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Piling on Irresponsibly Against Syria

by Stephen Lendman Tuesday, May. 29, 2012 at 9:25 PM


Piling on Irresponsibly Against Syria

by Stephen Lendman

When Washington and Israel plan war, even sources that know better pile on. Haaretz is no exception.

At times it reports responsibly. Other times it falls short. More on that below.

Founded in 1918, Haaretz is Israel's oldest broadsheet. Britain Mandate government sponsored it. In 1919, Zionist immigrants took control.

Initially it was called Hadashot Haaretz (News of the Land). Later it became Haaretz (The Land). In 1937, Salman Schocken bought the paper. In 1939, his son Gershom became editor-in-chief. He remained so until death in 1990.

Schocken family members maintained full ownership. In 2006, that changed. German publisher M. DeMont Schauberg acquired a 25% stake. Former Israeli German ambassador, Avi Primor, helped negotiate the deal.

In June 2011, Russian/Israeli businessman Leonid Nevzlin bought a 20% interest. Schoken family members now owns 60%. Gershom Schocken established Haaretz's editorial policy. Current chief editor Aluf Benn has responsibility.

It's published in Hebrew and English. It's also available online. It usually leans left but not always. It's followed closely by opinion makers within and outside Israel. The paper calls itself liberal on domestic and international affairs. Increasingly it falls short.

Sometimes it tries having it both ways. For example, in covering Nabka Day 2012, it published a photo showing a Palestinian stone thrower. Doing so was irresponsible.

In discussing Amnesty International's annual human rights report condemning Israeli excessive, sometimes lethal, force, another photo displayed Palestinian violence. Stone-throwing was again shown. An Israeli army bulldozer was portrayed as victim, not aggressor.

Haaretz also omitted vital information AI explained. At times when discussing clashes between soldiers and Palestinians, coverage slants one way. It suggests security forces respond to Palestinian provocations. It's virtually always the other way. Haaretz knows but won't say.

Its May 28 editorial reflects irresponsible opinion. Headlined "UN troops to Syria now," it said:

"The scope of the slaughter in Syria should be enough to justify purposeful action to show that the international community is not prepared to watch from the sidelines."

It called Western-generated insurgents a "revolt (against Assad's) regime." It blamed him for killer gang violence. It cited baseless UN death figures. No one knows the true toll. No source was named or credible evidence cited.

It called for international "action to remove the murderous regime." Doing so points fingers the wrong way. Fundamental rule of law principles were ignored. No nation may interfere in the internal affairs of others unless attacked. Haaretz understands but stayed silent.

Syria attacked no one. It's under attack. Daily externally-generated violence rages. Assad confronts it responsibly. So would all leaders, including democrats, despots and everyone in between.

Blaming victims is unconscionable. It reflects scoundrel, not legitimate, journalism. Haaretz knows better. Too often it falls short.

It backed NATO's war on Gaddafi. Irresponsible reporting encouraged the wrong side. It supports Annan's peace plan. It's one-sided cover for imperial lawlessness. It ignores Washington's longstanding regime change plans. It's silent on Israel's role. Its provocations go unmentioned. So does its regional dominance plan.

Haaretz supports military aggression. It urges UN intervention. Rule of law principles don't matter. Nor does right over wrong.

"This authority must be applied without delay." Turkish and Lebanese Security are threatened, it claimed. Ankara's direct role was ignored.

Responsible opinion writers draw conclusions from verifiable facts. Haaretz often regurgitates baseless claims and spurious accusations, especially on war and peace issues.

It's part of NATO's anti-Assad campaign. Turkey plays a key role. It provides insurgents safe havens, arms, and other direct aid. Its military is actively involved. Lebanon's March 14 alliance provides arms. So do other regional states, NATO countries, and Israel.

Haaretz claimed "Hezbollah will try to divert attention from Syria to Israel." Responsible journalism avoids baseless inflammatory statements, comments and accusations.

On May 28, a Reuters story was featured. Headlined "Shelling on Syria opposition kills 30 in Hama days after Houla massacre," it said:

"Syrian army tanks shelled (Hama) residential neighborhoods...." It cited unnamed opposition, not legitimate, sources.

"A video circulated by opposition sources purportedly showed a group of people, including two toddlers, lying wounded or dead on the floor of a mosque in the city, including several bodies with severed limbs."

Blame game finger pointing shamelessly names victims.

On May 27, Haaretz headlined "Netanyahu: Israel 'appalled' by Syria massacre; Iran and Hezbollah must also be held responsible."

In a statement his office released, he said:

He's "appalled at the continuous slaughter of innocent civilians by Assad's forces....Iran and Hezbollah cannot be separated from Assad's massacre, and the world needs to take action against them as well."

Netanyahu's a world class thug. He's a regional menace. He enforces occupation harshness. He mocks democratic governance. He threatens nonbelligerent neighbors. Quoting him without comment is irresponsible. Publishing lies is worse. Doing it mars Haaretz's reputation. It's happening much too often.

It's also true on Iran. Numerous reports include false and misleading information. On May 28, it headlined "Report: Iran sought to strike Jewish, US targets in Azerbaijan," saying:

Iran was implicated in a foiled plot, it said. A Washington Post report was cited. It claimed emails sent to America's Azerbaijan ambassador, Matthew Bryza. Sources cited were unnamed US officials. They always lack credibility.

The scheme allegedly involved "snipers with silencer-equipped rifles and a car bomb." Iran was named responsible. Why wasn't explained. What could Tehran hope to gain?

Recall last year's spurious claims about plans to kill Saudi's US ambassador in Washington. Regurgitated in screaming headlines, they were laughable on their face. They read more like a bad film plot.

Other fake terror ones followed. All lacked credibility. None passed the smell test. Neither does the alleged Azerbaijan scheme and claims about Tehran's nonexistent nuclear weapons program. Every time charges surface, baseless claims, not evidence are cited.

Regurgitating inflammatory reports reflects irresponsible journalism. Haaretz backs regime change in Syria. It joined Netanyahu's war on Iran. Numerous articles include spurious accusations.

Iran denies all charges. An official statement this time said:

"We believe that the glorious people of Azerbaijan understand that this part of the script of Iranophobia and Islamophobia (that) is organized by the Zionists and the United States."

On May 28, Haaretz headlined "Israeli public must take stock of the Iranian issue," saying:

Iran has "enough enriched uranium to assemble five nuclear bombs. Within a fairly short time, Iran will not be far from passing the threshold and becoming a nuclear power....Don't say you didn't know."

All nations with commercial nuclear reactors have enough uranium and plutonium to produce multiple bombs. Only a handful do. Israel is among them. It's nuclear armed and dangerous. Haaretz ignored the real threat.

Instead it cited years of failure to halt Iran's peaceful nuclear program by non-military means. It claimed Israel is "in a state of numb exhaustion." It said "sovereign citizens....have two strikes against us in this contest with Iran, and we cannot afford strike three."

It implied support, but didn't endorse war.

In March, it claimed Israeli satellite images "raised suspicions" about Iran concealing nuclear tests. It said evidence "reinforce(s)" Israel's accusation about Tehran allegedly developing nuclear weapons.

So-called evidence showed trucks and earth-moving vehicles at Iran's Parchin military site. Accusations suggested "carting away radioactive material created in nuclear testing."

Claims were spurious on their face. Equipment cited proved nothing. If ground areas are irradiated, residues remain no matter how much earth is removed. Total cleanup is virtually impossible.

Repeating baseless accusations without evidence reflects irresponsible journalism. Doing it repeatedly is unconscionable. Haaretz is guilty much too often, especially on Iran and Syria.

Doing so makes imperial war more likely. Against either nation threatens the entire region. General war may follow. Involvement is a heavy cross to bear.

Haaretz shares blame with other media scoundrels. Hopefully it'll report responsibly again. The stakes are much too high to do less.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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