Aaron Klein -- Whitewashing Extremism

Aaron Klein -- Whitewashing Extremism
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WorldNetDaily Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein has been increasing his profile of late.

Klein has snagged himself a weekly show on New York radio station WABC -- called, self-aggrandizingly, "Aaron Klein Investigative Radio." WND is unsurprisingly elated by this development, touting a station press release stating: "While Klein is broadcasting on WABC, you never know what he might do. ... From exposing extremists to breaking stories to conducting news-making interviews to calling up and confronting terrorists while he is live on the radio, Klein's show is unpredictable and is a must-listen for everyone who cares about democracy and freedom."

On top of that, WND reported, a producer has optioned the movie rights to Klein's 2007 book "Schmoozing with Terrorists." And Klein has a new WND-published, Obama-bashing book coming out next month.

Bully for him. But it still doesn't change the fact that Klein remains a right-wing extremist who sympathizes with far-right terrorists and whose reporting techniques are shady at best and fraudulent at worst.

Klein has long been associated with far-right elements in Israel. One of his earliest acts as a WorldNetDaily reporter was to portray an AWOL Israeli soldier, Eden Natan-Zada, who had -- unprovoked -- shot and killed four Arabs on a bus in Gaza, as a victim because Palestinians who witnessed the cold-blooded shootings killed him before authorities could step in. Klein declared that the Natan-Zada was "murdered" by a "mob of Palestinians"; Klein never described the soldier's victims has having been "murdered."

Klein has also regularly whitewashed the violent leanings of the far-right Kach/Kahane Chai movement -- outlawed in Israel for their links to extremism -- once describing movement leader Meir Kahane only as among "politicians who in the past raised the possibility of expelling the Palestinian population" who were "largely sidelined by the mainstream Israeli media and general population" without noting all that violence and theocracy stuff Kahane was associated with, such as Baruch Goldstein's massacre of 29 Muslims in Hebron's Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994.

Another beneficiary of Klein's whitewashing is Yekutel Ben Yaacov, whom Klein benignly described in a 2006 WND article only as a "northern Samaria resident." In fact, he has another identity: Mike Guzovsky, a one-time leader of Kahane Chai. Klein even featured "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 made no attempt to explain that Guzofsky and Ben Yaacov are one in the same.

How extreme is Guzovsky/Ben Yaccov? The Anti-Defamation League has described how, under his 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, claiming he "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."

When Guzovsky/Ben Yaacov appeared on a list of people barred from the United Kingdom because they "promote hatred, terrorist violence or serious criminal activity" -- a list that also included WND favorite Michael Savage -- Klein again ran to his defense. In a May 5, 2009, article, Klein wrote:

Making the list was well is Mike Guzofsky, a leader of the ultra-nationalist Kahane movement, which seeks to ensure that Israel retains biblically-rich territories, such as the West Bank and Jerusalem. A BBC profile falsely claims Guzofsky is "actively involved with military training camps." The only camps Guzofsky currently runs are to train dogs to protect Jewish communities in the West Bank. Dogs trained at Guzofky's northern West Bank kennels recently prevented several terrorist attacks. Guzofsky previously was involved in leading workshops to teach self-defense to Jews. He has also pushed for Jews in the West Bank to cede from Israel and create their own state in the event the Israeli government seeks to evacuate that territory in a deal with the Palestinians.

Klein made no mention of Kahane's history of violence or Guzovsky's alter ego, Yekutel Ben Yaacov, even though Klein has interviewed him under that name.

The whitewashing didn't stop there. As I detailed at the time, WND began by identifying Guzovsky as a "Jewish extremist" when the UK list was first issued, but that description was scrubbed in favor of "Jewish nationalist."

Another favorite extremist source for Klein is David Ha'ivri, whom he portrayed in a December 2008 article only as a West Bank settler. But again, he's much more than Klein has reported to his readers: Ha'ivri is a Kahanist who has organized numerous protests at Jerusalem's Temple Mount, the ancient site of a Jewish temple that is now the site of a mosque. Eden Natan-Zada -- the AWOL soldier who slaughtered four people on a bus in Gaza -- joined in one of those protests before committing his massacre.

Ha'ivri appeared in a 2007 CNN documentary on religious extremism, in wihch he refused to criticize a plot by Jewish extremists to detonate a bomb outside a Palestinian girls' school. When Klein wrote about the documentary in an August 2007 article, largely regurgitating criticism of it by pro-Israel, anti-Muslim group CAMERA, he didn't mention Ha'ivri; rather, he complained that the Goldstein massacre was cited, followed by an attempt to explain it away as an isolated incident. "Goldstein's actions were widely condemned by Israelis and worldwide Jewry. The organization he was a part of was outlawed in Israel," Klein wrote, never once mentioning the name of "organization he was a part of" -- Kach/Kahane Chai -- or that he had been whitewashing Goldstein's comrades.

Klein has terrorist buddies on the other side of the Middle East conflict too -- that's what "Schmoozing With Terrorists" was about. But unlike his Israeli extremist friends, he's just using the Muslim extremists. He's willing to chat them up, and even grant them anonymity when it suits his purposes. Klein also enlisted a spokesman for Hamas to make an "endorsement" of Obama's candidacy in 2008; Klein has yet to explain the circumstances under which the interview took place, or if the spokesman knew that he was servicing Klein's anti-Obama agenda.

When those Muslim terrorists figure out that Klein is using their words to inflame right-wing sentiment against them, Klein will be in a lot more trouble than the typical reporter who burns a source.

Klein has also brought his far-right extremism stateside by attacking the liberal Jewish group J Street, bizarrely attacking it as "pro-Hamas." In fact, J Street merely supports "efforts by third parties to achieve reconciliation and a unity government" and that "we would not oppose a decision by the Israeli government, the United States, or other countries to find unofficial, indirect ways to engage Hamas in order to advance U.S. and Israeli interests."

As part of his witch hunt against Obama administration appointees, Klein similarly smeared Hannah Rosenthal, who had been appointed Obama's anti-Semitism envoy, as an "anti-Israel lobbyist," apparently because of her affiliation with J Street. But this is just as false as his attack on J Street; Rosenthal has a long history of pro-Israel advocacy, which Klein conveniently failed to mention.

This kind of sloppy smear reporting has long been endemic to Klein. In 2005, WND was forced to retract a Klein article that falsely claimed the charity group Islamic Relief was linked to terrorism and repeated a claim the group was fraudulently raising money for nonexistent orphans. In 2006, Klein falsely suggested that Fox News paid a $2 million ransom for two correspondents who had been kidnapped in Gaza. After Fox News vehemently denied the claim, Klein and WND editor Joseph Farah both insisted the article never claimed Fox News paid the ransom. But Klein's article in its original form never explicitly stated that, thus leaving open the implication that it did. Klein tried to suck up later, calling Fox News "America's best cable news network."

Klein's sloppy reporting continues on his other favorite subject: bashing Obama and his appointees. He repeatedly distorted the words of Obama adviser Rev. Jim Wallis in a March 15 article, asserting that Wallis "labeled the U.S. 'the great captor and destroyer of human life'"; in fact, as Media Matters detailed, Wallis did not reference the United States at all in the full statement from which Klein plucked that line, and he was instead describing "the modern state." Media Matters further documented how Klein distorted Wallis' words, such as injecting the word "capitalist" into a statement of faith by Wallis' group, Sojourners, when the word appears nowhere in the actual statement.

Klein spent a March 8 article portraying as "controversial" then-Transportation Security Administration nominee Robert Harding's views on expanding ethnic diversity in intelligence agencies -- even though numerous officials have stressed the importance of cultural diversity in the intelligence community as vital to national security.

Klein's new book, called "The Manchurian President" -- an echo of a desperate attack one of Klein's bosses, WND managing editor David Kupelian, made against Obama just before the November 2008 election -- purports to be a look at "Barack Obama's Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists." It will no doubt be chock full of even more dubious attacks and false smears.

Klein's ascension should serve as a reminder of why Aaron Klein is is not a journalist -- if he was, he'd care more about accuracy than he does, but making truthful claims is not what gets attention among right-wingers.

So let him cash in with his TV show and his movie and his radio show. It's important to remember, though, that he's not letting the facts get in the way of his success.

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