General Antisemitism


It began, as it so often does in the Western media, with opinions, unverified and sometimes deliberately misleading information presented “authoritatively” as fact, about atrocities and human rights infringements allegedly perpetrated by the IDF against Palestinians in Gaza.

This tendency on the part of the western and world media is nothing new.  It is often enough for their stringers simply to feed the anti-Israel beast what it needs without thinking too much about the context or the truth of what they are reporting, and that beast has a distinctly unhealthy and ravenous appetite for distortions and untruths about Israel which it digests and then excretes as “fact.”

Therefore when, in March, 2009 several major Israeli and international media outlets published testimony from IDF soldiers claiming that the army had committed war crimes in Gaza, the world media had a feeding frenzy and of course the Guardian was in the vanguard in the shape of Rory McCarthy.

The soldiers from a group calling itself Shovrim Shtika (Breaking the Silence) had given anonymous verbal testimony in which they said they remembered witnessing soldiers causing damage to Arab property, or had heard rumours that Arab civilians were used as human shields.  A subsequent IDF investigation found that the two soldiers who had first reported the alleged incidents had not seen the incidents themselves, and had no personal knowledge or first-hand witness experience to support the allegations.

In spite of a formal statement from the IDF, which set out how its investigations had been subsequently conducted and pointed up the shortcomings of the soldiers’ testimonies, the Guardian, for one, persisted in promulgating its distortions here and here.   It was evident that the Guardian had made up its mind and did not want to be confused by facts.  Of course there was no attempt to correct McCarthy’s initial “misperceptions.”  After all, they fitted squarely within the Guardian World View of “Israel = bad.”

Belatedly (and therefore arguably less effectively, for Israel has never been renowned for putting forward its own case proactively) counter evidence was gathered in the shape of statements of IDF soldiers about their own first-hand experiences of Cast Lead and the last Lebanese war.  All were filmed or photographed and their first names given. It is probably safe to say that you will not find reference to or mention of these in the western media. The organisation which collects their testimonies is called Soldiers Speak Out. Its detractors may argue that it too shows bias, and presents only those accounts which display the IDF in a positive light.

That may or may not be the case, but the reader is invited to examine the testimonies and compare their emphasis and method of delivery with those of Shovrim Shtika. I believe they score more highly because they are without the hyperbole one finds in the accounts of pro-Palestinian NGOs. These soldiers simply present the facts as they themselves witnessed and experienced them rather than as second- or third-hand embellished rumour.  Those testimonies being true, they had no need to resort to anonymity for they had the courage of their convictions unlike the members of Shovrim Shtika. The latter might argue, as did the “official” resident ex-IDF soldier on CiF, that they were afraid of reprisals but there are no accounts that there have been or will be any.

The following are some of the testimonies from Soldiers Speak Out and I have selected recurring themes which present in many of them – that of Hamas’ and Hizballah’s deliberate use of non-combatants as human shields, their deliberate use of civilian homes to store munitions (which is against international law) and their use of civilian cars and even ambulances to transport arms and ammunition.  Again, I doubt that references to these can be found in the mainstream western media and particularly not in the Guardian which lionises Hamas and Hizballah as freedom fighters:

First is Inon’s testimony from the last Lebanese war.  This has resonances with the statement of Fathi Hamad from Hamas, who is so very proud that Palestinian civilians are useful as human shields.

Then comes  Ovadia’s testimony.   The first situation he describes, of arms and ammunition hidden among children in the hope that the vehicles will not be searched, is common enough but, again, is rarely if ever reported in the western media and particularly not in the Guardian or on Comment is Free.  He also recounts how Palestinian children are routinely encouraged by Hamas and Fatah to throw stones at Israeli soldiers and the results of one episode when he was shot by a gunman embedded among those children.

Following on from that, Yoni’s testimony points up a routine infringement of Palestinian human rights and of international law by Hamas, when it stores ordnance in civilian houses and fires on Israeli positions from them.

It seems from the few examples referred to here that Palestinian civilian lives and safety are more important to the IDF than they are to Hamas.  Given the infamous and chilling declaration by Fathi Hamad above, this is scarcely surprising  – Hamas will bend any situation to be grist to their mill to cause misery to their own people, in order to twist the truth and blame that misery upon Israel.   Palestinian lives are cheap to Hamas and wasted without hesitation to score propaganda points.  It should be very surprising that the world media swallows this without question and thereby heaps coals on the fires of hatred.

Unfortunately, it no longer is.

Categories: General Antisemitism

34 replies »

  1. Excellent article, Medusa.

    It is always easier and quicker to disseminate false information. You don’t have to go to all the bother of actually finding out the truth.

    The IDF needs to learn how to present reports in a bombastic or ceremonial fashion to make the media take notice and publish all the good stuff. Public relations techniques are exploited by the Palestinians and their supporters and while they don’t deal in the strict truth their revelations are spectacular and well publicised.

  2. It’s about time that Israel hires a major European PR agency to start dealing with its PR. No matter whose fault it is, Israel is losing this battle and it needs to step up. This is no longer a military war but a public opinion and law war (Lawfare), which is also directly fought with public opinion.

    The world media is lapping up the provocations, the damage to civilians which is lower than any other western-fought war (but still bad, as every war is) is singled out, and Hamas’ tactics to draw Israel into war, and then to increase civilian deaths by every mean possible is slowly eroding Israel’s capacity for self defense.

    Outlets like the Guardian are a lost fight, but others are more susceptible to the truth, if Israel just makes a better effort to deliver that truth the way the Left-Islamist axis of thousands upon thousands of organizations, blogs, lobbies and demonstrations have done so well to brainwash their agenda.

    Every war has atrocities, but compared to other armies Israeli soldiers are more thoroughly psychologically screened, closer to home, spend consecutively less time in the front, and come from all levels of life, not just from low socio-economic layers.
    All these can lead to conclude, along with the above evidence, that they commit the fraction of the violations committed by armies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and other places.

    And yet there are probably dozens of times more groups scrutinizing over the IDF’s conduct than these other wars.
    Why? Because truth is a matter of quantity, not quality. If you repeat the lie enough times it eventually becomes truth. Israel’s strategy should be the same. Except it has the unparalleled advantage these groups don’t have.
    It has the truth on its side.

  3. “If you repeat the lie enough times it eventually becomes truth.”

    It might seem like that, but truth is always anterior to the lie, waiting to be found, whilst the lie needs work to sustain it. Unfortunately there are many whose analytical capacities are limited, either because they are by nature obtuse, or because they are masters of the deception that helps win wars. Israel is as poor in this battle of mendacious wits as she is proficient in the field, perhaps because of the nature of Judaism, whereas Islam, and particularly Arab Islam, is founded on culturally acceptable deceit from the everyday business of tribal survival, to the exegesis of Qur’anic verse.

  4. Medusa

    A moderate and reasonable examination marred only by

    “It seems .. that Palestinian civilian lives and safety are more important to the IDF than they are to Hamas.”

    Attributing such sentiment to Hamas.. following the hundreds of civilian deaths caused by Israel.. who could be accused of massive, massive overkill is inviting scorn.

  5. Thanks.

    Fooledmeonce, I could not agree more. The media always loves a victim and the Palestinians have the portrayal of victimhood down to a fine art.

    Until fairly recently the best the Israeli PR machine could do was to put a well-meaning, but inept in PR terms, spokesperson in front of the cameras to mumble at them in barely intelligible English. This was, of course, until the advent of the new genre headed up by the likes of Mark Regev, but by then a lot of the damage had been done.

    Stephanie Guttman’s “The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy” sums up the inveterate dishonesty of much of the media where Israel is concerned. She quoted retired CBS News producer, Phill Scheffler, who wrote in 2004:

    “When I was coming up, reporting meant a reporter and a camera crew going to where the news was happening, asking questions, taking notes, shooting pictures, and than (sic) coming back or sending back a “report.” Now a lot of coverage is a construction (emphasis mine). An editor in New York decides what the story is, sends the word out to bureaus that we need a sound bite from this or that type of person saying this or that, gathers up picture coverage supplied by freelancers or agencies and writes a script that is narrated by a “reporter” who hasn’t been within 500 miles of the story.”

    We saw this with Muhamed al-Durah and Jenin and witnessed the hatred that resulted, and how Charles Enderlin came to grief because he resorted to it, but too late to prevent the backlash and the using of al-Durah’s alleged murder by the IDF as fuel for the second intifada.

    We have to call it out whenever we see it.

  6. Heres to Davy – I disagree. Civilians were killed, but would not have been had Hamas not continued to shell southern Israel or continued to put them in danger deliberately – see my reference to Fathi Hamas’ lunatic statement – and had made a lasting peace (note, not a hudna which allows them to resume hostilities whenever the wind changes direction) which would have benefited their people.

    I stand by what I said. For Hamas, the Palestinian people are cannon fodder from which it makes propaganda capital from its useful idiots around the world.

    What should Israel have done in the face of over eight years of rocket fire on her civilian population? What would America or any other nation have done? Are we meant to construe those rockets as peace overtures?

  7. @foolmeonce. Comlpletely agree that Israel needs to use a PR agency, and that Jewish Spokesmen here in the UK need to find a voice and start articulating it loudly. BBC correspondents did not even use the word ‘Terror’ when describing suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, they only used the word ‘terror’ to descibe Israel’s response.

  8. Not sure about the need to get so scatalogical, but I would at least agree that some of the coverage about I/P is too speculative and at times even irresponsible.


    “Israel is as poor in this battle of mendacious wits as she is proficient in the field, perhaps because of the nature of Judaism, whereas Islam, and particularly Arab Islam, is founded on culturally acceptable deceit from the everyday business of tribal survival, to the exegesis of Qur’anic verse.”

    That is a massive “perhaps”, you know.

    Israel/Judaism = laudable
    Muslims = mendacious?

    Or did I read that message between the lines wrongly?

  9. Medusa

    Interesting reference about that CBS News producer. It reminded me of a funny satire about journalism I read in a novel called “Scoop”, by Evelyn Waugh. I found the complete paragraph, it’s a little long, but cute:

    “Why, once Jakes [the Journalist] went out to cover a revolution in one of the Balkan capitals. He overslept in his carriage, woke up at the wrong station, didn’t know any different, got out, went straight to an hotel, and cabled off a thousand word story about barricades in the streets, flaming churches, machine-guns answering the rattle of his typewriter as he wrote, a dead child, like a broken doll spreadeagled in the deserted roadway below his window – you know.

    Well, they were pretty surprised at his office, getting a story like that from the wrong country, but they trusted Jakes and splashed it in six national newspapers. That day every special in Europe got orders to rush to the new revolution. They arrived in shoals. Everything seemed quiet enough, but it was as much as their jobs were worth to say so, with Jakes filing a thousand words of blood and thunder a day. So they chimed in too. Government stocks dropped, financial panic, state of emergency declared, army mobilized, famine, mutiny and in less than a week there was an honest to God revolution under way, just as Jakes had said.
    There’s the power of the press for you.”

    And it still goes on today:

  10. “A lie gets halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on”

    Virgil Aeneid iv. 174
    Fama, malum qua non aliud velocius alium,
    Rumour, than whom no other evil thing is faster.

    And that was before the days of the Internet.

  11. Fooledmeonce, I could not agree more. The media always loves a victim and the Palestinians have the portrayal of victimhood down to a fine art.

    Worse. Far worse. There was collusion between the media and Palestinian “militants” during the intifada(s).

    At times the media appeared in a calm locale needing a story, and by magic a riot just coincidentally materialised five minutes later.

    One camera crew caught another engaging in just such fakery. I should have saved the reference.

  12. If the conceived idea, that Jews own and run the world’s media,is true.

    Then we are not doing too well.

    In fact we suck big time.

  13. We will never be able to match the palestinians in the propaganda stakes.

    Because no one does misery better than the palestinians.

    And the simple fact is that Israel doesn’t do misery.

  14. The truth is that newspapers like the Guardian will always report what they want to report, and ignore what they don’t like to hear. The good news is that it’s kind of a man bites dog thing: Israel and America behaving well is not news; Israel and American behaving badly is. Just look at the fallout from that Wikileaks tape the other day, even though at this point NATO has killed hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan.

    As for the idea that Israel should hire a PR firm…I don’t know. The trouble is that any move they take to try and counter negative press (Hasbara, megaphone, CAMERA) is simply spun by their enemies as a transparent attempt to cover something up.

    The truth is that what Israel might be better off doing is what their enemies do but in reverse: Really publicize rocket attacks and attempted bombings in the press. They might even need to resort to waving the bloody shirt sometimes, as loathsome a strategy as that is. Their enemies will blame them, of course, but others around the world will recognize that they are a nation under attack and will behave accordingly.

  15. pretzelberg
    “/Judaism = laudable
    Muslims = mendacious?

    Or did I read that message between the lines wrongly?”

    Not entirely. The point I make is that to an Arab ,a lie is not a moral matter but a device to advance one’s advantage, and to lie for the advance of Islam, is wholly without shame. It makes discourse difficult, because men like Berchmans, innocent of this perfected guile, takes them literally if he say things that he approves of, but refuses to do so when he disapproves. He cannot make sense of Hamas because for him, it is not humanly possible for a group of men to so disregard the safety of their children that disaster is inevitable, and that the disaster’s purpose is to excite people like him to sanctimonious condemnation of Israel.

  16. Firstly, Heres to Davy, it seems that you need some instruction in what is meant by “cease fire” in Hamas’ terms. It is not, as any sensible person might think, an end to rocket and other fire – full stop. No, rockets continued to fall on southern Israel throughout the Hamas-declared ceasefire during and after Cast Lead. And Hamas’ excuse? That they were launched by other factions! (Now I don’t know about you but it seems to me that Hamas, being the elected government responsible for its people’s safety ought to be able to stop any breaches of cease-fire it itself declared but it didn’t seem at all inclined to do so. No, far better to goad Israel into any retaliation and then bleat its old victimology anthem).

    And Spinwatch is interesting to anyone who might be biased him/herself, isn’t it? I mean, it’s funny that nowhere in it are any accounts of Hamas brutality towards its own people, of Hamas spin, which is second nature to it – for example that its people are starving when food is getting through – it’s just that they have to pay Hamas and the tunnel men for it when anyone with half a conscience or brain knows that it should come to them free of charge.

    There are no accounts either of how Hamas educates little children to want to die among Israeli Jews, nor that cadres of female terrorists/suicide bombers are being formed because Hamas believes that the IDF is less likely to be rigorous about admitting them into Israel. Now why can’t we read any of this on Spinwatch, do you think?

    And why do you think that Spinwatch hasn’t reported on this piece of spin?

    (Of course, you are welcome to post lSpinwatch links to these here if they exist).

  17. Medusa,

    I think that your general argument is on the money but that there are some important details that are wrong. The accusations that got so much press in early 2009 came not from Shomer Shtika but from Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-military academy. Zamir based his statements on discussions with students (or former students?) of his academy who had participated in Operation Cast Lead. I do not believe that any of the students or Zamir claimed that they had witnessed the incidents in question. I think that they reported rumors that they had heard and that the claim of eyewitness testimony was added by journalists when they embellished the story. My memory is that Zamir claimed that he went first to military authorities because he believed the rumors should be investigated and only went to the press (Haaretz) when he believed that the military authorities were not taking the rumors seriously. Once the military investigated and found that the rumors were essentially baseless, Zamir accepted their conclusions, as is reported here:

    There are a couple of posts on Yaacov Lozowick’s blog that discuss the issue and provide additional links:

    The fact that Zamir, the person who originally publicized the rumors, accepted the conclusion that they were baseless is a particularly important point that disappears if one does not get the details correct.

    Please note that some of what I have said above is from memory. If someone wants to go back and follow the whole story carefully, it would be great to have a authoritative description.

  18. Hairshirt

    That’s a great story, and an embarrassment to Hamas. Notice that the story goes on to say that Hamas tried to prevent the story from reaching the population in Gaza.

    I don’t know the age of the girl, but it may take years of “reeducation” by the “social” wing of Hamas so that she will only remember the deadly injection by the Mossad (caught on film by France 2).

  19. DavidS, yes, Danny Zamir was one of the main architects of this perniciousness, but Shovrim Shtika rubs salt in the wound and adds to the general “less than the full truth” aspect of all this by focusing on parts of the picture and de-contextualising it, and playing to the media gallery. By the time Zamir admitted that the rumours were baseless it was too late – see Akus’ post above – and your account that the students themselves had not said that they witnessed the incidents but that these were later embellished and altered into “eye-witness testimony” adds to the stench of rottenness around so much of the reporting about the IDF and Israel.

    Zach, I am inclined to agree with you about “waving the bloody shirt” – because this seems to be the only sort of imagery which will sink in but also because the media needs to see Israel and Israelis as people under attack and not as faceless monsters.

    I remember the news reports on TV after the suicide bombing in the Eilat bakery on 29 January 2007, the immediate aftermath of which was actually captured on CCTV and shown in the late news. From the look on the face of the usually po-faced newscaster, I am guessing that he got a real shock.

  20. TomWonacott the real tragedy of the blighting of the lives of Palestinians by Hamas and other Islamist factions is that it will take more than years of “re-education” to undo their abuse of their own children.

    Hamas, as has been reported here by Medusa (see and elsewhere by others, is deliberately bringing up the next generation to be hate-filled perpetrators of terror against Jews and other non-Muslims while the rest of the world does nothing.

    As Medusa said in her article of 17 December last, a great deal of psychological effort (some may call it brainwashing) goes into over-riding these children’s natural fear of violent death so that they can take the place of the unfortunates who were similarly coerced and wasted their lives.

    When a society treats its children in such a fashion it is rotten to the core and will eventually succumb.

    On a slightly different note, there is an article at the other place about the high incidence of child abuse in Arab countries which does not mention Hamas’ activities at all. It should be a glaring omission, but this is Comment is Free after all.

  21. Hi Mitnaged

    Its good to hear from you.

    The goal of Hamas is to radicalize society i.e., the Palestinians. They achieve this through their “social services network” which easily penetrates Palestinian society. Its really a very effective way to radicalize society to the point that they will commit violence against others including civilians. Hamas is a “family oriented” terrorist network. They start the process at a very early age.

    Mathew Levitt writes in the book, “Hamas”:

    “….. Palestinian children who are caught up in the Hamas Dawa are taught to recognize the supreme virtue of death for Allah. Once indoctrinated into this belief system,they are most easily exploited as grade school terrorist……Because they see Palestinian children as legitimate tools in their fight against Israel, Hamas leaders openly discuss how children should be trained and incorporated into the group……In 2001, the Islamic society in Gaza held a graduation program for the 1650 children who attend its forty-one kindergartens. Photographs of the graduation ceremony show preschool-age children wearing uniforms and carrying mock rifles; a five year old girl girl dips her hands in red paint to mimic the bloodied hands of Palestinians proudly displayed after the lynching of two Israelis in Ramallah; another child is dressed as Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and surrounded by other children costumed as suicide bombers………”

    Hamas prepares the Palestinian population for generational war against Israel. Hamas’s rise in Palestinian society has been a relatively long but efficient process – especially designed to counter the corrupt and incompetent leadership in the PA.

  22. Medusa,

    I do not disagree with anything you said except that I have no memory of Shovrim Shtika being involved at all. Perhaps you have come across something I missed.

    I do think that Danny Zamir’s acceptance of the conclusions of the investigation is a really powerful argument against those who are still insisting that there was something to the accusations. And I also think that pointing out that *no one* ever actually claimed to be an eyewitness shows the extreme sloppiness, the exaggeration, and the dishonesty of the reporting. This is a place where getting the details and the chronology correct really bolsters the argument.

    Oh, yes — I do know that it is “Shovrim Shtika”, not “Shomer Shtika”, but my brain was briefly non-functional.

  23. Mitnaged

    “…….the real tragedy of the blighting of the lives of Palestinians by Hamas and other Islamist factions is that it will take more than years of “re-education” to undo their abuse of their own children……”

    Let me just add that if the goal of Hamas was what many progressives suggest, that is, to achieve a good bargaining position for negotiations with Israel, then undoing what they teach their children would be a realistic goal, but as we all know, they firmly believe that the occupation is ALL of Palestine, thus, the radicalization of their youth will be ongoing. The ramifications for a Palestinian state are huge.

    Either Hamas is marginalized or the future for the Palestinians is extremely dim.

  24. Thanks Medusa for a very good article

    “……It seems from the few examples referred to here that Palestinian civilian lives and safety are more important to the IDF than they are to Hamas…..”

    I think that goes without say. Palestinian lives are expendable in the war to recover Palestine.

  25. epidermoid

    “He cannot make sense of Hamas because for him, it is not humanly possible for a group of men to so disregard the safety of their children that disaster is inevitable, ”

    Whilst this is possible and well put..


    “and that the disaster’s purpose is to excite people like him to sanctimonious condemnation of Israel. ”


    I try to avoid this fate as I have always considered the UK to be way way more condemnable as a leader in world violence . One of the best Zionist weapons is saying people single out Israel …this can be very effective… but even as a very young teenager coming to Britain…this was a violent xenophobic and racist country for me. 200 years of domination doesnt disappear overnight.

  26. Heres to Davy.

    You don’t have the smarts to disguise yourself, do you Berchmans?

    I’m opening a book on how long it takes for Heres to Davy to slip slide into the same sort of obnoxiousness as Berchmans.

  27. DavidS, my problem with Shovrim Shtika is that it promotes “evidence” without context, time or date (so that it might, if necessary, be verified) – or even the first name of the person offering it.

    That has to be very suss.

  28. TomW and Mitnaged, the UN (pause for hollow laughter) set out the following about the rights of the child, which, as I am sure you will agree, the various Palestinian goverments honour more in the breach than the observance:

    “…Children are individuals. Children are neither the possessions of parents nor of the state, nor are they mere people-in-the-making; they have equal status as members of the human family. (my comment: Would you think so from watching Hamas in action or the clips from Palestinian TV children’s programmes on the West Bank?)

    “Children start life as totally dependent beings. Children must rely on adults for the nurture and guidance they need to grow towards independence. Such nurture is ideally found in adults in children’s families, but when primary caregivers cannot meet children’s needs, it is up to society to fill the gap. (My comment: Another pause for hollow laughter. “Up to society”…..)

    “The actions, or inactions, of government impact children more strongly than any other group in society. Practically every area of government policy (for example, education, public health and so on) affects children to some degree. Short-sighted policymaking that fails to take children into account has a negative impact on the future of all members of society by giving rise to policies that cannot work. (My comment/question: Is Hamas/PA policymaking merely short-sighted or deliberately aimed at bringing up the next generation of terrorists?)

    “Children’s views are rarely heard and rarely considered in the political process. Children generally do not vote and do not otherwise take part in political processes. Without special attention to the opinions of children—as expressed at home and in schools, in local communities and even in governments—children’s views go unheard on the many important issues that affect them now or will affect them in the future. (My comment: Dare Palestinian children in Gaza or their parents for that matter offer different opinions about the gruesome deaths they are encouraged to aim for than the received lunacy of Hamas?)

    “Many changes in society are having a disproportionate, and often negative, impact on children. Transformation of the family structure, globalization, shifting employment patterns and a shrinking social welfare net in many countries all have strong impacts on children. The impact of these changes can be particularly devastating in situations of armed conflict and other emergencies. (My comment: True enough, and particularly galling when you remember that Hamas came into power on a “welfare” ticket)

    “The healthy development of children is crucial to the future well-being of any society. Because they are still developing, children are especially vulnerable—more so than adults—to poor living conditions such as poverty, inadequate health care, nutrition, safe water, housing and environmental pollution. The affects of disease, malnutrition and poverty threaten the future of children and therefore the future of the societies in which they live. (My comment: Yes indeed, and particularly so when they are deliberately exacerbated to tug at the heartstrings. Hamas could so easily better the lot of the Palestinians in Gaza – it chooses not to do so)

    “The costs to society of failing its children are huge. Social research findings show that children’s earliest experiences significantly influence their future development. The course of their development determines their contribution, or cost, to society over the course of their lives. (My comment: Very much so. Consider that Hamas is deliberately inculcating hatred into Palestinian children, who deserve better. What has the UN done about this? As others have said here the future of every society is its children. Palestinian society, because it cares so little for its young, cannot survive and it’s arguable whether it deserves to in its present form).