The New York Times: all the Jew-hatred thats fit to print.
* Before she takes up the Jerusalem post in April, the new New York Times bureau chief might want to stop tweeting to Hizbullah and extremist pro-Palestinian websites and read some mainstream histories of Israel and the Middle East
* NY Times travel writer: "Give me Iran [to write about], but Israel is... something I'd never do"
There is also another dispatch today: Mossad thwarts Iranian attempt to assassinate Barak in Singapore (& Saudi Valentine's Day arrests)
1. Three key Israeli political parties are now headed by women
2. NY Times travel writer: "Give me Iran [to write about], but Israel is... something I'd never do"
3. New NY Times Jerusalem bureau chief unsure whether Israel is an Apartheid state
4. Praising Beinart -- and linking to Hizbullah propaganda
5. BBC wins court victory over calls to make public its internal report on Israel coverage
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
THREE KEY ISRAELI POLITICAL PARTIES ARE NOW HEADED BY WOMEN
Israel is the first country in the world, as far as I am aware, to have three major political parties headed by women, after Zahava Gal-On won the leadership of the leftist Meretz party in recent days.
The centrist Kadima party (the Knesset's largest party with 28 seats) is headed by Tzipi Livni and the left-leaning Labor party is headed by former journalist Shelly Yachimovich after the party ousted Ehud Barak as its leader last year.
The Israeli Supreme Court is also headed by a woman, Dorit Beinisch.
In spite of this, a number of international news outlets have run stories recently on how badly Israeli women are supposedly treated.
For example, the global edition of The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, took up most of one of its four "world news" pages to report on the supposed dire situation of Israeli women. It also ran an op-ed slamming Israel for the plight of its women on the same day. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who as a New York Times reader, may regularly be misinformed about Middle East affairs by the Times' highly selective coverage, then even compared the situation of women in Israel with that of Iran.
Of course, there is a serious problem within some sections of Israel's ultra-orthodox Jewish (and Muslim) communities in the way they treat women. But that's a very small part of the overall picture of the achievements of Israeli women and minorities. But then prominent media such as The New York Times aren't interested in highlighting the many positive aspects of Israeli society.
NY TIMES TRAVEL WRITER: "GIVE ME IRAN [TO WRITE ABOUT], BUT ISRAEL IS... SOMETHING I'D NEVER DO"
The New York Times's utter distaste for Israel isn't just confined to the news and opinion sections.
Last month, The New York Times Travel section featured a piece on Jerusalem by Times travel writer Matt Gross (no relation).
Gross said at the start of his piece that "I will go pretty much anywhere, anytime… Wander on horseback into the mountains of Kyrgyzstan? Why not? Spend the night in a sketchy Burmese border town? Sure! Eat my way through Bridgeport, Conn.? Loved it." But "of the world's roughly 200 nations, there was only one -- besides Afghanistan and Iraq (which my wife has deemed too dangerous) -- that I had absolutely zero interest in ever visiting: Israel."
He continues: "For decades I'd tried to put as much distance between myself and Judaism as possible, and the idea that I was supposed to feel some connection to my ostensible homeland seemed ridiculous. Give me Montenegro, Chiapas, Iran even. But Israel was like Christmas: something I'd never do."
Some might say that only a disgruntled Jew could show so little interest in visiting Jerusalem, one of the world's most fascinating, historic and richly diverse cities, and Israel, one of the world's most interesting countries, with its countless historical, archeological and outstanding natural sites.
For me, the bigger question is, why does The New York Times commission someone with such psychological baggage and identity conflicts to write its travel article on Israel?
It doesn't, for example, send people with hang-ups about Turkey, India, Russia, Egypt or Kenya to write its travel articles about Istanbul, Mumbai, St. Petersburg, Cairo or Nairobi.
NEW NY TIMES JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF UNSURE WHETHER ISRAEL IS AN APARTHEID STATE
In interviews with the American news websites Politico and the Washington Free Beacon over the last two days, Jodi Rudoren, who will become The New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief in April, said she was not able to answer the question of whether Israel was an "Apartheid" state.
(Israel is, of course, not an "Apartheid state". For example, Israel has a higher proportion of minority members of parliament than Britain and France do.)
Rudoren, who is Jewish, and was formerly The New York Times's education editor, has come under fire this week for sending out a series of sympathetic tweets to some of Israel's fiercest detractors.
Many bloggers are asking why exactly she reached out to Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, a website that has called for the end of Israel's existence. Rudoren wrote that she had "heard good things" about Abunimah. Abunimah advocates boycott, divestment, and sanctions of Israel and a one-state solution.
Abunimah has relentlessly attacked Rudoren's predecessor, Ethan Bronner, on the grounds that he was pro-Israel. (I would disagree with that assessment.)
PRAISING BEINART -- AND LINKING TO HIZBULLAH PROPAGANDA
Rudoren is also being criticized for praising Peter Beinart's forthcoming book "The Crisis of Zionism" on twitter as "terrific." In recent years Beinart has also become one of Israel's fiercest, and many would say extremely unfair, critics.
And on Wednesday night, Rudoren, who has been with the Times for more than 13 years (previously writing under her maiden name), promoted a message from a Twitter user whose profile reads: "I dabble in the art of Zionist-busting." The tweet linked to a website called, "Palestine: Love in the Time of Apartheid."
Rudoren also tweeted without comment to an article in a pro-Hizbullah Lebanese newspaper.
Friends of mine who know Rudoren tell me she is not anti-Israel, but just doesn't know much about the conflict.
Before she takes up the Jerusalem post in April, Rudoren might want to stop tweeting and read some mainstream histories of Israel and the Middle East.
The Times' outgoing Jerusalem bureau chief, Ethan Bronner, who is a subscriber to this email list, will be returning to the United States, where he will work as a legal affairs reporter for the Times. (Among past dispatches mentioning Bronner, please see: www.tomgrossmedia.com/mideastdispatches/archives/001243.html)
For general past reporting on the Middle East by The New York Times, please see this.
BBC WINS SUPREME COURT VICTORY OVER CALLS TO MAKE PUBLIC ITS INTERNAL REPORT ON ISRAEL COVERAGE
In a ruling that will disappoint those who believe in press freedom and in holding the publicly-funded BBC up to public scrutiny, the BBC on Wednesday won a claim in Britain's Supreme Court that backed the BBC's refusal to make public a 2004 internal BBC report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
That report, known as the Balen report, is believed to conclude that the BBC is systematically biased against the state of Israel.
Michael Balen, a senior journalist and editorial adviser at the BBC, had been tasked by the BBC to examine "the quality and impartiality of BBC coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
In 2005 a British-Jewish lawyer, Steven Sugar, made a "freedom of information" request for disclosure of the report under Britain's Freedom of Information Act.
Sugar died of cancer in January 2011 but his widow, Fiona Paveley, pursued the case, in the interests of public broadcasting, and in the words of a friend of hers "to stop the BBC telling lies about Israel".
The late Mr. Sugar, who was a subscriber to this email list, said after his earlier success in the House of Lords (a lower court) in BBC v Sugar:
"It is sad that the BBC felt it necessary to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money fighting for three years to try to load the system against those requesting information from it. I am very pleased that the House of Lords has ruled that such obvious unfairness is not the result of the Act."
Five supreme court justices, overturning the decision by the House of Lords, unanimously upheld the BBC's decision not to release the Balen report. Four of the judges, Lord Phillips, Lord Walker, Lord Brown and Lord Mance, dismissed the appeal on the basis that, "even if information is held only partly for the purposes of journalism, art or literature, it is outside the scope of freedom of information requests".
The fifth justice, Lord Wilson, made the distinction that he would have dismissed it on the basis that, if information is held predominantly for the purposes of journalism, art or literature, it is outside the scope of such freedom of information requests and that the Balen report was held predominantly for those purposes.
The judgment left open the possibility that at some future date when the information is being held only for archival purposes, it might be open for release.
Phillips, the president of the supreme court, said in his decision: "Disclosure of material that is held only in the archives will not be likely to interfere with or inhibit the BBC's broadcasting functions. It ought to be susceptible to disclosure under the act."
Tom Gross adds: The BBC remains partisan in its coverage of Israel. As I have outlined in some detail before, Middle East correspondents such as Jeremy Bowen are frequently one-sided. But the BBC no longer has correspondents in the Middle East that broadcast the kind of extreme invective that was common by reporters such as Orla Guerin and Barbara Plett during the periods the Balen report was written.
For more on the BBC's coverage during this period, please see this.