Thursday, October 24, 2002

Reporter-centric An anonymous person forwarded me this email exchange with Reporters Without Frontiers about their report which ranked the Palestinian Authority's respect for press freedoms higher than those of Israel.

To: Reporters Without Frontiers

Just 1 or 2 questions: is it possible that some countries are nice to journalists (and receive a high score) because they are generally getting good press?

And that these same countries would be much more repressive if they were getting bad press, or in the middle of a war?

Or that these same countries leave media intimidation to freelance groups (eg. Lebanon and Hezbollah)?

From: RSF - Afrique []
Sent: Wed, October 23, 2002 6:10 PM
Subject: Re: World Press Freedom Survey


I dont think countries like Benin or Senegal (more than 1000 people recently died in a ferry accident and a war is dividing the country for more than ten years) are getting a good press. And there is a real press freedom there. They have a good rank in our index.

On the other hand, when there is a war in a country of course journalists are often victims of it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

4 more families have returned to Khirbat Yanoun (report)
Please inform me of any European media reports on Shimon Peres' European Parliament speech ....
The NYC Transit Commissioner thinks/fears that suicide bombings will eventually take place in New York (report via Alis)

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

I agree with Gil and Imshin, that there is now a disturbing sense of fatigue and jadedness about these terror attacks. A tabloid paper today had the headline "Fiery Deathtrap" accompanied with pictures of the bus and victims. But how upset or outraged can you be when you've seen it so many times?

Some OK analysis pieces on the attack by Ze'ev Schiff and Gerald Steinberg.

RibbityFrog informed me that he is busy now with Wisdom and Eschatology, but hopes to blog more soon.

I was in the elevator with a co-worker who lives in the settlement of Beit Horon. I asked him if any of the teenagers in his locale had been camping out in Havat Gilad. He smiled as he said dismissively "No, our settlement is close to Jerusalem".

Much of what Palestinians think about Israelis comes from imagination and rumor-mongering. Today's Yediot Ahronot included a letter to the editor by a Palestinian from the town of Dura near Hebron. He wrote that we wanted to inform Israelis of what is happening in Hebron (here I paraphrase): "Every few days Israeli soldiers gather up a group of men and take them away, supposedly to be questioned. In fact they are taken into a settlement, where the soldiers force them to work for the settlers. They ask each man how old he his and force him to do an amount of building work according to his age. Then they free them without questioning."

Israeli companies are continuing layoffs, including some companies that are doing comparatively well (report)
Palestinian Satellite TV's English broadcast just announced that the IDF has circled Jenin anew - but without any mention whatsoever of today's bus bombing at Karkur that was launched from Jenin.

They just go on and on about how oppressed they are and talk like the IDF just acts at random.

Monday, October 21, 2002

A car bomb hit a bus north - word now is at least 7 dead and 30 injured (report).

Update: Now 12 dead + the 2 bombers.

Iyad Sawalhe of the Jenin branch of Islamic Jihad is almost certainly behind the bombing (report). Israel is in a bit of a bind - responding to the attack could displease the Iraq-minded Americans; not responding sends a message.

Ehud Yaari on Channel 2 said that there were something like 45 "specific warnings" in the past 2 weeks, and also numerous arrests and several foiled attacks. He also said that there is discussion among Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and some other groups to renew the intifada in a way that is arm's length from the PA. Fatah is largely quiet for now.
Near Nablus, mosques have been fancifully broadcasting that settlers killed a Palestinian, and this set off riots. Settlers harrassed olive harvesters and some settlers were arrested. (report). Oh and there was yet another terrorist infiltration attempt besides.

Settlers write to Jpost to describe their side of the olive-harvest/warning-shot mess (here).
The IDF is exiting Hebron today. The conventional wisdom is that this and other moves are connected to the imminent US attack on Iraq. But why exactly? These measures won't make Israel or the US more beloved to the Arab or Muslim world. Are they part of some conditions being imposed by Qatar (where the US is setting up bases) or other Arab/European allies? Maybe the US is planning for something to get a lot of attention on al-Jazeera.

Here's an article from the AP on Kfar Yanoun. It's written in that antiseptic wire service tone, but the allegations are more imaginative:
Groups of masked Jewish settlers have charged into the village, coming at night with dogs and horses, stealing sheep, hurling stones through windows and beating the men with fists and rifle butts, Palestinian residents said.
The Itamar settlement has a web page.
Palestinian Satellite TV just a minute ago claimed that (approximately) "the settlers are continuing their ethnic cleansing that they have been talking about for the past 6 months and have forced the entire 160-person population of El Yanun from their homes".

Now, they just said that today Israeli forces shelled a residential neighborhood in Khan Yunis, injuring 4; and that settlers from Neve Dekalim fired artillery randomly.

All of the above is fabricated, in case you didn't know. The 10 residents of Yanun who were harassed while harvesting olives have returned to their homes. The shelling, 6 months of ethnic cleansing threats, and artillery stuff is totally made up.

They had a British woman call in and talk about how horrible the Israelis are. Then she said something about how if there's a criminal hiding somewhere they should send in troops and go house-to-house "which is what any other country would do". This left the program's hosts speechless, since they couldn't say they agreed that Israel should actually attempt to apprehend their beloved resisters.

Update: davidbak provides this NYtimes link about Yanun which restates Palestinian allegations, but with less inflammatory language and more nuance than Palestinian TV. Last night's Haaretz bulletins said that the 10 residents described had returned.

Joel Greenberg's NYTimes article claims that 140 other residents were harassed into leaving over "recent years", but I can't find any record of this. Greenberg writes:

But settlers have also made violent forays into Khirbat Yanun itself, coming with increasing frequency over the past year, especially on the Jewish sabbath and holidays, villagers said. The settlers would threaten residents at gunpoint, hurl stones from rooftops, smash windows and vandalize property, according to the villagers. They described huddling in their homes with frightened children as settlers pounded on doors.

This statement is suspect. Itamar is a religious community: while it's unfortunately conceivable that some residents could flout Jewish law's prohibition of threats, vandalism etc. it's not conceivable that they would travel 6 miles to do so on the Sabbath and holidays.

Update: An August article by Mathew Gutman in Jpost describes the Itamar/Yanoun situation and quotes an Itamar resident who seems to acknowledge the generator incident. Today's Maariv has a long article also. Again, what actually happened was obscured by Palestinian TV's brief and lurid account of "ethnic cleansing" etc.