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Opponents of slanted Middle East media coverage have a new ally - Just Journalism in the UK. The new organization is headed by London-based Egyptian born Adel Darwish, a veteran professional journalist, Middle East expert, author of four books and a warm friend of peace for Israel and the Palestinians. But Adel has always believed that being a friend of peace must not involve lying and distorting the truth.

The Just Journalism Web site states:

Just Journalism aims to promote accurate and responsible reporting about Israel in the British media. We believe that core journalistic principles are regularly being compromised, and that reporting is often far from impartial, accurate or balanced. This makes it harder for viewers and readers to develop an educated and informed opinion of Israel and the Middle East. Just Journalismís mission is to heighten awareness of the fundamental journalistic principles underlying the mediaís responsibility to the public in this area.

Darwish says,

"We are aware of the huge impact the media have on public opinion and policy making, as well as the consequences of some of the media reporting of Israel, Just Journalism aims to increase awareness of the fundamental journalistic principles underlying the media's responsibility to society."

Just Journalism will use public, accepted criteria of journalistic professionalism and ethics to analyze media for omissions, distortions and bias. They publish at least some of their raw data at the Web site, such as this biased account of causes of the Intifada. These data will be the bases of in-depth reports about journalistic coverage of the Middle East.

The principle focus of media watchdogs like Just Journalism has to be to improve reporting, rather than simply eliciting after-the-fact retractions from media. Retractions are not enough. The right answer at the wrong time just isn't good enough. Many people view media retractions and apologies as victories for the truth, and they are. We also tend to respect journals that are honest enough to correct their errors. But when the same sort of errors occur repeatedly, we should be suspicious. The job of the journalist is to get it right the first time after all. It really won't do to admit you've falsely accused someone of murder after they've been lynched.

During the recent Israeli operation in Gaza, we were subject to a flood of biased and inaccurate reports about an Israeli "Holocaust" in which over a hundred "civilians" were murdered in cold blood. The damage done by these distortions in real rime cannot be undone by belated retractions. In April of 2002, the media carried fabricated stories of an Israeli massacre in Jenin during operation Defensive Shield. The lie was planted, and reaction was swift. Belated retractions, many months later, could not erase the lie of the "Jenin Massacre," which continues to have wide credibility. The same problems plagued coverage of the Lebanon war in 2006. The recent biased coverage in Gaza shows that no lessons were learned and virtually nothing has changed in the world of journalism. Just Journalism will continue to have a lot of work reporting media bias for the foreseeable future.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2008. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000517.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 7 Comments

Well, Ami, indeed that's what I wrote about HRW: the produced evidence of war crimes. Not all of it was hearsay (and please not that some hearsay evidence of Israeli war crimes is coming from Israeli soldiers). Some of it was based on other types of evidence collected by HRW.

ofer, Monday, March 31st

Evidently you have a reading comprehension difficulty. As this may be shared by other readers, I will state the obvious: Nothing in what I wrote precludes reporting about misdeeds of Israel. Furthermore, I will repeat again that HRW did not and could not conclude that Israel committed war crimes. HRW claimed that it had evidence of war crimes. Since the evidence is based on hearsay, it cannot be accepted as definitive. The same sort of hearsay evidence claimed that Israel had killed 500 people in Jenin. However, HRW's allegations should be covered by the press and investigated.

Betselem and HRW are sources for media - they are actors in the drama, just like Mubarak, Olmert, Abbas and Haniyeh. They are not media. If the organization is going to monitor media, they should stick to that mission.

Ami Isseroff, Saturday, March 29th

Ami, my claim was as simple as this:

When you state that fabricated allegations have been made about Israel's conduct, without referring to reports indicating that war crimes have been committed, your readers may be led to believe that you think Israel did not commit serious war crimes in Gaza and Jenin.

Your implied analogy between Israel's conduct and (mere) tax evasion suggests that perhaps it is your view, unfortunately.

Btselem and HRW are info outlets, and what they issue is often covered by the press, so they are relevant here.

I don't know what "my organization" is but I and the people active around me share HRW's principles.

Your comment "Your logic appears to me to be as follows, "It is OK for the newspapers to say that X committed mass murder, because an organization claimed that his income tax was irregular and should be investigated."

is contradicted by my first sentence

"Honest coverage is very important" (let me add "crucial")

ofer, Saturday, March 29th

HRW is not a Media outlet and neither for that matter is Betselem. I found the inclusion of Betselem in the Just Journalism report rather strange.

Of course we point out whenever HRW and Amnesty condemn the Hamas and Hezbollah. Does your organization point this out??

Ofer, your comment is not relevant here. The question is not whether or not Israel committed war crmes, but whether the media are providing fair and balanced coverage. To their credit, HRW helped to debunk the Jenin story, but much of the media would not listen. Does your organization still laud Bakri's fictitious film ??

Your logic appears to me to be as follows, "It is OK for the newspapers to say that X committed mass murder, because an organization claimed that his income tax was irregular and should be investigated." There are a few things wrong with this idea. HRW said there was evidence that should be investigated. You do not seem to understand that Israel too, is innocent until proven guilty. Likewise, you seem to think that alleged wrongdoing by Israel in one instance, is a license for falsification and fabrications about other instances.

Ami Isseroff

Ami Isseroff, Saturday, March 29th

seems my mail was not entered properly, so here it is

ofer, Saturday, March 29th

Honest coverage is very important. However, we shouldn't be making life too easy for ourselves by discussing only those info sources that used general terms (without presenting facts) for Israeli actions in Jenin (2002) or in Gaza recently.

Numerous sources, including human rights organizations, such as the US based Human Rights Watch, have documented Israeli actions that may amount to war crimes, in Jenin and Gaza too. Their reports have been full of factual material. Of course, one is free to scrutinize and present objections, but claims about war crimes, including murder, cannot be dismissed as easily as claims about "Genocide".

Here is a link:

" Israel/Occupied Territories: Jenin War Crimes Investigation Needed "
Needless to say (but maybe not on this website?), reports about war crimes committed against Israeli citizens (using the term "war crimes") have also been issued by HRW:


'Palestinian Rocket Attacks since the IDF Withdrawal"

Ami, I hope you will not delete this comment too, unless you think Human Rights Watch are a Neo-Nazi hate group or something similar.


ofer, Saturday, March 29th

One of the famous quotes from Mark Twain is that "A lie can go around the world three times before the truth can get its pants on."

One might suspect that this speed of transmission and the inability of the truth to properly follow, hunt down, and dispatch a lie is what makes it such a worthwhile tactic. I note with fascination that the ancient forgery termed "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" still persists in its mischief so long past its introduction to the world stage. That fills me with rage and an obligation to be pitiless to the enemies of Israel and the Jews.

Howard Wolf, Saturday, March 29th

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