Navi Pillay, U.N. high commissioner for human rights, has accused both Israel and Hamas militants of committing war crimes in the Gaza conflict. Her harshest criticism, as well as that of most nations, has been reserved for the Israeli government, charging that it has committed war crimes in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions. In the wake of the huge difference in casualties and property destruction, many in the West have accused the Israeli government of making a grossly disproportionate response to terrorist rocket attacks. A New York Times (July 23, 2014) article titled "As Much of the World Frowns on Israel, Americans Hold Out Support" says that a number of "world leaders and demonstrators pointed to the lopsided number of Palestinian casualties — more than 650, most of them civilians — versus 35 on the Israeli side, 32 of them soldiers." By now, those numbers have tripled, but let's think about some of the arguments being made.
First, let's take a historical look at proportionality in response to an attack.
A popular blood libel Palestinian leaders and parents tell their people and children goes as follows: "Jews used to slaughter Christians in order to mix their blood in their holy matzos."
In the video (HT Twitchy) which follows the jump, Blitzer asks Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan to confirm that the quoted words just cited are what he recently said and meant. Over nearly seven agonizing minutes, Hamdan never admitted to anything, but certainly conducted himself as if he had uttered those words. To his credit, Blitzer noted that the end of the segment that his question had not been answered, leaving reasonable viewers to believe Hamdan did say previously say them, and that the bare outlines of his attempted excuse, which was essentially a claim that "I was just repeating something someone else said," doesn't fly.
On MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry program on Saturday, Dean Obeidallah injected race into the debate inside the U.S. over the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict: "You saw a poll last week, young people 18 to 29: only 25 percent think it's justified what Israel is doing; 50 percent said, no. People of color, same numbers...It's really the Obama coalition versus white conservatives. That's the only group saying – the majority saying what Israel is doing is justified."
During the same panel discussion, American University's Hillary Mann Leverett made a very peculiar assertion about anti-Jewish sentiment in the Middle East – that from a historical perspective, European anti-Semitism was supposedly much worse than Islamic anti-Semitism: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
On Thursday, as Connor Williams at NewsBusters reported, Joe Scarborough at MSNBC "ripped Israel for their 'indiscriminate' attacks upon Gaza, and feared that this would only cause the conflict to worsen in the future." Specifically, Scarborough said that "this is asinine. This continued killing of women and children in a way that appears to be indiscriminate is asinine," and "we will rue the day that this is happening every day and women and children are being seen."
On Friday, as Laura Flint at NewsBusters noted, Scarborough attempted to walk back some of what he said, insulting his objectors by saying he would use "simple talk that simple minded people can understand." He was apparently so proud of what he said that he had it printed virtually verbatim at the Politico late Friday afternoon, complete with an emphatic, condescending title. Let's revisit the screed to make a few important points (produced in full because it has already been broadcast; bolds and numbered tags, used so Joe can better follow "simple-minded" points, are mine):
Appearing on Fox News’ Hannity on Wednesday, July 30, Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of the founder of the terrorist group Hamas, had some harsh words for those who claim that the group is merely a “humanitarian” organization.
Speaking to Sean Hannity, Yousef insisted that Hamas is “not a humanitarian organization. Hamas is a terrorist organization with a humanitarian face to it.” [See video below.]
"As much of world watches Gaza war in horror, members of Congress fall over each other to support Israel," the Associated Press shockingly tweeted Tuesday morning, only revising the headline four hours later, Fox News's Megyn Kelly noted Wednesday night as she introduced Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center (MRC) -- the parent organization of NewsBusters.org -- for a segment on liberal media bias in the coverage of Israel's Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip. [Listen to MP3 here; video embed follows page break]
"That was pretty surprising to many in the media world," Kelly noted, asking for Bozell's thoughts. "The tweet referred originally to a news article that was as slanted as that," the MRC founder noted, adding, "That news article could have been written by Hamas working for the AP or the AP is doing press releases for Hamas. It's indistinguishable. This makes a mockery of journalism." But alas, anti-Israeli bias is hardly contained to the AP news wire, Bozell noted, recalling how:
Earlier today, I gave the Associated Press an unwarranted benefit of the doubt. I figured that there was no way the language contained in an offensive AP tweet on the Israel-Gaza situation would appear in an actual story by an alleged professional journalist. Boy, was I wrong.
The language in question was posted at 6 a.m. ET and is still present at the wire service's official Twitter account. It reads: "As much of world watches Gaza war in horror, members of Congress fall over each other to support Israel." I wrote this afternoon that "The tweet ... links to a brief dispatch by Bradley Klapper, whose coverage, to be fair (but only if he's not the tweeter), doesn't reflect the sentiments expressed in the tweet." Well, it didn't then, because the underlying story had been revised. Here's are the first five paragraphs of Klapper's story as they appeared before comprehensive cleanup efforts ensued:
On Tuesday, July 29, NBC Nightly News was the only network evening newscast to highlight criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry following his inability to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.
While CBS and ABC ignored the criticism of Secretary Kerry, Andrea Mitchell, NBC’s Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, did her best to cast the Secretary of State as a victim of anonymous Israeli criticism. During a press conference earlier in the day, Mitchell sympathetically asked Kerry if such criticism was “hurting your ability to be a mediator here, to have Israel -- with these blind quotes from Israeli officials attacking you so vociferously?” [See video below.]
On Monday night’s edition of his PBS show, Charlie Rose aired an interview with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal that he conducted in Doha, Qatar over the weekend and Meshaal took the insane and ridiculous step of comparing himself and the Palestinian people to what Nelson Mandela and South Africa went through under apartheid. This statement is just the latest since excerpts began airing on CBS’s Face the Nation, CBS This Morning, and CBS Evening News on Sunday and Monday.
When asked by Rose for a prediction on how does he believe that the fighting in Gaza will end, Meshaal railed against Israel as carrying out the “occupation” by declaring that: “Every single occupation ought to fail and every single occupation ought to stop and every single settlement ought to perish. Yes, it is difficult, we'll pay a price, Mandela played – paid plenty but he was victorious at the end of the day. Ultimately, the Palestinian people will be independent." [MP3 audio here; Video below]
Of all the Associated Press reporters out there, Matt Lee, whose beat is the State Department, appears to have the least patience with the pablum (and worse) he is expected to swallow from the Obama administration.
In September of last year, as the situation in Syria escalated, Obama administration Secretary of State John Kerry proposed a non-mandatory request for a Congressional vote on U.S. military involvement in Syria. After hearing State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki defend that proposal as "courageous," Lee, after getting a non-response to a question as why it was courageous, famously asked: "Was there some kind of, like, group spine-removal op procedure at the White House over the weekend?" Though he may not have exercised the best judgment this morning in posting the tweet which follows the jump, at least we can say that Lee hasn't taken up permanent residence in the wire service's otherwise very crowded water-carrier wing:
The Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, wants Americans to know that the Obama adminisration is really, really upset — but not at Hamas for committing terrorist acts, using women and children as human shields, and digging tunnels for the purpose of mass-murdering civilians on Rosh Hashanah.
No-no-no. Team Obama is "fuming" (i.e., their poor little feeeeewings are hurt) because Israeli officials and the Israeli media — even its liberal wing — are furiously criticizing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for apparently doing all he can to sell out the Jewish state's positions in attempting to negotiate a ceasefire with Hamas.
ABC, CBS, and NBC's morning and evening newscasts have yet to cover the dire situation of Christians in Iraq, particularly after ISIS's takeover of the key city of Mosul. The Islamic extremist group drove most of the Christians out of the city, and issued an ultimatum to those who remained: covert to Islam, pay a hefty tax, or face death. Refreshingly, the New York Times spotlighted the crisis in a Thursday op-ed, and noted that the Christian community in Mosul has lived there for nearly 2,000 years.
The patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church, Ignatius Yousef Younan III, along with Fox News Channel's Father Jonathan Morris, detailed ISIS's anti-Christian pogrom on Wednesday's Fox and Friends: [video below the jump]
Over the last 15 days, the world has been rocked by two troubling and growing international crises: the shootdown of a civilian airliner over the Ukraine; and the intense fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. While the three evening newscasts have offered considerable coverage of the unfolding events, CBS, NBC and ABC have made almost no attempt to evaluate the performance of Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry or the administration generally, and critics of the administration have been ignored.
Since July 8, the broadcast evening newscasts have aired 79 stories (169 minutes) on the Gaza fighting; only 45 seconds of that included criticism of the administration. Since July 17, the three evening newscasts have aired 96 stories (209 minutes) on the jet shootdown; just 10 seconds of that coverage has included criticism of Obama or his team.
Wednesday's NBC Nightly News was the sole Big Three evening newscast to notice the criticism of the Obama administration banning U.S. airliners from traveling to Israel. Prominent politicians from both sides of the political spectrum, including Senator Ted Cruz and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have denounced this move by the FAA. Senator Cruz accused the administration of using the "federal regulatory agency to launch an economic boycott on Israel."
Anchor Brian Williams zeroed in on Bloomberg's blunt critique of the travel ban, as he introduced a report from correspondent Richard Engel: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Dear Guardian, thanks for making this easy! Rarely are a media outlet’s prejudices and blinkered sense of moral equivalence more in evidence than in two stories on the left-wing British newspaper’s site.
Exhibit A:A 461-word July 19 story picked up from the AP. Boko Haram killed more than 100 people when the Islamist group entered a town in North Eastern Nigeria on July 20. They “attacked the town of Damboa before dawn on Friday, firing rocket-propelled grenades, throwing homemade bombs into homes and gunning down people as they tried to escape the ensuing fires.” The accompanying photo captioned as “A screengrab taken on 13 July from a video released by Boko Haram shows the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau.”
As my colleagues have been documenting throughout the day, both NBC and MSNBC have had their share of biased segments against Israel on their Tuesday programs.
So it was rather refreshing to see Hardball host Chris Matthews defend the United States's staunchest -- and only truly democratic -- Middle Eastern ally in his closing "Let Me Finish" commentary for the July 15 program. You can read the transcript below the page break (MP3 audio here, video follows page break; emphasis mine):
That's right -- Cokie Roberts. Yes, the political commentator who has worked at taxpayer-funded National Public Radio since the Reagan era. It wasn't Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, though he was also a guest on ABC's "This Week" when Roberts said what could easily be heard coming from nearly any conservative pundit.
Roberts and company were discussing yet another round of hostilities between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza when Roberts suggested that a widespread perception of American weakness is partially to blame. (Video after the jump)
Echoing past media defenses of Jimmy Carter, Good Morning America's Martha Raddatz on Monday indicated that there are simply too many international flare-ups for John Kerry and the Obama administration to effectively focus on just one. Referring to the ongoing violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Raddatz lamented, "But diplomats really only so much bandwidth when they're dealing with things. They have to prioritize." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The journalist sympathized, adding that such prioritization is "very, very difficult right now with what's going on in the world." Explaining why it's so hard for the administration to handle these problems, Raddatz reminded, "But there really are so many crises that he's dealing with right now. You've got Afghanistan. You've got Iraq."
On NPR's Diane Rehm Show on Wednesday, former Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent Yochi Dreazen (now with Foreign Policy magazine) discussed the growing unrest in Israel, and explained that "the level of distrust toward this White House among Gulf State Arabs in particular is staggeringly high....That includes John Kerry personally. And it includes President Obama even more personally. They don't trust him on a personal level."
Dreazen put that on top of accusations from Israel's defense minister that "John Kerry was trying to do this for a Nobel Peace Prize and because he had messianic tendencies."
On Monday, June 30, it was revealed that the three Israeli teens, one of whom was a dual Israeli-American citizen, that went missing two weeks were found dead, likely the victims of murder from the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas.
While all three network evening news shows reported on the deaths of the three teenage boys,NBC Nightly News only provided a news brief and completely ignored that one of the boys, Naftaly Frenkel, was in fact a U.S. citizen. Anchor Brian Williams did find time to highlight how “President Obama was among those who expressed outrage over the killings.” [See video below.]
On Tuesday's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, during a segment about foreign policy challenges involving Russia and the turmoil in the Middle East, MSNBC.com Executive Editor Richard Wolffe oddly suggested that President Obama finds it to be a "satisfying challenge" because it is "intellectually rigorous" to deal with such substantial foreign policy problems.
He also not surprisingly took a jab at former President Bush, blaming him for the chaos in the Middle East, and asserted that "there's a lot of cleanup there."
Host O'Donnell wondered about what things are like inside the White House as he posed:
On Tuesday's New Day show, during an interview with Paul Wolfowitz, CNN's Chris Cuomo was confrontational toward the former Bush administration Deputy Defense Secretary as the New Day co-host complained about Republicans blaming President Obama's troop withdrawal for the chaos in Iraq, arguing that such talk undermines the President from dealing with the situation because there is not a "united front."
At one point, after Wolfowitz rhetorically asked if he and Cuomo should "sit here and tell Speaker Boehner to shut up," Cuomo shot back, "Yes," and soon complained, "It's hard for" President Obama "to be strong when he's getting attacked by his own."
And, while complaining that Republicans are undermining President Obama's handling of the crisis by blaming him, Cuomo himself tried to push blame onto President Bush, suggesting Bush administration members should express "contrition." Cuomo:
Following the insulting trend of tagging every objection or concern raised about Obama administration policy and conduct as exclusively the province of Republicans and conservatives to an outrageous extreme, Rebecca Kaplan at CBS News opened her Monday story about whether the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) might plan terrorist acts in the U.S. as follows: "Republicans are sounding the warning that the next 9/11-like terror plot could emerge from the regions of Iraq and Syria that are currently dominated by an extremist group bearing down on Baghdad." Really, Rebecca? No one else is worried about that? Wanna bet?
Kaplan also seemed to believe that it would calm readers' nerves if they learned that it will be "at least a year before ISIS might pose more of a serious threat to the U.S." If that was meant to make me feel better, it didn't work. Excerpts follow the jump (links are in original; bolds are mine):
"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain..." (The Gettysburg Address)
The people at NBC who are agonizing over David Gregory's ongoing audience freefall at his Meet the Press perch need only look at the first half of his interview with 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to see why it's happening.
Gregory basically refused to acknowledge the existence of Romney's core argument, which is essentially that he wouldn't have done what President Obama did in withdrawing from Iraq so hastily and leaving things to run on auto-pilot. Instead, he insisted on sticking with a "Well, what would do now?" line of questioning, even though, as Romney indicated, he doesn't have access to intelligence briefings necessary to assert an informed opinion. When that didn't work, he tried to hold Romney to a stale 2007 quote from when conditions were obviously very different. The fact is that wouldn't be facing the present quandary if Obama hadn't acted directly against the (often privately expressed) desires of Iraqi leaders and U.S. intelligence officials to maintain at least a significant advisory presence there. Video and a transcript of the Iraq-related portion of the interview follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Paul Whitefield "is a 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles Times who is copy chief of the editorial pages and a writer/scold for the Opinion L.A. blog." He also has a serious but far from unique case of Bush (and Cheney) Derangement Syndrome and an extraordinary ignorance of the history of last decade's war in Iraq, which included a victory in 2008 the U.S. press, with rare exceptions, refused to recognize.
Clueless Paul, in a Thursday post, claimed that what has happened recently in Iraq proves (italics are his) that "the invasion ... in 2003 wasn’t a very good idea" Admitting that "I don’t know how these things keep sneaking up on us" (I can help you with that, Paul), he petulantly wrote: "Send Mr. (George W.) Bush and Mr. (Dick) Cheney over there and let them try to negotiate a solution," because "they’re the ones who created this mess in the first place." Well no, Paul. Excerpts from Whitefield's work, followed by a pointed riposte from a National Review op-ed, follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
On Friday's NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams strongly hinted that the recent Islamist blitzkrieg in Iraq was completely former President Bush's fault: "Make no mistake: what's happening in Iraq right now is a direct outgrowth of the U.S. decision to invade the country over a decade ago." However, he glossed over the Obama administration's failure to negotiate a continued U.S. presence and pulling out all American forces in late 2011 as a factor in the crisis.
Williams repeated his point to David Gregory: "How does the President sell any action at all to the component of the American people who feel...it's not our dance...even though...we broke it?" Gregory seconded his contention: "Right, that Pottery Barn rule: you broke it; you own it; you got to somehow fix it." Later, Stephanie Gosk did reference the troop pullout, but didn't mention President Obama by name: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Thursday's World News on ABC led with the rapid advance of an Islamist group into the heart of Iraq, but glossed over how correspondent Jonathan Karl grilled outgoing White House Press Secretary Jay Carney over how this development casts doubt on two of President Obama's supposed "top foreign policy accomplishments: ending the war in Iraq and decimating and destroying core al-Qaeda."
Terry Moran noted during how "President Obama today, resisting pleas from the Iraqi government for immediate U.S. air strikes to turn the tide, tread cautiously." Martha Raddatz later underlined that "Obama said himself today that these fighters could end up being a significant threat to our homeland." But neither journalist mentioned how their colleague sparred with Carney about the President's past boasts about Iraq and al Qaeda: [YouTube.com video of the exchange below the jump]
On Thursday, Kyle Olson of Progressives Today blog spotlighted how CNN political contributor Marc Lamont Hill wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the image of Leila Khaled, an infamous Palestinian terrorist, as he conducted an interview for Huffington Post Live. Hill's shirt includes a quote from Khaled, who hijacked airplanes as a member of the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine: "Resistance is not terrorism."
The Huffington Post Live host wore the red short-sleeved shirt as he interviewed author Wendy Williams on May 7, 2014. Olson zeroed in on a controversy from earlier in 2014 involving college students who wore a black version of the same shirt to a conference sponsored by the liberal group J Street: