* Ari Shavit in Haaretz today: “Those who are even slightly forgiving of Hamas are cooperating with a fanatically religious tyrannical dictator. Hamas are Palestinian neo-Nazis”
* Could an artificial island solve the Gaza problem? Israeli government minister proposes “giving Gaza a port, airport – without compromising on Israel’s security”
* French prime minister acknowledges: Behind much of the hatred of Israel lies a hatred of Jews
* UN admit more Hamas rockets found stored at their schools in Gaza
* Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport was, and remains, probably the safest and best-protected civilian airport in the world – a fact acknowledged by many aviation experts: “You are much more likely to be harmed crossing the street than in a plane flying to Tel Aviv”
You can see these and other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia.
1. Video: Dictatorships attempt to stop free speech at UNHRC emergency session on Gaza
2. Notes and press release – FAA lifts flight restrictions for Tel Aviv
3. UNRWA press release: we admit another of our schools was hiding Hamas rockets
4. CNN Poll: Majority of Americans side with Israel in Gaza fighting
5. Kerry and his aides subjected to security checks at Egyptian presidential palace
6. Statement by the Foreign Ministers of Italy, France and Germany on wave of anti-Semitic attacks
7. French prime minister: Behind hatred of Israel lies hatred of Jews
8. “In this sad war story, Israel is in the right” (By Ari Shavit, Haaretz, July 24, 2014)
9. “Israel looks to Lebanon model for Gaza endgame” (By Barak Ravid, Haaretz, July 23, 2014)
10. “Could artificial island solve Gaza problem?” (By Shimon Cohen, Israel National News, July 23, 2014)
11. “War and Media in the Gaza Strip” (By Jake Flanagin, New York Times, July 22, 2014)
12. “Your pity for Palestinians is making things worse in Gaza” (By Brendan O’Neill, Spiked, July 24, 2014)
[Notes below by Tom Gross]
VIDEO: DICTATORSHIPS ATTEMPT TO STOP FREE SPEECH AT UNHRC EMERGENCY SESSION ON GAZA
Yesterday in Geneva, at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) “emergency session” on “the Israeli genocide in Gaza,” representatives of the dictatorships of Iran, Syria, Egypt, Cuba and Venezuela attempted to silence a statement by UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer. (UN Watch is a recognized NGO and has the right to speak.) The representatives of the U.S. and Canada defended Neuer’s right to speak.
You can watch their exchange on this video:
Tom Gross adds: I have been involved with UN Watch for some time, and chair their session on the Middle East at their annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights.
I have written about it here:
* If the UN had integrity
* The speakers were never meant to live and tell their stories
Although much of the British media, academia and many MPs are becoming what has been described as “hysterical” in their criticism of Israel, British Prime Minister David Cameron has made remarks sympathetic to Israel’s need to defend itself from attack, and the new British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond yesterday released the following statement:
“Today’s UN Human Rights Council resolution will not help achieve a lasting ceasefire. It is fundamentally unbalanced and will complicate the process by introducing unnecessary new mechanisms.
“The UK could not support this resolution, but recognizing the strength of feeling about the loss of life and the desire by a large number of members of the Council to express that feeling in a resolution, the UK joined other EU nations in abstaining in the vote.
“We will continue to urge Israel to exercise restraint, make every effort to avoid civilian casualties and work for an immediate ceasefire, while recognizing its right to defend itself against these attacks.”
Philip Hammond flew to Israel early this morning, a siren about an incoming Hamas rocket went off during his press conference, but the BBC (who were covering the conference) failed to mention that there was a rocket attack during the conference. Indeed, they almost never mention the attacks on Israel.
PRESS RELEASE – FAA STATEMENT–FAA LIFTS FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS FOR BEN GURION
Tom Gross adds: I am told that there was no “new information” as the FAA claims having spoken to “U.S. government counterparts”, in its press release below.
Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport was, and remains, probably the safest and best-protected civilian airport in the world – a fact acknowledged by many aviation experts.
Among those airlines that refused to stop flying to Israel yesterday were British Airways and Czech Airways.
A leading security expert for British Airways said “you are much more likely to be harmed crossing the street in the UK than in a plane flying to Tel Aviv.”
The Czech authorities said they would not give in to Hamas terrorism and suspend flights.
Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg (who is a billionaire and often flies by private plane) yesterday – in the midst of the U.S. government ban on U.S. air flights to Israel – took a commercial El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv to demonstrate, as he said, that “Tel Aviv is one of the safest airports in the world”.
Press Release – FAA Statement–FAA Lifts Flight Restrictions for Ben Gurion
For Immediate Release
July 23, 2014
The FAA has lifted its restrictions on U.S. airline flights into and out of Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport by cancelling a Notice to Airmen it renewed earlier today. The cancellation is effective at approximately 11:45 p.m. EDT.
Before making this decision, the FAA worked with its U.S. government counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the Government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation.
The FAA’s primary mission and interest are the protection of people traveling on U.S. airlines. The agency will continue to closely monitor the very fluid situation around Ben Gurion Airport and will take additional actions, as necessary.
The FAA initially instituted the flight prohibition on Tuesday, July 22, in response to a rocket strike that landed approximately one mile from the airport.
UNRWA PRESS RELEASE: WE ADMIT ANOTHER OF OUR SCHOOLS WAS HIDING HAMAS ROCKETS
Tom Gross adds: This is the second time in a week that UNRWA had admitted that Hamas is using its schools to store rockets. In fact it also launches rockets from schools (and from hospitals, as the Washington Post correspondent acknowledged yesterday).
UNRWA again refers to this school, like the last one, as a “vacant school”. In fact it is just empty for the school summer holidays.
UNRWA PRESS RELEASE
UNRWA CONDEMNS PLACEMENT OF ROCKETS, FOR A SECOND TIME, IN ONE OF ITS SCHOOLS
Agency Demands Full Respect for the Sanctity of Its Premises in Gaza
22 July 2014
Today, in the course of the regular inspection of its premises, UNRWA discovered rockets hidden in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip. As soon as the rockets were discovered, UNRWA staff were withdrawn from the premises, and so we are unable to confirm the precise number of rockets. The school is situated between two other UNRWA schools that currently each accommodate 1,500 internally displaced persons.
UNRWA strongly and unequivocally condemns the group or groups responsible for this flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law.
The Agency immediately informed the relevant parties and is pursuing all possible measures for the removal of the objects in order to preserve the safety and security of the school. UNRWA will launch a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident.
CNN POLL: MAJORITY OF AMERICANS SIDE WITH ISRAEL IN GAZA FIGHTING
A majority of Americans say Israel’s military actions in Gaza are justified, according to a new CNN poll.
Forty-three percent of those questioned said Israel was “using about the right amount of force,” with 12% saying they’re not using enough. Nearly four in 10 said Israel is using too much force in Gaza.
“Attitudes toward Israeli military action have been extremely stable over the years,” said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “In 2012, an identical 57% thought that Israel’s actions against Hamas in Gaza were justified. And in 2009, the number of Americans who felt that way was only a few points higher, at 63%.”
“Support for U.S. military aid to Israel also remains fairly stable, with almost two-thirds of Americans saying that U.S. assistance to Israel should be increased or kept the same,” Holland added.
But the survey indicates that 38 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Israel, up 14 percentage points from this February. Sixty percent said they have a favorable opinion of Israel, down from 72% in February. But that 60% favorable rating is three times higher than the 20% of Americans who have a positive view of the Palestinian Authority, the governing body that runs the West Bank.
In a separate “National Survey of 1,000 Likely Voters” Rasmussen asked:
“If the violence continues between the Israelis and Palestinians, should the United States get more directly involved in the situation there or leave the situation alone?
Get more involved 30%
Leave situation alone 57%
KERRY AND HIS AIDES SUBJECTED TO SECURITY CHECKS AT EGYPTIAN PRESIDENTIAL PALACE
Egyptian security officers took the highly unusual step of employing metal detectors to check U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his top aides (including spokeswoman Jen Psaki) as they arrived for a meeting on Tuesday with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
State Department officials and foreign leaders are not usually screened this way.
You can see footage, which was obtained by Reuters, here:
STATEMENT BY THE FOREIGN MINISTERS OF ITALY, FRANCE AND GERMANY ON WAVE OF ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACKS
The following is a press release:
German Foreign Minster Frank-Walter Steinmeier, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini issued the following statement in Brussels today (22 July):
“Anti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility towards Jews, attacks on people of the Jewish faith or synagogues have no place in our societies.
We condemn the ugly anti-Semitic comments, demonstrations and attacks of the last few days in the strongest possible terms.
Although we respect the freedom to demonstrate and the right to free speech, we will use all the means available under the rule of law to combat actions and comments which cross the line to anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia.
Nothing, not even the dramatic military confrontation in Gaza, can justify such acts here in Europe.
Together and in our own countries, we will do everything we can to ensure that our citizens can continue to live in peace and security, free from anti-Semitic hostility.”
FRENCH PRIME MINISTER: BEHIND HATRED OF ISRAEL LIES HATRED OF JEWS
Tom Gross adds: The prime minister of France went much further than the statement above, issued by European foreign ministers.
Speaking at a ceremony marking the 72nd anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, a mass arrest of 12,000 Jews (including 4,000 children) in Paris by the French (not German) police, followed by their deportation to Nazi death camps, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said there was a direct link between the anti-Semitism of yesterday and that of today.
The prime minister condemned “anti-Semites who hide their hatred of the Jew behind an appearance of anti-Zionism and the hatred of Israel.”
During the last week at least 500 French Jews have emigrated to Israel saying that in spite of Hamas violence, it was safer there than in France. There has been a wave of anti-Semitic attacks in France, including the stabbings, beatings and murder of Jews, that the French authorities are struggling to cope with.
On Tuesday American Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters noted in an interview on Fox News:
“The global media - Let’s be honest about this. The socially acceptable form of anti-Semitism, of old fashioned, fourteenth century Jew-hatred, is to be anti-Israel, to criticize Israel. That’s safe.”
(Peters is a subscriber to this list.)
I attach five articles below.
-- Tom Gross
ARI SHAVIT: HAMAS ARE PALESTINIAN NEO-NAZIS
In this sad war story, Israel is in the right
Those who are even slightly forgiving of Hamas are cooperating with a fanatically religious tyrannical dictator. Hamas are Palestinian neo-Nazis.
By Ari Shavit
July 24, 2014
When the fighting ends, they’ll start to ask difficult questions. Did Israel do everything in its power to utilize the many years of relative calm to advance the peace process? Was the United States careful not to leave a vacuum in place when the Kerry initiative failed? Did Israel’s security establishment accurately estimate the raw threat presented by Hamas, and the possibility that it would resort to conflict? Did Israeli society provide the Israel Defense Forces with the backing that it needed in order to sufficiently prepare for war? Did the bug of political correctness drive the far-left crazy? Did the blood and suffering of the last few weeks make Israeli democracy closed-minded and intolerant?
When the time comes, all of these questions will require not-so-simple answers.
But now, as soldiers are being attacked from all directions, there are other, more basic questions that must be asked. Who are we fighting? What are we fighting for, and are we justified?
Who are we fighting? A fascist organization that terrorizes the people of Gaza, oppresses women and gays, and shuns all democratic values of freedom and progress.
Those who are even slightly forgiving of Hamas are cooperating with a fanatically religious tyrannical dictator. Amos Oz spoke about Israeli neo-Nazis? Hamas are Palestinian neo-Nazis. They’ve turned the first strip of Palestinian land that was granted (relative) freedom into a bastion of totalitarianism. They’ve incessantly attacked Israel for roughly a decade. They staunchly rejected every Israeli attempt to prevent the current escalation. They stubbornly fired thousands of rockets at civilians.
They’ve employed a sophisticated yet malicious strategy, which has two goals: to kill innocent Jews and force the IDF to kill innocent Palestinians. The murderous terrorist organization that took over the Gaza Strip in 2007, while executing many of its own people, is an organization of war criminals. By no means can they be allowed to win this difficult conflict, and by no means can we show any empathy for the evil they represent.
What are we fighting for? Our home. The Jewish people was a people without a home, who managed the impossible, and created a home for itself. The State of Israel is a miracle. We must not give up this miracle. We must not endanger it, and we must not take its existence for granted. When dark forces try to annihilate it, we must defend it. When hypocritical, self-righteous forces try to weaken it, we must make it stronger. We are surrounded by a new threat of Muslim Arab chaos. Enemies seeking our blood amass at our walls.
What the Israel Air Force pilots are doing right now is allowing the only Jewish state to exist. What Golani, Paratroopers, and Nahal soldiers are doing right now is ensuring that the only democracy in the Middle East will survive. Israelis living in the south are currently facing a diabolical effort to bring our house down over our heads. Even as the images coming out of Gaza are extremely difficult, we cannot forget this. We are not Goliath. We were David, we remain David, and as David, we defend ourselves.
Are we justified? Clearly. We’ve made terrible mistakes – politically, strategically and militarily. We were complacent and arrogant, and walked into traps with open eyes. But don’t get confused, friends. Don’t cross the lines, friends. We must stand strong against the evil tunnels and the wicked rockets that threaten us. We’ve forgotten how to say it, and sometimes it’s difficult to whisper it, but we’re right. In this sad, terrible story, we’re in the right. What we must do over the coming days is be smart, as well.
ISRAEL CONSIDERS TURNING TO UN SECURITY COUNCIL
Israel looks to Lebanon model for Gaza endgame
Doubting a cease-fire can be reached through Egypt’s mediation, Israeli officials consider turning to UN Security Council.
By Barak Ravid
July 23, 2014
Two weeks into the war in Gaza no ceasefire is yet on the horizon. The diplomatic shuttling between representatives of the United States, Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Norway and the UN Secretary General, as well as some European Union countries, has so far not yielded any outline for stopping the fighting. In fact, the opposite is true: Too many chefs have spoiled all the broths prepared so far.
Israel is in a bind. Hamas is not interested in a ceasefire. Monday’s meeting in Doha between Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshal and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ended in failure. Meshal is in total euphoria since the hostilities in Gaza began. The more he is wooed, the more encouraged he becomes to harden his positions. He wasn’t flustered at the meeting and rejected all of Abbas’s proposals.
More and more cabinet ministers and senior officials are becoming convinced that the pattern we were accustomed to on previous occasions, whereby Hamas and Israel deal with each other indirectly through Egypt, producing some kind of ceasefire agreement, won’t work this time. A different exit strategy needs to be found, one that Hamas will find difficult to veto.
One idea making the rounds in the defense establishment, the foreign ministry and among experts in think tanks with direct links to the Prime Minister’s and Defense Minister’s bureaus is to recreate the exit plan from the second Lebanon War. According to this idea, Israel, in coordination with the US and other allies, as well as with Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League, will propose a Security Council Resolution, similar to Resolution number 1701 which ended that war in 2006.
Beyond a ceasefire, that resolution was intended to advance Israel’s diplomatic objectives such as the strengthening of Lebanon’s government’s hold on its southern district, the international isolation of Hezbollah, the demilitarization of southern Lebanon from rockets and heavy weaponry and the stationing of international observers on the border. Resolution 1701 was a continuation of the earlier Resolution 1559, which called for the disarming of Hezbollah and other armed militias in Lebanon.
The same principles could serve Israel’s diplomatic goals in the days following the fighting in Gaza. A UN resolution to end the hostilities should include the following principles:
a) A declaration that the lawful government in Gaza is that of the Palestinian Authority under President Abbas. Implicitly, this will oblige Israel to work with the Palestinian unity government.
b) A redeployment of Palestinian Authority forces along Gaza’s borders and at border crossings into Israel and Egypt.
c) Erection of a mechanism that will ensure demilitarization of the Gaza Strip from rockets, tunnels and heavy weapons, along with the sending of UN inspectors to different locations throughout the Strip. These inspectors will report back to the Security Council every 3-6 months. Even if not a single rocket is dismantled, this problem will be brought to the forefront of world attention.
d) A meaningful change in Israel’s policies with regard to border crossings, particularly concerning the passage of people and goods between Gaza and the West Bank.
e) A lifting of the naval siege and the construction of a deep water harbor under the supervision of the Palestinian Authority and a strong international force.
f) The rehabilitation of Gaza’s economy and infrastructure under international supervision that will prevent the diversion of building materials to the construction of bunkers and tunnels by terrorist organizations.
Resolution 1701 which ended the second Lebanon war wasn’t perfect. Actually, Benjamin Netanyahu was one of its harshest critics. Many of its sections have not been implemented to this day, yet it gave Israel many diplomatic advantages while isolating Hezbollah.
A similar resolution with respect to Gaza will also not be fully implemented. Hamas will surely oppose it. However, given its current condition it will find it hard to object to it, particularly if it is backed by the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. This solution is far from perfect but all other options are worse.
COULD ARTIFICIAL ISLAND SOLVE GAZA PROBLEM?
Could artificial island solve Gaza problem?
Minister proposes giving Gaza a port, airport – without compromising on Israel’s security.
By Shimon Cohen
Israel National News
July 23, 2014
Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz has unveiled a proposal that he believes could allow Israel to fully disengage from Gaza, without compromising its security.
“For years, I have been calling for a ‘civilian disengagement’ plan. Stop providing electricity, water, gas, food, and all kinds of other things, demilitarize Gaza – no missiles and tunnels – and create a border between Israel and Gaza,” he explained.
Instead, he said, Gaza should have its own airport and port – but with special arrangements.
“We should open the Rafiah crossing between Gaza and Egypt for an intermediate period, for goods and people to pass through, with supervision,” he said.
“At the same time, we should initiate the creation of an artificial island at sea, under international supervision and with international funding, roughly 4.5 kilometers off the Gaza coast,” he continued. A model for the project has already been created, he noted.
“On the island there will be a port, a power plant and water treatment plant, and eventually an airport. There could be hotels there, too. The island would be connected to Gaza by a bridge, which would have a security checkpoint in the center.
“[The checkpoint] would be under full international control for 100 years, and under Israeli control at sea,” he suggested. “The Palestinians would be part of operating the port and airport, and staffing the hotels.”
“There would be no homes on the island,” he added.
If the condition of Gaza’s demilitarization were violated, he said, the crossing and the security checkpoint could be shut down. Israel would retain the option of responding to any cross-border fire.
“In order to allow this to be implemented, Israel must set the demilitarization of Gaza as a clear objective for Operation Protective Edge,” he warned.
Israel withdrew from Gaza in the 2005 Disengagement, but continues to supply the region with water, electricity, and other supplies, and retains control of the sea some distance off the coast of Gaza. Under agreements reached during the Disengagement, international observers were to man the Egypt-Gaza crossing and ensure that weapons did not enter Gaza; however, the observers fled following the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2006, and the agreements were later ignored.
“THE NEW YORK TIMES’ CHOICE OF PHOTOS IS AS ONE-SIDED AND MISLEADING A DEPICTION OF THE GAZA BATTLE AS ONE CAN IMAGINE”
My piece for the National Post on the media coverage of Gaza was cited in the following article on the New York Times website.
War and Media in the Gaza Strip
By Jake Flanagin
July 22, 2014
New York Times
Alleged gunfire at an Al Jazeera bureau in Gaza on Tuesday was hardly a boon to the Israeli Defense Forces’ public image – and this was only the latest installment in a string of P.R. debacles facing the Jewish state.
The current conflict in Gaza is playing out on two fronts: one on the ground, spilling more and more blood with each passing day; the other glowing on television screens and flitting across Twitter feeds around the world. A sampling from the latter:
Commentators and media spin, observers say, are having a unprecedentedly profound impact on global perceptions of Operation Protective Edge. “Propaganda wars have unfolded alongside the battlefield for generations,” writes Judi Rudoren for The New York Times. “But analysts said the latest flare-up between Israel and the Gaza Strip has brought a new level of dehumanizing, hateful language and a muddying of official talking points with incendiary threats.”
“The Gaza-based interior ministry advises its supporters in a YouTube video that whenever talking about the dead, ‘always add ‘an innocent citizen,’’” Ms. Rudoren reports. “In Israel, the message is quite different: Those same victims are described as ‘human shields’ sacrificed by the ‘heartless’ Hamas ‘terrorists’ that rule Gaza.”
It’s a conflict of rhetoric, in which many are beginning to believe Israel and its supporters are losing ground. In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Israeli Prime Minister complained that Hamas was intentionally putting civilians in harm’s way as part of a campaign to elicit sympathy from foreign audiences. “They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause,” he said.
The phrase “telegenically dead Palestinians” promptly erupted across broadcast and online media:
Writing for The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald pointed out the ironic similarities between Mr. Netanyahu’s comment and the grievances one Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda for the Third Reich, aired in a 1941 essay published in his weekly newspaper, Das Reich. Mr. Goebbels wrote:
“The Jews gradually are having to depend more and more on themselves, and have recently found a new trick. They knew the good-natured German Michael in us, always ready to shed sentimental tears for the injustice done to them. One suddenly has the impression that the Berlin Jewish population consists only of little babies whose childish helplessness might move us, or else fragile old ladies. The Jews send out the pitiable. They may confuse some harmless souls for a while, but not us. We know exactly what the situation is.”
At New York Magazine, meanwhile, Benjamin Wallace-Wells writes that “if Netanyahu is so bothered by how dead Palestinians look on television then he should stop killing so many of them.” If anything is to be gleaned from such substantial losses in Gaza, Mr. Wallace-Wells argues, it is perhaps a shift in American attitudes toward Israeli policy: “I think the way the last two weeks have unfolded in the Western media has made it more difficult for Americans not personally invested in the conflict to simply assume that the Israelis are necessarily right.”
And yet others attribute this shift to a reportorial imbalance. The Weekly Standard’s Noah Pollak finds photographic coverage of the conflict in The Times to be particularly objectionable: “A review of The Times’s photography in Gaza reveals a stark contrast in how the two sides are portrayed. Nearly every picture from Israel depicts tanks, soldiers or attack helicopters. And every picture of Gaza deceits either bloodied civilians, destroyed buildings, overflowing hospitals or other images of civilian anguish. It is as one-sided and misleading a depiction of the Gaza battle as one can imagine.”
The National Post’s Tom Gross agrees. Western media have been anything but evenhanded in their coverage of this conflict, he claims: “Indeed the BBC, along with most of the international media, have failed to tell us that quite a number of Palestinian deaths in Gaza were the result of misfired Palestinian rockets. Last week alone, at least 100 Hamas rockets accidentally hit targets within Gaza.”
Additionally, Mr. Gross stipulates that Western media are actually less critical of Hamas than their counterparts in the Arab world. “On Egyptian TV, several commentators said they were ‘sick and tired’ of Hamas,” he writes. “There have been similar sentiments in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and even in the Fatah-controlled West Bank. So the next time 5,000 rowdy demonstrators take to the street to protest Western media’s supposed ‘pro-Israel’ bias, they might want to keep in mind the history, the facts and what Arab media are saying about Hamas.”
An armed conflict may be a poor place to seek out an evolution in sophisticated media consumption, yet it’s impossible to ignore this fact: Discernment among media consumers has grown in tandem with the number of media outlets available to them, including the disintermediating networks of social media. Writing for Britain’s Channel 4 News, Paul Mason recalls a the famous photograph of Phan Thi Kim Phuc, a Vietnamese girl “lacerated by a U.S. napalm strike in 1972.” Audio tapes of President Richard Nixon and White House chief-of-Staff Bob Haldeman discussing the photo recorded the two postulating that the image may have been “fixed.”
“Today, anybody wishing to bomb civilians, or risk civilian casualties in a military operation, can tell quite quickly what is fake and what is real,” Mr. Mason writes. “And so can the population that elects them.”
“THE MESSAGE THAT ALL THIS MORALLY PORNOGRAPHIC PROMOTION OF IMAGES AND REPORTS OF PALESTINIAN DEATH SENDS TO HAMAS IS THIS: VICTIMHOOD WORKS”
Your pity for Palestinians is making things worse in Gaza
By Brendan O’Neill
Western thirst for images of the dead could be contributing to the bloodshed.
July 24, 2014
In the war of words over the war between Israel and Hamas, one question is asked time and again: why does Hamas put the civilians of Gaza in harm’s way? Hamas at least stands accused by some of encouraging Palestinians to act as human shields against the rockets from Israel and storing weaponry in civilian buildings. This week the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees reported the discovery of Hamas rockets in a vacant school, in between two buildings housing 3,000 displaced Palestinians. Certainly when Palestinians are killed, Hamas’s leaders swiftly organise photo opportunities for foreign observers, giving rise to a situation where, in one journalist’s words, ‘wounded and dead women and children [are paraded] in front of the cameras’. The Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu caused a storm when he referred to these unfortunate souls as ‘telegenically dead’ Palestinians, publicly displayed by Hamas to ‘garner international sympathy’.
Various explanations have been offered for Hamas’s alleged endangering of Palestinian life. It does it because it is cynical, wicked, so determined to depict Israel as the monster of the Middle East that it’s actually pleased when Gazans get killed, commentators claim. But there is something else, too, another side to this sordid story, another aspect to these allegations about Hamas’s complicity in, or lack of care about, the rising death toll in Gaza. And that is the question of what urge, what audience, Hamas is allegedly trying to satisfy with its imagery of dead Palestinians. The answer is us, individuals in the West who cannot get enough of horror stories of Palestinian victimhood, campaigners and journalists over here who now barter in gory images of killed Palestinians and who promote and share such images both to demonstrate their own emotional intelligence and to put pressure on international institutions to rein in Israel and recognise Palestinian statehood.
That is, it’s all well and good to criticise Hamas for its supply of images of ‘telegenically dead’ Palestinians, but we also need to interrogate the demand side to this relationship, the thirst that exists here in the West for graphic proof of Palestinian victimhood, and the way in which this demand might, perversely, be contributing to the bloodshed in Gaza. Is it possible that modern-day Palestinian solidarity campaigns, which now almost exclusively use images of victimised Palestinians as leverage against Israel in international forums, are implicitly inviting the Palestinian leadership itself to provide more such images, and possibly more dead?
Hamas’s suspected endangerment of civilian areas of Gaza is not taking place in a vacuum. It’s occurring at a time when imagery and reports of Palestinian suffering have extraordinary clout, becoming a kind of currency in international media and campaigning circles. The Western appetite for pictures of and information about Palestinian suffering is vast. Media outlets and pro-Palestinian campaigners count and even name every Gazan killed in rocket attacks. The hashtag #GazaUnderAttack has become one of the busiest on Twitter, being used hundreds of thousands of times to share graphic images of dead Palestinians. Some newspapers have broken their own taste guidelines in order to publish photographs of dead children. When an Israeli rocket hit a beach and horrifically killed four children, images of the kids’ dead bodies were widely shared, one of the surviving boys was interviewed on primetime news shows, and anti-Israel memes were created calling on outsiders to do something to stop Israeli militarism.
The message that all this morally pornographic promotion of images and reports of Palestinian death sends to Hamas is this: victimhood works. The feverish Western marshalling of emotive imagery of Palestinian corpses to the political end of seeking sanctions against Israel or greater international protection for the Palestinian territories surely has the effect of encouraging Hamas to try to provide more of the same, more ‘telegenically dead’ Palestinians. There is a logic to Hamas’s alleged encouragement of great risk among the Gazan civilian population and certainly to its ‘parading’ of dead bodies before the press: it’s a response to the grotesque Western fashion for looking at, sharing and using as political tools images of dead Palestinians. Hamas is best seen as kind a drug pusher to those in the West who have developed a very ugly habit of exploiting images of brutalised Palestinians both for their own needs (to advertise their emotional awareness) and for political purposes (to exert pressure on our leaders to condemn Israel).