Matti Friedman helps us understand the Guardian’s coverage of Israel

In carrying out our mission, CiF Watch often attempts to contextualize the Guardian’s coverage of Israel by explaining not only what they get wrong, but also why they get it wrong.  So, in August we posted excerpts from a superb article by former AP Jerusalem correspondent Matti Friedman, in Tablet Magazine, which masterfully dissected the widespread institutional bias which distorts coverage of Israel and the Middle East.

media

Friedman’s latest essay (What the media gets wrong about Israel),  published on Nov. 30th in The Atlantic, is another must-read for those who’ve thought seriously about the skewed coverage of Israel at the Guardian – and within much of the UK media.

Here are a few of the more interesting passages from Friedman’s essay.

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What the Guardian won’t report. More Palestinian exploitation of a young girl named A’hd Tamimi

On Sept. 12, Tamar Sternthal (director of the Israel office for CAMERA) reported on the dangerous use of children by Palestinian protesters to score political points, in Cheap Shots: Palestinians put kids in the line of fire.

“There’s nothing like a photograph of an innocent child caught up in military conflict to elicit sympathy, rage, and at times, international intervention.

On a media stage far away from Hollywood, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, where photographers gather every Friday to document repetitious scenes of Palestinian residents and international activists clashing with Israeli soldiers, Palestinian activists are placing their children in ever-more-visible roles. Unlike scenes in “Wag the Dog,” a black comedy, there’s nothing funny about parents exploiting their own children to score propaganda points in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Unfortunately, that’s just what happened on Friday, August 24, when A’hd Tamimi, and her cousin Marah Tamimi, both 11, were photographed by Agence France-Presse tearfully being restrained by Israeli soldiers.

Days later, photos of the distraught girls appeared in Australia’s Fairfax media outlets alongside a Page-1 article charging the Israeli army with the routine abuse of Palestinian children. “An Israeli soldier restrains a Palestinian girl crying over the arrest of her mother during a protest over land confiscation in al-Nabi Saleh,” stated one caption in the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.

Slamming the article’s “unnamed sources, hearsay and propaganda,” Philip Chester, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, also charged that the Palestinian leadership “blatantly use[s] children” and “presents a fable where Israel’s curtailing of violence is tantamount to abuse of children.”

Chester was not specifically addressing the photographs of the appealing young Tamimi girls under the thumb of the Israeli military, but he may as well have been.

A’hd is the daughter of Narimen and Bassem, prominent activists in the Popular Resistance, and Marah’s father is Naji, another leader in the weekly demonstrations.

In other words, the girls’ parents are among those who determine the protests’ strategies. Rather than keeping their children at a safe distance from the often-violent clashes, the parents encouraged their children to play highly visible roles in the confrontation with the army.

Narimen is a participant in B’Tselem’s video project, in which the prominent Israeli NGO distributes video cameras to Palestinians to “present the reality of their lives to the Israeli and the international public.”

This is not the first time she has exploited children and distorted reality. In a 2011 video of the arrest of an 11-year-old stone-thrower, Narimen filmed as a Palestinian man instructed the boy’s mother not to join him on the police vehicle, even while Israeli authorities repeatedly asked her to board the van. Later media reports falsely claimed that the Israeli police forbade his parents from accompanying him.

Despite complaints about her cynical exploitation of Palestinian children in order to produce anti-Israel propaganda, Narimen has not stopped using children as props. To the contrary, she has since enlisted her own daughter.

In a 16-minute video posted on the Nabi Saleh Solidarity blog, the two girls can be seen leading a crowd marching toward a spring that the army has deemed off-limits. A’hd and Marah are filmed at length, cursing the soldiers and trying to get around them. Marah can be seen running some distance to approach and confront soldiers. And when Narimen and two other women are arrested, the girls refuse to let go, interfering with the arrests. An army spokesman later said that the detainees, who were held for a few hours, had been throwing rocks.”

Here’s a screen capture from the video.

Here’s photo taken that day promoted on pro-Palestinian sites.

But, that isn’t all.

Here’s Marah and A’hd with PA President Mahmoud Abbas getting official recognition for her ‘bravery’ at the August 24 incident.

Here’s another photo of the event:

The site where the photo was published, Nabi Selah Solidarity, added the following:

“The actions of A’hd Tamimi and Marah Tamimi, the two young girls who attempted to prevent the arrest of non-violent resistance leader Nariman Tamimi by Israeli Occupation Forces on Friday, was recognised on Monday.  A’hd is the daughter of  Nariman and Palestinian non-violent resistance leader Bassem Tamimi who was jailed for over year for leading the non-violent resistance in Nabi Saleh.  Marah is the daugher of  Naji Tamimi, another Nabi Saleh non-violent resistance leader who was also jailed for over a year for his non-violent opposition to Israel’s military occupation.”

But, the exploitation of the two girls has not ended.

The Algemeiner reported the following, in ‘Video captures Palestinian girl attempting to provoke IDF‘, Nov. 5:

“A video shot at a Friday protest in the village of Nabi Salih, in the central West Bank, captured a striking image: that of a young Palestinian girl [A’hd Tamimi] attempting to provoke Israeli soldiers. Soon thereafter the girl is joined by many other seemingly young-looking people from the village.

A senior IDF source told Ynet that intelligence indicates that pro-Palestinian activists pay Palestinian children from Nabi Salih and other nearby villages to confront the soldiers. “The soldiers are briefed on the fact that these protests are staged for the sake of provocation, so that they could be filmed acting violently and so that those videos could be distributed worldwide in an effort to harm the IDF’s image,” the officer said.

According to Ynet, Abir Kubati, spokesperson of the popular protest coordination committee, said: “I don’t understand what the army wants – they send soldiers into a Palestinian village and then dare to depict themselves as victims because the residents don’t welcome them.”

“You’re a traitor! I know you speak Arabic. Our soldiers are stronger than you! I’ll smash your head,” the 10-year-old girl is heard in the video screaming at the soldier in Arabic, according to a translation provided by Ynet.”

Placing innocent Palestinian children in potentially dangerous situations, cynically hoping for a media coup stemming from any overreaction by IDF soldiers, is indeed shameful.  

However,  such provocations by the Tamimis pale in comparison to an antisemitic Palestinian political culture which consistently sends messages to their youth that martyrdom – dying, or even murdering Israeli Jews, to advance the Palestinian cause – is one of the most important political values they should aspire to.

Here are a few clips of chilling child abuse, routinely sanctioned by Palestinian society, which the Guardian won’t report.

Cheap Shots: Palestinians put kids in the line of fire

This is cross posted by Tamar Sternthal (director of the Israel office of CAMERA), and originally published at Times of Israel

There’s nothing like a photograph of an innocent child caught up in military conflict to elicit sympathy, rage, and at times, international intervention. In 2000, the iconic footage of 11-year-old Mohammed Al-Dura enflamed the Muslim world against Israel and generated world-wide outrage. By the time the evidence emerged, proving that the Israeli army could not have killed the boy, the damage had been done.

In the 1997 fictional film “Wag the Dog,” a Hollywood producer and a Washington spin doctor fabricate violence in Albania in order to divert attention from the president’s sex scandal. To persuade the country of the need for war, they manufacture footage of a young orphan girl fleeing from mayhem.

On a media stage far away from Hollywood, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, where photographers gather every Friday to document repetitious scenes of Palestinian residents and international activists clashing with Israeli soldiers, Palestinian activists are placing their children in ever-more-visible roles. Unlike scenes in “Wag the Dog,” a black comedy, there’s nothing funny about parents exploiting their own children to score propaganda points in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Unfortunately, that’s just what happened on Friday, August 24, when A’hd Tamimi, and her cousin Marah Tamimi, both 11, were photographed by Agence France-Presse tearfully being restrained by Israeli soldiers.

Days later, photos of the distraught girls appeared in Australia’s Fairfax media outlets alongside a Page-1 article charging the Israeli army with the routine abuse of Palestinian children. “An Israeli soldier restrains a Palestinian girl crying over the arrest of her mother during a protest over land confiscation in al-Nabi Saleh,” stated one caption in the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.

Slamming the article’s “unnamed sources, hearsay and propaganda,” Philip Chester, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, also charged that the Palestinian leadership “blatantly use[s] children” and “presents a fable where Israel’s curtailing of violence is tantamount to abuse of children.”

Chester was not specifically addressing the photographs of the appealing young Tamimi girls under the thumb of the Israeli military, but he may as well have been.

A’hd is the daughter of Narimen and Bassem, prominent activists in the Popular Resistance, and Marah’s father is Naji, another leader in the weekly demonstrations.

In other words, the girls’ parents are among those who determine the protests’ strategies. Rather than keeping their children at a safe distance from the often-violent clashes, the parents encouraged their children to play highly visible roles in the confrontation with the army.

Narimen is a participant in B’Tselem’s video project, in which the prominent Israeli NGO distributes video cameras to Palestinians to “present the reality of their lives to the Israeli and the international public.”

This is not the first time she has exploited children and distorted reality. In a 2011 video of the arrest of an 11-year-old stone-thrower, Narimen filmed as a Palestinian man instructed the boy’s mother not to join him on the police vehicle, even while Israeli authorities repeatedly asked her to board the van. Later media reports falsely claimed that the Israeli police forbade his parents from accompanying him.

Despite complaints about her cynical exploitation of Palestinian children in order to produce anti-Israel propaganda, Narimen has not stopped using children as props. To the contrary, she has since enlisted her own daughter.

In a 16-minute video posted on the Nabi Saleh Solidarity blog, the two girls can be seen leading a crowd marching toward a spring that the army has deemed off-limits. A’hd and Marah are filmed at length, cursing the soldiers and trying to get around them. Marah can be seen running some distance to approach and confront soldiers. And when Narimen and two other women are arrested, the girls refuse to let go, interfering with the arrests. An army spokesman later said that the detainees, who were held for a few hours, had been throwing rocks.

Though photographs of the crying and constrained A’hd and Marah are actually products of Palestinian manipulation and exploitation of children, the Australian media outlets publish them unquestioningly as ostensible evidence of Israeli abuse of Palestinian children.

In other words, the Tamimi girls pulled off a photographic coup, as their parents had hoped. For this, they were rewarded with a meeting with Laila Ghannam, the Palestinian Authority’s Governor of Ramallah, and President Mahmoud Abbas, who congratulated them for their “bravery.”

But what if next time their parents send them out into a violent confrontation they are injured, or worse? This would be tragic — but think of the pictures and articles incriminating Israel in the next day’s paper.

Fisking the Guardian’s latest anti-Israel propaganda photo

H/T CAMERA

A photo, taken by Agence-France Presse photographer Hazem Bader, has arguably gone viral, and has been dutifully published by the Guardian recently, in a recent edition of their “24 hours in pictures” series.

The photo, which suggests that an Israeli Army driver drove a trailer over the legs of a Palestinian construction worker near Hebron on Jan. 25, has been published, and given prominence, by The International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall St. Journal, and MSNBC, all of which included a caption similar to the Guardian’s, as seen below the image.

However, CAMERA has expertly fisked the photo (and caption) and has found many inconsistencies.

First, CAMERA’s Tamar Sternthal checked Palestinian, international and Israeli sources, and found that that the “injured worker,” Mahmoud Abu Qbeita, was, in fact, not evidently actually injured at all and, further, that there “was no evidence that he was even run over” in the first place.

Sternthal noted:

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights and the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, both of which provide comprehensive reports about all West Bank injuries, made no mention of the alleged injury.

Initially, Abu Qbeita complained his left leg was injured. After an army medic’s examination found no wound, Abu Qbeita then claimed his right leg was injured. Raz said that the Palestinian Red Crescent likewise found nothing wrong with him.

Sternthal further noted that of the several photographers on site [AFP, Palestine TV, Pal Media, and Al Quds TV] who were snapping away at Abu Qbeita not one has released a single image of Abu Qbeita as he was being run over.

Sternthal reported that the AFP translated medical release document, which was strangely issued by the PA Ministry of Health and not the hospital itself, did state:

“We conducted X-RAYS on him and found fractures.”

However, Sternthal observed that while “the wire service also quotes Abu Qbeita boasting that he has ‘a medical certificate and…will show it to anyone who wants to see it.‘, he [tellingly] does not offer to show the x-rays. Nor has AFP released them.”

Sternthal asks why, if the x-rays confirm Abu Qbeita has fractures, they would conceal them?

Also, here’s a little background on the AFP Palestinian photographer, Hazem J. Bader:

If you go to his website, you see an impressive body of work, including a large percentage of the nearly 400 photos featured on his site which quite consistently portray Palestinians as victims of Israeli villainy (something of a specialty for Bader), and further demonstrates an egregious pro-Palestinian bias decidedly at odds with any pretense of objective photo-journalism.

Here’s the header on his home page, presumably of an IDF soldier.

Bader also seems to excel at images of IDF soldiers frightening innocent Palestinian children:

 

Finally, here’s the first photo on his site’s home page:

Bader pictured with Arafat