will prove to the entire world and to all of history that what the Nazis did to the Jews a generation ago is legally similar to what the Israelis are currently doing to the Palestinian People today: genocide.
[…]
In other words, Palestine would be able to claim in its World Court Application against Israel that the Israeli genocide against the Palestinian People commenced with the Zionist war, conquest, ethnic cleansing, and occupation of 1948–“the beginning of the conflict,” to use the precise words of the World Court itself. Indeed, in the Bosnia case I already successfully argued to the World Court that ethnic cleansing is a form of genocide.

Read more…
http://blythe-systems.com/pipermail/nytr/Week-of-Mon-20071022/070826.html

Posted in Gaza, GENOCIDE, International Law, Israel, palestine, politics, Zionism | Leave a Comment »