Newsweek anti-Israel bias

Recent incidents that revealed an apparent animus toward Israel at the magazine’s Middle East edition.

By: Barney Breen-Portnoy/The Algemeiner

Newsweek must take action to “save the integrity of its hard-earned journalist brand from bigots and propagandists,” an official with a leading US-based Jewish human rights organization told The Algemeiner on Monday following a string of recent incidents that revealed an apparent animus by the magazine’s Middle East edition toward Israel.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, was referring to Leila Hatoum — the senior deputy editor for Newsweek Middle East, which is based in Dubai — and Ben White — a British freelance journalist known for his vehement anti-Israel views.

In a series of tweets late last week, Hatoum — whose Twitter tagline says in Hebrew “Occupation = Ongoing terrorism” — repeatedly used the phrase “Zionist trolls” and made a number of eye-brow raising statements, including, among others, “zionists are not Jews. Stay in ur dark corner trying achieve ur monthly goals set to u by the mossad” and “zionist troll # 100 something .. jealous much? U can’t shame me like u do to western media. Go cry in the corner.”

Hatoum also called the late Zionist visionary Theodore Herzl and his followers a “malicious gang of land thieves [who] decided on stealing Palestine from its people with the aid of the British…much like what settlers did to N. America’s indians.”

The twitter rampage by Hatoum came after the publication of a tendentious video by Newsweek Middle East that claimed a Palestinian state existed before the founding of Israel in 1948. As evidence, the video cited Ottoman-era maps that used the word “Palestine” to describe lands that are now known as Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

“To allege that 19th century maps of ‘Palestine’ refer to Arab land is nothing less than a cynical attempt to invert history,” Cooper said.

The video was a follow-up to an article published in Newsweek Middle East in late August by White. In the article — titled “Where is Palestine?” — White criticized Google’s policy of not using the word “Palestine” in its maps (it instead uses West Bank and Gaza Strip).

White also took aim at Israel, claiming that, since its establishment, the Jewish state has sought “to wipe Palestine from the map, and to deny that Palestine, or Palestinians themselves, ever existed.”

He concluded, “Whatever Google’s own motivations are, however, the issue is not going away anytime soon, as Palestinians contest and resist colonization and appropriation at every level– a battle ground that now includes online mapping.”

Joe Hyams, the CEO of the HonestReporting media watchdog organization, said in a statement published on his group’s website, “Newsweek Middle East has evidently been hijacked by agenda-driven journalism.” Furthermore, Hyams called for Newsweek to “take immediate action to protect its name from being associated with such an embarrassment.”

The results of an investigation recently concluded by the IDF Military Advocate General (MAG) refuted a Dec. 2014 Newsweek Europe cover story about the tragedy that befell the Siyam family in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge two summers ago. While the Newsweek story blamed “Israeli rockets” for the deaths of 12 members of the Siyam family in Rafah in July 2014, the MAG probe found that the Siyams were likely hit by mortars aimed at Israel by terrorist groups in Gaza that fell short.