Iran news agency apologizes for ‘Onion’ poll spoof goof


Iran’s Fars News Agency has apologized to readers for running a spoof poll taken from the satirical American newspaper, “The Onion.” The satire item–run briefly as a straight news item on Fars Friday–cited a fake Gallup ‘poll’ claiming white American rural voters favor Iran’s lame-duck president Ahmadinejad over Obama.

“Unfortunately an incorrect item was released on our website on Friday which included a fake opinion poll on popularity rate of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and US President Barack Obama,” Fars News Agency’s editor in chief said in an apology note published on Fars’ English language-website Sunday. “The news item was extracted from the Satirical Magazine, The Onion, by mistake and it was taken down from our outlook in less two hours.”

“We offer our formal apologies for that mistake,” the editor’s apology continued, before noting that it’s not the only media outlet to have been “duped” by the Onion.

“On April 25, 2011, The New York Times admitted they made the mistake of treating a fake creation from The Onion as something legitimate,” it said.

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Netanyahu cancels security meeting over Iran leaks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly ended a security cabinet meeting Wednesday, complaining of leaks that Israel’s intelligence agencies are not convinced of the great urgency of the Iran threat, Israeli media report.

“A short while after the meeting yesterday something serious happened,” Netanyahu said, Haaretz‘s Barak Ravid reported Wednesday. “A leak from the cabinet discussions… someone severely damaged the trust that Israel’s citizens have in this forum.”

The leak, that appeared in a report on Israel’s Ynet Tuesday, said Israeli intelligence officials who briefing the Israeli security cabinet Tuesday assessed that Iran’s nuclear progress is of deep concern but not of extreme urgency.

“The information presented to the Cabinet was very disturbing, but it wasn’t too daunting,” a senior official who participated in the meeting told Ynet,” Attila Somfalvi reported.

“According to the official who spoke with Ynet, while the information Israel has on Iran’s progress is troubling ‘It’s not scary. The Iranians are relentlessly pursuing nuclear activities and they’re not slowing down …They are holding their own vis-à-vis the international pressure, but on the other hand, they’re not running wild,'” the Ynet report continued.

“According to the story, the members of the security cabinet were shocked to hear that the country’s different intelligence agencies – the Mossad, Shin Bet, and Army Intelligence – do not agree about the Iranian issue,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

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Iran Pulse: New Al-Monitor blog tracking the Iranian press

Thrilled to welcome Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi, who will be writing a daily summary of the Iranian press at a new Al-Monitor blog, Iran Pulse.

You can find/bookmark the link here:

Eskandar worked previously as an Iran researcher at the Oxford Research Group’s Middle East program and is a doctoral candidate in Modern Middle East studies at Queen’s College, Oxford. He has written for several publications, including Foreign Policy, Tehran Bureau, etc. You can follow him on @eborujerdi.

Pioneering Israeli-Palestinian webzine closes: “There is no peace process”

Bitterlemons, a pioneering Israeli-Palestinian web-zine founded to advance dialogue between the peoples of the Middle East, is closing after 11 years amid the protracted peace process stalemate, its co-founders informed readers Monday.

“My hope was that bitterlemons would provide a venue for the Palestinian voice to be heard, and to this day, I remain proud that we seem to have achieved this.” Ghassan Khatib, Palestinian co-founder of the site, wrote Monday.

But two decades after the Oslo peace process, “Palestinians and Israelis are barely conversational,” Khatib continued. “Every day, there is new word of land confiscations, arrests, demolitions, and legislative maneuvers to solidify Israel’s control. .. We are now, it appears, at the lowest point in the arc of the pendulum, one that is swinging away from the two-state solution into a known unknown: an apartheid Israel.”

Israeli co-founder Yossi Alpher adds:

We are ceasing publication for reasons involving fatigue–on a number of fronts. First, there is donor fatigue. …
These …developments also reflect local fatigue. There is no peace process and no prospect of one. …It’s time to move on.

Sobering and very sad.

(Photo: A Palestinian farmer removes snow from his broken lemon trees after snow blanketed his farmland in the West Bank city of Hebron February 26, 2003. REUTERS/Nayef Hashlamoun.)

Welcome, introductions

Welcome to the Back Channel,  a reported blog on Washington foreign policy and the Middle East. Al Monitor is a new site dedicated to bringing more in-depth coverage and perspectives from the Middle East through original reporting as well as translations from media partners in the region, including in Turkey, Israel, Beirut and throughout the Arab world.

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