Something to Hide
Why won't WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein tell the truth about the violent, extremist backgrounds of the right-wing Israelis he writes about?
By Terry Krepel
You have to wonder: What is WorldNetDaily Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein trying to hide?
Last August, ConWebWatch detailed Klein's history of obscuring, whitewashing or completely ignoring the backgrounds of his story subjects when that background involved links to right-wing Israeli groups with a history of extremism and violence, in particular the Kach/Kahane Chai movement. Most egregiously, Klein described an AWOL Israeli soldier who opened fire on a bus, killing four Arabs and wounding a dozen more, as being "murdered" by a "mob of Palestinians" who witnessed the massacre -- a description Klein felt no need to apply to the soldier's innocent victims.
He's a lot more than that. As blogger Richard Bartholomew reported, Ben Yaccov is also known as Mike Guzovsky, a one-time leader of the now-outlawed Kahane Chai movement in Israel. The Anti-Defamation League has described how, under Guzovsky/Ben Yaccov's leadership, Kahane Chai signaled its support of 1994 incidents in which bombs were placed outside the New York offices of two American Jewish groups that supported the Middle East peace process. Guzovsky/Ben Yaacov also expressed his support for Baruch Goldstein, who in 1994 massacred approximately 30 Arabs at Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs; Goldstein "did what he did out of a love for the Jewish people ... We don't condemn anybody who is targeting the enemies of the Jewish people," the ADL quotes Ben Yaacov as saying.
Klein featured a "Mike Guzofsky" (spelling is a bit fungible in Israel, apparently) in an August 2004 article that attempted to show that people like Guzofsky whom Israeli officials were portraying as "dangerous Jewish extremists" were just regular Joes and not prone to violence, and that "Jewish terrorism ... is considered extremely rare." Klein makes no attempt to explain that Guzofsky and Ben Yaacov are one in the same or why he changed his name.
Ben Yaacov also figures in the story of Eden Natan Zada, the AWOL Israeli soldier who killed four Arabs on a bus in Gaza: In an Aug. 4, 2005, article on the massacre, Klein described him as "friends with Zada" and quoted him portraying the soldier as not a cold-blooded murderer but "the first casualty" of the Israeli disengagement from Gaza: "Had he not been enlisted, had they not forced him to be scheduled to uproot Jews, there wouldn't be any deaths." (This article also alludes to the Goldstein massacre, stating only that he carried "a shooting attack against Arabs" and failing to note the body count.)
Klein followed up his article on the separatist movement the next day with a claim that Ben Yaacov's offices were raided by "hundreds of security officials." While Klein made sure to describe the alleged show of force -- "a joint taskforce consisting of 200-300 officers from the Israeli Police Authority and Shin Bet security services" -- Ben Yaacov is again described as a "northern Samaria resident." There is no mention of his history of endorsing violence or his association with the perpetrator of a massacre -- factors that would explain the show of force.
Klein does, however, include the following:
Ben Yaacov's Judea Initiative is not the first major push for Jews to secede from Israel. In 1989, the late author and Knesset member Rabbi Meir Kahane, a mentor of Ben Yaacov, attempted to found the State of Judea, a Jewish state in Judea and Samaria. That effort eventually fell through.
That's all Klein says about Kahane; again, he fails to detail the violent history of Kahane and his followers (such as Baruch Goldstein), let alone connect the dots from Ben Yaacov's Kahane mentorship to the alleged show of government force.
A Jan. 12 article by Klein duplicates the Kahane statement, again without detailing his violent history.
Such reluctance to tell the truth prompts one to ask: What is Aaron Klein trying to hide? Like fellow WND contributor Anthony LoBaido, Klein appears to sympathize with the violent right-wingers he associates with, painting them in his articles in the best possible light, to the extent of obscuring anything negative about them.
Conversely, Klein is determined to paint Palestinians in the most negative light possible. An example is a Jan. 12 article in which "A Palestinian official who publicly claims to support Israeli-Palestinian peace initiatives" purportedly "praised suicide bombers" and "blasted 'filthy [Israeli] occupation.'" But such bias came back to bite Klein last June, when WND was forced to retract a Klein-penned article that smeared a Muslim charity as a terrorist-linked organization making fraudulent appeals for money to save nonexistent orphans. WND has never made public what reprimand, if any, Klein faced for his false story.
Since we've documented Klein as whitewashing Israelis, we can assume that he is doing the opposite to Palestinians.
Strangely, though, Klein has been reluctant to pile on Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon following his massive stroke, though Klein has frequently reported criticism of Sharon's Gaza disengagement plan, particularly from Ben Yaacov, whom Klein has featured in articles (such as a June 2005 article in which his name gets a new spelling, Yekutiel Ben Yaacov) on demonstrations protesting the disengagement. Klein even described a ceremony to place a "death curse" upon Sharon in a July 2005 article, though Klein took great pains to describe the ceremony's participants as "fringe" and insisted that they "are not mainstream leaders in the anti-[Gaza] withdrawal campaign." Klein has not done a follow-up on this, even though one man he quoted at the ceremony, Baruch Ben-Yosef, has since been claiming full credit for inducing Sharon's stroke.
(WND columnist Hal Lindsey has also been less squeamish than Klein about claiming divine retribution, claiming in a Jan. 6 column that the prayers of Jews "have been dramatically answered" with Sharon's stroke, which "will facilitate [right-winger Benjamin] Netanyahu replacing him in the next election.")
When he was hired as Jerusalem bureau chief, Klein vowed to "report in an unbiased manner" on the Middle East. Klein and his boss, WND editor Joseph Farah, need to come clean with their readers by explaining their biases and why they are serving as public-relations agents for Israeli extremists. WorldNetDaily's readers deserve to know why Klein is not living up to the "unbiased" promise he made to them -- and just what Klein is trying to hide besides the violent pasts of his buddies.