September 2, 2014

Middle East Media Sampler for May 24, 2012


1) Secretary Rice on Israel and terror

During a demonstration in support of Israel in April 2002 – then engaged in Operation Defensive Shield against Palestinian terror groups – there were a number of signs "In Israel 9/11 is 24/7."

The Times of Israel reports on a recent speech given by former Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice that expressed a similar sentiment as she recalled the time after the planes hit the World Trade Center (via Daily Alert):

Furthermore, the attack and its ramifications — including, Rice said, the possibility that American forces might have to shoot down civilian aircraft if it appeared that other sites, like the White House, might be hit — convinced the US that it significantly needed to ramp up security, but in a way that would have as minimal an effect on the average citizen as possible.

“We realized that Israel, our good friend, was very advanced in this area. Security has been a concern of Israel’s since the day it was born.”

Israel, she added, has successfully developed many technologies and methods to fight terror and enable day-to-day life to go on, and the US turned to Israel, and companies like Motorola Solutions — much of whose technology is developed in Israel — for help.

2) Before the cameras rolled

In the absence of regular blogger, Robert Mackey, J David Goodman wrote Video of Settler Shooting Raises Questions Over Israeli Army Response for the New York Times blog, The Lede.

Legal officials from the Israeli Defense Forces are investigating more than a dozen episodes in which its soldiers are accused of failing to intervene as Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.

The report followed the release of footage from a confrontation on Saturday in which armed settlers are said to have fired on rock-throwing Palestinians as Israeli army soldiers stood by watching. The video, posted online by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem — which provides cameras to Palestinians to monitor the behavior of Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank — drew international attention and raised questions over the mission of the Israeli soldiers.

No doubt, the incident "drew international attention," but among whom? It doesn't seem to have been reported much, if at all, in American newspapers.

Getting Robert Wright to pontificate against Israel, is really easy.

“The essential mission of Israeli soldiers stationed in the West Bank is to protect settlers against Palestinians,” Robert Wright wrote in The Atlantic of the episode, which left at least one Palestinian wounded. “The job of protecting Palestinians against settlers falls to a separate Israeli police force that, as it happens, is massively understaffed.”

I'll assume this had more traction in the European media and activists who already are anti-Israel. Goodman notes:

In one video from B’Tselem,beginning in middle of what appears to be an already heightened and potentially violent scene, several settlers wearing white shirts — at least two with what appear to be automatic weapons — square off on a grassy slope against a group of young Palestinians.

From the videos posted it's clear that there some incident that precipitated the confrontation but that it wasn't captured on video. Goodman, to his credit, quotes a spokesman for Yitzhar who mentions that the Palestinians were setting fires. Then Goodman cites another video as a rebuttal, but the effectiveness of the rebuttal is dependent on when that video was shot.

Arutz-7 presents an account of what occurred first:

However, B’Tselem, which aims its reports only at Israel and is notorious for publishing one-sided reports aimed at damaging the IDF's and Israel's standing, failed to mention that the residents of Yitzhar were targeted by Arab arsonists and had been on the scene in an attempt to put a fire that had threatened their homes.

The incident began on Saturday afternoon at approximately 5:00 p.m. local time, when PA Arabs started a fire in several locations west of the community.

The local emergency squad and a team of firefighters who arrived on the scene were attacked with rocks that were thrown at them by approximately 200 Arab rioters. IDF soldiers and Border Police officers who arrived also were attacked and were prevented from dispersing the rioters for a long time.

I know that Arutz-7 supports residents of Judea and Samaria, but is it less reliable than B'Tselem? The focus of Goodman's report was simply repeating press releases from B'Tselem and getting support from like minded people and organizations. That's not reporting.

Arutz-7, however, presented a reason for the confrontation, because as commenter Yisrael Medad pointed out:

to expect that Shabbat observant Jews would – with no reason – simply come out of their community, walk down a hill, with IDF present and simply make up a story so they could shoot at Arabs is either a fairy tale or the result of a mindset that cannot allow the Jews to be correct and always justifies Arabs.

It would also suggest why there was no video of the beginning of the confrontation: it ran counter to the narrative presented by B'Tselem. Since it was the Sabbath, the Jews wouldn't have had cameras. Maybe that's why the incident occurred on Satruday.

Just because B'Tselem bills itself as a "human rights organization" doesn't mean that it doesn't have an agenda or that it is above reproach. Unfortunately, too many news organizations take its word as gospel.

3) Iranian missiles

According to Ha'aretz Iran has 450 missiles capable of hitting Israel and including the arsenals of its allies Hezbollah and Syria, it has as many as 65,000 missiles and rockets capable of targeting Israel. (via Daily Alert)

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.