Ghoulish: Morbidly interested in death or disaster
The Mount Bental Look-Out point in the Golan is one of the more popular Israeli mountain peaks, due in part to the beautiful views of the Golan, Mt. Hermon and Syria, and because it was the site of a battle during the Yom Kippur War in which 160 Israeli tanks successfully held off nearly ten times their number of Syrian tanks.
Sightseers can also of course look down at the Syrian town of Quneitra and the Quneitra crossing point, the only border crossing between Syria and Israel on the Golan Heights – the sight, quite recently, of fierce fighting between rebels from the Nusra Front and Syrian government forces.
Here’s the Daily Mail’s headline, evidently inspired in part by an EPA photo of the Bental look-out point, published on Sept. 5th.
Now here’s a photo (and caption), used to illustrate the Daily Mail article, of those “ghoulish” Israeli daytrippers:
Here are the opening passages of the article:
Donning T-shirts, shorts and sunglasses, they stand on a mountainside platform, gazing into the distance through sets of binoculars.
But these Israeli daytrippers aren’t just admiring the landscape – they are watching a fierce battle just over the Syrian border. One that now involves ISIS.
The militant group – which released a video of their execution of American journalist Steven Sotloff earlier this week – are now just half a mile from the Golan Heights border crossing between Israel and Syria.
The Queneitra crossing has already seen fierce fighting between the Syrian army and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, with the rebels taking control of the Syrian checkpoint just weeks ago.
Today, smoke could be seen rising from the outskirts of the town of Quneitra as the Syrian military fired at the rebels, killing at least 16
Overlooking orchards spilling down the mountainside, the platform was the perfect spot for the local daytrippers to watch battle commence.
‘I can see the terrorists at the checkpoint,’ Majd Abu Akl, a Druze Israeli farmer, looking east through binoculars to Syria, told the Financial Times.
He identified some of the men as belonging to the Nusra Front by their black uniforms, while others were driving around in UN jeeps with black ISIS flags.
Israelis, who have long considered Syrian President Bashar al-Assad their bitter foe, are now worried about the threat of the ever-nearing militants.
‘There is a battle for control on the other side of the border; we are watching it carefully,’ said Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israel Defence forces. So far it hasn’t been pointed in our direction, but we need to be prepared for that day.’
Even if we are to assume that some of the Israelis seen in the photo came to his extremely popular lookout site specifically to watch the fighting, the big question which leaps to mind is how on earth the Daily Mail was able to establish that they came because they get perverse “ghoulish” pleasure in watching the death and destruction.
Finally, in a classic case of burying the lead, the next passage in the article highlights another dynamic related to ISIS.
It comes as a report of a gathering of ‘thousands’ of ISIS supporters at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount has increased concerns that the extremist group’s sights are focused on Israel as a future target.
So, to recap:
1. A few dozen Israeli tourists go to Mt. Bental, where those “armed with binoculars” can evidently see fighting between Islamist rebels and Syrian government forces over the Quneitra border crossing.
3. The Daily Mail frames the story by speculating on the ill-motives of the Israeli tourists, while brushing aside (evidently as morally insignificant) the ugly spectacle of thousands of Palestinians showing their support for ISIS.
As our analysis of the UK media’s coverage of the region consistently indicates, not only do foreign journalists see their job as making sure that “every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported”, but in fact often manage to frame even the most benign and innocent Israeli behavior in the most negative light possible.