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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hamas' Israeli propaganda machine

For those of you who donate money to the New Israel Fund (NIF) (how long have you been reading this blog anyway?), B'Tselem is one of the largest beneficiaries of your donations, to the tune of $255,477.23 in 2012. And the New Israel Fund is getting its money's worth: B'Tselem acts as Hamas' Israeli propaganda arm.
B'Tselem published 8 updates on casualties during Protective Edge. Under the deniability cover of an "initial investigation," every report compared the number of dead on the Israeli side and the number of Palestinian side. This information was published on B'Tselem's website, in their press releases and on social media. Naturally, B'Tselem emphasized the number of children, minors, women and elderly among those killed in Gaza, backed by visual aids. If B'Tselem took care to note the number of combatants killed (by its own definitions) in its first 6 releases, this category disappeared in the last two releases, turning all Palestinian casualties into civilians until proven otherwise. B'Tselem explained the sudden change thus: "the data is very initial and partial, and still being checked […] over the next few months B'Tselem will continue to look into the events and in this framework confirm the identity of those killed and figure out who participated in the fighting." Why did B'Tselem repeatedly publish partial, unconfirmed data? Didn't they care that this would serve solely to bash Israel? Probably not. Meanwhile, while B'Tselem was coy about identifying members of Palestinian terrorist groups among the dead, they were consistent and clear about dividing between Israeli 'soldiers' and 'civilians'. In addition, these reports were padded with lachrymose visual aids, of the kind meant to bypass the reader's critical faculties, among them "tear-jerking" testimonies of Gazans, who talk of being unable to sleep at night for fear of IDF bombardment, how their life isn't a life and an impassioned appeal to the world not to "stand aside." We should note that B'Tselem did indeed publish testimonies of residents of the south of Israel who live under constant rocket fire. But as B'Tselem itself admitted, symmetry is more important than nationality for them: "We report more on Palestinians who are harmed because many, many more Palestinians were harmed during the operation. This in spite of the fact that most of the casualties did not take any part in the fighting [note: such a categorical statement based on what they themselves call "initial and partial data"! – A.W.] […] reporting needs to reflect reality and reality is not symmetrical when it comes to the extent of damage in Gaza and Israel and therefore it is presented before you in this manner." B'Tselem even tried to launch a campaign of reading the names of dead Palestinian children on the radio, which was banned by the Broadcasting Authority and rejected by the Israeli Supreme Court. B'Tselem also released photo albums and video clips of the destruction in the Gaza Strip. After all, property destruction is ipso facto against international law. Who cares if the building served as a command or combat post? B'Tselem certainly couldn't be bothered to find out if they were.
Your charity dollars at work.... What could go wrong?

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