Dom Post says Hamas can end strikes

January 6th, 2009 at 12:14 pm by David Farrar

An excellent editorial from the Dom Post:

But Hamas’ leaders and those who unquestioningly side with them overlook a simple fact when they deplore Israel’s assault on Gaza, The Dominion Post writes. Hamas, an organisation that is committed to the destruction of Israel, provoked the Israeli attacks and it has it within its power to stop them. All it has to do is stop firing rockets into Israeli territory.

Yes. Ask yourself this. If Israel stops it air strikes, will Hamas stop its rocket attacks? No – it will carry on. But if Hamas stopped rocket attacks, would Israel stop its strikes – absolutely.

In the past eight years 16 Israelis have been killed by rockets launched from within the strip. Israel’s response – air attacks and now a ground assault – is disproportionate. But what is Israel supposed to do? Would its critics prefer it to send a rocket back every time one landed in its territory? No other sovereign nation would tolerate a neighbour indiscriminately targeting its citizens, and anyone who thinks a people who pledged “never again” after the Holocaust would do so, has rocks in their head.

As David Cohen (currently in Israel) points out, there have been more than 9400 documented rocket attacks in the past five years, and in the last year almost 10 a day.

Hopelessly outgunned militarily, Hamas cannot hope to defeat Israel in a conventional war, but it can compete in a public relations battle for hearts and minds. The Israeli attacks are producing images of dead and wounded Palestinians that damage Israel’s international reputation.

They also serve as rallying posters for future Hamas foot soldiers.

That the strategy has cost hundreds of Palestinians their lives and condemned Gaza’s population of 1.5 million to even greater hardship does not appear to concern Hamas’ leaders.

In a column published in yesterday’s Dominion Post, Fania Oz-Salzberger, professor of modern Israel studies at Monash University in Melbourne, likened Hamas’ behaviour to that of a “poor and traumatised” man who sits with his daughter on his lap taking pot shots at a neighbour’s house packed with women and children.

That is a great analogy. And yes it is a deliberate strategy of Hamas to try and maximise civilian casualaties on both sides. Meanwhile as Whale Oil points out, Israel is going so far to minimise civilian deaths it is actually ringing neighbours of targets and giving them time to evacuate. This is why of 600 destroyed targets, there have been less than 100 civilian deaths (and around 400 non civilians). Israel is meant to have made more than 9,000 warning calls.

None of this justifies the wrongs done to Palestinians dispossessed of their ancestral lands, the unconscionable conditions in which millions of Palestinians live, or the excesses of the Israeli military. As Professor Oz-Salzberger writes: “Gazans are worse off than Israelis in every single way.”

Palestinians have reason for being poor and traumatised and bitter and vengeful.

But one simple fact remains. If Hamas’ leaders really want to end the suffering caused by the Israeli attacks they can do so.

All they have to do is stop firing rockets into Israeli territory, acknowledge that Israel has a right to exist and start negotiating.

The problems with Hamas go beyond Israel. They recently voted to bring back crucifixion as a punishment. Now think about how many pages have been devoted to the US water boarding, and how the middle east media have almost totally failed to cover this vote to legalise this most barbaric way to kill someone.

And for those who think all these problems would disappear if Israel was wiped out, reflect on this fromMr Cohen again:

While the military campaign by the Israelis is against the Hamas death-cultists who are sworn to Israel’s destruction, there is no denying it is also aimed at sending a severe message to the Islamist group’s Iranian sponsors, whose to-do list of countries to eliminate after they’re done with the Zionist entity even includes New Zealand.

Yes, follow the link. Ths is not just a war about a border.

Noelle McCarthy

November 26th, 2008 at 4:27 pm by David Farrar

The Sunday Star-Times did a large and prominent story on Noelle McCarthy and raised issues about whether some of her verbal on air essays were too similiar to articles from various European newspapers.

I’m possibly somewhat biased on this issue as the GPS system in my car is called Noelle, but I think David Cohen’s blog on this issue is very apt:

we feel like offering a bit of solidarity towards Noelle McCarthy over the media treatment she received this past weekend, when a small number of her articles and columns were deemed of sufficiently compelling interest by the Sunday Star-Times to warrant a manifestly overlong story on their purported similarities with a number of previously published British pieces.

Despite having spent the better part of a week poring over McCarthy’s efforts, reporter Kim Knight came up with nothing more earth-shattering than the fact that McCarthy reads fairly widely when it comes to British papers, and yes, she had probably been a bit naughty in riffing a little too hard on a few of their recent reports. But did that pretty inconsequential discovery justify anything more than a small aside in a media column?

Cohen has written a lot on plagiarism:

As it happens, we’ve spent some effort in the past looking at real plagiarism scandals — you know, the ones involving entire chapters of books, existing scholarly essays and questions of wholesale academic integrity — and we’ve also ribbed McCarthy from time to time over other matters.

And David has shown, at the link he provides, that he has and will ping McCarthy when she deserves it. He also pings me often when I deserve it 🙂

Bus his conclusion here:

Involving as it does just a few words and the odd phrase here and there, this latest one simply doesn’t make the serious cut. Especially not in a country where slapping new intros on to a press release and running the lot as a news piece is standard fare among many overworked reporters.

There is a fine line between when you do and do not need to attribute, and Noelle was probably on the wrong side of that line with a couple of her on air pieces, but as Cohen says I don’t think it warranted such a big story, and you do wonder if the fact she also writes a column for the SST’s rival newspaper was a factor.

The new and improved journalist test

September 10th, 2008 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

David Cohen at NBR has done a new and improved test of whether you are a journalist, and it even tells you what sort of journalist you are. Extracts:

1) You are walking down the road and you come across the scene of a recent mass shooting.  The dead and dying are scattered all over the place.  You:
a.     Give first aid to the injured yourself
b.     Call an ambulance
c.     Call Jim Tucker to figure out the most culturally appropriate course of action
d.     Take photos on your mobile phone and post them on Scoop

4) A “death knock” is:
a.  When an undertaker comes to your house
b.  The noise your car makes when it is 100,000km overdue for its service
c.  An unfortunate practice whereby journalists inflict themselves in an intrusive and callous manner upon the relatives of people who have recently died in tragic and/or brutal circumstances
d.  The noise inside our head the morning after drinking far too many flaming maitais

And the scoring system:

Mostly As:  you are Barbara Dreaver.
Mostly Bs:  you are so overwhelmingly boring people could actually be killed by the dreariness of your writing and it would be a major public health hazard if you ever became a journalist.
Mostly Cs:  You are Keith Ng.
Mostly Ds:  You are Duncan Garner.

Heh heh heh.


August 29th, 2008 at 12:14 pm by David Farrar

Listen to John Key on Nine to Noon. Key rules Peters out even if cleared by the SFO and Privileges Committee because he says his credibility is still too damaged. It is not just about criminal behaviour but ethical standards.

David Cohen has a 20 point test on whether you are a journalist or a blogger. I got 13/20 which makes me a “mid-grade hack” 🙂

Frog Blog asks if Helen Clark may be regretting choosing go go with Winston instead of the Greens?

Idiot/Savant blogs on Day Two of the MMP Symposium. The panel session was interesting (in my rather conflicted opinion) and if things slow down I might try and do an extended post on it.

Bryce Edwards has an excellent piece of research on the funding of NZ First. It is not a scandal breaking story, but some detailed academic research, well referenced. We need more like this.

Blog Bits

July 19th, 2008 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stephen Franks blogs on the battle to save Crossways in Mt Victoria. I will be blogging on this myself during the week. It will be a tragedy if Mt Victoria loses what has been a focal point for the community. The City Council is justifying its lack of support by saying residents have lots of cafes nearby unlike suburbs further away from the city centre. A very very weak argument.

Keeping Stock blogs on an alarming suggestion by Auckland lawyer Catriona McLennan on Nine to Noon. She suggests that in rape trials, the burden of proof should be on the accused to prove there was consent. And this is not just a throw-away remark – she actually argues in favour of it against Kathryn Ryan for some time.

Whale Oil has been threatened with defamation by a lawyer acting for Pearl Going, who objects to comments he had made on her. The material has been removed from his blog after the blog hosting company was also threatened, but copies have sprung up on a dedicated blog hosted overseas.

I don’t intend to comment of the substance of the allegedly defamatory material, but would note that pressuring hosting companies to remove material, even after the blog author has asserted it is not defamatory and is willing to defend it in court, is not a particularly sensible tactic as it is so easy for the material to appear elsewhere – as has happened. Also of interest is that the lawyer for Pearl Going is Steven Price, who was very critical of the Listener for threatening the Hot Topic blogger with defamation.

This should not be taken as a suggestion that defamation laws do not or should not apply to the Internet. Of course they do. But more the appropriateness of targetting blog hosts if the blog author is willing to stand by their words and accept legal consequences for them.

The Dim Post has more satire, this one on how Winston is handling the Owen Gelnn scandal:

  • Monday 2:00 PM: Hires two identical twins as press secretaries, one of whom always tells the truth while the other always lies.
  • Wednesday 11:30 AM: Announces to press conference that he will explain everything but in doing so will be forced to reveal the secret surprise ending to Battlestar Galactica. Political media beg him to remain silent.
  • Thursday 6:35 PM: Notifies Speaker Margaret Wilson that he is officially changing his alignment to Neutral Evil.
  • Friday 10:30 AM: Recieves report back from Department of Statistics confirming that proportion of New Zealanders with IQ below 90 is still greater than 5%. Laughs heartily. Tells rest of country to go fuck themselves.


Liberty Scott pings Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn for his comments on Gordon Brown approving a state funeral for Margaret Thatcher when she dies. The offending quote:

On the plus side, it will at least give her victims a final chance to throw excrement and rotten fruit at her as she goes past

As I/S goes on about how some on the right are often poisonous, spiteful and bitter, this quote brings to mind stones and glasshouses.

David Cohen looks at a case for Nicky Hager:

A column containing acidic opinions about a powerful political media personality mysteriously fails to show up on the author’s regular spot on her newspaper’s website. Another major news outlet, after allowing criticisms to be made of the same public figure on one of its shows, hurriedly issues a grovelling clarification. Does this sound like a case Nicky Hager ought to be investigating?

It would indeed if it weren’t the slightly inconvenient fact that the media power broker in question also happens to be the same gent.

Prime and Jews

June 5th, 2008 at 5:15 am by David Farrar

Billboards have gone up promoting a new TV show on Prime called Mad Men, based on a 1960s advertising agency.

A reader has e-mailed me about the billboards, which say:

“Advertising agency seeks clients — all business considered, even from Jews.”

Now my first reaction was that the TV show is lampooning anti Jewish bigotry, rather than targeting Jews. The Borat movie is a prime example of that. So I’m not particularly offended by the billboard.

However upon further reflection I wondered if Prime and its advertising agency would have dared to run billboards saying “all business considered, even from Maoris” or “all business considered, even from Polynesians”. I suspect not.

And as David Cohen points out, were such anti Jewish sentiments ever part of the advertising industry in the 1960s? Like David, I suspect not.

Now as I said, I understand that the adverts are meant to be in the same category as the anti Jewish sentiment done by Borat. However I would make the point that Borat could get away with it, because Sacha Baron-Cohen is in fact Jewish, and because it was so absolutely over the top no-one could take it seriously.

Where Prime is risking trouble, is by the nature of its advertising being on billboards. The average person walking down the street may not get the context. A billboard is arguably the most intrusive form of advertising, and elderly members of the Jewish community may not enjoy seeing such a billboard, as the humour will be lost on them with their real world experiences of living in countries where Jews were banned from many many types of business.

Blog Bits

May 13th, 2008 at 11:23 pm by David Farrar

Also a revealing of National’s secret agenda:

  • Students of Decile One Primary Schools to be converted to bio-ethanol
  • Judith Collins to be appointed Associate Minister of Social Welfare with special areas of responsibility including draining beneficiaries of their cerebrospinal fluids.
  • Said they wouldn’t sell any state assets, didn’t promise not to just give them away.

I like the idea of getting around the no sale clause by giving every NZ adult free shares in some SOEs 🙂

Lyndon Hood at Scoop also has what I presume is satire:

If New Zealand wants to maintain its edge as a clean, green nation, we urgently need to pretend as hard as we can to take decisive action on climate change.


Blog Bits

April 30th, 2008 at 2:52 pm by David Farrar

David Cohen at NBR covers the apology from Hot Topic to the Listener and notes that by allowing a comments section on your apology, you sort of undermine it.

Rod Drury tries out his Freeview box. He likes the high definition but given a choice between HD and being able to time shift on MySky, he puts the time shifting as more important.

Martin Hurst asks whether shorthand should still be taught in journalism schools, with the greater use of digital recording devices.

David Weigel at Reason looks at most over-rated Presidents. He chooses Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and George HW Bush.

Conrad Reyners at Salient blogs on the Business Roundtable forum on public policy held last night. Sounds like Rod Deane stole the show.