Reflections on (German) media and other reactions to the publication of the Goldstone report on Gaza War Crimes
“We believe that the existence of a moral society clearly requires a profound, honest discussion, of which the voice of soldiers on the ground is an inseparable part.”
(Statement from “Breaking the Silence” activists)
German Media resonance to UN Report on War Crimes in the news
1. German State Television :
ARD (“TAGESSCHAU”): 7 broadcasts per day with 73 minutes total airtime and the extended version “Tagesthemen” with 27 minutes airtime at 10 pm.
in “tagesschau”: Sept. 15, 8 p.m.
31 seconds in “news in brief” section; no follow up, no context, no comment considered necessary;
(Transcript / English translation)
“Eight months after the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza strip, the UN have released the results of their investigation.
According to the report both Israelis and Palestinians committed numerous war crimes i.e. the mission concluded that Israel intended to punish the whole Palestinian population. The report also condemns the firing of rockets into Israeli residential neighbourhoods by radical Palestinians.
During the Israeli offensive more than 1400 people were killed and thousands were wounded.”
For comparison: the death of Hollywood actor Patrick Swayze was reported in all broadcasts on that day ….
ZDF (“heute”): 2 broadcasts per day with 32 minutes total airtime and the extended version “heute journal” with 30 minutes airtime at 9:45 pm)
Not mentioned at all
Only reported on website (with old video):
(“UN accuses Israel and Palestinians of war crimes”)
2. Austrian State Television – ORF (2 channels)
ORF 1 (“Zeit im Bild ”): 4 broadcasts per day with a total of 42 minutes airtime und ORF 2 (“ZiB” und extended version “ZiB2”: 25 minutes ): 69 minutes total airtime
in “ZiB 2”: Sept. 15, 10 pm – 16 seconds – (total airtime 25 minutes)
Transcript / English Translation:
According to a UN report, Israel is responsible for numerous war crimes committed during the Gaza offensive. The report also condemns the Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.
Israel has criticized the report but is going to scrutinize its findings.
To be fair, state television (ZDF) did broadcast previous allegations of war crimes and violations of humanitarian law (Sources: “Breaking the Silence”, Haaretz, etc.):
Schockierende Aussagen zum Gaza-Krieg (March 2009)
They also „reported“ self-exculpatory propaganda like this in January 2009:
(“[Israeli] Ex-ambassador: No Catastrophe in Gaza”) – with the typical projection theme: („they“ are always to blame for having started the aggression to which “we” had to respond…)
„Hamas has forced Israel to start a war – not the other way round“. ..Israel does not conduct a war against the people of Gaza, who have been taken hostage by Hamas”….etc.
ARD has also previously reported the findings of Human Rights groups and other NGOs on the outrageous conduct of the IDF during Operation Cast Lead:
(„Do not hesitate to destroy everything“)
(Source: Breaking The Silence– testimony from IDF soldiers; July 2009)
(„Strong Criticism on Israel and Hamas“, Source: AI, July 2009)
ARD also reported on Sept. 9, 2009:
(“773 dead civilians in Gaza War?”)
“According to B’tselem the war in Gaza caused more civilian deaths than military casualties. The military and journalists (!) consider these figures false: they believe that many of the victims were in fact combatants, erroneously counted as killed civilians.”
“The IDF has put the number of killed Palestinians at 1166 with two thirds being counted as Hamas militants.” Then they quote Yaacov Ammidror (a reserve General) as follows:
B’t Selem has a long tradition of lies and deceptions. They claim for example that 248 policemen have been killed. Hamas says that a majority of these policemen were members of their “armed wing” but they need not admit that, one only has to ask Fatah people…”
“Has B’t Selem ignored facts?”
(Picture: Can you spot the dead “combatants” on the ground?
One journalist called Ben Dror Yamini of the daily “Ma’ariv” is also quoted to sow doubt about the accuracy and honesty of B’tselem. He claims that because many names were also on a list of dead persons published by Hamas, this “proves” that they were Hamas combatants. He complains that “it is now being hammered into the heads of the public” that more than 700 of the people killed were civilians, altough this is “simply not true”.
This is just one example (others will follow in my next commentary) of Israel’s latest PR strategy to discredit all justified criticism: “Character assassination” as the last stage of a smear campaign against NGOs (especially Human Rights groups) and of course the UN, that has been going on for some time.
If you have no valid arguments to disprove evidence like this:
…. I asked the Israeli army to give me their list of—which they say about 700 casualties that they claim, or 1,000—I don’t remember now. They refused to give me their list. I wanted the list to check name by name and then to compare with the list that Palestinian human rights organizations compiled and to see where the differences are. And they said they could not give me the list, because this would disclose their sources. In one specific question about two women who were killed in short—by short range from a tank, I asked, “Are these two women included in your list of casualties?” I didn’t get an answer. So, the Israeli refusal to cooperate with information is very telling.
Israeli journalist Amira Hass on Democracy Now!
– you must resort to attacking the personality of the messenger or your opponent (ad hominem attacks) in an attempt to destroy their credibility. In this case not just the person speaking out but the whole organisation behind it.
Under the motto “Consider the Source” the pro-Israeli “thought police” has created or infiltrated groups like “UN-“Watch” who may appear as a decent watchdog at first sight, but as soon as you dig deeper you will find the “affiliation to the American Jewish Committee” and their “work” consists mainly of smearing anybody who dares to speak the truth about Israel (or the US and its economic terror for that matter – just see the case of UN food rapporteur Jean Ziegler)
Thanks to the JTA we are informed with unusual candour about the countermeasures Israel and “Jewish groups” are going to take to utterly discredit the Goldstone report (which corroberates what many other investigations found earlier) and, in the process, will hammer the last nail into the coffin of the UNHRC’s “battered” reputation (Durban was just the beginning of a smear campaign…)
The unspeakable crime of the UN (and practically all other organisations which criticize Israel’s Human Rights violations)? alleged “hopeless bias” against Israel.
No matter how impeccable their professional records as experts of international law, no matter how high their moral authority is (i.e. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who also chaired a fact-finding mission mandated by the Human Rights Council in 2008), whether it is AI, HRW, B’tSelem, etc. – even the US State Department is “not credible” and “lacks professionalism” and the reports are always “highly flawed”.
A favourite method is to associate the sinister UN folks (in the minds of the public) with “a hated or despised category” of people and who can be better for this purpose than the ultimate bogeyman Ahmadinejad who must serve as poor substitute for Hitler.
So what did the Knesset speaker first tell the world?
“ The same UN that allows the president of a country to announce on a podium its aspiration to destroy the state of Israel has no right to teach us about morality”
(he was of course referring to the Iranian President).
As all informed citizens of this planet know Ahmadinejad never said, that Israel must be “wiped off the map” and the “outrage” at the UN anti-racism conference in Geneva was also a fine demonstration of the power of Israel’s PR-machine, but that is beside the point.
Thanks to our media sheep the average “consumer” now believes that Ahmadinejad, standing for the “evil” state of Iran, and by having been labelled a “Holocaust denier” is of course a threat to world peace. (I have covered this subject in more detail in my German blog at wordpress – medienschafe).
The negative “terrorist” frame for Iran, Hamas or Hisbollah for that matter, has been firmly established in the public opinion so that the mere mention of their names is enough to trigger all the desired contempt and fears.
But the JTA is surprisingly frank about the real concerns of the Israeli government: the decades of suffering and monumental injustice the Palestinians have endured is not the central problem, no – the Goldstone report is rather “a public relations problem” not the final proof of the moral abyss into which the IDF and the Israeli government have fallen….
(I quite agree with Norman Finkelstein: this was no “war” – given the huge disparity of force and the earlier transformation of Gaza into an “Open-Air prison”) – these people are mainly concerned about the “bad timing” of the report just as one is trying “to convey the impression in Washington that Israel is more open to negotiations than the Palestinians and that the principal threat to the region is Iran.”
(Increasing evidence of) white phosphorus, DIME weapons; traumatized and undernourished children, total destruction, deliberate killing of civilians including children, collective punishment, targeting of flour mills, chicken farms, water wells and sewage lagoons – no big deal!
Instead, the problem is, that the “hopelessly biased” reporting of all these atrocities “gives Palestinians and Arab nations an opportunity to complicate that effort.” [to present Israel as a “reasonable” party willing to negotiate for “peace”, etc.)
But the hypocrisy and self-righteousness knows no bounds: the “radical body” UNHRC is accused of having “consistently demonized Israel, while giving a free pass to some of the world’s worst tyrants, from Sudan to Iran.” (Where is the proof for this accusation?)
This is a recurring theme in Israel’s verbal attacks: they accuse others of their own immoral practices, perhaps a case of what psychologists call “projection”? For we all know that the masters of “demonization” are located in Tel Aviv (and Washington) – as the cases of Iran or Hamas clearly demonstrate.
(to be continued….)
Read the Goldstone report and see for yourself if it is “biased”…
P.S. I am going to explain why this (trilogy) is called “The Israeli Patient” in the next post on this subject …