Guardian & BBC got the death of Omar Misharawi wrong: But, nothing will change.

They all got the story wrong.

The Washington Post, The Daily Mail, The Sun, The TelegraphThe Huffington Post, MSN, YahooCBC News, and, of course, the BBC and the Guardian (among others), all accused Israel of firing a missile, during the November Gaza war, at a house east of Gaza City which killed the 11 month old son of BBC Arabic journalist Jihad Misharawi and his sister-in-law. (Misharawi’s brother also later died of wounds suffered in the blast.)

Here’s the Guardian’s Roy Greenslade on Nov. 15.

roy

Greenslade opens with the following:

The 11-month-old son of a BBC staffer was killed yesterday during an air strike by the Israeli army on the Gaza strip.

Here’s a Nov. 15 Guardian report by Paul Owens and Tom McCarthy:

owens

Note: Guardian caption is incorrect. The infant’s name is Omar. Ahmad is the brother of Jihad Misharawi.

The story began thusly:

A grim new feud opened up on social media on Thursday as pictures were traded of babies who died or were injured during the conflict in Gaza.

Pictures emerged of BBC cameraman Jihad Misharawi’s 11-month-old son Omar, who was killed on Wednesday during an Israeli attack. Misharawi’s sister-in-law also died in the strike on Gaza City, and his brother was seriously injured.

Harriet Sherwood reported the following on Dec. 11, in a follow-up on the aftermath of the war:

harriet

Of course, the death of an infant is always a horrible tragedy and anyone would be moved by images of Jihad Misharawi’s unimaginable grief.

However,  as with any story deemed worthy of attention by professional journalists, facts matter – and, in contrast with the MSM, others in the blogosphere were skeptical about the veracity of the accepted narrative. 

Elder of Ziyon and BBC Watch (and other blogs) were among those who examined the evidence and suggested the possibility that Omar Misharawi was killed by an errant Palestinian rocket.  

Elder noted that “the hole in the ceiling look a lot like what Qassam rocket damage looks like when they hit homes in Israel” and that the photos of the building where the child was killed looked nothing like the damage to Gaza buildings from Israeli airstrikes.

BBC Watch’s Hadar Sela noted, on Nov. 25, that the “BBC has doggedly avoided conducting any sort of investigation whatsoever into the subject of Palestinians killed or injured by at least 152 known shortfalls of rockets fired by [Palestinian] terrorists during [the Gaza war].”

Their skepticism was well-founded.

On March 6th 2013 the UNHRC issued an advance version of its report on the November war and Elder of Ziyon thoroughly read the whole thing. The report states on page 14 that a UN investigation found that:

“On 14 November, a woman, her 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zaitoun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.” [emphasis added]

A Palestinian rocket killed baby Omar, Hiba (the sister-in-law of Jihad) and Ahmed (Jihad’s brother who later succumbed to his wounds).

Whether or not the BBC, Guardian and others will revise their stories to note that Gaza terrorists (and not the IDF) were responsible for the death of Omar, Hiba and Ahmed Misharawi, Sela made the following point:

It is impossible to undo the extensive damage done by the BBC with this story. No apology or correction can now erase it from the internet or from the memories of the countless people who read it or heard it.

Sela, in her Nov. 25 post, argued that, “The tragic story of Omar Misharawi [was] used and abused to advance a very specific narrative of Israel as a killer of children.”

In short, when it comes to the activist media’s mad rush to judgement on every alleged Israeli sin, regardless of whether new facts contradicting the original conclusions are eventually revealed, nothing will be learned.  

Lethal Narratives concerning the Jewish state’s ‘villainy’ will continue unabated.

Nothing will change. 

CiF Watch complaint to PCC prompts Guardian to begrudgingly revise Rachel Corrie op-ed

The Guardian’s coverage of the culmination of the civil law suit brought by the parents of Rachel Corrie – a verdict which was handed down in Haifa on August 28th, 2012 – was characteristically obsessive, tendentious and breezily unconcerned with the facts.

The Guardian’s coverage of the Israeli court ruling dismissing the Corrie’s suit – which included several reports by Harriet Sherwood, a deeply offensive cartoon, and an especially malign piece by Chris McGreal - culminated in an official Guardian editorial, titled ‘Rachel Corrie: A memory which refuses to die

The editorial, which was dripping with contempt, included this passage on the ruling:

“Perpetuating the myth that her death was a tragic accident, the judge did not deviate from the official line.”

The Guardian seemed to all but ignore the evidence – if indeed the author(s) of the editorial even bothered to read the English summary which was posted online the same day the ruling was issued - presented in the trial, and the judge’s statements, which led to the the newspaper stating unequivocally that:

“Rachel Corrie died trying to protect a Palestinian home from demolition.” 

However, the Court of Law in Haifa, Israel, which heard the case presented by Rachel Corrie’s family, ruled otherwise. In his verdict, Judge Oded Gershon rejected the claim that Ms. Corrie had been protecting a house from demolition at the time of her death.

The judge ruled as follows: 

The mission of the IDF force on the day of the incident was solely to clear the ground. This clearing and leveling included leveling the ground and clearing it of brush in order to expose hiding places used by terrorists, who would sneak out from these areas and place explosive devices with the intent of harming IDF soldiers. There was an urgency to carrying out this mission so that IDF look-outs could observe the area and locate terrorists thereby preventing explosive devices from being buried. The mission did not include, in any way, the demolition of homes. The action conducted by the IDF forces was done at real risk to the lives of the soldiers. Less than one hour before the incident that is the focus of this lawsuit, a live hand-grenade was thrown at the IDF forces.

All the above information was provided to Chris Elliott, Readers’ Editor of the Guardian, by my colleague Hadar Sela, in a series of communications  beginning on August 30th 2012. Mr Elliott, however, chose not to make a correction, which prompted CiF Watch to bring the matter before the UK Press Complaints Commission. 

Sela argued that Guardian’s statement that “Rachel Corrie died trying to protect a Palestinian home from demolition” had been proven to be untrue in a court of law prior to the editorial being published.

After many months, and a series of correspondences between Sela, the PCC and Guardian editors stubbornly resistant to admitting error, the Guardian begrudgingly agreed to amend their editorial to acknowledge that the Israeli court ruling contradicted claims that Corrie was preventing a home demolition on that day.

pcc

Whilst the result is far from ideal, it’s important that the Guardian was forced to acknowledge that an Israeli judicial proceeding heard evidence, engaged in serious deliberations, and came to a conclusion at odds with the lethal narratives about the Jewish state routinely advanced by Palestinian activists that the paper unquestioningly accepted as fact in their editorial.  

Indeed, it’s worth noting anytime the Guardian is forced to deviate from their ‘official line’ on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

(Additionally, a CiF Watch complaint to the Telegraph – which repeated the same error about Corrie’s actions on the day she was killed, and used a photo which the caption falsely claimed was taken “moments before she died”, by Adrian Blomfield - was revised, and then, at some point, completely removed from their site.)