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Schmoozing With a Terrorist Whitewasher

WorldNetDaily's Aaron Klein turns his chatting-up-Muslim-militants gimmick into a book. But there are some terrorists he's not terribly eager to write about.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 10/11/2007

Aaron Klein has quite a gimmick going. Ever since he latched onto the idea of chatting up Muslim militants, it's provided a veritable font of articles for WorldNetDaily.

As ConWebWatch has detailed, Klein focuses on a mere handful of Palestinian militants operating mostly in the West Bank and Gaza, whom he portrays without evidence as representative of all Muslim militants. And the things he quotes them as saying -- i.e., they hope Americans sweep the Democrats into power because of the party's position on withdrawing from Iraq -- just happen to reinforce conservative talking points.

Klein has now built the gimmick into a book (published by WND, of course) titled "Schmoozing with Terrorists." The promotional copy breathlessly touts the tome: "Klein, a Jewish reporter, confronts terrorists whose stated goal is the annihilation of the United States and Israel, and narrates his interviews from the unique perspective of a Jew meeting with his enemy."

The articles WND has run to promote the book fall in line with Klein's history of using terrorists to bolster conservative talking points -- terrorists love Hillary Clinton! They love Rosie O'Donnell! They hate Britney Spears! They hate Rudy Giuliani! They love the heck out of all liberals!

What you don't see is any reason to take the terrorists' statements seriously. After all, the terrorists may be just telling Klein what he wants to hear. Or they may not know Klein is using their words to foment conservative sentiment against them, which would seem to be a breach of confidence on Klein's part; the consequences for Klein if the terrorists find out would surely not be pleasant.

Nor does Klein seem to consider the possibility that he is being used by the terrorists. After all, in 2004, conservatives spun a video released by Osama bin Laden shortly before the 2004 presidential election as evidence that bin Laden supported the election of Democrat John Kerry. In fact, in his book "The One Percent Doctrine," author Ron Suskind reported that CIA analysts agreed that "bin Laden's message was clearly designed to assist the President's reelection." In other words, by appearing to support liberals, bin Laden achieved his goal of getting Bush re-elected because it served his agenda to have the U.S. mired in Iraq.

All of which makes a Sept. 25 WND article -- which purports to describe the terrorists complaining about Klein's book -- particularly disingenuous. Given that it quotes Klein's terrorist sources, the only person who could have written this (unbylined) story and talked to these folks is Klein himself -- which means he's soliciting quotes about himself. This also suggests that he and the terrorists have a much cozier relationship than he's letting on.

For all of Klein's obsession with terrorists, there's another reason to question the seriousness of his book: there are some terroristic acts he's not so eager to address. That's because they are committed by people for whom Klein feels a close affinity -- right-wing Israeli extremists.

Chief among them are those affiliated with the Kach movement, which advocated the forcible removal of Arabs from all of Israel, including the disputed areas of Gaza and the West Bank, and advocated the creation of a theocracy to rule Israel that would ban marriage between Arabs and Jews. The Kach political party was banned in 1988, and Kach and its Kahane Chai offshoot were declared terrorist organizations by Israel in 1994 after Kach member Baruch Goldstein massacred approximately 30 Arabs at Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs in 1994.

As ConWebWatch has documented, Klein's reporting has minimized the contacts of his sources with -- and the history of violence of -- Kach/Kahane Chai and other extremist movements in Israel:

  • When Eden Natan Zada, a soldier AWOL from the Israeli military, opened fire on a bus in Gaza in August 2005, killing four Arabs and wounding a dozen before being captured and killed by those who observed the massacre, Klein wrote that "A mob of Palestinians tonight murdered a Jewish Israeli man in a police uniform." Nowhere did Klein use the word "murder" to describe the fate of the four people Zada killed.
  • A January 2006 article on an effort to create an "autonomous Jewish entity" separate from Israel in what Klein calls Judea and Samaria (better known to the rest of the world as the West Bank) featured the leader of the effort, Yekutel Ben Yaacov, whom Klein described only as a "northern Samaria resident." Klein didn't report that Ben Yaccov is also known as Mike Guzovsky, a one-time Kahane Chai leader. 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 Goldstein's Tomb of the Patriarchs massacre. Klein had featured a "Mike Guzofsky" -- without noting his Ben Yaacov alias -- in an August 2004 article that attempted to show that people like Guzofsky, whom he claimed 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 had also reported that Ben Yaacov was "friends with" Zada, of the Gaza bus massacre, and quoted him portraying Zada not as a cold-blooded murderer but, rather, "the first casualty" of the Israeli disengagement from Gaza.
  • In August, Klein reported on squatters in a vacant market area in the West Bank town of Hebron, focusing on one in particular, Shlomit Bar-Kochba. But Klein never reported on Bar-Kochba's extremist heritage: her father, West Bank land developer Moshe Zar, was a part of a "Jewish underground" group in the 1980s that targeted violence against Arabs in the West Bank and plotted to destroy the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem; he served a short prison term for his role in the bombings of the cars of three Arab West Bank mayors. Klein also wrote that the market was closed "after a series of clashes broke out in the mid-1990s"; he does not note that the clash that closed the market was the Goldstein massacre. Further, when Klein attacked a CNN documentary on religious extremism that he said "compar[ed] 'Jewish terrorists' to that of Muslims" by noting the Goldstein massacre, he retorted: "Goldstein's actions were widely condemned by Israelis and worldwide Jewry. The organization he was a part of was outlawed in Israel." But Klein did not name the organization Goldstein "was a part of" -- Kach/Kahane Chai, whose history of violence he has whitewashed in his WND reporting.

Further, Klein has demonstrated his anti-liberal, pro-right-wing bias by repeatedly attacking left-center Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, bashing him during election season (while having nothing but praise for Olmert's conservative Likud rival, Benjamin Netanyahu) and attempting to undermine Olmert's authority during a time of war, Israel's 2006 conflict with Hezbollah.

Such a wildly slanted track record puts Klein's objectivity and authority as a chronicler of the thoughts of "terrorists" in question. That, of course, doesn't keep WND from promoting his articles and his book.

Oct. 3 WND column by Klein's boss, Joseph Farah, called Klein "the bravest and most courageous and determined reporter with whom I have ever been associated." But, really, how "brave" and "courageous " could it be for Klein to distort and whitewash the violent acts of those whose ideology he supports -- then hypocritically abandons when that support becomes inconvenient?

Of course, Klein isn't the only WND employee guilty of hypocrisy on this issue: Back in 1997, Farah had listed Kach as one of the "terror-supporting groups" on a Clinton administration list that he as "no use for."

Given that Farah himself has a history of shoddy reporting, perhaps it's only fitting that he has given a pass to Klein's more dubious work. After all, WND has been forced to retract a Klein article that falsely smeared an Islamic relief group, and it has had to defend a poorly written article in which Klein suggested that Fox News paid a ransom for two reporters kidnapped in 2006 in Gaza.

All of this may be a way to sell Klein's book, but it's certainly no way to inspire trust in it. And Klein has too shaky and biased of a journalistic record for "Schmoozing with Terrorists" to be considered as anything more than what it is -- a gimmick.

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