|Operation Protective Edge propelled i24 News |
into the public eye
Saturday, January 31, 2015
By Pamela Peled
For one week smack in the middle of Operation Protective Edge, when the IDF was unearthing terror tunnels in Gaza, all rocket attacks on Israel suddenly ceased. I was in Russia at the time, desperate for news, and rushing back to my hotel room from endless golden turrets and treasure troves to watch any available coverage in a language I understood.
The BBC was beaming pictures of bleeding babies into rooms all over Europe, and the local English channel was worse; no glimpse of a grad or any shred of shrapnel this side of the border. My phone picked up i24 News and there you go – some hundred and twenty rockets aimed at Israel each day. But who was to know?
Mark Twain's famous quip, "If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, and if you do read the paper you're misinformed" is even truer of television, where graphic images of blood and beheadings are hard to sift for facts and context.
With the (contentious and debatable) view that Qatari funded Al-Jazeera leans towards the Arab view of the conflict and that leading channels often showcase a somewhat skewed account of the Middle East's endlessly breaking news, there is a crying need for some Israeli perspective.
And in October 2012 Patrick Drahi, a French communications mogul with extensive interests in cable TV, took up the challenge. Drahi, who splits his time between Israel and France, invited Frank Melloul, French diplomat and media advisor for coffee and a chat.
"I was sure he wanted to discuss France 24, which I had revamped at the request of French President Jacques Chirac," recalls Melloul, from his sumptuous office-almost-in-the-sea. "So I agreed to meet him."
Drahi had more ambitious plans. "Come and join me in Israel", he suggested to Melloul, "and help me set up a 24/7 news channel to change perceptions". Melloul, whose wife is Israeli, did not hesitate.
Within three months he had resigned from his job, made aliyah and begun the search for a home for i24 News. Melloul, despite looking quintessentially French – chic, sexy accent, gorgeously attired complete with playful handkerchief peeping out of a cool cream jacket – went to work with all the energy and resourcefulness of an early pioneer draining swamps.
Within weeks he had found a huge empty space in a hanger in Jaffa port and won the tender to build. One hundred days later he launched three channels (English, Arabic and French) in arguably the swishiest broadcasting station in the world – with the bright blue Mediterranean Sea sparkling behind anchors as they chronicle the day's dramas: rockets, tunnels, beheadings.
Operation Protective Edge catapulted i24, (billed as Israel's other Iron Dome) into the public eye; according to Melloul it has the potential to be beamed into almost a billion households worldwide.
Although the station's brief is to broadcast more international than local news, for the seventy days from the kidnapping of the three boys until the last ceasefire, the focus was almost exclusively on the unfolding events in Israel and Gaza.
But as the journalists reported on the conflict, the spanking news studio itself became a microcosm of how a post-war Middle East should look, in a world so perfect that news shows would not be necessary.
Journalists worked side by side irrespective of their race or political leanings: Israeli Arab anchor Lucy Aharish asked counter-terrorism experts how they were coping with extreme Islamic threats, Muslims and Christians and Druze and Jews interviewed, commented and cooperated to break the very latest news. "The DNA of i24 is coexistence," notes Melloul. "Maybe it will become a laboratory for peace."
As of today, 150 professional journalists and a further 100 administrators and technicians coexist in the glass and chrome hub of the station. They come from 35 countries all over the globe, including France, Egypt, South Africa and the States, as well as Israel, producing round the clock news and analysis in English, French and Arabic, and political, economic, cultural and sports magazines.
Sometimes their English is a little interesting; phrases like "Feets on the ground," or "If the conditions will not be meet ..." occasionally have viewers reaching for their red pens. Melloul, however, is unfazed. "I didn't want our channel to be a copy-paste of CNN or BBC," he explains. "This way we portray the authenticity of our news as presented by people who live here."
Although i24 obviously prefers to present Israel's side of the story, journalists claim they have free editorial authority without guidelines dictated from above.
Regular on-air debates host guests from across the political spectrum; prior to a release of Palestinian terrorists in a bid to jumpstart the peace process two bereaved parents were invited to discuss this hugely emotional dilemma. One endorsed the prisoner release, the other was horrified at the thought.
Melloul is happy to get people talking, both on air and in living rooms around the globe. According to him, ratings in Arab countries are high, as well as those in French and English-speaking countries.
The next step is round-the-clock news in Spanish and Russian, and Melloul hopes that it will soon be broadcast on cable TV here too, as in the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, for balanced breaking news, and a stunning view of the Med, tune in tohttp://www.i24news.tv/en/
===============================================Three brave men of three different faiths bring a message of truth about Israel to American students. Watch video at: http://tinyurl.com/kmkpz85
Saturday, January 24, 2015
by Khaled Abu Toameh
January 23, 2015
According to Israeli security forces, dozens of Hamas and Islamic Jihad members in the West Bank have defected to the Islamic State in recent months. Their main goal, according to sources, is to topple the Palestinian Authority and launch terror attacks on Israel.
Some 200 supporters of the Islamic State, who held up Islamic State flags, took to the streets of Gaza City to protest the latest cartoons published by the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. They also chanted slogans that called for slaughtering French nationals, and burned French flags. Attempts by Hamas to impose a news blackout on the protest failed, as photos and videos found their way to social media.
The glorification of terrorists and jihadists by the Palestinian Authority, and the ongoing anti-Israel incitement by both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, is driving many Palestinians into the open arms of the Islamic State.
Hamas and other Palestinian groups are continuing to deny the obvious, namely that the Islamic State terror group has managed to set up bases of power in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Palestinians do not feel comfortable talking about the fact that Islamic State is working hard to recruit Palestinians to its ranks.
The presence of Islamic State in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is an embarrassing development for both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
For Hamas, the fact that Islamic State has long been operating in the Gaza Strip is something that it does not want the world to know about.
Hamas cannot afford a situation where another Islamist terror group poses a challenge to its exclusive control over the Gaza Strip. Since it seized control over the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas has successfully suppressed the emergence of rival forces, first and foremost the secular Fatah faction headed by Mahmoud Abbas.
But if until recently it was Fatah that posed a challenge and threat to Hamas's rule, now it is the Islamic State and its supporters in the Gaza Strip are openly defying the Islamist movement's regime.
When the first reports about Islamic State's presence in the Gaza Strip emerged last year, Hamas and other Palestinians were quick to dismiss them as "false."
Salah Bardaweel, a senior Hamas official, said in February 2014 that the Islamic State "does not exist" in the Gaza Strip.
This week, however, it became evident that Hamas was lying when it denied the presence of Islamic State in the Gaza Strip.
Some 200 supporters of the Islamic State, who held up Islamic State flags, took to the streets of Gaza City to protest the latest cartoons published by the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.
The protesters tried to storm the offices of the French Cultural Center in Gaza City. They also chanted slogans that called for slaughtering French nationals, and burned the French flag.
Palestinians waving Islamic State flags attempt to storm the French Cultural Center in Gaza City. Some in the crowd carried posters glorifying the terrorists who carried out this month's attacks in Paris.
The protest apparently caught Hamas by surprise. Hamas security forces that were rushed to the scene dispersed the protesters and arrested seven Islamic State supporters.
Attempts by Hamas to impose a news blackout on the Islamic State protest failed, as photos and videos of the demonstration found their way to social media. Needless to say, Hamas-affiliated media outlets ignored the protest. They were hoping that the world would also not see the Islamic State demonstrators on the streets of Gaza City.
Hamas's biggest fear is that scenes of Islamic State supporters marching in the heart of Gaza City will scare international donors and dissuade them from providing badly needed funds for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. Hamas is also afraid that Western officials working with the United Nations and relief agencies will stop visiting the Gaza Strip after watching the footage of Islamic State supporters.
In recent weeks, it has also become evident that Islamic State has some kind of a presence in the West Bank -- a fact that poses a serious threat to Abbas's Palestinian Authority [PA].
Just last week, Israel announced arrests of members of an Islamic State terror cell in the West Bank city of Hebron. The three Palestinian members of the cell confessed during interrogation that had planned to launch a series of terror attacks against Israel. The three suspects were identified as Waddah Shehadeh, 22, Fayyad al-Zaru, 21 and Qusai Maswaddeh, 23.
Until recently, Hamas was considered the number one threat to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Now, however, it has become evident that Islamic State is also trying to set up bases of power in the West Bank. According to Israeli security sources, dozens of Hamas and Islamic Jihad members in the West Bank have defected to Islamic State in recent months. Their main goal, the sources, said, is to topple the PA and launch terror attacks on Israel.
Abbas is lucky that the Israeli security forces are still operating in the West Bank, including inside cities and towns controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Were it not for the IDF and various branches of the Israeli security establishment, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Islamic State would have toppled the Palestinian Authority and beheaded Abbas and his officials a long time ago.
Still, Abbas does not feel comfortable acknowledging the fact that a growing number of Palestinians in the West Bank are joining Islamic State. Abbas fears is that if he admits that Islamic State is already operating in the West Bank, this could dissuade many Western countries from supporting his effort to persuade the world to support the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Like Hamas, Abbas also fears that Westerners would stop visiting Ramallah and other West Bank Palestinian cities once they learn about Islamic State's presence in these areas.
Although Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are continuing to bury their heads in the sand and deny what is there, they cannot avoid responsibility for the emergence of Islamic State in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The glorification of terrorists and jihadists by the PA and the ongoing anti-Israel incitement by both the PA and Hamas, are driving many Palestinians into the open arms of the Islamic State.
This is something that the UN Security Council members will have to consider the next time they are asked to vote in favor of the establishment of a Palestinian state. Otherwise, they will be voting for the creation of an Islamic, and not a Palestinian, state.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
by Bassam Tawil, January 12, 2015
The two Palestinian groups, Hamas and Fatah, are once again proving that when it comes to terrorism, they are masters of double-talk, saying one thing for the international community, which has so recently been good to them, while at home practicing the opposite. Mahmoud Abbas's denunciation of the Paris terror attacks and his decision to participate in the anti-terrorism rally in the French capital is also a sign of the ongoing hypocrisy and double standards of both Fatah and Hamas.
Hamas should be the last to denounce assaults on journalists and free speech. Its security forces in the Gaza Strip continue to arrest and intimidate Palestinian journalists on a regular basis.
Both groups have a long history of simultaneously denouncing terrorist attacks abroad while at home doing their utmost to suppress and punish any freedom of expression. Palestinian journalists have been frequently targeted by Palestinian Authority security forces for posting critical remarks on Facebook or for writing stories that reflect negatively on Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian officials.
Hamas's condemnation of the attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo coincided with a report published by the Palestinian human rights group Addameer, which accused the Islamist movement of torturing several senior Fatah leaders in the Gaza Strip.
According to the report, the Fatah leaders were stripped to the underwear and forced to stand in the cold for several hours. The report also said that Hamas interrogators had beaten them with plastic hoses and poured freezing water on them.
In the past year alone, in fact, as the opportunity to be accepted by the European Union came nearer, both Hamas and Fatah have actually stepped up intimidating, arresting and torturing journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Their intimidation and suppression of free speech at home, however, did not stop either Hamas or Fatah from condemning the brutal killing of the French journalists at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Hamas, ironically, which has carried out hundreds, if not thousands, of terror attacks against civilians over the past 27 years, was quick to issue a statement condemning the killing of the French journalists. In its statement, published in French, Hamas said it "condemns the attack against Charlie Hebdo magazine and insists on the fact that differences of opinion and thought cannot justify murder."
Hamas, however, was extremely careful not to condemn the terror attack on the kosher Jewish supermarket in Paris -- because Hamas believes that attacks against Jews are legitimate. Condemning the killing of Jews would have meant that Hamas would also have to denounce its own terror attacks against Jews in Israel.
In another twist of irony, just hours before the Hamas statement was delivered to the offices of foreign media outlets in the Gaza Strip, a Hamas-affiliated website, Al-Resalah, tweeted a photo of the three slain French terrorists and described them as "martyrs."
The photo was later deleted to avoid causing any embarrassment to Hamas, which is now doing its utmost to show France and other European countries that it is worthy of the recent EU court decision to remove the Islamist movement from the EU's terrorist list.
Hamas's condemnation of terrorism -- which apparently fooled many good people, who sincerely hoped that maybe "this time" Hamas was actually reforming -- should be seen only as an effort to appease the EU and persuade its government's that they were right to remove the movement from the terrorist list.
In case you are thinking that that these abuses apply only to Hamas, sources close to Abbas said that his quick condemnation of the Paris terror attacks was attributed to France's support for the recent Palestinian statehood bid at the UN Security Council. "The Palestinians are indebted to France for its support of the Palestinian resolution at the Security Council," the sources said. "We hope the French people won't change their attitude toward the Palestinian issue following the recent terror attacks in Paris."
The Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority has just as a long a history of suppressing and punishing freedom of expression in the West Bank. Earlier this month, Abbas's Fatah "celebrated" the 50th anniversary of the launching of its first terror attack against Israel by posting a drawing on its official Facebook page, showing a large pile of skulls and skeletons with Jewish stars on them. Like Hamas, Fatah also later removed the image as part of its attempt to prevent the world from seeing how proud Palestinians are of the large number of Jews they have killed over the past few decades.
Abbas is prepared to condemn terror attacks only when such a move serves his interests. After the terror attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem last November, only after heavy pressure was applied by Secretary of State John Kerry was Abbas forced to issue a statement of condemnation.
Members of Abbas's Fatah later admitted that his condemnation was not at all sincere and had come solely as the result of international pressure.
In reality, Abbas's media and senior officials still regularly glorify Palestinians who commit terror attacks like the ones perpetrated by the French terrorists. They still never fail to describe the men who perpetrate them as "martyrs" and "heroes." In spite of his condemnation of terror attacks against Israel, Abbas has spared no effort to praise Palestinians who target Israelis.
A good example of Abbas's double-talk took place last November, when he sent a letter of condolence to the family of a Palestinian who shot and seriously injured a Jewish activist, Rabbi Yehuda Glick, in Jerusalem. In his letter, Abbas said that the assailant, who was later killed by in a shoot-out with police, "will go to heaven as a martyr defending the rights of our people and its holy sites."
Hamas and Fatah are once again trying to fool the Europeans and the rest of the world by pretending to be on the side of those who oppose violence and terrorism. This is happening at a time when both groups continue to condone terrorism and glorify terrorists.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
by Khaled Abu Toameh, 5/1/2015
And who ever heard of the case of Zaki al-Hobby, a 17-year old Palestinian who was shot and killed last weekend by Egyptian border guards? Had he been shot by Israeli soldiers on the other side of the border, the EU and UN would have called for an international commission of inquiry.
The stories of the Palestinians tortured to death in an Arab prison have also failed to win the attention of the Western media. Nor have the EU and the UN, which called for an investigation into the death of Abu Ein -- who died of a heart attack while in a confrontation with an Israeli soldier -- deemed it necessary to tackle the plight of the Palestinians being killed and tortured to death in Syria and other Arab countries.
As far as the Palestinian Authority is concerned — and the media, the EU, the UN and human rights groups — the only "war crimes" are being committed by Israelis, and not by Arabs who are killing, torturing and displacing tens of thousands of Palestinians. And all this is happening while the international community and media continue to display an obsession only with everything connected to Israel.
More than 2,500 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the conflict in Syria three years ago, according to a report published this week by the Working Group for Palestinians in Syria. It revealed that 2,596 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the conflict in that country in 2011.
But this is a news item that has hardly found its way into mainstream media in the West. Even Arab media outlets have almost entirely ignored the report about Palestinian casualties in Syria.
The reason for this apathy, of course, is clear. The Palestinians in Syria were killed by Arabs and not as a result of the conflict with Israel.
Journalists covering the Middle East do not believe that this is an important story because of the absence of any Israeli role in the killings.
Arabs slaughtering, executing and torturing Palestinians is not sensational enough to grab a headline in a major Western or Arab newspaper. That is why most Middle East correspondents have chosen to turn a blind eye to the report.
According to the report, the victims include 157 women who were killed in the fighting between Bashar Assad's army and various opposition groups in Syria. It also said that 268 Palestinians were killed by snipers, while another 84 were summarily executed. Another 984 Palestinians were killed when their homes and neighborhoods were shelled by the Syrian army and the opposition groups.
The report also reminded the international community that the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus has been under siege by the Syrian army for the past 547 days. Approximately 160 residents of the camp have died as a result of the siege, the report said.
It also pointed out that the camp has been without electricity for more than 620 days. Camp residents have also been cut off from water for the past 117 days, the report added.
In addition to the deaths, some 80,000 Palestinians have fled their homes in Syria due to the ongoing conflict. Nearly 15,000 have crossed the border to Jordan, while another 42,000 have fled to Lebanon, the report disclosed.
As if that were not enough, last week Muslim terrorists executed six Palestinians from Yarmouk camp after finding them guilty of "blasphemy."
A senior PLO official in Syria, Anwar Abdel Hadi, said that the Palestinians were executed by the Al-Qaeda-affiliated An-Nusra terror group.
Abdel Hadi said that only 15,000 Palestinians remain in the refugee camp, which until three years ago was home to some 175,000 people.
Another report published recently revealed that 264 Palestinians have died as a result of torture in Syrian government prisons over the past few years.
The most recent deaths in Syrian prisons occurred last month, when three more Palestinians died after being tortured. The three were identified as Bila al-Zari, Mohamed Omar and Mohamed Masriyeh.
These Palestinians were arrested by the Syrian authorities on suspicion of helping anti-Assad forces in different parts of the country.
The stories of the Palestinians tortured to death in an Arab prison have also failed to win the attention of the Western media. Had any one of them died in an Israeli prison or in a confrontation with Israeli soldiers, his story and photo would have appeared on the front page of many newspapers and magazines in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
By contrast, when a top Fatah official, Ziad Abu Ein, recently died of a heart attack after an altercation with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, his story immediately caught the attention of the international media and human rights organizations. Many foreign journalists covering the Middle East covered the story of Abu Ein from every possible angle and conducted interviews with his family members and friends.
In an incident widely reported by international media, Fatah official Ziad Abu Ein (center) is shown suffering a heart attack while sitting on the ground, moments after an altercation with Israeli soldiers. Abu Ein later died.
But the Palestinians who are being killed and tortured to death in Syria and other Arab countries have never received the same attention from the same journalists and human rights activists. Nor have the EU and UN, which called for an investigation into the death of Abu Ein, deemed it necessary to tackle the plight of the Palestinians in Syria.
And who has heard of the case of Zaki Al-Hobby, a 17-year-old Palestinian who was shot and killed last weekend by Egyptian border guards? The Palestinian teenager was killed because he came too close to the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Witnesses said he was shot in the back and died instantly.
Once again, Al-Hobby's story has hardly received any coverage because Israel was not involved in that incident. Had he been shot by Israeli soldiers on the other side of the border, the EU and UN would have called for an international commission of inquiry. But the teenager was unfortunate because he was shot by Egyptian soldiers, making his story "insignificant" in the eyes of the international community and media.
That Palestinians are being killed by Arabs does not seem to bother even the Palestinian Authority, whose leaders are busy these days threatening to file "war crimes" charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court. As far as the Palestinian Authority is concerned — and the media, the EU, the UN and human rights groups — the only "war crimes" are being committed by Israelis, and not by Arabs who are killing, torturing and displacing tens of thousands of Palestinians. And all this is happening while the international community and media continue to display an obsession only with everything connected to Israel.
Monday, January 5, 2015
Another surprise from the New York Times - an op-ed that isn't anti-Israel!
By Dennis B. Ross Jan. 4, 2015
For the full article go to: http://tinyurl.com/kve5o8x
WASHINGTON — THE president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, insists on using international institutions to pressure Israel, even after he was rebuffed in the United Nations Security Council, where he sought a resolution mandating Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Mr. Abbas has now announced that he will turn to the International Criminal Court — a move that will produce Palestinian charges and Israeli countercharges but not alter the reality on the ground.
A European official I met recently expressed sympathy for the Palestinians’ pursuit of a Security Council resolution. I responded by saying that if he favors Palestinian statehood, it’s time to stop giving the Palestinians a pass. It is time to make it costly for them to focus on symbols rather than substance.
Since 2000, there have been three serious negotiations that culminated in offers to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Bill Clinton’s parameters in 2000, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer in 2008, and Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts last year. In each case, a proposal on all the core issues was made to Palestinian leaders and the answer was either “no” or no response. They determined that the cost of saying “yes,” or even of making a counteroffer that required concessions, was too high.
Palestinian political culture is rooted in a narrative of injustice; its anticolonialist bent and its deep sense of grievance treats concessions to Israel as illegitimate. Compromise is portrayed as betrayal, and negotiations — which are by definition about mutual concessions — will inevitably force any Palestinian leader to challenge his people by making a politically costly decision.
But going to the United Nations does no such thing. It puts pressure on Israel and requires nothing of the Palestinians. Resolutions are typically about what Israel must do and what Palestinians should get. If saying yes is costly and doing nothing isn’t, why should we expect the Palestinians to change course?
That’s why European leaders who fervently support Palestinian statehood must focus on how to raise the cost of saying no or not acting at all when there is an offer on the table. Palestinians care deeply about international support for their cause. If they knew they would be held accountable for being nonresponsive or rejecting a fair offer or resolution, it could well change their calculus.
Unfortunately, most Europeans are focused far more on Israeli behavior and want, at a minimum, to see Israel’s continuing settlement policy change.
But turning to the United Nations or the International Criminal Court during an Israeli election is counterproductive. It will be seen in Israel as a one-sided approach, and it will strengthen politicians who prefer the status quo. These candidates will argue that the deck is stacked against Israel and that the country needs leaders who will stand firm against unfair pressure.
Why not wait? If a new Israeli government after the elections is prepared to take a peace initiative and build settlements only on land that is likely to be part of Israel and not part of Palestine, there will be no need for a United Nations resolution.
If not, and the Europeans decide to pursue one, it must be balanced. It cannot simply address Palestinian needs by offering borders based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps and a capital in Arab East Jerusalem without offering something equally specific to Israel — namely, security arrangements that leave Israel able to defend itself by itself, phased withdrawal tied to the Palestinian Authority’s performance on security and governance, and a resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue that allows Israel to retain its Jewish character.
In all likelihood the Palestinians would reject such a resolution. Accepting it would require compromises that they refused in 2000, 2008 and 2014. There is, of course, no guarantee that the next Israeli government would accept such a resolution. But the Israelis are not the ones pushing for United Nations involvement. The Palestinians are. And if their approach is neither about two states nor peace, there ought to be a price for that.
Peace requires accountability on both sides. It’s fair to ask the Israelis to accept the basic elements that make peace possible — 1967 lines as well as land swaps and settlement building limited to the blocks. But isn’t it time to demand the equivalent from the Palestinians on two states for two peoples, and on Israeli security? Isn’t it time to ask the Palestinians to respond to proposals and accept resolutions that address Israeli needs and not just their own?
Dennis B. Ross, a counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was the United States chief negotiator for Arab-Israeli issues from 1993 to 2001. He is the author of the forthcoming book “Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship in a Time of Change.”