Israel, Zionism and the Media

Tag: lies

Hélas in Gaza and other stories

You may have though not much has been going on in Gaza recently. That is, if you stick to the mainstream media.

When it comes to the BBC, my headline could have been ‘Clueless in Gaza’. Apologies to both John Milton and Aldous Huxley.

BBCWatch is running with a story which perfectly illustrates how propaganda against Israel works. First the lie, then the apology, or the short footnote hidden away on a page of a daily newspaper, or Goldstone saying if he knew then what he knows now, or a cartoonist saying ‘but I didn’t realise it was offensive’, or Ha’aretz issuing a ‘correction’.

The story I am referring to is about Omar Mashrawi. I’m sure you recall the heart-rending scenes as Jihad Mashrawi, a BBC employee at the time,  paraded the dead body of his son Omar through Gaza City during Operation Pillar of Cloud, Israel’s operation to stop rocket fire from Gaza.

John Donnison, the BBC correspondent on the ground wrote how the boy had been killed by a shell fired by the Israelis. Despite the evidence at the scene appearing to contradict this claim, or at least causing severe doubt, nevertheless, yet another Palestinian dead baby story was attributed to the Israelis.

Three months later we find the probable truth via no less than the UN HRC as the BBCWatch article tells us, and I quote extensively because I cannot improve on it:

On March 6th 2013 the UN HRC issued an advance version of its report on the November 2012 hostilities and blogger Elder of Ziyon bothered to read the whole thing. The report states on page 14 that a UN investigation found that:

“On 14 November, a woman, her 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zaitoun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.” [emphasis added]

A footnote adds that the UN investigated the incident itself.

Omar Masharawi was the only 11 month-old infant killed on November 14th in the Zaitoun neighbourhood (although the woman killed at the same time was not in fact his mother as the UN report states, but his father’s brother’s wife; Hiba). 

The BBC used the story of Omar Masharawi to advance the narrative of Israel as a ruthless killer of innocent children. It did so in unusually gory detail which etched the story in audiences’ minds, but without checking the facts, and with no regard whatsoever for its obligations to accuracy and impartiality. BBC reporters and editors  – including Jon Donnison, Paul Danahar and the many others who distributed the story via Twitter – rushed to spread as far and wide as possible a story they could not validate, but which fit in with their own narrative.

It is impossible to undo the extensive damage done by the BBC with this story. No apology or correction can now erase it from the internet or from the memories of the countless people who read it or heard it. Nevertheless, the people responsible for the fact that the unverified story was allowed to run – and that it was deliberately given such exceptionally extensive coverage – must be held accountable for their failure to even try to uphold the standards to which the BBC professes to adhere. 

Thus, Israel is demonised. And it is not only western journalists who do it, but Israeli ones too.

Ha’aretz published a story about how Ethiopian women entering Israel were given contraceptive injections. The point being that Israel, which insists it is not a racist, apartheid state, is trying to limit the birth rate of Africans because it is racist. Even at the time the story was rebutted by many sources.The explanation was that these were not long-lasting contraceptive jabs but reversible short-term ones and made at the request of the women for whom more conventional forms of contraception are taboo.

As a result the practice was stopped as being inappropriate.

Nevertheless, what do we find? yes, a plethora of reports telling the world how nasty those Israelis are to let black people into the country and then limit their fertility. The whole idea is nonsense anyway. If Israel were that racist, why spend so much time and effort bringing Ethiopian Jews into Israel in the first place?

And now Ha’aretz has not only given context to its story but has highlighted how its own journalism was hijacked by those with anti-Israel agendas.

 But the story has taken on a life of its own internationally. The words “forced” and “coercion” are being thrown around in the international coverage. Images of Mengele-level persecution of clueless, helpless victims being marched by force from camps to clinics to receive their injections have been conjured up, as the story has travelled from the Israeli media to the national mainstream media, to international and niche publications. The headlines run from the oversimplified to deliberately twisted:

Israel admits forcing birth control shots on Ethiopian women

Israel: Discrimination against Ethiopian Jews

Israel coerced Ethiopian women into taking contraceptive jabs

Israel Admits “Shameful” Birth Control Drug Injected in “Unaware” Ethiopian Jews

The most hostile coverage refers inaccurately to “sterilization” – conveniently ignoring the fact that Depo-Provera is a three-month birth control injection, for which women must voluntarily go to a clinic to receive the shots. It is insulting to the intelligence of Ethiopian women to believe that they did this for years at a time against their will. Certainly, if there was a nefarious plot to stop them from having babies, there would have been a more efficient way to do it.

Back in Gaza, if you recall, our blessed Prime Minister, David Cameron, once characterised Gaza as a prison camp whilst he was endearing himself to Turkish Islamist leader Recep Erdogan.

William Hague, our Foreign Secretary called on Israel to end the blockade.

So, no doubt they will both be much affected by the following facts:

COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories) regularly reports on the number of truckloads of goods entering Gaza which continued even under rocket fire. Our noble leaders will see that the Gaza prison camp received 400 truckloads of goods and 170 tons of gas this Thursday alone.

On Tuesday 144,310 flowers were exported from Gaza through Israel.

The people of Gaza should be reaping the reward of the quiet which has descended since their government stopped bombarding Israel. Yet, Messrs Hague and Cameron should also note the following:

On the 4th March the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, a major route for goods, was closed, not by Israel but by Hamas.

Over 70 trucks laden with food and other goods are currently waiting on the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom crossing for their Palestinian counterparts.

The crossing is currently not operating, as the Palestinian contractor responsible for the Palestinian side decided not to open the crossing today.

His decision stems from attempts by Hamas to replace the current contractor with one of their choosing. Hamas has been actively trying to push the Palestinian Authority out and take charge of the management of Kerem Shalom so that they may collect revenue from goods that enter Gaza.

These actions by Hamas endanger the current security arrangements and threaten the operability of the crossing.

If Gaza were so desperate for goods, why would Hamas close one of its lifelines in attempt to take control of the crossing replacing the Palestinian Authority contractor? Answer? it wants a kick-back for Hamas by operating it.

And there’s more bad news for those who find Israel solely responsible for the welfare of Palestinians whose government is determined to destroy the country that is most responsible for sustaining it. Egypt is destroying smuggling tunnels.

Yes, Islamist, revolutionary, Hamas-loving, Jew-hating Egypt is destroying the tunnels used for years by Gazans to smuggle everything from couscous to Mercedes and missiles.

The smuggling tunnels linking the Gaza Strip to Egypt are a security threat and must be destroyed, a Cairo court ruled on Tuesday, responding to a petition brought by a group of lawyers and activists in the wake of a cross-border attack that killed 16 Egyptian border guards in August.

The Egyptians even flooded the tunnels recently.

So Messrs Cameron and Hague, where are your complaints to the Egyptians and to Hamas about the way they are turning Gaza into a prison camp, cutting off its routes for import and export?

No, we must only hear about what measures Israel takes to feed and sustain its enemies. All countries do that, don’t they? Supply their sworn enemies with food and power? Assad does it in Syria, yes? What? He doesn’t? Oh. So other countries across the world sustain the non-combatant populations of enemy countries and entities like the Sri Lankans looked after the Tamils in areas controlled by the Tigers?

Oh, I see, only Israelis have to be so generous or else it is a war crime and collective punishment. I understand.

I understand completely.

Hamas Propaganda and the Lies About Gazan Casualties (2)

The Jerusalem Post reports more information about the alleged attack by the IDF on a UN school in Gaza during the recent conflict.

If you remember, the world, and in particular, John Ging UNRWA Head in Gaza, were outraged by an attack by the IDF that reportedly killed 42 people INSIDE the school. Ging later claimed he never said this and that the casualties were ‘near’ the school.

Since Operation Cast Lead the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) has been meticulously gathering information and statistics about casualties. Here are its findings with regard to this specific incident:

“12 Palestinians were killed in the shelling near a UN school in Jabalya, north of Gaza City – and not 42 as claimed by Palestinian officials at the time”

The names of 7 of the dead have been disclosed to the JP, 5 men and 2 women. This makes 9 names out of the 12 killed that the CLA has now discovered.

The IDF claimed that it was returning mortar fire from the vicinity of the school.

But here’s the clincher:

“On the day of the incident, officials further said, officers from the CLA contacted the Palestinian Health Ministry and were told that three Palestinian civilians had been killed and that Hamas was hiding the identities of the remaining casualties. “

Yet the UN is still seeking “to gain clarity” and is compiling its own figures. No doubt they are going back to the very people who lied to them in the first place, namely Hamas. The same people who held up UNWRA employees at gunpoint and stole Aid intended for Palestinians in need. The same Hamas who the UN left to guard a weapon stockpile which subsequently mysteriously disappeared.

I cannot give any credence to the statistics of the UN or any of their operatives when their source is Hamas or people who are being terrorised by Hamas, namely the people of Gaza, who will spout any lie that will protect them from the retribution of a vicious gang of thugs and murderers.

Hamas Propaganda and the Lies About Gazan Casualties

During the recent Gaza conflict UNWRA was the main source for Gaza casualty figures and these figures were used by the world’s press, including the BBC, as absolutely undeniable because they came from the UN. But the figures did not come from the UN, they came from Hamas and the gullible UNWRA gave the Hamas lies cover due because everyone believes the UN, don’t they?

Throughout the conflict Israeli sources could just about be heard in the background stating that the Hamas figures were exaggerated and many combatants were included as civilians. Now, at last, and, as often is the case with the Israeli government, too late to change the world’s impression of the conflict, the Israeli figures have been published.

The Jerusalem Post reports here that the Palestinian Center for Human Rights has quoted 895 Gazan civilians killed which represents more than two-thirds of all deaths. But  the IDF has carefully compiled the actual names of many of those killed and its figures show a very different story. The IDF puts the percentage at about one third which is about 450.

Dealing with real human lives lost in a statistical war of words is a regrettable course to have to follow but a necessary one in order to expose Hamas lies and attempt to redress the balance of world opinion.

Another, and very important ‘detail’ that had UNWRA and the world and the BBC et alia exercised about Israeli ‘war crimes’ was the incident near a UN school in Jabalya. The Jeruslaem Post reports:

Initial Palestinian reports falsely claimed IDF shells had hit the school and killed 40 or more people, many of them civilians.

In fact, he said, 12 Palestinians were killed in the incident – nine Hamas operatives and three noncombatants. Furthermore, as had since been acknowledged by the UN, the IDF was returning fire after coming under attack, and its shells did not hit the school compound. 

Yet most of the world still believes the Hamas lies (only 48 of its fighters killed as opposed to about 900 now reported by the IDF) reinforced by news reports, including Israeli newspapers, and the UN itself who prefer the story of a group it classifies as a terrorist organisation over the counter claims of one of its own members, namely Israel. And the rest of the world goes along with this analysis.

When will Israel get its act together and realise how important it is to rebut the lies of Hamas as they occur.  The JP reports that “the IDF was considering setting up a response team” for just this purpose.  About time! 

So, more than 400 children killed? Hardly when the total of non-combatants is around that mark.

So will the world’s press now issue rebuttals of its previous reports and tell the world the actual truth. Fat chance. Will Jeremy Bowen of the BBC report the IDF findings in his blog? 

I blame the Israeli government and organisations like Shin Bet for not doing enough to counter Hamas claims and the falsified, exaggerated and emotional images they trot out hour by hour in any conflict.

Even though several impressive spokespersons were put forward this time for the very purpose of better serving Israel’s case, they failed miserably because they could not counter the terrible daily images coming out of Gaza. Quite often they themselves did not seem to believe in their own story. This is a measure of how successful Hamas propaganda is and how poor Israeli counter-propaganda is.

What we need to see now is a further detailed analysis of homes, schools, hospitals, mosques and civic building destroyed or damaged and how many of those as a result of IDF actions and how many as  a result of secondary explosions caused by Hamas weapons dumps.

There is also the matter of the use of white phosphorus but that brings up the whole question of the appropriateness of some articles of International Law in the new reality of assymetric warfare, something I intend to write about in a future article.

These three elements: casualties, destruction of property and use of certain weapons such as WP and tank shells in built-up areas all need to be thoroughly analysed and answered quickly by Israel; not because they are obliged to do so, but because they need to provide evidence to counter the vicious worldwide assault on Israel’s right to defend itself.