Stories on Israel flawed from any angle

After many years of hearing and reading about a bias against Israel in the mainstream media, I thought I’d see how my hometown newspaper stacks up against this charge. With Israel in the news of late due to the tension between the Obama administration and the Israeli government over the housing projects in east Jerusalem, I thought this would be a great week to do a little analyzing.

Starting March 16, here’s what I noticed. On page A7 with a top-of-the-page headline was an AP story that said “U.S. demands Israel halt east Jerusalem building project.”

The next day brought on page A7 another headline declaring “Protesting plan to add housing, Palestinians battle Israel police.” On March 18, on the top of page A11 was a headline stating “Israel relaxes curb on Palestinian access,” although this space was shared with another story.

And on March 19, buried in the middle of the Dispatches briefs section on A4, was a one-by-two-inch story about a “Rocket strike from Gaza on an Israeli village.”

I found it amazing that the headline news all week of a diplomatic tiff between the United States and Israel and a housing expansion in east Jerusalem trumped the death of an innocent Thai worker in the fields of southern Israel. Surprisingly, that part of the story wasn’t even the lead.

Is the Press Herald biased against Israel? Judging by one week’s news, one would have to wonder.

Mickey Haas


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that “the building of those Jewish neighborhoods in no way hurts the Arabs of east Jerusalem and did not come at their expense” (“U.S. demands Israel halt east Jerusalem building project,” March 16) redefines chutzpah as a barefaced lie. Israel’s constant policy since the 1967 occupation — and Netanyahu’s — has been annexation of all of Jerusalem, cutting off remaining Palestinians there from the West Bank. The apartheid wall through east Jerusalem excludes 55,000 Palestinians; 125.000 may be stripped of their right to live there.

Of the 23,000 Palestinian homes Israel has demolished since 1967, most homes of those ethnically-cleansed from Israeli land, 700 have been razed in east Jerusalem since 2001, with 22,000 pending demolition; with 312 more in west Jerusalem. (Exorbitantly expensive building permits are routinely denied Palestinians but granted for settlements.)

Israel has confiscated enough land in Jerusalem from Palestinians to settle 190,000 Israelis there with some 96,000 more in nearby West Bank areas. Last November, 14,000 settlements were begun in east Jerusalem, 2,105 more announced.

All are in violation of international law and U.N. resolutions: an occupier may not divert land or other resources to its use.

(Curiously, no one asks why Israel builds in the occupied territories and subsidizes purchases of settlement housing when there is more unsettled land in the 78 percent of Mandate Palestine that comprises Israel. Some 2 million Palestinians would have to move to Israel to create a population balance!)

Obviously, more settlements in east Jerusalem, after a promised moratorium to allow peace talks to commence, “hurts” Jerusalem Palestinians and is “at their expense.”

Like all of the settlements, these will be, as Israeli leaders boast, “facts on the ground” supporting demands to keep stolen occupied territories land in peace negotiations.

William H. Slavick


The Press Herald’s story in the March 19 “Dispatches” on rockets fired by Gaza militants which killed a Thai worker reproduces the claim of The Associated Press that “it was the first such death since Israel’s offensive against Hamas-ruled Gaza more than a year ago.”

Whereas one death is too many, this phrasing erases the killing of Palestinians since the bombing of Gaza. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights published an account of at least four Palestinians killed by Israeli gunfire in the northern Gaza strip on Aug. 25, 2009.

The BBC reported the death of three Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy, killed in an airstrike over Gaza on Jan. 8 of this year.

The Palestinian Centre’s weekly report for Feb. 24 through March 3 lists Israeli Occupation Forces as killing one Palestinian, wounding 17, conducting 18 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and five incursions into the Gaza Strip, and arresting 50 persons, including 10 children and three human rights defenders, in the West Bank.

The phrase “first such death” erases the meaning of the occupation of Palestine by the Israeli government and military.

Cristina Malcolmson



Chief Craig doing great, still needs people’s help


Recently I had the pleasure to hear Portland Police Chief James Craig speak at a Rotary breakfast. What an intelligent man with many years of police experience in Los Angeles. His message was alarming!

Portland is a wonderful jewel and we are slowly losing the luster off of that jewel. Gangs are forming, drugs are rampant and drive-by shootings are happening. Welcome to Boston!

In 1989, when I moved my family to Portland, I used to say it was just like Boston in the ’60s.

Friendly, kind and caring people walked around with no fear. Ladies could walk around and not be bothered, gay people did not have to fear repercussions due to their orientation. African-Americans, Asians and Latinos were welcomed in a family atmosphere.

Not now. Welcome to Boston!

Chief Craig and his phenomenal 140 men and women are all to be congratulated for keeping criminals in check. Crime is down more than 10 percent.

The chief used proactive community policing to accomplish this in only 10 months on the job. But he needs our help.

The citizens of this community must join together behind this great police force. Get mad! Be aware! Report crimes or criminal activity if you see it. Get involved – or welcome to Boston!

Anthony Barrasso

South Portland

Taxpayers pay $1 million to find obvious answer


In the article about public transportation north of Portland (“By train or by bus? State looks for answer,” March 17) you report, “The MDOT spent $1 million in federal money studying the issue for two years. …“

This can’t be right. A million dollars, two years? I would hope that one reasonably competent engineer working on this 40 hours a week for one year should be able to come up with something I thought was fairly obvious – that trains are more expensive and buses more flexible.

Just because it’s federal money doesn’t mean it’s free. We all pay when someone milks the system like this.

Kurt Woltersdorf



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