Archive for the ‘Press and Media’ Category

According to recent reports, Hamas negotiates with Gaza’s other armed factions to establish a unilateral cease-fire, after killing eight Israelis on August 18th – and more, via rocket attacks. While some might believe it suggests Hamas is scared and wants to prevent further destruction of its assets, it is likely that the scheme is more sophisticated than that.

Hamas understood in advance that attacking Israeli civilians would provoke Israeli response and no condemnation of the Arab league would defend the Strip. Realizing political winds around the world, though – UN in particular – Ismayil Haniyeh, Hamas’ leader in Gaza believed he could terrorize Israelis, scoring points with his superiors and some neighbors, while suffering relatively little to no damage.

Haniyeh understands that leveraging international press – as well as bodies such as the United Nations and the Arab League – is a cinch; on all previous occasions, the international community was quick to call upon Israel to halt counter-operations in Gaza. The talk of a cease-fire is no more than a ruse to leave the scene unscathed, after achieving Hamas’ goals.

When Hamas declares another lull – which never is what Hamas claims it to be – Israel will have two options. Either abide by the newly set game rules, hence suffering political defeat vis-à-vis Gaza, or continue the armed campaign. The latter option is also split into two: either Israel keeps destroying Gazan targets from the air (mostly an ineffective tactic) or it moves into Gaza with armed forces, an operation similar to 2008-09 operation Cast Lead.

Haniyeh calculated that whatever path Israel chooses, Hamas wins. If Israel halts its attacks, Hamas claims it won the battle. If Israel keeps bombarding the area, each civilian casualty (real or invented by Palestinian press handlers) plays against the Jewish state. And, finally, if Israel moves into Gaza with ground forces, Gaza’s ruler is confident the Israelis will not cause significant damage to Hamas’ infrastructure, learning his lessons from past experiences.

There are no supermen in the Israeli Defense Forces. These are regular men, well-trained and well-prepared, for the situations they were taught to deal with. It seems ‘Flotilla 13’ troops acted appropriately when in danger of life, although we are yet to get all the information on what happened aboard the ship. Few things are clear, though:

  • Despite claims by the radicals inhabiting the boat that IDF troops fired shots before touching down on the boat, none of them could produce evidence of such, despite Al-Jazeera’s journalists’ presence on board, recording throughout the night.
  • It is clear soldiers could not have shot their weapons as soon as they touched the top decks, as they were immediately grabbed, beaten, had their weapons stolen and some thrown overboard – despite claims to contrary by the radical Left-wing activists on board.
  • ‘Peace activists’ were armed by pipes, rods, chains, knives, ready to attack the incoming troops. Injuries sustained by the ‘Flotilla 13’ troops – and by some of the attackers – point to extensive use of sharp attack objects.

As the international community attacks Israel over the nine fatalities on board the Mavi Marmara, no one seems to ask if any of the deaths occurred due to Turks’ use of IDF’s firearms. Two ‘F13’ soldiers were wounded by gunshots from handguns taken off the soldiers by the rioters, yet each firearms contains at the very least six bullets. It is possible some of the shots taken at the servicemen hit the rioters.

 

ISRAEL COULD NOT have won the ordeal. Consider the situation: militarily-speaking, there are few ways to stop six ships at sea, besides using infantry in a takeover. You can ram them, you can shoot them, you can block their way and let them ram you. In any of those cases, the protesters and the press would accuse Israel of interfering with a humanitarian mission.

The IDF could attempt a takeover in Gaza’s blockaded territorial waters. The move would be unnecessary, as Israel did have the right to act in international waters in this instance, but would silence a few critics. The option, however, would put the IDF in further danger, within reach of Hamas’ anti-ship and anti-aircraft weapons, as well as small boats with armed Hamas fighters onboard. Such a blockade-imposing mission could turn into an armed confrontation with many more casualties to both sides. This would turn out to be much worse a nightmare than what Israel already has on its hands.

Then Israel could allow the ships into Gaza. The move – while sparing immediate negative press – would be hailed as a victory for the radical flotilla organizers, as well as their Hamas patrons. Feeling their victory, notorious Free Gaza movement would organize additional blockade-busting flotillas – many more, with many more ships and activists on board. This would allow Hamas and its supporters to smuggle dozens of tons of weaponry, such as rockets, mortars and other ammunition. For Israel, blocking such stream of weapons among dozens of ships would be all but impossible. Future raids could include armed firefights with Hamas men on such vessels, resulting in severe losses.

So Israel couldn’t win. Whatever path the Jewish state would take, critics would find a way to severely criticize it. Taking above scenarios into consideration, IDF’s command decided to go for a proven tactic, used last year – board the ships with ‘Flotilla 13’ fighters, equipped with pacifying, non-lethal arms.

The decision was made to lower the soldiers off helicopters onto the ships as an intimidation technique – soldiers rappelling off helicopters would keep potential rioters away, went the logic.

The plan was presented to the political echelon, which approved it. And this is where it went wrong.

The commanders on the ground had nowhere to hurry – with 70 more miles to go to reach Gaza, the officers had hours to gather intelligence and reconsider the situation. Helicopters approaching Mavi Marmara noticed dozens of civilians on the top deck and had the opportunity to bug out and return later – or stay and gather intelligence. Snipers could be located on the helicopters and the rubber boats, to observe the ships using night vision and thermal equipment. Those would notice the ‘peace activists’ preparing gas masks, vests, metal rods, chains, knives and other assault equipment.

On one hand, the IDF commanders on the ground – or water – desired to keep the element of surprise. The helicopters delivering troops were not turned back when it was revealed top deck is not free, as to not give up the element of surprise and aggressiveness. The soldiers did not deploy tear gas and stun grenades prior to landing, as to not anger the protesters. However, the IDF forgot the main feature of such a tactic – surprise itself. Hostile elements cannot be taken by surprise if they see IDF boats cruising alongside for long minutes – if not hours. If the IDF command wanted to make the assault a surprise – the helicopters should have appeared out of the black, with no prior notice. Only then would the soldiers stand a chance, have the opportunity to regroup, work methodically and clear the boat of hostiles. Yet, the high-ranking officers were too cocky to imagine soldiers’ lives could be in jeopardy. Whoever sat at that planning table, and on the other side of the screens forgot the army spirit and brought disgrace upon his uniform.

After the fact, it is easy to point out the mistakes. At the time, the command did what it thought was right, and it seems soldiers did no wrong while defending their lives. Yet, as grave mistakes were made, here are some future tips for the ‘cocky officers’ planning further takeovers of such vessels:

  • Do not assume. Assumptions is what will cost you a battle and a war.
  • If you want to surprise – do so. If you want a surprise attack – come out of the blue, fast, and finish the mission in record time. Speed is essential.
  • Every person could carry a knife on his belt and a metal rod in his hand. In order to ensure safe deployment of soldiers in highly-populated areas, it is essential to deploy smoke or CS gas in order to prevent direct attack on the soldiers.
  • Sending soldiers poor-equipped would bring disaster. Each soldiers must have stun grenades, CS grenades or Stinger grenades on his body to deploy those in case of danger.
  • Armed units should be on stand-by within three minutes of arrival to the scene. It is enough time to get quick, yet far enough to keep the soldiers from using lethal force unnecessary.
  • Snipers are essential during intelligence-gathering phase and operational phase. Two snipers in a small rubber boat located at a distance of under a mile could provide necessary observation and should intervene in extreme cases of use of lethal force against the troops.
  • It is about time soldiers deployed would carry an on-helmet or an on-weapon cameras. Feeds from those could be received directly by the command, giving it a full picture. Those could also be used to fight off media-lynching of the troops.
  • Having IDF cameramen is crucial: each helicopter delivering troops should have an IDF cameraman joining in. Another option: mount cameras on the bottom of the deploying aircraft, allowing recording of the deployment process.

There is little left to say about the failed operation. The soldiers fought brave, facing mob doing their best to murder them. Yet, they were the casualty of poor planning, poor intelligence and poor execution. While the decision to block the flotilla was a correct one, the approval process lacked on every step of the way – military and political. One thing is clear: with another ship – Rachel Corrie – soon to arrive in the region, the IDF would have to rethink its tactics. Let’s hope they will make the correct decisions this time.

Al Jazeera Al-Jazeera, radical Qatari news network, notorious for its anti-Israel and mainly pro-terror views, was temporarily suspended by Bahraini government, citing network’s lax interpretation of press ethics and rules:

Al Jazeera, with a record of tense relations with Arab states over its coverage of sensitive political topics, has recently aired programs on poverty and the treatment of Asian laborers, both sensitive matters in Bahrain.

"Bahrain has temporarily frozen the office of the Qatari Al-Jazeera Satellite TV Channel for breaching the professional media norms and flouting the laws regulating the press and publishing," the official Bahrain News Agency said, without giving details.

(Haaretz)

ISRAEL ITSELF HAS a long story with Al-Jazeera, at one point accusing it of openly aiding terror elements. Here is the kind of ‘objectivity’ you can expect from openly hostile network:

 

Here is what you will not get from this Al-Jazeera report: images from Palestinian TV teaching children hate and murder, Palestinian terror groups killing Israeli babies and Palestinian Muslims persecuting Palestinian Christians. You will also not hear about Arab governments calling on local Palestine Arabs to leave their lands ‘for a few weeks’ in 1948 to allow Arab armies to ‘wash feet in blood’ of the Jews. You will also not hear about murder and expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries all around the world. This is the reporting of The Island (Al-Jazeera).

Jews murdering Palestinians in cold blood, ‘unarmed’ resistance against armored IDF troops – this is the rhetoric prominent in the Arab world and is closely replicated, on a more professional level, by the Al-Jazeera crews.

Israel should – has to – make the tough decision and expel the network from Israel. While Israeli government decided to boycott the network a year ago, it is certainly not enough. This is the Middle East, and Israel should act accordingly.

Israeli daily Haaretz, the bastion of radical Left-wing thinking, often goes beyond journalistic professionalism. Yes, I know, criticizing a government is journalist’s duty, and a professional reporter should always be skeptical about the government. However, a journalist should also look at the issue from both sides, and exclude outright hypocrisy from his or her stories.

Case in point:

The reporters that came witnessed a surreal event, in which the official Foreign Ministry briefing room was turned over to a politically right-wing nongovernmental organization. Though it was Ayalon’s office that invited the press, the briefing was conducted by a public relations agent for PMW rather than the Foreign Ministry.

PMW’s activities are entirely legitimate, and some of its findings could clearly be categorized as disturbing evidence of anti-Israel incitement. Yet many of the journalists in attendance, who included many representatives of foreign media outlets, were not aware that PMW is led by a right-wing activist, and that many other such activists, from Israel and abroad, are involved in it.

Marcus, in addition to his position with PMW, is also vice president of the New York-based Central Fund of Israel, which provides financial support to a variety of right-wing organizations, such as Im Tirzu, as well as a range of activities in West Bank settlements.

(Haaretz)

BEFORE WE GET into any discussion, let us publish “some of its findings”, most of which Haaretz’s Ravid attempts to dismiss: blatant cases of child indoctrination, calls for murder and genocide, as well as spreading racial and religious hatred.

(You can also visit PMW’s YouTube channel)

As Haaretz takes its time to criticize government for lack of transparency, I could only wonder of its editors’ deeply-planted hypocrisy. After all, time after time new daily published articles and booklets by radical Israeli Left-wing organizations, without a single mention of those being funded by European governments, such as Great Britain and Belgium. Palestinian Rights Groups, such as B’tselem and Machsom Watch receive millions of dollars in foreign aid, by governments meddling in foreign affairs. Israeli groups such as ones mentioned, publish one-sided stories, attempting to propagandize the reader into own mindset.

For example, why won’t you go ahead and visit B’tselem’s website. It’s great, and got much information, but it comes with a caveat – you will get next to no information about Israelis and Jewish victims. Visit the Separation Barrier section, and you will get dozens of paragraphs about Israeli violations; visit Beating and Abuse and you will get hundreds of hand-picked Palestinian testimonies. And now, click on Palestinian Violence and voila – you will get… eleven (as in 11) paragraphs. That’s it. Decades of Palestinian terror – and only eleven paragraphs, that barely mention Palestinian terrorism, concentrate on rocket fire, and the manage to stick a section about how Israel should respond to rocket fire according to international law. No doubt, B’tselem is a vile, radical, biased organization, used as a proxy by Arab and European element to destroy Israel from within.

And yet, this is no news for Haaretz, nothing demanding disclosure. The groups are still being championed by local reporters such as Amos Harel and Amira Hass.

Last, but certainly not least, Haaretz gives voice to outright anti-Semites, such as its own opinion columnist Gideon Levy, who wrote this a year ago:

A few days after tens of thousands of Israelis raised their eyes to the heavens at dawn to honor “the return of the sun to the place it stood at creation,” and millions of Israelis joyfully read out praise in the Passover Hagaddah for genocide – jihad by means of horrific plagues and drowning infants – it’s time to admit it: We live in a religious country.

(April 13, 2009)

That’s right – for Haaretz, Jews celebrating their release after 400 years of slavery is “genocide”. See? Everything is so black and white when you are a Left-wing anti-Semitic liberal. God bless us all for democracy.

Palestinian activists attack Lador's vehicle As the pro-Palestinian lobby does its best to present itself as the Zeus of non-violent protests, the facts seem to speak against it. In a latest incident, pro-Palestinian activists attacked Talya Lador-Fresher, the Deputy Ambassador to Britain:

The protesters were waiting for Lador-Fresher outside the lecture hall, but this did not deter her from entering as planned. Immediately upon her exit, the protesters lunged at the diplomat, prompting security guards to whisk her back into the hall. Following a consultation on the site, it was decided to escort her out of the premises in a police car.

The deputy ambassador was removed from the hall and into the police vehicle. However, this did not block the protesters, who surrounded the car and climbed on the hood, trying to break the windshield.

Lador-Fresher ultimately was taken away from the scene safe and sound.

(Ynet)

AS THE PRO-PALESTINIAN lobby around the world fights for it’s right for free speech, they deny the right to anyone disagreeing with their points of view – with some going as far as to suggest the Jews should “go back to the oven”. One democracy that is.

The amazing fact about the story is that – as one blog points out – it was not featured on any British news source. It seems that in Britain only one type of freedom of speech is accept – the anti-Israeli kind.

Logo of the British Broadcasting Corporation A widely-known media research group Honest Reporting released a research (PDF) of the British Broadcasting Corporation, saying England’s main news operator is heavily biased against Israel in its coverage. The group sampled 57 articles, dated January 1st, 2010 to March 31st, 2010.

For example, the group says it found blatant violations of journalistic objectivity, such as allowing one side to present its points without a counter-argument:

Eighteen articles highlighted Palestinian quotations or viewpoints without an equal response from those representing Israel’s point of view equal in profile, length, tone, or imagery.

Zero articles highlighted Israeli quotations or viewpoints without an equal response from those representing Palestinian views. Even worse, some articles quoted Palestinian sources proven to be unreliable. Even after all the evidence that the Hamas Health Ministry in Gaza manipulated casualty statistics during the war, they were still believed in the case of the “Dead Boy” story that turned out to be wholly untrue.

(Page 4)

The study claims further that the articles published on the BBC website undermine Israel’s positions, while giving mostly ignoring Palestinian wrongdoing:

The glorification of terrorism is a direct violation of numerous Palestinian obligations. It is vital
that news organizations report on this matter if their readers are to gain a true appreciation of the difficulties of moving the peace process forward. Likewise, weapons smuggling and
corruption have a much greater impact on current events than an isolated case of vandalism and have been well documented by numerous outside sources. So the question remains, why is the BBC silent on some items while covering Israeli actions with such minute detail?

(Page 3)

The study then presents each article studies with specific points for each article.

NOWADAYS, IT IS hard to blame a news organization for bias, as modern rules of journalism (usually, self-censored) dictate total “neutrality”. For example, Reuters news agency defended its use of term militant or activist instead of terrorist saying: “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”. In a separate instance, one might remember CNN’s admission of lacking reporting due to need to protect its journalists in Iraq.

While objectivity and neutrality in reporting is essential, it seems many news organizations give up actual objectivity as they give in to pressure from outside sources. For example, from Gaza to Tehran, newswire services, agencies and reporters receive their information from local informers – information that was labeled “dubious” by critics. Organizations such as Reuters, Associated Press, CNN, and others were blamed for outright bias on many occasions, some of those due to lacking or inaccurate reporting by sources hired among local population.

“FREEDOM WATCHDOGS” USUALLY outdo each other in criticizing particular governments / countries / politicians they happen to dislike. The Human Rights Watch, for example, champions, well – human rights, choosing their targets carefully. HRW’s website contains 4,270 references to Afghanistan, 4,170 references to Iraq (with casualties in both countries going into several dozens of thousands), 3,110 mentions of Darfur (casualties going into hundreds of thousands) and whopping 6,920 remarks about Israel (Palestinian / Israeli civilian casualties, Sept. 2000 – Dec. 2008: nearly 5150 / 727). While Israel accounts for small percentage of deaths among aforementioned locations, it receives most attention from Human Rights Watch. Amnesty International joins the HRW, with numbers going 35,300, 35,300, 8,850 and 65,500 accordingly. I should mention that while I am not legitimizing Israel’s actions with these numbers, it does seem inappropriately unbalanced to me.

Just as with aforesaid organizations, many watchdogs simply throw numbers at their readers, no context provided. Case in point: Reporters Without Borders (a.k.a. Reporters Sans Frontières) “Press Freedom Index” for the year 2006 (the year of conflict between Israel and Lebanon) ranks Lebanon in 107th place, citing the following as reason of downfall:

Lebanon has fallen from 56th to 107th place in five years, as the country’s media continues to suffer from the region’s poisonous political atmosphere, with a series of bomb attacks in 2005 and Israeli military attacks this year. The Lebanese media – some of the freest and most experienced in the Arab world – desperately need peace and guarantees of security. The inability of the Palestinian Authority (134th) to maintain stability in its territories and the behaviour of Israel (135th) outside its borders seriously threaten freedom of expression in the Middle East.

Missing from RWB report: additional reasons for freedom of speech infringement in Lebanon (like terror groups controlling the news coverage). It is quite probable, that RWB considers constant Jew-hating propaganda on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar as freedom of speech as well. It’s not the terrorists that are to blame for restrictions of journalism, it’s not the inept Siniora government – blame it better on the Jews.

In 2009, RWB criticizes Israel for mistreating, injuring and killing journalists during operation Cast Lead:

Israel has begun to use the same methods internally as it does outside its own territory. Reporters Without Borders registered five arrests of journalists, some of them completely illegal, and three cases of imprisonment. The military censorship applied to all the media is also posing a threat to journalists.

As regards its extraterritorial actions, Israel was ranked 150th. The toll of the war was very heavy. Around 20 journalists in the Gaza Strip were injured by the Israeli military forces and three were killed while covering the offensive.

In the meanwhile, you might remember, that during the Gaza offensive, international journalists demanded “unfettered” access to Gaza Strip. Now, imagine what would happen, if in fact Israel did. Obviously, more reporters would die during firefights and air raids, with RWB and others this time accusing Israel of waging a war on journalists and free speech.

See the no-win-win situation? If Israel tries to save itself the trouble of having a numerous hotheads going in and getting their heads blown off – it is accused of freedom of speech infringement. If it would actually allow journalists in (as it did in West Bank), those would be killed in firefights (with some being shot by Israeli forces), spurring organizations such as aforementioned Reporters Sans Frontières to cry wolf.

What’s even worse, is that such groups never, ever, present context, evidence to the reader; neither do they investigate cases. For example, look at this case: Fadel Shana, 23, cameraman for Reuters in Gaza, allegedly killed by IDF Merkava tank shell from a distance. The video clip is quickly runs us through the basics of the incident; quickly enough, in fact, to get the viewer worked up at the evil Israelis, without giving him or her a chance to study the situation. But please allow me to do so, still.

First and foremost, Reuters claims Shana was killed soon after he started filming. While far from certain, it is unclear if tank crew had the optics to discern the object, mounted by Shana. Remember – quite a few guided anti-tank rockets are mounted on a tripod, thus it is unclear if tank crew could see that the object was actually a camera, rather than an RPG.

Reuters08 The report also states that Shana was traveling in a car clearly marked “TV”, which we could see in a video. What we also could see in the video, is that Shana obviously films from a high location, while the car is parked between two mounds. It is still unclear if the tank crew could the the parked vehicle at all.

Then come the victims. Let’s turn to another Reuters statement:

After medical examinations of Shana’s body, Reuters said that Israel had used a controversial type of tank shell which scatters metal darts, or flechettes, around the surrounding area after exploding, risking civilian casualties. Israel refused to comment on the report, but stated that the weapons were not illegal.

Reuters07 Hm… Now maybe I’m a skeptic (I am), but after three years Combat Engineering service, I’ve seen my share of explosions and aftermaths of such. For example, I could tell you that after an explosion, fragile Reuters04equipment, such pictured (neatly folded) tripod (right) would not survive. I also know, that after an explosion, you would surely see burns on bodies of victims. Yeah, those we can’t see either.

Another amazing thing, by the way, that in otherwise empty surroundings (you can see a lonely house in the video), so many Reuters05 people found themselves around the cameraman, including children. Pictured (right) is another image from the report, showing a child carried by paramedic, put on a hospital bed and rolled into ER. What did a child do together with the cameraman covering war?

Quite obviously, Reporters Without Borders become Reporters Without Balance. On many occasions I maintained: if you want to criticize Israel, it is fine. However, for anyone to listen to you, be fair and investigate your reports, don’t just throw them to public unsubstantiated. For example, phrases such as “completely illegal [arrests]” make your report look foolish and childish. If you want to be heard by anyone else but the radicals – you also have to back up your statements with some facts.