Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Activism masquerading as "journalism"

Browsing the Israeli press one can get a more informed picture of events in Israel than the slanted international media coverage. As the expression of a vibrant democracy, Israel's press is hardly monolithic, presenting a variety of competing political views. Behind it, however, is hiding a virulent stream of political activism, with a penchant for self-criticism, so much so that many of the most negative stories appearing in the international press are first broken by the Israeli newspapers.
Unfortunately, like their Western counterparts, some Israeli media is pushing a far-left political agenda, while masquerading as legitimate journalists.
Such is the case of a recent Ha'aretz story alleging "war crimes" and serious ethical failures on the part of the IDF in Gaza. It wasn’t long before many international media outlets, such as the New York Times, The Guardian, The Independent, Australian, and Globe & Mail to name but a few, repeated the allegations, presenting them as facts, without bothering to do any rudimentary checks.

The viciously anti-Israel newspaper, The Guardian published its own claims of evidence of alleged Israeli "war crimes". Online videos and accompanying articles accused Israeli forces of using human shields, deliberately firing on Palestinian medical staff and indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians with unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as claims that Israel had used a variety of weapons in "illegal ways."
Both Ha'aretz and The Guardian are guilty of shoddy journalism and intellectual dishonesty. When subjected to honest inquiries, their slanderous articles appear more like modern-day Blood Libels than “reporting facts”. Melanie Phillips, writing for The Spectator, examines the Ha'aretz report in her article – The Ha’Aretz Blood Libel:
There are precisely two charges of gratuitous killing of Palestinian civilians under allegedly explicit orders to do so. One is what even Ha'aretz made clear was an accidental killing, when two women misunderstood the evacuation route the Israeli soldiers had given them and walked into a sniper's gun sights as a result. Moreover, the soldier who said this has subsequently admitted he didn’t see this incident - he wasn’t even in Gaza at the time - and had merely reported rumor and hearsay.
The second charge is based on a supposedly real incident in which, when an elderly woman came close to an IDF unit, an officer ordered that they shoot her because she was approaching the line and might have been a suicide bomber. The soldier relating this story did not say whether or not the woman in this story actually was shot. Indeed, since he says 'from the description of what happened' it would appear this was merely hearsay once again.

Writing in The Jerusalem Post, Herb Keinon points out:
It is important to note that none of the testimony was about what the soldiers did themselves, but rather of what they heard or saw other soldiers do. It is also important that what was reported seems to fall within the realm of aberrations by individuals during war against a cruel enemy hiding behind civilians, not a systematic loss by the army of its moral compass.

Numerous testimonies from IDF soldiers debunking those allegations were published by YNet, other Israeli newspapers and even personal blogs of soldiers themselves. Yet these were ignored by the agenda-driven reporting of both Ha'aretz and The Guardian.

• The allegations are presented as facts even though they are unsupported by any evidence whatsoever.
• The proven unreliability of Palestinian "eyewitnesses".
• The lack of any verifiable information or any mention of the measures taken by the IDF to avoid civilian casualties while Hamas actively used human shields.

As further evidence that The Guardian chose activism over journalism, the newspaper called blog and Web site owners to support its “work” and asked them to link to their "Gaza War Crimes" page. The appeal was sent by Mustafa Khalili, who is one of those credited by The Guardian for the Gaza content.

The Guardian is carrying out a blatant and systematic campaign of demonization against Israel that goes well beyond journalistic norms. Like a good example of the new Liberal Fascism, so pervasive with today’s “new left”, the paper has been selective (to put it mildly) in its willingness to publish responses from supporters of Israel criticizing its extreme lack of balance and proportion.
However, The Guardian's behavior cannot be allowed to go unanswered. Hiding behind the bumper sticker of “to be anti-Israel is not Anti-Semitism”, the far left in Europe and elsewhere is actually guilty of anti-Semitism.
The belief that it's only permissible for the Jews to have a state and an army if that state and its army comply with standards of behavior far higher than that required of other states, including their own is anti-Semitic. Any failure to live up to these standards tends to be taken as evidence of the basic illegitimacy of the Zionist enterprise. Following this logic, Israel’s right to exist is thus questioned.

The media circus surrounding the cases above are yet another example of the lengths to which the international media and Israel's detractors will go to in order to promote the false image of a uniquely unethical or evil IDF.
From media stories such as those above to cartoons portraying the IDF as the new Nazis, it is only a short step to the total delegitimization of Israel itself. The lingering question remains: Why is some of the Israeli media part of this charade?

Monday, March 23, 2009

GAZA: An Arab-Made Misery

An eloquent analysis of the current situation in Gaza, by a Gaza native, Nonie Darwish, published in the European edition of the "Wall Street Journal".