Again and again, we encountered dishonest, distorted and manipulated news reporting in the fighting between Israel and the Hamas terrorist forces of Gaza. We’re enraged. But Shraga Simmons, an experienced observer and analyst of this kind of malicious, unprofessional media behaviour, has gone beyond anger, coolly pulling together several egregious examples in this brief online video so that its implications can be considered, and perhaps understood, by a larger audience.
They don’t explain the war. They don’t justify one side over the other. But they illustrate the active participation – knowing or unwitting – of some of the world’s most influential news media in engineering a public opinion response by means of fraud.
I still remember, when I was a boy of just seven, walking with my father, early on the morning of 6th October, 1973, to synagogue. He had promised me that I could break my fast shortly after arriving. Now, he stopped me en route and told me a war had just broke out in Israel and the small Jewish nation was fighting for its very life. The situation was dire. I should show God added devotion by fasting longer in deference to the life mortal struggle of my fellow Jews. I was upset, I was starving, but I did as he asked and broke my fast after mid-day.
That Yom Kippur was my first memory of an Israeli war. We feverishly watched the news over the next few days until Israel finally began to turn the tide and push its enemies back.
There were moments of elation as well. I remember being in Chabad sleep away camp in Homestead, Florida on 4 July, 1976, American’s Bicentennial, when an excited head counselor started screaming over the loudspeaker that Israel had pulled off a daring rescue of Jewish hostages in some far-off place called Entebbe in Africa.
Fast forward to November, 1982, when I was a student at Chabad High School in Los Angeles. I traveled on a Friday, at the height of Israel’s war in Lebanon, to witness the arrival of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to the Century Plaza hotel before the Sabbath to show my solidarity with the beleaguered leader. I still remember Begin arriving in his dark limousine looking ashen-faced, having just heard the terrible news that tens of soldiers had died in an explosion when a building had collapsed in Lebanon. Still, he nodded his head in his car to me as he passed. Tragically, even more bad news would await him as his wife Aliza would pass away while he was in Los Angeles a few days later.
There were other pressing moments in Israeli history that I remember well. But none comes near the current action against the terrorists of Hamas which has touched deeper than any previous occurrence. This time, we have a daughter in the Israeli army and her base in just a few kilometers outside of Gaza.
She was standing at a ceremony on Thursday morning when Hamas’ murderous rockets began to rain down near her base. The sirens went off and everyone was ordered to a bunker. They watched as Israel’s ingenious Iron Dome went to work. Tragically, it was not enough to stop a rocket from hitting Kiryat Malachi and murdering three Chabad Chassidim, including a pregnant woman. My daughter heard the explosion. She can still see the hole in the roof of the apartment building easily from her base.
The base was evacuated and my daughter moved to the relative safety of Jerusalem on Thursday night. My wife and I breathed a sigh of relief. But then, before the Sabbath came in, we were informed that she and a skeletal crew were ordered back to the base on Saturday night for guard duty. She would have to remain for a few days thereafter. That Sabbath, I was a scholar-in-residence in Palm Beach, Florida and, during one of my speeches, I asked the Synagogue to pray with me for her safety and the safety of all Israel’s soldiers. Never before had the prayer for Israel’s Defense Forces meant so much or been felt so deeply.
Over the next few days when I called my daughter on the base the phone conversations were interrupted many times as the alarm sounded and she had to rush to safety in a nearby bunker. I was amazed at her courage and sense of normalcy. This was her new life and she would get used to it without panic.
Beginning in 1988 at the University of Oxford I made defending the State of Israel against its enemies a central calling in my life. I have given countless lectures on Israel’s safety, security, and right to defend itself and written even more columns on the subject. But it’s different now. It’s gone from the abstract to the very tangible and real.
I have always heard about parents who have children in the military during a war. You try not to think about it. You tell yourself the chances of God forbid anything happening are negligible as to not be worth worrying about. But you are forever aware that you and your child are in God’s hands. You turn to Him for comfort and safety. Your daughter is an adult. She has made their decision to serve. You honor and respect it even as it engenders serious discomfort and leaves a pit in your stomach at all times.
Whenever Jews are in the news in a major way (usually that involves Israel) I try and watch all 3 major broadcast network reports to see if there if there is any bias in their reporting.
The good news is that both CBS and NBC have done a pretty good job of reporting the news objectively. They focused on the suffering on both sides and – without saying so directly – seemed to show that fault for all this lies almost exclusively with Hamas.
Of the 3 networks, I think CBS had the most comprehensive and fair coverage of all.
Two things stand out. One of them made me tear – as scenes like these always do. It was on a CBS segment that focused on some young Israeli soliders waiting on the front lines ready to invade Gaza if given the order to do so. These were mostly Frum kids… wearing Kipot Seruga. The camera crew recorded them with Tefflin on their heads… some of them wearing Taleisim -I assume the married ones. This video was obviously taken during Shachris.
The tears in my eyes were there for two reasons. One was the pride I had in these young men for giving their all for their country and their countrymen. They seemed unafraid and brave… and yet they must be scared at the possible consequences of an invasion. That these young men are both observant and so brave – willing to put their lives on the line is a Kiddush HaShem of major proportions.
The second reason I teared is that I do not want to see any bloodshed. I do not want to see one hair on the head of any single one of these brave young men harmed! An invasion makes that very unlikely. May God protect them.
Back to the networks. Of the 3 ABC is so far the most biased. They focused almost entirely on the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza. The wreckage, the human toll, little children crying; grieving mothers and fathers; funerals with angry mobs carrying little caskets; and the overall increased anger of the Gaza populace telling reporters ‘why’ Israel was the guilty party here. No counter reporting about that from Israel’s point of view.They keep repeating the death toll in Gaza pointing out time and again that that Israel has killed over 100 Palestinians – many of them women and children. While Israel has lost “only” 3 people. They keep showing grieving Palestinian relatives of those killed. Ant they do so without any context. Making it seem like Israel attack in Gaza is state sponsored terrorism. To the extent that they do any reporting about Israeli context at all is prefaced by “Israel claims…” as though they are hardly true… but just claims.
They then say things like Israel’s attacks are counterproductive in that they are only turning the Arab Street against them. As if they were pour best friends until now! In other words, they are parroting and thereby corroborating the Palestinian narrative from Gaza.
It is almost as if the producers of these ABC news segments were Palestinian!
Contrast that with CBS who managed to have reporter Clarissa Ward, at a Hamas news conference in Egypt. She asked Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal point blank if they wanted peace with Israel? His answer: God-willing the American people will wake up and stand with 350 million Arabs rather than to continue to support Israel. Serious reporting. Thee clip can be seen below.
You did not see anything like that on ABC. In fact on Good Morning America it was all laughter and smiles as all the hosts were “yucking it up”- joking with one another right after reporting on all the violence in that area. Missiles flying in all directions; people in imminent danger of being killed or maimed – including their own reporters – and they act as though they just reported who won the local chili cook-off contest. What an embarrassment for them. Have they no shame?! I know that show is all about ‘Happy Talk” but give me a break. There is a time to be happy and a time to be somber. Get a clue – ABC!
Many wars are cemented in our memories by the songs that were about or popularized during the days of battle. The Civil War had the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and “Yankee Doodle,” World War I had “Over There,” and for World War II it was The Andrews Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” and also “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree.” Over time, the more popular wartime songs became protest songs. Strong protest songs were ubiquitous during the Vietnam war, expressing the anti-war sentiments, which became especially pervasive during the Vietnam War. Just one example from that era is the Byrds’ “Turn, Turn, Turn,” a riff on Kohelet 3:1-8.
And now we have the Hamas-Israel offensive of 2012. It, too, has inspired a fighting song. This one is both a throwback to the jingoistic style of the earlier wars, but with a pulsing rap beat. Oh, and it practically drips blood.
The first original song to come out of the 2012 Hamas-Israel offensive has a hard rap beat, grainy graphics and a title that delivers the message, without any subtlety: “Strike a Blow at Tel Aviv.”
Thanks to the location and translation services of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), we have access to the lyrics written by the two “West Bank” authors.
The lyrics pulse with typical Middle Eastern themes of dominance and fear of humiliation.
The refrain, “Strike a Blow at Tel Aviv” is repeated early and often, but the hopes expressed are more expansive. In addition to extolling the virtues of grinding Israel into the ground and disdaining the concept of a ceasefire, the musicians take several x-rated swipes at Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The song also ridicules the Gulf States - the oil-rich Arab countries, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman – for their stately but meaningless conferences and their reliance upon NATO.
Some of the boasting in the lyrics are fantasies, such as Hamas having downed an Israeli warplane, but the urban legend has already taken off on a life of its own.
Here are excerpts from the lyrics:
We don’t want to truce or solution, All we want is to STRIKE TEL AVIV.
Here is the breaking news, We shot down the plane, And the pilot is missing.
We have downed their airplane, And filled up their air raid shelters.
My entire people cry out loud, STRIKE A BLOW AT TEL AVIV.
Oh Gulf States, shut up, All you are good at is convening conferences, Those lowlifes are not the same blood as me.
The Gulf States and all their billions, Are tough only with NATO’s support.
Oh Fajr rocket, explode in the Knesset and army base.
Allah huAkbar, Allah huAkbar, Terrorize Tel Aviv, Blow up, Blow up, Tel Aviv.
Yet another fake “Gaza” photo has incited a flurry of comments on Facebook against Israel during the fifth day of Israel’s Pillar of Defense operation in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. An Arab news site called Alarab Net released the photo, which shows a family who was allegedly ‘massacred’ in Gaza on its Facebook page on Sunday, November 18. The caption in Arabic roughly translates into English as “martyred massacred family in Gaza shortly before…”
Thanks to Tazpit News Agency’s investigative work, it was found that the photo had been originally published on a news site based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates called Moheet one month earlier on October 19. On the Moheet website, the photo was titled “Syria killed 122 Friday…Assad Used Cluster Bombs.”
The “recycled” massacre, transplanted to Gaza.
Uploaded to Facebook on Sunday evening by Alarab Net, the newly captioned Syrian photo, which depicts three bloodied children and their mother lying on a floor, quickly attracted over 1,200 likes, close to 500 comments and 420 shares within an hour.
Alarab Net appears to be a news website based in Israel that offers a wide range news coverage from pop culture to politics and anti-Israel coverage.
It is not the first time that photos from the Syria massacres have been recycled into Gaza tragedies during the recent rocket escalation. Last week, Hamas’s military wing, the Al Qassam Brigades uploaded a photo on their Twitter page of a dead child in his weeping father’s arms, which the terror group alleged had happened in Gaza during an IDF strike.
The American news syndicate Breitbart found that the photo was a month old and had originally appeared in a slideshow about the Syrian conflict back in October on the UK Guardian. The photo had in fact been taken in the Dar al Shifa Hospital in Aleppo, Syria.
Hamas’s photograph, which had been tweeted as a taunt to the IDF spokesperson, has now been removed from the terrorist group’s Twitter page.
The Ma’an news agency, which is a fairly reliable source of news about both the Gaza Strip and the PA, has lost its server for the time being. The site offers an apology to its many readers and promises to come back soon.