Daily Mail

Daily Mail characterizes Israeli tourists at Syrian look-out point as “ghoulish”

Ghoulish: Morbidly interested in death or disaster 

The Mount Bental Look-Out point in the Golan is one of the more popular Israeli mountain peaks, due in part to the beautiful views of the Golan, Mt. Hermon and Syria, and because it was the site of a battle during the Yom Kippur War in which 160 Israeli tanks successfully held off nearly ten times their number of Syrian tanks. 

Sightseers can also of course look down at the Syrian town of Quneitra and the Quneitra crossing point, the only border crossing between Syria and Israel on the Golan Heights – the sight, quite recently, of fierce fighting between rebels from the Nusra Front and Syrian government forces.

Here’s the Daily Mail’s headline, evidently inspired in part by an EPA photo of the Bental look-out point, published on Sept. 5th.


Now here’s a photo (and caption), used to illustrate the Daily Mail article, of those “ghoulish” Israeli daytrippers:


Here are the opening passages of the article:

Donning T-shirts, shorts and sunglasses, they stand on a mountainside platform, gazing into the distance through sets of binoculars.

But these Israeli daytrippers aren’t just admiring the landscape – they are watching a fierce battle just over the Syrian border. One that now involves ISIS.

The militant group – which released a video of their execution of American journalist Steven Sotloff earlier this week – are now just half a mile from the Golan Heights border crossing between Israel and Syria.

The Queneitra crossing has already seen fierce fighting between the Syrian army and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, with the rebels taking control of the Syrian checkpoint just weeks ago.  

Today, smoke could be seen rising from the outskirts of the town of Quneitra as the Syrian military fired at the rebels, killing at least 16

Overlooking orchards spilling down the mountainside, the platform was the perfect spot for the local daytrippers to watch battle commence.

‘I can see the terrorists at the checkpoint,’ Majd Abu Akl, a Druze Israeli farmer, looking east through binoculars to Syria, told the Financial Times.

He identified some of the men as belonging to the Nusra Front by their black uniforms, while others were driving around in UN jeeps with black ISIS flags.

Israelis, who have long considered Syrian President Bashar al-Assad their bitter foe, are now worried about the threat of the ever-nearing militants.

‘There is a battle for control on the other side of the border; we are watching it carefully,’ said Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israel Defence forces.  So far it hasn’t been pointed in our direction, but we need to be prepared for that day.’

Even if we are to assume that some of the Israelis seen in the photo came to his extremely popular lookout site specifically to watch the fighting, the big question which leaps to mind is how on earth the Daily Mail was able to establish that they came because they get perverse “ghoulish” pleasure in watching the death and destruction.

Finally, in a classic case of burying the lead, the next passage in the article highlights another dynamic related to ISIS.

It comes as a report of a gathering of ‘thousands’ of ISIS supporters at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount has increased concerns that the extremist group’s sights are focused on Israel as a future target.

So, to recap:

1. A few dozen Israeli tourists go to Mt. Bental, where those “armed with binoculars” can evidently see fighting between Islamist rebels and Syrian government forces over the Quneitra border crossing.

2. Thousands of Palestinians showed up at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to show their support for barbaric jihadists known as ISIS.

3. The Daily Mail frames the story by speculating on the ill-motives of the Israeli tourists, while brushing aside (evidently as morally insignificant) the ugly spectacle of thousands of Palestinians showing their support for ISIS. 

As our analysis of the UK media’s coverage of the region consistently indicates, not only do foreign journalists see their job as making sure that “every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported”, but in fact often manage to frame even the most benign and innocent Israeli behavior in the most negative light possible.

25 replies »

  1. “3. The Daily Mail frames the story by speculating on the ill-motives of the Israeli tourists, while brushing aside (evidently as morally insignificant) the ugly spectacle of thousands of Palestinians showing their support for ISIS. ”

    The Daily Mail has provided a perfect example of the editorial bias reported by Matti Friedman used by Western media to refuse to show any negative activity by Palestinians and find something negative wherever possible about Israel and israelis.


    “the way this [reporting about the Gaza war] has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues….

    What Is Important About the Israel Story, and What Is Not

    A reporter working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel. If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. …

    Israeli actions are analyzed and criticized, and every flaw in Israeli society is aggressively reported. In one seven-week period, from Nov. 8 to Dec. 16, 2011, I decided to count the stories coming out of our bureau on the various moral failings of Israeli society—proposed legislation meant to suppress the media, the rising influence of Orthodox Jews, unauthorized settlement outposts, gender segregation, and so forth. I counted 27 separate articles, an average of a story every two days. In a very conservative estimate, this seven-week tally was higher than the total number of significantly critical stories about Palestinian government and society, including the totalitarian Islamists of Hamas, that our bureau had published in the preceding three years.”

  2. Apparently the Daily Mail and its readership have a ghoulish appetite for this kind of stuff. But if tourists looking out at a battlefield (a practice as old as war itself) can be described as “ghoulish,” how would the Mail describe the murder and mayhem on the other side of the Syrian border?

    • Not just that, Jeff, but how does the Daily Mail describe the fascination of finding the most violent images from war in Syria and then applying it to Gaza as though caused by Israel?

  3. What the Daily Mail does not mention is that Israeli’s have been watching Arab’s kill each other for decades. In Lebanon, in Syria, in Jordan.
    Today soldiers manning the Egyptian border with powerful optics see Egyptian soldiers abuse and murder West African refugee’s with impunity in front of their eyes.
    It is this violence and these sightings which have engrained a deep skepticism within Israeli society vis a vis Muslim culture.
    Day ‘tripping’ like this is important. It keeps the bleeding heart liberal at bay and sharpens the senses when it comes to the peace process. After all, when Jew’s see Arabs kill each other like this, they can imagine what they’d do to Jewish people.

    • I guess I don’t understand the use of the term, “bleeding heart liberal”. I have been called that many times, yet I am very supportive of Israel both in a financial and political way. The recent conflict between Israel and Gaza/Hamas made me sick. There was no question in my mind that Israel had to do what she did. Hamas/Palestinians asked for this war. So please layoff putting Liberals in a negative light.

      By-the way, do the reporters consider the newspaper readers and millions of TV watchers as “ghoulish” also? This whole story is ridiculous!

      • “do the reporters consider the newspaper readers and millions of TV watchers as “ghoulish” also?”
        Only if they’re Jewish.

        “This whole story is ridiculous!”

      • “Do the reporters consider the newspaper readers and millions of TV watchers as “ghoulish” also?

        Or indeed the crowds of Palestinians who are always standing in the background of every photo of a dead/injured Palestinian we have seen over the past month or so.

        Or the thousands who (used to) line the streets in Wootton Basset as fallen British soldiers’ caskets were paraded past?

  4. Pffft… This coming from a tabloid whose top stories usually involve freak accidents. The news usually starts at page 12 or so. Or not at all.

  5. Look there’s even a mounted set of binoculars (presumably pay-for-use) that some enterprising jew installed years ago just in case there happened to be a bloody three-way battle between groups of arabs at some point in the future.

  6. Many people on this thread will recall that much earlier during Operation Protective Edge, residents of Sderot were accused of similar behaviour by the int’l media and were described as sitting and enjoying refreshments while watching Gaza being bombarded by the IDF. Whatever its Jewish staff members may say to the contrary, I’m convinced that the D.M. is following an increasingly sinister, anti-Israel and more frighteningly,anti-Jewish line.

    • The D.M is following an increasingly anti-Jewish line? Has it now started hounding Jews in Britain, or why do you say that?

  7. Perhaps Ms. Evans can explain the difference between those who watch wars/conflicts from the comfort of their own armchairs via TV or newspapers and those who may be near to one and look?
    I wonder if Ms. Evans knows herself, or perhaps her story was written from the comfort of her office in the UK and based around photographs someone else had taken?


  8. Ghoulish, a description White Racists and the Old Antisemtes usually provide for the characterisation Jews, but with the global reception of The Elders, remember the notorious cemetery scene, it is quite a commonplace among the New Antisemites, you know, bloodthirsty, ghoulish, …

  9. This from the Daily “Hurrah for the Blackshirts” Mail, the anti-Semitic newspaper that came out in open support of Hitler and Mosley in the 1930s and is today the home of yellow journalism in the UK.

  10. I wonder how they explain Israelis being there before the fighting started. I’m sure they would be able to come up with some negative, antiSemetic idea. Like almost all papers, they are in the business of SELLING. If they, the Mail,, the Guardian, the Independent and others, had to tell the truth, they would be out of business! It would be wonderful, but is unrealistic to expect integrity in reporting. What needs to happen is, when outrageous statements are made, the public has to cry out. The papers’ bottom line has to be affected!

  11. I don’t know about the author of this article, but whenever I go anywhere near a border, I make a point of looking at the country I am not in – especially if I am never likely to go there. When in Tunisia, I stared across a patch of sand at Algeria. When in Eilat, I love to take my kids to the top floor of the hotel and say “look, you can see 4 countries” (not sure if you can see Saudi from there, but it sounds better than “look, you can see 3 countries”).

    I went to that very spot some 27 years ago, just because I wanted to look at Syria. Tourists have been doing this for as long as there have been borders to look across.

    The Daily Fail trying to impose their own warped motives to what is no more than innocent tourism is what is truly “ghoulish”.