Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler
Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Wednesday, March 13.
1) Being a reporter means never having to say you're sorry
The New York Times has reported on the UN report that raised doubts about the death of Omar Masharawi.
Isabel Kershner wrote U.N. Ties Gaza Baby’s Death to Palestinians:
Paul Danahar, the BBC Middle East bureau chief, wrote on his
Twitter account that an Israeli shell had come through the roof of the
small Gaza home. Mr. Danahar visited his grieving colleague there on
Nov. 15 and posted a photograph of a roundish hole in the roof of a
There are a few things here. Kershner reports about the "roundish hole."
If that is the damage caused by Israeli mortars then there's a basis
for claiming that it was Israel who fired. That's one of the points that
Elder of Ziyon addressed originally. At the time he first wrote about this incident,
an expert he had consulted observed that an Israeli round would have
destroyed the home. None of the followups in the mainstream media have
bothered to address this point. Writing that the facts of the case are
"likely to remain in dispute" is a cop out. There are observations that
could clarify what happened for those who want to make them.
But a March 6 report by the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights on the eight-day conflict, which ended
with a cease-fire, stated that three people in the home — Omar, a woman
and an 18-year-old youth — were most likely the victims of “what
appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.”
The circumstances of those deaths are likely to remain in dispute.
Israel’s military has not determined whether it hit the house or not,
saying it does not have clear information about what happened. The BBC
has reported that privately, military officials told journalists at the
time that Israel had aimed at a militant who was hiding in the building.
Also Kershner mentions the BBC's role in publicizing the event. I
believe that if it had been known that it was a Hamas rocket that had
hit the house, the death of Omar Masharawi would not have been news. But
another factor driving the story was the team effort of the BBC to make
sure that the story was publicized. BBC Watch has more on this angle.
Anti-Israel activist, Robert Mackey, writing at the Lede blog at the New York Times addressed the story in U.N. Report Reframes Debate Over Image of a Father’s Agony in Gaza:
Despite this lack of clarity, pro-Israel bloggers treated
the United Nations report as definitive and immediately pressed the BBC
and other news organizations to apologize for publishing a photograph of
the bombed-out Masharawi home taken by a colleague of the boy’s father
who wrote on Twitter that the damage was caused by “an Israeli shell.”
Why did Mackey bring up the error? Max Fisher had noticed it too,
but confirmed that the U.N. report indeed was about the same incident.
It is typical of Mackey to bring up irrelevant points to dispute Israeli
In response, at least one pro-Palestinian blogger noted that the single
sentence in the United Nations report on the family includes an obvious
factual error. The report said the bombing killed “a woman, her
11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult.” In fact, the child’s
mother was present at his funeral the next day. As Jihad Masharawi
explained on the night of the bombing, in a wrenching interview with the
BBC while cradling his dead son in his arms, the explosion had killed
his sister-in-law and badly wounded his brother.
Jonathan Tobin summed up the (media's) story in two paragraphs Don’t Let Facts Hinder Israel-Bashing:
This is a terrible tragedy that has all too often been aided
and abetted by an international media eager to use shocking pictures
and videos meant to depict Israeli atrocities to put forward a skewed
version of what has happened in Gaza.
Similarly, Walter Russell Mead writes in Did the Palestinians murder Baby Omar? (h/t Petra Marquardt-Bigman)
In this case, just as with the celebrated case of Mohammed al-Durrah–the
picture of whose death in his father’s arms after supposedly being shot
by Israelis at the beginning of the second intifada became a rallying
point for Palestinians–the fictional narrative of Palestinian victimhood
trumped the facts. Even after the story was conclusively debunked, the
image of the dying child remains an icon of the campaign to defame
After a century of effort, Palestinians remain feeble and
divided in the realms of political and military action, but they are
extremely good at calling attention to their suffering and creating
sympathy for their cause. In this realm they can turn Israel’s strength
and power against the Jewish state by highlighting their status as
underdogs and attacking superior Israeli military capabilities for
responding “disproportionately” to their derisory military force.
As Mead notes, without an international community willing to abet the
spread of Palestinian propaganda, the claims of victimhood wouldn't
Israel has developed no effective counter to this Palestinian tactic and
continues to exist in a situation in which Israel wins all or virtually
all of the military contests, but the Palestinians convert their own
military defeats into moral capital. Neither side finds this situation
satisfactory, but neither side is able to do anything about it.
Unfortunately, neither Tobin nor Mead credited Elder of Ziyon
with bringing the matter to light. However poorly the mainstream media
has dealt with the UN report, they likely wouldn't have even mentioned
it if Elder of Ziyon hadn't publicized it.
Yesterday, Elder of Ziyoun provided a partial list of Palestinians killed by Hamas rockets.
The Mishrawi case is hardly unique. Unless you read the
mainstream media that couldn't quite figure out that many Gaza rockets
Simply put, in the Masharawi case, the mainstream media, led by the BBC,
ignored the non-trivial possibility that the house had been hit by a
Hamas rocket and simply focused on the one guilty party they were
conditioned to suspect. It's worth recalling one of Max Fisher's tweets.
The question is, why can the members of the media not figure out that
they are often being lied to, especially when it comes to civilian
casualties? Especially when it comes from officials in a territory that
can hardly be described as a bastion of free speech and transparency?
The only conclusion is that journalists' ability to think critically is
impaired when they have a preconceived idea of who is right and wrong.
They take all evidence - even from proven liars, like Gaza's Health
Ministry - as proof their ideas were right to begin with. Israeli
denials, even though they have been proven to be correct time and time
again, are instead treated with the skepticism that is missing when
listening to Gaza officials.
.@max_fisher A real reporter would ask the UN. Oh, wait: one did .freebeacon.com/u-n-hamas-rock… MT "not sure UN report is talking about Mishrawi"
Notice how he uses "pro-Israel" to qualify those who asked him to follow up. Why wasn't the issue accuracy?
— ElderOfZiyon (@elderofziyon) March 11, 2013
No one in the mainstream media asked the most important questions. The
witnesses gave very dramatic and specific descriptions of the explosion.
Yet not a single reporter asked a demolitions expert if the explosions
and damage were consistent with an Israeli shell. There don't appear to
have been any aircraft seen in the area at the time, either. Fisher's
implicit dismissal of his critics betrays a disturbing truth: reporting
has gotten so bad, it is pro-Israel advocates who are the biggest
sticklers for accuracy.
2) Mr. Friedman repeats himself
In Mr. Obama goes to Israel, Thomas Friedman writes:
For all these reasons, Obama could be the first sitting American president to visit Israel as a tourist.
Israel is not ruling over 2.5 million Palestinians and as David Bernstein recently noted No, Arabs Living Under Israeli Control are Not Going to Outnumber Jews Any Time Soon.
(Bernstein implicitly accepts the claim that Israel does control the
Arabs in the West Bank. That hasn't been true since late 1995.)
Good news for Israel, right? Wrong. While there may be fewer reasons for
the U.S. to take risks to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
there is still a powerful reason for Israel to do so. The status quo
today may be tolerable for Israel, but it is not healthy. And more
status quo means continued Israeli settlements in, and tacit annexation
of, the West Bank. That’s why I think the most important thing Obama
could do on his trip is to publicly and privately ask every Israeli
official he meets these questions:
“Please tell me how your relentless settlement drive in the West Bank
does not end up with Israel embedded there — forever ruling over 2.5
million Palestinians with a colonial-like administration that can only
undermine Israel as a Jewish democracy and delegitimize Israel in the
world community? I understand why Palestinian dysfunction and the Arab
awakening make you wary, but still. Shouldn’t you be constantly testing
and testing whether there is a Palestinian partner for a secure peace?
After all, you have a huge interest in trying to midwife a decent West
Bank Palestinian state that is modern, multireligious and pro-Western — a
totally different model from the Muslim Brotherhood variants around
you. Everyone is focused on me and what will I do. But, as a friend, I
just want to know one thing: What is your long-term strategy? Do you
even have one?”
The words Friedman puts into President Obama's mouth, are Friedman's
words. He believes against all evidence that Israel will soon be an
Friedman, though, presented an argument why Israel shouldn't make any
more concessions. Earlier he wrote:
Finally, while America’s need to forge Israeli-Palestinian
peace has never been lower, the obstacles have never been higher: Israel
has now implanted 300,000 settlers in the West Bank, and the Hamas
rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza have seriously eroded the appetite of
the Israeli silent majority to withdraw from the West Bank, since one
puny rocket alone from there could close Israel’s international airport
Forget about a "puny rocket." If Hamas would take over the West Bank all
of Israel would be subject to threat that southern Israel had been
subjected to until this past November (and could well be threatened with
again). Why does Friedman so casually dismiss his own argument?
3) How is this pro-peace?
J-Street has a campaign in advance of President Obama's visit to Israel:
So we're asking you - when the President is at the Kotel,
what should his note say? The President says he is taking a listening
tour - we need to make sure he hears from us.
Hamas: ‘Declaration Of War’ If Obama Visits Temple Mount. (h/t The Israel Link)
J-Street claims to be pro-Israel and pro-peace. If they're really
"pro-peace" how can they encourage President Obama to commit the
provocative act of going to the Kotel?
We'll be delivering your prayers to the consulate in Jerusalem as soon
as the President arrives in Israel, so for the rest of his trip he knows
the American Jewish community has his back while pursuing peace in the
Labels: anti-Israel media bias, Barack Hussein Obama, Gaza, Hamas rockets, J Street, Middle East Media Sampler, New York Times, Soccer Dad, Temple Mount, Tom Friedman