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Daily Israel Report

Israel Media Watch: Beware B'Tselem's Reports

B'Tselem human rights organization's annual report on Judea and Samaria must not be reported as news, says Israel Media Watch.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 6/15/2010, 11:50 AM / Last Update: 6/15/2010, 12:01 PM

IMW

The anti-Zionist B’Tselem human rights organization publicized its annual report regarding Judea and Samaria on Tuesday. Israel Media Watch says it cannot be reported as news.

“Reports by B’Tselem are not legitimate,” says Prof. Eli Pollack, chairman of the Israel Media Watch watchdog organization. “We know that in the past, based on work done by Arab affairs expert Yonatan Dehoah-HaLevy, their numbers and facts regarding Operation Cast Lead were wrong. For this reason, we contacted the Israel Broadcasting Authority, which agreed not to publicize B’Tselem’s numbers as if they were incontrovertible facts.”

“On the other hand,” Pollack continued in a talk with Arutz-7’s Benny Tucker, “Army Radio did quote it this morning [Monday] with no qualifications, in continuation of its practice of publicizing anything bad about Israel…”

The latest report states that 83 Arabs of the Palestinian Authority and seven Israelis were killed since Operation Cast Lead. It understandably does not include policeman Yehoshua Sofer, who was murdered in a terrorist attack the same day the report was released – but it also does not include a Thai worker who was killed by a Hamas-fired Kassam rocket just north of Gaza on March 18 of this year. The statistic “seven Israelis killed” is therefore misleading.

Otherwise, the report is actually not terribly damning of Israel. It states that the “status of civil rights in the territories has improved in several areas since the end of Operation Cast Lead [in January 2009]. The number of Israelis and Palestinians killed in the clash has gone down greatly, and the number of administrative detainees that Israel holds continues to drop. In the West Bank [Judea/Samaria], some of the restrictions on free [Arab] travel have been removed… Jerusalem froze the destruction of [illegal – ed.] houses in the eastern part of Jerusalem in early 2010. However, most of the improvements do not stem from an essential change in Israeli policy or law, but are rather a result of the relative quiet.”

Though the report does not concentrate on numbers, Prof. Pollack recalls that previous reports did, and included statistics that were shown to be wrong. “Peace Now, for instance, sometimes gives partial information – but that is legitimate, as long as its orientation is clearly reported,” he said. “But bringing wrong statistics is totally different; this cannot be reported as news… What is clear is that the American arm of B’Tselem is clearly anti-Zionist and is trying to uproot the Jewish presence in Israel - and it’s about time that Israeli media relate to it as a hostile organization. It reported, for instance, that IDF shot at citizens in Cast Lead…”

Pollack said that the public must get involved in making sure that the media in Israel reports fairly: “On our IMW site, there is a page http://www.imw.org.il/english/add_complaint.php for the submission of complaints to the IDF. The more complaints about a specific issue, the better. Yes, IDF Radio has an ombudsman, but he has no real power; the more complaints that are received, the better chance we have of changing something. The situation at Channel Two and the Israel Broadcasting Authority is better, but at Army Radio, it is scandalous: The station does not submit the reports it is obligated to submit, it forces soldiers to work on Shabbat, and it has many problems that have to be fixed. We do what we can, and the public must do what it can.”

“Here’s an example,” Pollack concluded. “Last night on Channel Two, they brought an item about an archaeological site of a church near Beit Shemesh which was plowed over in order to prepare the area for construction. The reporter said the area is being prepared for hareidi-religious construction, and noted that the hareidim are not worried about destroying archaeological sites for their own construction, but refuse to dig up bones even when it has to do with saving lives [on a hospital site in Ashkelon]. This type of comment is racist, has nothing to do with the news, is a personal opinion, and is not even based on fact, in that who said the bulldozer driver is hareidi? We will complain, and if the public joins us, there will be a hubbub and the reporter will have to apologize. I call on the public: It’s your media – take an active voice!”

The Israel Media Watch website is http://www.imw.org.il/english/