Tuesday, January 18, 2005

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World Reporters on PLO's Payroll

(Cross posted to Mystical Paths and Israpundit)

Why is it so hard to understand what's going on in the Middle East and in particular in Israel? One report says 2 terrorists killed, the next report says 20 civilians killed. What's going on?

Could it be that the reporters are intentionally falsifying their reports? "I will never work on a story that defames my people or leadership," boasts a Palestinian "fixer" (mediator/guide/translator) who works on a regular basis with many foreign journalists. "It is my duty to protect my people against Israeli propaganda."

The Counterterrorism Blog writes (Reporters worked for Saddam and Arafat - but the Media Elite ignored it)...

...how about the "journalists" in the Arab world who were either on Saddam's or Arafat's payroll? Why hasn't the media seen fit to pursue those secret arrangements and admit that perhaps those payments twisted the coverage of those two thugs by Westeern media?

Regular readers of this blog might remember one of our first posts, which referred to a report from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy that revealed that Arab journalist Hamida Nahnah was clearly influenced in favor of Saddam Hussein's regime by her receipt of Oil-for-Food vouchers. She is found on tape to announce to Saddam's son, Uday," "The campaign to defend Saddam's regime is about to start worldwide, thanks to the support." And a report in today's Jerusalem Post outlines how numerous "reporters" for major Western media have been, in fact, on the payroll of the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian journalist Majida al-Batsh was reporting for the French news agency, Agence France-Presse (AFP) while she was also on the payroll of the PA's official organ, Al-Ayyam. Adel Zanoun eported for AFP while serving as the chief reporter in the Gaza Strip for the PA's Voice of Palestine radio station. And, quoting from the JP report, "The Associated Press also has a journalist – Muhammad Daraghmeh – who works for the PA's Al-Ayyam."

The Jerusalem Post details this further (Where the reporting stops)...

Palestinian journalist Majida al-Batsh surprised most of her colleagues late last year by announcing that she would run in the election for the chairmanship of the Palestinian Authority.

Batsh, a resident of the Old City of Jerusalem, had been working for many years as a Palestinian affairs correspondent for the French news agency, Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Before she presented her candidacy in the January 9 vote, Batsh was a frequent panelist on Israel TV Channel 1's Politica talk show, where she would speak more like a representative of the Palestinians than an impartial journalist from an international news organization.

Her colleagues claim that shortly before she joined the race, Batsh resigned from the news agency, saying she wanted to devote her time to the election campaign. However, they add, this did not prevent her from seeking the agency's help in her campaign.

"One day she showed up and asked to use the fax machine to send some documents," reports one coworker. "The agency did not object."

The story of candidate Batsh, who wound up withdrawing her candidacy weeks ahead of the vote, highlights many concerns about the identity and political affiliation of several Palestinian journalists employed by international news organizations and TV networks to cover the Palestinian issue. It also underlines concerns about the credibility of much foreign news coverage in general in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In addition to her work at the French news agency, Batsh was also a reporter for the PA's official organ, Al-Ayyam,. In other words, she was also on the PA's payroll, since the Ramallah-based newspaper was established and is financed by the PA. Al-Ayyam's editor, Akram Haniyeh, has been listed as an adviser to Yasser Arafat.

But Batsh was not the only journalist at AFP who was working simultaneously for the PA. One of the agency's correspondents in the Gaza Strip is Adel Zanoun, who also happens to be the chief reporter in the area for the PA's Voice of Palestine radio station.

The AFP bureau chief in Jerusalem, Patrick Anidjar, refuses to discuss the issue, saying, "I don't understand why you have to have the name of our correspondents." Pressed to give a specific answer, he says: "I don't want our correspondents' names to go into print. I don't want to answer the question. What is this, a police investigation?"

Regarding the ratio of Palestinian to Israeli correspondents employed by AFP, he says that it's about 50-50.

"We have 20 Palestinian journalists and 20 Israeli journalists, including photographers. Most of those working in the the West Bank and Gaza Strip are Palestinians, and most of those working in Israel are Israelis, as is logical, no?"

IT IS perhaps less logical when the covering of Palestinian affairs is entrusted only to Palestinian journalists, some of whom are openly affiliated with the PA or other political groups.

"I will never work on a story that defames my people or leadership," boasts a Palestinian "fixer" (mediator/guide/translator) who works on a regular basis with many foreign journalists. "It is my duty to protect my people against Israeli propaganda."

Read the whole thing:

The Counterterrorism Blog: Reporters worked for Saddam and Arafat - but the Media Elite ignored it

The Jerusalem Post: Where the reporting stops


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