The pen is mightier than the sword: A Jerusalem event for pro-Israel activists

On Dec. 10th, CAMERA will be hosting a workshop in Jerusalem for activists who wish to hone their skills in countering and correcting biased media coverage of Israel.  Advanced registration is required, and can be completed here.

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Former UK minister Warsi tweets ‘morally indefensible’ equivalence in Jerusalem terror attack (Update)

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was Minister of State for Faith and Communities, until her resignation after disagreeing with David Cameron’s position on the war in Gaza, a policy she described as “morally indefensible” in its support for Israel.  

The row over her resignation was widely (and quite sympathetically) covered by the Guardian. 

Here’s Warsi’s Tweet this morning in response to today’s terror attack, in which Palestinian terrorists massacred Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in Jerusalem.

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What the Guardian won’t report: The role of incitement in fomenting terrorism

Despite the recent briefing for foreign reporters by Yossi Kuperwasser of the Israel Strategic Affairs Ministry on the role of Palestinian incitement in the recent wave of riots and terror in Jerusalem, we don’t expect journalists to deviate from their normal script which effectively blames Jewish prayer right activists for the Palestinian violence.

For those interested in learning more about this rarely covered and extremely dangerous phenomenon, here’s the slide show given by Kuperwasser to reporters, which includes examples of Palestinian officials glorifying terror, demonizing Jews and denying Jewish history.

(Youtube videos weren’t successfully embedded into the slide. So, you’ll need to click on the Youtube links to open a new page.)

 

Eve Harow interviews Adam Levick about upcoming CAMERA event in Jerusalem

On Nov. 2nd, Voice of Israel host Eve Harow spoke to CiF Watch managing editor Adam Levick about the upcoming CAMERA public forum in Jerusalem, War By Other Means: Israel, Hamas and Media Coverage of Gaza”.  (Prior registration is necessary and can be completed by opening this link.)

Here’s an audio of the interview. 

Has there been even one recent incident of Jews attacking Muslims at the Temple Mount?

The question in our headline was inspired by an interesting post published at CAMERA’s blog Snapshots about an article in Haaretz which suggested (in both the headline and text) that the violence at the Temple Mount is initiated equally by both Jewish and Muslim worshippers.

haaretz temple mount two sides

Haaretz, Oct. 19th

Closer to the focus of this blog, you’d be hard pressed to find any UK newspaper acknowledging what any neutral observer of the frequent riots on the Mount would of course understand: that it is almost exclusively Palestinian Muslim visitors to the site “who routinely attack police and target Jewish worshipers” at the Temple Mount.

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Jerusalem event: Israel, Hamas and media coverage of the war in Gaza

CAMERA public forum, “War By Other Means: Israel, Hamas and Media Coverage of Gaza”, will be held on Sunday November 9th at Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center.  The interactive panel discussion (to be hosted by Arnold Roth) will include CAMERA’s Israel Director Tamar Sternthal, Israeli columnist and author Ben-Dror Yemini, BBC Watch Managing Editor Hadar Sela, Professor Richard Landes and CAMERA Senior Researcher Gidon Shaviv.

We urge readers who are going to be in Jerusalem to attend.

Registration is necessary and can be done here.

war by other means

The truth about Gaza’s civilian casualties: Essay by Col. Richard Kemp

This essay was written by Col. Richard Kemp, and originally published at Gatestone Institute.

“So are you going after innocent civilians or is it incompetence Colonel Lerner?” asks the interviewer, her face contorted with a contempt apparently reserved only for Israelis. Such shrill disrespect hurled at an American or British officer would alienate viewers, and, at an Arab commander, provoke accusations of racism.

This line of questioning – repeated across the networks on a daily basis – betrays a naïve and uncomprehending willingness to believe, and encourages viewers to believe, the absurd notion that the Israel Defence Force [IDF] is commanded and manned from top to bottom by psychopathic baby-killing thugs.

To suggest that military incompetence is the only explanation for civilian deaths other than deliberate mass murder reveals a breathtaking but unsurprising ignorance of the realities of combat.

Although rarely allowed to complete so much as a single sentence, Israeli attempts to explain IDF targeting policies are inevitably dismissed as laughable fabrication.

The truth is very different. The IDF has developed the most comprehensive and sophisticated measures to minimize civilian casualties during attacks against legitimate military targets.

Mandatory, multi-sensor intelligence and surveillance systems to confirm the presence or absence of civilians precede attacks on every target from the air. Text messages, phone calls and radio messages in Arabic warn occupants to leave. Air-dropped leaflets include maps showing safe areas. When warnings go unheeded, aircraft drop non-lethal explosives to warn that an attack is imminent.

Only when pilots and air controllers are sure that civilians are clear of the target will authorization be given to attack. When pilots use laser-guided munitions they must have pre-designated safe areas to which to divert the missiles in flight should civilians suddenly appear.

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In the last few days IDF pilots have aborted many missions because civilians remained in the target area.

Ground forces have equivalent engagement procedures, although the nature of ground combat means that these are blunter and less sophisticated. Discussions with IDF infantrymen fresh from the fight on the Gaza border confirm, however, that avoiding civilian casualties is uppermost in their minds even when under fire themselves.

Meanwhile back in the safety of the studio, the interviewer’s visible fury at the IDF Spokesman has got the better of any professional objectivity: “You go on endlessly about all the warnings you give but the fact is you have killed one-and-a-half thousand people, the overwhelming majority of them civilians!”

But of course the colonel is not permitted to give a proper answer that might help viewers understand the reality of the situation.

With few exceptions, reporters, commentators and analysts unquestioningly accept the casualty statistics given by Gaza’s Hamas-controlled medical authorities, who ascribe all deaths to the IDF. Is anyone in Gaza dying of natural causes? Mass executions of “collaborators,” and civilians killed by malfunctioning Hamas rockets, are all attributed to IDF fire.

Are the “overwhelming majority” of the dead really civilians? It would seem so. We see a great deal of grotesque and heart-rending footage of dead and bleeding women and children but never so much as a glimpse of killed or wounded fighters. Nor do reporters question or comment on the complete absence of Gazan military casualties, an extraordinary phenomenon unique to this conflict. The reality of course is that Hamas make great efforts to segregate their military casualties to preserve the fiction that Israel is killing civilians only. There are also increasing indications that Hamas, through direct force or threat, are preventing journalists from filming their fighters, whether dead or alive.

We will not get to the truth until the battle is over. But we know now that Hamas have ordered their people to report all deaths as innocent civilians. We know too that Hamas has a track record of lying about casualties. After Operation Cast Lead, the 2008-09 fighting in Gaza, the IDF estimated that of 1,166 Palestinian deaths, 709 were fighters. Hamas – backed by several NGOs – claimed that only 49 of its fighters had been killed, the rest were innocent civilians. Much later they were forced to admit that the IDF had been right all along and between 600 and 700 of the casualties had in fact been fighters. But the short-memoried media are incapable of factoring this in before broadcasting their ill-founded and inflammatory assertions.

Analysis of casualty details released by Qatar-based Al Jazeera indicate that so far in the conflict most of those killed in Gaza have been young men of fighting age, not women, children or old people. According to one analyst, despite comprising around 50% of the population, the proportion of women among the dead is 21%.

Preliminary analysis by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Israel suggests that 71, or 46.7%, of the first 152 Palestinians killed were fighters and 81, or 53.3%, non-involved civilians.

None of this analysis is definitive. But it does cast doubt upon the accusations of indiscriminate attack against the population by the IDF and upon the UN estimates – widely trumpeted as fact by the media and the not-exactly unbiased United Nations – that between 70 and 80% of Palestinian casualties have been civilians.

Nevertheless, many innocent civilians have tragically been killed. How has this happened, given the IDF’s measures aimed at minimizing such deaths?

IDF commanders say they never intentionally fire at targets where uninvolved civilians are present, a policy that goes much further than the Geneva Conventions demand. This policy has been confirmed to me by foot soldiers on the ground and F16 pilots carrying out strikes into Gaza.

But mistakes happen. Surveillance and intelligence can never be foolproof. There have been reports of Hamas forcing civilians back in once buildings have been evacuated. There is sometimes unexpected fallout from attacks, for example when an adjacent building containing civilians collapses, often caused by secondary explosions resulting from Hamas’s own munitions.

Errors can be made in interpretation of imagery, passage of information and inputting of target data. We don’t yet know what happened to the four boys tragically killed on a Gaza beach; it is not credible that they were identified as children and then deliberately killed.

Weapons guidance systems sometimes malfunction and bombs, bullets or missiles can land where they are not supposed to. Even the most hi-tech communications systems can fail at the critical moment.

Nowhere are these errors more frequent and catastrophic than in ground combat, where commanders and soldiers experience chaos, noise, smoke, fear, exhaustion, danger, shock, maiming, death and destruction that are beyond the comprehension of our interviewer in her air conditioned TV studio.

These mistakes and malfunctions happen in all fighting armies and in all conflicts. And in all conflicts, mistakes include the deaths of soldiers by friendly fire. Do those who condemn the killing of Palestinian civilians as deliberate acts by the IDF suggest that the friendly fire incidents in Gaza are also intentional?

The Israeli policy of not attacking targets where civilians are present is likely however to be deliberately waived in one specific situation. If troops are under lethal fire from an enemy position, the IDF are entitled to attack the target even with the certainty that civilians will be killed, subject to the usual rules of proportionality.

By definition Israeli soldiers’ lives are placed at greater risk by restrictive rules of engagement intended to minimize civilian casualties. But commanders in the field must balance their concern for civilians with the preservation of their own men’s lives and fighting effectiveness.

These realities aside, all Palestinian civilian casualties in this conflict result ultimately from Gaza terrorists’ aggression against Israel, and Hamas’s use of human shields – the most important plank of Hamas’s war-fighting policy.

Storing and firing weapons within densely populated areas, compelling civilians to stay put when warned to leave, luring Israeli forces to attack and kill their own people, the Palestinian body count is vital to Hamas’s propaganda war that aims to bring international pressure on Israel and incite anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic hatred around the world.

This sickening exploitation of their own people’s suffering, and media’s complicity in it, is nowhere more cynically demonstrated than in the operating theaters of the Gaza Strip. Without the slightest regard for life-saving hygiene, or for the care, privacy or dignity of the wounded, Palestinian officials enthusiastically hustle camera crews in to the emergency room as desperate surgeons battle for a bleeding and broken child’s life.

Colonel Richard Kemp spent most his 30-year career in the British Army commanding front-line troops in fighting terrorism and insurgency in hotspots including Iraq, the Balkans, South Asia and Northern Ireland. He was Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan in 2003. From 2002 – 2006 he heading the international terrorism team at the Joint Intelligence Committee of the British Prime Minister’s Office.

40 questions for foreign journalists in Gaza

Cross posted from Harry’s Place

Have you or any of your colleagues been intimidated by Hamas?

2.       Do you feel restricted in your ability to ‘say what you see’ in Gaza?

3.       How do you feel about the Spanish journalist who said Hamas would kill any journalist if they filmed rocket fire?

4.       Has Hamas pressured you to delete anything you have published?

5.       Has Hamas ever threatened to take your phone, laptop or camera?

6.       Has Hamas ever taken the phone, laptop or camera of a colleague in Gaza?

7.       Have you seen Hamas fighters in Gaza?

8.       If yes, why have you not directly reported Hamas fighting activity when you are eye-witnesses in Gaza, but rather indirectly reported about what the IDF says Hamas has done?

9.       Are you scared to publish photos of Hamas operatives on your Twitter page, or broadcast images of Hamas fighting and aggression on your news channel?

10.   Have you published any photos of terrorists launching rockets in Gaza? If so, are these images being turned down by your newspaper or broadcaster?

11.   Have you thought of interviewing the traumatised residents of southern Israel?

12.   When Israeli authorities say that most of the dead in Gaza are terrorists, and Hamas says most of the dead in Gaza are civilians, how do you differentiate?

13.   When Hamas Health Ministry statistics contradict Hamas’ own propaganda and reveal that mostly men of fighting age have died so far in Gaza, does it give you pause for thought?

14.   Is an underage armed terrorist still counted as a terrorist or a child when killed? Or both? Do you explain to your readers how this is possible?

15.   Have you put to Hamas spokespersons that firing rockets from civilian areas in a war situation will draw return fire and lead to the death of civilians?

16.   Nick Casey of the Wall Street Journal tweeted: “you have to wonder with the shelling, how patients at Shifa hospital feel as Hamas uses it as a safe place to see media.” Never mind wondering; did you ask any patients how they feel?

And how do you feel about the fact that Casey subsequently deleted his tweet?

18.   Russia Today journalist Harry Fear mentioned rocket-launching sites near his hotel. Have you noticed any terrorists or terror bases near your hotel?

19.   How do you feel about Fear’s expulsion from Gaza, for tweeting about the rocket launches from civilian areas? Are you worried that you might also be expelled from Gaza?

20.   Did you see any Hamas terror personnel inside Al-Shifa hospital?

21.   Have you interviewed a Hamas spokesperson inside Al-Shifa?

22.   Have you seen any rocket-launching sites in or around the vicinity of a hospital?

23.   Have you interviewed hospital staff or patients as to how they feel about their buildings being used for terror activity?

24.   Hamas’ command and control bunker is underneath Al Shifa hospital. Is this worth reporting? Have you asked to gain access to it, so you can interview Hamas commanders?

25.  French newspaper Liberation reported that Hamas’ Al Qassam offices are next to the emergency room at Shifa hospital, before deleting the article. Was the reporter right to delete the article, and will the information appear in the media at some point still?

26.   When the missile hit Al-Shati hospital where children were killed, did you see Hamas operatives collecting the debris of the fallen Palestinian rocket, as Gabriel Barbati reported? Did Barbati pick up on something you missed?

27.   Barbati prefaced his tweet by writing “Out of Gaza, far from Hamas retaliation.” Will you also report differently about Gaza when you are out of Gaza, far from Hamas retaliation?

28.   Can live journalism by reporters who are scared of retaliation from the authorities they are reporting about really count as pure journalism, or is journalism in that context fundamentally compromised?

29.   Have you seen or heard evidence of Hamas using civilians as human shields, by forcing or “encouraging” them to stay inside or enter into a building that has received a knock on the roof?

30.   Have you seen or heard evidence of Hamas storing weapons inside schools, houses, flats, mosques or hospitals?

31.   Have you interviewed Gazan residents to find out if they have – or know someone who has – a tunnel dug underneath their house? How do they feel about this?

32. Have you tried to interview any of the parents of the 160 Palestinian children who died building the terror tunnels?

33.   Have you asked Hamas spokespersons why they are setting out to murder children by firing rockets towards civilian populations?

34.   Have you interviewed any UNRWA officials about why Hamas are storing weapons in their schools, and how the weapons got there?

35.   Are you currently investigating how Hamas rockets ended up in UNRWA schools?

36.   Are you currently investigating why UNRWA returned rockets to Hamas and their police force?

37.   When Hamas breaks a ceasefire with Israel – as it has done 6 times – how easy is it to report on this from Gaza?

38.   Is there any anti-Hamas sentiment in Gaza, and how is it expressed?

39.   Were you aware that Hamas chose to execute dozens of anti-war protesters in Gaza, and did you not consider this to be worth
reporting?

40.   Is international media reporting from Gaza free from pressure and intimidation, or is there a real problem – and if so, how will you address it?

Hey, Liberals Who Oppose Israel: You’re All Right-Wingers Now

Tablet published an essay by Liel Leibovitz today that is truly a must read.  

Here are the first few paragraphs:

As those of us who’ve had the dubious pleasure of being in combat know, the fog of war is a very real thing. It’s hard sometimes to tell which direction’s which when there’s shooting, and the blast of artillery is loud enough to drown out most rational thoughts. The same is true not only for people who fight in wars but also for people who observe them: Emotions run high. Resentments creep in. Confusion is rampant and hard to dispel. But it’s precisely in times of war that cooler heads must prevail, which is why I propose the following thought experiment.

Imagine a politician ascending to the governorship of a small southern state. Having campaigned on a platform of extreme patriotic fervor and religious zeal—in his stump speech, he thundered that by the grace of God, America will last as long as there exist Heaven and Earth—the governor wasted no time translating his beliefs into law. Because the governor believed that homosexuals were “a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick,” he outlawed them, instructing his police officers to seek, capture, beat up, and imprison every gay individual in the state. Similarly, women were deemed better off tending to their families than wasting their time with such corrupting pursuits as jobs. A special educational program was devised and approved to teach young girls the fundamentals. These future wives and mothers, read the governor’s statement, “must be fully capable of being aware and of grasping the ways to manage their households. Economy and avoiding waste in household expenditures are prerequisites to our ability to pursue our cause in the difficult circumstances surrounding us.” The men of the state reveled in this new way of life, asserting themselves as lords of their manors; before too long, nearly half of them took to regularly battering their wives.

How many of those who define themselves as liberals would support the governor? Very few, if any. More likely, our hypothetical politician would have galvanized the left into action: The cleverly worded emails from progressive organizations, the fiery segments onThe Daily Show, the pledges from celebrities to stop the menace—all would have been upon us before too long. And yet when the same politician appears halfway across the world, sporting a beard and proceeding far beyond the relatively tame scenario described above—sacrificing his own nation’s children and eager to murder innocent civilians across the border—all clarity seems to dissipate. All the homicidal zealot has to do is mumble something about justice and disproportionality and self-determination, and he’s transformed into a respectable, not to say sympathetic, figure.

Read the rest of the essay here.

Chloe Valdary: ‘When we speak Zionism, we speak freedom’ (Video)

Chloe Valdary is a New Orleans-based pro-Israel student activist.  Here is a clip of her short yet powerful speech at a Rally for Israel on July 18th held at Boston Common.  (Valdary was reportedly assaulted at a rally last week outside the Israeli Embassy when 100 or so pro-Palestinian counter-demonstrators swarmed Israel supporters.)