Archive | June, 2012

Truce or Falsehood?

24 Jun

Last week Hamas fired over 100 rockets at Israeli towns before agreeing to a ceasefire.

On Friday, following some more cross-border action, Reuters posted this headline:

Israeli Air Strike Kills Gaza Militant, Breaks Truce

According to Reuters, Israel broke the truce. That would be correct, if not for two key pieces of information:

1) The militant killed in the air strike was, according to Palestinian sources, preparing to fire a rocket at Israel from Gaza. Doesn’t that count as “breaking the truce”?

2) As Reuters reports in the body of the article, the Israeli strike followed the firing of two rockets at Israel earlier in the day from Gaza. If Israel was responding to rocket fire, how exactly does Reuters conclude that Israel “broke the truce”?

Particularly in online news where users get their fix by scanning a list of links, it is imperative that headlines be clear and direct, leaving no confusion over “who did what.”

I recall a few years ago when Associated Press issued this headline: “Rockets Hit Lebanon Despite Cease-Fire.” Readers would presume that Israel had broken a cease-fire by attacking Lebanon. Only those bothering to read the article, however, discovered that the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah had fired 10 Katyusha rockets that accidentally fell short, landing in southern Lebanon – hence the technically-true-but-wildly-deceptive headline, “Rockets Hit Lebanon Despite Cease-Fire.”

Even Israel’s basic counter-terrorist measures are blamed for causing hostilities. When Israel stopped Hamas from building tunnels designed to ferry lethal weapons and kidnap IDF soldiers, the New York Times cited this as evidence of Israel breaking the truce and driving “the cycle of violence to a much higher level.” (“A Gaza Truce Undone by Flaws May be Revived by Necessity,” December 18, 2008)

It’s a world turned upside-down, where Israel is blamed in knee-jerk fashion. Sometimes I think the solution is just to ignore the sophomoric condemnations and do whatever is needed to defend the citizens of Israel. Because if we’re anyway damned if we do, and damned if we don’t… why not “do”?

Gaza Flotilla: “The New Yorker” Flouts the Facts

11 Jun

Writing in The New Yorker on the second anniversary of the Gaza Flotilla incident, Jenna Krajeski presents a shocking one-sided flouting of basic facts:

(1) The New Yorker refers to the sponsor of the Flotilla, IHH, as “the Turkish aid organization.”

More accurately, IHH is known for its close ties to Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda. Holland-based Teltarif newspaper reported that one of the dead activists, Amin Abou Rashed, was the local Hamas leader.

IHH is outlawed in Germany and Israel for its terror-related activities, and is an unindicted co-conspirator to groups found guilty of helping plan terror attacks in the U.S. IHH was even shunned by Turkey’s former secular regime.

But for The New Yorker, IHH is simply a “Turkish aid organization.”

(2) The New Yorker contends that videos from the event “counter claims that the activists who’d been aboard were armed.”

“Unarmed,” really? Every video I’ve ever seen shows Israeli soldiers rappelling onto the ship’s deck and immediately being attacked with lethal weapons – steel pipes, wooden clubs and knives, as well as slingshots designed to invoke the imagery of the tiny stone-throwing David against the mighty gunships of the Israeli Goliath. Photos clearly show so-called “activists” wielding a pistol and an automatic weapon.

The “activists” stabbed, beat and shot the soldiers, leaving 10 Israelis wounded – two in critical condition with gunshot wounds, and others with broken bones and a fractured skull.

But for The New Yorker, it is still possible to “counter claims that the activists were armed.”

(3) The New Yorker claims that the boat “carried aid to Gaza” and had its “cargo confiscated.”

Actually, Israeli authorities offered to unload the ship at the Ashdod port, inspect the cargo, and then deliver it overland to Gaza. Spokesmen for the Free Gaza movement refused – preferring instead a confrontation that would make headlines.

If anyone still harbored illusions, flotilla organizer Greta Berlin made it clear: “This mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies.” Indeed, after the Mavi Marmara cargo was checked by Israeli inspectors and loaded onto trucks for delivery to Gaza, Hamas refused to accept the goods.

As Mark Twain said, “A lie told well is immortal”… and the lies are thriving in The New Yorker. (Read the full article here.)

Tragically, these are more than just factual inaccuracies or a PR issue. These myths remain firmly engraved in popular lore, fomenting an atmosphere of mistrust that will linger for decades, ultimately undermining the possibility of peaceful coexistence. As one Palestinian woman said following an event fueled by similar misinformation in Jenin: “We’ll never forget this massacre. This is similar to the Holocaust. We will teach our generations not to forget this.”

Half-hour Radio Show: OU

5 Jun

I recently had the honor of speaking with Steve Savitsky, who serves as Chairman of the Board of the Orthodox Union, the kosher supervision (OU) group that also services 1,000 member synagogues.

Listen to our 30-minute discussion on “Savitsky Talks,” a weekly audio program that explores contemporary Jewish issues. I think you’ll find it enlightening!