Humiliating Slip in Hamas’ Cannibalistic Cognitive War Strategy: Haniyah and Kandil Kiss Baby Hamas Killed
Here’s a classic. Let’s start with the ghoulish display of sorrow over the body of a dead boy, allegedly killed by Israeli bombing. It’s aimed right at the heart of a someone like Annie Lennox who, upon seeing bombs falling on Gaza immediately imagines Palestinian babies on the receiving end, rather than Hamas militants targeting Israeli babies. And, of course, the news media snatch up the photo-op.
Pallywood, Muhammad al Durah and Cognitive Warfare in the 21st Century
Richard Landes, Boston University
ASMEA Conference, Washington DC, November 4, 2011
I’d like to make two arguments. First, that the image of the IDF as child-killers is the product of a constant campaign of Arab/Palestinian cognitive warfare in which the Western mainstream news media has played a critical role in conveying this disinformation as news; second, that such a state of affairs has had a devastating impact on our ability to understand the conflict and leading to serious errors in judgment.
Let’s take what I would argue is at once a paradigmatic case, and, at the same time, the most terrible case, that of Muhammad al Durah, the 12-year old Palestinian boy who became the icon of the second intifadah, even as he should be an icon of the destructive incompetence of the MSNM.
On September 30, 2000, Charles Enderlin of France2 received the following footage from his long-time cameraman in Gaza, Talal abu Rahmah.
It was accompanied by the following narrative from Talal:
The boy and the father took cover during an exchange of fire.
The Israelis fired for 40 minutes at the boy who was hit and lay bleeding for 20 minutes while the Israelis fired – bullets like rain – at any ambulance that tried to take him away.
They targeted and killed the boy deliberately.
Let me present what I think Charles Enderlin should have done were he a serious journalist merely on the basis of what he had before him. There are at least three issues that should have aroused his doubts.
CAMERA has spotted a particularly interesting case of Pallywood which illustrates not only the mechanics of staging, and the lust for dirt on Israel on the part of “human rights” organizations like B’tselem, but the near-unbelievable sloppiness of the MSNM (here Ynet, an Israeli newspaper outlet).
March 2 Update: Translation of Arabic Proves the Scene is Staged
March 1 — Once upon a time, journalists would report the news. Today, some prefer manufactured news. When journalists collaborate with organizations driven by a one-sided agenda aimed at influencing public opinion, the distinction between a newspaper and a propaganda mouthpiece is dangerously blurred.
Of course, this only goes one way. Let some settlers (or even the IDF) try and give the MSNM some footage putting Palestinians in a bad light and see with what a fine-tooth comb it gets worked over. The basic epistemological principle is: If it’s a Palestinian claim, believe it until proven false; if it’s an Israeli claim, doubt it until proven true. (And if that happens, move quickly on to another topic.)
Take, for example, B’Tselem, which noticed that some lazy journalists prefer to receive pre-packaged video clips over actually doing their jobs. These edited and ready-to-view clips then appear next to bombastic headlines, and the journalist congratulates himself for getting a scoop.
Such was the case early this week (Feb. 27) at the Israeli site Ynet, which appears in English and in Hebrew. Sunday’s Hebrew article by Elior Levi and the corresponding English version (“Video: 11-year-old Palestinian stone-thrower arrested”) are based on a video that B’Tselem apparently supplied to Levi.
The latest developments from Silwan, and a brilliant spoof on the MSNM by Latma (below) prompt me to report a conversation I had last summer with a journalist who is the Middle East Correspondent for a major Western news outlet. I was speaking to him about my concern that the MSNM had behaved very badly over the previous decade, much to the detriment, not just of Israel but of the West and societies that try and guarantee the freedom of speech and the press. In particular I emphasized the skewed epistemology whereby they treated Palestinian claims as true until proven false, and Israeli claims as false until proven true, and when the evidence eventually favored the Israelis, they tended to fall silent.
His response was that Israeli complaints (whining) about the media being unfair is like a general who complains about rain on the field of battle. I didn’t bother pursuing the point that in no case does the rain only fall on one army alone. What interested me more was the implication of this (repeated) comment, namely that he (and apparently many others) saw the media as a force of nature, an unalterable force, immune to reason or rebuke. They would just do their thing, and let the Israelis deal with it.
I think that some of this comes from an attitude of sympathy towards the underdog. Bob Simon, in treating the Al Durah story, commented that “in the Middle East, one picture can be worth a thousand weapons.” Over time, a number of journalists (off the record) agreed with the formula: “The Israelis have all the weapons, so why not let the Palestinians have the PR victory? It’s a way of leveling the playing field.”
But what about fake stories? Like Muhammad al Durah? In subsequent years, I heard (especially European/French) journalists shrug and say, weapons of the weak, as if somehow that made it alright. In this sense, Enderlin’s response to my observation that most of the action sequences from Talal abu Rahmah were framed — “Oh, they do that all the time, it’s a cultural thing” — represents the journalist’s off-the-record Orientalist indulgence of a culture foreign to everything that Western journalism is supposed to be about.
Now, I can understand some journalists coming to this conclusion, deciding that somehow the underdog status of the Palestinians allowed them to invent what Nidra Poller has aptly called “lethal narratives” but not everyone. And yet, my friend the journalist (who few would consider a particularly nasty anti-Israel writer) tells me that a majority of the journalists stationed in Israel would be far more harsh in their treatment of Israel were it not for their editors at home.
I think I understand why he presents the MSNM as a force of nature, impermeable to change: they’re going to handicap Israel by raining on their troop positions. It’s not only the “moral” thing to do (level the playing field, side with the underdog), but it’s also a show of power. They will be the Lilliputians that tie the giant Gulliver down.
Talking to him, listening to his reasoning, to his explanations for things (like explaining the precipitous drop in Hamas’ suicide bombings in recent years as a response to the disapproval of Muslims worldwide), to his disappointment that Israel is not more in line with his own liberal/progressive thinking (alas, they reacted to suicide attacks by becoming more right-wing), to his selective empathy, I begin to realize how tight the grip of what Charles Jacobs calls the Human Rights Complex is on our journalists, and their party-buddies, the UN workers and “Human Rights” NGOs who hang together in Jerusalem. It produces the “herd of independent minds” that characterizes today’s Middle East journalism.
And of course, if you adopt this point of view, you never have to deal with the problem of what happens if you report stuff that’s not acceptable to the Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims. So they can, in all good conscience, look you straight in the eye and say, “There’s no intimidation here.” Try writing some stories on the culture of genocidal hatred that has pride of place in Palestinian pulpits and airways, and see if there isn’t some pushback.
But then, that would be supplying Israel with PR weapons, and we wouldn’t want that.
All of this is a long and rather elaborate introduction to a brilliant satire put out by Latma on precisely this subject. Enjoy. Imnsho, it’s right on.
Robert Mackey of the Lede blog at the NYT did a piece on the Silwan incident in which he ventured into Al Durah territory and cited my work. I’ve occasionally read his work when it deals with the Middle East (e.g. the Flotilla), and have not been particularly impressed with his acuity. Here at least he exposes his readers to some Pallywood analysis even if he does try and take it back by changing the subject to Charles Enderlin and Al Durah.
Last month, The Lede looked at how the shooting death of a Palestinian man by an Israeli private security contractor in the same neighborhood three weeks ago, and subsequent rioting, was covered by Israeli bloggers and international activists who oppose to the expansion of Israel’s settlements on the land it has occupied or annexed since 1967.
The “60 Minutes” report on the tension and clashes in Silwan includes images of a confrontation that took place there last week, when an Israeli settler, confronted by stone-throwing Palestinian boys on a street, drove his car into two of them, tossing an 11-year-old into the air.
While the boys reportedly avoided serious injury and were released from a local hospital the next day, graphic video of the incident was broadcast on Al Jazeera as well as Israeli television, and was posted numerous times on YouTube, where it has become the subject of fierce debate. (Be warned: viewers may find the clip distressing.)
This warning is one of the standard elements of the way the media handle Pallywood. Rather than warn that the images may be staged or manipulated, they assume they’re true, that the viewer will also see them as true and, appropriately be distressed. I’m not blaming Mackey for doing this. Within the framework the MSNM now have it makes perfect sense. I don’t know what should be done. Maybe: “Viewers may find the clip distressing either because it is true, or because it is staged.”
As is the case with many pieces of video evidence in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, this clip has been taken to mean very different things by activists and bloggers on opposite sides of the political dispute over who has the right to live in East Jerusalem.
The Guardian, a paper whose obsession with Israel was illustrated during the Lebanon War of 2006 when they bragged about having 19 correspondents covering various aspects of the conflict (more than any other place or country in the world; apparently few to spare for Congo, or Darfur, or Sri Lanka), has just rejected an article by Denis MacEoin, the editor of the Middle East Quarterly, because they’ve published too much already on the subject.
But it illustrates one of the fundamental aspects of Western media coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict: when the slanders are out, the MSNM runs the story; when they prove false, the press falls silent. Raphael Israeli already pointed this out in a close study of the Jenin “poisoning” scandal of 1983, one of the early episodes in the history of Pallywood.
MacEoin turned to CIFWatch, one of the most exemplary “shadow sites” of a major MSNM production (Comment is Free), which documents and refutes the systematic channeling of anti-Semitic themes via the socially acceptable avatar of anti-Zionism. Here is MacEoin’s piece via the internet, just the kind of thing that could not happen in the 20th century.
Those of you who take an interest – and, in most cases, that’s going to be a malign interest – in matters relating to Israel, Palestine, and the strangely lovable terrorists of Hamas and Hezbollah – will have been greatly stirred by the troubling episode of the boat that tried to break a blockade imposed by a state acting within its legal rights, but which ended up with nine of its activists dead. What a rush to judgement this has been. Within hours of the event, half the world had decided it knew all the facts and wasn’t going to back down, regardless of any new facts that may come to light. I have some of those for you, but wait a little. What you need first is context, something in short supply in discussions of these matters.
If, like myself, you have a serious interest in Middle East affairs, you can’t be unaware of an accusation that has infected the Arab world and beyond. It’s very simple: take a war (any war will do), a revolution (ditto), a tragedy, and, lo and behold, the Jews are behind it. Here’s a string of such claims from a bog-standard white supremacist website [Warning hate site]. And here’s a representative (and much shortened) statement from Egyptian general Hasan Sweilem:
‘The Jews stood behind wars and internal strife, and that caused European rulers to expel them and kill them. For example, the Crusader armies, passing through the Rhine basin on their way east, massacred them and burned their houses as an act of repentance to their God. When the Crusaders entered Jerusalem, they collected the Jews in a synagogue and burned them live. Their kin in Russia suffered a similar fate….They were expelled from France, England, Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Slovakia, Austria, Holland, and finally from Spain, after they underwent the Inquisition trials for their conspiracy to penetrate Christian society like a Trojan horse….The Jewish conspiracy to take over Europe generated civil revolutions, wars, and internal strife….The Cromwell Revolution failed in 1649 in England, following the Jewish conspiracy to drag England into several wars in Europe….Then the French Revolution broke out, which the Jews had planned, based on the first conference of their rabbis and interest-loaners that had been convened by the first Rothschild in 1773 in order to take over all the world resources….That conference adopted twenty-four protocols, including the uprooting of the belief in God from the hearts of the Gentiles, distracting people by distributing among them literature of heresy and impurity, destruction of the family and eradication of all morality….’
The Jews went on, he says, to start the First and Second world wars and to lay the foundations of both communism and Nazism.
The thing about these claims is that everything bad that has ever happened to Jews has been legitimate defence by those whom the Jews have harmed. The Holocaust, for example, was the deserved punishment for a people mired in every sort of treachery and hatred for mankind.
The first time Reuters photo department got into trouble, in Lebanon in 2006, they ran photoshopped pictures from an Arab photographer (Adnan Hajj) which emphasized the violence.
This time, they cropped photos provided by Turkish media (the high-circulation weekly Hürriet), to remove traces of violence. See Elder of Zion and CAMERA for analyses (LGF seems to be down).
That doesn’t seem consistent, until you consider the context.
In the case of Adnan, the photocopying emphasized Israeli violence against Arab victims. That kind of image raised no red flags in a MSNM office (Reuters Photography) that framed the conflict as Israeli Goliath vs. Palestinian David. They were receiving a flood of such photos and passing on the best, of which Hajj’s photo of the Beirut skyline covered in plumes of smoke was a good one among many.
On the other hand, here, we have something else. The Turkish journal published these photos because they, and their Turkish audience, are proud of the damage they inflicted: from their point of view, this photo is embarrassing to the Israelis. Just like the Egyptians have a museum to their (brief moment of) victory in 1973 (October 6), so too the Turks now have a moment where they had the upper hand on Israeli soldiers. In a tribal warrior honor-shame culture, these photos are the equivalent of counting coup.
Of course, oops, that was supposed to be a peace-activist flotilla, with nothing but love for the whole world. As the NYT (Isabel Kershner) reported:
“Our volunteers were not trained military personnel,” said Yavuz Dede, deputy director of the organization. “They were civilians trying to get aid to Gaza. There were artists, intellectuals and journalists among them. Such an offensive cannot be explained by any terms.”
And indeed, the worldwide indignation over Israel’s killing the nine on board depends on this story. If they were a bunch of bloodthirsty, street-fighting Jihadis, armed for close quarter combat, then the story doesn’t quite work.
Following conflicting and incomplete reports about the violence aboard the “Gaza flotilla” boats, NGO Monitor called on non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and journalists who quote them, to carefully scrutinize allegations of “human rights violations” before repeating false claims and propaganda.
“In many instances in the past, NGOs have been responsible for repeating and amplifying false claims of Israeli ‘crimes,’ without credible evidence,” said NGO Monitor President Gerald Steinberg. “In 2002, an Amnesty International representative gave credence to the ‘Jenin massacre’ lie, and in 2006, Human Rights Watch did the same in the tragic Gaza Beach incident. The baseless NGO claims were publicized in the media, and then embraced as true by anti-Israel activists.”
NGOs were similarly responsible for promulgating false claims regarding Muhammad al-Dura (2000) and the Reuters cameraman (2008), and during the Lebanon and Gaza wars.
“Information provided by the flotilla organizers, who include International Solidarity Movement radicals, is particularly suspect. As videos on CNN and BBC demonstrate, the activists were armed and violent,” said Steinberg. “The videos disprove the version put forth by the Free Gaza Movement.”
NGO Monitor also noted that the flotilla was endorsed by EU-funded Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), EU- and European-funded Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), NIF-funded Coalition of Women for Peace, European-funded Alternative Information Center (AIC), and Israeli groups New Profile, Bat Shalom, Yesh Gvul, and Zochrot. Jeff Halper, executive director of ICAHD, is on the board of advisors.
As any serious reader of this blog knows, I don’t have a lot of respect for Talal abu Rahmah, the seeing of whose rushes (see below) for September 30, 2000 inspired the term Pallywood. So what to think when he and another favorite unreliable rogue in my gallery disagree?
The Goldstone Report, at paragraph 481, takes up the subject of whether Hamas deliberately hid among civilians.
¶481. On the basis of the information it gathered, the Mission is unable to form an opinion on the exact nature or the intensity [emphasis added] of their [Hamas’] combat activities in urban residential areas that would have placed the civilian population and civilian objects at risk of attack. While reports reviewed by the Mission credibly indicate that members of Palestinian armed groups were not always dressed in a way that distinguished them from civilians, the Mission found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack [emphasis added].
Moshe Halbertal in “The Goldstone Illusion,” not an author known for his sarcasm, remarks on Goldstone’s cautious conclusion:
The reader of such a sentence might well wonder what its author means. Did Hamas militants not wear their uniforms because they were inconveniently at the laundry? What other reasons for wearing civilian clothes could they have had, if not for deliberately sheltering themselves among the civilians?
So imagine my surprise when I ran across the following gem from Talal abu Rahmah in a phone interview with a CNN reporter on January 2, 2009:
Hamas, they are under cover, all of them they are civilians now, you don’t see any militants around you, even the cars I don’t know if the car in front of me or in the back of me, if it’s a target or not.
Whom to believe?
Here I think Talal has told us the truth. Why? Partly because he’s showing off. “This is really difficult and scary. I have to do my job, what can I do. Now Hamas…” After presenting himself as a brave journalist who has to do what he must, he jumps on Hamas’ contrasting behavior.
But also, I think he tells us this in part because he thinks the journalist interviewing him is too stupid to notice what a revelation he’s handed her.
And he’s right. Her next question is not: “So Hamas is hiding among civilians and endangering the population? That’s a war crime. How do people feel about that?” Instead it’s the kind of nauseating experiential post-modern journalism that the Gaza war was full of, where the interviewer gives Talal a platform to vaunt his courage, his “in-his-blood” journalism, and the dangers he runs.
Tell us more about how it feels, Talal, send us more pictures, and stay safe. Why without you, we might have to think.
But the Goldstone Report took the figures and rounded them down by a mere 50,000 (making the real number of prisoners since 1967 a statistical error):
¶1444. It is estimated that during the past 43 years of occupation, approximately 700,000 Palestinian men, women and children have been detained under Israeli military orders. Israel argues that these detentions are necessary on grounds of security
Hezbollah released a video today that they say refutes the IDF aerial footage released two days ago.
Here’s the IDF footage taken shortly after the nighttime explosion:
It’s damning because they are removing the incriminating evidence of their violations of the cease-fire agreement before they let the UNIFIL forces in to inspect.
Here’s the Hizbullah footage.
There are several gaping holes with this argument.
1. The Hizbullah video was shot in broad daylight, whereas the IDF footage was taken at night, shortly after the blast occurred.
2. The position of the truck in the Hizbullah version and the IDF video are not the same. In the Hizbullah version the truck is backed up directly to the loading dock and there are two men shoving the debris into the back of the truck. In the IDF footage, the truck is parked a little bit away and there are at least 5 men carefully carrying the disputed object and loading it onto the truck.
3. In order for the Hizbullah video to disprove the IDF footage, their video has to be of the same event, which is impossible given points 1 and 2.
4. If it is not of the same event, and the Hizbullah video was shot the next day, then that does not disprove anything, since they could have shown up, and started clearing debris while filming themselves. This would also account for the presence of the Lebanese Military and UNIFIL forces since Hezbollah gave them access to the explosion site several hours after the explosion, after they had removed various items.
5. The IDF video shot shortly after the explosion shows Hezbollah cordoning off the area, loading items which could be a missile onto a truck and then driving the trucks 4km away to a known Hizbullah arms depot in another village. After they were done clearing the house, they let UNIFIl and the Lebanese Military enter the area.
The most obvious question that comes to mind is: “Who do they think they’re kidding. Do they take us for imbeciles?”
Not a word on the glaring discrepancies. It’s just “he said… she said.” So I guess the answer to the question about who Hizbullah takes us for is, “fools.” And the evidence is, they’re right.
Final note: Why did they bother to do this cheap and silly fake as “disproof”? Because they do care what we think, and they want to manipulate us. So if we call them on this stuff, we actually do put the squeeze on them.
So the real question is, “what’s wrong with the Beeb and Reuters?”
Apologies to my readers for my long absence during several important events. A brief update and list of articles worth considering for discussion. I am now in a better position to both post and pay attention to the excellent discussions some of you readers have been maintaining while I lurked.
Swedish article on Organ Transplant
Among the most significant items on which I need to post has been Aftonbladet controversy, the Swedish article accusing the Israelis of engaging in harvesting organs from dead Palestinians, what many — justifiably to my mind — consider a modern blood libel. By now, it’s clear — and avowed — that the author has no evidence for his claims, and even the families involved admit that they never made the claims. Barry Rubin has some excellent remarks on Facebook about why, even though the media openly admits to holding Israel to a higher standard, it’s equally if not more important for the media to be careful with Israel, given the long history of libels against it.
So if you say that you hold Jews to higher standards remember equally that they have been treated, misexplained, misunderstood and lied about to lower standards. That there are people–often the main supposed witnesses to the things you denounce Israel for–who have a vested interest in making Israel look bad and who are willing to lie, along with reporters and others who have an antagonism to Israel. What are you doing to correct that side of the balance?
I’m going to hold you to a higher standard in your coverage of Israel for the same reason.
Israeli spokespeople have hit back hard on this, both officially and unofficially. Below is Mordechai Kedar’s responses to the author of the piece, Donald Bostrom, in which he mentions al Durah and invokes Pallywood. Note how Bostrom starts by saying, “It’s not up to me to have any evidence…” How do you think Kedar comes off?
One of my correspondents shudders at Kedar’s performance.
This TV interview with Kedar and Bostrom is a disaster. Bostrom comes across as the calm, reasonable speaker. Kedar is overheated and makes unsupported allegations that Palestinians are “compulsive liars” and have a conspiracy—these remarks make him look like a racist. Kedar is right, but his delivery completely undercuts his own message.
Bostrom, on the other hand, is a poster-boy for Pallywood, as it manifests in journalism. Not only are Palestinian witnesses “as good as anyone’s”, but the work of the NGOs and other journalists in having Israel as a daily human rights violator, make anything the Palestinians claim perfectly believable.
Yale University Press and the Danish Cartoon Book without Danish Cartoons.
The appalling decision of Yale U. Press not to publish the cartoons out of concern for the sensitivity of Muslims is, among many issues, a perfect illustration of the role of experts (the unanimous 12 who recommended not to publish the cartoons) of the role of an anomalous consensus among our elites whose opinions matter. All twelve? No one i respect who thinks on the issue of how we deal with militant Islam would have recommended so pusillanimous a course. Was there not one person in the bunch to say something like this?
This is absurd. Of course you publish the cartoons. Their almost entirely anodine nature is part of the story.
It attests to the nature of the violent response, which was the bullying of a newly empowered advocacy community: global Jihadis who feel that Muslim sharia should rule the planet. Not to publish would be to act like dhimmi. It would replicate all the errors that were made at the time of the event, in which America’s failure to publish the cartoonbs in every paper at once betrayed Europeans behaving bravely, and signaled to the Islamist triumphalists that indeed the whole world was vulnerable to their demands.
Or just a simple, “don’t be ridiculous.”
In any case, the “unanimous 12″ strike me as the most significant elemnt in this lamentable story. It’s testimony to the Emperor’s New Clothes effect. The court has so taken control of the discourse that the simplest and most obvious responses are not merely “voted down,” but excluded. Let’s not forget that the emperor and his court carried on the charade even after the crowd had turned against the hegemonic discourse in which the emperor’s clothes were dazzling.
But this issue is not confined to Yale alone. This essay, by Yale senior Matt Shaffer, about his time at Yale gives an intellectual backgrtound to this court consensus.
Condemning prejudice is great, but devoting the keynote speech of Yale orientation to a finger-wagging lecture against bigotry, as Professor Yoshino did, was like opening a conference of physicists with a warning on the dangers of astrology. In short, Despite Dean Salovey’s assertion that, “We will help you learn how to think rather than tell you what to think,” it looked more and more that they were going to teach us neither how to think nor what to think, but rather, what to feel.
That evening, things went from mere disappointment to sheer farce. Tedious lectures turned into indoctrination. We were required to attend ‘discussions’ with our freshman counselors about Professor Yoshino’s speech. The freshman counselor set the tone, and then student after student performed a series of variations upon a single theme: white men are bad, Islam is fabulous and judgment is bad. We need to be eternally vigilant and morally courageous in the face of the innumerable male WASP bigots around us. (Why we are allowed to judge white people as bad and Islam as good when judgment is supposedly forbidden is beyond my ken.)
This article — despite it’s somwhat archaic conclusion about truth beauty and goodness — supports the folllowing lllustrated metaphor in some detail. When I first read this cartoon (HT Michelle Saltzman) I confess to feeling uneasy. The packaging is harsh; the insights, given Shaffer’s reflections, seem quite accurate. Is it Kedar-style? Or something else.
While searching for a picture of Neda Agha-Soltan for my next post, I ran across this. I didn’t have time to check out Gary Trieste, or even to examine the evidence. But just reading it through once I had a sense of how it must be for pro-Palestinians to read our arguments. I just don’t want to believe this is a fake, so I am ill-inclined to consider the arguments. I submit it to the readers of this blog to respond to. I have no position yet, although just reading it has been a salutary emotional experience. All comments welcome.
It was the shocking video that flashed around the world by the Internet. An at-the-scene moment, taken during the recent Iran election protest demonstrations.
The Neda Agha-Soltan video, shows a young woman in the street, having been struck down by a government sniper’s bullet.
The video shows her stunned, and collapsing backward to the ground while being let down gently by a man.
The woman peers sideways at the camera coming towards her, with an perturbing visage of resignation on her face, probably due to massive shock.
A closeup of her face suddenly reveals rivulets of blood streaming down the side of her mouth and then from her nose, while a doctor attempts to revive her.
In the background we can hear her friends trying encourage and console her. Heart rending sounds of anguish and cries come shortly thereafter when it is apparent she had succumbed to her injuries.
Shocking. An indictment of the callous and brute force of the Iranian militia. A tragic and senseless death that shows perfectly how wrong this conflict is.
And yet, as one gets over the visceral impact of it, past the gut wrenching tragedy, and one begins to reflect . . . does it not have, perhaps, a bit of a “too-perfect-to-be-true” feel to it?
Much like the infamous Stephen Glass articles written for the New Republic, edgy, highly topical, and on point to cutting edge social events, his articles were just too good not to be true, they went down as smoothly as KoolWhip and Flan.
I would have thought al Durah was a more appropriate comparison, no?
Simply Jews and Logical Skeptic have posted on an interesting story which illustrates both the Pallywood narrative (Israeli Goliath vs Palestinian David) and the alas too-ordinary MSM and NGO acceptance of these narratives.
Imagine a Palestinian boy who, as any other boy, liked football, playing in the yard, taunting his sisters, catching flies, running away from the boring lessons at school, etc. All was well with Mohammed Badwan until the the black magic of the Israeli military drastically changed the life of the lad. Here is his picture – during the first encounter with IDF:
The first time the name of the youngster comes up in the Palestinian chronicles is an article on the Adalah site:
Most recently, on 15 April 2004, the Israeli military used Mohammed Badwan, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy from Biddo, West Bank as a human shield. Mohammed was taking part in a demonstration against the construction of The Wall in Biddo.
Not nice, agreed. But obviously the boy made a lasting impression on the Zionist aggressors, because a week barely passed, and he is used again – and in the same capacity (but now he is an year older). Electronic Intifada knows the details:
According to the same sources, on 22nd April 2004, a 13 year old boy called Mohammed Said Essa Badwan/Badran was used as a human shield. Mohammed was peacefully taking part in spontaneous demonstration…
It becomes a habit with IDF (or with young Mohammed) apparently. Or, you can say, an innocent mistake in the date – nothing special.
TNR has run an article on the civilian casualty controversy from Operation Cast Lead. It not only ignores the lively discussion in the blogosphere which I’ve tried to keep updated here, but it also lacks a certain punch. The story is almost studiously presented as a “he said… she said,” with no assessment of the relative merit of the arguments.
Perhaps that’s just the difference between the MSM and the blogosphere, the “hands-off” impartiality of the former, and that may be to the good. But with the exception of seriously informed readers — and one can expect many of TNR’s readership to be that informed — many of the implications of what this dispute reveals would (and will) remain obscure. Notes below.
by Simona Weinglass
How many civilians were killed in Gaza? Meet the people who do the counting.
Post Date Wednesday, May 06, 2009
On December 27, the first morning of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead offensive in the Gaza Strip, Khalil Shaheen was driving in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City when he spotted a friend and got out of his car to say hello. Suddenly, an Israeli F-16 appeared in the sky and dropped a bomb on a building 200 feet up the road–one of many such bombings part of the IDF’s 22-day effort to stop Hamas rocket and mortar attacks on southern Israel.
The building, which Shaheen identified as a Hamas internal security headquarters, immediately collapsed, sending an observation tower flying 100 feet, hitting a woman. Pandemonium broke out on the street, where Shaheen says hundreds of schoolchildren and adults were shouting and running from the blast. Predicting the F-16′s next target, Shaheen tried to restrain a group of children from running to the street’s west side. A minute later, the plane dropped four missiles on “the ex-prisoners museum,” a community center and exhibition space for former inmates of Israeli jails. During that particular bombing, says Shaheen, no Hamas fighters were killed, just a woman in a nearby apartment building, a man in his shop, and two young girls leaving school.
Though Shaheen is not a Hamas soldier, he is on the front lines of a different battle: the P.R. war that has erupted since the end of hostilities.
I certainly hope that the author doesn’t think that this battle only erupted since the end of hostilities. It’s been going on for decades, and the misinformation from “Palestinian Sources” dominates the Western media.
For reasons unknown (as of yet), this critical piece did not make the newspaper for which it was written. Please make sure that as many blogs as possible mention it. It not only lays out the case for questioning the statistics offered by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, but it emphasizes the bald-faced abandon with which Palestinian sources openly lie to the West.
(This is the article that I wrote as an op-ed, that was inexplicably not published as planned. Much of it was beautifully rewritten by a prominent writer and author.)
For three weeks in December 2008-January 2009, Israel and Hamas fought a war in the Gaza Strip after Hamas announced it was abandoning the ceasefire and began escalated rocket and mortar attacks on Israel.
There is one fact about that war which people around the world think they know: there were about 1400 Palestinians killed in the war and most or almost all of them were civilians, mainly women and children.
This claim, however, is false and demonstrably so on the basis of careful research using publicly available and reliable materials. Indeed, a group of bloggers, including the author, have shown already that more than 30 percent of the claimed “civilian” casualties were in fact, to use the polite word, armed militants or members of Hamas-led security forces. And the number of such combatants we are discovering is rising every day.
While Hamas and other Palestinian political groups were using alleged civilian casualties to bolster their case with international public opinion, they demonstrably knew otherwise. In fact, they publicly bragged about the military activities of those they labeled innocent civilian bystanders.
Elder of Zion has an important analysis of the casualty figures just published by PCHR, the premier, UN-accredited Human Rights organization in the Gaza Strip. Not only do they transparently misrepresent Hamas and Islamic Jihad “activists” as civilians, but, when you do the math, they support the Israeli claims that only 12 people died near the Jabalya school. For the full post with links, go to the original posting. PCHR lies about “civilians” and agrees with IDF about Jabalya
PCHR finally came out with the English translation of their list of victims of the Gaza operation, and already a number of things merit attention.
PTWatch, in the comments, quickly looked at Hamas’ list of “martyrs” from Gaza on its Al Qassam website and immediately found four people who Hamas happily claimed as members of their terrorist group – and who PCHR called “civilians.”
#576 Ayman Mohammed Mohammed ‘Afana
PCHR -> civilian
AlQassam -> martyr & fighter
#133 Mohammed Salah Hassan al-Sawaf
PCHR -> civilian
AlQassam -> martyr & fighter
To this list you can add #257, Ayman Fou’ad Eid al-Nahhal, whom PCHR identifies as a “policeman/civilian.”
And Hamas clearly isn’t publicizing the names of all of its members. These are just the ones on their website that they admit were killed. Both parties are lying.
There are other terrorists listed as “civilians,” such as #864, Tareq Mohammed Nemer Abu ‘Amsha, who CAMERA noted that Ma’an listed as a member of Islamic Jihad al-Quds Brigades.
Intriguingly, some of the terrorists that CAMERA mentioned, who were listed in the weekly PCHR casualty reports, are mysteriously missing from the final report. Is PCHR protecting itself from listing too many dead terrorists? Were they never killed to begin with? It is something that people should be asking PCHR.
One other relevant part of the report: PCHR lists people who were killed “near” and “opposite” the al-Fakhoura School in the Jabalya camp on January 6th. You may recall that the UNRWA told me explicitly that they stood by the casualty figures of 30-50 dead at the school even after the IDF claimed that only 12 were killed. The PCHR itself claimed at the time that 27 civilians were killed instantly at the school.
I was just at a panel discussion at Boston College about “Israel Apartheid Week” (about which more later). One of the questions posed (in part in response to Dexter van Zile’s comment that the “Apartheid Narrative” scapegoated Israel for the world’s ills) ran somewhat as follows: “Don’t you think that Israel participated in its own scapegoating by not letting in the Western press.
As part of my answer, I tried to explain how, if Western journalists actually did their job, it would have been good to have them in Gaza, but that given how wedded (read: addicted) they are to the framing story of Israeli Goliath / Palestinian David, the chances that they would actually reveal to the West just how systematically Hamas sought to victimize its own people and literally create a humanitarian crisis were pretty slim.
Most people don’t realize just how bad the MSM is in its coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict, how reluctant they are, for a variety of reasons that span the spectrum from ideological to venal to cowardice, to reveal to their audiences the moral depravity of the Palestinian side. The best current example of the obsession of the Western press with every blemish of the Israelis and their corresponding obliviousness to the Palestinians is probably the work of Ethan Bronner, the NYT mideast correspondent.
Here, Jeffrey Woolf fisks Bronner on the topic of the impact of religious impulses in the Israeli army during the Gaza war. One can easily imagine that the Palestinian version of this article would involve discussing their genocidal ideology, and a host of other problems that would make his remarks — even before Woolf’s corrections — pale in comparison. Alas, don’t expect them anytime soon.
JERUSALEM: The publication late last week of eyewitness accounts by Israeli soldiers alleging acute mistreatment of Palestinian civilians in the recent Gaza fighting highlights a debate here about the rules of war. But it also exposes something else: the clash between secular liberals and religious nationalists for control over the army and society.
The credibility of these charges has since been seriously impugned and they are, in any event, extremely distorted. See here.
Several of the testimonies, published by an institute that runs a premilitary course and is affiliated with the left-leaning secular kibbutz movement, showed a distinct impatience with religious soldiers, portraying them as self-appointed holy warriors.
A soldier, identified by the pseudonym Ram, is quoted as saying that in Gaza, “the rabbinate brought in a lot of booklets and articles and their message was very clear: We are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the non-Jews who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land. This was the main message, and the whole sense many soldiers had in this operation was of a religious war.”
The quote is second hand, therefore, suspect. Even if accurate, though, Ram obviously did not understand that מלחמת מצוה does not mean jihad. It refers to a war to defend Jews from attack or to conquer the land of Israel. The booklets do not stress the latter, only the former. Furthermore, since when is it bad to believe in God, in His Providence or in His promise of the Land of Israel to the People of Israel?
The New York Times publishes an op-ed today by George Bisharat, the U.S. academic whose professional mission is the indictment of Israel for war crimes, no matter how implausible. His piece starts with a lie that the Times itself had an important hand in promoting:
Chilling testimony by Israeli soldiers substantiates charges that Israel’s Gaza Strip assault entailed grave violations of international law.
Except that there never was any “chilling testimony” — there were rumors circulated by an anti-IDF activist, which were breathlessly republished by Haaretz and its American counterpart, the Times. His opening claim does, however, set an appropriately mendacious tone for the rest of the piece. Bisharat says that Israel committed six separate violations of international law during Operation Cast Lead, and the first one he cites lays the foundation for the five that follow:
[Israel violated] its duty to protect the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Despite Israel’s 2005 “disengagement” from Gaza, the territory remains occupied. Israel unleashed military firepower against a people it is legally bound to protect.
Bishara doesn’t explain how it is conceivable under international law that Israel is still occupying Gaza, but consistency has never been the hobgoblin of international law fetishists. He cites the Fourth Geneva Convention elsewhere in his piece, so he must be familiar with its definition of occupation: “the Occupying Power shall be bound, for the duration of the occupation, to the extent that such Power exercises the functions of government in such territory.” As Dore Gold wrote in an analysis after the Gaza disengagement,
what creates an “occupation” is the existence of a military government which “exercises the functions of government.” This is a confirmation of the older 1907 Hague Regulations Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, which state, “Territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army.” The Hague Regulations also stipulate: “The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised.” What follows is that if no Israeli military government is exercising its authority or any of “the functions of government” in the Gaza Strip, then there is no occupation.
Bisharat continues by charging that Israel is violating Article 33 of the Geneva Conventions by imposing “collective punishment” on Gaza. This claim depends on every resident of Gaza being considered a “protected person” under the Geneva Conventions, which they are not, because Israel is not occupying Gaza. The blockade may be a bad policy, an ineffective policy, or an immoral policy — but it is not a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Side question: Why do people like Bisharat never condemn Egypt for its involvement in the blockade?
Bishara continues his indictment by saying that Israel was
Deliberately attacking civilian targets. The laws of war permit attacking a civilian object only when it is making an effective contribution to military action and a definite military advantage is gained by its destruction.
The level of dishonesty on display here is pretty amazing. Throughout Cast Lead, Hamas used all of the “civilian objects” cited by Bisharat as military installations. Rockets were fired from schools, mosques were used as weapons depots, and the Islamic University of Gaza was used as an explosives production facility and rocket storehouse. Why does Hamas use conspicuously civilian infrastructure for terrorist purposes? One reason is to make the job of Hamas’ western apologists and useful idiots so much easier.