Monthly Archives: December 2008

Get me a Massacre: Up next — the Kfar Qana of Operation Cast Lead

Whether by Israeli accident or Hamas engineering, expect a spectacular civilian massacre in the coming days, followed by an orgy of Pallywood photography, amplified by a compliant Western media, and even greater fury in the streets of the Muslim and Western world. It’s in the Hamas playbook… and will be until the media gets sober. Here’s the background, and the obscenity that will probably be played.

Barry Rubin has laid out the various endgames open to Hamas, and how, when all else fails, it’s the media reserves you draw on to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. And it’s an old story: Arafat called the Western media, busy drinking at the Commodore Hotel in Beirut under the protection of his mafiosi while his “guerillas” participated in a civil war (1975-82) that killed 100,000 civilians, his best division.

The pattern has long been clear, and most recently carried out with explosive effectiveness in the Lebanon war of 2006… when Israel is winning, get yourself a civilian massacre. Make sure that you have shocking civilian casualties that rally all the key players to your side — the other Arab nations and groups and individuals who are secretly, quietly rooting for your defeat, but who, once the images of dead children appear on the TV screens, watch the Arab street riot, and eventually can’t avoid siding with you, the “victim”… the European leaders and diplomats who piously kept an even-handed approach in the hopes that Israel might swiftly decapitate the snake… and the journalists and talking heads who have been chomping at the bit to jump on Israel for their disproportionate response.

At that point, as in the weeks after Kfar Qana, the Israelis have lost the media war: the pressure to withdraw grows daily; the damage to Israel — and to any Jew who dares defend her — becomes unbearable. For the terrorist organization that targets both its enemy’s and its own civilians, just sit back and watch all your pieces fall into place.

But what if the Israelis don’t make a mistake and kill a significant number of people in one blow, like Gaza Beach or Kfar Qana? Would Hamas actually concoct a massacre of their own people?

To even suggest it is disgusting, even racist. How could anyone imagine that a leadership would deliberately kill their own people in order to win a war? Alas, that’s liberal cognitive egocefntrism. On the contrary, pre-modern elites do not hesitate to use violence against the unarmed populace in order to secure their authority. Machiavelli openly laid out the strategy, what Sheldon Wolin called “the economy of violence.” When the population is restive, as Napoleon put it so eloquently, give them a “whiff of grapeshot” and they’ll calm right down.

And of course, in Arab political culture, this approach is not just the norm, it’s taken to pathological extremes… what Thomas Friedman called Hama rules. In 1982, Hafez al Asad, troubled by the increasing power of the Muslim Brotherhood, surrounded the town of Hama where they were strongest (population 20,000) with tanks, and for one week leveled the town with artilery fire, not letting anyone escape. At least half the town died in the process. And Syria has had no trouble from the Muslim Brotherhood ever since.

In the case of Hamas in the early 21st century, the logic is equally ruthless, but far more hypocritical. They are, of course, capable of playing the economy of violence card, and the world saw if clearly (if only briefly due to the ADD of the newsmedia), back in 2006, when they took over Gaza in a bloodbath that saw 160 people killed, some children and old ladies shot execution style to make the point that no one messes with the new bosses.

The tragic results were amply documented by a courageous Palestinian Human Rights organization, the PCHR:

The first section details the developments in the Palestinian National Authority that followed the Palestinian parliamentary elections of January 2006, including acts of violence between the supporters of Fatah movements and those of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which developed into several rounds of fighting between the two movements from April 2006 to June 2007. The second section highlights the latest round of fighting; how it began, how it developed and its end with Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip. The third section details violations of human rights and international humanitarian law perpetrated or allegedly perpetrated by the parties of the conflict, including extra-judicial and willful killings, abduction and torture; using houses and apartment buildings in the fighting; attacks on civilian property; attacks on hospitals and medical and civil defense crews; endangering the lives of civilians in the streets and houses; attacks on peaceful demonstrations; and seizure, robbery and destruction of public, private and non-governmental institutions.

The whole point of such exercises in the “economy of violence” is to let the population know that you are ruthless, that resistance is worse than useless, it is a ticket to oblivion.

But Hamas is now playing a different game now, one that plays out in the media theater of war where you can’t openly attack your own people. On the contrary, in order to play the victim, you need someone to victimize you.

The Double Disgrace of Hamas: Victimizing their own People

I have written repeatedly here about demopaths, people who invoke human rights and other civic values in order to protect themselves, even as they aim at destroying the human rights of others. “Using democracy to destroy democracy.” Among the many practitioners of demopathy — a thriving industry in the early 21st century — are the Palestinians, who have made an identity out of being the “human rights” victims, even as they try and destroy the human rights of Jews. Indeed, their commitment to accusing Israelis of violating their human rights has driven them to victimize themselves in order to attack Israel for their suffering. Indeed, as the black humor goes, for Palestinians, when an Israeli civilian is hit, it’s a cause for celebration; when a Palestinian civilian is hit, it’s even better. Nothing drives the mill of Palestinian grievance more than dead Palestinians, as long as Israel can be blamed.

The latest, and most horrific example comes from the current conflict.

For a good example of current righteous indignation of Palestinian “Human Rights” Advocates, see the article by Electronic Intifada founder Ali Abunima, who complains bitterly about an Israeli who celebrates the actions of the IAF. Indeed, the pages of Electronic Intifada are filled with the cry of human rights (of Palestinians) violated, by Israel. When it’s violations by Palestinians, including Hamas, they fall silent.

In reading the following article, note that Gazan medical authorities complain repeatedly to the Western media of having too many wounded and not enough medical supplies. Apparently the complaint is more valuable than the relief, which awaits at the Egyptian border.

Egypt says Hamas not allowing wounded to leave Gaza
by Samer al-Atrush – Sun Dec 28, 5:15 am ET
afp photo of injurd pn
AFP – An injured Palestinian man lies on the ground outside the Hamas police headquarters in Gaza City following …

RAFAH, Egypt (AFP) – Egypt on Sunday blamed Hamas for not letting hundreds of Palestinians wounded by Israeli air strikes leave the Gaza Strip for treatment, with dozens of empty ambulances waiting on the border.

More than 270 Palestinians have been killed and 600 wounded since Israel began hammering the Gaza Strip with air strikes on Saturday, but no wounded have yet left via Rafah, the Hamas-ruled territory’s only Arab border crossing.

“No one has come in, we don’t know why they’re closed on the other side,” a senior border security official told AFP. Several plane- and truck-loads of aid are also waiting to be allowed into the Gaza Strip, a security official said.

“The wounded are barred from crossing” into Egypt, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said in Cairo, blaming “those who control Gaza. We are waiting for the wounded to cross.”

Astonishing Statistic: How does this operation rank in the history?

After the first day, when the highest numbers bandied around were in the low 200s, Hamas admitted, according to PMW, to a death toll of 180 policemen.

Hamas TV: 180 killed are from Hamas armed forces
Among those killed Hamas Police Commander, Tawfik Jaber

Hamas TV acknowledged this morning that the vast majority of those killed are from the Hamas military. A news ticker running repeatedly from 10:00 AM announced:

“More than 180 Palestinian policemen were killed including the [Police] Commander, General Tawfik Jaber.”

In the background Hamas TV is repeatedly broadcasting the same scenes of dozens of bodies of the uniformed Hamas soldiers who were killed in Israel’s first attack yesterday when Israel hit the Hamas officer’s course graduation ceremony.

Hamas TV, Dec. 28, 2008

I note three things about this:

  • Hizbullah systematically disguised the high death toll during the 2006 summer war because “real men” don’t show they’ve been hurt. High casualties are only good if they are civilian casualties. To admit to this many dead policemen is a shame on every level. Can anyone think of a reason to doubt this figure?
  • Policemen are only one of the many military operations that Israelis targeted. How many other of the casualties after day 1, according to Palestinian sources are combatants.
  • This suggests something around a 80-90% military to civilian mortality rate as a result of Israeli airstrikes.

What is the historical record here? What are the other examples of ratios in an aerial bombardment of hostile forces operating from a civilian area? What are the acceptable ratios in US and British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq?

UPDATE: Reuters reports that Haniya claims “15 women and some children” killed in the raids. (HT/Media Backspin)

Hamas estimated that at least 15 women and some children had been killed in the past two days. “Palestine has never seen an uglier massacre,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said.

AP writers, Ibrahim Barzak and Amy Teibel report

More than 400 people were also wounded. Most of the casualties were security forces, but Palestinian officials said at least 15 civilians were among the dead.

Taking the 15 as the total of civilian casualties, Media Backspin comes up with a figure of 94.8% of the casualties are military men. If even approximately true, that would make this operation the cleanest in the history of aerial warfare, and probably set a standard for decades to come despite the continuously improving nature of targeting systems.

Haniya’s remark is particularly revealing of his quadruple standard. As Belmont Club points out

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported that in one seven day period alone, between June 7 and 14, 2007 internecine fighting between Fatah and Hamas killed 161 Palestinians, including 7 children and 11 women. Nor has it stopped. In June of 2008, human rights groups reported that both Fatah and Hamas were engaged in kidnapping and torturing each other’s operatives. The hammer of violence and repression falls on everyone…

The standard would only be double if it didn’t apply to the enemy; here it applies to one’s own people. What I do is justified, right or wrong; what you do is evil, justified or not.

Further UPDATE: Of course these statistics show up in a significantly different form in Palestinian publications, which regularly speak of massacres, despite the fact that that, traditionally, applies not to the killing of combatants, but of civilians. In order to make that work, the Al Mezan, a Palestinian Human Rights Organization, makes its own assertions.

Mostly, the strikes targeted police and security installations across the densely populated Gaza Strip, which is indicative of IOF’s disregard for civilian life and well-being. More than 900 people have been killed and injured, most of whom are non-combatants…

In order to document this claim about “most of [the casualties] are non-combatants, Al Mezan gives statistics:

Al Mezan’s initial monitoring indicates that at least 257 people have been killed in the IOF’s strikes in the last 24 hours. Of those, the vast majority are non-combatants and civilians; including 20 children, nine women and 60 civilians. The majority of the rest of the casualties are members of the civilian police who were inside their stations or undertaking training. At least 597 people were also injured, including 35 children whose wounds were reportedly critical.

(IOF, for those who don’t frequent Palestinian media, is “Israel Occupation Forces.” It’s so important for Palestinian identity that Israelis be occupiers — explains all their suffering — that they can’t bear letting go of them, even after the Israelis leave, as in Gaza. It’s almost like Israel says, “I wan’t a divorce,” and they respond, “You can’t divorce me, you’re still beating me.”)

So the charge is that the “vast majority” are non-combatants and civilians, not because they can total 89 civilians out of 257 (or almost exactly 33%), but by claiming that the Gaza police forces are non-combatants.

Of course, all of this emanates from people who find the targeting of civilians in Israel “resistance,” and who have nothing to say about Hamas’ stationing of hostile forces within the Palestinian civilian population. In fact, given Hamas’ behavior — firing from civilian areas, locating military installations in civilian areas, hiding among civilians — they are responsible for their own casualties.

Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949. (HT: Alvin Rosenfeld)

Art. 28. The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.
Rules for the Limitation of the Dangers incurred by the Civilian Population in Time of War. ICRC, 1956 CHAPTER II : OBJECTIVES BARRED FROM ATTACK

Immunity of the civilian population

Art. 6. Attacks directed against the civilian population, as such, whether with the object of terrorizing it or for any other reason, are prohibited. This prohibition applies both to attacks on individuals and to those directed against groups.

In consequence, it is also forbidden to attack dwellings, installations or means of transport, which are for the exclusive use of, and occupied by, the civilian population.

Nevertheless, should members of the civilian population, Article 11 notwithstanding, be within or in close proximity to a military objective they must accept the risks resulting from an attack directed against that objective.

Will we ever know even approximately?

Further UPDATE: The stakes here are quite high. One major dimension of the issue of disproportionality of the use of force concerns whether military or civilian sites are targeted.

Is There Proportionality Against Military Forces?

And in fighting counterinsurgency wars, most armies seek to achieve military victory by defeating the military capacity of an adversary, as efficiently as possible. There clearly is no international expectation that military losses in war should be on a one-to-one basis; most armies seek to decisively eliminate as many enemy forces as possible while minimizing their own losses of troops. There are NATO members who have been critical of “Israel’s disproportionate use of force,” while NATO armies take pride in their “kill ratios” against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Moreover, decisive military action against an aggressor has another effect: it increases deterrence.14 To expect Israel to hold back in its use of decisive force against legitimate military targets in Gaza is to condemn it to a long war of attrition with Hamas.

The loss of any civilian lives is truly regrettable. Israel has cancelled many military operations because of its concern with civilian casualties. But should civilian losses occur despite the best efforts of Israel to avoid them, it is ultimately not Israel’s responsibility. As political philosopher Michael Walzer noted in 2006: “When Palestinian militants launch rocket attacks from civilian areas, they are themselves responsible – and no one else is – for the civilian deaths caused by Israeli counterfire.”15

International critics of Israel may be looking to craft balanced statements that spread the blame for the present conflict to both sides. But they would be better served if they did not engage in this artificial exercise, and clearly distinguish the side that is the aggressor in this conflict – Hamas – and the side that is trying to defeat the aggression – Israel.

I am Shocked: WaPo Gets the Israeli Strikes Exactly Wrong

Michael Abramowitz has come out with a hands-wringing “policy discussion” that personifies what’s wrong about Western thinking about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Comments interspersed.

Israeli Airstrikes on Gaza Strip Imperil Obama’s Peace Chances

Hamas Likely to Respond to Attacks That Seem to Stun West
Discussion Policy
By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 28, 2008; Page A20

Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza yesterday, in retaliation for a nonstop barrage of rocket attacks from Hamas fighters, raised the prospect of an escalation of violence that could scuttle any hopes the incoming Obama administration harbored of forging an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

We’ll see Abramowitz’s logic in a moment. But before that, let me note that this is actually a golden opportunity for Obama to peel some Arab “moderates” away from Hamas (and by implication Hizbullah and its patron Iran), but making it clear that Israel has every right to defend itself. In particular, this makes the possibility of a peace that stands a remote chance of actually succeeding possible, since anything that included Hamas was, pace Jimmy Carter, a catastrophe in the making.

“If the casualty reports are accurate, Hamas is going to respond. And this isn’t a two- or three-day deal in which the genie is put back in the bottle,” said Aaron David Miller, a Middle East scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and author of “The Much Too Promised Land.” “This takes the already slim chance of an early, active and successful Obama engagement on Israel-Palestinian peace and lowers it to about zero.”

The idea that a) the casualty reports are accurate, and b) that only if they’re accurate would Hamas respond are both absurd contingencies. You know you’re dealing with someone in the thrall of “liberal cognitive egocentrism” when you see remarks like that. If we pass from PCP1 to PCP2, we have an interesting conflation of the casualty figures with civilian casualty figures. For the Peter Beaumont of the Guardian (who agrees with Abramowitz’s analysis), this attack should be compared with Deir Yassin and Sabra and Shatilla.

That’s doubly wrong: the Israelis killed no one at Sabra and Shatilla; and both those examples are massacres of civilians. What’s especially striking about this operation is the extraordinarily high rate of military targets and accordingly low rate of civilian, possiby under 10%. As the NYT reported about the first strikes:

    The vast majority of those killed were Hamas police officers and security men, including two senior commanders, but the dead included several construction workers and at least two children in school uniforms.

    Overnight, the passage in bold was scrubbed clean.

    This kind of toilette of course, works nicely to reinforce people like Beaumont, for whom this operation is something to be ranked with Deir Yassin. With the Sabra and Shatila massacres. Something, at last, that Israel’s foes can say looks like an atrocity.

As for taking the “already slim chance of an early, active and successful Obama engagement… to about zero,” that’s probably wrong on two counts. 1) It gives Obama a new angle with which to engage various key players (as noted above), and 2) the chances of an early Obama engagement’s success were already below zero. If anything this situation, properly handled, could actually increase the odds significantly.

IAF hits Gaza Underground Missile Launch as it Attempts to Fire

The IDF has released this footage from a drone of the Israeli AIr Force hitting an underground missile launcher that is located in a residential area. You can see a missile firing just after impact and landing at the edge of some houses not far away.

If some civilians were injured, can we expect the local reporters to admit that it was from “friendly” fire… as in this case from the previous day, where two Gazan girls were killed by a Palestinian missile? (HT Solomonia)

Palestinian rocket kills 2 Gaza girls
Palestinians misfire rocket, two Gaza girls killed after Qassam hits home in northern Strip; earlier Friday, Palestinian man wounded by misfired rocket taken for treatment in Israeli hospital

WaPo steps in Pallywood Doodoo? Something Smells

According to I*Consult, the Washington Post just published the following photo from Gaza — shot and captioned by an Arab photographer. (Hattip Barry Rubin)

three kids and wounded hamasnik

The caption reads:

Palestinian children and a man wounded in Israeli missile strikes are seen in the emergency area at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Israeli warplanes demolished dozens of Hamas security compounds across Gaza on Saturday in unprecedented waves of simultaneous air strikes. Gaza medics said at least 145 people were killed and more than 310 wounded in the single deadliest day in Gaza fighting in recent memory. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra) (Khalil Hamra – AP)

Are the three children on the other stretcher wounded? Or dressing? Actually, if you read the text carefully, it doesn’t say the children are wounded, but that they are photographed with a wounded man. My suspicion is that were there real blood on these children’s bodies the photographer would have included it in his photo

Apparently, Gaza journalists are having trouble finding civilians among the casualties. Reports estimate 90% of killed are “militants.”

In the meantime, I think the WaPo has removed the picture because I no longer find it at the Washington Post. Maybe they smelled the poop.

The photo is still available here.

Here it is larger (may be a problem for some webbrowsers).

khaled's foto

Although many sites have scrubbed it, it remains at the BBC in an interesting variant: (HT/Jayne)

bbc three kids on stretcher
Caption: Most of those killed were members of Hamas, but women and children were also caught in the raids.

Makes for an interesting photo. It’s no longer even clear that they’re in a hospital. In some senses it’s more believable than with the wounded adult.

Of course the tragic crossfire these children are caught between is the camera work of demopaths and the reporting follies of their dupes. Pity even more the genuinely wounded.

UPDATE: More child exploitation, here from Getty Images. HT:My Right Word

3 kids in car

The Shaming of the Shoe: Elder of Zion Hits the Nail on the Head

There’s a difference between the partitive and the possessive genitive. The shoe’s shaming (of Bush), or the shame of the shoe (for Al-Zeidi). I’ll go with the latter… but then, I’m an Occidentocentric, guilt-integrity kind of guy. Hopeless.

Elder of Zion has a revealing roundup of Arab news treatment of the shoe at Bush’s face incident. He nails it by pointing out that there is a confusion here between importance and impotence. I add some comments along the way.

Mixing up importance and impotence

The Arab press, and the Arab world in general, cannot stop talking about the Great Shoe Revolution. Here are only some of the articles in the past day:

Arab News:

    Al-Zeidi maybe one of the bravest men on this globe because not only did he defy and humiliate the emperor but also he knew very well what to expect at the hands of those who created Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and all the other secret prisons in every dark corner of the earth.

As EoZ points out below, the disingenuousness of this response is striking. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo pale beside torture in the average, run-of-the-mill Arab prison, which populate every dark corner of the Arab world. On the contrary, it’s the remarkably high standards of the West that make Abu Ghraib a scandal, not the deeds done there. As for our hero, Al-Zeidi, he’s thrown his foot at the leader for whom he is least likely to suffer reprisal, not the most. (See below, the remarks of Rania al Malky in the Egyptian Daily News about how no journalist is throwing shoes at Arab leaders who do as much if not worse things than Bush did.

So what’s going on here? On one level, this is classic demopathy, not unlike the French journalist who assured me in 2003, as French intellectuals were busy trashing the US for threatening to go into Iraq, that “courage is attacking the strongest, and the US is the strongest.” Courage is attacking those who are likely to hurt you for so doing; and in this case the US was the least likely to punish critics. (This is also true of that courageous anti-fascist “progressive” camp that continuously trashes Bush for being a fascist even as they benefit from Bush radically unfascist tolerance for their criticism.)

So even as you take advantage of your enemy’s commitment to tolerance and human rights, you denounce him for being the greatest violator of those rights. This would be pathetic if it did not garner such enthusiasm both in the Arab and the Western world. And of course, who escapes notice while people revile Bush’s (or Israel’s) violation of human rights? The really vicious violators.

Arab News again:

    Al-Zeidi has proved to be someone who can unite all factions and ethnicities.

This is a particularly revealing comment. What it says, in fact, is that a hollow preening gesture which (as even Arab commentators below are painfully aware) reveals the impotence and clownishness of the Arab world, can gather something that seems like unanimity among Arabs, not matter what their clan allegiances. Why? Because it’s about honor, and because it seems like in this case the US was dishonored. That’s something everyone in the Arab world can (seemingly) unite around… even the people who were liberated from Saddam Hussein by the US.

This is just the kind of pathetic unanimity that the Arabs can muster around the question of Zionism. No matter how much they despise each other, they can always unite around hating Israel. Feminists like to joke about how men think with their one-eyed head; Arabs think with their shoes and the results are accordingly sadly lacking in analytic rigor.

When Cain is the “Other”: On the “Other” in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

I just participated in a panel at American Jewish Studies Conference in Washington entitled Rethinking the “Other”: Problems in Post-Modern Jewish Thought, Politics and the Media. The first two talks by Susan Handelman and Jacob Meskin addressed the problem of the “other” in the philosophico-theological works of Emmanuel Levinas, a Lithuanian-born Jew who became one of France’s most notable philosophers of the 20th century, and a notable influence on Jacques Derrida, the founder of deconstruction and the works of Leon Ashkenazi, known by his scouts name, Manitou, a North-African Jew who first went to France and then after 1967 to Israel.

Their points, boiled down to a crude minimum were that Levinas and/or his followers have taken the manner in which he privileged the “other” to such a point that they have ended up failing to actually interact with the other and particularly in the Arab-Israeli conflict have given a hostile “other” an undeserved, even dangerous, priority. Handelman brought in a less-well-known thinker, Leon Ashkenazi, who, among other things, warned against a particular kind of “other”, namely Cain, the murderous and envious “other” against whom one can and must defend oneself. I was asked to give an example of how the “Cain” type views the other. Not surprisingly, my “text” was the Muhammad al Durah affair, which I post below.

The Media and the Construction of the “Other” in the Arab-Israeli Conflict”

[Note the bland title, done so as not to set off flags among the programming committee and get rejected. For those who already are familiar with the Al Durah affair, you may want to skip below to Analysis.]

My topic today concerns how Palestinians “narrate” the Israeli/Jewish “other.” Let me begin with a discussion of a particular case — that of Muhammad al Durah — and then analyze what it tells us about dysfunctional attitudes towards the “other” in post-modern Jewish and Western intellectual circles.

Let’s begin with our “text,” first by Charles Enderlin at France2.

Since we are very short of time [I had 20 minutes], let me cut to the chase. I think this is a staged scene, a deliberate lie and libel. In order to understand such a phenomenon, first you need to understand how, as a fake, it is one of many carried out that day. Indeed, I coined the term Pallywood in order to designate the existence of a whole school of film-making in the Palestinian territories designed to present the television news audience both at home and abroad with a constant stream of issues depicting the vicious Israeli Goliath crushing the plucky Palestinian David. Let’s begin with a scene from Netzarim Junction that day.

behind the factory 1

The picture seems to be a scene of Palestinians under fire, taking cover, running, and presumably looking at the position from which they are being fired at. Except that the Israeli position is behind the building in the upper right, and the Israelis never left their position that day. This whole scene is staged; they are looking at cameramen.

For anyone who wants to examine the nature of Pallywood further, I recommend viewing my movie of that name:

As for the analysis of the Al Durah staging, see my movie, Al Durah: Making of an Icon.

But this is not just a libel, it’s a blood libel, it’s about Israelis intentionally killing an innocent defenseless child, according to the cameraman Talal abu Rahmeh, “in cold blood.” In order to make the case, the Palestinian broadcast authority inserted into the footage taken by abu Rahmeh a scene of an Israeli soldier firing a rifle (rubber bullets) which was taken during the riots caused by the Al Durah footage. This billboard put up by Hizbullah in Southern Lebanon makes the point graphically.


When asked to explain how they could do something that violated every principle of modern journalist, a PA official explained:

These are forms of artistic expression, but all of this serves to convey the truth… We never forget our higher journalistic principles to which we are committed of relating the truth and nothing but the truth.

One could not ask for a better illustration of a pre-modern mentality: the (higher) truth is what counts, and any kind of dissembling is permissible to convey that truth, even if — especially if — it’s a blood libel against your enemies.

What’s even more tragic in this tale is not just that it appeared and spread (like wild-fire) in the pre-modern, scapegoating culture of global Islam, but that it jumped from there to spread (again like wild-fire) in the post-modern culture of the West. Sharon, who was not even prime-minister at the time of the incident was a particular target of venom.


Here in the Hartford Courant, the barrel is gone, the Israeli soldier has been replaced by a pistol-toting Sharon who smiles sadistically at his murderous deed.

Blood libels proliferated in the Arab world, and, via Palestinian and Muslim student groups, made it onto American campuses.

San Francisco State University flyer, Spring 2002

Dave Brown cartoon for the Independent, January 2003. The cartoon won the annual award as the best cartoon from the UK Political Cartoonist Association.

Europe was the Western cultural sphere especially in Europe, where it was hailed as a liberating narrative that freed from Holocaust guilt. In particular, the image opened the floodgates to comparing the Israelis to the Nazis.