San Francisco Chronicle reprints Arab propaganda

Just found this incredible story: the San Francisco Chronicle printed an article describing how Arab leaders are moderate and in search of peace, while ""Israel continues to move further to the right."

Stefan Sharkansky, an alert ex-Chronicle reader was suspicious of the article's sources and decided to dig up more information on this anti-Israeli commentary.

"There was something about the histrionically one-sided and selectively factual piece that was redolent of what one usually finds in a state-owned Arab newspaper".

Being Internet savvy, he found out that the article was originally printed in the Cairo Times, where Ashraf Khalil is the editor. The SF Chronicle describes the writer as "Ashraf Khalil, Chronicle Foreign Service" without mentioning the real source of the article!

I completely agree with Stefan's point that "when the mainstream local newspaper prints bogus analysis equating Israel with intransigent right-wing militarism, it might help explain why anti-Israeli protestors at SF State might feel emboldened to commit anti-Semitic violence thinking it a courageous act of fighting oppression".

I strongly suggest you cancel your San Francisco Chronicle subscription, just call Dick Rogers, the readers' representative, at (415) 777-7870 or email him at readerrep@sfchronicle.com

For the original Arab propaganda, check http://www.cairotimes.com/news/diplomacy.html
For the reprinted Arab propaganda from "Ashraf Khalil, Chronicle Foreign Service", check http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/05/16/MN230947.DTL

I copy below Stefan's message to the Chronicle - good work Stephan!





Stephen Sharkansky's message to the San Francisco Chronicle
http://kesher.blogspot.com/?/2002_05_12_kesher_archive.html#85096262

To the San Francisco Chronicle Dept. of Journalistic Standards:

I was fascinated by today's "news analysis" by Ashraf Khalil titled "Roads to Mideast Peace Diverge". (5/16)

There was something about the histrionically one-sided and selectively factual piece that was redolent of what one usually finds in a state-owned Arab newspaper. Never mind the Orwellian stunt of portraying Mubarak, Assad and the Crown Prince as a trio of peace activists. Just look closely at Khalil's discussion of Israel. For example, the opening paragraph with the information that "Israel -- having largely completed its West Bank offensive and reportedly turning its eye toward Gaza -- has opted to pursue security through force.". Really? All the stories that I've read indicated that Israel unilaterally called off any operations in Gaza in order to give diplomacy a chance.

The last paragraph, referring to the recent vote by Likud party activists to oppose a Palestinian state concludes that "Israel continues to move further to the right." Oh? The analyst seems to ignore all the signs that this party vote was merely an unsuccessful political stunt that was out of step with mainstream public opinion. Prime Minister Sharon opposed the proposal. Voices in the Israeli press ridiculed Netanyahu for painting himself into a corner of irrelevance. A leading moderate Israeli journalist who was actually at the party conference (was Ashraf Khalil there?) called it "an astonishing display of self-destructiveness [for the Likud itself]." Leaders of the rival Labor Party shortly thereafter declared their support of unilateral withdrawal from the occupied territories. An Israeli public opinion poll taken immediately after the Likud vote indicated that 63% of Israeli voters supported Palestinian statehood, and a majority of likely Likud voters continue to support Sharon over Netanyahu despite the former's opposition to the party vote. Now, in light of all these facts, who would conclude that the Likud party vote is evidence of Israel moving further to the right?

Well, Ashraf Khalil apparently did, and my suspicions about the origins of the column? It turns out that the piece first appeared in something called ... "The Cairo Times", where Khalil is the "Editor".

If one studies the Cairo Times web site, one learns that the Cairo Times is "independent", but that every issue must be approved by Egyptian government censors. I don't believe we have government newspaper censors in the US, so forgive me for insinuating that your publication of this editorial suggests that you don't understand what government censors are.

Now, to be fair to the Chronicle, you did publish a lengthy piece that covered the Israeli Labor party's peace proposals in a fair light. But do you feel such a strong impulse to "balance" every story about conciliatory peace-seeking Israelis by running Arab government-approved propaganda that paints Israel as a nation of intransigent right-wing militarists, and obscuring its source?

If you feel the need, for some reason, to publish authentic Arab journalism, you could at least help your readers understand its context by appropriately labelling the pieces, such as "written by the editor of the Cairo Times, approved for publication by the Egyptian government". But you did not do this, instead you dignified the author with the label of "Chronicle Foreign Service" I am sufficiently knowledgeable about the Middle East to be skeptical of such writing and sufficiently Internet-savvy to find out who Ashraf Khalil is. But I suspect that most of your readers need a few more hints from the Chronicle to help them put opinion pieces in their proper perspective. When the Chronicle lends its good name and credibility to "news analysis", it has the power to influence attitudes. When the mainstream local newspaper prints bogus analysis equating Israel with intransigent right-wing militarism, it might help explain why anti-Israeli protestors at SF State might feel emboldened to commit anti-Semitic violence thinking it a courageous act of fighting oppression.

I've remained a loyal Chronicle subscriber, even though I've questioned some of your coverage of the Middle East. But now I simply question the value of your newspaper altogether. I am suspending my subscription, just as I would have suspended my subscription back in the days of the Soviet Union if you had printed regurgitated editorials from Pravda under your own byline. I can get TV and movie listings on Yahoo! for free. When I'm in the mood to chuckle at Arab propaganda, I can read the Chronicle online for free, the same way I read the Cairo Times.

Stefan Sharkansky

Posted by David Melle
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Comments

Why is none of this surprising at all??

Posted by: BraveJeWorld at September 16, 2008 07:19 AM


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