Roger Waters Discusses BDS, Attempts to Block His Current US Concert Tour

Posted on 

Roger Waters’ “Us and Them” tour is scheduled to perform this Friday and Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum, on Long Island, in Uniondale, New York. Apparently Nassau County officials have backed down on their plans to shut down the show (see article below). Waters was interviewed on “Democracy Now” with Amy Goodman and co-hosts.

Roger Waters Shows Will Go On Despite Nassau County Anti-BDS Law


The New York Civil Liberties Union is urging lawmakers in Nassau County to repeal a bill denying county contracts to any companies participating in the Boycott, Divest and Sanction [BDS] movement, which seeks to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“Nassau County cannot be in the business of telling people what to say or think,” Susan Gottehrer, the NYCLU’s Nassau chapter director, wrote in a letter to County Executive Edward Mangano on Monday. “The BDS movement is a form of protected political speech.”

The letter comes in response to County Attorney Carnell Foskey’s threat to take “appropriate legal action” against the Nassau Events Center (NEC) if it does not cancel upcoming concerts by Roger Waters, a vocal BDS supporter and longtime critic of Israel’s settlement expansions. During a Facebook Live chat in July, Waters said that he expected the county’s attempts to fail.

“You would have to tear up the Constitution of the United States of America, particularly the First Amendment, and throw it into the Hudson River, or the East River if that’s closer, in order for that to happen,” he noted.

Just a week earlier, Nassau County Legislator Howard J. Kopel wrote in a Facebook post that “the Nassau County Attorney confirms that Roger Waters’ proposed upcoming tour dates at the Nassau Coliseum are indeed in violation of Local Law 3-2016.” That law was passed passed in 2016, one month before Governor Cuomo signed a similar order stipulating that any entity boycotting Israeli businesses would also be boycotted by the State of New York.

According to the NYCLU, the law itself is a violation of the constitution. “The law targets political boycotts, which the Supreme Court has long held as a form of political speech,” Zachary Ahmed, policy counsel at NYCLU, told Gothamist. “Here we had an example of the county threatening to enforce this law, and that’s what prompted us to respond.”

Asked to comment on the letter, the county attorney said that they would not be pursuing legal action against the events center, after all. “After extensive legal review, we had determined that factual issues and a lack of legal precedent had precluded success if the County were to litigate,” the county attorney said.

Neither the attorney nor County Executive Edward Mangano responded to questions about whether the decision applies just to Roger Waters, or enforcement of the bill as a whole. The executive also did not respond to a question, initially posed by the NYCLU, about whether the county had previously enforced or threatened to enforce the anti-BDS law.

“As long as law remains on books, there’s a possibility that the county could enforce it against other businesses,” Ahmed added. “We believe that would be unconstitutional.”

Waters will perform at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum this Friday and Saturday nights.

To see “The Occupation of the American Mind,” narrated by Roger Waters,  click here.

“Folded Flags” by Roger Waters


Though unsuccessful at getting his venues shut down (at least so far), Jews nonetheless are holding protests at Waters’ concerts. According to a report in the pro-Zionist Washington Free Beacon, Stand With Us, along with another Jewish organization, identified as “Artists 4 Israel,” are planning to follow the tour from city to city. Their plans reportedly include setting up a 15-foot inflatable Pinocchio doll as well as deployment of a van with a billboard which reads, “”Roger Waters, Don’t Need Your Hate and Censorship Against Israel.” The article includes a quote from a Stand With Us official who smears Waters as an “antisemite” and a “bigot.”



Garland is confirmed, four out of five justices named by Democrats will be Jewish.

Garland nomination is moment of humble reflection for US Jews

Woodrow Wilson was a bastard when it came to black people but he put the first Jew on the Supreme Court, 100 years ago. It is said that Justice Louis Brandeis’s famous conversion to Zionism in 1912 came about because Wilson planned to nominate him but needed a representative Jew, and all the Eastern European Jews who had come to New York were Zionists.

Since then there have been seven other Jews on the Supreme Court per Wikipedia: Cardozo, Frankfurter, Goldberg Fortas and the three who are on there now, Ginsburg, Breyer and Kagan. Two others have been nominated to the Supreme Court, Douglas Ginsburg and Merrick Garland. Ginsburg withdrew after it came out that he had smoked weed; Merrick Garland is of course President Obama’s nominee of this week, who faces an uphill battle in an election year. At his unveiling, Garland referenced his ancestors who fled anti-semitic persecution in Europe.

What do these numbers tell us about the Jewish place in America? A hundred years ago it required a real expenditure of political capital (by a racist) to nominate a Jewish justice. Today it’s not just old hat, but Jews are the liberal establishment in Washington. If Garland is confirmed, four  out of five justices named by Democrats will be Jewish. That’s a lot. There have been only two black Supreme Court justices. And one Hispanic.

I knew Merrick Garland a little bit at the Harvard College newspaper in the 70s (guess what, he had judicial temperament, I didn’t; but he couldn’t write this article if his hair was on fire). I sought out the Jewish club of the newspaper in part because I believed anti-Semitism was regnant in America and at Harvard, and so did Alan Dershowitz: he threatened to leave the Harvard Law faculty in the early 70s unless it finally got a Jewish dean. Harvard did name a Jewish dean to the law school, and there have been several Jewish deans and presidents since. Now it’s ho-hum.

Again, the Garland nomination is a reminder that Jews are the blue state establishment. In fact, Garland is seen as the safe pick over various ethnic-er picks that Obama could have made– notably Sri Srinivasan.

And speaking of the establishment, it was said that Wilson was trying to shore up the allies’ claims on Jewish financiers in the First World War when he approved the Balfour Declaration, a year after he nominated Brandeis, and committed the U.S. to Zionism.

Oy what an error. From Brandeis to Garland, our presence in the most exclusive corridors of the power structure should tell Jews that our place in the west is safe; we don’t need so-called Jewish sovereignty in another country halfway around the world that is more than half non-Jewish anyway, though most of them don’t have any rights, can’t even vote, to be safe. No, we need to celebrate the freedom a democracy grants to minorities.

Power is a fluid thing in society, I reflected yesterday as I looked out of a window at the National Press Club at the slate roof of Treasury during the annual Israel influence conference. Scholar Kirk James Beattie had just finished up a discussion of his study showing that legislative staffers fear the Israel lobby but have never been visited by the “oil lobby.” American Jews have real social/political power in this moment in American life. It’s about time we broadly acknowledged this fact, with humility, and praise.

Israel Announces $26 Million Cyberattack on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement and Muslims in the West

American Everyman

(I guess they are getting serious about the internet of things)

from AlterNet

…However flawed his framing might have been, Estrin’s reporting makes one thing clear: The Israeli crackdown is poised to escalate its campaign to unprecedented levels. An unknown number of Israeli tech companies are threatening to unleash a wave of cyber-attacks, including “sly algorithms to restrict these online activists’ circle of influence” as well as “forensic intelligence gathering, such as detecting digital or semantic signatures buried in activists’ coding so they are able to track and restrict their online activity.”

Those acts of sabotage will take place alongside a flood of “content that puts a positive face on Israel.”

The non-profit Firewall Israel, sponsored by a government-linked think tank known as the Reut Institute, is “building an online platform to help pro-Israel activists around the world communicate about anti-Israel activism in their communities,” the article states.

[read more here]

View original post

The role of the BBC in the Syrian conflict

“The following report contains disturbing images”

This is how the BBC website introduces a report by its BBC Panorama’s Syria correspondents Ian Pannell and Darren Conway on August the 30th, 2013. The story contained a video, ostensibly shot near Aleppo, Northern Syria, by an anonymous school headmaster, and documenting the aftermath of a napalm attack on his school, supposedly perpetrated by the Syrian armed forces on August 26th. According to the story, the “evil” forces of Bashar al-Assad, at a time when they had just about established their strategic advantage over the anti-government rebel forces and the foreign mercenaries they had been fighting for over two years, had found nothing better to do than attack a school, a target which presented no military interest whatsoever, with napalm – no less – just so the international media, and BBC Panorama in particular, could pick the story and broadcast it to Western audiences, in perfect timing to coincide with the British Parliament’s vote on the so-called “humanitarian intervention” in Syria, which was being pushed for by Prime Minister David Cameron, ostensibly to prevent precisely this kind of atrocities.

Were Assad’s forces really that stupid? Of course not.

It did not take long before several international commentators and observers pointed out the many implausibilities in the video and the story in general. Among them, Italian author Francesco Santoianni, showed how incongruent the whole story was, sparking the suspicion that the entire video might have been a fabrication. What follows is his analysis.

First of all, Napalm is a substance which generates temperatures between 800 and 1,200 degrees Celsius: in other words, no one has ever survived direct exposure. These physical characteristics mean that when Napalm was utilised in theatres of war, it was primarily used to defoliate areas covered with thick vegetation, and not urban areas, where white phosphorus is more often used, as the United States Armed Forces did in Falluja in 2005, and the Israeli Defence Forces did in Gaza in 2008. Nevertheless, the BBC expected its viewers to believe that Assad’s forces had employed the obsolete napalm on a school. Of course, a school with no teaching resources in sight, but somehow a swimming pool in the back. Oh, and a swing. Case closed: it MUST be a school. Although, we are told by our sources in Syria that the school year did not start until September 15: so what exactly were all those people doing in a locked-up school?

In the video, we were also shown a pair of winter shoes – not clear how they ended up there: it was after all August – and a woman’s shoe. Was all this footwear worn by the victims? How did it remain intact?

Almost every British newspaper which reported the story informed us that “The attack killed more than ten pupils and left many more seriously injured”: and yet, despite the warning against graphic images, we are not shown the bodies, or the grieving parents.

There is – to be sure – a child, seeing shaking in one scene. His skin is actually intact, and so is his hair: certainly not consistent with napalm, or anything like it. And what is the white stuff on his body? Surely, it cannot be the chemical fired from the fighter jets – that wouldn’t have left his hair intact – therefore we must assume that it’s some kind of first-aid ointment, of sorts? Whoever administered it could not even be bothered to remove the watch from the kid’s wrist. In fact, no one seems to be attending this child: the only person with some kind of interest is the cameraman.

Somewhat less convincing is a couple, seen in the video going through the well-rehearsed motions of cursing in Arabic. There is a problem though: the woman’s face is covered in that same white stuff: and the couple has just arrived to the so-called hospital, so it cannot be “some kind of first-aid ointment”. It must be the “napalm-like chemical”. We are expected to believe that a “napalm-like” chemical, fired from a fighter jet, somehow ended up sprayed on this woman’s face leaving her veil intact?

We also see what is supposed to be a makeshift hospital. On the floor, five adult males are shaking – three of them still have their clothes perfectly intact, of course – although one of them at some point stands up and walks off, having presumably decided that he’s had enough.

By the way, we keep seeing paramedics from the so-called charity Hand in Hand for Syria supposedly handling chemical burns victims without any gloves on – but wearing gas masks, for some reason. And even a dust mask: what’s that? The woman in question is of course Dr. Rola, the star of this video [segment introducing Dr. Rola]

Then, of course, we get the obligatory segment showing a distraught local, venting his powerless rage at the International Community, invariably denounced as inefficient and perennially locked in futile negotiations. The Public Relations rules dictate that such a character must be somehow connected with the tragedy (no details given), and that, when he addresses the camera, he must not speak in the local language – which would only sound like terrorist gibberish to most Western audiences: rather, he has to produce an impromptu speech in an impeccable English, so impeccable to the point of sounding scripted and well-rehearsed, or even read off a prompter. After all, these PR rules did work for Libya.

All these absurdities were exposed almost immediately after the release of the video on the BBC’s channels. So why talk about them again now?

Well, one reason is that the BBC itself, presumably after receiving dozens of complaints from viewers who didn’t appreciate their intelligence being insulted, decided to salvage what little they could from the story, and delete the biggest blooper of all. And this is where it gets creepy. Because what follows leads one to believe that this was not the case of the BBC naively buying into a story packaged and sold to them by the anti-Assad PR machine (it wouldn’t have been the first time), but rather that the BBC itself actively created a product that was intended to steer the public opinion towards a more interventionist position. For such a product, there can only be one definition: propaganda.

What happened was that Human Rights activist Craig Murray, among others, realised that, between the first and the second release of the video, something was different in the lines spoken by Dr. Rola. Listen to the original one, containing references to napalm.

The reference to napalm has disappeared in the redacted version.

Both audio clips have the same identical sound quality: of course, there is very little that cannot be accomplished with the kind of technology that’s available to the British Broadcasting Corporation, thanks in part to the fact that Dr. Rola was wearing her exaggerated dust mask, which conveniently did away with all the challenges involved in dubbing, lip-synch, etc. However, the redacted audio clip must have been added at a much later stage, for reasons we have just explored, which prompts us to ask: how can we even be sure that the original audio clip was not scripted and recorded in a studio? Also, Robert Stuart, writing on the Media Lenses Forum, points out that Dr Saleyha Ahsan, featured in the new version of the video, is a filmmaker with a military background: a former Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps and a freelance current affairs journalist. Was she involved in packaging this product?

The background of Dr. Rola herself is also interesting. Of course, she’s no stranger to the BBC:here she can be seen appearing on a political programme, advocating for the bombing of Syria.

Also of interest is the fact that the Charity Hand in Hand for Syria, where Dr. Rola supposedly works as a volunteer medic, happens to sport a flag of the French colonial era on its logo – a flag now adopted by the Anti-Assad Coalition. This is an affiliation which the BBC did not see fit to disclose to its viewers.

For those who still believe in whatever is left of the BBC’s reputation for upholding the mediatic standards of fair and balanced reporting, here is some useful information about another so-called “charity”. The BBC Media Action (formerly the BBC World Service Trust), with its catchy slogan: “Transforming Lives through Media around the World”.

In an interesting report available on its website, BBC Media Action explains: “In 2008, BBC Media Action launched its three-year project ‘Socially Responsible Media Platforms in the Arab World’ with funding from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Syria News was the official Syrian partner, endorsed by the Ministry of Information on behalf of the BBC. The project aimed to set up an interactive online training platform, the Ara2 [opinions] Academy, for Syria’s journalistic and blogging communities, creating networks between the two. This reflected the changing status of bloggers in the regional media and responded to their aspiration to be seen as credible social commentators. The project also supported Syria News as an example of a sustainable independent media organisation, with managerial staff taking part in study tours in London and in business development training. BBC Media Action did not work with a local partner on blogger training, as this could have alienated and excluded parts of the blogging community. Instead, the BBC collaborated with an informal network of bloggers from across the country and recruited mentors for the distance learning system (the Ara2 Academy) who were trained at workshops in London and Damascus”.

One could not have wished for a clearer description of a Trojan horse, funded by one government in order to destabilize another. Just to go over the timeline again: the three-year BBC Action Syria Project started in 2008. The “Syrian uprising” began in February 2011.

Who is running the Western mainstream media?

by Kourosh Ziabari

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

We usually hear the boastful assertions of the leaders of the Western mainstream media that their media outlets are ideologically, financially and politically independent of their respective governments and what they put forward as packages of information to be consumed by the readers or viewers are unbiased, realistic, unprejudiced and objective.

The Western mainstream media conventionally boast of being professional and attached to the morals of journalism; however, the only thing which is missing in the coverage of these media of the international developments is ethical values, honesty and straightforwardness.

One of the most striking examples of the Western media’s indifference towards the aptitude of their audiences was their coverage of the 2008-2009 Gaza Massacre. From BBC to Reuters, from CNN to Sky News and from Washington Post to New York Times, all of them tried to put a lid on the felonies of theIsraeli regime and by astutely playing with words, downgraded the scale of atrocity and violence exercised by the Israel Defense Forces. They refused to admit that what Israel was committing was an all-out massacre, so they simply eliminated the term “massacre” from their reports and in one of the most controversial cases, the state-run BBC, of whose deceitful tricks we are used to hearing, refused to broadcast the Disasters Emergency Committee’s humanitarian appeal for Gaza under the growing pressure of the Israeli lobby.

This refusal to air an appeal for humanitarian aid for the crisis-hit Gaza was something which even the British public complained about. On January 23, 2009, Douglas Alexander, the International Development Secretary, wrote a letter to the BBC, Sky and ITV, expressing his “disappointment” that the appeal would not be broadcast. On Sunday, January 25, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams called on the BBC to air the appeal, along with Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and Justice Minister Shahid Malik.
According to a report by the Guardian, BBC admited on the same day that it had received 11,000 complaints from the public about its pro-Israeli decision.

In the same year and while the conflict in the beleaguered Gaza Strip was culminating to a humanitarian crisis, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution, condemning Israel for perpetrating war crimes and killing unarmed civilians in Gaza who hadn’t any access to the outside world to even meet their most essential needs, including medicine, foodstuff and stationery for students. Reuter’s report of the UNHRC’s decision was flagrantly lopsided and showed that Reuters and media outlets similar to it, follow nothing but the dictated trajectory of their respective governments. The report, dated January 12, 2009, started like this, “The United Nations Human Rights Council, dominated by Muslim states and their allies, condemned Israel on Monday for “grave violations” of human rights of the people of Gaza.”

It’s interesting that Reuters and their cronies perpetually fail to realize that UNSC, composed of 5 permanent members which hold a right of veto, itself an insult to humanity, is dominated by those who have the least respect for the opinion of 190 countries which are not members of this discriminatory council. In its coverage of the sanctions imposed by the UNSC on Iran, Reuters never used the phrase that “the UNSC, dominated by the US and its European stooges” has passed a new resolution against Iran over its nuclear program; but at the same time, it blatantly described the United Nations Human Rights Council as an organization which is dominated by the Muslims and their allies – one of the tactics of propaganda which the Western mainstream media usually exercise. But the question is: who controls and governs these media outlets? Are they really representatives of the public opinion and people, or simply the puppets of a limited number of governments who want to brainwash the people around the world and distort, falsify and misrepresent the realities before their eyes?

The answer to the first question is that, TV channels such as BBC, France 24, CNN and Fox News are absolutely state-owned and state-run. Aside from the fact that the key figures in all of these media channels are well-off, influential Jews who advertise the interests of the Israeli regime, these outlets are inescapably responsible for advocating and propagating the mindset of the statesmen and their respective governments in order to survive and remain on the stage.

The BBC World Service is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is the British government department responsible for promoting the interests of the United Kingdom abroad. According to the BBC’s 2008-2009 Annual Report, the network received £294.6 million of governmental grants which simply constitutes a small portion of the total budget which is allocated to the BBC World Service by the UK government.

The same goes with Fox News. This TV channel is controlled by the media conglomerate News Corporation which is owned by the Jewish Australian-American media mogul Rupert Murdoch. News Corporation is the world’s third largest media conglomerate after the Walt Disney Company and Time Warner. However, the funding of Fox News and News Corporation comes from the US Department of Defense. Fox News has always claimed that it’s an independent media outlet which gives room to both conservatives and democrats to speak out their mind. It denies any allegation of pro-Israeli bias and refuses to admit that it’s controlled by Pentagon. But the reality is somewhat different. A small number of affluent and prosperous Jews who have ties with the high-ranking US officials control the mass media in the United States.

An interesting report by the US National Alliance showed that a striking majority of the US media, including magazines, newspapers, TV channels, radio stations and news websites are run by the extremist Zionists who are very close to the White House.

The largest media conglomerate in the world today is Time Warner. Among its subsidiaries are New Line Cinema, Time Inc., HBO, Turner Broadcasting System, The CW Television Network,, Warner Bros., Kids’ WB, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Adult Swim, CNN, DC Comics, Hanna-Barbera, Cartoon Network Studios and Castle Rock Entertainment. Each of these subordinates possesses hundreds of magazines, news networks and TV stations which has made the company a giant which seems to be totally undefeatable and indissoluble.

“Warner, founded by the Jewish Warner brothers in the early part of the last century, rapidly became part of the Jewish power base in Hollywood, a fact so well-known that it is openly admitted by Jewish authors, as is the fact that each new media acquisition becomes dominated by Jews in turn,” reads the report by the National Alliance institute.

The second-largest media conglomerate today, with 2003 revenues of $27.1 billion, is the Walt Disney Company. Its leading personality and CEO who chaired the company from 1984 to 2005, Michael Eisner, is a Jew.

“Another Jewish media mogul is Edgar Bronfman, Jr. He headed Seagram Company, Ltd., the liquor giant, until its recent merger with Vivendi. His father, Edgar Bronfman, Sr., is president of the World Jewish Congress,” the report adds.

Lo and behold, it’s said that Zionists control more than 95% of the world’s mainstream media. Robert Chernin who was until 2009 President and Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation, and Chairman and CEO of Fox Entertainment Group is an ardent Jew. He played an important role in laying the groundwork for the 2003 invasion of Iraq by staging a rigorous and severe media propaganda through Fox News. He advocated the invasion of Iraq and brainwashed the American public to convince them that a military expedition was necessary in Iraq.

Other names can be found who are among the most powerful figures of the mainstream media in the United States and run several newspapers, TV channels and radio stations. Mortimer Zuckerman, the 148th wealthiest American by 2008 is the owner of NY Daily News, US News & World Report and chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, one of the largest pro-Israel lobbying groups in the United States.

American journalist, Jeffrey Blankfort has written in an article published by that Leslie Moonves, president of CBS television, is a great-nephew of David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of the Israeli regime and co-chair with Norman Ornstein of the Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligation of Digital TV Producers.

Overall, the claim that the American or British media outlets are free, independent and reliable is an empty claim for which there is no prooft. American and British media are funded by their respective governments and controlled by a number of fervent Zionists who seek nothing but the promotion of the interests of Israel in the Middle East.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

EU statement on the Middle East – complicity, duplicity and hypocrisy

by Leslie Bravery
Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

 The section of the EU statement concerning “heeding the aspirations of the people in the region” appears to juxtapose those of “the Palestinians for statehood” with “those of Israelis for security” because the Palestinian need for security is never mentioned in EU pronouncements. Yet the statement considers security to be “a crucial element for lasting peace, stability and prosperity in the region.” While the statement acknowledges Israel’s role in the “prevention of peaceful Palestinian cultural, economic, social or political activities” it fails to observe that such activities are also requirements for Palestinian security.

While undeniable reality forces the EU statement to recognise the applicability of international humanitarian law in occupied Palestinian territory, including the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilians, the EU does no more than “urge” and “call for” Israeli compliance. While the EU is “appalled by recurring rocket attacks from Gaza and condemns in the strongest terms violence deliberately targeting civilians” it fails to comment on attacks (sometimes fatal and always economically damaging) by the Israeli Navy on Palestinian fishing boats.
It would appear that the EU does not regard these attacks as “appalling” and, worse, does not even believe they are worth mentioning. EU bias is demonstrated further when it merely expresses “deep concern” regarding settler extremism and incitement by settlers in the West Bank (aided and abetted by the Israeli state) from whence no missiles are fired. It is true that the EU does condemn “continuous settler violence and deliberate provocations against Palestinian civilians” but similarly only “calls” upon the occupying power “to bring the perpetrators to justice and to comply with its obligations under international law.”

The EU’s statement carefully avoids mentioning Israel’s illegal annexation Wall in the West Bank and the segregated, Jewish-only, roads and the holding of Palestinian prisoners without charge or trial. The organisation recognises that Israel, the belligerent occupying power, is in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention yet does nothing to encourage the world community to force Israel to comply with international law. On the contrary, the EU joins with Western governments and requires the defenceless, occupied, Palestinian people to negotiate under extreme duress with their oppressor.

As for the proclaimed ‘negotiations’ goal of two states living side-by-side in peace, it should be remembered that one of Israel’s non-negotiable pre-conditions (besides those concerning the permanence of illegal settlements and the “eternal indivisibility” of Jerusalem) is the de-militarisation of the so-called future Palestinian state and the complete surrender of its air space and borders to Israeli control. Well aware of this, the EU is nevertheless quite prepared to abandon the Palestinian people to both their present condition and the developing Zionist plan for Palestine. This is a betrayal that threatens all humanity. EU complicity, along with the duplicity and hypocrisy that accompanies it, must be tirelessly exposed and challenged.

Leslie Bravery – 15 May 2012

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Meet the New York Times’ New Israel-Palestine News Chief

Michael Lerner, the editor of Tikkun Magazine, is known for his frequent condemnations of Israeli violence against Palestinians. He is labeled “pro-Palestinian” for such statements and is regularly attacked by pro-Israel zealots who charge that he is disloyal to the Jewish state.
Yet, in reality, Lerner frequently speaks of his devotion to Israel and states that his actions are taken in considerable part to protect it.

A while ago Lerner explained the difference in his feelings about Israelis compared to his feelings about Palestinians. “[T]here is a difference in my emotional and spiritual connection to these two sides,” Lerner said.
“On the one side is my family; on the other side are decent human beings. I want to support human beings all over the planet but I have a special connection to my family.”

This statement comes to mind when one considers the New York Times bureau chiefs who cover Israel-Palestine.
The most recent person to be chosen for this powerful post at arguably the most influential newspaper in the United States is Jodi Rudoren. She takes the place of Ethan Bronner, who was preceded by Steven Erlanger, who was preceded by James Bennet, who was preceded by Deborah Sontag. All, according to an Israeli report, are Jewish.

Most Americans — particularly those who would object to only white reporters covering racial issues or only male reporters covering gender issues — are reluctant to discuss the potential bias in such a profoundly un-diverse system, having been conditioned to fear that such discussion would be “anti-Semitic” or would open the commentator to this extremely damaging accusation.

In Israel, however, it is considered appropriate to discuss the Jewish roots of American politicians and journalists since Israel was created specifically to be “the Jewish state,” Jews have elevated status in it, and the vast majority of Israeli land is officially owned by “world Jewry” (although some individuals have publicly opted out).

An article on the Jerusalem Post website, a major Israeli newspaper, focuses on this aspect. The article, “Judaism at the New York Times”, reports that “all New York Times’ bureau chiefs for at least the last fifteen years have been Jewish.”

The article’s author, Ashley Rindsberg, notes that “the Times doesn’t consistently send Russian Americans to its Moscow bureau… or Mexican Americans to lead its Mexico City bureau…” and asks, “Why does the New York Times consistently send Jewish journalists to head their central office in the Jewish State?”

Rindsberg, who like many conservative Israelis considers the Times’ reporting anti-Israel, provides a somewhat convoluted answer. The Times’ Jewish owners, Rindsberg posits, are uncomfortable with their Jewish identity. Therefore, he claims, they “would just as soon as not have reporters who could be identified for their Jewishness. And to prove it, they send Jews to the Jewish State to report in a most un-Jewish way.”

The Times’ history of pro-Israel coverage

Despite Rindsberg’s view of Times, analysis shows its coverage to be consistently pro-Israel. A 2005 study found that the Times reported on Israeli deaths at rates up to seven times greater than its reports on Palestinian deaths, even though Palestinian deaths occurred first and in far greater numbers.
A 2007 study of the Times’ coverage of various international reports on human rights violations by Israelis and by Palestinians found that the Times covered reports condemning Israeli human rights violations at a rate only one-twentieth the rate that it covered reports condemning Palestinian human rights violations. The investigation found that during the study period there had been 76 reports by humanitarian agencies condemning Israel for abuses and four condemning Palestinians for abuses. The Times carried two stories on each side.

In its early years the Times specifically avoided assigning Jewish reporters to cover Israel out of concern that such journalists would have an inherent conflict of interest. This policy was reversed in 1979 after Abe Rosenthal became the paper’s executive editor and explicitly decided to choose Jewish journalists for the position.

While his first attempt failed (he had thought his choice, David Shipler, was Jewish), the Columbia Journalism review reports that most of the journalists who succeeded Shipler, beginning with Thomas Friedman, have been of Jewish ethnicity. The article notes that “for a century [the Times] has served, in effect, as the hometown paper of American Jewry.”

Former NY Times executive editor Max Frankel, who was an editor at the Times from 1972 through 2000, admitted in his memoirs: “I was much more deeply devoted to Israel than I dared to assert … Fortified by my knowledge of Israel and my friendships there, I myself wrote most of our Middle East commentaries. As more Arab than Jewish readers recognized, I wrote them from a pro-Israel perspective.”

An article by star reporter and author Grace Halsell describes her firsthand experience with pro-Israel bias at the Times in the early 1980s.

Halsell had written books about the plight of Native Americans, African Americans, and undocumented Mexican workers. She was a great favorite of New York Times matriarch Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger, whose father had acquired the Times in 1896, whose husband and then son had run it next, and whose grandson is now in charge.
Journey to Jerusalem
When Halsell next wrote a powerful book describing the Palestinian plight, she incurred Mrs. Suzberger’s displeasure and was quickly dropped by the Times. Halsell writes: “I had little concept that from being buoyed so high I could be dropped so suddenly when I discovered—from her point of view—the ‘wrong’ underdog.”

In her article Halsell quotes a revealing statement by an Israeli journalist following Israel’s 1996 shelling of a U.N. base in Lebanon that killed more than 100 civilians sheltering in it: “We believe with absolute certitude that right now, with the White House in our hands, the Senate in our hands and The New York Times in our hands, the lives of others do not count the same way as our own.”

Since 1984 New York Times bureau chiefs have lived in a house that was acquired for the Times by then Jerusalem Bureau Chief Thomas Friedman (now the Times’ lead foreign policy columnist). The building originally belonged to a Palestinian family forced out in Israel’s 1947-49 founding war. Israel afterward prevented the family from returning and reclaiming their home. Therefore, Times’ bureau chiefs are in the strange position of living in a home that was stolen from Palestinians (acquiring property by violent conquest is illegal in today’s world).

Recent Situation: Bronner, Kershner, & Khader Adnan

Rudoren’s predecessor as Jerusalem bureau chief, Ethan Bronner, has a son who enlisted in the Israeli military. When this conflict with impartiality was exposed, even the Times’ own ombudsman suggested that journalistic ethics required that Bronner be moved to a different beat. Yet, Times then-editor Bill Keller insisted that this gave Bronner “special sophistication” and kept him in his position.

Bronner’s colleague at the bureau has been Isabel Kershner, who will apparently be staying on. J.J. Goldberg, editor of the Forward, writes: “Isabel Kershner immigrated to Israel from her native England as a young woman and spent a couple of decades in Israeli journalism and Jewish education before joining the Times a few years ago. By now she’s thoroughly Israeli (and, for full disclosure, a friend).”

While pro-Israel Zealots vehemently attack Bronner and Kershner when they cover Palestinian victimization, the truth is that they overlook a great many instances. For example, a 33-year-old Palestinian father of two young girls (another child is on the way) was on a hunger strike that lasted for 66 days. He was was near near death when he finally decided to end it on Feb 21.

The young man, Khader Adnan, was protesting his imprisonment by Israel – he was never charged with a crime – and the beatings and humiliations he endured from Israeli interrogators. There was an extended international campaign about him that grew even more urgent when doctors began warning after 45 days that he was at risk of death. Eventually, there was so much pressure world wide (including by UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk and EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton) that Israel announced it would release Adnan at the end of his “sentence.”

Yet, Bronner and Kershner – and Times columnists who frequently bemoan the alleged lack of a Palestinian Gandhi – did not publish a single story on Adnan until the 66th (and last) day of his hunger strike – after the Washington Post had finally carried a report two days before. The Times’ headline was the very bland, “Hearing for Palestinian on Hunger Strike Is Set.

While Adnan’s is the longest Palestinian hunger strike on record, through the years there have been hundreds of hunger strikes by multitudes of Palestinians in Israeli prisons; the Times almost never reports on them. It’s revealing to compare their numerous stories on the Israeli tank gunner captured by Palestinians, Gilad Shalit, to the sparsity of their reporting on Adnan and others.

Overall, the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel seem largely to have been invisible to Times’ reporters. While there have been gruesome reports of their torture for decades, there is little indication that Bronner or Kershner have investigated this or made much, if any, effort to visit Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

Who is Jodi Rudoren?

Now that Bronner’s four-year term has come to an end (he says he initiated the transfer himself and was not pushed out over conflict of interest), it is not clear what went into new editor Jill Abramson’s decision to choose Rudoren for this powerful position.

A cum laude graduate from Yale, Rudoren’s journalistic experience appears to be limited to domestic subjects. Most recently she had been head of the Times’ Education bureau. She speaks what she calls “functional Hebrew” but no Arabic. It’s unknown how much time, if any, she has spent in Israel, whether she has family there, or whether she has family members in the Israeli military.

When Rudoren received a tweet by Palestinian-American author Ali Abunimah, who noted that she would be moving into stolen Palestinian property, she responded: “Hey there. Would love to chat sometime. About things other than the house. My friend Kareem Fahim [a New York Times associate] says good things.”

This friendly but somewhat flip response to a serious subject has caused Israel zealots to attack her. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg somewhat hysterically equated Abunimah, an author known for his intellectual analysis, with Israeli Jewish supremacists known for their violence.

Goldberg suggested that Rudoren should have “twinned” her tweet to Abunimah by reaching out to Kahanists — a group listed by both Israel and the U.S. as terrorists. Goldberg should be pleased to learn that Rudoren said she had done just that, telling the Jerusalem Post, “One of the people I followed before reaching out to Abunimah was David Ha’ivri.”

Ha’ivri is an extremist settler rabbi who was involved with Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane’s Kach terror group, celebrated the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin when he had begun to make peace with Palestinians, and was convicted some years ago for desecrating a mosque.

Abunimah, on the other hand, has written a book called “One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse,” in which he describes how Israelis and Palestinians can live together in peace.

Rudoren’s knowledge of Hebrew may have been bolstered by her summertime attendance at Camp Yavneh, a Jewish camp in New Hampshire that has an Israeli flag at the top of its website and boasts of its “strong Israeli programming.” It features a six-weeks “summer in Israel” program, though it’s unknown whether Rudoren attended this.

The camp website states that the current boys’ head counselor “grew up in Gush Etzion, Israel, and has served as a Lieutenant Commander in the Israeli Army in charge of 150 soldiers in the Givatti Brigade.” Another counselor is a resident of the Israeli settlement of Efrat, which, like all Israeli settlements, is built on confiscated Palestinian land and is illegal under international law.
Despite an upbringing that appears to have included considerable immersion in Zionist mythology, indications are that Rudoren may be working to widen her view. She raves about a book by Peter Beinart called “The Crisis of Zionism” and retweeted a message by blogger Sami Kishawi. It’s interesting to note that the Times’ only other female Jerusalem bureau chief, Deborah Sontag, often provided exemplary coverage; her term seems to have ended early.

Tweeting like a J-Street official?

Jeffrey Goldberg – who moved to Israel, became an Israeli citizen, joined the Israeli army, and worked as a prison guard at one of Israel’s most brutal prisons – assures readers that Rudoren is still within the pro-Israel fold, commenting, “I don’t know Rudoren… I do know her sister, from synagogue, mainly, and I don’t think Jodi is some sort of anti-Israel activist…”

Goldberg is concerned, however, that she is tweeting “as if she’s a J Street official.” For Goldberg this veers dangerously toward anti-Israelism.

In reality, however, J Street is a pro-Israel organization whose positions are dictated by what is good for Israel. Its founder has just published a book entitled “A New Voice for Israel.” If Goldberg’s assessment of Rudoren is accurate, then it appears that once again the Times has a person at the helm of its reporting on Israelis and Palestinians for whom Israelis are “family.” Quite possibly, literally.
Rudoren may be intending to cover the region accurately and with fairness. To do so, however, it appears that she will need to overcome enormous ingrained bias, relentless and vitriolic objections of the organized pro-Israel community (quite likely including friends and family), and pressure by many powerful Times advertisers and colleagues.

On top of this, unless she chooses a different lifestyle than her predecessors’, she will be living in Israel, her children will go to Israeli schools, and her home will be one of the thousands confiscated from Palestinians who are now living and suffering largely out of sight, their daily humiliations and victimization for the most part invisible.

These winds may be so strong that even when Rudoren believes she has stood upright against them, an outside view may show her tilted far over in the Israeli direction, her reporting on Israel-Palestine, to paraphrase Dorothy Parker, covering the gamut from A to C.
Let us hope that this doesn’t occur.

Let us hope Rudoren understands that good reporting does not equate a false narrative with a factual one; that she will not be, in Abunimah’s words, yet “another New York Times reporter for whom Palestinians are just bit players in someone else’s drama.”

Let us hope she understands that living in stolen property is not a good base from which to report honestly; that “balance” achieved by under-reporting Palestinian suffering while exaggerating that of Israelis is not balance, it is distortion. Let us hope, most of all, that she does not view some human beings as more important than others, but instead views all, regardless of their religion or ethnicity, as family.

Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew and president of the Council for the National Interest. She can be reached at Bulk reprints of this article can be obtained from

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

%d bloggers like this: