Friday, July 7, 2017

Will El País Stop Its "Spanish Inquisition"? - Masha Gabriel




by Masha Gabriel

Ismail Haniyeh, a senior official of Hamas -- was referred to by El País as "moderate" and "pragmatic," while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was described by the paper as the leader of a "radical" and "extremist" government.

  • The paper's opinion section has grown increasingly slanted, with more and more pieces penned by members of blatantly anti-Israel organizations, falsely presented as neutral observers of the conflict.
  • In spite of numerous pleas to El País, it is only on rare occasions that it has issued corrections to its repeated factual errors and lack of historical context. This indicates that it is not oversight at work, but rather a purposeful effort to defame and delegitimize the Jewish state -- in other words, anti-Semitism.
Over the past year, Spain's flagship newspaper, El País, has reemerged as the anti-Israel publication that it used to be. Until 2009, when it changed its approach to coverage of the Middle East, El País was so openly hostile to the Jewish state that 14 members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter to then-Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, to express concern over the systematic publication of "articles and cartoons conveying crude anti-Semitic canards and stereotypes" in the pages of El País.
That year, the paper began to present a more balanced view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and even ceased the practice of referring to Tel Aviv -- rather than Jerusalem -- as the Israeli capital. It continued in this vein for the next seven years.

In 2016, however, El País reverted to its old ways, as the following three examples illustrate:
  • Leila Khaled, a member of the terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – notorious for taking part in the August 29, 1969 hijacking of TWA Flight 840 on its way from Rome to Tel Aviv, and in the September 6, 1970 attempted hijacking of El Al Flight 219 from Amsterdam to New York – was described by El País as someone who came from "a traumatic life experience: the occupation, which, when she was a child in 1948 [the establishment of the state of Israel], expelled her and her family from Haifa," along with "millions of refugees who were forced to leave their homes."
  • Ismail Haniyeh, a senior official of Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip, was referred to by El País as "moderate" and "pragmatic," while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was described by the paper as the leader of a "radical" and "extremist" government.
  • It also claimed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "derives from the occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank" and "subsequent blockade of the Gaza Strip," and that since the Six-Day War in 1967, "Israel hasn't stopped colonizing."

Ismail Haniyeh, a senior official of Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip, was referred to by El País as "moderate" and "pragmatic," while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was described by the paper as the leader of a "radical" and "extremist" government.

To commemorate last year's Israeli Independence Day -- on May 12, 2016 -- El País devoted many news pieces and features to the 49th anniversary of the "occupation," with no quotes from Israelis, other than those who expressed harsh criticism of their own country.

The following month, on June 30, 2016, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, a 13-year-old Israeli girl, was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist who broke into her bedroom. El País headlined its coverage of the senseless slaughter: "The ravages of the occupation." A separate story on the attack was titled: "Palestinian stabs a 13-year-old settler in her sleep."

After Revista De Medio Oriente, the Spanish site of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), contacted El País to alert it to the fact that calling Ariel a "settler" in this context was a form of dehumanization, the headline was changed to: "A Palestinian kills a 13-year-old Israeli girl in a settlement." In each case, the implication was that it was the victim's status and location that was responsible for her death. In neither instance was her murderer called a terrorist.

Mere days earlier, a cartoon accompanying an op-ed praising the controversial Israel NGO Breaking the Silence – comprised of IDF veterans whose claims that the Israeli army regularly commits war crimes are not only disputed, but repeatedly have been proven false – is reminiscent of images used by the Nazis.


An El País cartoon, accompanying an op-ed praising the controversial Israel NGO Breaking the Silence, is reminiscent of images used by the Nazis.

In general, the paper's opinion section has grown increasingly slanted, with more and more pieces penned by members of blatantly anti-Israel organizations, falsely presented as neutral observers of the conflict. One of these articles was even tagged with a request that readers donate money to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Another op-ed particularly worthy of note insinuated that all problems in the Middle East -- including the theocracy in Iran, "jihadist madness," "hatred of the West," the Syrian civil war, the widening of the Sunni-Shiite divide, "Erdogan's despotism" in Turkey and the "end of Kurdish people" -- can be traced to Zionism.

In spite of CAMERA's numerous pleas to El País, it is only on rare occasions that it has issued corrections to its repeated factual errors and lack of historical context. This indicates that it is not oversight at work, but rather a purposeful effort to defame and delegitimize the Jewish state -- in other words, anti-Semitism.

El País is not alone in this practice, which is common in the Spanish-language media. However, since it is the most widely read newspaper among Spanish-speakers, with an edition in the United States, as well -- and as Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the world -- the misleading message that fills its pages on a daily basis is extremely dangerous.

The occasional op-ed presenting a more balanced view -- or isolated feature highlighting successful Israeli start-ups and agri-tech -- cannot begin to counter the paper's constant onslaught against the Jewish state, which extends far beyond Spain's borders. El País must be held accountable.

The time is ripe for members of the U.S. Congress to express renewed concern over the paper's anti-Semitic leanings, by pointing them out to Spain's current prime minister, Mariano Rajoy Brey.

Masha Gabriel is the director of Revista De Medio Oriente, the Spanish website of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10608/el-pais-spain-israel

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