Sunday, May 30, 2010

Article: Israel strikes in Gaza

This was a wire service story published in The Hartford Courant May 30.

The article reported on Israeli airstrikes on a weapons factory in the Gaza Strip and on a tunnel dug by terrorists near Gaza's border with Israel.

The article was factual, but was subtly biased in at least two ways:

1. It made no mention of the reason for the strikes until near the end of the article, where it noted an Israeli army spokesman explained "the strikes were in response to a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel on Thursday."

2. The Hartford Courant did not report on the rocket fire directed at Israel from the Gaza Strip.

Apparently, for The Hartford Courant, Arab terrorists attacking Israel does not constitute news unless Israel acts to defend itself.


Factual Accuracy: 10
Bias-Free: 8
Pro-Israel: 0
Anti-Israel: 2

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Article: Netanyahu, Obama to meet; Rahm Emanuel extends invitation in person

This was a wire service story published by The Hartford Courant May 27. The article was mostly factual, but did include a small number of (mostly reasonable) opinions and misleading half-truths.

The article mostly concerned an invitation from President Barack Obama to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but near the end also touched on a convoy of ships trying to go from Turkey to Gaza.

Opinion: "President Barack Obama has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House next week for an apparent fence-mending visit."

While we agree with the opinion about the purpose of the visit, it remains an opinion inserted into a news article.

Omission, Misleading: The article referred to Israel being "ready to prevent a Turkish-led convoy of ships carrying humanitarian aid from entering the blockaded Gaza Strip."

The reference misleads the reader by omitting the fact that there is no need for this so-called "humanitarian aid;" the convoy is really a propaganda ploy.

Omission, Misleading, Half-Truth: The article misleadingly refers to Israel and Egypt closing Gaza's borders after Hamas' bloody takeover in 2007. It omits reference to the European Union monitors fleeing for their lives, in fear of Hamas. It was really the disappearance of the EU monitors that ineffectively sealed Gaza's borders.

Omission: The article omits any reference to the massive amounts of humanitarian aid transferred to Gaza by Israel, clearly obviating any need for other aid and making it clear the convoy was really an exercise in anti-Israel propaganda. It also omits any reference to the massive amounts of goods and people transferred in and out of Gaza through tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, making it clear the borders are far from sealed.


Factual Accuracy: 9
Bias-Free: 8
Pro-Israel: 0
Anti-Israel: 1

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Article: Israeli envoy expelled over forged passports

On Tuesday, May 25, the Hartford Courant published this one paragraph long story:

"CANBERRA, Australia - Australia's government said Monday that it had ordered the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat over the use of fake passports in the January assassination of a Hamas militant in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said an investigation had left no doubt that Israeli intelligence services had been behind the forgery of four Australian passports used by suspects in the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh."

While technically accurate, the article suffers from serious errors of omission. The article fails to note there actually is no evidence directly linking Israel to the assassination of Mabhouh, who is euphemistically called a "militant" rather than a terrorist. There is also no mention of the murders of which Mabhouh is guilty.


Factual Accuracy: 10
Bias Free: 3
Pro-Israel: 0
Anti-Israel: 5

Monday, May 24, 2010

Article: Summer camp attacked

The Hartford Courant published an article entitled "Summer camp attacked" on Monday, May 24. It consisted of the first three paragraphs of a longer Reuters story which may be viewed by clicking here.

The article reported on an attack on an attack by masked gunmen on a United Nations-run summer camp in the Gaza Strip "after militants in the Gaza Strip accused the U.N. of promoting immorality in the religiously conservative enclave controlled by the Islamic militant group Hamas."


Factual Accuracy: 10
Bias-Free: 10
Pro-Israel: 2
Anti-Israel: 0

Monday, May 10, 2010

Article: Upbeat note in Mideast talks

The Hartford Courant published an Associated Press article entitled "Upbeat note in Mideast talks" with a subtitle "U.S. praises both sides as they pledge modest steps" on Monday, May 10. A variation is available on Google News.

The article was mostly factual, reporting on what State Department spokesman said about the initial round of proximity talks with Mideast envoy George Mitchell shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah.

There were a few instances of opinion inserted in the article, but the opinions did not seem to reflect any bias.

Opinion: The article included the sentence "Resumption of the peace talks amounts to the first achievement here for the Obama administration."

This includes at least two opinions, that the proximity talks amount to an achievement and that there have been not other achievements for the Obama administration regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Inaccuracy, Misleading: The article indicated State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said "Israel committed to no building in a housing project in disputed east Jerusalem."

This is an interesting statement. (Note: It is a quote of the article, but not a quote of the spokesman.)

The language "a housing project" rather than "housing projects" indicates it refers to a specific housing project. Assuming this is what was intended, it is misleading because a careless reader is likely to incorrectly infer Israel has committed to freezing construction throughout Jerusalem.

Most likely, especially given assertions by Israeli government officials not included in this article, it is meant to refer to no building in Ramat Shlomo during the period of the proximity talks, which themselves are supposed to last no longer than four months. (Since the building in Ramat Shlomo is not scheduled for several years, this is a non-issue.) In this case, the reference to "east Jerusalem" is inaccurate, since Ramat Shlomo is in north-central Jerusalem.

If this inference about the statement referring to Ramat Shlomo is incorrect, then the statement is certainly misleading.

Opinion: The article included the assertion "Indirect talks are a step backward after 16 years of face-to-face negotiations."

This is certainly true, but it does represent an opinion. It also contradicts the earlier opinion that the start of the proximity talks represented an achievement.


Factual Accuracy: 9
Bias-Free: 10
Pro-Israel: 0
Anti-Israel: 0

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Article: U.S. envoy starts shuttle mission in Israel, W. Bank

This article in the Hartford Courant comes mostly from a more substantial Associated Press article currently available at,0,5638899.story.

It is mostly factual, but does include some opinion and omits some highly relevant information going to the core of the article.

Omission, Inaccuracies: The article inaccurately begins "A U.S. mediator launched Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations Wednesday &hellip"

This is actually contradicted in the fuller version of the article on The Courant's own web site: "The two could not even agree about the technicality of whether the talks had begun. Israel labeled the Mitchell-Netanyahu meeting Wednesday as the beginning of the mediation, while Palestinians insisted they still had to give formal approval to the process over the weekend" and reported State Department spokesman P.J. "Crowley said Mitchell's meeting on Saturday with Abbas would mark the start of the indirect talks."

Opinion, Lack of Balance: In the same first paragraph, the article referred to the start of "a shuttle mission between a hard-line Israeli government and a Palestinian administration in control of only part of its territory."

Calling the Israeli government "hard-line" inserts the opinion of the writer into a news story. It is also not balanced by any similar opinion regarding the Palestinian Authority.

Inaccuracy: The status of the disputed territories is one of the issues to be determined in negotiations. Until there is an agreement, any reference to territory actually belonging to the "Palestinian administration" is factually inaccurate.

Opinion, Omission: The fourth paragraph referred to the positions of the sides being "worlds apart." It also opined Mitchell's mission "would be considered a success" if he got the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs "to sit down at the same table."

The latter is also misleading since, by omitting the fact that the two sides had negotiated face-to-face for years, makes it appear they haven't done so.

Opinion, Lack of Balance: The article lists both Arab and Israeli demands, but inserts the opinion that the Israeli prime minister's acceptance of a Palestinian Arab state was "reluctant," and slanted the article even more by beginning that acknowledgement with the word "while": "While Netanyahu has reluctantly endorsed creation of a Palestinian state."


Factual Accuracy: 8
Bias-Free: 5
Pro-Israel: 0
Anti-Israel: 2

Monday, May 3, 2010

Article: 3,000 European Jews assail settlement policy

This article in the Hartford Courant comes from a more substantial Associated Press story supposedly about more than 3,000 European Jews criticizing the Israeli government. A longer version may be viewed at,0,314359.story. The published article corresponds to the first, third and fourth paragraphs of the article on the web.

The version on the web quotes the president of France's Jewish community explaining why he objected to the petition, but that was omitted from the published version, making it even more unbalanced.

The article itself is a shoddy piece of reporting. It gives no indication of to whom it refers. (The version on the web names three signers of a petition, but does not indicate who is responsible or who created the petition.)

The article concerns a petition at That site, contrary to general standards used on Internet, gives no indication of what person or group is responsible for the site and the petition. The site links to a related Facebook page which also gives no indication of who is responsible. The Internet whois directory does not disclose the registrant. (Note: This is highly unusual; this is the only such instance I've ever run across.)

Although the article refers to the signatories as being Jews, a cursory look at the list makes it clear many, if not most, are not Jews.


Factual Accuracy: 7
Bias-Free: 7
Pro-Israel: 0
Anti-Israel: 7

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Article: Mideast talks get Arab OK

This first analysis on "Eye on The Hartford Courant" analyzes an Associated Press story published on page A4 on Sunday, May 2. The title of the article was "Mideast talks get Arab OK" and it was subtitled "Foreign ministers endorse new indirect negotiations."

The article is available on The Courant's web site. The published version ends with the paragraph "On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the talks would resume, and U.S. envoy George Mitchell is expected back in the region soon." The version on the web site contains a few more paragraphs.

The article mostly reported on the Arab League endorsement of indirect talks between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel, but included the opinions of the writer, Hadeel Al-Shalchi, although the writer was not given a byline in The Hartford Courant. (The same article appeared with his byline elsewhere.)

Some of the opinions were innocuous and merely a breech of the separation of news and commentary in responsible journalism while others repeated the Arab position.

Lack of Balance: The article presented the opinions of several Arabs, including Mahmoud Abbas and Amr Moussa, but did not include the opinion of a single Israeli. (The version in The Waterbury Republican-American also quoted Hanan Ashrawi.)

Opinion: The first sentence in the article reads "Arab nations Saturday endorsed indirect peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis, a move that likely paves the way for the start of long-stalled U.S.-brokered negotiations."

This inappropriately presents the author's opinion regarding a possible consequence of the Arab League endorsement.

Omission, Lack of Balance: The second paragraph refers to negotiations breaking down "amid Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip" but omits the context of that offensive, eight years of Kassam rockets launched at Israeli civilians by Arab terrorists in Gaza.

The entire article omits the most crucial fact, that it has been the Palestinian Arabs who have adamantly refused to negotiate.

Omission, Inaccuracies: The third paragraph is misleading and arguably incorrect. It reads "The green light from Arab foreign ministers comes after a first attempt to get indirect talks going collapsed in March when Israel announced a new Jewish housing project in east Jerusalem."

The attempt in March certainly did collapse, but that wasn't the first attempt. Both Israel and the United States have been attempted to get talks restarted constantly, but the Palestinian Arabs have foiled every attempt.

Inaccuracies, Opinion: The article also implies the collapse was caused by announcement about future construction in Jerusalem, again inappropriately inserting an opinion in a news article, while falsely referring to the housing as being in "east Jerusalem;" the planned housing, a routine addition to an existing neighborhood, is actually in northern Jerusalem.

Omission, Opinion, Lack of Balance: The following paragraph also inappropriately included the writer's opinion in saying "The Israeli decision enraged Palestinians," while one-sidedly stating the Palestinian Arabs claim the area "as a future capital" while omitting any reference to Israeli claims.

Omission, Opinion, Lack of Balance: The next two paragraphs also inappropriately inject the writer's opinions and in writing "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has signaled that he is willing to resume negotiations" the writer also omits the numerous statements by Abbas that he will not negotiate unless Israel meets preconditions and his continued refusal to negotiate directly.

Opinion, Lack of Balance: The paragraph "Arab League chief Amr Moussa stressed Saturday that the league would be keeping a close eye on the talks and said there will be no transition from indirect to direct negotiations. Arabs want a total freeze in settlement building before returning to direct talks" again injects the writer's opinion while also being self-contradictory, one the one hand reporting Moussa saying there will not be direct negotiations while in the following paragraph implying otherwise, providing Israel complies with the precondition of freezing building in and of Jewish communities in the disputed territory along with its capital.


Factual Accuracy: 9
Bias-Free: 5
Pro-Israel: 0
Anti-Israel: 3