Sunday, March 22, 2009


I've taken to reading all items in the Melbourne Age that touch on any aspect of the Israel/Arab conflict from back to front.

It all started when I began to notice that when the Age published letters from readers about the conflict, almost invariably the anti-Israel letters would appear first. We all know the old story about first impressions lasting the longest but does this mean I'm paranoid and that this is really an accidental phenomenon or is there an agenda at the Age to place Israel on the defensive at all times?

I almost settled for the paranoia angle before I realised it's the same with most items of news from the region, particularly those which bring up allegations of wrong doing on the Israeli side.

When we read stories of unsubstantiated allegations against the Jewish State made by Palestinians or dissident Israelis, the true Israeli version is often buried deep within the article and usually at the end. More often than not, as is the case of most media beat ups, the best that can be elicited from the Israeli side is a promise that the matter will be investigated and we already know that when the investigation proves the story to be a fabrication or a significant stretch of the truth, there is no withdrawal or apology - just silence (or even worse, allowing the lie to be repeated over and over).

That's why I read yesterday's Koutsoukis article about allegations in Haaretz newspaper of misconduct by Israeli soldiers during the recent Gaza War - Civilians 'gunned down in Gaza war' from the back to the front starting with these lines:
According to Major Gur Rosenblat, a reservist who commanded more than 100 men during the war in Gaza, the accounts were nothing more than rumours and had no basis in fact.

"I was there. I fought in Gaza and I am telling you that I have no idea, no idea, what these other soldiers are talking about," Major Rosenblat said. "It's not even close to the things I saw when I was there."

As with every accusation of human rights abuses by Israel during the conflict with Hamas the allegations made at the beginning of the article are serious and warrant investigation. In this instance, there have been strong denials from the IDF soldiers who took part in the January offensive - IDF soldiers rebut claims of immoral conduct in Gaza. Notwithstanding this, the fact that the allegations were permitted to be published in an Israeli newspaper and then openly discussed within that country is evidence of the strength of Israel's democracy.

Unfortunately, there is no similar openness within Palestinian society today and, as a consequence, newspapers like the Age spend little of their time and space covering the overt criminality of the Palestinian terror groups whose raison d'ĂȘtre is to inflict pain and death on the neighbouring Israelis - and this includes the elected Hamas which governs Gaza and the PA's Fatah forces in the West Bank. Sadly, the Age and many other media organs simply chose to ignore real human rights abuses on their side while speculating upon possible breaches on the Israeli side.

This extends even to situations where the possibility of those breaches being proven is remote and that is why I had to read Koutsoukis' piece from back to front. I was already aware of reports were questionable at best:

Channel 2 TV Army correspondent Roni Daniel stated at 6:30 PM this evening, that he personally tracked down one of the soldiers interviewed for the Haaretz article. Apparently the soldier's testimony to Haaretz wasn't based on anything he personally saw or witnessed, rather based on rumors and hearsay he heard (and the soldier wasn't even in Gaza!)

Truth is rarely important to Haaretz, as long as it can bash the IDF, Israel, settlers, religious Jews, or anyone not agreeing with them. As a result of their propaganda article, the entire planet picked up on their "expose" and the poison keeps propagating around the world.
- The Muqata

My conclusion therefore is that if you want to find the truth in many of these reports you will only find them at the end and not the beginning and that's why I prefer to start there.

On the subject of Israel's soldiers, Herb Keinan of the Jerusalem Post has it nailed in The crucial morality of the IDF's cause

The beauty of Herb's article is that you can start reading it anywhere you like!


Gulliver_on_tour said...

You're the one who nailed it Wilbur.

Kol Hakavod.

Anonymous said...

Melanie Phillips points out that Haaretz's report is based on shoddy hearsay journalism

"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 gunsights 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 rumour 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."