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October 21, 2016 / 19 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘media’

Israeli Media Reporting on Hebron Shooter Trial Strictly Political

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

“Sitting next to his parents, with a blank face, [Sergeant Elor] Azaria is realizing the defense arguments are collapsing,” Shabtay Bendet wrote in Walla last Thursday, on the trial of the medic who last Purim in Hebron shot to death an Arab Terrorist who had already been neutralized and was lying on the pavement. An Arab B’Tselem cameraman captured the incident, and as a result what would have ended in a disciplinary hearing for the shooter, at most, quickly turned into a murder charge which was then reduced to a manslaughter indictment by the IDF prosecutor.

“These last few days of hearings did not bode well for the soldier, accused of killing a terrorist,” wrote Bendet, as if the term “terrorist” was a kind of civilian occupation, and could be easily substituted with “housewife” or “driving instructor,” or “electrician.” Bendet continued: “One after the other the witnesses undercut the defense claim that the terrorist posed a real threat of carrying an explosive charge on his person. Meanwhile, Azaria and his family have been maintaining their silence, except for one outburst borne by the realization that things are not great [for them].”

Bendet’s report about how the prosecution has been winning the Azaria trial mirrors countless reports with a similar message which have saturated Israel’s media over the weekend. And, naturally, the further to the left the writer, the broader the implications of the Azaria manslaughter case regarding the entire Netanyahu government and its policies in Judea and Samaria.

Ravit Hecht criticized in Haaretz on Friday Azaria’s father’s emotional call on Prime Minister Netanyahu to intervene in hi son’s case. “The father is calling on the prime minister to, in effect, take action against the army,” she wrote. “The father is turning to the prime minister to sabotage the machinery of the very system with which he is trusted.”

Hecht then goes on to accuse Netanyahu of always sabotaging the systems he is trusted with, but it’s clear from her approach that a conviction in the Azaria case is the proper outcome, while, should the 19-year-old sergeant be acquitted, democracy would be in peril.

Bendet, for his part, misunderstands the central issue in this case, which has made it such a tough case for the prosecution, they had to go and recruit outside talent from Israel’s top litigation firm. The case depends not on the objective conditions near the Hebron check point on the morning of the incident and whether or not there was a realistic expectation of the terrorist carrying explosives on his body, but on the state of mind of the shooter at the time: did Sergeant Azaria believe the terrorist posed a credible threat while on the ground?

But even regarding the rules of engagement as they were understood at the time of the incident, the prosecution’s testimonies are problematic, if not outright tainted, according to Moshe Ifergan, writing for Mida Saturday.

“Don’t believe what the media are telling you,” Ifergen insisted. “Judicially speaking, the testimonies of the division commander, the soldier and the company sergeant who were at the scene prove that the prosecution has collapsed. Severe internal contradictions in witnesses’ testimonies and obstructions of the investigation on the part of the command level should lead to a mistrial.”

Ifergen accuses the IDF of intervening in the investigation in a manner that hopelessly polluted the evidence and the testimony. Kalman Liebskind, writing for Ma’ariv also accused then defense minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF chief of staff Gabi Eizenkot of jumping to damning conclusions before the investigation had begun, and essentially shutting out any testimony that contradicted their strong and unmistaken condemnation of the accused. The defense was able to elicit from several witnesses, rank and file soldiers in Azaria’s unit, testimony about the massive campaign on the part of the division commander and the new battalion commander to condemn the accused.

A central question in the case, which everyone involved, including the judge, keep going back to, is the prosecution’s argument that the behavior of the soldiers in the B’Tselem video does not show that they were concerned about an explosive charge on the terrorist’s body, which the defense says was the reason Azaria shot him on the ground. Since these soldiers had undergone special training to handle explosives in such a situation, goes the argument, their lack of concern is evidence that no such threat existed at the time, ergo Azaria shot the terrorist because he hates Arabs.

But the protocols suggest otherwise. Here’s one exchange:

Defense: You underwent instruction with visualized situations of isolating a terror attack scene?

Soldier M: No.

D: You underwent instruction and situations where there was concern for an explosive charge on a terrorist?

M: No.

D: And on the terrorist’s body?

M: No.

D: The division commander who testified here said in an announcement [date omitted] that he instructed the commanders at the check point in Kiryat Arba (near Hebron) with the complete set of scenarios and that he wants to believe that this was passed on to all the soldiers. To you it wasn’t passed?

M: No, it wasn’t passed.

. . .

D: [A previous witness, an enlisted man] says like you’re saying, that you didn’t undergo training in situations of isolating an attack scene, and he says you didn’t undergo instruction and visualizing of situations where there was concern for an explosive load on the body of a terrorist?

M: No, just like I said a minute ago.

D: The company commander also confirms this regarding a lack of instruction for explosive charges here. Does this match your version?

M: Yes.

The defense questioned three witnesses on this point, proving without the shadow of a doubt that while the division chief had instructed his commanders on the rules of engagement and protocol regarding a terrorist suspected of carrying a charge, the commanders did not consequently train their own underlings, which would suggest that the reason they appear care free and unafraid of an impending explosion was ignorance.

Meanwhile, earlier in the proceedings, the defense received confirmation to its point regarding the danger of an explosive from a prosecution witness, Sergeant A.

Prosecutor: When you arrived on the scene, what was your assignment?

A: To secure the terrorist who was situated at the bottom part of the slope, [dressed] in black, and to isolate the scene.

P: Who gave you this assignment?

A: Meir Avni (company commander).

P: What did he tell you regarding the terrorist?

A: He said the terrorist was still alive and there’s a concern about a charge on his person, I shouldn’t let people coming from down below to get close.

This was then used poignantly by the defense.

Defense: [Company Commander] Avni knows about the concern regarding the charge, this contrary to the testimony of the Division Commander.

A: Correct.

D: And he instructs you not to go near the terrorist, to wait for the sapper and stay away from him.

A: Yes, [but] on point there’s one correction, I was instructed especially to stand behind the sapper and make sure people who are not part of the security forces not go near.

The odds on an acquittal or a mistrial for Sergeant Azaria among legal professionals who are interviewed by the media are about fifty-fifty. With one military judge already having been forced to recuse herself following an accusation of conflict of interests, and with the security establishment appearing so heavily invested in getting a conviction, it won’t be an easy task for the military judicial panel to rule against the system. But the case for both an acquittal and a mistrial appears strong, so that there’s little doubt that a conviction would result in an appeal to the civilian Supreme Court.


Report: IDF Prosecutor, Brass, Media Railroading Sergeant Elor Azaria

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

Political activist Baruch Marzel is identified strongly with the radical rightwing in Israel. He even ran for the Knesset on the extreme rightwing party Otzma LeYisrael list and has been visible in its many events of political street theater during the last election and the elections before that. After the medic Sergeant Elor Azaria had shot dead a terrorist who was already lying on the ground, “neutralized,” in Hebron last Purim, Marzel reportedly shook the shooter’s hand. Marzel also told anyone who would have cared to listen at the time that security forces were keeping him and other civilians away from the stabbing site where two terrorists were under guard, meaning there was fear one of them could blow himself up.

Ma’ariv reporter Kalman Liebskind noted on Saturday that there’s no doubt Baruch Marzel believed Azaria’s shooting was justified, surely on ideological grounds but also, it appears, based on the IDF rules of engagement. So how come, asks Liebskind, Military Police never took down Marzel’s testimony? Does it mean the MPs were only soliciting testimonies that fit an already preconceived theory on the shooting? It’s starting to look that way, Liebskind argues.

The most disturbing point about the Azaria episode is the counter-intuitive behavior of the IDF brass. One would have thought that in the case of an excellent soldier with a perfect record such as Sergeant Azaria, the IDF would be invested in finding him not guilty. But the fact is that the IDF prosecution is invested not only in finding him guilty, but in having him suffer humiliating conditions through the process, and associating him with political interests that he is not remotely connected to. And to make sure they find him guilty, the military prosecution conscripted one of Israel’s top litigators, Nadav Weisman, to lead its team.

So why are so many top officers and politicians, including the IDF chief of staff, the IDF spokesperson, and the former defense minister, so invested in giving the IDF a bad name should the court decide against Sergeant Azaria? Is it because they committed themselves early on to the B’Tselem version of events, based on a video, smeared a soldier’s name in public, accusing him of murder — and now they’ll look bad should he be found not guilty?

“The situation we’re in, with IDF and security apparatus senior officials who are crossing their fingers and praying for the conviction of the soldier and for a ruling that the terrorist was eliminated in an illegal manner — this might be the real story,” writes Liebskind.

Last Thursday, Azaria’s company commander Major Tom Naaman testified against him. There’s no doubt that his testimony did not help the defendant’s case. But then Israeli media began to report a huge incitement campaign against Naaman, complete with death threats. This incitement story was then repeated like a mantra by politicians, until eventually it became an established fact — the brave officer who dared testify against the shooter Azaria is now in fear for his life because of the thousands of rightwing hooligans looking to get even with him.

The only problem with this story is that it never actually happened. The website Perspectiva contacted the two biggest social network monitoring companies in Israel, which showed that on Facebook there had been only 100 large scale group discussions of the testimony, of which 68 were critical. Altogether, over the entire period there were 4,400 entries online mentioning Naaman’s name, out of which 1,500 used blunt language that could be described as crossing a red line. This out of 3.3 million daily entries on Facebook in Israel.

When former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon attacked Sergeant Azaria, he was vilified in 1,600 group conversations per day, and when President Rivlin spoke at a Breaking the Silence gathering in New York he was the subject of 1,000 daily hostile large-scale conversations online. The response to the company commander’s testimony was truly puny in comparison — but the powers that be in Israel’s politics and media needed a witch hunt against him, so a witch hunt they reported.

It was also an opportunity for Kfir Brigade commander, Col. Guy Hazut, and other senior officers to tell the media they supported Major Naaman, who stands alone against the mob of rightwing thugs — never mind that they are imaginary.

“Imagine what goes on inside the head of a soldier who is supposed to testify in this trial and wishes to support [the defendant] Azaria’s version,” writes Liebskind. “He has to be nuts to do it. He knows his testimony would contradict the testimony of his company commander, that it would show up the chief of staff, that it negates the perception of his brigade commander. Can anyone take seriously any of the testimonies in this case?”

Finally, Liebskind compares the two testimonies given by Major Naaman. In the first one, shortly after the shooting, Naaman repeats the very same answer: “I approached the soldier, asked him why he did it, and he said he saw [the terrorist] move.” Naaman later the same day told the MPs, “When I asked Elor after the event, on the side, what happened, he told me he saw him moving and that’s why he shot.” The MP investigator asked him, “In your opinion, did Elor feel danger from the terrorists who were lying down?” and Naaman responded, “I don’t know. I don’t think so, maybe he saw him moving and got scared.”

One night later, with the media circus celebrating all around the episode, Naaman gave a second testimony, and the version he had repeated four times, about Azaria telling him he had seen the terrorist, vanished. Instead, Naaman shared that Azaria told him the terrorist “needed to die.”

Two days later, Naaman gave yet another testimony, and now he told investigators: “I asked him why he did it and he told me, this terrorist is alive and he needs to die.”

When Azaria’s attorneys asked Naaman in court which of his testimonies they should go with, did the terrorist move, didn’t he, Naaman answered, “Now I don’t recall exactly.”

Needless to say, Liebskind does not believe it is possible for the court to make a reliable ruling with this much pollution surrounding the testimonies.


Liberman Says No Interviews Till Rosh Hashana, But Ministry Will Pay Expenses for IDF Sgt. HaYisraeli

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Newly-appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says he won’t give any more interviews until at least Rosh HaShana. But he will at least make sure that IDF Sgt. Yehuda HaYisraeli will get his home adjustments paid for.

Liberman, who heads the Yisrael Beytenu party, opened the faction meeting on Monday by saying, “I will step into my position and learn the material,” before he says anything further to the media.

He did, however, also announce that the Defense Ministry will cover rehabilitative adjustment expenses for IDF Sgt. Yehuda HaYisraeli, who has returned home from the hospital after nearly two years in a coma and several months of rehabilitation.

HaYisraeli still has a very long way to go with rehabilitation treatment to continue at home, and hundreds of thousands of shekels must be spent on adjustments to the home.

Such expenses for soldiers wounded in the line of duty are always covered by the IDF and Defense Ministry. HaYisraeli was wounded during Operation Protective Edge in August 2014. He had raced after the Hamas terrorists who stole the body of his fellow officer, IDF Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was killed and then kidnaped in Gaza during what was supposed to be a cease-fire.

But because HaYisraeli lives in Ofra, a community located in Judea and Samaria, the government has held back on paying for the adjustments to the home due to a quiet construction freeze in the region implemented in hopes of placating the Palestinian Authority and its global supporters.

Liberman has brushed aside the freeze in the case of the wounded soldier, and said his ministry will pay the home adjustment expenses for IDF Sgt. Yehuda HaYisraeli.

Hana Levi Julian

YouTube Reinstates Cancelled PMW Account

Monday, March 7th, 2016

The video sharing YouTube service has quietly reinstated the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) watchdog account.

Without fanfare or announcement, the PMW videos that expose Palestinian Authority media incitement against Israel and Jews have been reinstated to the site.

The video sharing site suspended the media watchdog’s account last Thursday for allegedly violating its “terms of service” by exposing the violent incitement broadcast on Palestinian Authority TV.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Erdogan Govt Seizes Turkey’s Biggest-Selling Newspaper

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

The White House has called on the Turkish government to “ensure full respect for due process and equal treatment under law” after riot police seized the offices of one of the largest newspapers in Turkey on Friday.

The violent crackdown is the latest in a series of moves over the past few years in the AKP government’s effort to control the media in Turkey. Although a member of NATO, Turkey has often behaved more like a member of the Arab League in its dealings with journalists and freedom of the press.

Police forced reporters out of their offices, beating some of them, while firing tear gas and water cannon on protesting readers as they forced open the gates to the building where Zaman and Today’s Zaman newspapers are headquartered.

“This is the latest in a series of troubling judicial and law enforcement actions taken by the Turkish government targeting media outlets and others critical of it,” White House said in a statement on Friday.

The paper’s Saturday edition defiantly warned “Yesterday marked one of the darkest days in the history of Turkish press” in its Saturday edition. Later in the day police used rubber bullets along with the tear gas this time to disperse a new protest. Demonstrators shouted in response, “Free press cannot be silenced!” An AFP photographer at the scene reported to Yahoo! the chaos involved some 500 protesters.

Sevgi Akarcesme, editor-in-chief of the paper’s English language ‘Today’s Zaman,’ tweeted on Saturday that all the Internet connections to the newspaper office were cut. “We are not able to work anymore,” she wrote.

The new administrators on Saturday fired Zaman’s editor-in-chief Abdulhamit Bilici, media reports said.

The Istanbul Sixth Criminal Court of Peace ordered the confiscation of the newspaper’s offices after a petition by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The court had appointed trustees to seize control of the Feza Media Group, which includes the Zaman daily, as well as Today’s Zaman daily and the Cihan news agency.

All are alleged to belong to the U.S.-based preacher Fettulah Gulen, a former friend who became a rival-in-exile, bitterly opposed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AK Party.

Two days before parliamentary elections last November, Turkish courts also appointed trustees to Koza Ipek Media Holding, effectively seizing two newspapers, two TV channels and a radio channel. This week the trustees bankrupted the papers and shut them down.

The moves came just two days in advance of a visit to Brussels by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu for a pivotal meeting with European Union leaders. Turkey has for years been trying to secure membership in the European body.

Davutoglu dismissed questions over the seizure while on an official visit to Iran, denying any government connection. “They are certainly not political but [rather] legal processes,” he said in a statement carried by Turkish television. “Turkey is a state governed by rule of law… It is out of the question for either me or any of my colleagues to interfere in this process.”

But he then warned in a clear reference to the Gulen movement, “We should not shut our eyes to … a parallel structure within the state using the press and other tools [to promote its agenda.]” Ankara has accused Gulen of seeking to overthrow the government via what it refers to as the Fethullahci Terror Organisation/Parallel State Structure (FeTO/PDY).

In response, Davutoglu received his own polite caution in a statement by the European Union, with whom he is expected to meet in Brussels on Monday.

“The EU has repeatedly stressed that Turkey, as (an EU) candidate country, needs to respect and promote high democratic standards and practices, including freedom of the media,” the EU’s diplomatic service said in a statement.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Survey: Most Israeli Jews Believe Media Are Left-Biased

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

(JNi.media) New Wave Research, an Israeli member of Nielsen International, a worldwide leader in market research, information, and data analysis, was hired by Israeli financial magazine Globes to determine what Israeli information consumers think about their communications media.

The question posed to the 500 adult Israeli Jews was: In your opinion, is the manner in which Israeli media reports on different security events in the last few weeks right-biased, left biased, or unbiased? The answers were:

Very right-biased………………2%


Very left-biased……………….18%


Not biased at all……………..33%

Globes’ Li-or Averbach tweeted the results, and one of the insights he received was that while the results may or may not represent the reality of media reports in Israel, they do represent with eerie accuracy the political division between right and left in Israel. About 50% of adult Jews have voted for right-wing parties, and they also typically believe the media are left-biased. About 33% of the Jewish vote went to center parties — whose voters are not as irked by the notion of media biases. And, finally, about 17% of Israeli Jews are dyed in the wool leftists — feeling that they’re surrounded by right-leaning media.


A Sign of Desperation: Iran Claims Syria Killed Israeli Soldiers

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

It appears that Iran soon will put the Brooklyn Bridge on sale.

The regime’s Fars News Agency, whose previous journalistic scoops include Iran’s having found a cure for cancer, has reported that Syrian war planes killed three Israeli and Jordanian officers in a supposed air raid on Al Nusra forces in Dara’a.

The need to release such a report to boost morale is a sign that the Iranian-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad is in bad shape.

The same report boasted:

In similar operations on Friday, over 100 militants of al-Nusra Front were killed in the Syrian fighter jets’ operations in Dara’a.

The sources said that, over 100 terrorists, most of them from al-Nusra Front, were killed in a series of army airstrikes that targeted their gatherings in Dael town in the countryside of the southern Dara’a city.

If the story were true, it would be a public admission that Syria broke a 48-hour ceasefire, which collapsed before its Saturday expiration date with clashes in three cities, including two that have been surrounded by an alliance of rebels and Al Nusra, linked with Al Qaeda.

The third city is on the Syrian-Lebanese border.

With nearly a quarter of million people killed and half of Syria’s population displaced in the four-year-old conflict, Iranian soldiers are fighting alongside Assad’s forces in a do-or-die attempt to keep him in power.

As for the report of Israelis being killed, there is absolutely no chance that an Israeli soldier would be killed in action without the country knowing about it.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/a-sign-of-desperation-iran-claims-syria-killed-israeli-soldiers/2015/08/30/

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