CiF Watch prompts correction at the Indy over Hamas executions claim

An Aug. 22nd article in The Independent by Kashmira Gander about the war in Gaza included the following passage in reference to the recent public execution of 18 Palestinians by Hamas.
 
orig 2

 However, there were widely reported public executions in Gaza much more recently than the 90s.

So, it clearly is not accurate to claim that the recent public executions in Gaza were the first since the 1990s.

After our communication with Indy editors, they deleted the sentence which claimed that these recent executions were the first in the enclave since the 90s.

correction
We commend Indy editors on their positive response to our complaint.

Financial Times correspondent John Reed declares Hamas a ‘winner’

“Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which do not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie”

This is a quote by George Orwell about news reports during the Spanish Civil War, but, as former AP correspondent Matt Friedman explained in his masterful Tablet essay (An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth), Orwell’s words are just as apt in characterizing the media’s egregiously misleading coverage of Israel and the war in Gaza. 

The Orwell quote (cited by Friedman in his article) came to mind when we read the following passages in a report in the London-based Financial Times by John Reed titled ‘War in Gaza: Winners and Losers‘, which happened to overlap with Hamas’s own surreal assessment of the war.

Here’s the relevant passage in Reed’s report:

ft

Let’s take it apart:

Reed:

Before Protective Edge, Gaza’s ruling Islamist movement was in a corner. It was politically isolated, bankrupt, unable to pay its civil servants and forced by circumstances to reconcile with arch-rival Fatah.

And, after the war, Hamas is politically isolated, bankrupt, and still unable to pay its civil servants. Further, the current ceasefire deal which Hamas agreed to is almost exactly like the one Egypt proposed (which Israel accepted) but Hamas rejected on July 15, one week into the conflict, before the IDF destroyed their terror tunnels, and killed some of their top leaders.  

Hamas’s decision to reject the July 15th proposal represented a colossal miscalculation, and resulted in more Hamas fighters killed, a much greater depletion of their rocket capacity, and no perceivable military, strategic or political benefit.

Other Hamas ‘demands’ which haven’t been agreed to by Israel in the current ceasefire include opening a sea port and an airport in Gaza, and releasing additional Palestinian prisoners.

Reed:

In this context, the war was a welcome development. Hamas, for the third time in five years, confronted one of the world’s best armies and managed to hold on to power, calculating correctly that Israel would never embark on a longer and bloodier ground war in order to topple it.

How low can you set the bar? The mere fact that they ‘held on to power’ is a victory? Again, he doesn’t explain what concrete achievements they can reasonably boast. Also, it’s interesting that Reed fails to explain how the war was a “welcome development” for Palestinian civilians.

Reed:

Hamas rockets, built painstakingly over years by blockade-busting tactics, sent people across Israel running into shelters, killing six civilians and bringing most flights at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport to a halt for two days in July.

It’s almost as if Reed admires Hamas’s ‘grit’ in diverting humanitarian aid (which could have helped Gaza’s economy) for terror purposes. Plus, it’s interesting how such Jerusalem based correspondents covering the war, such as Reed, who almost universally downplayed the threat posed to Israeli civilians by the thousands of Hamas rockets, can now suggest that these same rockets ‘successfully’ terrorized Israel by killing six civilians, and sending them fleeing for bomb shelters. 

Reed:

Although much of Hamas’s arsenal is now depleted and many of its tunnels destroyed, fighting Israel to another ceasefire plays as a victory for many of its supporters.

Talk about burying the lead!  So, despite the fact that “Hamas’s [rocket] arsenal is now depleted and many [sic] of its tunnels destroyed”, Reed still maintains that a victory was achieved. 

Reed:

As after Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012, Hamas can begin firing again if it chooses. Granted, when the dust settles from this conflict and its spoils and destruction become clearer to Gazans, they could potentially turn on Hamas. There is no sign of this happening yet, however.

Of course, one of the biggest obstacles preventing Gazans from “turning on Hamas” is not any objective assessment of the war’s “achievements’ per se, but, rather, scenes such as these:

One of 22 Palestinians summarily executed by Hamas on Aug. 22

One of 22 Palestinians summarily executed by Hamas on Aug. 22

Finally, here are some facts ignored by Reed in his assessment:

  • IDF attacked 5,263 targets across Gaza during the war, hitting rocket launching sites, arms and munitions factories and warehouses, as well as the offices of Hamas commanders. Several top Hamas commanders and hundreds of Hamas fighters were killed. Over 34 known tunnels were destroyed.
  • Out of the 4,564 rockets and mortars fired at Israel from Gaza, over 475 landed in Gaza, killing an unknown number of Palestinians. 3,641 exploded in Israeli territory, but only 224 actually hit residential areas, while the remaining rockets fell in open areas; The Iron Dome intercepted at least 735. Six Israeli civilians were killed.

To simply state that Reeds’s assessment of Hamas’s achievements ‘does not bear any relation to the facts’ is an understatement of enormous proportions. 

Everything you always wanted to know about media coverage of Israel but were afraid to ask

In carrying out this blog’s mission, we often attempt to contextualize Guardian/UK media coverage of Israel and the Jewish world by explaining not only what they get wrong, but also why they get it wrong.

eye_stardavid400x246_3k8lxgc5Tablet Magazine just published a long and extremely important article (by former AP correspondent Matti Friedman) which masterfully dissects such institutional bias against Israel – in the broader Western media – and we strongly encourage those who’ve thought seriously about the subject to read the 4,000 word essay in full.

Here are some excerpts:

Intro:

The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; 

How Important Is the Israel Story?

Staffing is the best measure of the importance of a story to a particular news organization. When I was a correspondent at the AP, the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined

To offer a sense of scale: Before the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the permanent AP presence in that country consisted of a single regime-approved stringer. The AP’s editors believed, that is, that Syria’s importance was less than one-40th that of Israel.

What Is Important About the Israel Story, and What Is Not

A reporter working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel. If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate

Israeli actions are analyzed and criticized, and every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported. In one seven-week period, from Nov. 8 to Dec. 16, 2011, I…counted 27 separate articles, an average of a story every two days….this seven-week tally was higher than the total number of significantly critical stories about Palestinian government and society, including the totalitarian Islamists of Hamas, that our bureau had published in the preceding three years.

The Hamas charter, for example, calls not just for Israel’s destruction but for the murder of Jews and blames Jews for engineering the French and Russian revolutions and both world wars; the charter was never mentioned in print when I was at the AP

What Else “Isn’t” Important?

In early 2009..two colleagues of mine obtained information that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had made a significant peace offer to the Palestinian Authority several months earlier, and that the Palestinians had deemed it insufficient. This had not been reported yet and it was—or should have been—one of the biggest stories of the year. The reporters obtained confirmation from both sides and one even saw a map, but the top editors at the bureau decided that they would not publish the story….

This decision taught me a lesson that should be clear to consumers of the Israel story: Many of the people deciding what you will read and see from here view their role not as explanatory but as political. Coverage is a weapon to be placed at the disposal of the side they like.

How Is the Israel Story Framed?

The Israel story is framed in the same terms that have been in use since the early 1990s—the quest for a “two-state solution.” It is accepted that the conflict is “Israeli-Palestinian,” meaning that it is a conflict taking place on land that Israel controls—0.2 percent of the Arab world—in which Jews are a majority and Arabs a minority. The conflict is more accurately described as “Israel-Arab,” or “Jewish-Arab”—that is, a conflict between the 6 million Jews of Israel and 300 million Arabs in surrounding countries…

The “Israeli-Palestinian” framing allows the Jews, a tiny minority in the Middle East, to be depicted as the stronger party

The Old Blank Screen

For centuries, stateless Jews played the role of a lightning rod for ill will among the majority population. They were a symbol of things that were wrong. Did you want to make the point that greed was bad? Jews were greedy. Cowardice? Jews were cowardly. Were you a Communist? Jews were capitalists. Were you a capitalist? In that case, Jews were Communists. Moral failure was the essential trait of the Jew…

Like many Jews who grew up late in the 20th century in friendly Western cities, I dismissed such ideas as the feverish memories of my grandparents. One thing I have learned…is that I was foolish to have done so. Today, people in the West tend to believe the ills of the age are racism, colonialism, and militarism. The world’s only Jewish country has done less harm than most countries on earth, and more good—and yet when people went looking for a country that would symbolize the sins of our new post-colonial, post-militaristic, post-ethnic dream-world, the country they chose was this one.

Who Cares If the World Gets the Israel Story Wrong?

Understanding what happened in Gaza this summer…requires us to understand what is clear to nearly everyone in the Middle East: The ascendant force in our part of the world is not democracy or modernity. It is rather an empowered strain of Islam that assumes different and sometimes conflicting forms, and that is willing to employ extreme violence in a quest to unite the region under its control and confront the West. Those who grasp this fact will be able to look around and connect the dots

Israel is not an idea, a symbol of good or evil, or a litmus test for liberal opinion at dinner parties. It is a small country in a scary part of the world that is getting scarier. It should be reported as critically as any other place, and understood in context and in proportion. 

Read the rest of the essay here.

Dishonourable Brits: Why the Guardian can’t distinguish between Semites & anti-Semites

If a radical right-wing U.S. group possessed an ideology which was homophobic, misogynistic, and anti-democratic, and continually attempted to murder a historically oppressed minority to clean the region of their ‘pernicious influence’ – due to their fundamentalist interpretation of a religious text – anti-racist commentators at the Guardian would stand proudly on the side of the besieged minority and rightfully demonize the racist extremist group.

Transplant this scenario to the Mid-East (and replace the white sheets with black face masks and green headbands) however, and such moral clarity – which distinguishes between a racist extremist group and the minorities they’re targeting – often gets blurred.

hamas_talks_a_0305

In a review of BBC2’s The Honourable Woman, the Guardian’s diplomatic correspondent Julian Borger (Can The Honourable Woman teach us anything about the Gaza conflict?, Aug. 20) presents another example of media group’s profound moral confusion when interpreting conflicts between Israel and Islamist extremists.

Borger characterizes the show as “a tale of intrigue, betrayal and silk blouses set against the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, and then adds: “Whether we will have learned anything about Gaza or the Israeli-Palestinian struggle is another matter”.

Border then writes:

So the ruthless and omnipotent assassin, a regular plot device of political thrillers, is in this case a Palestinian militant. Just like the show’s American inspiration, Homelandit revives the spectre of the Arab bogeyman as the evil genius among us, ghosting across borders on false passports. 

This is understandably vexing for Palestinians. After all, it is Mossad that has won itself the reputation in recent years for sending assassins to kill abroad on forged identity papers. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have largely fought their battles on home turf with much blunter methods.

Likewise, the agony of liberal British Jews looking on in horror at the bloodletting in Israel and the Palestinian territories is true to life. What feels like a sentimental anachronism is the central premise in the plot: that they can do anything to change it. It is hard to imagine in these dark times that it would be so easy for a well-meaning Jewish philanthropist to breeze through the West Bank and for her saccharine, slightly condescending speeches to be received so admiringly by Palestinian students. Hard to imagine, too, that Nessa Stein would have such an easy time of it in Netanyahu’s Israel. These days, there would be rightwing mobs outside her doveish events, chanting: “Death to the Arabs.”

Leaving aside Borger’s risible suggestion that Palestinian jihadist groups have shown more restraint than Israel when carrying out attacks on their enemies, the Guardian editor’s review is notable in which political actor in the Middle East is identified as the racist (Jewish mobs chanting “death to Arabs”) and which one is the unfairly stereotyped minority (the “Arab bogeyman”).

It’s important to read such passages in the context of the Guardian overall coverage of both the current war between Hamas and Israel, and the broader Israeli-Islamist Conflict.

Though Guardian correspondents sometimes note that Hamas is ‘considered’ a terrorist group by much of the West, their reporters, editors and commentators almost never explain to their readers that Hamas is an antisemitic extremist group - a reactionary racist, violent, fundamentalist movement at odds with the liberal, enlightenment values they claim to champion.

Whilst the Guardian never tires in highlighting racism (real or imagined) expressed by the most unrepresentative fringe elements in Israeli society, they almost uniformly avoid mentioning that the group currently ruling Gaza literally calls for the extermination of Jews.  It simply isn’t possible for UK news consumers to clearly understand the battles being waged in Israel and Gaza while ignorant of this fundamental fact about Hamas’s eliminationist antisemitism.

Reports about ceasefire negotiations between the two parties in Cairo which merely emphasize that Hamas demands a loosening of the Israeli blockade, while ignoring that their end goal continues to be the annihilation of the only Jewish state, are akin to media reports during WWII noting Germany’s territorial aspirations without any context regarding Hitler’s belief in Aryan racial supremacy and his wish to exterminate Jews and other ‘undesirables’.

On the other hand, it is heartening to see the support – among many Guardian contributors – for the West’s efforts to rein in an apocalyptic and genocidal Middle-East based, Sunni extremist offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood with a global expansionist worldview, which targets civilians, ruthlessly murders its enemies, possesses a pathological hatred for Jews and advocates Sharia Law over universal human rights.

However, whilst we’re of course referring to ISIS (Islamic State), we also just accurately described the fundamental ideological orientation of Hamas.

So, what accounts for such a profound moral inconsistency? Why are Palestinian jihadists not like the other jihadists?   

Though antisemitism is one factor which partly explains this phenomenon (among some Guardian contributors and journalists), the more widespread political dynamics at play are moral relativism, an egregiously skewed understanding of anti-imperialism, a glorification of ‘Palestinian resistance’ and an obsession with Jews and Israel  - in short, the signature ideological ticks of the Guardian Left.

There is, however, one more factor. 

We are often asked if we believe the Guardian to be institutionally antisemitic.  While their obsessive and almost entirely negative coverage of the Jewish State fans the flame of antisemitism, this writer, for one, does not believe the media group is compromised institutionally by anti-Jewish racism.

It may be more accurate to observe in the Guardian worldview a capacity to forcefully condemn antisemitism in the abstract, but an inability to summon such righteous indignation when doing so would require parting company with other ‘historically oppressed’ groups, and indeed challenge their very ideological identity.

In their failure to condemn Hamas, and morally distinguish antisemitic extremists from the Jews they’re trying to kill, lies not a visceral antipathy towards Jews as such, but a tragic lack of courage to follow their convictions into uncomfortable political places – cowardliness which continues to bring dishonour to their once proud journalistic community. 

Guardian pretends they’re not sure whether Israel or Hamas violated ceasefire

On Monday, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to extend a temporary ceasefire in Gaza by 24 hours so they could continue to conduct more talks on a long-term truce. The five-day ceasefire was set to expire at midnight Israeli time.

On Tuesday, at roughly 15:45 Israeli time (less than 16 hours into the 24 hour extension), terrorists in Gaza violated the ceasefire when they fired three rockets at Israel, causing large explosions near Beersheva. (This represents the eleventh cease-fire that Hamas either violated or rejected since the war began.)

Forty-five minutes later, at 16:30, there were reports of further Gaza rocket attacks on Ashdod and Ashkelon.

At 16:34, the IDF began retaliating in response to the Palestinian rocket barrage.

The timeline is not in dispute, as US officials made clear last night.

However, here’s the Guardian misinformation that we were all anticipating:

Print edition headline and strap line:

printHere’s the online edition:

onlineHere are the relevant opening passages:

Israeli negotiators withdrew from peace talks in Cairo aimed at forging a durable ceasefire in the six-week war in Gaza on Tuesday night as rocket fire and air strikes resumed hours before the latest truce was due to expire.

Israel accused Hamas of violating the latest of a series of temporary ceasefires after rockets were launched from Gaza, triggering a swift military and political response

Israeli officials said 10 rockets were fired from Gaza, the first of which were launched about eight hours before the truce was due to end at midnight

Then, we learn what the head of the Palestinian negotiating team claimed:

Palestinian negotiators blamed the collapse of the Gaza ceasefire on Israel’s failure to take Cairo-based negotiations seriously. Azzam al-Ahmad, the head of the Palestinian delegation, claimed that Israel had always intended to break the truce, and had used the firing of three rockets from Gaza on Tuesday afternoon as an excuse for an already-made decision to sabotage the talks.

So, according to Al-Ahmad, Hamas may have technically violated the ceasefire, but the rocket attacks from Gaza were cynically exploited by Israel, who had already made the decision to “sabotage the talks”.

Then, we learn what Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri claimed about the ceasefire.

The Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, denied knowledge of the rocket fire which Israel said had breached the truce.We don’t have any information about firing rockets from Gaza. The Israeli raids are intended to sabotage the negotiations in Cairo,” he told reporters. 

Whilst the Palestinian lead negotiator tacitly admitted that his side violated the ceasefire, all the official Hamas spokesman could muster was a denial of ‘knowledge’ concerning Palestinian rocket fire.

So, despite the timeline of events clearly indicating that Hamas violated the ceasefire, and one implicit acknowledgement by a Hamas negotiator that they indeed broke the ceasefire, the Guardian still isn’t willing to blame the Islamist terror group.

Guardian obfuscation at its finest. 

Buried by the Guardian: Hamas War Crimes

These videos include just a small fraction of the widely available evidence attesting to Hamas’s use of human shields, a topic we’ve posted about continually in the context of the Guardian’s near silence in the face of such egregious violations of international law by the Islamist terror group.

Compilation clip:

 

Longer clip of France24 broadcast seen in the first compilation video:

 

Longer NDTV clip seen in the first compilation video:

 

Gaza Bishop claims Hamas used church to fire rockets.

 

IDF evidence of Hamas firing from a Gazan school:

Have pro-Hamas trolls taken over the Telegraph’s headline writing?

Here are the indisputable facts about what occurred today – a timeline of events that even the Guardian isn’t disputing.

Israel supported an extension of the 72 hour ceasefire that was in effect while both sides negotiated a long-term agreement in Cairo, and which was going to expire at 8AM this morning.

After warning that they wouldn’t agree to extend the ceasefire, Hamas carried though on the threat and, shortly after 8AM, began firing dozens of rockets at Israel.

Israel then responded to the Hamas rocket fire – which injured several Israelis – by targeting terror targets in Gaza.

Here’s how the Telegraph framed it:

telegraph

 

The headline isn’t just misleading. It’s a baldfaced lie.

Israel defeats Hamas – and other facts about the war the Guardian won’t report

For Israelis who work professionally to promote accurate reporting about Israel and the Middle East, one of the most vexing dynamics (beyond the false claims, distortions, and fabrications) is a media narrative about our their country which often has little if any resemblance to reality.

Indeed, we are all too accustomed to Guardian journalists imputing to Israel the absolute worst motives – a place Jonathan Spyer refers to as the “mythical Israel”, “a place of uninterrupted darkness and horror, in which every human interaction is ugly, crude, racist, brutal” – while evoking endless sympathy for the most malevolent actors in the region.

Such fantastical ideas about the Jewish State and its enemies has certainly colored coverage of the current war in Gaza, and this post represents a break from the fisking, criticism and analyses of their reporting that you’re accustomed to. Instead, we will merely provide a very brief account of the war and its outcome – intuitive takeaways from the month-long conflict that the Guardian won’t report.

Hamas’s war was defined by the widespread use of human shields, and countless other war crimes

Nearly all of the 3,360 rockets fired by terrorists in Gaza during the war were aimed at Israeli civilian communities – each launch representing an individual war crime.

You would never know it from reading the Guardian, but evidence of Hamas’s use of Palestinian civilians as human shields (another war crime) is at this point simply ubiquitous and irrefutable:

The IDF conducted itself in an ethical manner

Despite media claims (based on information from the Hamas run Gaza Health Ministry) that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians killed in the war were civilians, new reports and analyses now suggest that roughly half of the casualties were combatants from Hamas, Islamic Jihad or other terror groups.  Col. Richard Kemp has contextualized such a low (one-to-one) ratio of civilians to combatant deaths in past Israeli wars by noting there has been an average three-to-one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths (that’s three civilians for every one combatant killed) in NATO led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

IDF measures to limit the number of Palestinian casualties included text messages, phone calls and radio messages in Arabic warning occupants to leave, and air-dropped leaflets with maps showing safe areas. When warnings went unheeded, Israeli aircraft dropped non-lethal explosives (‘knock on the door‘ procedures) to warn that an attack is imminent.

In addition to the field hospital Israel set up on the northern Gaza border to treat injured Palestinians, during Operation Protective Edge 1800 trucks entered the crossings between Israel and Gaza, carrying food, medical equipment, clothing, water, and fuel.

In a post last month, we asked the following question to the media – or to anyone else who questions Israel’s conduct during the war:

Name one army in the world that goes to greater lengths than the IDF to protect civilians during war.

We’re still waiting for a response.

Israel fought a just and morally necessary war against an antisemitic extremist group.

To those in the media whose political ideology is inspired by vapid clichés about the futility of armed conflict, almost no war – especially those in which Israel is engaged – is morally justified, and neither facts nor logic can persuade them.

However, those who don’t identify with the Guardian Left, and understand the harsh lessons of the 20th century (and indeed of Jewish history), would see a very stark moral contrast: a battle between the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas (a homophobic, misogynist, antisemitic extremist group dedicated to the mass murder of Jews) and Israel, the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people.  

Hamas’s mission, as Jeffrey Goldberg succinctly put it, is not ‘narrowly’ to destroy Israel, but to “end Jewish history”.  Every rocket that is fired, every attempted tunnel infiltration into Israeli communities, and every effort to inculcate their citizens with the values of jihad is designed for this sole purpose.

Israel Defeats Hamas

Though we can expect Guardian analyses which obfuscate this painfully obvious fact, it’s difficult to understand how anyone who has followed events unfold in Gaza and Israel over the last month can avoid concluding that Israel emerged victorious over Hamas.

While much of the UK media has strangely framed the relatively low number of Israeli deaths (64 soldiers and 3 civilians) as an indictment on the disproportionate military response – itself inspired in part by a bizarre moral logic which “turns suffering into the only measure of justice” -
the job of any army is to minimize casualties on its own side, and the IDF quite capably carried out this task.

Though Hamas fired 3300 rockets at Israel, only 116 – due in large measure to interceptions by the Iron Dome – hit populated areas (3.45%). In contrast, 475 rockets fired by Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters reportedly landed within the Gaza Strip.

The IDF destroyed nearly every known terror tunnel in the Strip – tunnels, by the way, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, and thousands of tons of ‘humanitarian’ concrete and other construction materials.

The IDF also reportedly destroyed 1,678 rockets launching capabilities, 977 command and control centers, 237 ‘militant’ wing government faculties, 191 weapon storage and manufacturing facilities, 144 training and militant compounds, and 1,535 additional terror sites.

Finally, Channel 2′s diplomatic correspondent Udi Segal stressed that we should remember that Hamas rejected a ceasefire proposal before the Israeli ground invasion, when it still had its tunnel infrastructure, its rocket capacity was still largely intact, and it still had a large degree of political legitimacy with the international community as part of the Palestinian unity government. Today, Segal observed, as it meekly negotiates in Cairo for a long-term truce, it has none of that.

UK media headline fail: Telegraph’s five comically misleading words

Here’s an Aug. 3rd headline (left column) from the international news section of the British paper, The Telegraph, accompanying an article by their Jerusalem correspondent Robert Tait which is quite possibly the most misleading headline we’ve come across during the war.

telegraph

However, the online version of the article (which was accompanied by a different headline) demonstrates the print headline is especially misleading, as the article actually revolves around an announcement by Israel that the army had begun staging “its first withdrawal” from Gaza, after the IDF had nearly reached its goal of destroying Hamas’s terror tunnels.

The print headline was presumably based on a solitary passage in the over 800 word article in which the Israeli Prime Minister reportedly vowed that continuing Hamas rocket fire would be met with further Israeli strikes:

the Israeli prime minister said “all options” remained on the table and threatened to make Hamas “pay an intolerable price” if it continued firing rockets into Israel.

Of course, an accurate headline might have read:

Israel announces withdrawal from Gaza.

But, why should Telegraph editors be bothered with such messy journalistic principles as accuracy, fairness, and context when they can instead continue feeding their readers the desired UK media narrative about the conflict?

 

UK media headline fail: Do Times editors read their own articles?

A Times (of London) article about an Israeli attack on Islamic Jihad terrorists at a house in the Shati ‘refugee camp’ yesterday – which also tragically killed a Palestinian girl – was accompanied by the following headline.

headline

So, according to the headline, the Israelis admitted that the strike on jihadists represented a violation of the truce that had gone into effect at 10 AM that day.  However, there’s one problem: there’s nothing in the report by Gregg Carlstrom which even comes close to backing up this claim.

Here’s the full article (behind pay wall):

A Palestinian driving a digger attacked a bus in Jerusalem in an apparent backlash to the war in Gaza and an Israeli airstrike killed a young girl during yesterday’s seven-hour ceasefire that failed to silence the guns.

Aseel al-Bakri, eight, was killed when a missile struck her house in al-Shati ­refugee camp, according to the Gazan health ministry. Israel confirmed that it had carried out the attack.

Israel had promised to hold fire in most of the strip from 10am until 5pm, except around Rafah, where there has been heavy fighting for several days. Sami Abu Zuhri, the spokesman of the militant group Hamas, which runs ­Gaza, warned Palestinians “not [to] trust such a ceasefire”.

The brief truce, which was announced overnight, was partly in response to strong condemnation of Israel’s bombardment of a United Nations school on Sunday, military sources said. The school was being used as a shelter. At least nine people were killed, according to the UN .

Two people died in attacks in Jerusalem yesterday, apparently in revenge for the carnage in Gaza. In the first attack, shortly after noon, a man driving an excavator ran over a pedestrian and then flipped over a passenger bus. Police shot the driver dead.

The pedestrian died of his wounds, and at least five other people were injured. “Officers opened fire when it was clear that this was a terrorist attack,” said Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, though he declined to ­provide evidence for that claim. Police officials have been worried about ­possible attacks inside Israel.

Witnesses said the driver was a Palestinian who lived in East Jerusalem and worked on a nearby construction site. Hundreds of Israelis gathered near the crumpled bus after the attack, many of them chanting: “Death to Arabs.”

Similar attacks have happened in the past. In 2008, for example, a Palestinian man killed three people with a bulldozer.

Hours after yesterday’s attack, a gunman on a motorcycle started shooting on Mount Scopus, close to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. One person, an Israeli soldier, was critically injured.

Despite such violent incidents, the ceasefire and the withdrawal of most Israeli troops from Gaza provided a bit of breathing room for negotiations in Cairo. Last night Egypt announced that both Israel and the Palestinians had agreed to a three-day ceasefire beginning at 6am today.

Palestinian officials already in the Egyptian capital said that they had agreed on a unified set of demands, including the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Gaza and the lifting of the territory’s blockade.

Israel has not sent anyone to the talks but indicated last night that a delegation would be heading for Egypt in the next three days to work on a longer-term truce. The army-backed government in Cairo is hostile to Hamas and is unlikely to accept any terms that would be unpalatable to the Israelis.

“Egypt knows what Israel wants,” said Yitzhak Levanon, who was the Israeli ambassador in Cairo from 2009 to 2011. “We trust Egypt, because Egypt understands the difficulty Israel is ­facing with Hamas.”

Although there were fewer Israeli aistrikes and Hamas rocket attacks, there was no sign of an imminent end to the war, which has so far killed more than 1,800 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 66 Israelis, almost all of them soldiers. Israeli troops remain in a buffer zone in Gaza.

While Israel acknowledged that they carried out the attack, can anyone tell us which passage in the Times article backs up the claim in the headline that Israeli officials admitted that the attack represented a violation of the ceasefire?  

Further, as even the New York Times reported, “one Israeli official from the army agency that controls coordination with Gaza told Israel Radio that the strike took place just before the cease-fire began”. So, the timing of the IDF strike is, at the very least, disputed.

The Times got it wrong. 

Guardian uncritically cites ‘expert’ views of racist and conspiracy theorist

Just how extreme and bigoted does someone have to be for Guardian editors to decide against granting his views on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict legitimacy?

Would you say that an ‘expert’ who’s a 9/11 conspiracy theorist – having argued that the attacks on NYC and Washington were an “inside job” – should be discredited as a source whose criticism of Israel has merit?

Further, what if such a ‘expert’ published blatantly anti-Semitic cartoons and articles on his blog, and endorsed the book of a neo-Nazi style racist?

And, what if this same ‘expert’ accused Israel of having “genocidal intentions” and of slouching towards a “Palestinian Holocaust” while, conversely, praising the late Iranian dictator Ayatollah Khomeini for his “humane governance”?

Well, according to the Guardian, the racist conspiracist cum ‘expert’ in question – Richard Falk – indeed deserves to have his criticism of Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza amplified.

A recent update from the Guardian’s Live Blog of the war noted the following.

Dozens of international law experts, including John Dugard and Richard Falk, both former UN special rapporteurs on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, have said the “civilian population of the Gaza Strip is under attack”. They say that the launch of rockets from Gaza is illegal under international law as well as morally intolerable but that Israel’s actions are of “incomparable magnitude”.

Blandly characterizing Richard Falk as an “international law expert” is of course akin to describing Gilad Atzmon – the Hitler apologist and Holocaust denier - as merely a jazz musician

Harriet Sherwood channels her inner Baghdad Bob in story on human shield ‘claims’

The Guardian, as with a relatively small but vocal and influential segment of the Western Left, is defined ideologically by their insistence that all people – and all political movements – are reasonable, and share more or less the same values regarding the sanctity of human life that they do. This dynamic – characterized by one academic a liberal cognitive egocentrism – is most pronounced in the Guardian’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, particularly when focus turns to the actions of Islamist extremist groups in the region.

Within their coverage of the current war, their correspondents (Peter Beaumont, Harriet Sherwood, and others) seem to process undeniable evidence of Hamas war crimes, such as their long-time use of human shields, as something akin to Zionist propaganda – ‘smears’ against the Palestinians which they seem determined to refute. (Indeed, such Guardian obfuscations about human shields are not deterred by the fact that Hamas spokespersons have admitted that the practice is effective.)

Harriet Sherwood’s July 24th article, In Gaza, Hamas fighters are among civilians. There is nowhere else for them to go‘ represents a classic example of this dynamic.

Her article begins thusly:

Israel‘s accusation that Hamas is using civilians as human shields has grown increasingly strident as the war in Gaza worsens.

The charge is laid relentlessly by political and military leaders and media commentators, repeated in conversations by members of the public and echoed in the comments of foreign politicians and diplomats. On the other side of the conflict, the accusation is vigorously denied by Hamas and others in Gaza.

The truth is lost amid the propaganda battle being waged alongside the shells, bombs, guns and rockets. What is certain is that the picture is more complicated than either side claims.

Then, Sherwood writes:

Israel claims Hamas routinely uses hospitals, mosques, schools and private homes to launch rockets at Israel, store weapons, hide command and control centres, shelter military personnel, and conceal tunnel shafts.

Here’s a video demonstrating Israeli “claims” that Hamas uses schools to launch attacks:

Sherwood continues:

On Wednesday, the IDF released a series of maps purporting to show Hamas military sites close to – but not in – schools, hospitals, mosques and residential buildings. It also released video, which it said showed militants using an ambulance to flee after coming under attack by IDF troops, and said the grounds and vicinity of al-Wafa hospital in Gaza City had been “repeatedly utilised by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a command centre, rocket-launching site, and a post enabling terrorists to open fire at soldiers”.

But the hospital’s director rejected the Israeli assertion that the hospital had been used for military purposes by Hamas or other militant groups

It’s likely that neither hospital director, nor Sherwood, saw the following video:

Additionally, reporters covering the war have reported that another hospital, al-Shifa, has been used as a command center for Hamas.  

William Booth wrote the following in a July 15th column for the Washington Post:

the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, crowds gathered to throw shoes and eggs at the Palestinian Authority’s health minister, who represents the crumbling “unity government” in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The minister was turned away before he reached the hospital, which has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices.

The Jerusalem correspondent for the Financial Times (a publication not known for its pro-Israel sympathies) Tweeted this:

Then, Sherwood’s article takes an even stranger turn, seeming to suggest that even if Hamas fires from civilian areas, it’s arguably justified by their asymmetrical nature of the war.

The current war is not being fought on a conventional battlefield. Israel is pounding Gaza from the air, and its troops are increasingly fighting battles against a guerrilla army in densely populated urban areas – which constitute much of the Gaza Strip. As Israeli tanks and troops push further into the towns and cities, it is increasingly likely that Hamas will launch attacks from positions close to civilian buildings.

The separation between “civilian” and “military” in Gaza is much more blurred than with a conventional army – both physically and in the Gazan psyche. Hamas and other militants are embedded in the population. Their fighters are not quartered in military barracks, but sleep at night in their family homes.

Of course, the Geneva Convention prohibition against the use of human shields doesn’t grant a loophole for “guerrilla armies” operating in “populated urban areas”.  If there was such an exception, every terrorist group in the world would exploit it to ‘legally’ put innocent civilians in harm’s way when carrying out attacks on Western targets.  Additionally, Gaza’s population density (exaggerated though it is) seems to have little relevance in Hamas’s decision (over the course of several wars) to use mosques, hospitals and schools to hide arms and fire rockets. 

Then, Sherwood audaciously attempts to impute moral equivalence between Hamas and the IDF:

Israel, meanwhile, does not have an unblemished record in the use of human shields. In 2010, two soldiers were convicted in an IDF military court of using an 11-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield in its 2008-09 operation in Gaza. The pair ordered the child to search bags they suspected of being booby-trapped.

Investigations by news organisations and human rights groups have suggested the IDF has used Palestinians as human shields in operations in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Of course, the key words in this passage about this solitary instance of using human shields are “two soldiers were convicted”, unwittingly demonstrating that such acts run completely counter to IDF policy. Indeed, as the article Sherwood linked to noted, “IDF protocols strictly prohibit the use of civilians as human shields.”  Moreover, like any good propagandist, Sherwood uses this one example – representing the rare exception in the context of any army which goes to unparalleled lengths to protect Palestinian civilians  – to impute a moral equivalence which any sober commentator would know is patently absurd. 

Here’s Former Col. Richard Kemp, who led British forces in Afghanistan, talk briefly about the media’s complicity in parroting the Hamas PR strategy:

 

Much like Baghdad Bob, the Iraqi diplomat most known for making comically inaccurate claims during press conferences with Western reporters in the early stages of the 2003 War, Sherwood’s obfuscations on behalf of the terrorist movement (which cynically exploits its own civilians to gain such propaganda victories) will likely one day be treated as a case study in the kind of propaganda which serves to defend the indefensible. 

BREAKING: Video suggests IDF mortars did NOT play role in Beit Hanoun killing

On July 25th we posted about the UK media’s rush to judgement after 15 Palestinian civilians were reportedly killed at a UNWRA school in Beit Hanoun – an assault that both Hamas and Israel claim might well be the fault of the other.  The Guardian, Independent, and even The Times immediately blamed Israel hours after the incident, despite the dearth of evidence, and prior to the IDF’s investigation.

Within the last hour, the IDF released the following statement:

Since Thursday, July 24, 2014, the IDF has conducted a comprehensive inquiry regarding the incident in which the UNRWA school was fired upon. The inquiry concluded that during the intense fighting between IDF forces and Hamas militants, the militants operated adjacent to the UNRWA school. The militants fired anti-tank missiles at IDFsoldiers, who then responded by firing several mortars in their direction.

The inquiry and the documented footage presented here concluded that a single errant mortar landed in the courtyard of the UNRWA school, when it was completely empty.

The IDF stresses it does not operate or target international organizations in the Gaza Strip, and the ongoing coordination conducted via the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) is continuous without change, even during times of combat.

In light of the inquiry’s findings, the IDF rejects the claims that were made by various officials immediately following the incident, that people were killed in the school premises as a result of IDF operational activity.

Here’s the video they released: 

We’ll have more on the media ramifications of this developing story tomorrow. 

Economist: Is it possible to understand why Hamas fires rockets at civilians?

No, the Economist didn’t explicitly ask the question: Is it possible to understand why Hamas fires rockets at civilians?  The headline of this post is inspired by an article by Ben White in 2001 titled ‘Is it possible to understand the rise in antisemitism?‘, which empathized with anti-Semites.

To boot, a July 19th article in the print edition The Economist purports to explain ‘Why Hamas Fires those Rockets‘ (pay wall), and reaches a predictable conclusion.

The anonymous article begins:

MANY Gazans, not just their leaders in Hamas, think they have little to lose by fighting on. For one thing, the spotlight has been switched back onto them since the Israeli campaign began earlier this month. In Gazan eyes, Hamas gains from the violence because the outside world may, as a result of the grim publicity generated by the bloodshed, feel obliged to consider its grievances afresh.

Whilst there is no doubt that Hamas perversely believes a war in which Palestinian civilians are killed strengthens their position, there is little evidence that this view is supported by ordinary Gazans. Though there’s been no polling during the current conflict, last month The Washington Institute commissioned a leading Palestinian pollster to gauge the views of Gazans, and the results appear to contradict the Economist’s conclusions:

While you can see the full poll here, the results to some of the questions clearly seem to contradict the Economist’s claim that Gazans “think they have little to lose by fighting”.

As tensions mounted and Hamas and other Gazan factions began to step up rocket fire [in June], the people of that territory were heavily in favor of a ceasefire — 70 percent of the poll respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “Hamas should maintain a ceasefire with Israel in both Gaza and the West Bank.” This attitude is corroborated by the 73 percent of Gazans who said Palestinians should adopt “proposals for (nonviolent) popular resistance against the occupation.” Similarly, when asked if Hamas should accept Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’s position that the new unity government renounce violence against Israel, a clear majority (57 percent) answered in the affirmative. The responses to all three questions clearly indicate that most Gazans reject military escalation.

The Economist article continued:

After the last big Israeli effort to stop the rockets, in November 2012, it was agreed that, along with a ceasefire, the blockade of Gaza would gradually be lifted and the crossings into Egypt and Israel would be opened. The ceasefire generally held, but the siege continued. As Gazans see it, they have remained cruelly shut up in an open-air prison. Firing rockets, many of them argue, is the only way they can protest, even though they know the Israelis are bound, from time to time, to punish them.

First, the ceasefire (after the 2012 war) did not hold, as they claim, as there were roughly 40 rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from Gaza in 2013 alone.  As far as ‘the siege’ (by which he’s referring to Israel’ legal blockade of arms and dual use items which could be used for military purposes), Israel did in fact ease restrictions on imports into Gaza. This included allowing for the import of greater quantities of construction material (including cement) for private use and humanitarian purposes, much of which has clearly been diverted by Hamas to build terror tunnels and other military facilities. 

The Economist then makes the following claim:

Mr Netanyahu’s government has prevented Mr Abbas from reasserting his authority, as part of the unity deal, over Gaza—and from paying off Hamas civil servants there. 

However, Netanyahu had nothing to do with the failure of the new unity government to pay Hamas civil servants, as multiple reports demonstrate.

Reuters:

The inauguration on Monday of a unity government under a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation pact raised expectations among Hamas-hired servants that they would now receive their wages. Thousands joined their PA-payroll colleagues at Gaza ATMs on Thursday, hoping to withdraw their salaries.

But the Hamas employees came away empty-handed, and a spokesman for the [Palestinian] unity government said they still had to be vetted by a committee before they could be added to the new leadership’s payroll

Al-Jazeera and other news sites reported the exact same thing.

The Economist concluded their report thusly:

The Gazan grievance over prisoners stirs great passion among Palestinians everywhere. After three Israeli students were kidnapped on the West Bank on June 12th and later found murdered, the Israeli security forces rounded up more than 500 Hamas people, even though the movement did not claim responsibility for the crime. The increase in rocket fire was partly intended as a protest against the round-up of prisoners. Any ceasefire, says Hamas, must include the release at least of those detained in the past month.

First, the two main suspects in the Israeli boys’ murders are Hamas members. Second, Hamas (who, let’s remember) praised the kidnapping) has been planning and publicly calling to kidnap Israelis for years. Indeed, there were dozens of unsuccessful attempts at kidnapping Israelis (many by Hamas members) in the year prior to the kidnapping and murder of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel.

As Etta Prince-Gibson wrote in Ha’aretz (pay wall):

Last year, the organization [Hamas] even distributed an 18-page “Field Manual for Kidnapping” to its Qassam Brigades, providing detailed explanations on how to target Israeli soldiers, when to kidnap (rainy days are best) and how to avoid being caught (don’t use the Internet or phone).

Lastly, note that the Economist characterized Hamas rocket attacks – intentional attacks on Israeli civilians which constitute war crimes under international law – as a mere “protest” against Israel. 

In reading the Economist’s imputation of reasonableness to Hamas, you’d be forgiven for momentarily forgetting that they’re antisemitic extremist terror group which rejects the existence of the Jewish State within any borders.

The empathy for the terrorist group Hamas – and not merely for innocent Palestinian civilians – displayed by the ‘sophisticated’ Brits at the Economist (as with much of the UK media during the current war) is at times astounding. 

Guardian cartoon mocks IDF efforts to avoid civilian casualties

The IDF routinely drops leaflets, sends recorded messages and places calls and text messages (and often sends ‘knock on the door’ warning shots) in advance of attacks in Gaza, warning civilians to distance themselves from Hamas weapons and operatives – and to take refuge in designated safe areas – as part of efforts to minimize civilian harm.  (The IDF also often delays or calls off attacks if civilians don’t heed such warnings.)

Hamas on the other hand has admitted to using Palestinians as human shields to prevent Israeli attacks on rocket launchers and terror tunnels (often hidden beneath civilian structures, such as homes and even mosques), often telling their civilian population to stay in their homes prior to an attack.  Such Hamas tactics represent a tacit acknowledgement that the IDF goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid harming civilians, and can be expected to proceed with much greater caution when engaging in an attack on Hamas terrorists if civilians are in the vicinity.  

Also, as Jeffrey Goldberg noted: Dead Palestinians also represent a crucial propaganda victory “for the nihilists of Hamas”.

In stark contrast to Hamas’s cruel indifference to the suffering of their own population, it’s unclear if any army in the world goes to such lengths to avoid civilian casualties as the IDF.

No matter. Much of the media – and other ‘commentators‘ – have been on a crusade to obfuscate this clear moral divide.

To boot, a ‘First Dog on the Moon cartoon which appeared in the Guardian on July 21st:

headline

dog on the moon

 

  • As we’ve noted, contrary to the suggestion in the frames, Palestinians called by the IDF are informed of designated safe zones where they should flee. 
  • Contrary to what the text in the cartoon implies, the homes in question are targeted because they’re used by Hamas to store weapons (such as rockets) or other instruments of war. Indeed, reading the cartoon, you’d be forgiven for believing that the IDF launches missiles at civilian homes for no particular reason.
  • Finally, note the second to the final frame, which really says it all: Israeli warnings to civilians are summed up as a threat that the IDF will kill Palestinian children if they (presumably Hamas fighters) choose “to fight back”.

The cartoon is a lie, graphic agitprop which represents yet another example of the foreign media running interference for the reactionary, antisemitic extremist group currently waging a war of their own choosing against the Jewish State.