The ONLY active voice for American Arab Journalists.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Israeli missiles strikes intentionally target and injure Reuters journalists in Gaza

In Gaza, Israeli missile strikes Reuters vehicle and wounds two

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 USA Phone: (212) 465‑1004 Fax: (212) 465‑9568 Web: E-Mail:
Contact: Abi Wright
Telephone: (212) 465-1004 x-105

New York, August 28, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the apparent targeting of two Palestinian cameramen by Israeli forces in Gaza City late Saturday. A missile struck their armored car in the densely populated Shijaiyah neighborhood, seriously wounding Fadel Shana, a freelance cameraman for Reuters, and Sabbah Hmaida, a cameraman with a private Palestinian TV facilities house, Media Group.

Reuters said the vehicle was clearly marked “Press” on all sides. The missile struck the letter “P” of the bright red “Press” sign on the car’s roof, the news agency added. Shana lost consciousness for several hours and suffered shrapnel wounds in his right hand and leg, Reuters reported. Hmaida sustained serious leg wounds from shrapnel.

Shana had rushed out to film a suspected Israeli air strike. He was about 1,300 yards (1,200 meters) from the nearest Israeli soldiers when the vehicle was struck, Reuters reported.

“We condemn this missile strike on a vehicle that was clearly identified as press,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “The Israeli military must investigate this attack and hold those responsible accountable.”

An Israel Defense Force (IDF) spokesperson said the car had aroused suspicion because it was near soldiers in a combat area at night, Reuters reported. “This car was not identified by the army as a press vehicle,” army spokeswoman Capt. Noa Meir told Reuters. “If journalists were hurt, we regret it.”

The Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Israel called the attack an “outrageous targeting” and demanded a full investigation, adding, “there is a serious risk that relations between the FPA and the IDF will be significantly damaged.”

Other allegations of deliberate targeting of journalists covering fighting in Gaza and south Lebanon have been made against the Israeli army over the past two months. On July 27, Palestine Television cameraman Ibrahim al-Atla was seriously wounded by an Israeli tank shell during a lull in shooting between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces in Shijaiyah.

In Lebanon, crews from four Arab television stations told CPJ that Israeli aircraft fired missiles within 80 yards (75 meters) of them on July 22 to prevent them from covering the effects of Israel’s bombardment of the area around the town of Khiam, in the eastern sector of the Israel-Lebanon border.

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit

Monday, August 28, 2006

NAAJA at SPJ Annual Convention in Chicago with photos

Arab-Jewish comedy highlights Journalists ConFab
Arab American Media Syndication

(Chicago/August 28, 2006) -- The Holy Land Comedy Tour performances of Jewish American Comedian Aaron Freeman and Palestinian partner Ray Hanania were featured this year at the annual convention of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Hanania also manned a booth at the SPJ Convention on behalf of the National Arab American Journalists Association and worked with a handful of Arab and Muslim journalists to lobby mainstream reporters to "report smart" on the American Arab and Muslim community.

"If we want to correct the flaws that exist in American mainstream journalism, we have to be at the frontline in every way from addressing serious issues to also engaging in more subtle ways to change negative perceptions that are written in American stones," Hanania said.

More than 600 professional journalists from around the country attended the four day convention at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago. NAAJA’s booth featured fact sheets on the Middle East, Arabs, Muslims and political issues, and distributed copies of the best Arab American newspapers and magazines from around the country. NAAJA volunteers also distributed copies of resumes to editors and publishers on behalf of about 15 Arab American journalists.

NAAJA has several chapters that are in formation and works closely as a caucus with the Asian American Journalists Association. Hanania serves on the AAJA Media Monitoring Committee which challenges unprofessional references to Asians, Arabs and Muslims in the mainstream media.

NAAJA remains in contact with about 147 Arab Americans working fulltime in either mainstream American journalism positions, or in the Arab American ethnic media for newspaper or magazines. There are about 70 Arab American newspapers and magazines, according to NAAJA records that are updated each month.

"The convention attendees were very interested in obtaining contact information for editors and publishers at Arab American media because these editors and publishers can be their best and most reliable sources," Hanania said.

"The biggest complaint I heard from mainstream journalists is that they cannot find reliable resources, sources or community representatives and no one is more representative or reliable than the publisher, editor or reporter for a quality Arab American newspaper or magazine."

Hanania noted that "The biggest complaint I heard from Arab American journalists who attended the SPJ Conference is that they are targeted by hate groups like Little Green Footballs,, Daniel Pipes and other anti-Arab hatemongers simply because they happen to be Arab American or Muslim and they have very few resources to turn to in order to counter the pressure often exerted on their media employers.

"Arab American journalists need support. The reason we are targeted is that these anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate groups know that if we enter the mainstream journalism system and press for true professionalism, the coverage of the Middle East will change from the one-sided bias that it is today," Hanania said.

Now celebrating his 30th year in Journalism, Hanania has won two SPJ Chicago Headline column writing awards and two Chicago Newspaper Guild column writing awards. He entered standup comedy after Sept. 11 and performs for Arab, Jewish and mainstream American audiences across the country appearing on the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, NPR and at such clubs as Carolines on Broadway and the New York Comedy Club.

Hanania partnered with Aaron Freeman and Sandy Shea to perform the hit comedy show "The Holy Land Comedy Tour." Information on their show is available at or

The SPJ Convention also featured a panel discussion on "Improving Coverage of Arab and Muslim Communities" that included Chicago CAIR Director Ahmad Rehab, Islamica Magazine Senior Editor Firas Ahmad, Columnist and author Hesham Hassaballa, MPAC Communications Director Edina Lekovic, NAAJA activist Ray Hanania and moderator Doris Norrito of the Tampa Bay Weekly Newspapers.

Ahmad spoke about the need to add greater "depth of coverage" to the Arab and Muslim community by expanding beyond politics to include more social and cultural events. Rehab said that journalists must seek a broader understanding of the communities they cover and "do their leg work."


An Arab journalists stops by to say hello and get resource and network information.

Ray Hanania and Aaron Freeman

Materials at the NAAJA booth

Panel: discussion on "Improving Coverage of Arab and Muslim Communities" that included Chicago CAIR Director Ahmad Rehab (2nd right), Islamica Magazine Senior Editor Firas Ahmad (2nd left), Columnist and author Hesham Hassaballa (3rd left), MPAC Communications Director Edina Lekovic (right), NAAJA activist Ray Hanania (3rd right) and moderator Doris Norrito of the Tampa Bay Weekly Newspapers (left).


NAAJA Urges Sudan to release Journalist

The National Arab American Journalists Association called on the Government of Sudan to drop charges against a prominent American journalist accused of spying.

Paul Salopek, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, was charged with espionage and two other criminal counts in a Sudanese court Saturday (August 26, 2006) , three weeks after he was detained by pro-government forces in the war-torn province of Darfur, according to the Chicago Tribune Sunday.

Salopek, 44, was on a freelance assignment for National Geographic magazine, the newspaper wrote, when he was arrested with two Chadian nationals, his interpreter and driver. If convicted, they could be imprisoned for years.

"Salopek is a highly regarded journalist and that achievement must be weighed when considering his fate. The National Arab American Journalists Association urges the Government of Sudan to recognize Salopek for what he is, a professional journalist seeking to report on a story," said NAAJA Chicago Chapter organizer Ray Hanania.

Salopek was on a scheduled leave of absence from the Tribune when he and the two Chadians were detained Aug. 6 and jailed. All three were officially charged this past week with espionage, passing information illegally and writing "false news," in addition to a violation of Sudan's immigration laws by entering the country without a visa.

Salopek was on assignment to write an article on the sub-Saharan African region known as the Sahel for National Geographic, a prestigious magazine that has a proven record of balanced and rich reporting on Middle East countries, culture and events.

NAAJA urges its members to write on this topic and urge the Sudanese government to respect the rights of journalists and respect the facts which suggest that Salopek is not a spy but a dedicated and proven professional journalist trying to do his job.


Tribune reporter held in alleged spy case in Sudan

Tribune correspondent charged as spy in Sudan

Paul Salopek, 2-time Pulitzer winner, was on freelance assignment for National Geographic
By Tim Jones
Tribune national correspondent
Published August 26, 2006, 4:54 PM CDT

Paul Salopek, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, was charged with espionage and two other criminal counts in a Sudanese court Saturday, three weeks after he was detained by pro-government forces in the war-torn province of Darfur.

Salopek, 44, who was on a freelance assignment for National Geographic magazine, was arrested with two Chadian nationals, his interpreter and driver. If convicted, they could be imprisoned for years.

Chicago Tribune Editor and Senior Vice President Ann Marie Lipinski called Salopek "one of the most accomplished and admired journalists of our time. He is not a spy."Our fervent hope is that the authorities in Sudan will recognize his innocence and quickly allow Paul to return home to his wife, Linda, and to his colleagues," Lipinski said. She added: "We are deeply worried about Paul and his well-being, and appeal to the government of Sudan to return him safely home."

Salopek was on a scheduled leave of absence from the Tribune when he and the two Chadians were detained Aug. 6 and jailed. All three were officially charged Saturday with espionage, passing information illegally and writing "false news," in addition to a violation of Sudan's immigration laws by entering the country without a visa.

A judge in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state in western Sudan, granted a defense motion for a continuance, delaying the start of the trial until Sept. 10.

The hearing lasted about 40 minutes before the judge granted the continuance.In the week since editors at the Tribune and National Geographic learned of the arrest of the three men, they and others have protested and worked through political and diplomatic channels in the U.S. and overseas to secure their release.Chris Johns, National Geographic's editor in chief, said Salopek was on assignment to write an article on the sub-Saharan African region known as the Sahel.

"He had no agenda other than to fairly and accurately report on the region," Johns said. "He is a world-recognized journalist of the highest standing, with a deep knowledge and respect for the continent of Africa and its people."

Salopek has been in telephone contact with National Geographic and Tribune editors and earlier this week was visited by a congressional delegation led by U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.).

"Paul did a very foolish thing coming into the country without a visa and he knows that," Shays said in an interview Saturday. " . . . He knew he made a mistake. But it's not in anybody's interest--in their or our governments--to have this blown out of proportion. This is a reporter doing what reporters do. They don't have any designs against the government. They're just reporting what they see."

The charges come amid increasing signs that diplomatic efforts to resolve the continuing crisis in Darfur are failing. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer, who has called the situation in Darfur dire, is leading a mission that she hopes will persuade the Sudan government to accept an expanded United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur.

The presiding judge in Salopek's case on Aug. 14 sentenced Slovenian writer and activist Tomo Kriznar to two years in prison on charges of spying and publishing false information. Kriznar admitted entering the country without a visa but denied the spying charge. His attorneys are appealing.Earlier this month, the same judge ordered the deportation of an American who the U.S. embassy described as a college student doing research when detained.

Salopek, who has extensive experience reporting from Africa, had been traveling in Chad, near the Sudanese border. When arrested, Salopek was carrying two U.S. passports--a legal practice, common among journalists and other frequent travelers who require multiple visas--and satellite maps of the conflict zone in Darfur, printed from public Web sites. According to sources, Sudanese officials view the passports and maps as evidence of espionage.

National Geographic became concerned when Salopek failed to show up at a long-scheduled appointment Aug. 17. His last contact with his wife had been Aug. 5.

During Saturday's hearing, the judge allowed reporters and photographers in the courtroom. Omer Hassan, defense attorney for the three men, argued they could not get a fair trial because of prejudicial remarks reported in the media by the governor of North Darfur. Specifically, the governor called Salopek a criminal. The judge ordered that such remarks stop.Hassan sought a trial delay of three weeks; the judge ordered a two-week continuance.

Salopek, who appeared gaunt, spoke briefly during the hearing, reciting his name, age and marital status.Salopek's arrest is one more case in an international trend of charges against journalists. A Beijing court on Friday dismissed a state secrets charge against a researcher for The New York Times but sentenced him to three years in prison on a lesser, unrelated fraud charge.

Salopek spent several years as the Tribune's bureau chief in Johannesburg. His 2001 Pulitzer for International Reporting recognized his work on the continent, including his coverage of the civil war in Congo. The Pulitzer board cited Salopek "for his reporting on the political strife and disease epidemics ravaging Africa, witnessed firsthand as he traveled, sometimes by canoe, through rebel-controlled regions of the Congo."

Salopek had reported from Sudan for a 2003 National Geographic story entitled "Shattered Sudan: Drilling for Oil, Hoping for Peace." He also co-wrote a piece from Africa for National Geographic in September 2005, entitled "Who Rules the Forest?" which examined the effects of war in Central Africa.Sudan has been racked by civil war for decades. Northern and southern Sudanese leaders signed a peace agreement in January 2005, but that has done nothing to end strife in the western region known as Darfur.

The rebels in Darfur, mostly black African farming tribes, have been fighting the country's Arab-dominated central government. The government has used an Arab militia called the janjaweed to attack rebels and ordinary villagers in Darfur, causing 2 million people to flee their homes and leading to the deaths of more than 180,000, many from disease and hunger.

The Sudanese government tightly controls access to the region, more than 500 miles west of Khartoum.Salopek, a California native, joined the Tribune in 1996 and has covered Africa, the Balkans, Central Asia and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Before his 2001 Pulitzer, he won a Pulitzer in 1998 for explanatory reporting for his coverage of the controversial Human Genome Diversity Project.

Before joining the Tribune, Salopek worked as a writer for National Geographic for three years. Before that, he reported on U.S.-Mexico border issues for the El Paso (Texas) Times. In 1990, he was Gannett News Service's bureau chief in Mexico City.Salopek's most recent work for the Tribune was a July 30 special section called, "A Tank of Gas, a World of Trouble."

Based on Salopek's reporting from four continents, the report documented the United States' addiction to oil.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

US Arrests satellite distributor for including Hezbollah TV Station

New Yorker arrested for broadcasting Hizbollah TV

U.S. authorities have arrested a New York man for broadcasting Hizbollah television station al-Manar, which has been designated a terrorist entity by the U.S. Treasury Department, prosecutors said on Thursday. Javed Iqbal, 42, was arrested on Wednesday because his Brooklyn-based company HDTV Ltd. was providing New York-area customers with the Hizbollah-operated channel, federal prosecutors said in a statement.It did not say how long Iqbal's company had been providing satellite broadcasts of al-Manar, which the U.S. Treasury Department in March had designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity, making it a crime to conduct business with al-Manar.Iqbal has been charged with conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the statement said. Federal authorities searched HDTV's Brooklyn office and Iqbal's Staten Island home, where Iqbal was suspected of maintaining satellite dishes, the statement said.The U.S. Treasury Department froze U.S. assets of al-Manar in March, saying it supported fund-raising and recruitment activities of Hizbollah, a Shiite Muslim group backed by Syria and Iran that has been at war with Israel in southern Lebanon.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

NAAJA Condemns kidnapping of Fox journalists, Urges immediate release

NAAJA condemns kidnapping of FOX News journalists
Urges kidnappers to release hostages immediately

Chicago August 23, 2006 -- The National Arab American Journalists Association today denounced the kidnapping of two reporters who disappeared last week in the Gaza Strip.

A group calling itself the "Holy Jihad Brigades" released a video of two Fox News Channel journalists it said it kidnapped in the Gaza Strip last week and demanded the release of Muslim prisoners held by the United States within 72 hours in exchange for the journalists, an American and a New Zealander.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) the group did not say what would happen if its demands were not met.

Correspondent Steve Centanni, 60, and freelance cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, appeared in good health in the video, which was obtained by the Gaza-based news service Ramattan. They were kidnapped August 14 in the center of Gaza City. Until today's video there had been no word from the journalists or indication of who was behind the abduction, in contrast to previous journalist kidnappings in Gaza.

NAAJA urges that the kidnappers release FOX News correspondent Steve Centanni and freelance cameraman Olaf Wigg immediately.

We demand that the kidnappers respect the human rights of these individuals and insure their safety.

NAAJA calls on the kidnappers to seek non-violent means to address their grievances and to respect the importance of allowing journalists the freedom to pursue their stories.

While many members of NAAJA believe that the mainstream American news media is biased and discriminates against Arab Americans and fails to present both sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict, we do not believe that this bias is an excuse for any form of criminal activity.

The kidnapping of the two journalists is a criminal act.


CPJ: Extremists in Palestine kidnap two FOX News reporters

GAZA: Islamic group says it holds two Fox News journalists

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 USA Phone: (212) 465­1004 Fax: (212) 465­9568 Web: E-Mail: Contact: Abi Wright e-mail: Telephone: (212) 465-1004 x-105

New York, August 23, 2005—A group calling itself the Holy Jihad Brigades today released a video of two Fox News Channel journalists it said it kidnapped in the Gaza Strip last week. In a statement with the video, the previously unknown group demanded the release of Muslim prisoners held by the United States within 72 hours in exchange for the journalists, an American and a New Zealander. The group did not say what would happen if its demands were not met.

Correspondent Steve Centanni, 60, and freelance cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, appeared in good health in the video, which was obtained by the Gaza-based news service Ramattan. They were kidnapped August 14 in the center of Gaza City. Until today's video there had been no word from the journalists or indication of who was behind the abduction, in contrast to previous journalist kidnappings in Gaza.

"We are relieved that our colleagues are alive and appear in good health,” said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “But we remain deeply concerned that these professional journalists are being held against their will. We urge their kidnappers to set them free immediately.”

In the video, Centanni and Wiig are seated on the floor. Centanni, a U.S. citizen, said that the journalists were in “fairly good condition” and that they were being treated well.
"Just want to let you know I'm here and alive and give my love to my family and friends and ask you to do anything you can to try to help us get out of here," Centanni said.

Wiig, a New Zealander based in London, added: “If you could apply any political pressure on the local government here in Gaza and the West Bank that would be much appreciated by Steve and myself.”

Once rare, journalist abductions in the Gaza Strip have increased over the last two years. At least seven other journalists have been kidnapped during that time. All have been released unharmed and usually after several hours. The journalist held the longest was French national Mohammad Ouathi, a soundman for France 3 television. He was held for eight days last year before being released unharmed.

The Fox News journalists’ kidnappings have been widely condemned by Palestinian officials and journalists. Hamas, the Islamic group that leads the Palestinian government, issued a statement calling the abductions morally reprehensible. The two main journalists’ associations in Gaza have also launched appeals. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, a union controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and the Palestinian Journalists’ Block, a committee run by Palestinian journalists, both issued statements calling for the release of the Fox News team.

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit

Media Bias in coverage of Israel's attack against Lebanon

Amnesty: Israel committed war crimes in Lebanon campaign
By The Associated Press

LONDON - In a report to be released Wednesday, Amnesty International accuses Israel of war crimes, saying it broke international law by deliberately destroying Lebanon's civilian infrastructure during its recent war with Hezbollah guerrillas.

The human rights group said initial evidence, including the pattern and scope of the Israeli attacks, high number of civilian casualties, widespread damage and statements by Israeli officials "indicate that such destruction was deliberate and part of a military strategy, rather than 'collateral damage.'" Amnesty International, whose delegates monitored the fighting in both Israel and Lebanon, said Israel violated international laws banning direct attacks on civilians and barring indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks.

The group urged the United Nations to look into whether both combatants, Israel and Hezbollah, broke international law. Amnesty International said it would address Hezbollah's attacks on Israel separately. A senior Israeli government official, in Jerusalem, said his country acted legally. "Israel conformed to every international law. We had attorneys in every meeting, everything we did along the way we fully explored international law," said the official, who was not authorized to speak to the media on the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Israel suffered international condemnation when it attacked targets in southern Lebanon hours after Hezbollah guerrillas operating there killed three Israeli soldiers and captured two in a cross-border raid July 12. The Israel Defense Forces has said that between that raid and the August 14 UN-brokered cease-fire, it launched more than 7,000 air attacks on Lebanese targets and the navy conducted about 2,500 bombardments.

The UN's children's fund, UNICEF, estimates that some 1,183 people died, mostly civilians and about a third of them children, while the Lebanese Higher Relief Council says 4,054 people were injured and 970,000 displaced. UN officials reported that around 15,000 civilian homes were destroyed.

The Amnesty report cited "the widespread destruction of apartments, houses, electricity and water services, roads, bridges, factories and ports," which, taken with statements by Israeli officials, "suggests a policy of punishing both the Lebanese government and the civilian population in an effort to get them to turn against Hezbollah," it said.

It accused Israel of applying an overly broad interpretation of what constituted a military objective when it attacked power plants, bridges, main roads, seaports and Beirut's international airport, all of which are "presumed to be civilian."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

SPJ Panel to address challenges facing Arab American journalists

Workshop title: Improving coverage of Arab and Muslim communities

SPJ National Journalism Conference: August 24-27, 2006
Program track: Missions-Diversity
Date: Friday, August 25, 2006

Place: Toronto Room, Gold Level, West Tower

Time: 3:30-4:30pm Workshop scheduled:


Where are the moderate Arabs and Muslims? Journalists covering these populations face a myriad of different voices from many cultures and must decide which ones actually represent the community.

Widespread coverage of violence by a few distorts the picture of a majority. Fear of being misrepresented by the press keeps moderates from being heard while lack of cultural understanding confuses reporters.

The fast growing Muslim population, from African Americans to immigrant Arabs to converts, creates a need for journalists to know more about Islam, Arabs and Middle Eastern cultures and how they fit into the fabric of America.
Expert panelists will address common misconceptions, answer questions and link journalists to helpful resources that ensure accurate and fair coverage of Muslim/Arab communities across America.

Moderator: Doris Norrito, news correspondent Tampa Bay Newspapers Weekly
Panelists: Firas Ahmad, senior editor Islamica Magazine;
Ray Hanania, National Arab American Journalists Association (NAAJA);
Hesham Hassaballah, Pulmonary and Critical Care physician and Beliefnet columnist;
Edina Lekovic, Communications Director for Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC);
Ahmed Rehab, Director of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Chicago.


Why we need an Arab Journalism Association -- NAAJA

Building a professional Arab American journalism voice

I am urging professional journalists who are of Arab American heritage to please become involved in our efforts to strengthen professional Arab American journalism ... we have created a professional journalism association that is based on the structure of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Asian American Journalists, two groups that are helping us build our professional journalism voices ... it's called the National Arab American Journalists Association

NAAJA is not about politics, but about being professional and, more importantly, networking to advance Arab Americans in the professional mainstream and Arab American media ...

Your support would be great.

There are no fees. No one checks your political views at the door.

All we look for are individuals who are engaged in professional journalism to join our network and to work to build a network that will include your base. We have chapters in Chicago and in Austin, with several in formation, but we need more. Because we do not have funding, each chapter organizes their own activities under the NAAJA banner and they can work with whomever they wish to promote professionalism and also accuracy and fairness. We are activists in only one real cause, identifying and then challenging anti-Arab bias in the mainstream media as well as encouraging young Arab American to pursue professional journalism.

Our young people need role models and you can be a part of that.

Anyway, all it takes is just saying Yes, and then noting your involvement in your work, linking up with us (and asking us to link your efforts, too) ...

We will be at the SPJ Convention protesting mainstream media bias in Chicago on August 24-27 with a booth and handing out materials ... If you have material you feel should be distributed at our booth to hand out to the media that fits our profile and needs defined above, please send them to me at

Ray Hanania
PO Boix 2127
Orland Park, IL 60462, USA

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The bias that exists in the American news media

The bias in the mainstream American news media
By Ray Hanania

Although the American media hates to admit it, when it comes to Israel, the news media in this country is biased. Unfair. Un-objective. And, skewered to one side. Israel’s.

Just saying that can keep Arab Americans from being hired at most American newspapers.

The reality of the bias is two-fold. It exists among the reporters and it exists on the Op-Ed pages of the nation’s newspapers (and in the commentaries of the broadcast media).

Let’s talk about the reporters.

Imagine, if you will, if the lead reporter covering the Lebanon-Israel fight was based on Beirut and was, let’s say, Palestinian. Can you imagine the horror of the conflict that would be conveyed from the "Arab side?"

Well, you’ve just imagined Wolf "Ze’ev’ Blitzer anchoring from Jerusalem on CNN, with a very pro-Israel perspective that by its nature is imbalanced.

It’s not that Wolf is anti-Arab. But your personal feelings, upbringing and even your religion ALL DO PLAY A PART in how you cover a story.

Because the Middle East conflict is not about the big differences that separate Arabs and Jews, but about the nuances of a vicious conflict that takes thousands of lives every year. And those nuances in the conflict are very important.

Part of this problem is that the Arab community hasn’t pushed their children into journalism. Arabs in American come from a Middle East controlled by tyrants, dictators and monarchs who regularly undermine civil rights and prohibit truly free speech.

Well, speech isn’t free in America, either, though. In the Arab World, there are certain things you can’t say in the media like criticize the King, government, public servant or leader, or religion, or the country's politics. That could get you censured, detained, arrested and even jailed. It might even result in your death.

Americans are not so uncouth. There are certain things that Americans don’t like to hear and if you say them they won’t just grab you and throw you in jail or kill you. They will quietly complain to your employer, who will fire you or "lay you off." They will complain to the police who will investigate you and conduct 45 page long FBI reports on who you are, speaking with and impacting negatively everyone who might have significance in your life.

That’s how censorship works in America, the land of the some people are more free than other people.

Arabs are not used to free speech in the Middle East, and they have never really had it in America. So they don’t tell their children that being a journalist is a proud profession, but rather a profession of scandalous rogues and deceitful political manipulators.

Sound familiar?

Clearly, Arab Americans need to fight back and push their children into the journalism profession because in America, the real religion of power is communications and the news media is temple in which they pray.

Then there is also the issue of the lopsided, skewered in favor of Israel Op-Ed pages of most newspapers.

The fact is that newspapers are either ignorant or are afraid to publish both sides of the Middle East conflict.

It is amazing to me that some newspapers will have "two sides" both written by supporters of Israel, and never publish an Arab American voice.

The Op-Ed pages are not supposed to be a score board, but they should have some balance. When you have 100 columns by pro-Israel writers and maybe two by pro-Arab writers, something is wrong. And if you don’t see the problem, then you are not a professional journalist. You are a hack. A political activist shilling for a partisan perspective. Don’t call yourself a journalist. You are a disgrace to the profession.

Because, there are many good people in journalism who see this problem. In fact, the majority of journalists recognize this issue. But, only a small handful can do anything about it. The Op-Ed editors and the management of the newspaper. And the majority of them also see the problem and like it that way.

Another problem is that when a newspaper does offer an "Arab viewpoint" it almost always has to be paired up with the pro-Israel view point.

Are you that fearful of running an Arab American commentary?

Apparently, the answer from the cowardly journalism lion is a roaring "YES."

Shame on all of you.

That is not journalism. And until you change it, you cannot call yourselves professional journalists.

We Arab Americans are not asking the mainstream American media to be pro-Arab. We are asking that they just be fair and include our voices in the public discussion.

(Ray Hanania is a founder of the National Arab American Journalists Association and an award winning columnist, author and standup comedian. He formerly wrote for Creators Syndicate until he was told that most American newspapers did not want to publish his views. Reach him at

Monday, August 07, 2006

Arab Journlaist/Photographer accused of faking photos for Reuters


Reuters admits to more image manipulation

News organization withdraws photograph of Israeli fighter jet, admits image was doctored, fires photographer. Reuters pledges 'tighter editing procedure for images of the Middle East conflict' Yaakov Lappin

Reuters has withdrawn a second photograph and admitted that the image was doctored, following the emergence of new suspicions against images provided by the news organization. On Sunday, Reuters admitted that one of its photographers, Adnan Hajj, used software to distort an image of smoke billowing from buildings in Beirut in order to create the effect of more smoke and damage.

The latest image to face doubts is a photograph of an Israeli F-16 fighter jet over the skies of Lebanon, seen in the image firing off "missiles during an air strike on Nabatiyeh," according to the image's accompanying text provided by Reuters.

Reuters has recalled all photos by Adnan Hajj

The owner of the My Pet Jawa web log noted that the warplane in the picture is actually firing defensive flares aimed at dealing with anti-aircraft missiles.

Caught Red Handed

Reuters admits altering Beirut photo / Yaakov Lappin

Reuters withdraws photograph of Beirut after Air Force attack after US blogs, photographers point out 'blatant evidence of manipulation.'
Full Story

In addition, Shackelford says the flares have been replicated by Reuters, giving the impression that the jet was firing many "missiles," thereby distortion the image.

"The F-16 in the photo is not firing missiles, but is rather dropping chaffe or flares designed to be a decoy for surface to air missiles. However, a close up (of) what Hajj calls "missiles" reveals that only one flare has been dropped. The other two "flares" are simply copies of the original," Shackleford wrote. "But what about the 'bombs' in the photo? Here is a close up of them. Notice anything? That's right. The top and bottom "bomb" are the same."

Another manipuated Reuters image

Following the accusations, Reuters conceded that a second image it provided had been manipulated, and released a statement saying it had recalled all photos by Hajj. "Reuters has withdrawn from its database all photographs taken by Beirut-based freelance Adnan Hajj after establishing that he had altered two images since the start of the conflict between Israel and the Lebanese Hizbullah group," the statement said.

The news outlet said that it discovered "in the last 24 hours that he (Hajj) altered two photographs since the beginning of the conflict between Israel and the Lebanese group Hizbullah," Reuters added.

“There is no graver breach of Reuters standards for our photographers than the deliberate manipulation of an image", Reuters' statement quoted Tom Szlukovenyi, Reuters Global Picture Editor, as saying.

'Tighter editing needed'

Reuters also said it would apply "tighter editing procedure for images of the Middle East conflict to ensure that no photograph from the region would be transmitted to subscribers without review by the most senior editor on the Reuters Global Pictures Desk."

"Reuters terminated its relationship with Hajj on Sunday... An immediate enquiry began into Hajj’s other work," the statement said.

Hajj had provided Reuters with several images from the Lebanese village of Qana, many of which have also been suspected of being staged .

Other Reuters images have been called into question by blogs in the United States.

A reader of the Power Line blog , Robert Opalecky, wrote: "I don't know if this has been brought to anyone's attention yet, but in a quick search of the authenticated Reuters photographs attributed to Adnan Hajj, I found the following two."

The first Reuters image of July 24

"One is from July 24 of a bombed out area in Beirut, with a clearly identifiable building in a prominent part of the shot. The second is of the exact same area, same buildings, same condition, with a woman walking past "a building flattened during an overnight Israeli air raid on Beirut's suburbs August 5, 2006," he wrote.

Reuters' second 'Beirut attack' photo, dated August 5

A film released on the YouTube video sharing website compares the two images, and appears to show striking similarities between the photograph used by Reuters on both July 24 and August 5.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Lebanon video surpasses all other selections

With nearly 30 news, interview and documentaries uplodaed to Google, I've watched as the videos that focus on Lebanon have quickly risen to the top of the list of those watchged.

Here's the list in ranking of popularity so far:

1 - Beirut Lebanon before Israel's attack, a tour

2 - Ray Hanania Standup Arab-Jewish-Palestinian Comedy Demo Tape 2002

3 - A Brief Tour of Dubai, United Arab Emirates -- April 2006

4 - Palestinian-Arab American Comedy by Ray Hanania (2004)

5 - Occupied Palestine: Land of Sighs and Sorrows/Checkpoints and Walls

6 - A tour through Arab East Jerusalem's Souq (Market)

7 - A visit to Jenin, site of the 2002 massacre in Palestine

8 - Arabs of Chicagoland: Photographic Array & Interview

9 - Ray Hanania interview with Jordanian Legislator Toujan Faisal April 2006

10 - Eyes of the Beholder: The Orland Park Mosque Battle (Fahrenheit 60462) Part I

11 - Making Tabouli (Tabouleh) Arabian Salad

12 - Eyes of the Beholder: The Orland Park Mosque Battle (Fahrenheit 60462) Part II

13 - Crisis in Lebanon: Chicago's Lebanese Community leaders react 7-24-06

14 - Interview with Hummus Producer Wild Garden Sales VP Mark Smith

15 - CounterPoint with Ali Alarabi and Ray Hanania: May 18, 2006.

16- Aaron Freeman Interview: Controversy, Conflict and Comedy

17 - CounterPoint Episode 6: July 4, 2006 Interview FBI Chicago Dir. Grant

18 - CounterPoint June 5, 2006

19 - CounterPoint June 26, 2006 Palestinian Politics 101

20 - CounterPoint June 19, 2006

21 - Counter Point June 12, 2006 "Media Bias"

22 - CounterPoint Episode 7: Gaza Crisis/Christian Muslim Relations/Book Reviews

23 - Arabs of Chicagoland: A Historical Tour

24 - CounterPoint Episode 8(a): The rights of women in the Arab and Muslim World

Each video receives between 50 and 600 views every day but the speed at which the video documentating Lebanon before the Israeli nvasion has been an amazingly popular selection compared tot he rest. Keep in mind that rankings also reflect when they were placed onlin, with the CounterPoint series the newest addition.

Visit for more information.

Ray Hanania

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Pentagon blocks soldiers from posting videos online

Pentagon declares war on internet combat videos
By Oliver Poole, Iraq Correspondent
Telegprah, UK
Ju;y 26, 2006)

The Pentagon is asking US soldiers in Iraq to stop posting private combat videos on to the internet amid fears that they could be regarded as anti-Arab.

Many of the digital clips feature explosions, gunfire and even dead bodies, with the images often set to a soundtrack of rock ballads, rap or heavy metal music.

Defence officials believe they could be interpreted as portraying the military as unsympathetic to Arabs and obsessed with barbarism.

Dozens of such clips can be found by searching for "Iraq" and "combat" on video-sharing sites such as and, creating an unprecedented opportunity for the public to view servicemen's unedited perspective of the war.

One cultural commentator described them as "semi-pro snuff films". Such websites have become massively popular, with 70 million videos on YouTube alone.

The spread of the fad among US soldiers has alarmed the military. Soldiers are being instructed by their commanding officers to remove inappropriate footage even though it is technically not against the rules.

A number of the films have been uploaded from Iraq itself, where nearly all US bases have internet facilities.

Hundreds of hours of video shot by three National Guardsmen based near Baghdad were edited by documentary maker Deborah Scranton into a film called The War Tapes, which was shown at a major US arts film festival.

The footage - filmed by Sgt Steve Pink, Specialist Mike Moriarty and Sgt Zack Bazzi - includes a firefight with insurgents and a roadside bomb. It is billed as enabling viewers to get a unique understanding of the "essence" of fighting in Iraq.

The Pentagon was woken up to the potential negative impact of the phenomenon by film of a marine singing a song he had composed called Haji Girl, in which a US soldier falls in love with an Iraqi woman and is then ambushed by her family when he is taken to meet them.

It was criticised last month in the US by the Council on American-Islamic relations, which was outraged by its mocking of the Arabic language and its description of how the marine grabs his girlfriend's little sister when he is attacked.

"As the bullets began to fly, the blood sprayed from between her eyes, and I began to laugh maniacally," the lyrics said.

In Arabic, the word Haji refers to a Muslim who has made the religious pilgrimage to Mecca but it is often used by US troops as a pejorative term for Iraqis.

The song's composer, Cpl Joshua Belile, 23, was required to apologise.

An official investigation was launched, but the military discovered that his behaviour did not breach the marines' policy on internet posting, which is aimed only at ensuring confidentiality about planned combat operations and troop deployments.

The most severe action it could take was to require Cpl Belile to undergo informal counselling.
A new code of conduct on video postings is now being considered.

UAE blocks YouTube video postings

July 27, 2006

UAE state monopoly internet provider Etisalat has blocked YouTube, the world's leading online video site. The block comes despite the fact that YouTube bans all adult content and filters any videos that users flag as questionable. The UAE is increasingly blocking general entertainment websites under its remit of removing sites "inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates."

Sowing seeds of dissension against Arabs in American media

Sowing the seeds of dissension
By Khalid Almaeena, Special to Gulf News
August 5, 2006

The attacks on innocent civilians in Lebanon and Gaza continue. The US has freely supplied ammunition and bombs which have only whetted the appetite of the Zionists for more blood.

The world watches and many in the west hope, not very discreetly, for an Israeli victory.

As these events unfold and horrify much of the world, a very sinister campaign of disinformation is going on, aimed at sowing the seeds of disunity among Arabs. I am not a believer in conspiracy theories but I do firmly believe that certain elements in the western media are bent on creating mischief and worse than mischief.

Apart from trying to create dissension in the Arab world, certain sections of the media in America, whose ideological and political affiliations are known to many, are trying to create a bad image of both the Lebanese and the Palestinians.

They keep on repeating the same old words of "terror" and "terrorism". They paint Hamas and Hezbollah as embodiments of evil, denying the fact that both have political legitimacy and are part of the political processes. They use fissiparous tendencies to annihilate and obscure the truth.

Here is an illustration of what I am talking about. When the attacks on Lebanon began, an American journalist remarked to me, "I am sure you Saudis don't care because those people are Shiites."

"Of course, we care," I was quick to answer. "No one would side with the murderous Israelis and, besides, we support them not because they are Lebanese Arabs but because they are being unjustly attacked."

"Yes," he continued, "but your government issued a statement against Hezbollah".

"No, my government did not," I countered. "In fact, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah was very clear in his statement a few days ago about the dangers of a war escalating in the region. Saudi Arabia has clearly condemned Israeli atrocities against innocent women and children."

Guarding ourselves

Many of us get excited and emotional for no reason. People with little knowledge and even fewer credentials make statements and the masses believe them to be true. However, we should guard ourselves against this tendency to create fitna (dissension) which often serves our enemies. The expressions "Shiite Muslim" and "Sunni Muslim" were first widely used by the American press in the early 1980s after the Iranian revolution.

The expressions appeared often during the Iran-Iraq war when Saddam Hussain attacked Iran, resulting in the needless deaths of over a million Muslims. While this carnage was going on, western countries were eagerly filling their coffers by selling arms to both sides.

Then of course to frighten and create dissension, the media in the west began to write at length about hostility between Shiite and Sunni. This is the same media which, after September 11, 2001, played on uninformed fears of "Wahhabism" among Muslims of the world! A Pakistani friend living in the US told me that an American friend of his once asked him, "Are you a Wahhabi Muslim or a Muslim?" My friend replied, "I am simply a Muslim."

Just take careful note of all these labels Shiite, Sunni, Wahhabi, Sufi, etc. These are divisions which we ourselves have created.

The Arabs themselves are also divided and this is the cause of many of the divisions in the Muslim world. The media now is trying to create more mischief in an Arab world that is shaken, weakened, feeling divided, helpless and almost in despair.

People are asking why the Bush-Blair-Olmert plan is not being exposed for what it is. Why are Arab countries silent? Why are Arab writers not attacking the planners and perpetrators of these crimes? Instead they are sermonising and saying this should have been done and that should have been avoided. These are mere words on paper. They are far from any reality.

What the Arabs must do is really review the situation and come to terms with the fact that the attack on Lebanon was well planned, much in advance.

Israel does not recognise any border nor will it. It is clearly and simply an expansionist state. It knows the Arabs are weak and it is slowly and inexorably implementing Benjamin Netanyahu's "one by one" plan. In other words, take the Arabs on one by one since, obviously, they cannot be confronted in groups.

My advice to all those who are critical of the current situation is to read very, very carefully what is being written by American and Israeli think-tanks about the new Middle East.

It will be a Middle East where there will be no equals only master and servant. There is no need to say who the plans envisage as master or who as servant. We must make a choice; it must not be imposed. The choice is ours.

Khalid Almaeena is editor-in-chief of the Jeddah-based Arab News.

India bans Arab satelite news channels .. critics blame Israeli lobby there

India Bans Arab TV Channels Under Pressure From Israel
By Shahid Raza Burney, Arab News
August 5, 2006

BOMBAY, 6 August 2006 — In a country widely referred to as the world’s largest democracy, the Indian government has succumbed to mounting Israeli pressure and ordered a nationwide ban on the broadcast of Arab television channels.

The Indian government’s ban on Arab television stations is in complete contrast to the friendship that Arab countries imagine exists with their neighbor across the Arabian Sea. It seems the ban is a move to ensure that Indians do not get to see the atrocities that are presently being committed by Israel in Lebanon and the occupied territories.

Nabila Al-Bassam, a Saudi businesswoman on a trip to Bombay, told Arab News how she became exasperated at not being able to watch Arab channels at Bombay’s leading five-star Oberoi Hotel. When she took up the issue with the hotel manager, she was told that Arab television channels had been banned across India.

A perplexed Al-Bassam then sent an SMS to Arab News Editor in Chief Khaled Almaeena to verify whether this was indeed the case. “Oberoi Hotel tells me that the government of India has banned all Arab TV channels. Why? I hate watching CNN and BBC,” she wrote to Almaeena.

Talking to Arab News, Oberoi Hotel Manager Mohit Nirula did allude to the fact that a ban was in place. “The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has laid down certain rules. It is our duty to abide by and follow the rules of the country,” he told this correspondent.

Minister of Information and Broadcasting Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi was busy in Parliament and was unavailable for comment on the issue. However, a ministry official explained why the Indian government decided to enforce the ban. The official highlighted that India enjoys close and cordial relations with Israel and the US more than any of the Arab governments.

According to another source within the government, the ban is a clear sign to all governments in the Middle East that the Israeli, American and British governments carry far more influence in India than any of the Arab governments.

Several senior Indian journalists explained that the ban was an indication that India had succumbed to Israeli pressure rather than American.

“The whole exercise is to browbeat Arabs and show them as terrorists. The government is subscribing to the absurd argument that channels like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya promote hatred and encourage terrorism,” they said.

Political analysts in India described the move as a game of double standard that India is playing. On the one hand India establishes friendship with the Arab world while simultaneously it joins with Israel and the US in defaming them. It seems that the pro-Israeli lobby wishes to drive a wedge between India and its time-tested Arab allies. The Indian government’s present stance is in stark contrast to the late Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s staunch support of the Palestinian cause.

The banning of Arabic channels is a federal government decision, done under what senior Indian journalists claim to be intense pressure from the Israeli, American and British governments.
The Indian government has been vocal in its condemnation of Israeli barbarity and has offered millions of rupees in aid to refugees in Lebanon. Arabs sympathetic to India have therefore met the news with surprise.

Many Arabs draw inspiration from India’s heroic struggle against British imperialism and the Indian independence struggle is seen by Palestinians as a brilliant example of throwing out the yoke of imperialism. It is sad that 50 years after independence the world’s largest democracy unfairly suppresses alternative opinion and allows itself to be dictated to by foreign powers.

The analysts believe the Indian government may have used a clause within the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, that certain channels or programs that can potentially cause damage to India’s friendly relations with foreign countries can be banned, a clear violation of democratic ideals such as freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

The response to the ban by hotel administrations across Bombay has been dismal. Chad Alberico, JW Marriott’s customer care official in Washington, said: “We have reviewed your recent inquiries regarding the television offerings at our JW Marriott Bombay. We have phoned our colleagues at the hotel to discuss the matter at hand, but as it is the weekend, we will need additional time to form a complete response.”

“I’m on my way home, it’s the weekend and I will respond on Monday,” said Shehnaz Ankelsaria from the Taj President Hotel. Annan Udeshi from The Hilton was unavailable and asked for a message to be left on her recorder. Khushnooma Kapadia of Marriott Hotel said she would get back later. Rafat Kazi from the Grand Central Sheraton said that she would answer after consulting her general manager. Puja Guleria of Sheraton Maratta said she needed time to deal with the questions. Firuza Mistry of Grand Hyatt said that she was not aware of the facts and would check and respond, and Priya Mathias of Hyatt Regency said that she would also need to check with her senior officials to comment.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

One sided reporting on the Middle East conflict

George Curry of New America Media writes about the bias in coverage of the conflict.

Read the story?


One-Sided Reporting On The Middle East
NNPA, News Analysis,
By George E. Curry, Aug 01, 2006

Until Sunday, when Israeli bombers leveled a three-story building in the tiny Lebanese village of Oana, killing at least 55 people, most of them children, the U.S. media has been anything but even-handed in covering Israel’s three-week assault on southern Lebanon, a stronghold of Hezbollah.

Israel initiated a 48-hour pause in the aerial attacks, in the face of international condemnation, and later resumed its effort to cripple the military capability of rebel groups intent on destroying Israel. If the past is any indicator, the U.S. media – after it’s Sunday pause – will return to its mission of blaming Hazbollah and Hamas for all the strife in the Middle East.

Of course, both groups have blood on their hands, but they are not alone.

Fair and Accuracy in Reporting, the media watchdog group, reported prior to Sunday’s fatal assault: “…The portrayal of Israel as the innocent victim in the Gaza conflict is hard to square with the death toll in the months leading up to the current crisis; between September 2005 and June 2006, 144 Palestinians in Gaza were killed by Israeli forces, according to a list compiled by the Israeli human rights group B’tselem; 29 of those killed were children. During the same period, no Israelis were killed as a result of violence from Gaza.”

But you’d never know it by reading U.S. newspapers.

“On July24, the day before Hamas’ cross-border raid, Israel made an incursion of its own, capturing two Palestinians that it said were members of Hamas (something Hamas denied – L.A. Times, 7/25/06). This incident received far less coverage in the U.S. media than the subsequent seizure of the Israeli solider; the few papers that covered it mostly dismissed it in a one-paragraph brief (e.g., Chicago Tribune, 7/25/06), while the Israeli taken prisoner got front-page headlines all over the world.”

The nation’s three leading dailies published one-side, overly simplistic comments on the Middle East violence.“In the wake of the most serious outbreak of Israeli/Arab violence in years, three U.S. papers – the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times – have each strongly editorialized that Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon were solely responsible for sparking violence, and that the Israeli military response was predictable and unavoidable. These editorials ignored recent events that indicate a much more complicated situation,” FAIR observed.

Under the headline, “Hamas Provokes a Fight,” (6/29/06), the New York Times editorialized that “the responsibility for this latest escalation rests squarely with Hamas” and that “Israeli military response was inevitable.”

In another editorial two weeks later (7/15/06), the Times said: “It is important to be clear about not only who is responsible for the latest outbreak, but who stands to gain most from its continued escalation. Both questions have the same answer: Hamas and Hezbollah.”

The media monitoring group suggests that the fighting did not begin with the capture of two Israeli soldiers.

“A major incident fueling the latest cycle of violence was a May 26, 2006 car bombing in Sidon, Lebanon, that killed a senior official of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian group allied with Hezbollah. Lebanon later arrested a suspect, Mahmoud Rafeh, whom Lebanese authorities claimed had confessed to carrying out the assassination on behalf of Mossad (London Times, 6/17/06). Israel denied involvement with the bombing, but even some Israelis are skeptical…”

But that wasn’t the only precursor to the current conflict. In a July 21 column, FAIR’s Alexander Cockburn pointed out:On June 20, an Israeli aircraft fired at least one missile at a car in an attempted extrajudicial assassination attempt. The missile missed the car and killed three Palestinian children and wounded 15; One June 13, 2005 Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a van in another extrajudicial assassination attempt; nine innocent Palestinians were killed and Israel shelled a beach in Beit Lahiya on June 9,2006, killing eight civilians and injuring 32.

FAIR says, “While Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers may have reignited the smoldering conflict, the Israeli air campaign that followed was not a spontaneous reaction to aggression but a well-planned operation that was years in the making. 'Of all of Israel’s wars since 1984, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared,’ Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, told the San Francisco Chronicle (7/21/05). ‘By 2004, the military campaigned scheduled to last about three weeks that we’re seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it’s been simulated and rehearsed across the board.’”

FAIR posed a sobering question: If journalists have been told by Israel for more than a year that a war was coming, why are they all pretending that it all started on July 12? That’s a good question. I wish we had some good answers.

George E. Curry is editor-in-chief of the NNPA News Service and

To contact Curry or to book him for a speaking engagement, go to his Web site,

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

100 Years of media bias Jan. 1998 By Mazen Qumsiyeh

Read the full article?

2004 Column on anti-Arab bias

War of words, Arlington Heights Daily Herald
Posted on: 06/12/2004 5:25:44 PM
Ray Hanania
Daily Herald

War of words is often a battle for public opinion
Posted Monday, March 01, 2004

Nowhere do words mean more than in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Is it a "wall" or is it a "fence"? In some cases, it doesn't matter but the antagonists get caught up in that end result argument rather than addressing the causes.

The real issue is the purpose of this "immoral barrier." Is it intended to steal land or prevent violence?

Here's a list of war words compiled by Palestine Media Watch, one of the most respected media monitoring groups:

"Collective punishment measures" vs. "security measures;"
"deliberate expansion" vs. "natural growth."
"Ehud Barak's ungenerous ultimatum" vs. "Ehud Barak's generous offers."
"Extra-judicial murder" vs. "targeted killing."
"Invasion" vs. "incursion."
"Israeli colonizers" vs. "Israeli settlers."
"Israeli occupation forces" vs. "Israeli defense forces."
"The Israeli occupation of Palestine" vs. "the Palestinian-Israeli conflict."
"Israel's apartheid wall" vs. "security barrier," "fence," etc.
"Jewish-only colonies" vs. "settlements."
"Jewish-only roads" vs. "bypass roads."
"Jewish supremacy agenda" vs. "demographic concerns."
"Israeli assault against Palestinian civilians" vs. "military operation."
"Military checkpoints" vs. "checkpoints."
"Military town siege" vs. "curfew."
"Occupied Jerusalem" vs. just "Jerusalem."

Also, include "occupied Jerusalem" when talking about the OTs (we often say just West Bank and Gaza when referring to the OTs).
"Palestinian political prisoners" vs. "Palestinian prisoners."
"Palestinian armed resistance" vs. "Palestinian violence."
"Palestinian resistance fighters" vs. "Palestinian militants."
"Palestinian struggle for freedom" vs. "Intifada" or "uprising."
"Political assassinations" vs. "crackdown on militants."
"President Arafat" vs. "Arafat."
"Pro-occupation supporters" vs. "pro-Israel" or "pro-Israeli."
"Random mass detention" vs. "security sweep."
"Torture" vs. "physical pressure."
"U.S.-financed Israeli military" vs. "Israeli military."

Obviously, Palestine Media Watch makes a good point. The word "settlement" doesn't accurately express the real issue, for example. Settlements are Jewish only. You don't hear about Israel building settlements in the West Bank or Gaza Strip for Christians or Muslims.

These settlements are a forgotten cause of the conflict.

Extremist supporters of Israel call anyone using the term "Jewish" in any context, "anti-Semitic." It's an effective weapon when you don't want to deal with the truth.

There is no equivalent term to describe Israeli or Jewish hatred of Christian or Muslim Palestinians that is as powerful. Call someone anti-Semitic and they can lose their jobs, be ostracized or be targeted for "legitimate" retribution. Call someone "anti-Arab" and no one cares.

The media are the primary battlefield for this war of words, of course. If you are pro-Israeli and anti-Arab, you use the term "homicide bomber" instead of "suicide bomber." The idea is to turn the phrase into a bludgeon in a political war that fuels the hate that keeps the conflict going.

There are some things that are bigger than the battle of words, though. For example, the media often downplay Israeli terrorism as defensive acts.

In other words, when Israel murders a person accused (not convicted or charged) of terrorism, it's portrayed as "justified retaliation," even though the Israelis often end up killing scores of innocent civilians in the strikes.

Seeing past this battle of words won't end the conflict. But it can help you identify the bias in journalists and columnists who claim to be objective in their news reports.

Ray Hanania is a Palestinian-American author.
Reach him by e-mail at

The Anti-Arab bias of FOX Network News

Columnist Eric Boehlert of takes on the bias at the anti-Arab FOX Network.

Read the column?

Anti-Arab Media Bias -- February 2006

Anti-Arab Racism in US
By Michael Saba
Arab News, February 3, 2006

While listening to a local talk show host the other day, I was shocked at the intensity of the host’s Arab-bashing on the air. The host was a popular local African-American and his program was one of the few on a progressive radio station in our area. He proclaimed, “The Arabs are coming. The Arabs are coming,” and warned his listeners about the UAE port deal in the US. He claimed that United States national security would be severely threatened by “Arabs” controlling American ports and couldn’t have said more negative things about Arabs and the “threat” they pose to America. You would have thought he was right-wing conservative talk show host, Rush Limbaugh.

I politely telephoned the program and told the editor, who answered the phone, that I felt the host was way off base and he was making very defamatory and derogatory remarks about Arabs. The editor screamed at me and said that I was the one off base, but then proceeded to put me on the air with the host. When the host came on air with me, I stated that as an Arab-American, I took offense to his remarks about Arabs. He then started railing at me and stated that Arabs were a threat as they were in airplanes that crashed into the Twin Towers on 9/11 and that “Arab banks” had been used to finance Al-Qaeda activities.

I asked him if he had any specific evidence linking the UAE authority that was buying into port facilities in the US with terrorism. He said that he really didn’t need any more evidence than what he had stated to me earlier. “These Arabs are dangerous and security risks and I told you plenty of good reasons to prove that,” he stated. I said, “Normally, you are very fair when it comes to racial or ethnic issues, but in this case you are making statements that are bordering on being racist.” He hung up on me!

We are experiencing an incredible racist surge in the United States over the UAE port issue. Politicians from both the left and the right are rushing to see who can bash Arabs the most. President Bush appears to be a “lonely guy” in his quest to put this deal through. His battle on this issue is reminiscent of another that his father fought in September of 1991. President Bush Senior was quietly trying to postpone an Israeli request for a $10 billion housing loan for settlers. He didn’t want to disrupt the Madrid peace process. The resistance to his request came from both sides of the political aisle. President Bush was confronted with a lobbying storm to oppose his efforts on this issue. “President Bush stepped up to the microphones and said,’I heard today there were something like a thousand lobbyists on the Hill working the other side of the question. We’ve got one lonely guy doing it.’” He further stated about being “up against some powerful political forces.” Many say that this issue and the battle that ensued over it were the beginning of the end for the Bush1 presidency.

Leading the charge against the UAE port deal is Democratic New York Sen. Charles Schumer. Schumer has said, “Outsourcing the operation of our largest port to a country (read “Arab”) with a dubious record on terrorism is a homeland security and commerce accident waiting to happen.” Schumer is a notorious Arab/Saudi/Muslim basher. When the price of gasoline is high, Schumer often blames the Saudis and states that the Saudis are using their “obscene” profits from oil to further fund terrorism. When Saudi Arabia puts more oil on the market, Schumer states that Saudis are doing this to “buy an election.” Very seldom are these contradictions in his arguments ever pointed out by the media. His main point: Anything Arab/Muslim/Saudi is bad for the US.

Even when reason occasionally appears amongst major political leaders, it is tempered with implicit anti-Arab sentiments. 2008 presidential hopeful, Democratic Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware stated on Fox News this past Sunday, “The fact of the matter is that there are some people — I’m sure this is anti-Arab-bashing”, adding, “I’m sure this is true.” However in the next breath Biden said that Arab allies in the Mideast should be treated differently. “You don’t sell the same aircraft to Saudi Arabia — our great ally — that you do to England or to France or to a NATO country. So there’s always been a distinction.”

The media has set the pace for Arab-bashing in the United States. And they are joined by Hollywood, television and even the Christian Zionists. Arabs and Muslims are fair game for all of the above and very little is being done to change this equation.

We recall the highly publicized purchases by Arab investors of US corporations in the 1970s and 1980s creating hysterical cries from the media about the alleged danger of Arabs “buying up” America when actually Canada, Japan and European countries accounted for almost 90 percent of direct foreign investment in the US during the 1980s. The US Department of Commerce reported at that time that direct foreign investment from OPEC countries in the US accounted for less than one percent of that total.

In an article entitled “Methods of Media Manipulation,” Dr. Michael Parenti, an expert in media analysis, writes, “We are told by people in the media industry that news bias is unavoidable.

Whatever distortions and inaccuracies that are found in the news are caused by deadline pressures, human misjudgment, limited print space, scarce air time, budgetary restraints and the difficulty of reducing a complex story into a concise report.” Parenti continues, “I agree that these kinds of difficulties exist. Still, I would argue that the media’s misrepresentations are not merely the result of innocent error and everyday production problems.” And media misrepresentation about Arabs and Saudi Arabia is legend. A article by Chris Weikopf, who also writes for the Los Angeles Daily News, began: “Saudi-bashing has become the new sport in Washington and with good reason.” In other words Weikopf was not only saying that it’s OK to “bash” a whole nation and an entire nationality/ethnic group, but it is also “good.” Put any other country or nationality/ethnic group in the “Saudi” word space and the writer would be accused of racism.

An incredible amount of work lies ahead for those of us who are fighting the battle against anti-Arab racism. We need to start at the grass roots level and we have done just that in my own area.

The African-American talk show host who ranted and raved that “the Arabs are coming” is being barraged with phone calls and e-mails calling for a change in attitude or for a subsequent firing if he continues making racist statements. As Congressman Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local” and campaigns to enlighten the public about anti-Arab racism can and must be fought at the local level.

Michael Saba,

Washington Post; Media no obligated to publish Arab Views to counter pro-Israel views

from the Village Voice, February 2001

Last fall, (Khalil) Jahshan met with Washington Post editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt to discuss that paper's "dismal" editorial coverage of the Middle East—and persuaded him to solicit op-eds by prominent Palestinians. "I don't think it's my job to match opposing political views column for column," says Hiatt, "but I do think that we should try to have other points of view represented on the page."

But to hear Jahshan tell it, the media's pro-Israeli bias is not restricted to newspaper editors. In the last few months, he believes, ad departments have treated his submissions to intense scrutiny, while giving pro-Israeli ads a free pass. "I see ads that are so irresponsible, that are published without any scrutiny at all," says Jahshan, "and I have asked friends in the Jewish community and in the media if they apply the same standards to both camps, and the answer is no." He attributes the bias to a desire on the part of media companies to avoid conflict with the Jewish community—and with advertisers who have strong pro-Israeli views of their own. He says the U.S. media has no such fear of offending Arab Americans.

Read full article?

Historical Article: Arab Americans on the Air (1992)

Arab-Americans on the Air
Written and photographed by Brian Clark

At four in the afternoon, every Saturday, at the Said Al-Asha home in suburban Los Angeles, everything stops. That's when the Arab-American Television program airs on Channel 18.
Family members cluster around the set and soak up local and international news, a feature on an Algerian musician and a short segment on a Saudi-born student who has won a prestigious Southern California design honor.

"My family waits for it," says Al-Asha, a Lebanese businessman who has lived in Los Angeles for 21 years. "We plan our lives around it. I would go so far as to say that we would be lost without this program. It really is super."

The Al-Asha family isn't alone in its attraction to what is known locally as AATV. The program started 10 years ago, the brainchild of Wahid Boctor, a former Egyptian architecture student and documentary-film maker; today, in addition to the Saturday show, Boctor also produces a daily cable program that airs in more than 300 localities around the United States on the International Channel.

Around the country, many other Arabic-language and Arab-American radio and television programs are equally popular -especially with more recent immigrants, says Faris Bouhafa, public affairs director of the Arab-American Institute in Washington, D.C. In Detroit, promoters say "TV Orient" is watched by tens of thousands of Arab-Americans. Though different programs entirely, Chicago and Boston both have shows called "TV. Arabic Hour." And - in what is probably the most extensive Arabic-language programming in the United States - the Time-Warner Cable Network in the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn broadcasts Arabic-language news, features and soap operas at least 10 hours a day on Channel 62. A number of smaller American cities with Arab-American populations also have their own local cable programming.

Bouhafa calls these programs "an important link for many people to their former homelands. Format and quality vary," he says, "but these shows satisfy an urgent need. The Arabic radio station here in Washington carries the BBC's Arabic-language news broadcasts, very extensive and in-depth. For immigrants here who are interested in politics, it is a must."

Norman Kiminaia, who founded Detroit's "TV Orient" five years ago, says he started the program "in response to a desperate need. We did a survey that showed that the Arab community needed a program that would cover everyone."

Kiminaia, who likes to interview local politicians, has a programming mix of news, features, educational offerings - and even some Egyptian soap operas - in a format that is 60 percent in Arabic and 40 percent in English, and that reaches out to a Detroit-area Arab-American population that he estimates at more than 250,000.

"Our philosophy is simple: We want to have good ethnic programming and keep our community informed. We have ties with some 20 Arab-American groups, from the Lebanese to the Yemenis to the Iraqi Chaldeans," explains Kiminaia, whose program is supported by memberships and advertising.

"We have viewers who are recent immigrants and people whose families have been in the US for generations. We appeal to all, and I think a majority of the Arab-American households in the Detroit area watch us," he says.

Though Kiminaia says "TV Orient" has the most air time in greater Detroit, that region, with its large Arab-American population, also has several other Arab-American television programs.
In Chicago, the program for Americans of Arab descent is the "TV Arabic Hour" on UHF Channel 13. According to Mufid Halawa, the program's Palestinian-born executive producer, the current program was started about six years ago after a previous effort failed.

"I was president of the Council of Arab Americans of Chicago at the time and we felt the loss," he says. "It seemed all the other ethnic groups had their programs, but we didn't."

Backed by advertising and shares sold to members of the local Arab community, the program was launched using a broad format of cultural, social, and political and entertainment news - and with an all-volunteer staff, says Palestinian-born Halawa, who earns his living as an importer.
Today, the program airs from 3:30 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays in Chicago, but it is also broadcast in the same time slot by Channel 69 in South Bend, Indiana, Milwaukee's Channel 65, and Channel 33 in Rockford, Illinois. The cities form a triangle more than 200 kilometers (125 miles) on a side.

"In our four-state area, we figure there are 200,000 Arab-Americans, with some 120,000 of them in Chicago," Halawa says. "So our news focus is regional. We also want to appeal to the whole family, so we have 30 percent of the program in English, for the younger people who might not speak Arabic.

"We are proud of our program. We have segments from lawyers and doctors from our community who give their time. We try to make it as interesting and useful as we can for our people," Halawa says.

In the Boston area, people with an interest in the Arab world tune in to Channel 27on Sundays from 9:30 to 10:00 a.m. to watch "TV Arabic Hour." It is run almost entirely by volunteers and has been on the air for more than a decade.

Rather than being directed exclusively at Boston's Arab-American community, this program is aimed at the general public too, says Evelyn Menconi, who does educational and cultural interviews.

"We have news from the Middle East, the Arab-American communities in our region and things that might affect people's lives - like immigration controversies. We try to give a balanced and fair picture. But we also have fun, and we entertain, with celebrity interviews, for example, and segments on Arab cooking," says Menconi, a Lebanese-American.

"Our show is almost entirely in English, since we think most Arab immigrants do speak English well enough to understand. And they love it, especially the music. But we want the broader public to be able to watch and learn from this program, too," she says.

John Zogby, president of a New York research group and an expert on Arab-American demographics, says Arab-American television programs "are most often an effort by members of the immigrant group to stay in contact with their original culture."

Zogby, who helped AATV's Boctor syndicate his program on cable television on the east coast, says most of the programming has a similar format of news, entertainment, and interviews with Arab figures of interest in the United States.

"The programming tends to be pan-Arab in its outlook. One day there could be an interview with a Maronite Christian leader from Lebanon, the next day with a director of the Palestine Liberation Organization," he says.

"These programs are a living link with Arab culture. And the most successful ones are those that are pan-Arab," he says. "I've found that even recent immigrants are willing to listen to most sides of an issue. And programs that represent the whole Arab community do the best business-wise, too," he says.

Zogby finds the pan-Arab approach encouraging. "Because the programs tend to open their doors to everyone, it makes it possible for diverse sides to be heard. So, besides being an excellent bridge for people in a new land, this acceptance of different ideas could give a little hope for Arab unity," he says.

Though there are many small newspapers around the country that are aimed at Arab-Americans, Zogby says that television is often the most direct connection to immigrants.
"This is partly because television is quite developed in the Arab world, and they are familiar with it. Also, you tend to find that the people running these programs in the US are often from those Arab countries where television is most developed. The video techniques and the production values are quite sophisticated. It can be impressive," he says.

For Al-Asha in Los Angeles, it is the news that he waits for. "I like to know what is going on in Southern California and the Arab world. This station gives me news that I want and that 1 don't think I could get anywhere else," he says.

"For my mom and my sisters, I think it is the music and the entertainers they like the best. I like the interviews with Arab officials, but the program has different things that appeal to all of us. For my mother, who doesn't speak English too well, AATV is her life-line to the outside world," says Al-Asha.

Though Al-Asha generally gives AATV high marks - especially for its coverage during the Gulf War - and calls its programming fair and impartial, he says that he sometimes thinks it is "too fair."

"During the war in Kuwait, AATV got news directly from Arab nations that wasn't broadcast anywhere else in the US. That coverage was fantastic and I think it earned the program a lot of respect. But sometimes I don't agree with the people on the programs."

For AATV founder Boctor, stirring up a little controversy now and then is part of his duty as a television producer and journalist. "I am independent and obliged to no one but the people who watch my program. I don't do propaganda. I want to give them news and features and advertising they can't get anywhere else," he says.

"Some people, especially the newer immigrants, are surprised that we can be so open and cover both sides of an issue. Sometimes they are shocked by the questions we ask. But that's okay," he says.

On a typical program, Boctor might have interviews with Saudi government officials visiting California, a film clip of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak addressing his country's People's Assembly, or news about a famous Lebanese singer who is to perform soon in Los Angeles. Many of the segments are filmed on location in that city or at the station's modest five-room studio in Hollywood.

When Boctor arrived in Los Angeles 15 years ago, he had no television plans. Rather, he was headed for the University of Southern California to get a doctorate in architecture. Soon, however, he grew bored and switched to Loyola Marymount University, where he eventually earned his master's degree in film and television.

"Don't you agree that film and television are more exciting than architecture? You can do so much more, no?" asks Boctor witha twinkle in his eye.

After receiving his degree, Boctor worked on the highly acclaimed film Being There, starring Peter Sellers. He also made several documentaries, including one on the Southern California way of life called California Dream III.

Around 1980, he got the bug to produce his own television program aimed at Arab-Americans, of whom he estimates there are more than 300,000 in Southern California alone. Nationally, according to the Arab American Institute, there are between 2.5 million and 3 million citizens who consider themselves to be Arab-Americans (See Aramco World, September-October 1986) - a figure that includes both the most recent immigrants and those whose families have been in the United States for generations.

"I wasn't always happy with what I saw on domestic television. In fact, I was frequently disappointed with the portrayal of Arabs," says Boctor. "Unfortunately, the American media still tend to stereotype Arabs as either rich shaykhs or terrorists. As an Egyptian, I knew that it wasn't true. I also saw that there were so many Arabs here in Southern California who were my potential market.

"I thought to myself, 'I can make a program for these people and represent them as they are - proud to be Algerian, Saudi, Lebanese or whatever' I figured that if I could represent all these different communities fairly, it would work," he says. "And I still have that same philosophy. If my program helps people to be proud of being Arab-Americans and proud of their heritage, than I am happy. I don't emphasize Palestinian or Jordanian or Moroccan. Though it is sometimes splintered by nationalities and religions, we are part of one large community." Boctor estimates that he reaches at least 200,000 of the Arab-Americans dispersed throughout Southern California.

"Through AATV, we bring Arab-Americans together. We don't try to change people - that would be expecting too much. But we can help newcomers adapt to what seems to many to be a strange land."

Boctor started his efforts in his own apartment with the help of a few volunteers. He had almost no overhead.

"We had to prove ourselves. We had to earn the respect of the community. We nearly closed down three or four times, for financial reasons, but we earned that all-important respect. Because of that, things have clicked," he says.

Eight years ago, a key donation helped keep the program afloat and made an expansion to a one-hour format possible. "For that help we are still extremely grateful," Boctor says.

One of the early AATV volunteers was Mona Ibrahim, another Egyptian emigre who saw one of the first programs when she was channel-cruising around the television dial.

"I heard Arabic and saw that this was a local program," says Ibrahim. "I called the station and told them I would do anything to help. I sold ads. At times, it was just stubbornness that kept us going."

Ibrahim, who is now an associate producer and program host, is one of a staff of 15, nearly half of whom are volunteers. All are Arab-Americans, and their homelands cover most of the map of the Arab world.

"Gaining the trust of the community took four years. People also came to see that the program increased business activity," says Ibrahim, who handles the station's finances. "The advertising gained credibility because it worked."

Support for community concerns was also important in establishing AATV's credibility, and it continues. Last month, for example, the program ran a four-hour telethon to raise funds for victims of Egypt's October earthquake. Film and television stars from Egypt took part, as did the country's Los Angeles consul-general.

Roughly 80 percent of AATV's program is produced in Arabic, with the remaining 20 percent in English. That language split causes some problems between the generations of Arab-Americans, Boctor says. "Those who have been here for several generations, and can't speak Arabic well, wish we had more English. And those who are new immigrants, well, they wish it were all in Arabic."

The program tried subtitles for the programming, but found they were too expensive, Boctor explains. Much of the advertising, especially commercials for restaurants and doctors, is in English.

Boctor, who says his job description is "making sure things get done right," also hosts political interviews on the program, usually with Arab diplomats and officials who come through the region. Some of them seek out the station beforehand, because they value the access it gives them to the Arab-American community.

The Gulf War was a particular test for AATV. Boctor worked hard to maintain the program's impartiality - harder, he feels, than mainstream television. "I think much of the US media's coverage was superficial and even inhumane toward Arabs. We were one of the few programs that gave Iraqi casualty figures, and showed the carnage of the war," he says.

"For our coverage, we interviewed the Kuwaiti ambassador and the Consul-General of Saudi Arabia. But we also talked to the Iraqi ambassador, and we interviewed people on the street about their feelings."

Says Ibrahim, "We go into the community to talk to people about their conflicts and problems. We sponsored conferences during the war about people's concerns, and we were one of the first stations to report harassment of Arab-Americans by the FBI, something which was later denounced by President Bush."

Certainly not all of the programming is hard news, however. The station also brings in entertainers from the Middle East for performances; the national days of 22 Arab lands are celebrated on the program; and during Ramadan, special music is played.

"Once a woman called me up and cried over the phone," says Boctor. "She said, 'You make me feel like I am back in the country of my birth - and I miss it so.'"

Amer Assoum, a Los Angeles waiter and business-administration student born in Lebanon, doesn't get emotional when he tells why he likes AATV.

"I just enjoy being able to watch an Arabic channel. I couldn't get this kind of information anywhere else. Not the news, not the ads and not the entertainment," says Assoum.
For Dikran Khanjian, a Los Angeles jeweler who was born in Syria and lived in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia before coming to the United States, one of the best things about AATV is "that it doesn't take sides.

"That neutrality is important. The program covers many aspects of life from the arts to politics to news from the Arab world. It is a tough job for [Boctor] and his crew, but I think what they produce is encouraging," says Khanjian.

Maha Akeel, a Saudi Arabian, says she enjoys the music and community services as much as the news. Her praise could apply in equal measure to Arab-American programming all over the United States.

"Not only does it keep us in touch with what is happening in the Arab world," she says, "but it also lets us know what is going on in our own community. That's quite an accomplishment."
Brian Clark, a frequent contributor toAramco World, free-lances from his base in Washington state.

This article appeared on pages 12-15 of the November/December 1992 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.