Thursday, May 27, 2010

Israel Publishes Gaza Travel Guidebook For Pro-Hamas Freedom Flotilla

This is courtesy of Mere Rhetoric. PRIMER-Connecticut urges you to also view the original on their web site, which contains photos and videos omitted from this copy.

Israel Publishes Gaza Travel Guidebook For Pro-Hamas Freedom Flotilla
By Omri Ceren - Mere Rhetoric
May 26, 2010

FROM: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
TO: Free Gaza Freedom Flotilla
RE: Gaza Tourism Guide

Dear Crazy People,

We’ve been given to understand that you intend to stage another media stunt, wherein you’re again going to float some empty ships – they may be full this time, they were mostly empty last time – in the general direction of the Gaza Strip. Your hope is apparently that your cameramen will capture the Israeli reaction and edit it into an overreaction or, failing that, simply reprint your feverish fantasies with slack-jawed credulity. Again.

Our problem isn’t so much that your goal involves obfuscating the millions of tons of food and aid we’ve delivered to Gaza civilians, which allowed Hamas to move money away from infrastructure and into weaponry, which led to more of our cities getting bombarded with rockets and missiles. It’s not even how, knowing that we deliver 15,000 tons of goods every week, your 10,000 tons of concrete isn’t exactly a shining testament to your good intentions. Not when just last week we handed over 810,209 liters of heavy duty diesel fuel, 21 truckloads of milk powder and baby food, 897 tons of cooking gas, 66 truckloads of fruits and vegetables, 51 truckloads of wheat, 27 truckloads of meat, chicken and fish products, 40 truckloads of dairy products, 117 truckloads of animal feed, 36 truckloads of hygiene products, 38 trucks of clothing, 22 trucks of sugar and 4 trucks of medicine and medical equipment. But again: not the issue.

Really what we’re concerned about is that you suck at driving boats. Last time you only had one ship and you still managed to crash it because – of all things – you tried to outmaneuver an Israeli Navy vessel. This time you’re bringing nine boats. While we fully expect our Navy to interdict all of you, a legal and justified act under black letter maritime law, the odds are overwhelming that one of you tools is going to accidentally ground your boat. Given your obvious intention of creating a spectacle and your similarly obvious inability to manage same, it’s pretty much inevitable.

If and when that happens, we’d like you to have at least some sense of how to survive in Gaza City. The alternative is you running across the border – complaining the whole time about our security checkpoints – and that would be awkward for everyone.

So we’ve put together this Gaza Tourism Guide, complete with picture galleries, which we believe to be the most comprehensive ever assembled on the web.

We know that after looking over everything, you’ll be as excited to stay in Gaza as we are to have you there. Feel free to pass this on at your ISM tabling sessions at Evergreen or whatever you people do on college campuses in between advocating genocide. And in the future, if you really want to repeatedly create Gaza media spectacles so you can damage Israel’s reputation, do what everyone else does. Join the UN.


Gaza City’s luxury hotels are located on the Gaza coastline in the posh district of Ramal, which gets its name from the Arabic word for “sands.” Ramal serves as a central gathering place for international and domestic dignitaries. Foreign officials are often found in the area, speaking about Gaza’s unbearable plight at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights during the day, before retiring to the United Nations beach club at night. Top Hamas officials also congregate in the area, and can be easily identified during wartime as the ones hiding in the half-bunker/half-silo basement of the district’s Shifa Hospital. As can be expected the accommodations and eateries in Ramal are superb.

At the far end of the luxury spectrum, the Grand Palace Hotel has a direct beach view and puts guests literally across the street from the Mediterranean Sea. The building’s decadent Crystal Hall – included in the gallery below – makes it a much-desired banquet location for first weddings, second weddings, and martyrdom celebrations. Those seeking to secure the room are advised to book well in advance.

The Grand Palace’s sprawling facilities also make it a prime location for political and corporate events. When Fatah leader Nabil Shaath returned to the Gaza Strip in 2010, entering the territory for the first time since Hamas had violently seized control in a 2007 campaign that involved shooting out the kneecaps of Fatah-linked civilians, throwing them off roofs, and executing them in the streets – this is where Shaath met with his Hamas counterparts.

If you’re looking for a younger vibe you might want to check out the Marna House. The warm family-run establishment is like a home away from home. Though it’s Gaza’s oldest hotel, the blending of modern luxury with the ethos of anti-Zionist resistance has made it a favorite with college-aged ISM volunteers. Stable Internet means guests can – and do – blog about the savagery of targeted Israeli self-defense operations, tweet about the wonderful bravery of Hamas’s human shields, and even upload galleries of the beach side terrace to Flickr. Since the clientele skews young, it’s no surprise that past guests have set up a Marna House hotel & restaurant Facebook page so they can “share memories” of their bitter twilight struggle against Occupation. The crappy resolution on the uploaded photos are a testament to the grittiness of the experience:

The Al Deira hotel, built along Gaza’s coast in sun dried mud bricks, is an option somewhere in between the Al Deira and the Marna House. Though the hotel boasts 22 spacious rooms and a world-class staff – enough so that some regular Western European diplomats and anti-Israel human rights investigators actually prefer it to the Grand Palace – the experience exudes down-to-earth Mediterranean hospitality. Bookworms will find a shop in the lobby specializing in Middle Eastern works of fiction, historical biographies, and conspiracy theories demonizing Jews. Wireless Internet is available for $2/hr or $10/day, and a fully equipped business center is available for $6/hr.


Gaza’s markets are simply overflowing with goods supplied by hundreds of smuggling tunnels, from food and clothing to widescreen TVs and even live cows. The depth and breadth of the selection is so astounding that smaller tunnel operators are actually getting run out of business because they can’t compete with the scale of the larger operations.

Tourists hoping for bargains may nonetheless find themselves disappointed, however. Gaza’s relatively healthy per capita income – higher than India’s as a result of being the world’s largest per-capita aid recipient – keeps demand robust and prices stable.

Still, wily locals will know where great deals can be found. Don’t be afraid to ask for tips, either from your hotel clerk or from the attentive Hamas-provided tour guides who will be accompanying you everywhere. If you’re lucky they might be able to track down one of the souvenir Goldstone headscarves, honoring brutal apartheid judge Richard Goldstone. They’ve unfortunately been selling out all over Gaza, so nothing’s certain. Much more common are open air swap meets filled with kids selling automatic weapons.

Many tourists, especially Americans, find bartering to be distasteful or uncomfortable. This is especially true in the hustle and bustle of a market. If it’s not your cup of tea, you can head over to Gaza’s professional and well-stocked supermarkets for the kind of experience that you would find in any American chain.


All of the major luxury hotels have food facilities, with the seaside terrace restaurant at the Al Diera hotel being a local favorite. It’s known for its view, its mezes (small Mediterranean-style dishes), and its fresh strawberry juice. Gazans will top the juice off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which is perfect for getting through the hot desert summer days.

If you’re looking to get away from hotels, you can’t do better than Roots. The well-known restaurant, part of the Cactus for Development Group’s family of fine dining restaurants – “new standards in the hospitality business in Palestine!!!” – emphasizes that you should call ahead for reservations. Their full blown interactive menu here.

Visitors are strongly cautioned not to drink tap water while in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians have severely overpumped Gaza’s wells, perhaps irreparably depleting the water table and leaving it open to mass contamination. Ground water is therefore not potable. Stick instead to bottled water, which is regularly supplied by Israel and imported through smuggling tunnels.


Gaza summers revolve around whatever Gaza beaches aren’t being used at the time to hack up critically endangered sea turtles for their ostensibly magical blood. Whether it’s relaxing with friends, exercising with a partner, or watching an AP stringer set up photo shoots in anticipation of captions about beach life being “the only escape available to Gaza children” – there’s always something interesting going on.

The beaches do get crowded, and the new mandatory Hamas dress code makes them somewhat drab, so at some point you may want to join other relatively wealthy foreigners at Gaza’s nearby, full-time luxury spa. There you’ll find a steam room, a sauna, a small gym and a beauty parlor that offers facials and massages.


Unfortunately, the Hamas government declared a total ban on alcohol importation and consumption in 2009. Even hotels frequented by well-intentioned Westerners such as yourselves are banned from serving liquor, a substance that Muslims find objectionable. Stores and clubs that fail to adhere to the ban get bombed.


Unfortunately, non-Muslims will find few options for worship in the Gaza Strip. The synagogues left by withdrawing Israelis were immediately desecrated and destroyed. Most Christian churches were long ago transformed into mosques. Visitors are also advised to avoid gathering in Christian bookstores, which increasingly get bombed, or around actual Christians, who increasingly get killed.


Unfortunately, Hamas has banned women from dancing, as well as from wearing all but the most conservative outfits.


Unfortunately, music shops and performances have also been deemed un-Islamic in recent years, to the detriment of music shop owners and performers.


Unfortunately, visitors are advised to avoid Internet cafes because they get bombed.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Taxpayer dollars funding hate at UCSD?

This was published May 14 on the San Diego News Room. Posted here with the permission of the author.

Taxpayer dollars funding hate at UCSD?

By Michael M. Rosen

It's never good when our tax dollars go to waste, but it's infinitely worse when they fund odious projects.

Yet that's just what happened this week on the UCSD campus, where various university departments and $40,000 of student money underwrote the Muslim Student Association's (MSA) "Justice in Palestine Week," a series of bloodcurdling displays and crackpot lectures designed to defame Israel.

Consider the following inflammatory activities funded by these contributions:

First, various exhibits on a massive concrete wall along Library Walk -meant to (mis)represent Israel's anti-terrorist separation barrier-explicitly labeled Israel an "apartheid state," a charge as strategically important to Leftist groups as it is transparently inaccurate.

South African apartheid afflicted a single society and country in which a tiny white minority brutally subjugated an overwhelming black majority. In stark contrast, Israel and Palestine are two separate nation-states with distinct and independent governance structures and relatively clear borders, despite some intermingling of the populations.

Unlike the Afrikaners, Israel's government and army do not subject Palestinians to second-class status in society because Palestinians form part of their own, self-regulating society.

But groups committed to Israel's eradication depend heavily on the false apartheid analogy, since they ardently hope Israel and Palestine become what South Africa is now-a single state with an overwhelming majority of the formerly oppressed ruling over a dwindling remnant of the erstwhile power. Exhibit A, adorning the UCSD "wall:" numerous maps of the entirety of Israel colored in the red, green, white, and black colors of the Palestinian flag. In other words, no two-state solution for this crowd.

The university also played host to notorious anti-Semite and conspiracy-monger Norman Finkelstein, well known for his oh-so-well-reasoned, measured criticism of the Jewish state, which he characterizes as "Satanic," "lunatic," and "committing a Holocaust in Gaza."

And at a counter-speech by activist David Horowitz on Monday Night, an MSA student candidly pledged her fealty to the murderous directive of Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah that all Jews worldwide gather in Israel for slaughter so that he needn't hunt them down across the planet. Genocidal quotes like that are pretty hard to come by nowadays, even on a liberal college campus.

Still, UCSD administrators wisely and appropriately provided outdoor and classroom space for all these activities and allowed the MSA to promote their events throughout the university.

The same courtesies, of course, are rarely afforded pro-Israel speakers on campus. Earlier this year, UC Irvine Muslim Student Association members disrupted Israeli ambassador Michael Oren's address with heckles and jeers, requiring campus police to clear the auditorium. And several years ago, officials had to cancel an appearance in Berkeley by Benjamin Netanyahu, now Israel's Prime Minister, after protests threatened to turned violent.

The appropriate remedy is not to restrict the Israel haters' speech but rather to ensure they cannot exercise a heckler's veto in shutting down viewpoints with which they vehemently disagree. So, too, must mainstream Americans tolerate the nonsensical and incendiary arguments of groups like the MSA and other assorted Leftists on campus.

But toleration does not equate to direct facilitation. And here's where the problem lies: UCSD's significant moral and financial support for the Hate Israel Week festivities effectively places the university in league with the malicious slanderers.

Co-sponsoring the events were UCSD's Departments of Literature, Visual Arts, and Ethnic Studies, along with its entire Thurgood Marshall College. Worse yet, documents available on the Internet reveal that the Associated Students kicked in $40,000 of mandatory fees levied on all students. Providing space and routine logistical support for provocative lectures and exhibits is one thing; spending tens of thousands of dollars to underwrite them is quite another.

The staggering dollar amount is all the more disconcerting given the severe fiscal strain under which the university, the UC system in general, and the state as a whole find themselves. In an era of ever-escalating fee hikes and system-wide staff and faculty reductions, crafting a $40,000 line-item for malevolent demagoguery is nothing short of outrageous

Or think of it this way: the money committed to the hate-fest could have funded a student's complete four-year college tuition.

What a profound injustice, then, that university funds and resources were so gravely abused. We can only hope that this disgraceful episode will shame those responsible into abstaining from financially supporting such efforts in the future.

Michael M. Rosen, a News Room contributor, is an attorney in Carmel Valley. The opinions expressed are his own. Reach him at

Friday, May 14, 2010

As Israel's Capital, Jerusalem Has Been Open and Prospered

This letter was published on Friday, May 14, 2010 in the Waterbury Republican-American.

Wednesday was the 28th of Iyar on the Hebrew calendar and marked Yom Yerushalayim, the anniversary of the day in 1967 when Jerusalem was reunited after 19 years.

When Vice President Biden was a senator, he sponsored the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, stating it was the policy of the United States that "Jerusalem should remain an undivided city" and "Jerusalem should be recognized as Israel's capital."

In 2007, when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was a senator, she issued a position paper in which she asserted "Israel's right to exist in safety as a Jewish state, with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital, must never be questioned." In 2008, when President Obama was a senator, he insisted Jerusalem will remain Israel's capital, "and it must remain undivided."

From 1948 to 1967 when parts of Jerusalem were occupied by Jordan, Judaism's holiest places were closed to Jews. Since then, the holy sites have been open to all, with the exception of Jews being barred from pray ing on the Temple Mount, which the Israeli government has allowed the Muslim Waqf to administer.

On Yom Yerushalayim, we celebrated the way Jerusalem has prospered and been open to all as Israel's capital, and call upon our country's leaders to adhere to the policies they so wisely advocated as senators and incorporated into law in the Jerusalem Embassy Act.

Alan H. Stein

The writer is president of PRIMER-Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting;

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Time for Israel's Neighbors to Start Loving Their Children

The Hour, in Norwalk, Connecticut, published several hateful and misleading letters and op-eds written by Scott Kimich. These elicited responses from saner minds.

I sent The Hour the following letter in response to a letter published March 2, but The Hour decided to end the debate and it was not published.

I must congratulate Scott Kimich for his latest anti-Israel diatribe, published May 2. He has accurately quoted a number of "new historians" who have proven themselves more interested in rewriting history than in accurately portraying it.

Like so many of those who lambast Israel, they show no compulsion about accusing that liberal democracy of the crimes of its enemies.

Before the reestablishment of Israel, the Zionists agreed to every proposal for sharing their historic homeland, accepting repeated partitions while each proposal was rejected by the Arabs. The pattern has continued for the six decades since six Arab armies invaded Israel on the very day David Ben Gurion declared Israel's independence.

In the last decade, Israel has at least twice proposed the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state in all or virtually all of the disputed territories and even offered to divide its own capital.

The first time, in 2000, Yasser Arafat not only rejected statehood but launched a terrorist offensive that has cost the lives of thousands of Arabs and Israelis.

The most recent time, in 2008, the supposedly "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas also rejected the offer and now refuses to even negotiate directly with Israel. He has also continued the incitement that was institutionalized under Arafat.

Just two months ago, the Palestinian Authority announced "The El-Bireh Municipality has completed construction work at the Shahida (Martyr) Dalal Mughrabi Square," honoring the commander of the infamous "Coastal Road Massacre."

This is the sad reality with which Israel must deal as it waits for the Palestinian Arabs, along with the dozens of neighboring Arab and Muslim states, to accept its existence as a liberal, Western-oriented democracy in their midst.

Amazingly, both the people and leaders of Israel retain their willingness to make enormous concessions in the cause of a peace that will only come when, as Golda Meir sagely recognized, when its neighbors begin to love their children more than they want to destroy Israel.

Israel trip is rewarding for dad, daughter

Published in the New Haven Register May 11, 2010. This is the type of positive, pro-active op-ed which more people should be writing when they return from visits to Israel.

Israel trip is rewarding for dad, daughter

By Neil Berro

We had every kind of food we love in Israel - five-star hotel omelets, endless varieties of fresh tomatoes, olives and bread, street vendor pomegranates the size of Texas, cone-shaped waffles with gooey stuffings that only a child could order but that a dad could certainly eat, award-winning burgers in Tel Aviv and lovingly prepared home-cooked Shabbat dinners that gave my daughter a tummy ache from eating too much.

In traveling to Israel, we saw a renewed lesson in the positive power of people, of hope, of a yearning for peace by a country that lives for peace.

We were there in February in between the hustle and bustle of Christmas and Hanukkah and before the spring rush of Easter and Passover.

So, we had the country and its unseasonably mild temperatures pretty much to ourselves. All the Israelis we met and spent time with treated us like extended family. Of course, they could have felt sorry for my 13-year-old daughter who was traveling just with her dad.

There was Elon and Zahavi who along with their lovely kids, Roni and Ori, their parents and siblings, served as our much needed shepherds right down to loaning us their GPS so we wouldn't get lost in their tiny country. We needed it.

They worried and cared about us, changed their plans for us, put aside the pressures of their own busy work schedules and then called us to make sure that everything was OK.

For me, the airport terminal was new. The commuter train to Tel Aviv was new. The tour to visit a world-class, high-tech facility was a testament to the new global marketplace of Israel. There have been major expansions at Masada and Yad Vashem, which commemorates the Holocaust.

For my daughter making her
first trip outside the United
States, the whole country was new and it immediately reminded her of California as we left behind Connecticut winter for sunshine and green fields.

We saw a nation enjoying life outdoors. The only bunkers and shelters we saw had a musty unused look, and
we pray it stays that way.

We spent time with old friends who had worked in Jewish communities in America. Tamir is a friendly 50-something who still smokes too much. He used to drive a tank during the life and death days of the Yom Kippur War. A devoted educator and a kibbutznik, Tamir says he's glad his army days are over, and that he wouldn't know how to operate one of Israel's giant new tanks.

Anat is still in college at the Hebrew University studying accounting. She says with pride that she was the first, before her three brothers, to become an officer in the Israel Defense Forces and she knows some great dessert and falafel places in Jerusalem.

Emblematic of Israel is the Afula-Gilboa region where Connecticut and southern New England have a special relationship.

The Emek Medical Center is the region's largest employer. Both the patients and the healers come from every social, economic and religious background.

In Afula, my daughter received many lessons. She spent time in the children's ward decorating Purim masks with very sick kids. She went to an Arab elementary school where a sixth grader gave her a fun tour. She went to a home that now housed at least six more kids (on top of the six already in the family) because love can be shared when it is offered.

I visited with an American-born social worker who specialized in treating victims of abuse.

And, we saw the growth of hope between the Afula-Gilboa area and nearby Jenin, once a hotbed of terrorist attacks, thanks to new and improved methods of communication, transportation and economic exchange that help people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

Symbolic of the warmth and hospitality of Afula-Gilboa was Assaf and his family, whose perfect English and perfect love of Broadway shows immediately endeared them to my daughter and me.

Reality crept back even as we watched the falafel, said to be the best in Israel, being tossed high in the air in Afula. The Palestinians had seen fit to honor a "martyr" whose heroic action had consisted of participating in the murder many years ago of 37 Israeli civilians and an American young woman.

Spilling Israeli and Jewish guts is one thing. When will the Palestinians have the guts to move forward, make peace and embrace life?

Neil Berro of New Haven has worked for Jewish and Israeli causes since 1981. Readers may write him in care of the Register, 40 Sargent Drive, New Haven 06511. His e-mail address is

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

An Open Letter to President Barack Obama

This open letter was written by Rabbi Shaul Marshall Praver of Congregation Adath Israel in Newtown, Connecticut. Rabbi Praver was CAMERA's Letter Writer of the Year in 2005.

Letters to President Obama may be addressed to:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500.

They may also be entered into a form on the White House web site.

“For the Sake of Jerusalem I shall not remain silent.” {Isaiah}

Dear President Barack Obama:

There is one simple reason Jerusalem must forever remain an undivided city under the sovereign control of Israel. Only under Israeli jurisdiction have all religious institutions throughout the city remained accessible and protected. Only the Israeli administration recognized the historic connection all Abrahamic religions have to Jerusalem. Only the Israelis are committed to maintaining a pluralistic democratic society where all citizens’ rights are protected under the rule of law. I am not oblivious to short comings within the Israeli system and cases of human rights injustices in reference to Jerusalem Arabs---- yet notwithstanding, only Israel has enacted the rule of law that aims to maintain a pluralistic society bound by democratic principles and human rights. Israel is capable of holding at bay its own fundamentalists who lack respect for the rule of law. The same cannot be said, however, for the PLO and Hamas who both seek to build an intolerant society that will bolster only Islamic aspirations and deny any history connection Jews have to Jerusalem. This basic dichotomy is amply supported in the history of Jerusalem.

Concerning the phenomenon of Jews building homes in East Jerusalem, I am puzzled why you, Mr. President, are not likewise troubled by Arabs building homes in West Jerusalem. Israel is devoted to building a free and open society in Jerusalem, not a racist regime that prohibits any ethnicity from living in any part of its capital. Moreover, I am very surprised that you, Mr. President, ironically the United States’ first African American President, have joined in the chorus, “No Jews allowed.”

On another note, as an American, I hereby demand that you, my president, pay proper respect to all statespersons of allied countries that visit you in Washington. And furthermore, regarding Mr. Netanyahu, a towering intellect and highly respected world leader, I demand that you desist from willfully attempting to humiliate and harass him. In addition to being a seasoned diplomat, Mr. Netanyahu is a good and kind person you should seek to befriend, not alienate. You never know when you might need him! Moreover, it is not becoming for a man with your knowledge and standing on the world stage to conduct yourself in such an unattractive manner. You are so much better than that, Mr. President.

Let me, a simple small town Rabbi, offer you a word of wisdom: Israel is not your enemy, nor are the Jews. Don’t go out of your way to turn independent-minded people like myself into political enemies. We love you and helped you get elected. And allow me to share one more piece of wisdom. Israel was founded in large part by Holocaust survivors. Holocaust survivors have acquired a unique aspect of wisdom and perseverance that you and I will never attain; demanding that their grandchildren be forbidden to live in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, is not exactly the best way to make friends and influence people.

Israel is the only party that has repeatedly demonstrated her willingness to sacrifice for peace. Israel has no totalitarian aspirations. Israel just wants to live in secure borders and be allowed to enjoy the quiet pleasures of life. The most progress toward peace within Israel has come about through diplomacy initiated by Israel. Did Israel not return the entire oil rich Sinai peninsula to Egypt for peace? Did Israel not make peace with Jordan? Did Israel not offer Mr. Arafat 98% of his demands in exchange for peace? Did Israel not unilaterally disengage from Lebanon and Gaza? Mr. President, Israel wants and needs peace. My suggestion is to give Israel the benefit of the doubt and you’ll get better results. Also Mr. President, you must consider that sometimes Israel is going to say “NO.”

In the recent past, I admired the way you were quick to acknowledge when you got it wrong. In fact I remember you even described the tact you took with Mrs. Clinton at one point during the election as “a bone-headed” thing to do. I admired you for that, Mr. President. Your quick recovery and ability to humble up to your mistakes are very endearing qualities. Likewise, when you got it wrong with Reverend Wright, you quickly acknowledged your mistakes and went on to win the election.

Mr. President, in conclusion, it is wrong to prohibit Jews from building homes for their families in Jerusalem. Your current tact vis-à-vis Israel is wrong and not only will it prove to be fruitless in terms of peace making, it will likely diminish your chances for re-election. Prior to your “peace initiative” things were quiet and peaceful. If this current conflict erupts into another intifada, the blood of the innocent will not be on Mr. Netanyahu’s hands, it will be upon yours.

Your kind consideration regarding this important matter is greatly appreciated,

Respectfully Yours,

Rabbi Shaul Marshall Praver

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Biased Associated Press Article: Mideast talks get Arab OK

PRIMER has begun analyzing all articles relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict on a separate blog Eye On The Hartford Courant. This Associated Press article, which appeared in many other papers with slight variations, is the first to be analyzed on Eye On The Hartford Courant. We include most of that analysis here.

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.

We close with a personal opinion:

It is highly unlikely the Palestinian Arabs will agree to serious, direct negotiations. It is far more likely they will find yet another pretext for breaking off talks and then try to get the world to blame Israel.

If Abbas does not torpedo the talks in the next four months, they will reach a critical moment in September, when the Israeli freeze on construction in the disputed territories ends.

The Obama Administration will almost certainly pressure Israel to extend the freeze and Abbas will torpedo the talks if Israel doesn't cave in.

At that point, the Obama Administration will be faced with a choice: Continue repeating the mistakes which have rewarded the Palestinian Arabs for their extremism, rejectionism and refusal to even negotiate directly with Israel, or finally become an honest broker, give Abbas the White House phone number and tell him to call if he's ever ready to enter serious, direct negotiations with Israel, including obvious compromises on the part of the Palestinian Arabs such as abandoning their ludicrous demands for a "right-of-return" and making Jerusalem a divided city.