September 1, 2014

Middle East Media Sampler for February 17, 2012


1) Revenge or MO?

After the wife of an Indian diplomat was injured by a bomb, Ethan Bronner of the New York Times reported in Israel say Iran is behind the bombs:

The wife of an Israeli defense envoy to New Delhi was hurt along with several other people when her car was destroyed by an explosive device placed on it by a motorcyclist at a red light. In Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, a similar device was discovered on the car of a local staff member of the Israeli Embassy, but was defused by the police.

Both resembled attacks that have killed five of Iran’s nuclear scientists in recent years, most recently last month. Iran has attributed the assassinations to Israeli agents and has vowed to take revenge. The scientists’ assassinations — along with sabotage of Iran’s nuclear program through cyberwarfare and faulty parts — are aimed at delaying what the West believes is Iran’s drive to build a nuclear weapon.

 

If actually carried out by Iran, the attacks would be another indication that the leadership in Tehran was willing to reach beyond its borders against its enemies and expand its attacks to civilians. The United States has charged that Iran was behind a plot to assassinate a Saudi ambassador on American soil, and Israel has said that Iran has planned to attack its citizens in various countries, but that those plots were stopped.

The strong implication of the middle quoted paragraph is that the attack was a revenge attack. But what if it wasn’t payback, but a signature?

Emanuele Ottolenghi, citing an Iranian blogger writes that the Iranian regime may have been behind the murders of the scientists. The argument sounded familiar. Michael Ledeen wrote a very similar article a month ago.

2) Freedom, justice and the Egyptian way

David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times reports Egyptian Party Threatens to Review Treaty With Israel:

Leaders of the Brotherhood have said that they would respect the American-brokered 1979 treaty, and the seriousness of their new threats is hard to assess. Many analysts, as well as some Brotherhood leaders here, have cited internal domestic reasons to respect the treaty, mainly because it ensures peaceful borders at a time when Egypt can ill afford the cost of a military buildup and its economy teeters on the brink of collapse.

But at the same time, Egyptians have long considered American aid as a kind of payment for preserving the peace despite the popular resentment of Israel over its policies toward the Palestinians, widely seen here as a violation of the treaty.

“[W]idely seen here as a violation of the treaty.” Really? How does Kirkpatrick know this? I know that there’s deep resentment of Israel in Egypt. I know that the pretext for this resentment is Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, but is it really viewed as a violation of Camp David. I’m skeptical, but if that’s how the failure to make peace with the Palestinians is viewed in Egypt, isn’t it the reporter’s job to set the record straight?

Here’s a relevant paragraph from the Camp David Accords:

 

Egypt, Israel, and Jordan will agree on the modalities for establishing elected self-governing authority in the West Bank and Gaza. The delegations of Egypt and Jordan may include Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza or other Palestinians as mutually agreed. The parties will negotiate an agreement which will define the powers and responsibilities of the self-governing authority to be exercised in the West Bank and Gaza. A withdrawal of Israeli armed forces will take place and there will be a redeployment of the remaining Israeli forces into specified security locations. The agreement will also include arrangements for assuring internal and external security and public order. A strong local police force will be established, which may include Jordanian citizens. In addition, Israeli and Jordanian forces will participate in joint patrols and in the manning of control posts to assure the security of the borders.

The following paragraph does talk about the “legitimate right of the Palestinian peoples,” (and not explicitly of statehood) but the quoted paragraph seems to have been fulfilled by Israel. Does it make a difference to Kirkpatrick that Egyptian groups regularly boycott sectors of Israel’s society and economy despite a commitment to “abolishing economic boycotts” of Israel?

3) Before the truth gets its shoes on

In October 2000, BBC reported:

 

For 45 minutes, Muhammad’s father tried in vain to shield him from gunfire as they crouched against a concrete wall near Netzarim in the Gaza Strip.

The whole scene was caught on camera by a France 2 cameraman, and has been played repeatedly on Palestinian television.

The footage shows the boy’s father, Jamal al-Durrah, waving desperately to Israeli troops, shouting: “Don’t shoot”. But the terrified boy is hit by four bullets, and collapses in his father’s arms.

 

A few weeks later The New York Times reported, Israeli Army Says Palestinians May Have Shot Gaza Boy:

Today the army did not rule out the possibility that one of its soldiers had killed the boy. But General Samia said the army had ”great doubt” that it was responsible and believed that the evidence indicated ”a very reasonable possibility” that the boy ”was hit by Palestinian gunfire.”

But Palestinians reacted immediately and angrily.

Since the shooting, on Sept. 30, was filmed in excruciating detail by a France 2 television crew, the boy’s death has become the dominant image of the conflict throughout the Arab world.

(An image released by the IDF soon after the shooting illustrated how unlikely it was that the IDF had shot al-Dura.)

In 2003, James Fallows wrote the definitive account of the doubts about the story.

Mohammed al-Dura and his father looked as if they were sheltering themselves against fire from the IDF outpost. In this they were successful. The films show that the barrel was between them and the Israeli guns. The line of sight from the IDF position to the pair was blocked by concrete. Conceivably, some other Israeli soldier was present and fired from some other angle, although there is no evidence of this and no one has ever raised it as a possibility; and there were Palestinians in all the other places, who would presumably have noticed the presence of additional IDF troops. From the one location where Israeli soldiers are known to have been, the only way to hit the boy would have been to shoot through the concrete barrel.

This brings us to the nature of the barrel. Its walls were just under two inches thick. On the test range investigators fired M-16 bullets at a similar barrel. Each bullet made an indentation only two fifths to four fifths of an inch deep. Penetrating the barrel would have required multiple hits on both sides of the barrel’s wall. The videos of the shooting show fewer than ten indentations on the side of the barrel facing the IDF, indicating that at some point in the day’s exchanges of fire the Israelis did shoot at the barrel. But photographs taken after the shooting show no damage of any kind on the side of the barrel facing the al-Duras—that is, no bullets went through.

In short, the physical evidence of the shooting was in all ways inconsistent with shots coming from the IDF outpost—and in all ways consistent with shots coming from someplace behind the France 2 cameraman, roughly in the location of the Pita. Making a positive case for who might have shot the boy was not the business of the investigators hired by the IDF. They simply wanted to determine whether the soldiers in the outpost were responsible. Because the investigation was overseen by the IDF and run wholly by Israelis, it stood no chance of being taken seriously in the Arab world. But its fundamental point—that the concrete barrel lay between the outpost and the boy, and no bullets had gone through the barrel—could be confirmed independently from news footage.

Then in 2008, media critic Philippe Karsenty won a dismissal of his conviction for defamation of Charles Enderlin and Channel 2 for their false report on Mohammed al-Dura.

More details to follow. But word from Paris is that the court dismissed charges against Philippe Karsenty today. Now we get to see how the French (and Western) MSM handle this. It’s a stunning victory for Karsenty and loss for Enderlin and France2 who initiated this case when they didn’t have to.

In order for an appeals court to reverse a decision, they must have strong evidence to the contrary.

The fact that they did indicates that their written decision will be very critical of France2. The implications of this decision are immense. We’ll be following up in the days, weeks and months to come.

Now one more deceit has been exposed. (via Daily Alert)

A French appeals court Wednesday overturned the libel conviction of Dr. David Yehuda, an Israeli physician who was sued by the father of Mohammed al-Dura, the boy whose shooting death in September 2000 became a powerful symbol of the second intifada. Jamal al-Dura had displayed to international media outlets scars on his body he claimed were caused by bullets fired by Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

In a 2008 interview with a French Jewish weekly, Dr. Yehuda, an orthopedic surgeon, said the scars were the result of an assault on Dura by Hamas militants who accused him of collaborating with Israel, as well as subsequent surgery performed by Yehuda himself in 1994.

The photos of the Duras, father and son, taking cover behind a barrel during an exchange of gunfire between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in Gaza, remains one of the most enduring images of the second intifada. Israel initially apologized for the boy’s death but issued a retraction when subsequent investigations indicated the boy was most likely killed by Palestinian fire.

So now will media outlets – like the BBC and New York Times – acknowledge that they played a role in fanning the violence of the intifada by credulously spreading a false story instead of acting to debunk it? Will they acknowledge that they slandered Israel’s army? Don’t the media want us to know the truth?

About Daniel Goldstein

Daniel Goldstein is a media critic and recovering blogger. He has been critiquing media bias against Israel since his first letter to the editor in 1987.