In his mea culpa, Shmuel Rosner talks about how he was one of the people I described as “attacking ferociously” the investigation set up by Yom Tov Samia and run by Nachum Shahaf. Now he regrets it, and in his honesty, raises many significant issues. On the other side, there are Arabs capable of appreciating the value for civil society of acknowledging the Al Durah icon of hatred, that injected a death cult into the culture, as a way to wake up from the nightmare they are now undergoing. He reports that in his talk with Gazans, many really wish their leaders would make peace with Israel, the Jewish state, so they live decent lives.
Haaretz, apparently, is still in scorn, smear and ridicule mode, as they were the first time round.
It’s a bit ironic on the part of Israelis to spit on good news about themselves, a trait I learned painfully to identify over ten years working on Al Durah with government spokesmen: Israelis – and especially those who had to speak on her behalf to outsiders – were completely psyched out by this story. And the people psyching them out were Charles – “I cut the horrible death throes, so don’t ask for the tapes” Enderlin, and his crowd of journalists at places like Haaretz and the Guardian who set the lethal tone.
If one considers the Al Durah “lethal narrative” as a version of the Emperor’s New Clothes, with Abu Rahma as the tailor, Enderlin as the Chamberlain, and the news media as the court, and, small but significant variant, instead of a silly and vain, naked emperor, this procession bears aloft an icon of hatred that’s a major recruiting device for global Jihad and the branding of Israel as Nazi.
Israel and Israelis, for 13 years, willy nilly, have participated in this lethal procession that targeted her. Finally after a decade of consensus building, a government committee breaks free of this suicidal madness with a report that states the obvious, and reporters from Haaretz heap their co-citizens with scorn for doing so. In the history of suicidal cultures, early 21st-century Haaretz will hold a special place.
Wonders never cease
Oudeh Basharat Haaretz | 04:34 26.05.13 | 1
There’s, of course, an interesting problem here. Oudeh is an Israeli Arab, indeed a prominent member of the Hadash (Communist) party. In the framework of the alliance (marriage?) of pre-modern sadism – “you (the other as enemy) are horrible” – and post-modern masochism – “you (the other to be embraced) are right,” – it’s important to ask if his voice represents the commitment to not being partisan that we hear, for example, in Shmuel Rosner’s reflections, or the voice of a lethal narrator?
Here, it seems quite clear that Haaretz has given the microphone to someone who defends his lethal narrative with unrelenting sarcasm.
Dear committee members, as you wish, Mohammed al-Dura wasn’t killed; he’s safe and sound and hiding somewhere. But what about the 951 children that human rights group B’Tselem says were killed during the second intifada?
There hasn’t been anything like it since Jesus resurrected Lazurus at Bethany. It turns out it’s not only God who can “give life to rotten bones,” as the Koran puts it. Israeli investigative committees have taken this task upon themselves.
The only reason that Oudeh can play this card is because journalists were stupid enough to be fooled by a cheap fake in the first place and now don’t want to admit they were taken for fools. So now, given this overwhelming consensus of fools, he can pretend that calling this stupidity/malignity into question, is the equivalent of raising the dead.
A special committee has returned Mohammed al-Dura to us alive and well, 13 years later. Maybe the committee should investigate the deaths of the 13 other young Arabs, 12 of them Israeli citizens, who were killed around the time of al-Dura’s death.
There’s no need to hold an investigation of the past cases with cold evidence (no other case has evidence like this). Let’s just start tomorrow, asking for a reliable level of evidence – let’s call it the Al Durah standard – before concluding that a dead child, ghoulishly paraded before the camera, was actually killed by the Israelis.
Lebanon, July 2006. Ghoulish Display for the cameras
Richard, Corruption of the Media, Lebanon 2006.
Gaza, November, 2012. Not killed by Israel
J.E. Dyer, Things that didn’t happen during Pillar of Defense, Elder of Ziyon, November 14, 2012
Gaza, November, 2012. Not killed by Israel.
I predict that once people start examining Palestinian claims for the possibility that they were to some extent staged or manipulated – the fundamental lesson of the Al Durah Affair and the Pallywood world it revealed – many of the accusations of Israelis killing children during the next operation, whether it’s in Syria or Lebanon or Sinai or Gaza, will turn out significantly problematic for voices like the ones that penned and published this piece.
Once we’ve done an investigation from a suburb of Baker Street, rather than a highrise on rekaB Street, I think we’ll find significantly different statistics, statistics that both point out the extraordinary ends the IDF goes to to protect Palestinian civilians (say in comparison with NATO or the US), and how often Palestinians prefer trying to kill Israeli kids to protecting their own, and end up, willy nilly, killing their own.
For example, on September 25, 2005, Hamas held a major parade to celebrate their triumph of chasing the Israelis out of Gaza. Their soldiers paraded with live ammunition, that exploded in the middle of a large crowd of children who had come by to admire them, killing more than a dozen people including a number of children. They tried to blame it on Israelis, but dissidence between Hamas and Fatah made that line impossible to maintain. Five years later, however, France2 trotted out the footage during Operation Cast Lead, as if taken at a marketplace the Israelis had bombed.
This is Al Durah lethal journalism at its finest – using video of Palestinian children killed by Palestinian militias, to accuse the Israelis of killing wantonly (the theme of the Goldstone Report). It is the kind of corrupt and dishonest journalism that has characterized the twenty-first century’s mainstream news media coverage of the war between Israel and her “neighbors.” And it’s precisely what, as the Kuperwasser report says, Israel has a right to ask journalists to cease and desist, even if it’s only to live up to their own standards.
Then, once we’ve sifted the real stories (real cases where Israelis kill Palestinian children), from the fakes (real cases where the Palestinians fake scenes and blame Israel for deaths they’ve caused), then we can factor the significantly adjusted ratio back to the early intifada, to get a more accurate estimate of the casualties reported by the media – and the NGOS – at a time when, dazzled by the Al Durah explosion, journalists and NGOs – Israeli and foreign – believed virtually everything the Palestinians told them.
One of the things we know all too well over the last 13 years is how credulous reporters were about Palestinian claims. As for the 12 Israeli Arabs who died “around that time,” they were actually rampaging as a result of seeing the Al Durah footage, which far and away represents the greatest icon of hatred and incitement in the long and painful history of Israel’s clashes with Arabs… far more than, say, Sharon visiting the Temple Mount.
I’m willing to bet that we’d find plenty of dubious testimony readily, no eagerly, accepted by Israeli NGOs (B’tselem) and journalists (Haaretz), who for reasons that deserve close attention, seemed to think they were “doing good” (in more current parlance, doing “tikkun olam”), by mainstreaming as news unexamined lethal narratives designed to destroy their own society. Why Western (in the Al Durah case, Israeli) journalists would eagerly play the role of delivery systems for weapons of cognitive war targeting them will be a big question in the coming decades, as we begin to realize what a catastrophe these folks have created in our relations with Muslims and Islam. And why the people who were responsible for so irresponsible a tragedy, from which we today continue to suffer, would then give voice to an aggressive, sarcastic voice from the other side, who clearly has not sat down and examined the evidence.
Moreover, why make such an effort to bring back dead neighbors? Everyone knows that charity begins at home. Imagine the joy that will sweep the country when all the victims of terrorist attacks return safe and sound after the committee discovers that the Palestinians were merely using mock explosives.
Alas, the Palestinians faked their deaths in order to inspire their people to kill us.
And the hilarity that will ensue when it turns out that all the wars were merely in jest. What did Nasri Shamseddine say in the play “Petra”? “As if I were returning to my childhood, playing war games and winning without anyone getting hurt, everyone returning in one piece. If only.” It’s almost like the end of days.
It’s almost like the beginning of waking up from a nightmare in which you have empowered the forces that not only believe it’s the end of days, but unlike the pleasant, positive-sum scenario you invoke for that messianic time, these people believe that the end is a merciless war in which Muslims will slaughter Jews down to the last one. If you don’t care, your Jewish co-citizens, including the editors at Haaretz, should.
Consider the irony. Haaretz, Btselem, and so many other “progressive” Israelis are dogmatic practitioners of masochistic omnipotence syndrome: It’s all our fault and if only we could be better, then we could fix everything. And yet here, for once, they have a chance to actually do a mea culpa of their own (rather than for the IDF or the Israeli government, or some other aspect of their own society that they don’t like), and their response is to publish this kind of biting sarcasm: “Us? Make an error? The Day of Resurrection will come first.”
Seriously, if this weren’t about bereaved families’ tragedies, this wheeling and dealing could be expanded in other directions. My deceased mother used to say about people whose exaggerations made everyone blush that you always have to consider other people’s reactions to tall tales.
Yes you do. Consider to moral disorientation and hate-mongering that happened in reaction to the Palestinian tall tales.
So if I were prime minister I would order – in addition to shelving the results of the Mohammed al-Dura probe – the establishment of a committee to investigate whether the members of the al-Dura panel were actually hostile agents trying to make the army look like a joke in the eyes of the people. It’s enough that the army is seen as an occupying army that abuses another nation; we don’t need people to think it needs psychiatric treatment as well.
Impressive. It’s this kind of rhetoric that has had Israel participating in the Icon of Hatred‘s procession for the last 13 years, her journalists aggressively proud to be ashamed to be Israeli, her government officials terrified of being ridiculed by the media.
A conspiracy syndrome is taking hold of our Jewish brothers.
People who live in a culture of glass houses…
The physicist Nahum Shahaf only has to say that Israeli forces didn’t hit al-Dura and that the Palestinians staged the whole thing, and the army is captivated by the conspiracy myth – and the government approves it 13 years later.
I conspiracy of fools is taking hold of our Israeli journalists. All the government has to do is say what anyone who looked closely at the evidence has known for over a decade, and they start foaming at the mouth without even doing a minimum of research. Shahaf has been saying this for years, and it took 13 years for either the government or the army (many of whom are not happy with the report) to come around to his position.
But a quick Google search reveals that Shahaf has a distinguished history of uncovering conspiracies. According to him, it wasn’t an Israeli drone that bombed a school in Qana, Lebanon, during Operation Grapes of Wrath in 1996, and Yigal Amir is actually a victim because he didn’t shoot Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Now we’re praying that the police won’t ask him to investigate the horrific murder at the Bank Hapoalim branch in Be’er Sheva. He’ll prove that the angle of gunfire shows that the shots came from the commercial center in nearby Rahat.
This is a classic ad hominem response. Shahaf might be the looniest loon in the pond, but it’s thanks to his immediate understanding that this was a fake that we had an early investigation which managed to get the precious Reuters raw footage, showing the extensive faking that Palestinians do on a daily basis, and which, alas, Charles Enderlin has no trouble with. If only for that, we owe him great recognition.
If you want to do some necessary ad homines in this case, let’s take a look at the reliability of Enderlin (who takes direction on what to say from Gaza), and Talal Abu Rahma (who admits to keeping secrets about the evidence). But that might mean you can’t wax sarcastic anymore, and, after all, what’s more important?
So, dear committee members, as you wish, Mohammed al-Dura wasn’t killed; he’s safe and sound and hiding somewhere. But what about the 951 children that human rights group B’Tselem says were killed during the second intifada?
Here’s where it gets problematic. You take that figure to be accurate. After all, these are serious and moral people over at B’tselem. But they fully shared the credulity of the press in these matters. And most of the evidence they have for their statistics is based on testimony, not independent evidence, something the Al Durah case teaches us to be very wary of. I was in the office with Charles Enderlin in 2003 and he received a fax from a hospital which he promptly waved in my face, triumphantly: a Palestinian boy shot in the back by the Israelis.
RL: What? How does a hospital know under what circumstances the child was shot?
CE: No… you’re not going to try and tell me the Palestinians killed him?
RL: But you can’t assume that the Israelis killed him just because it’s more likely. How does the hospital know how he was injured?
CE: Of course we can. What else can it be?
Well, as we learned from Noran Iyad Deeb and Gaza Beach onwards, there are times – too many times – that Palestinians kill their own (not so much on purpose as by gross negligence) and blame Israel. So be careful how you cite those statistics. After all, in the first Intifada, of the 2100 Palestinians who died, nearly half of them were killed by fellow Arabs. Many of the cases included in your statistic of 951 “children” may not be as unreliable as the Al Durah story, but they share the same flawed methodology that animated the Al Durah Journalists: believe what the Palestinians say until proven wrong, ignore what the Israelis say until proven right (and still), and when that happens, fall silent. (B’tselem still lists Al Durah as killed by the Israelis.)
Again, remember, B’tselem is a moral, activist organization that wants to get Israel out of the territories. When I told a friend who was on the board about Al Durah as fake, he exclaimed disapprovingly, “you’re white-washing the Occupation.” For them, the more bad news about Israeli deeds, the stronger their case to force Israel out. They share the J-Street vocation of using Palestinian lethal narratives to pressure Israel… not what I’d call a reliable source.
On the contrary, talking to Jessica Montel about the implications of Pallywood (which I had just shown her), I was astonished to hear her speak of narrative evidence from Palestinians as “objectively true.” This leads to the classic auto-stupefying meme, “What? You think they’d lie?”
Are they also alive and well and hiding with al-Dura somewhere? I hope that wherever they’re hiding they’re having a good laugh at our expense, we the living who thought they were dead. And when all the Jews and Arabs return alive and well, they will explain that it was all just a game that had nothing to do with reality. They will all “return in one piece.” If only.
If only you cared about your own people more than you want to dump on the Israelis…