The Mysterious Missing Rocket Photos

3 Aug

In preparing this post, I went online looking for photos of missiles being launched by Hamas. I flipped through a slideshow at the Los Angeles Times, which features 99 images from the current conflict.

Incredibly, there was not a single photo of Hamas fighters, nor of the 3,000 Hamas rockets fired in the past month. Not even a single caption mentions the word “Hamas”!

How about the “newspaper of record,” the New York Times?

Also none.

Here we are, in the midst of a major international conflict being covered by thousands of media personnel. Hamas is launching 100 missiles a day, and there are 15,000 Hamas fighters roaming the Gaza Strip. How can it be there are no photos of Palestinian rocket crews or missiles being fired?

Simple. Hamas tightly controls the flow of information out of Gaza, and as NBC’s Martin Fletcher once explained: Hamas “simply threatens to kill anybody who films them” firing missiles.

This policy of threat and intimidation is actually written into the Palestinian legal code, where journalists may be fined and jailed for publishing “news that might harm national unity.”

These threats and intimidation play out in daily coverage of the Gaza conflict.

gabriele-tweetLast week, when the French newspaper Liberation reported that Hamas headquarters are embedded at Shifa hospital in Gaza, the article was quickly deleted from the online record.

Journalist Gabriel Barbati reported that a Hamas rocket hit the Al-Shati hospital and killed Palestinian children. Yet Barbati only did so after he was – in his words – “Out of Gaza, far from Hamas retaliation.”

When Wall Street Journal correspondent Tamer El-Ghobashy tweeted that a strike on a Gaza hospital was likely the result of a Hamas missile, the tweet was – you guessed it – promptly deleted.

wsj-ghobashy-deleted

Self-Censorship

Imagine you’re on assignment in Gaza City. You witness some Palestinians committing a heinous act of violence and manage to surreptitiously snap some photos. You now have an exclusive story that will make the front page. But you hesitate. Since the information portrays Palestinians in a negative light, you consider the consequences: Will my house be raided and my camera smashed? Will this jeopardize my access to future stories and eventually cost me my job? Will I be kidnapped and not see my family for months? Why take the chance?

These fearful thoughts play in a journalist’s head, resulting in a form of self-censorship. With stories of Palestinian thuggery and violence deemed off-limits, a reporter’s perspective undergoes a subconscious shift, which then plays out in everyday reporting – or more significantly, systematic “non”-reporting – of important news. As the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group explained:

Self-censorship is considered more serious than external censorship because it not only prevents the journalist from publishing what he writes, but it also hinders his writing, thinking or analyzing. He or she would not think of wasting time writing material that will surely not be published…

The insidious part of self-censorship is that consumers never know it’s being practiced. When a journalist sits down to write a story, the part you’ll never see is the hesitation and the “pause,” given the consequences of telling the truth about Palestinians. One journalist put it this way: “The worst the Israelis can do is take away our press cards. But if we irritate… Hamas, you don’t know who might be waiting in your kitchen when you come home at night.”

Pulitzer Prize-winner Thomas Friedman described the problem a bit more bluntly: Upon learning that Palestinian officials wanted to see him “immediately” to discuss the stories he’d been writing for the New York Times, he “lay awake in my bed the whole night worrying that someone was going to burst in and blow my brains all over the wall.”

This has been going on for years. During the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon, Time magazine contributor Christopher Allbritton described it like this: “Hezbollah is launching Katyushas, but I’m loathe to say too much about them. The Party of God (Hezbollah) has a copy of every journalist’s passport…”

So this is what media coverage of the Mideast conflict boils down to: “A copy of every journalist’s passport.” Time and again, through the force of intimidation, news stories that would tilt public opinion against Palestinians are being erased from the record. And media consumers are none the wiser.

Beyond the threat of physical abuse, another insidious reason why journalists are loathe to criticize Hamas is that doing so cuts off their access to sources of information and interviews. Like any business, the news media needs to keep supply lines open, otherwise their product – in this case, the storyline – will dry up. So in order to preserve access, journalists are willing to go along with a degree of manipulation and blackmail.

As Amnesty International has reported:

[Journalists in Palestinian areas] now admit that they practice self-censorship, either by modifying the manner in which they report a story or not reporting or commenting on certain topics at all. Even if a journalist is prepared to take risks, his or her editor may not be willing to carry the responsibility of authorizing publication of a critical article…

At many levels, this is a massive cover-up.

Fatwa Fears

These bullying tactics extend even beyond the realm of hard news. When London’s Independent published a grotesque cartoon depicting Israel’s prime minister eagerly devouring a Palestinian baby, the cartoon was so vile that it was later adopted by radical Islamic groups as an icon of their anti-Israel campaign. So imagine my shock when the British Political Cartoon Society awarded this first prize in its annual “Cartoon of the Year” competition.

I contacted Dr. Tim Benson, director of the Cartoon Society, to question not only the inaccuracy of portraying “Israeli-style infanticide,” but also the ethics of giving an award to such a biased cartoon. Benson responded by taking the moral high road:

You have all taken this award completely out of perspective and context. Shame on you! We do so much good. If only you looked at our website properly you would have noticed that in fact we promote anti-fascism and educate about the dangers of extremism.

I always try to take criticism seriously, so when he said, “Shame on you,” I reasoned that I must have misjudged this one, unfairly accusing him of anti-Israel bias.

That theory was shot to pieces a few months later when filmmaker Martin Himel interviewed Benson and asked him to explain why political cartoonists frequently portray Israelis as Nazis, devils and cannibals – while Palestinian leaders are not depicted in similarly vile ways. In a moment of candor, Benson was caught on camera saying:

Well, if you upset an Islamic or Muslim group, as you know, fatwas can be issued by Ayatollahs and such, and maybe it’s at the back of each cartoonist’s mind, that they could be in trouble if they do so.

wsj-casey-deletedNow we get it. Israelis are vilified because Jews don’t issue death fatwas. And Western journalists, the supposed standard-bearers of objectivity and ethics, are kowtowing to Hamas intimidation, practicing self-censorship out of fear and violating their most basic duty to report the facts.

Last week in Gaza, when Wall Street Journal correspondent Nick Casey tweeted a photo of a Hamas official stationed at Shifa hospital, the tweet was deleted the next day.

Meanwhile, democratic Israel vigilantly guards its freedom of the press, where journalists eagerly air their criticisms of Israeli policy. The result is that new coverage is skewed in favor of the Palestinians, leaving Israel to fight the battle for public opinion with one hand tied behind its back.

That is the dirty little secret of Mideast journalism.

Malcolm Gladwell’s “David and Goliath”

16 Dec

Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, “David and Goliath,” explores the possibility that people who are faced with a major disadvantage can use it to propel them to heights they otherwise would not have achieved.

That is precisely what happened in 1948 when the fledging, upstart State of Israel accepted a U.N. vote to partition the land. The Arabs rejected it and sent five armies on what the Arab League Secretary called “a war of extermination and a momentous massacre.” Yet with no planes and only three tanks, the rag-tag Israeli militia miraculously staved off annihilation.

The Jewish people — after nearly two millennia of exile from their historic homeland — went on to achieve the unimaginable by ingathering the exiles, reviving an ancient language, and making the desert bloom. This was all done in the face of economic embargo, diplomatic isolation, relentless war and terror attacks. And the world rallied behind this amazing Israeli underdog story.

So how did the Palestinians manage to turn the tables and usurp the underdog label?

In 1967, something catastrophic happened from the standpoint of PR. Israel — again on the verge of annihilation by the three-front aggression of Egypt, Syria and Jordan — won the Six Day War. The images of triumphant tanks, planes and paratroopers adorned with a blue Star of David were flashed around the world. Suddenly, Israel had the best army in the Middle East. And with time and effort, the Palestinians — held in refugee camps as political pawns while their Arab host countries refused to resettle them — became cast as the innocent, weak and downtrodden character in this story.

For a good sociological perspective, read Malcolm Gladwell’s “David and Goliath.”

For the unvarnished truth about the Mideast conflict, read this “David and Goliath.”

Journalist or Arab Propagandist?

8 Jun

bari-atwanMedia monitors have long decried how some Western “journalists” sound more like political activists working for the al-Qaeda PR department.

Take the case of Abdul Bari Atwan, a popular foreign affairs analyst who seems quite moderate when appearing on BBC and CNN. Yet in his day job as editor of the Arabic daily, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Bari Atwan reveals a decidedly different slant. When a Palestinian terrorist killed eight teenagers in a Jerusalem school, Bari Atwan called the attack “justified” and described the celebrations in Gaza that followed the massacre as symbolizing the “courage of the Palestinian nation.”[1]

When presented with this information, Adrian Wells, head of foreign news at Sky-TV where Bari Atwan is a frequent analyst, said dryly: “It is not our policy to comment on what contributors may or may not say on other channels.” A BBC spokesman similarly brushed off Bari Atwan’s anti-Israel oratory by saying that “BBC is required to explore a range of views, so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or underrepresented.”[2]

It is impossible to imagine BBC being so cavalier had the shoe been on the other foot – if one of its Jewish correspondents had come out in favor of massacring Palestinians.

Bari Atwan was at it again last week, coming out in favor of Palestinians abducting Israeli soldiers.[3]

Meanwhile, Bari Atwan continues to be a guest commentator for the mainstream Western media, where his anti-Israel and anti-Western ideology gains a “legitimate” platform.

This is the same Bari Atwan who was welcomed by Osama Bin Laden into his secret Afghanistan cave for an exclusive interview.[4]

The same Bari Atwan who was paid thousands of dollars every month by Libya’s Gaddafi.[5]

The same Bari Atwan who expressed the hope that Palestinian violence would “mark the countdown to Israel’s destruction.”[6]

On the Iranian nuclear issue, Bari Atwan told a Lebanese TV station: “If the Iranian missiles strike Israel, by Allah, I will go to [London’s] Trafalgar Square and dance with delight.”[7]

Now in June 2013, Bari Atwan has stooped to a new low. Questioned on Egyptian TV whether he considers Osama bin Laden a “terrorist, Bari Atwan replied:

“Whoever fights the American enterprise in this region… is not considered a terrorist by me.”[8]

Keep this all in mind the next time you see Bari Atwan offering one of his “expert commentaries” in the mainstream Western media.


[1] Jonny Paul, “London Arabic Daily Editor: Mercaz Harav Attack was ‘Justified,’” Jerusalem Post, March 16, 2008.

[2] Jonny Paul, “London Editor Prays for Nuclear Attack on Israel,” Jerusalem Post, August 28, 2007; Tom Gross, “BBC and Sky News Analyst Praises Jerusalem Yeshiva Massacre,” Tomgrossmedia.com, March 20, 2008.

[3] “Abbas and the New Betrayal: ‘economic Peace’,” bariatwan.com.

[4] Abdul Bari Atwan, “Inside Osama’s Mountain Lair,” The Guardian (UK), November 12, 2001.

[5] “Secret Documents from Libyan Intelligence Reveal Abdel Bari Atwan Received Money from Gaddafi,” Palestine Press News Agency, September 15, 2011.

[6] Paul, “London Arabic Daily Editor: Mercaz Harav Attack was ‘Justified.’”

[7] ANB-TV (Lebanon), June 27, 2007; cited in “Abd Al-Bari Atwan, Editor-in-Chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi: If Iranian Missiles Hit Israel, I Will Dance in Trafalgar Square,” Memritv.org.

[8] “Abd Al-Bari Atwan: Bin Laden Was Only Half a Terrorist,” Memritv.org, June 6, 2013.

Muhammad al-Dura’s Faked Death?

15 May

aldura-stampIt’s the case that seems to never die.

Twelve years after the “shooting of Muhammad al-Dura” on the second day of the Intifada in Gaza, the Israeli government has now concluded that IDF fire did not kill Muhammad al-Dura, and there is even no evidence that the 12-year-old Palestinian boy was injured. In the video – shot by a Palestinian cameraman – al-Dura can be seen moving his arm and leg, with no visible bloodstains.

France-2 television broke the story, with reporter Charles Enderlin describing how the Israelis had shot and killed the young al-Dura. The video clip was the lead story on evening newscasts worldwide, with the iconic image of the boy – huddling behind a cement barrel next to his father – splashed across every front page. The media accepted as “fact” that al-Dura was, in the words of 60 Minutes Australia, “targeted, murdered, by Israeli soldiers,” and Time magazine surmised the chilling scenario that “pleas for Israeli soldiers to cease fire [were] answered with a fusillade of bullets.”

Given the strategic timing at the beginning of the Intifada, it was a PR bonanza for Palestinians in their campaign to generate world sympathy – in the words of 60 Minutes, “one of the most disastrous setbacks Israel has suffered in decades.”

To add fuel to the fire, the Palestinian Authority produced a doctored photomontage of an Israeli soldier lining up his scope and shooting al-Dura at close range – an act of “artistic expression” that the PA’s Ministry of Information said was meant to “convey the truth… and nothing but the truth.” (ARD German Television, March 18, 2002)

Overnight, al-Dura became the Palestinian poster child, driving the nascent Intifada violence to dizzying heights. Days later, as Palestinians lynched two Israelis in Ramallah, the bloodthirsty crowd shouted: “Revenge for the blood of Muhammad al-Dura!” The boy was immortalized in epic poems, postage stamps and streets named in his honor. Over 150 schools in Iran alone were renamed after al-Dura.

There was only one problem. Enderlin, the French correspondent who narrated the al-Dura footage as if he was delivering an eyewitness account, was nowhere near the Netzarim junction that day. The veracity of both the film and the narrative was based solely on the word of the Palestinian cameraman, with no outside verification. It was a 100 percent Palestinian production – stamped with a France-2 voiceover.

Media monitors immediately suspected a fraud. Given the angle of the Israeli position – kitty-corner to the junction – the only way that Israeli bullets could have hit al-Dura was by ricochet. The video, however, shows symmetrical bullet-holes penetrating the wall behind him – indicating a straight hit.

So who fired the shots? An obvious way to solve the mystery would be to examine the bullets lodged in the wall: are they Israeli M-16, or Palestinian Kalashnikov? Inexplicably, there were no bullets to be found. In a filmed interview, Abu Rahma, the cameraman, admitted to having removed the bullets from the wall. When questioned about what he discovered – and why a cameraman would be involved in ballistics activities in the first place – Abu Rahma flashed a sinister smile and said: “We have some secrets for ourselves.”

As this information came to light, intelligent people not prone to conspiracy theories were becoming increasingly convinced that al-Dura was actually shot by Palestinians. Israeli M-16 bullets are smaller (5.56 caliber) than the Palestinian Kalashnikov (7.62 caliber); in a later reenactment, M-16 bullets fired from the Israeli position were unable to replicate the bullet holes that hit the cement barrel in the video; they merely pinged off its surface. When France-2 allowed award-winning producer Daniel Leconte and other senior French journalists to view all 27 minutes of the raw footage, Leconte concluded: “The only ones who could [have] hit the child were the Palestinians from their position. If they had been Israeli bullets, they would be very strange bullets because they would have needed to go around the corner.”

Bustling Stage of Alfresco Cinema

And then the levee broke:

Professor Richard Landes of Boston University discovered “outtakes” – hours of additional footage shot that same day at the Netzarim junction. These tapes – produced by more than a dozen Palestinian cameramen working for Reuters, Associated Press and other networks – depict a variety of unmistakably staged battle scenes. One clip shows a group of Palestinian men running with rifles, then shooting through an archway, Rambo-style. One would assume that the Palestinians were in the heat of battle, firing on Israelis. Yet the unedited footage shows that the archway leads to nothing more than a brick wall. No Israelis, no battle. Just a dramatic, contrived production, what Landes calls “a bustling stage of alfresco cinema.” (seconddraft.org)

Incredibly, the following day Enderlin and France-2 broadcast this sequence of men firing into the brick wall as if it were real news footage.

Other videotape from that day at the junction shows Palestinian actors in multiple roles: Palestinian fighters are carted off to an ambulance, despite showing no signs of injury. Other men fall in apparent agony, then get up, dust themselves off, and re-enter the action. “Emergency evacuation crews” are seen laughing and goofing around – while Palestinian schoolgirls stroll merrily through the scene.

Suspicious of a hoax, Professor Landes tracked down France-2’s Enderlin and together they viewed some of the outtakes. During one obviously faked scene of an ambulance evacuation, Enderlin shrugged it off as a matter of course. The Arabs “do that all the time,” he said. “It’s their cultural style. They exaggerate.”

The hoax was now clear. That day at the junction provided the perfect combination of dramatic factors: a terrified young boy, clinging to his frantic father, apparently shot in cold blood – the ultimate image of “Israeli aggressor and Palestinian victim.” Best of all, since there was no Western presence at the junction that day, staging this scene required only the cooperation of Palestinian camera crews. France-2’s Enderlin – seduced by the lure of a major international scoop – ignored the obvious deficiencies in the credibility of Palestinian cameraman Abu Rahma, who once declared, “I went into journalism to carry on the fight for my people.”

Upon viewing the raw footage, Luc Rosenzweig, former editor-in-chief of France’s daily Le Monde, called this the “almost perfect media crime.”

Distressing Possibilities

As the story unfolded, other journalists conducted their own investigations and found the inconsistencies between fact and fiction too great to discount. Esther Schapira, a German television producer, traveled to Israel convinced of IDF guilt – and came away concluding that the boy had been killed by Palestinians. James Fallows, one of America’s most respected journalists, documented in The Atlantic Monthly how he reached the same conclusion. And Jean-Claude Schlinger, an adviser on ballistic and forensic evidence in French courts for 20 years, recreated the shooting and concluded that al-Dura could not have been shot by Israeli gunfire.

Was France-2 duped? Enderlin, at his meeting with Professor Landes, drew a map of Netzarim junction that placed the Israeli position on the wrong side of the road. Landes says: “This indicated one of two equally distressing possibilities”: Either that Enderlin “understood so little of what had happened that day that he didn’t even know the most basic elements of the layout of the scene.” Or alternatively, he was outright lying – and must have assumed that Landes “was so little informed that he could get away with it.”

French journalist Claude Weill Raynal defended Enderlin with the following bit of logic: “[People are] so shocked that fake images were used and edited in Gaza, but this happens all the time everywhere on television, and no TV journalist in the field or film editor would be shocked.” In other words, Palestinian photo fraud is so commonplace, there’s no reason to get excited.

For this exceptional piece of propaganda disguised as camera work, Abu Rahma was nominated by MSNBC for “Picture of the Year,” and received various “Journalist of the Year” honors including the coveted Rory Peck award from the Sony Corporation. He achieved legendary status in Arab circles and went on speaking engagements around the world.

[Meanwhile, the boy’s father, Jamal al-Dura, was engaging in his own bit of media manipulation. He held a press conference where he lifted his shirt to show journalists the scars on his chest as “proof” that Israeli soldiers had fired on him. In truth, these scars were the result of tendon transplant surgery that Jamal had undergone years earlier at an Israeli hospital, after being severely wounded by a Palestinian thug. Dr. David Yehuda, the surgeon who operated on Jamal, recognized the scars: “His wounds are not bullet wounds, but were produced by two things – first, the knife of the Palestinian who cut him, and second, my knife that fixed him. He faked the case.” Jamal had displayed the height of ingratitude: After being saved by an Israeli doctor, he turned that around to foist a libel on the Jews.]

Pallywood

The PR bonanza sparked by Muhammad al-Dura gave birth to Pallywood, a cottage industry dedicated to producing Palestinian propaganda films. When Palestinian officials alleged that Israel was using radioactive uranium and nerve gas against civilians, official PA television broadcast fake “news footage” of “victims” plagued by vomiting and convulsions. Another clip from state-run Palestinian TV used actors to depict Israeli soldiers “raping and murdering” a Palestinian girl in front of her horrified parents.

So this is what Israel is fighting against: Palestinians generate video footage of “Israeli atrocities,” then obscure the evidence to ensure that Palestinian “eyewitnesses” remain as the only source of information. The media then pronounces Israel guilty until proven innocent. By the time Israel can gather the facts, the party is over.

These iconic images create a “record of events” that forms the historical narrative for generations to come. Consider the four reels of footage from the Warsaw Ghetto discovered after World War II, which for decades served as the authentic resource for Holocaust scholars. At least until 1998, when a fifth reel turned up – showing outtakes of the ghetto scenes – proving the “historical record” to be a staged fraud.

Once an image sears into the public consciousness, it is almost impossible to undo. According to Hany Farid, a Dartmouth professor and expert on digital photography, on a neurological level the brain tends to reduce each major historical era into a single emotional image that encapsulates the complex story: raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, the Vietnamese Napalm girl, facing the tank in Tiananmen Square, electrocution wires at Abu Ghraib prison – and Muhammad al-Dura.

This is more than just a convenient memory device. Like the medieval blood libels that launched pogroms across Europe, the legend of al-Dura has become the battle cry of violent Muslim extremists committing the most heinous crimes. In an al-Qaeda recruitment film, Osama bin Laden invoked the memory of al-Dura as a call to arms. In Ramallah, the mob that disemboweled two Israeli reservists declared it as “revenge for the blood of Muhammad al-Dura.” And in Daniel Pearl’s beheading video, the killers interwove scenes of al-Dura with the gruesome slitting of Pearl’s throat.

Philippe Karsenty, a French media watchdog, accused France-2 of fraud, the discredited Enderlin tried to shift the blame by calling this “a campaign designed to harass foreign correspondents,” and – in an amazing show of chutzpah – sued Karsenty for libel. The case wound its way through the French legal system – in 2006 France 2 won its case, in 2008 the judgment was overturned by the Paris Court of Appeal; in 2012, France’s high court re-reversed the ruling. And now in the coming days, another French court is expected to rule once again.

This is all on the backdrop of the Israeli government probe concluding that the al-Dura event was rife with fraud. Even Enderlin himself wrote in the French newspaper Le Figaro that his report “may have been hasty,” but was justified because “so many children were being killed.” In other words, fabricating news coverage is acceptable – when used to support some greater, unproven claim against Israel.

Yet when an urban legend starts it is nearly impossible to erase. Everyone knows that before Columbus sailed to the New World, scientists thought the world was flat. Not true. It was only in 1828 that novelist Washington Irving popularized the flat-earth fable in his best-selling biography of Columbus. Writers of American history then picked up the story, and since textbooks tend to be clones of each other, Irving’s little hoax persists to this day.

So too, “the shooting of Muhammad al-Dura” has become a permanent part of the lexicon – a 21st century version of the Flat Earth Society. As Mark Twain said, “A lie told well is immortal.”

Tragically, these lies are more than just factual inaccuracies or a PR issue. These myths remain firmly engraved in Palestinian lore, fomenting an atmosphere of mistrust that will linger for decades, and that ultimately undermine the possibility of peaceful coexistence. As one Palestinian woman said on camera regarding another hoax (the Jenin “massacre”): “We’ll never forget this massacre. This is similar to the Holocaust. We will teach our generations not to forget this.”

Hooray for Pallywood.

Exodus in the Media 2013

28 Mar

Posted on Times of Israel

With Passover in full swing, I’ve been thinking about how the Jewish actions in Egypt appeared quite harsh. The ten plagues devastated Egyptian society – land, sea and air – for an entire year. Talk about a “humanitarian crisis!”

So why does nobody ever think to criticize Moses (and God!) for inflicting such damage on the Egyptians?

The answer is that justice was clearly on the side of the Jews. They had been brutally victimized by Pharaoh – enslaved for 210 years, subjected to both torturous labor and mass infanticide. Before embarking on the plagues, Moses issued fair warnings to Pharaoh, and repeatedly offered a path toward peace and reconciliation.

Given that Pharaoh stubbornly rejected all appeals for a resolution, the Jewish response – although intense – was clearly defensive and justified. Indeed, 3,300 years later the majority of the civilized world uncritically accepts the Jews’ actions, as documented in the biblical book of Exodus.

What does this mean for us today?

Over the past 12 years of monitoring media coverage of the Mideast conflict – first as editor of HonestReporting, then as author of “David & Goliath” – I have documented a pervasive anti-Israel media bias: Whether the media’s frequent references to Israel’s prime minister as a “hardliner,” while Mahmoud Abbas is always a “moderate” (and according to the New York Times, even Hamas is “moderate”); or whether the media is accusing Israel of “war crimes” – while rocket and terror attacks from Gaza and Lebanon are presented as the brave work of “freedom fighters.”

This got me thinking: What if today’s media told the Passover story?

That’s the question my Aish.com colleagues and I tried to answer in “Passover: Breaking News,” a new 2-minute parody that uses 21st century news websites to tell the Passover story.

We imagine CNN charging that “the Jewish lobby is orchestrating the plagues,” and how turning the Nile into blood has “triggered a grave humanitarian crisis.”

When the plague of locusts hits, we envision BBC reporting on the Jewish-Egyptian “cycle of violence,” with the United Nations holding an emergency session to condemn the Jews’ use of “excessive force.” On Al-Jazeera, the head of the U.N. Human Rights Council declares that the plagues are “sabotaging peace talks” and that the Jews “should go back to slavery, for the good of the rest of the world.”

“Passover: Breaking News” is also filled with many subtle spoofs of modern media: In the wake of the devastating plague of frogs, Oprah speaks of “five ways to find your inner frog.” A leading cardiologist warns of Pharaoh’s “hardening heart.” ESPN reports how the plague of darkness has interrupted the biggest chariot race of the year. As the Jews travel forth from Egypt, record-high bookings are reported for “Red Sea Getaways.” And God releases the Ten Commandments as a TED talk.

By juxtaposing the biblical story with today’s media, it highlights how absurd these media assaults tend to be. For just as the Jews 3,300 years ago were clearly justified in defending themselves from enemy attacks, so too today Israel must maintain confidence in the justice of our cause.

Media Myth: “Racist” Israel

21 Mar

pres-miss

Does racism against blacks exist in Israel?

That depends who you ask.

Ten years ago, Yityish “Titi” Aynaw was walking around barefoot in Ethiopia. She then made aliyah and today, the 21-year-old has served as an IDF officer, and was recently crowned Miss Israel.

This week, Titi will be having dinner alongside Barack Obama, sharing their common African heritage, and their common rise to success.

Yet the mainstream media would have you believe that Israel is a racist society that discriminates on the basis of skin color. Consider:

During the first months of his presidency, Obama enjoyed a 60 percent favorable rating among Israelis. Then, after harshly criticizing Israeli construction in Jerusalem, Obama’s popularity in Israel plummeted. The reason? According to Ethan Bronner of the New York Times, it had nothing to do with politics. Appearing on MSNBC’s Hardball (March 8, 2010), Bronner explained that Obama’s low popularity among Israelis was due to “racism.”

For viewers who may have missed it, host Chris Matthews helpfully added: “Because they see it as a black man.”

What a horrific distortion of the truth. Obviously, Obama was just as “black” during his period of huge popularity in Israel; the drop in support was purely a political, not racial, issue.

This “Israel is racist” fantasy was echoed by New York Times’ columnist Roger Cohen (March 15, 2010), who wrote that an Israeli cartoon which depicted “Obama cooking Netanyahu in a pot” was not a symbol of an Israeli politician in hot water, but rather the image of “a black man cooking a white man over an open fire.”

Genuine policy differences may exist, but why does the media shamefacedly interject racist hatred where none exists?

Granted, Ethiopian-Israelis experience some challenges in the form of social inequities, stereotypes, and integrating into Israeli society. But racism? Would “racist Israel” have airlifted tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews – marking the only time in history that blacks have been systematically moved from one country to another in freedom rather than in chains?

This week, when the first black Miss Israel dines with the first black U.S. President, the “let’s bash Israel” media will have a bit harder time concocting the imagery of Israelis as “racist.” But that won’t necessarily stop them from trying.

The New York Times’ Misnomer of “Non-violent” Palestinian Rock-throwers

17 Mar

pal-stonesThe great advocate of non-violent resistance, Mahatma Gandhi, never threw rocks.

Martin Luther King Jr. never threw rocks.

But according to the New York Times, Palestinians who throw rocks are following the “path of unarmed resistance.”

For its March 17 cover story (“Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start?”), the Times’ Sunday magazine profiled the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh. But not until over 1,000 words into the story does reporter Ben Ehrenreich mention that the “unarmed” resisters routinely throw stones at Israelis. One of the Palestinians quoted explains that “I want to help my country and my village… I can just throw stones.” Another says, “We see stones as our message.”

When it comes to whitewashing Palestinian violence, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

In the West Bank town of Bilin, where Palestinian rioters regularly hurl rocks, Molotov cocktails and burning tires, 170 Israeli soldiers were injured during one 18-month period. So how did the Christian Science Monitor describe this violence? “Peaceful Palestinian Resistance is Paying Off” (February 11, 2010). The Los Angeles Times – under the front-page headline, “Palestinians Who See Nonviolence as Their Weapon” – described how Palestinian weapons consist of innocuous “bullhorn, banners, and a fierce belief” in “peaceful protest” (November 4, 2009). Incredibly, the Times suggests that 170 Israelis were injured after being overwhelmed by bullhorns and banners.

This same media mentality can spin even the most violent Palestinian groups as passive and calm. The Globe and Mail, Canada’s newspaper of record, bought into the false notion that Hamas – best known for perfecting the art of bus bombings, rocket fire and restaurant explosions – has evolved into “ethical,” “truthful,” “pragmatic” peaceniks who advocate “non-violent resistance.” (Patrick Martin, July 7, 2009; Orly Halpern, February 26, 2008)

If anyone had any doubt about whether rock-throwing was perhaps “peaceful,” the events of March 14, 2013 have proved otherwise. Rock-throwing Palestinians hit an Israeli bus, sending shards of glass into the driver’s eyes and causing the bus to go off the road.

As a truck swerved to avoid the bus, a car crashed and became trapped under the truck, resulting in serious injuries to a mother and her three children. One of them, 2-year-old daughter, Adele, is in life-threatening condition.

On a single evening last week, seven people were injured in 10 different rock-throwing attacks. One 10-month-old baby was severely injured by glass fragments to the face.

Over the years, dozens of Israeli civilians have been murdered and maimed by this “innocent” act of “resistance.”

Tragically, the more the media presents Palestinian violence as peaceful, the more Israel is stripped of its license to fight against them – endangering the very foundation of Israeli’s security.

This leaves just one question: Why does the media insist on covering all this up?

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