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Media Critique #41: Misreporting Terror

May 9, 2009 | by

Suicide bombers are coming from Arafat's Fatah Al-Aqsa Brigade, even as Arafat meets with U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni to pledge his devotion to peace.

Courtesy of

Muhammad Hashaika, the homicide bomber who blew himself up March 21 on Jerusalem's King George Street had been arrested by the PA after possessing a belt filled with explosives which he planned to explode at a Ra'anana shopping mall.

But then the bomber was released from a Palestinian prison last week, according to Israeli and Palestinian security officials.

The bomber belonged to the Al-Aksa Brigades, part of Arafat's own Fatah faction. This week, the U.S. State Department added the Al-Aksa Brigades to its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).

Matthew Kalman of USA Today (March 14) reported that most members of the Al-Aqsa Brigade receive salaries from Arafat's Palestinian Authority. And USA Today quoted Maslama Thabet, a leader of the Al-Aqsa Brigade, who said: "The truth is, we are Fatah itself... Our commander is Yasser Arafat himself."

Hussein A-Sheikh, a Fatah leader in the West Bank, seems insulted when USA Today asked whether the Al-Aqsa Brigade is under Arafat's control. "Of course, there is control. What do you think? That we are just a bunch of gangs?"

On March 22, Associated press reported seeing a document with Arafat's signature personally approving a payment to Atef Abayat, a leader of the Al Aqsa Brigades responsible for the murder of at least 5 Israelis. The payment is noted on one of the 100,000 documents seized from Orient House last August.

Despite this clear evidence of Arafat's ties to terror, following the King George massacre the media trumpeted Arafat's hypocritical and oft-stated promise to arrest "those who stand behind it. We will not save any effort in doing so."

Monitor your local media to see if they are reporting both sides of the story.

===== (2) GERALDO'S NEW IDENTITY =====

Fox News' Geraldo Rivera's made an emotional outburst regarding Israeli operations against terrorist bases last week. Speaking on Brit Hume's "Special Report" (March 13), Geraldo proclaimed:

"When you use tanks and F-16s, and these sledgehammers against thickly populated civilian towns and cities, that's not fighting terrorism. That is inflicting terrorism... I have been a Zionist my entire life. I would die for Israel. But watching the suffering of the Palestinian people, I'm also becoming a Palestinian-ist..."

As an afterthought, Geraldo added: "Maybe the comparison is not precise."

Reference to Geraldo's remarks and quotations can be found in a column written by The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz at:

In response, Arutz Sheva editor Nissan Ratzlav-Katz questioned in what way Geraldo identifies as a Palestinian-ist. Is he like the 87.4% of Palestinians in a recent poll who support continued suicide bombings of Jewish civilians?

Is he like the woman who appeared on Geraldo's own Fox News with her son, prior to his massacre of five Jewish civilians in Gaza, saying: 'I wish I had 100 sons like him, so as I will sacrifice all of them for the sake of Allah'?

Or does Gerardo identify with the thousands of Palestinians who celebrated the attack on the World Trade Center?

Of course, we don't accuse Geraldo of such identification. But Geraldo's comments do demand clarification.

Send your own comments to:

===== (3) MSNBC & "TERROR" =====

We recommend two honest and thought-provoking columns by MSNBC's ombudsman Dan Fisher on "How to define a terrorist."

Fisher, who once served as a Middle East correspondent, wrote on March 11 that, "as a reporter in the Middle East I referred frequently to 'terrorist' attacks, and I think it's appropriate to do so now. Suicide bombings at night clubs, pizza parlors, or wedding celebrations, are 'terrorist' attacks in my book. So is the ambush of a civilian bus, nationalist-inspired kidnapping and murder, or the placement of a bomb in a schoolyard. I think it's inherently inconsistent to refer, as an Mideast story did on March 7, to 'militants killing civilians.'"

The ombudsman added: "I also believe could do a better job of providing background on groups like Hamas or Islamic Jihad in its news stories. That background should include their stated goals, the fact that they have claimed responsibility for suicide bombings, and that they are considered by the United States to be terrorist organizations."

By March 20, Fisher had to back-pedal. His earlier column claimed that MSNBC has no specific rules of its own about use of the term "terrorist." But then Fisher discovered that MSNBC "reporters and producers have been instructed not to use [the term 'terrorism'] in news reports on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict except in direct quotations."

Fisher responded: "I disagree with blanket rules that disallow the use of the terms in any context. I don't think it's a violation of journalistic impartiality to describe certain acts targeting civilian non-combatants as "terrorism... For the moment,'s senior producers and I are clearly in disagreement on this issue."

Read Fisher's columns at:

You can send comments to Fisher at:

===== (4) DETROIT NEWS & TERROR =====

Nolan Finley, editorial page editor of The Detroit News, emphasized the evil intention of Palestinian terrorists in his March 17 op-ed entitled, "Israel's children are the target of Middle East terror campaign." Finley charged:

"The ugly little secret of the Middle East conflict is that a favorite target of Palestinian terrorists are the children, teen-agers and young adults of Israel. They appear to be intentionally killing Israel's kids. The slaughter is carried out by cold-hearted murderers who search for bar mitzvahs, high schools, teen discos, wedding parties, family restaurants -- any place likely to draw young people -- before touching off their suicide bombs."

Pro-Arafat advocacy groups were furious and launched an attack on Finley. They were particularly incensed by Finley's judicious observation: "Certainly, Palestinian children are dying as well. And while there is a clear moral difference between intentionally targeting children for killing and accidentally killing children in a military engagement, a dead child is a dead child. The parents mourn equally. Though it is difficult to understand how Palestinian parents can grieve over children killed by Israeli gunfire, while celebrating the deaths of children they themselves brainwash and turn into human bombs."

Read Finley's full column at:

Send comments to the following Detroit News addresses (as printed by pro-Arafat groups):

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