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Aaron Klein's Hebron Hijinks

WorldNetDaily's Jerusalem reporter again hides the right-wing extremist backgrounds of the people he's writing about -- and won't admit they're linked to the "outlawed" extremists he purports to deplore.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 9/19/2007

Aaron Klein must have a new bucket of paint, because the WorldNetDaily Jerusalem reporter is engaging in a new round of whitewashing.

An Aug. 3 article by Klein asserted that "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert now has directed his forces to forcibly evict two families that moved into a market in Jewish sections of Hebron, the oldest Jewish community in the world." He features quotes taken from an Aug. 1 Jerusalem Post article about Shlomit Bar-Kochba, who moved back into the market with her husband and eight children. 

But Klein leaves out one important detail that the Post reported: Shlomit Bar-Kochba is the daughter of Moshe Zar, who purchased large amounts of land in the West Bank to develop Jewish settlements. Neither the Post nor Klein, however, tell the story of Moshe Zar's terrorist past.

In the 1980s, Zar was a part of a "Jewish underground" group that targeted violence against Arabs in the West Bank and plotted to destroy the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem. Zar served a short prison term for his role in the bombings of the cars of three Arab West Bank mayors. Nablus Mayor Bassam Shaka lost both legs in the bombing. A July 22, 1985, Washington Post article noted that Zar and 14 others put on trial over the bombings were "vigorously supported by leaders of the Jewish settlement movement in the West Bank and by many Israeli members of parliament from the Likud bloc and other right-wing parties."

In other words, these are no ordinary, everyday Israelis who are being evicted. They are right-wing activists trying to make a political statement -- something Klein utterly fails to address.

Klein's exclusion of the right-wing political aspect extends to his description of the Hebron dispute:

In January 2006, Jewish families took up occupancy to strengthen Jewish ties to the area following the murder of an infant by a Palestinian sniper, yards away from the market.


Following a standoff with the army last year, the Jews who had moved into the market decided to leave, reportedly after receiving promises from military officials they could return a few months later, after the court systems – which deemed the property Jewish – worked with the IDF to verify the legality of the Jewish residence.

Here's how the Jerusalem Post described that same incident:

Back in 2006, hundreds of right-wing activists, mostly teens and young adults, had flocked to the city to defend the right of eight Jewish families to live in the stalls which had not been operated by Palestinian merchants since 1994.

But at the time, said Bar-Kochba, given the option for a peaceful outcome, her family and the others who lived in the former shops chose to avert violence, and the activists dispersed.

Again: These are right-wing activists doing this. Again, Klein has actively worked to hide the political persuasion of the people he's writing about.

Klein also wrote: "Arab merchants illegally set up shop at the market but were asked by the Israel Defense Forces to leave after a series of clashes broke out in the mid-1990s." Yet again, there's much more that Klein left out. From an Aug. 6 Associated Press article:

The two Jewish families have been squatting illegally in several apartments in the Hebron market for several months. The market has been closed since 1994, when the Jewish militant Baruch Goldstein opened fire in a shrine holy to both Jews and Muslims, killing 29 Palestinians. Settlers have been seeking to re-establish a presence. 

Klein did not mention the Goldstein massacre -- something he apparently has an issue with (more on that later). Even though the massacre is an important part of Hebron history that figures in events that occur there, Klein is highly reluctant to bring it up. for instance, in an April 18, 2006, article on Jews celebrating Passover at "the Tomb of the Patriarchs -- the second holiest site to Judaism" under purported fears that the city "would be soon evacuated as part of Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's planned withdrawal from most of the West Bank," Klein recited a brief history of Hebron that conspicuously avoided mention of the massacre.

An Aug. 6 follow-up article by Klein repeated his quoting of Shlomit Bar-Kochba without reporting her connection to Zar. Klein also quoted a member of Israel's National Union Party without describing its political persuasion -- that is, right-wing.

That's another thing that, like the Goldstein massacre, Klein is shy about reporting. By contrast, Klein is not shy about pointing out when Israeli political parties are left of center. For instance, in a July 6 article, Klein used the word "leftist" three times -- twice to describe Israeli politician Avraham Burg and once to describe the Labor party he belongs to.

The main thrust of Klein's article was a report that some Israel Defense Forces infantry troops and two commanders refused to participate in the planned evacuation of the families from the market. Klein described those resisting troops only as "mostly religious troops" who "reached their decision after consulting with their rabbis, who instructed them to not play any role in the evacuation, including an indirect one." But once again, other sources tell us what Klein does not.

An Aug. 7 Jerusalem Post article reported that the rebelling troops belong to a "hesder yeshivot" -- a program that combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service in the IDF. In other words, these are Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox Jews who are resisting their military command. the article featured Yaakov Amidror, a retired general in the Israeli army whom it described a "well-known as a right-winger" -- and whom WND quoted approvingly in December 2004 -- quoting him as saying that he strongly opposed the evacuation but that soldiers had no choice but to carry out their orders: "There is only one thing that is worse than the decision to expel Jews from their homes in Hebron ... and that is to ruin the army. Disobeying an order is a sure way to ruin the army."

Is desertion and the breakdown of military discipline something that Klein would prefer to see rather than the military acting against his favored right-wingers when they break the law? One gets that impression.

Klein articles on the squatters on Aug. 7 and Aug. 9 similarly failed to tell the whole story, ignoring both Bar-Kochba's background and the Goldstein massacre. An Aug. 10 article cited the Hebron incident in a laundry list of items that led the Rabbinical Congress for Peace to declare Olmert "anti-Jewish" and "hostile to Judaism." Klein didn't mention, as ConWebWatch has noted, the Rabbinical Congress' right-wing leanings or the group's previous pronouncements against Olmert.

Even though the squatters' controversy was eventually resolved by their removal, Klein wasn't done distorting events in Hebron.

in an Aug. 23 article regurgitating the pro-Israeli, anti-Arab group CAMERA's attack on the CNN documentary "God's Warriors" -- a look at religious extremism of all stripes that CAMERA has declared "one of the most grossly distorted programs" ever aired on mainstream American television -- Klein complained that it was even brought up at all, and then explains it away as an isolated incident (repeated in an Aug. 29 article):

Tuesday's segment started off comparing "Jewish terrorists" to that of Muslims, specifically focusing on the few instances of violence or attempted violence by religiously motivated Jews against Muslims. It told the story of Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli physician who killed 29 Arabs in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994. Goldstein's actions were widely condemned by Israelis and worldwide Jewry. The organization he was a part of was outlawed in Israel.

If the "organization" Goldstein "was a part of" was "outlawed," why does Klein portray its sympathizers so positively?

Klein doesn't mention by name the organization Goldstein "was a part of" -- the Kach/Kahane Chai movement -- perhaps because Klein has previously tried to whitewash and counts as its former members some of Klein's favorite interview subjects.

As ConWebWatch has detailed, Klein has positively written about former Kach/Kahane Chai members who have been active in the Jewish settlement movement in the West Bank and Gaza -- specifically, those who oppose abandoning settlements in those areas. In an August 2004 article, for instance, Klein goes out of his way to depict former Kahane members -- who at that point were reportedly planning to blow up the Temple Mount and assassinate then-prime minister Ariel Sharon in retaliation for the his plan to close Jewish settlements in Gaza -- as nonviolent and having a "leisurely chat" with Israeli officials, further citing the Goldstein massacre as an anomaly, that Jewish terrorism "is considered extremely rare," and quoting an anonymous settler as responding, "But just because of this, settlers don't deserve these labels."

Further, the CNN documentary featured David Ha'ivri, who was shown refusing to criticize a plot by Jewish extremists to detonate a bomb outside a Palestinian girls' school. As blogger Richard Bartholomew pointed out, Ha'ivri, like Goldstein, is a Kahane sympathizer. The fact that the "movement" Goldstein and Ha'ivri were a part of was "outlawed in Israel" didn't stop Klein from featuring Ha'ivri in articles about the 2005 march he and other right-wing Jews led to the Temple Mount, location of the Dome of the Rock mosque, "in hopes of reclaiming the site from its Islamic custodians," depicting him, in Bartholomew's words, as "simply a pious Jew" and staying silent about his Kahane ties.

In summary: The revulsion Klein purported to suggest he has toward Goldstein's massacre does not show up in his writings about other activities by Kach/Kahane Chai members.

Klein appears to have a bit of a disconnect problem -- he's more than happy to portray Israeli right-wing extremists as normal, pious Jews, and only when they commit unspeakable acts of violence will he admit their extremism. And sometimes not even then: As ConWebWatch detailed, in 2005, he depicted Eden Natan Zada -- an AWOL Israeli soldier and adherent to Kahanist beliefs -- as having been "murdered" by a "mob of Palestinians," but Klein did not described the four Arabs Zada killed when he opened fire on a bus prior to the "mob" getting a hold of him as having been "murdered."

If Klein is truly bothered by the extremist behavior of Meir Kahane's acolytes, he would not be writing about them so positively or seek to obscure that background in his articles. And if he was truly offended by the Goldstein massacre -- and if he cared at all about the concept of journalism being a medium to report all relevant facts -- he would have noted it as part of the history leading to the squatters' confrontation in Hebron.

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