Iran: “Israeli doctors stealing Haitian organs” (& Jerusalem mayor attacks BBC “lies”)

January 24, 2010

* Jerusalem mayor’s office in an official statement: “BBC’s Panorama by Jane Corbin is a completely and utterly false representation of the facts and a distasteful distortion of reality”
* Iranian TV: the reason Israel sent so many doctors to Haiti was “to steal more body parts”
* London Times just can’t run a straight news story about Israel
* Bashing Israel for saving Haitians
* New report released today outlines “systematic bias of BBC’s Jeremy Bowen”

There are two dispatches today and then there won’t be any more for the next week because of other work commitments. Today’s other dispatch titled “Obama: misjudging his misjudgment (& Israeli and Iranian ministers shake hands)” can be read here.



1. BBC head responds to claim that its bias towards Israel is reminiscent of Soviet propaganda
2. British media may now be more dangerous than Iranian one as far as telling lies about Israel
3. Jerusalem mayor’s office: BBC program an “utterly false and distasteful distortion of reality”
4. More nastiness against Israel from the London Times
5. Saving lives right to the end

6. Israelis may adopt Haitian orphans
7. Israel set to respond officially to Goldstone; Judge Advocate General: it’s “a vicious lie”
8. Female casualties: another indication that Goldstone and his team are not telling the truth
9. New report released today outlines “systematic bias of BBC’s Jeremy Bowen”
10. Israeli GPO calls for journalist visa for foreign press

11. “Finally, good press for Israelis” (By Tom Gross, JC, Jan. 21, 2010)
12. “BBC denies organ blood libel to Evgeny Kissin” (By Robyn Rosen, JC, Jan. 21, 2010)
13. “BBC documentary on Jerusalem: An anatomy of bias and distortion” (By Robin Shepherd)
14. Official response by the Jerusalem municipality to BBC Panorama program
15. “Haiti and Gaza are not the same” (By Catherine Philp: London Times, Jan. 21, 2010)

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


This dispatch is about the media and is partly a follow-up to last week’s dispatch (titled “And his name will be ‘Israel’: Mother of Haitian baby honors IDF rescuers”) which can be read here.

The Jewish Chronicle asked for some of the points made in that dispatch to be turned into a short analysis piece on the media to go with their Haiti news feature. That piece is below.

In it I also point out that Iran’s government-controlled Press TV – available as part of the SkyTV package in the UK and elsewhere, widely watched by Muslims and others, and which is also available on the Internet for free – claims that Israel sent doctors to Haiti to steal body parts.

(This is in line with the infamous historic anti-Semitic blood libel about Jews stealing gentile organs, which gave rise to so many pogroms throughout history, and has most recently been given a fresh airing in supposedly respectable Swedish, British and other European media.)


The Chronicle also reports on the letter the director-general of the BBC, Mark Thompson, sent to Russian-born Evgeny Kissin, one of the world’s greatest living classical pianists, in reply to Kissin’s public letter to Thompson saying the “BBC’s slander and bias towards Israel [are] painfully reminiscent of the old Soviet anti-Zionist propaganda.”

A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in London called the BBC’s “attempts to claim that Israelis have been involved in the harvesting of Palestinian organs” “despicable”.

The paper also asked for a comment and published the following:

Media analyst Tom Gross told the JC that Mr Thompson was wrong and that the BBC’s coverage of the case had been quite different from that of the AP and other media. “The BBC website used a sensationalist and shocking photo, which was not in fact even from Israel, to give the false impression to readers that the Israeli government had been involved in wrongdoing.” (Full article below.)



As noted in last week’s dispatch, while other media were offering very positive accounts of Israel’s central role in rescuing and treating injured Haitians, the BBC (the world’s biggest news broadcaster, which is lavishly funded by the British taxpayer) was minimizing the centrality of the Israeli role. I wrote “instead Panorama, the flagship news program of the BBC’s main domestic channel, BBC1, this evening again devoted the entire program to another piece of anti-Israeli agitprop.”

BBC viewers are told Israel “is the most racist state in the world” – clearly a highly offensive and ridiculous notion for anyone familiar with many countries throughout the world.

While we all know the Iranian media lies, the British media’s manipulation, sometimes stemming from the blatant anti-Semitism of certain British journalists, is in many ways far more dangerous since well-meaning people around the world watching British media (such as the BBC) or reading respected British publications online, might actually believe they are telling the truth.

Below (in the full articles section) I attach a piece about that Panorama program by Robin Shepherd, who is a longtime subscriber to this email list. He writes:

“On Monday night, the BBC’s flagship documentary programme Panorama was devoted to Jerusalem. Rarely will you get a clearer insight into the flagrant institutional bias inside the world’s most powerful media outlet than this. The slipperiness of the tactics employed, the unabashed censorship of vital historical context, and the blatant pursuit of a political agenda constituted a lesson in the techniques of modern day propaganda. It was something to behold.”



Also attached below is an official statement reacting to the Panorama program from the office of the mayor of Jerusalem, which was emailed to thousands of journalists, including myself.

It says: “Throughout the program, Ms. Corbin presents a completely and utterly false representation of the facts and a distasteful distortion of reality. It would be prudent to ask Ms. Corbin what happened to her alleged list of 40 planned demolitions since her filming in late 2009. You’ll easily find yet another one of her distasteful distortions.”



As I have pointed out before, since James Harding became editor of the London Times, its news reporting has become as bad as, if not worse than, that of its rival British paper The Guardian. James Harding is The Times’ first Jewish editor and it only goes to show it can be a fatal mistake (if you are interested in Israel being given fair coverage) to appoint a Jew as editor.

(Many people have asked me in the past how Rupert Murdoch, who own The Times of London, and remains in private a firm friend of Israel, allows such coverage in The Times. The answer is that – as I know from private sources in News International – Murdoch has always been insistent that the editor of The Times is free to exercise his own judgment.)

While media outside Britain were praising the truly extraordinary and heroic efforts of Israeli rescuers in Haiti, The Times was belittling them. By way of example I attach a piece below by The Times’ news pages columnist Catherine Philp, which ran alongside another utterly one-sided anti-Israel piece from The Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief James Hider. Together the two articles took up the whole page.



Even as the government of Haiti was declaring the search for survivors over, Israeli rescue teams, who didn’t want to give up, were pulling people out of the rubble alive.

These included two students buried under the ruins of a university in Port-au-Prince, a 6-year-old girl, and an elderly woman.

Here is a video from earlier in the week of the IDF rescuing a man and taking him to the IDF field hospital:


Another point that has not been noted much by the media is that the IDF delegation brought with them very sophisticated communications and wifi systems that have been allowing Haitians to make satellite phone calls to relatives abroad for virtually no cost.

Journalists from around the world reporting from Haiti have also taken advantage of the IDF giving them around-the-clock access to one of Israel’s Amos communications satellites – not that any journalists have thanked them publicly to my knowledge.

The IDF have also set up video conference systems in surgery theaters to give field surgeons the ability to consult with top experts back in Israeli hospitals. “They can turn on the camera and even watch the surgeries in Israel as they occur in Haiti,” he said.


This blog from Yael Bar Tur, a young Israeli woman with the Israel Defense Force in Haiti, has some beautiful pictures, including five Haitian babies being delivered by Israeli medics in a single day.



Israel’s Ministry of Welfare and Social Services is looking into the possibility of allowing Israelis to adopt some Haitian children orphaned by the earthquake. Minister Isaac Herzog said that he has “ordered an examination into the possibility of adopting orphans in Israel in line with international and Israeli law, in order to offer help in the wake of this terrible distress.”

The number of children Israel might take will be decided in consultation with the Haitian government, he said. Non-profit organizations that would be involved with adoptions are making preliminary plans to proceed.



The New York Times reported yesterday that, after a thorough investigation into each and every aspect of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Goldstone report, Israel’s Advocate General is soon to give the UN an official response. The New York Times quoted the author of Israel’s response, Advocate General Avichai Mandelblit, as attacking the Goldstone report as “a vicious lie.”

Please see previous dispatches on this list from last September and October rebutting many of the claims of the Goldstone report.

Those dispatches also outline the anti-Israel prejudices of some of Goldstone’s team and the way in which they seem to have simply cut and pasted into their official report whole extracts from thoroughly discredited reports about Israel from political organizations masquerading as human rights groups, such as the partly Saudi-funded, New York-based group Human Rights Watch, which is led by an anti-Israeli American Jew, Ken Roth.



Here is one further point that I didn’t make in previous dispatches concerning Goldstone’s distortions. He claims that Israel randomly and willfully targeted civilians during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Yet the number of Palestinian female causalities in the operation ranges from 49 (from the Israeli list of deceased persons) to the highest number 116 (listed by the Palestinian Center For Human Rights), a figure representing only 8 percent of what they claim to be the total number of Palestinian casualties.

How does Goldstone explain that if the IDF was deliberately and randomly targeting civilians by bombing Palestinian homes from above, the vast majority (about 80 percent) of those Palestinians killed (by Hamas’s own admission) were males aged between the age of 16 and 40, i.e. of fighting age?



Trevor Asserson and colleagues, who run BBC Watch (and who are longtime subscribers to this email list) today make public the report they have submitted to the BBC outlining the systematic bias of the BBC’s chief Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen during Operation Cast Lead.

They find that of 58 reports the BBC ran by Bowen on their various networks during that three week period, 38 were unbalanced and staggering 98 percent of those portrayed Israel in a negative light.

As a publicly-funded corporation, the BBC is under a legal obligation in the UK to be balanced.

To read the report you have to go to this website and fill in a form.

I have written about Bowen several times before. For example, I revealed that Chris Gunness, the UNRWA spokesman who lied about Israel’s shelling of a school in Gaza and alleged live on the BBC that Israel had killed 40 people there, previously worked at the BBC with Jeremy Bowen who he remains in close contact with.

(Maxwell Gaylord, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Jerusalem, and other senior officials have now acknowledged that Gunness got it wrong and several newspapers, misled by Gunness, have run minor corrections. Others have not.)



Israel’s Government Press Office (GPO) is pushing for the introduction of a U.S.-style journalist visa for foreign reporters, as part of a bid to filter out political activists posing as media employees, The Jerusalem Post reports.

The GPO is concerned that foreign members of political nongovernmental organizations and political activists are attempting to deceive immigration authorities by claiming that they are working as journalists.

“Some activists offer their services to foreign media outlets, and then claim they are journalists. A journalist visa would require foreign citizens who say they are journalists to demonstrate their qualifications, and to prove that they worked for a news agency before arriving in Israel,” GPO Director Danny Seaman said.


I attach several items below.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]



Finally, good press for Israelis
By Tom Gross
(London) Jewish Chronicle
January 21, 2010

Over the past week, Israel has been receiving its most positive TV coverage since the advent of cable news over two decades ago. It is sad that it took such a tragic event as the devastating Haiti earthquake halfway across the world for this to happen, especially as there are many great stories in Israel itself which journalists regularly ignore.

But nevertheless it makes a welcome change to the often appallingly unfair way Israel is treated in the media, and Israel deserves every bit of it. In America, all three major networks (ABC, NBC and CBS) and the two leading cable ones (CNN and Fox) have run detailed stories outlining the central role the IDF has played in the rescue and medical efforts.

CBS (in a piece also rebroadcast on Sky News) called the Israeli hospital “the Rolls Royce of emergency medicine in Haiti” and noted that Israel had also helped after disasters in Kosovo, Turkey, Kenya and India.

A report on CNN – a channel which has so often been hostile to the Jewish state – called the level of medical care Israel was providing “amazing”. “The Israelis came from the other side of the world” and yet “had bought much more sophisticated medical aid than almost any other country,” said the channel. It quoted one American relief worker standing by the large IDF field hospital saying, “it makes you almost embarrassed to be an American”.

ABC and Fox explained that because of Israel’s long history of enduring bomb and missile attacks, the IDF is one of the most experienced in the world in treating mass injuries and using specially trained sniffer dogs to locate wounded people in the rubble. They filmed as Israelis risked their lives in highly complex manoeuvres to extricate trapped Haitians. They reported that the mother of one baby boy delivered by IDF medics said she will call him “Israel”.

Sky’s Mideast correspondent Dominic Waghorn, who flew to Haiti on an IDF jet, has been filing heart-warming reports giving Israel full credit. (This contrasts with some very unfair coverage he has given Israel from the Middle East recently.)

One notable exception has been the BBC which, by contrast with other networks, has gone out of its way to minimise the central role the Israelis have played.

And as for Iran’s Press TV, they haven’t actually blamed the Jews for causing the earthquake yet, but they have said that Israeli doctors are there “in order to steal more organs”.

(You can watch some of the videos referred to above here: )



BBC denies organ blood libel to Evgeny Kissin
By Robyn Rosen,
(London) Jewish Chronicle
January 21, 2010

The director-general of the BBC has defended its coverage of the conflict in the Middle East after internationally renowned pianist Evgeny Kissin complained about its “bias against Israel”.

Mr Kissin, who was a child prodigy in his native Russia and is now widely recognised as one of the greatest living pianists, accused the BBC’s Persian Service of a “blood libel, concerning Israel’s alleged harvesting of Palestinian organs and blood for future transplant”.

Writing to director-general Mark Thompson in December, Mr Kissin said: “I receive verified reports on an almost daily basis of the BBC’s slander and bias towards Israel, painfully reminiscent of the old Soviet anti-Zionist propaganda.

“It beggars belief that the British taxpayer should be funding an organisation aligning itself with Iran’s despotic leader in its antisemitic propaganda.”

But Mr Thompson replied: “The BBC World Service would like to make it clear that this report was not created by the BBC, but was a translation of a news story which appeared on Israeli television. The same news story was carried by several other media outlets including Al Jazeera and the Associated Press.

“I am also assured by the World Service that the Israeli government has not denied the story since it broke.”

Mr Thompson maintained that the BBC had “high standards of impartiality” but as a response to complaints from “all sides of the Israel/Palestine issue”, they “constantly review” their coverage on an “almost daily basis, in order to get it right”.

A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy said: “Despicable attempts to claim that Israelis have been involved in the specific harvesting of Palestinian organs only harvest anti-Israel sentiment.

“Legal steps were immediately taken to cease this highly regrettable incident that caused pain to the families of dead Israeli soldiers and Palestinians. To emphasise simply one component is an attempt to manipulate the hearts of the readership. If the Guardian has seen fit to apologise for its headline, we expect other media outlets to do similarly.”

Media analyst Tom Gross told the JC that Mr Thompson was wrong and that the BBC’s coverage of the case had been quite different from that of the AP and other media. “The BBC website used a sensationalist and shocking photo, which was not in fact even from Israel, to give the false impression to readers that the Israeli government had been involved in wrongdoing.”



Prime time BBC documentary on Jerusalem: An anatomy of bias and distortion
By Robin Shepherd
January 19, 2010

On Monday night, the BBC’s flagship documentary programme Panorama was devoted to Jerusalem. Rarely will you get a clearer insight into the flagrant institutional bias inside the world’s most powerful media outlet than this. The slipperiness of the tactics employed, the unabashed censorship of vital historical context, and the blatant pursuit of a political agenda constituted a lesson in the techniques of modern day propaganda. It was something to behold.

Entitled “A Walk in the Park” – a reference to the parkways which link settlements across East Jerusalem – the programme was introduced by veteran BBC reporter Jeremy Vine: “Palestinians are being thrown out of their homes; Israelis are moving in, even underground,” he tells us. The drama then shifts to Jerusalem itself where Jane Corbin, narrator and reporter on the ground, is ready to begin a demolition job all of her own.

Right away, the documentary cuts to the destruction of a Palestinian home: “…roads were sealed. The Israelis don’t make it easy to see what’s going on,” we are ominously told as she skips daringly down a dirt track to avoid the watchful eye of the dastardly Israelis.

So why, one wonders, would the Israelis be so keen to hide their dirty little secret? “Under international law,” she tells us earnestly, “East Jerusalem is occupied territory; its status shouldn’t be changed.”

Well, good to know that we haven’t wasted much time before she introduces her very own, and quite definitive, interpretation of international law. But objective versions of the law are soon complemented by a historical narrative which forms the backdrop to the entire programme:

“When the State of Israel was born in 1948, Jerusalem was divided,” says Corbin. “The West of the city became part of Israel and the East was controlled by Jordan. In 1967, Israel annexed East Jerusalem after seizing the West Bank following war with its Arab neighbours.”

And that’s it. That is the broad historical context offered to a prime time British audience on the BBC’s most prestigious weekly documentary programme. Is her version accurate? Well, yes, modern day Israel was formed in 1948 and Jerusalem was indeed divided – Jordan on the one side and Israel on the other. It is also true that “following war” with its Arab neighbours in 1967 East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel.

But as an instance of propagandist methodology in airbrushing out vital context, especially in a documentary about the status of Jews in Jerusalem and the underlying causes of the wider conflict, this really rather takes the biscuit.

Consider another way of phrasing that paragraph which, once again, is vital to the documentary since it serves as the key context for a largely uninitiated British audience. Try this, with the salient points in italics:

“When the State of Israel was born in 1948 – following Arab and Palestinian rejection of a peace agreement accepted by Israel which would have seen the internationalisation of the city – Jerusalem was divided. The West of the city became part of Israel and the East was controlled by Jordan – which expelled Jewish residents and forbade Jews from praying at all of the city’s holy sites. In 1967, Israel annexed East Jerusalem after seizing the West Bank following war with its Arab neighbours. That war was caused by Arab governments and the Palestinians who had the aim of eliminating the state of Israel in its entirety and expelling its Jewish residents.”

Well, that would really cast a different light on things wouldn’t it?

Next we come to Corbin’s “walk in the park” which starts in Sheikh Jarrah and winds its way through the Mount of Olives and Ras al Amoud to Silwan.

Stopping off in Ras al Amoud the documentary now introduces “an Israeli lawyer”, who serves throughout the programme as the objective analyst providing a neutral point of reference to enhance the credibility of the narration.

That Israeli lawyer is none other than, Danny Seidemann, a well known (but not to British viewers) left-wing lawyer-activist. No countervailing Israeli opinion from a similar kind of source is offered.

But the slippery and blatantly biased tactics of the programme makers are immediately revealed as the objective reference point offered by Seidemann is then counterbalanced by the opinion of an Israeli, Arieh King of the Israel Land Fund.

A purportedly neutral anti-settlement view is thus juxtaposed with the views of an interested party whose work we are told (to a background of darkly melancholic music), “is paid for by wealthy backers [ie Jews] in America and Europe.”

Then we are offered another piece of “context”: “Peace deals proposed so far reckon on giving Arab areas in these eastern parts of the city to the Palestinians. Western areas, which are Jewish, would go to Israel.”

Hmm. I wonder what’s missing from that one then? Again, here’s another way of putting that point with my suggested additions in italics:

“Peace deals proposed so far – all of which were rejected by the Palestinians – reckon on giving Arab areas in these eastern parts of the city to the Palestinians. Western areas, which are Jewish, would go to Israel.”

The omission is so blatant it is almost laughable. In this desperate attempt to support the long-standing BBC narrative that Israeli “occupation” forms the root cause of the conflict, it has become necessary to mention peace deals without pointing out that such peace deals were offered by Israel but flatly rejected (in favour of violence, one might add) by the Palestinians. To raise that issue would clearly undermine the ideological edifice. It would suggest that the root cause of the conflict is Palestinian rejectionism and anti-Semitism – two concepts that the BBC is apparently unable to deal with.

The distortion is reinforced as we then move to a catalogue of instances of how settlement policy is making a two state solution difficult if not impossible.

Harrowing stories are told of Palestinians kicked out of their homes. The briefest of references is made to the claim of the settlers that they are taking back land and property which was seized from them by Jordan in 1948. But it is done in such a way that no lay audience could possibly see any real justification for the settlers’ position.

We are told of, and shown, instances of Palestinians being thrown out of homes they have “lived in for generations”. This is stated as fact by the narrator. When the counter argument, that the land they have lived on was stolen from Jews in the first place, this is ventured as the mere opinion of Nir Barkat, the Mayor of Jerusalem.

Arriving in Silwan, the narrator just happens to drop in at the very moment a Palestinian house is being demolished. A Palestinian activist, Jawad Siyam, is given prominence as the articulate and reasoned voice of the oppressed. He cries out: “It’s the most racist state in the world, you see…” Pointing to Israeli policemen he adds: “You are the most racist people in the world.”

No voice from the Israeli side is offered to protest about terrorism or Palestinian anti-Semitism. Nothing. With the historical context largely obliterated earlier in the programme, few uninitiated viewers could disagree with Siyam’s diatribe.

Fading in the melancholic music again, we are then told ominously that many of the settlers come from abroad as we are introduced to the Adlers, a family of American religious Jews who have settled in Silwan. (American, religious, Jewish and settlers? That’s the sort of combination that gives BBC reporters sleepless nights).

As a warning of how Israeli policy is leading to tensions, we are later introduced to a Palestinian man, Ahmed, (complete with close-up of crying son) who was shot in the right thigh by an Israeli following a scuffle. No instance of Palestinian violence is offered for balance. Ahmed then tells of how the Israeli stepped over him and “shot a child”.

As the documentary draws to a close, the narrator once again interjects with her own tendentious opinions: “Those who know Jerusalem warn that this is a powder keg,” she says. “More than the city could be ignited if the Israelis persist in what they are doing.”

“Those who know Jerusalem?” Who might that be then? We cut back to Danny Siedermann, the BBC’s objective analyst of events. Widening the discussion and placing responsibility for the overall conflict squarely with Israel, he says: “This is the volcanic core of the conflict…what begins in Jerusalem doesn’t stay in Jerusalem.” He adds darkly that regimes could be destabilised from Pakistan to Morocco in the ensuing cataclysm.

Finally we move to the wider settlements outside Jerusalem and “The Wall”. Corbin concludes the documentary with the words: “The face of the city is changing and that makes the chances of peace even more remote.”

Well, you get the picture. Obviously the issue of Jerusalem excites passions inside Israel and outside it. Reasonable people can disagree on it. There are many shades of opinion to be assessed. And there is no reason why a BBC documentary should not reflect that. The problem is that the documentary does not reflect that reality at all.

Every Jewish step in East Jerusalam is presented as wrong and dangerous. All the important context has been removed. A clear ideological agenda has been pushed at the expense of basic standards of fair reporting.

Welcome to the world of the BBC. And welcome to yet another illustration of the slippery path to the deligitimisation of the world’s only Jewish state.



Official response of the Jerusalem Municipality’s to Jane Corbin claims on BBC Panorama’s “A Walk Through the Park” (Thursday, January 21, 2010)

Jane Corbin claimed on BBC Panorama’s “A Walk Through the Park” about eastern Jerusalem (aired on Monday January 18th at 2030 GMT) that: “Demolitions have been increasing in recent days, and in fact, we’ve got hold of a list that shows there’s another 40 to go before the end of the year. That’s because the municipal government has a budget that it has to use up for demolitions.”

In response, Stephan Miller, Foreign Media Spokesperson for Mayor Nir Barkat, issued the following statement:

“The amount of demolitions carried out by the Jerusalem Municipality every year is determined solely by the number of illegally constructed buildings erected by those residents who flouted the law. The number of structural demolitions conducted in eastern Jerusalem by the Jerusalem Municipality actually decreased in 2009 – from 86 in 2008 to 65 in 2009, a 25% decrease. Further, there is simply no connection whatsoever between the annual budget of the Jerusalem Municipality and the number of demolitions conducted. Throughout the program, Ms. Corbin presents a completely and utterly false representation of the facts and a distasteful distortion of reality.

“It would be prudent to ask Ms. Corbin what happened to her alleged list of 40 planned demolitions since her filming in late 2009. You’ll easily find yet another one of her distasteful distortions.”



“Haiti and Gaza are not the same”
By Catherine Philp: Analysis on news pages
From The Times
January 21, 2010

While dispensing with work permits crucial to aid work in the Palestinian territories Israel has been noisily trumpeting its own relief efforts – thousands of miles away in Haiti.

Israel’s image-burnishing efforts there stand in marked contrast to the barriers it is now throwing up to the same aid organisations it is sweating alongside in the rubble.

The work of Israeli doctors at an emergency field hospital in Port-au-Prince – where a 220-strong military medical team has treated thousands in a huge field hospital – has become the subject of an e-mail campaign lauding the relief mission.

Newspapers around the world, including The Times, have been flooded with identical e-mails contrasting the criticism of Israel’s disproportionate use of military force with the scale of its response to the Haiti earthquake.

“Many countries and world leaders have accused Israel of responding disproportionately to aggression from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza,” the e-mail says. “It is time that the world media speak of another disproportionate response from Israel.”

Israel calls this the “hasbara war”, or the struggle to control the PR aspects of the conflicts in which it is embroiled. Having learnt that a bad press can be as damaging to its standing as bombs are to its citizens, it exerts huge efforts to put across its side of the story. The struggle has reached a higher pitch this year in the wake of the Goldstone report into the war in Gaza, in which a UN investigator said that Israel and Hamas committed war crimes.

Yesterday the UN drew a comparison between the situations in Haiti and Gaza, noting that while the quake was an act of God, the collapse of Gaza’s health care system was the consequence of Israel’s man-made blockage.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.