Tag Archives: Uzi Mahnaimi

J’Accuse the Sunday Times of fabulist journalism : Israel’s alleged attack on Sudanese arms factory

Earlier this week there were reports from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, of explosions at an arms factory in the outskirts of the city.

It was not long before the Sudanese were accusing Israel of bombing the facility. Israel remained mum.

In the past Israel has been accused of firing on a convoy carrying arms across Sudan to be delivered ultimately to Hamas in Gaza and behind this arms route is none other than Iran.

It would be entirely feasible for Israel to undertake such an operation. By supplying sophisticated weapons to a terrorist group bent on the destruction of Israel, Sudan is fair game.

However, there is little hard evidence. Iran claims to have discovered remnants of Israeli munitions at the factory site.

Most news outlets ask the question: ‘Did Israel bomb Sudan?’. This is a valid question to ask.

Some, though, have blatant headlines which claim this to be a fact. It cannot be a fact until there is independent evidence or an admission. Anything else is speculation. It may be well-founded, it may even be blindingly obvious who did it, but it is not journalistic fact.

Uzi Mahnaimi, an Israeli reporter for the Sunday Times, along with colleague Flora Bagenal in Nairobi (yes, you may well ask ‘ who?’) appear to have detailed information about the attack. For them there is no question, no journalistic caution about accusing Israel. They have every detail of this covert operation.

Problem is, they do not reference one source or one shred of evidence. The whole story reads very suspiciously. You can tell when journalists are making it up.

The online article is behind a paywall. The whole article is strongly editorialised including the headline: “Israeli jets bomb Sudan missile site in dry run for Iran attack” (or in the paper edition: Israel hits missile site in dry run for Iran’) so that we can draw the conclusion, if we are stupid enough, that Israel chose to bomb Sudan not because it was defending itself from an arms production and smuggling route originating in Iran but because it fancied having a practice run for a future putative bombing of that country.

Not only are our correspondents certain that Israel is to blame but the ST even gives us exciting comic-book graphics of the incident and the numbers and types of aircraft involved and the route the planes took, how they were refuelled and how the Sudanese air-traffic control and radar system was jammed.

The piece ends in American action movie style with Israel’s chief of defence staff (who Uzi knows was actually taking part in the mission, of course) calling Prime Minister Netanyahu at home with the words, ‘”All went well, … the guys are on their way home'”.

Now how the heck would he know that? Has he bugged Netanyahu’s phone? It’s ridiculous and also the main giveaway that this is pure fantasy masquerading as journalism.

It’s not the first time Uzi has been caught with his journalistic pants down; here is the Wikipedia entry (redacted to remove references to numbered notes and other links) about Israel’s supposed, but now proven to be a hoax, ‘ethnic bomb’.

In November 1998, The Sunday Times reported that Israel was attempting to build an “ethno-bomb” containing a biological agent that could specifically target genetic traits present amongst Arab populations. Wired News also reported the story, as did Foreign Report.

The article was quickly denounced as a hoax. Microbiologists and geneticists were skeptical towards the scientific plausibility of such a biological agent. The New York Post, describing the claims as “blood libel”, reported that the likely source for the story was a work of science fiction by Israeli academic Doron Stanitsky. Stanitsky had sent his completely fictional work about such a weapon to Israeli newspapers two years before. The article also noted the views of genetic researchers who claimed the idea as “wholly fantastical”, with others claiming that the weapon was theoretically possible.

A planned second installment of the article never appeared, and no sources were ever identified. Neither of the authors of the Sunday Times story, Uzi Mahnaimi and Marie Colvin, have spoken publicly on the matter.

It seems that Uzi has a record of shoddy journalism and, on the ethnic bomb story, he and his late colleague, Marie Colvin, no friend of Israel, were more than ready to publish unfounded trash simply because maligning Israel was involved.

Mahnaimi is well known for producing exclusives about Israel to the attention of Sunday Times readers.

I wonder where his sources are?