Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dealing with Savages

At a time when history is hardly being taught anymore, and journalists lie, it must be hard for our young people to understand who the good guys are in the conflict between the Arabs and the Israelis in what was called Palestine. In a land where both Jews and Arabs have dwelt and fought one another for ages, it was Solomon-like for the United Nations to divide the land between them in 1947 – yes, 1947, more than 60 years ago. Neither the Arabs in surrounding countries nor the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians would accept that decision, and the Palestinians moved out, confident that they could soon move back and take over all the land; while Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen attacked the Israelis. Four times since 1948 the Arab countries have attacked Israel with the objective of exterminating every Jew who lived there. The result of these wars was defeat and humiliation for the Arabs and more-defensible borders for the Israelis.

Egypt signed a peace agreement with Israel (for which Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Islamic fundamentalists), and, over the years, many times other countries, mostly the U.S.A., have tried to broker a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The last, significant negotiation, called the Oslo Accords, was brokered between President Clinton, the Palestinian leader, PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat, and the Israeli Premier,Yitzhak Rabin. Many Israelis objected to the terms of this agreement and replaced Rabin, while the Palestinians reacted by launching the “Intifada”, a never-ending state of terrorism against the Israelis, and the Oslo Accords came to naught.

Due to the rampant anti-semitism that exists in much of the world, Israel has often been portrayed as the monster in the conflict. When Hezbollah attacked Israel in the summer of 2006, both the Associated Press and Reuters were caught doctoring photographs and filing false reports (remember Cana) that condemned Israel unfairly. Now today, eight years later, we finally get the truth about another, widely-circulated false report:

Faux news

July 19, 2008 The Providence Journal

The Sept. 30, 2000, video of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, Muhammed al-Dura, caught in a crossfire on the West Bank riveted the world. The voiceover said the boy had been deliberately targeted by the Israeli military. The Arab world responded vehemently. The incident still reverberates as a symbol of Israeli brutality and Palestinian victimization.

But it never happened. Shortly after the original broadcast, its veracity was questioned in many quarters. Evidence emerged that Israeli soldiers could not have shot the boy but that Palestinian fighters could have.

French media watchdog Philippe Karsenty accused Charles Enderlin, who as Mideast bureau chief for the official French TV network France2 had done the broadcast’s voiceover, and his Palestinian cameraman, of creating a hoax. Mr. Enderlin sued Mr. Karsenty for defamation.

At trial, evidence of a hoax was abundant if not conclusive. A stock film clip of an Israeli soldier shooting had been spliced into the broadcast video. Mr. Enderlin, who was not present, relied on his cameraman’s word that the child had been killed.

Frames edited out of the video showed the boy alive after the shooting stopped. France2 initially refused to hand over minutes of relevant video footage. When it was finally released, it showed Palestinians practicing for a range of hoaxes, including scenes of “wounded” Palestinians being rushed to ambulances (and then emerging with smiles on their faces).

Now a verdict exonerating Mr. Karsenty has been delivered by a French judge, Mme. Laurence Trébucq. Mr. Karsenty’s acquittal amounts to the disgrace of his accuser, and shines a much-needed spotlight on the “fauxtography” that sometimes masquerades as television news in the Middle East.

The verdict has been greeted largely with silence not only by the French media but throughout Europe, the Mideast (except Israel), and to an extent even in the United States. It is not beside the point that exonerations (seven so far) in the trial of eight U.S. Marines in the Haditha case have similarly attracted little attention, despite blanket coverage in the aftermath of charges of a massacre in Iraq in 2005.

The Palestinian cameraman who shot the al-Dura footage, Talal abu-Rahmah, once bragged that “I went into journalism to carry on the fight for my people.” Objectivity is not always the lodestar of journalism as practiced in the Muslim world, but it should be for Western media. The role of faux news in covering the Mideast deserves more scrutiny.


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At 9:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not an Arab lover and I know Israel is our best (maybe only) ally in the area...but it seems to me this is not very cut and dry. I know the history and "possession" of this area goes back centuries/millenia...and I know they have a history that is not favorable but if I owned or occupied land that was taken away from me I would resent it.

One can argue that native americans were here first but if your land was given to them...

there will never be peace in this area unless Israel makes this a 100% jewish land



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