Hounding the journalists who believe they're above it all

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Irish Palestinian Supporter on Tel-Aviv Bombing

The letters page of the Irish Times always makes for interesting reading. Just in case we ever start to think the lunacy of the paper's writers is just the ideology of the few, think again.

Monday April 17 saw the murdering of nine Israelis by a Palestinian bomber from the West Bank. One letter caught my eye, from Raymond Deane of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Firstly, there have been few if any reports and no images whatever of the destruction and slaughter wreaked by the Israeli army in Gaza over the past few weeks, so the traditional double standards that perpetuate this conflict clearly remain in place.

I find the accusation of "double standards" amazing. An example: the murderous acts of Palestinian homicide bombers is an act of defiance, self-defense and dignity, yet the killings by Israel of Palestinian terrorists is "destruction and slaughter," to quite Mr Deane.

There has by no means been a media cover-up of actions in Gaza and the West Bank. In fact, Israeli television is not even shy about showing these images. Moreover, the reporting from Operation Defensive Shield in Jenin in 2002 (see point 56.), for example, shows the absolute disregard for context and fact by most Western media outlets (some of them, I might add, being conservative publications I would normally respect).

Remember? Reports of a "Palestinian Holocaust" and "thousands killed" covered papers for days and weeks. What retraction was made when even the Palestinian Authority admitted only 56 people were killed in an operation that targeted known terrorists, demolished houses no longer used as abodes, but as factories and repositories for bombs and bomb-making equipment?

In the usual balanced manner, Palestinian representative to the UN, Nasser al-Kidwa had this to say:

There's almost a massacre now taking place in Jenin. Helicopter gun ships are throwing missiles at one square kilometer packed with almost 15,000 people in a refugee camp. . . . Just look at the TV and watch, watch what the--what the Israel forces are doing. . . . This is a war crime, clear war crime, witnessed by the whole world, preventing ambulances, preventing people from being buried. I mean this is an all-out assault against the whole population.

Speaking of media, Palestinian news agency Wafa tried to convince the world that Israel had committed the "massacre of the 21st century."

In fact, so un-massacre-like was the offensive, that 23 IDF soldiers lost their lives. Not what I would call a high ratio of Palestinian-to-IDF soldier deaths.

The facts were brushed under the carpet by Western "objective" media, as usual.

What Western media is shy about, however, is reporting the nightly - and I mean that quite literally - attacks in the South on cities like Ashkelon by Gazans.

What Mr Deane is shy about is explaining that Palestinian terrorists are almost without precendence in using brainwashed children to hide behind, thus making retaliation all the more difficult for Israel. How does he suggest - if, in fact, he does - that Israel is supposed to bring these terrorists to task?

Secondly, the fact that the bomber came from the West Bank testifies to the uselessness of Israel's illegal wall as a guarantee of Israel's security.

Now this is just nonsense. Since its partial completion, the security fence has been the main reason for attacks - deaths - being reduced by 90%. Yes, the occasional attacker will always slip through, but the security fence is not exactly the embodiment of "uselessness."

Thirdly, the fact that there have been no such atrocities against Israelis for several months testifies to the efficacy of the truce that Hamas has unilaterally observed for more than a year.

This rudimentary correlation is simplistic statistics with which a 12-year-old would be embarrassed. Leaving aside the blooper of ignoring nightly rocket attacks from Gaza, the reduction of attacks is due to both the security fence and the astounding success rates by Israeli intelligence. And as for the seemingly soft attitude towards HAMAS, I ask anyone interested to read just what this terrorist organization has to say.

(Please read a previous post for more details of the danger faced by Israelis in range of rockets from Gaza.)

Finally, whatever ideology you are, does any reader really believe this?:

Hamas has in fact declared an end to suicide bombings, and it is well-known that it was seeking to persuade Islamic Jihad to take the same step.

The HAMAS Charter makes such a claim wilfully negligent.

So objectionable is Mr Deane's morality, I must make a last point. He asks:

...what genuinely democratic state nowadays speaks of "retaliation"?

I will tell you, Mr Deane. A country that faces genocide from the day of its inception 58 years ago. A nation that is proud and refuses to deal with terrorists. A nation that treats those who desire her unconditional destruction in the same light.

Ahmadinejad and the Price of Oil

It's rare that I would agree with Irish Times cartoonist, Martin Turner, but I like this one. It shows sound - albeit sinister - economics...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Lara's Iranian Love-In

As unfathomable as it is, Lara Marlowe's adoration of all things totalitarian just keeps growing. Her latest offering is an interview with Massoumeh Ebtekar, former vice- president of Iran for eight years until 2005.

Ms Marlowe introduces Ebtekar as being "the spokeswoman for the Iranian students who seized the US embassy in Tehran in 1979." Leaving aside Ms Ebtekar's interest in the matter, Ms Marlowe's language is astounding. From the offset, she derscribes this most heinous of international crimes - the storming of the embassy of a soveraign nation and kidnapping of its staff - as a seizure. "The students," Ms Marlowe continues, as she quotes Ebtekar, "decided they 'had to take strong action.' They 'were not terrorists, not fanatics - on the contrary, they were enlightened Muslims who believed in the principles of Imam Khomeini,' she insists."

Oh, my mistake. Because I thought students "seizing" things and "taking strong action" was more akin to boycotting businesses they believed to be irresponsible, and protesting embassies of despotic nations. Clearly, the few years since I left university, definitions have changed. And do I need to get started on the statement about being "enlightened Muslims who believed in the principles of Imam Khomeini"? Ask Salman Rushdie about "enlightenment," his fatwa from 1989 being recently revived.

Ms Marlowe then mentions that "200 Iranian students went to the former chancery and signed a paper expressing their willingness to carry out 'martyrdom missions' if the US attacks Iran." Actually, as the Sunday Times reported April 16, it's more like 40,000:

Iran has formed battalions of suicide bombers to strike at British and American targets if the nation’s nuclear sites are attacked. According to Iranian officials, 40,000 trained suicide bombers are ready for action.

Ebtekar hits the nail on the head with a comment hidden inside a long statement: that Iran "is facing double standards" concerning the Iranian people's feeling towards America's stance on a nuclear Iran.

She believes,

There are a lot of things we can still do to prevent a war...Like going back to the negotiating table, like recognising the natural rights of Iran [ to civil nuclear power].

Ms Marlowe adds,

Confusion between civil and military nuclear programmes is at the heart of Iran's dispute with the US and Europe, and Ebtekar does nothing to dispel the ambiguity.

The article continues, where Ebtekar complains about these so-called double standards of the West:

We see the double standards towards Israel, India and Pakistan [ all of whom possess nuclear weapons]. As soon as North Korea announced it had a nuclear weapon, they were left alone.

Ms Marlowe explains that Iran does not want the bomb (they have a funny way of showing it), but quotes Ebtekar:

We've been through all sorts of economic blockades and political pressure. But in 28 years, the Islamic Republic has never engaged in aggression.

Ebtekar follows this by asking, on the topic of Iran's security,

How would we be able to receive real guarantees from a country with a history of pre-emptive attacks?...In attacking Iraq, the Americans undermined the principle of multilateralism and the image of the United Nations.

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Is this the same Iran that funds Hizbollah and HAMAS in their tireless efforts to destroy Israel and Judaism, and that financially, logistically and spiritually bolsters Shi'ites' efforts in Southern Iraq to destroy the nascent democracy Iran will not tolerate?

Does this Iran dare to criticise American actions - it being one of a small group of nations who recognises the expansionist, uncomprimising Iran? And to hide behind the morally corrupt UN - an amoral launchpad for dictators everywhere?

And Ebtekar has the gall to state:

They were the first to sever diplomatic relations...They cut the strings, they should mend them.

Clearly this nation is boxing well above its weight, and sees nuclear threat - just like North Korea - as the only way to compete.

At no point does Ms Marlowe contradict this concept of reality of Ebtekar's. At no point does she ask - either Ebtekar or the reader - the following:

"But do we believe Teheran when it says Iran's nuclear ambitions are really only for energy*?";

"Is a nuclear Iran good for the world?";

"Is there no moral difference between a nuclear Iran, and a nuclear Israel, US, Pakistan, India and so on?"

Ms Marlowe fails to ask what the difference between all the present nuclear powers, and Iran, is. Nowhere would she dare suggest such morally objective things as "because Iran, in its present form, is incapable of being trusted with such firepower."

In short, Ms Marlowe would never conceive of such a thought as a nuclear Islamist Iran being of any more danger to the world as, say, a nuclear Switzerland. Why? Because this would demand the antithesis of her multiculturalism: that one culture** may have better qualities than another. Simple.

Last thing (nearly forgot!): does Ms Marlowe once ask Ebtekar about President Ahmadinejad's disgusting statements about Israel and the Jews? Does Ms Marlowe once cite his multiple threats - nay! promises - to exterminate Israel? Go on - guess! Because I would have thought the imminence of nuclear capability would be important to the world when it concerns an ideology that lives and breathes these aspirations. Not to Ms Marlowe, it appears.

*Ask yourself this: why would a country need nuclear capability to produce energy when it has the 3rd-largest oil reserves in the world? More than Iraq. More, almost, than Russia and Vanezuela, combined.

**Not race, I stress.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

O'Toole's right...and wrong...on Irish forests

Fintan O'Toole's "Millennium forests idea one big lie" made good point, and bad. Yeah, yeah - it's only about trees, but I'm always interested to see how the Statist advoates the preservation of it.

He reminds us about the government's planting of trees in December 1999 - one for everyone in the audience, as it were.

Seamus Brennan sent you out a certificate with a scientific-looking number on it and a statement of where your family's very own tree was to be found.

The government blather was that this idea was

a visionary millennium project to help rescue and restore a number of the country's native forests and woodlands. A unique element of the People's Millennium Forests is that each of the 1.2 million households will be able to identify the exact location of their tree, obtain a certificate of identification and will be encouraged to chart its growth well into the new millennium.

O'Toole explains that,

On average, over 30 per cent of the EU at the time was forestry. In Ireland, the figure was less than 9 per cent.

This particular nonsensical government policy seems to have come to O'Toole's attention when, as he reported, a member of the Today with Pat Kenny show on RTE radio went in search of the tree "belonging" to a resident in Wexford. Needless to say, it wasn't there - not in the way in which the government promised 7 years ago, anyway.

The whole thing was a swizz. O'Toole explain that, "[t]he central database that we were told would identify each of our trees doesn't exist. And all of this was known from the start." Clearly upset, if not a little disillusioned, he makes two particular complaints I find a little galling.

O'Toole is angry that the government would use children in such a cynical way. Earlier, he states:

Kids in schools all over the country collected the seeds of native tree species to be planted and, according to the official website, "set up small nurseries on their classroom windowsills . . . in this way each school helped to increase the forests of Ireland".

Later adding:

the cynicism involved in getting primary school children all worked up about a big environmental project under false pretences is as corrosive as it is sickening, teaching them the lesson that public ideals are for suckers.

This is amazing. A man rooted on the Left of politics dares to criticise a government for getting a little PR boost by evoking images of the Earth's future, replete with images of dancing children, enjoying plush forests and all that? What is so hypocritical is that this is the very meat and drink of the Left. When have the Greens or Labour declined the opportunity to use children in their arguments with the evil, cold, money-oriented Right? When have they ever refused to manipulate our sensibilities by angering us for the loss of this or the lack of that - involving children and their weakness in society? When have they, in short, failed to seize an opportunity to do exactly what Bertie et al. did on that dark day in December 1999: to gain electoral kudos by employing the bright eyes and cheeky smiles of our nation's children?

Now, while O'Toole's points were bunkum in a social context, this was small beer compared to his beliefs in an economic context. He believes that

the whole episode highlights the unholy mess that continues to be made of forestry policy...Coillte sees itself as a purely private, commercial operation, with no public responsibilities...[The] practice of selling off public forests to private developers in deals that involve very little public scrutiny...The big lie in the whole millennium forests spin was that "we" own our trees. Public ownership of one of our most important environmental and tourism assets is about as real as the teddy bears' picnic.

The biggest mistake - and it's a time-honoured mistake - to to believe that, by simply ousting one government, that a problem will resolve itself. O'Toole falls for this, believing that, should whomever his ideal combination in power in the Dail succeed in the next general election, this will somehow work. That the State's ownership - in whatever administrative guise - can ever run commerce, resources or services as well as private enterprises.

This has nothing to do with how much organization is involved, or how honest the administrators are in their management of the system in question. This is about the fact that ownership not only implies, but demands, responsible management of resources - be they renewable or not.

O'Toole is naive to think that any now government could do better. What is needed is private ownership of these facilities and resources.Henceforth, costs would matter. Be they run by for-profit companies or trusts or charities or whatever other combination of people, they would be cared for- the very thing O'Toole wants, but will never get, from the State's management.

Financial ruin must always be the threat to business that keeps the management on their toes, not some mystical clap-trap about "the people's assets." The latter has never worked, and no new administration in the Dail will ever make it work.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Elect terrorists? Lara Marlowe will support you!

"Palestinians now being punished for choosing Hamas," goes the headline in Ms Marlowe's article last Saturday. "Israel and the United States," she continues, "are concocting a Palestinian state that is famished and thirsty, shrunken and chopped into pieces."

Throughout, Ms Marlowe shows one core belief in particular: whomever a people elect, other nations must recognise them. Period. Not only this, but the terrorist haven that has become the West Bank and Gaza must now be subsidised by the law-abiding West?

I have a terrible time, say, approving of a terrorist leading a Department of Education, but for respect to be demanded for a political movement that, since its inception in 1988, has never derived from its tenet that Israel must be destroyed - well, that's quite a leap of faith.

Ms Marlowe believes that once a people hold a, "free and fair election that [is] regarded as exemplary throughout the Arab world," that that is enough. Doubtless, she is a supported of various State-subsidy. And what good has that done anyone - be it individuals or whole nations? We have welfare ghettos in all cities, but in the West Bank and Gaza, we have a whole people becoming welfare dependents, while their leaders siphon off funding for their jihad.

(I shall leave the Irish Times's blind - maybe even willful? - ambivalence towards the danger of Islamist parties gaining power for another day.)

Ms Marlowe believes it is "gutless" for the European Commission to have cut aid to the Palestinian Authority. "The EU once showed a modicum of courage," she continues, "in attempting to counter-balance Washington's unconditional support for Israel...Now the EU slavishly follows Washington's cue."

Clearly, Ms Marlowe does not credit the EU for having the ability to (a) make independent decisions, and (b) see right from wrong, thus leaving aside easy, expedient decisions. Interestingly, the former point conflicts something terrible with Ms Marlowe's own criticisms of the EU. The Palestinians have made their own decision - one for which she shows no observable dislike - in electing HAMAS. However, when another democratically-derived decision, this time by the EU, is not to her liking, therefore must be criticized.

While throwing us a bone ("Yes, Hamas carried out horrific suicide bombings." - Ms Marlowe, this body are connected with none other than Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah.) Swiftly, to cleanse her soul, she adds: "Dare one even mention the disproportion in casualties, that more than 3,000 Palestinians have been killed since the second intifada started in September 2000, compared to some 1,000 Israelis?"

She may dare, and, moreover, I fear her blithe arithmetical moralizing will sit easily with most Irish Times readers. I recommend Alan Dershowitz's The Case for Israel to clarify errors like this. In particular, The Case explains away, in painstaking numeric detail, the morally repugnant equivocation between Israeli-Jewish deaths and Palestinian deaths from suicide bombings, targeted air strikes and so on.

Included in the Palestinian death count are considerations - i.e. those which Ms Marlowe fails to supply - like that Palestinian deaths from self-detonated suicide bombs count just the same as death at the hands of an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldier. Moreover, accidental detonations (like in the bomb-making factories widespread over cities like Jenin) count. So too do shootings by the IDF on known would-be suicide bombers, en route to a target. So too do human shields of children used by Palestinian terrorists. So too do assassinations of masterminds, such as the late HAMAS leaders, Yassin and Rantissi.

Now, should a people come under the moral criticism for being better at defending itself than its opposition? This is blatantly implied by Ms Marlowe, in her citing the 3-to-1 ratio of Palestinians to Israelis deaths.

This is particularly disgusting, because the leaders of Israel's enemies have such little regard for using their own resources, as well as copious international funding, for making the lives of their people more prosperous and peaceful. Rather, they inculcate hatred and death-cultism in their people, coupled with control of education and information materials, from school textbooks to media, as a weapon against Israel. The Palestinian Authority's funding by outside bodies enables them - nay! it encourages them - to continue their hostility towards Israel. With a steady flow of humanitarian aid for its people, the people themselves will never need to question the policies of their leaders, who have destroyed what was, before the second intifada, by far the richest society in the Muslim world. "Two-thirds of Palestinians now live on less than e55 per month; the average monthly salary in Israel is e1,268." Yes, but who is to blame?

As is customary, such reporters evoke images of starving children to excuse every despot and dictatorship - heaping more blame on those who try to fight them. "Since January, there have been shortages of milk and flour in Gaza, where children are suffering from malnutrition," exclaims Ms Marlowe. I wonder if HAMAS care. Correctly, Ms Marlowe explains that, "since Hamas won the election, Israel has kept $50 million per month in customs duties which it collects at crossings into the Palestinian territories." And rightly so.

No country should ever be forced to contribute to a system that is hell-bent on her destruction. This is particularly terrifying, when one considers that, since Israel's disengagement of Gaza last August, the Gaza-Egypt border at Rafiah is now free for the transportation of terrorist and their machinery. "This money belongs to the Palestinians," believes Ms Marlowe. Yes, just keep paying your enemies, hoping they will respect you - correct?

"Hamas," Ms Marlowe continues, "has maintained a unilateral ceasefire for nearly a year and a half." Tell that to the people of Ashkelon, immediately North of Gaza. They have rockets fired on them literally daily. Now, it has gotten far worse, with the use of a far more powerful rocket, the Katyusha. Reported by ynet on March 28,

the strike marked the first time that a terror organization in Gaza has used a Katyusha rocket to attack Israel. The rocket is much more accurate and powerful than the homemade Qassams customarily used by terrorists. Similar rockets have been used by Hizbullah in Lebanon.

And just like their logic on Northern Ireland, believing every assurance that Sinn Fein are doing all they possibly can to keep Republican "splinter groups" at peace, the Irish Times refuse to point the finger of blame at the authorities in Gaza, believing them to be good-willed, simply unable to stop such attacks.

No small-time terrorists or criminals could have acquired Katyusha rockets, not least use them without the consent of the authorities.

We move to recognition of Statehood. Ms Marlowe criticises the US and Britain's demand for HAMAS to recognise the existence of Israel (not suggesting for a minute that HAMAS's refusal to do so unconditionally is a disgrace in itself), asking, "when did Israel recognise Palestine, renounce violence against Palestinians or observe past peace agreements?"

A reporter of Ms Marlowe's experience will therefore know that on four occassions, Israel has agreed to a Palestinian state existing alongside Israel. The last, and more clearly defined and publicly observed, was at Camp David and Taba, Egypt, in 2000. Under the stewardship of US President, Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat discussed Palestinian statehood. Despite being offered 98% of the land demanded, and control of East Jerusalem, Arafat refused at the 11th hour. The Second intifada soon followed.

But don't rely on my reporting. Fellow-Muslim, and no great friend of Israel, Saudi Arabian ambassador, Prince Bandar Ibn Sultan, said,

If Arafat does not accept what is available now, it won't be a tragedy, it will be a crime

Ms Marlowe then claims Ariel Sharon "renounced the Oslo agreement." The Oslo Agreement, signed in September 1993 by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, essentially repeated the demands held in UN Resolution 242. (The repeated citing of Israel as acting against international law coming from a bastardised understanding of the demands in Resolution 242.) The resolution was signed after the Six Day War in 1967, demanding the,

Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict; Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force

Never in the 58 years of Israel's existence have her neighbours committed to their side of the bargain. While a certain level of peace exists between Israel and Jordan, along with a cooling of tensions between Israel and Egypt, it would be suicidal for Israel to do more than to place conditional demands on the Palestinian Authority - slowly waiting for it to fulfill its side of the deal.

Ms Marlowe follows the line of the Irish Times in her belief in the good intentions of Sinn Fein. Likewise, naive optimism, coupled with a disdain for an Israel in her efforts to avert genocide, lights her way with the Palestinians. Ms Marlowe can say all she wants about HAMAS leaders making noises about a 2-state solution, but until they act accordingly, Israel would be insane to fulfill her side of Oslo and Resolution 242.

(Concerning Ms Marlowe's mentioning of territorial disputes, I shall return to this at a later date, as there is far too much to discuss here.)

Welcome to IrishTimesWatch!

If you are tired of the sanctimonious drivel spooned out to you from a pulpit by the likes of Fintan O'Toole and Vincent Browne, if you have started to question the objectivity and explanations of international events by esteemed reporters such as Lara Marlowe and Nuala Haughey, if you feel that all the Irish Times contributes to public debate in Ireland in a self-congratulatory, self-obsessed style of news, I believe you have come to the right place.

Inspired by TimesWatch, a site dedicated to exposing the shameful reporting by the New York Times, TheIrishTimesWatch will focus on daily reports and polemics by Ireland's "newspaper of record." I myself have spent enough time trying to get my point across to contradict and disprove what I read in the Irish Times, so what better way than to put it all together in a blog?

Rather than degenerating into a repetitive moan about a style and angle of writing of which I disprove, I wish to contribute something: through researching my objections, I hope to show readers that - believe it or not - there is a world outside this D'Olier Street operation.