31 December 2008

Apparently Amos

In the propaganda war that unfolds around the war in Gaza, the sides follow the old played out scenario. Our FM and its tentacles declare a "hasbara" offensive that in a few hours becomes overwhelmed my the well oiled (pun intended) wave of Muslim histrionics, accompanied by a not much more subtle chorus of their friends. "Friends" could be a bit of a misnomer, though, the people of this kind are motivated by their hate to Israel rather than by their passion for Islam, Palestinians or anything else.

Why would I link to the article by Seamus Milne - the Guardian pet communist, a liar, a serial falsifier, a patented Israel-basher? Because, besides several ripped out of context quotes statements and lies of omission, I have encountered a rare case of a precise* quotation - from an Israeli journalist Amos Harel, not known for being anti-Israeli, anti-establishment or anti-IDF - quite the opposite was supposed to be true, in fact. First to the linked above article:

As Israeli journalist Amos Harel wrote in Ha'aretz at the weekend, "little or no weight was apparently devoted to the question of harming innocent civilians", as in US operations in Iraq.
Wow, I said. An Israeli military journalist, quite respected in his chosen line of work, publishes a statement that (and I know this for a fact) is not only patently untrue, but causes a crippling blow to any Hasbara attempts - no, something is wrong here. So I have started to look for the original. It wasn't that easy, since Seumas Milne does not link to the sources of his quotes - for reasons that must be clear to anyone familiar with the kind of garbage he publishes. Eventually I came up with the original article in the English version of Haaretz. And to my chagrine here comes the full sentence:
Like the U.S. assault on Iraq and the Israeli response to the abduction of IDF reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser at the outset of the Second Lebanon War (the "night of the Fajr missiles," a reference to the IAF destruction of Hezbollah's arsenal of medium-range Fajr missiles), little to no weight was apparently devoted to the question of harming innocent civilians.
Wow again. It is one thing to see a libelous statement in an article by an Israeli-hater and a liar. It s something completely different when you read this coming from a leading Israeli military journalist. To double check, we went to the Hebrew original of the same (translated in English) article:
כמו ארה"ב בעיראק וכמו המהלך הישראלי בתגובה לחטיפת חיילי המילואים רגב וגולדווסר בפתיחת מלחמת לבנון השנייה ("ליל הפאג'רים" שבו הושמד מערך הרקטות לטווח בינוני של חיזבאללה), גם הפעם לא ניתן כמעט משקל לשאלה כמה אזרחים חפים מפשע ייפגעו בהפצצות.

And you know what: as far as the English translation, gladly picked up by Milne goes, it is even less damaging than the original - somebody thought enough to add the word "apparently", which word does not appear in the Hebrew original...

IDF has its faults, its fuck-ups and its villains, but one thing I know for sure, not even being a military correspondent: IDF invested months of effort and intelligence gathering to choose its targets having in mind maximum "awe and shock", that's true, but to the same degree of importance (even higher due to accumulated knowledge of previous botched attacks) minimum civilian victims. Even the Hamas and other non-Israeli sources confirm that the first wave of attacks reached its designed targets - overwhelmingly Hamas "militants".

If you google the text "little to no weight was apparently devoted to the question of harming innocent civilians" you shall see that the libelous statement is already making its rounds - not only in the hateful article by Milne, although yesterday it was first in the list. Many a Jew-hating sight like Rense picked it up, but also quite a few of more respected news sites as well.

(*)As a (more or less) technical, but titillating detail: it is quite easy to find out who picked the quote from Milne and who went to the original article: Milne the falsifier couldn't resist a minuscule change: where the original says "little to no weight", Milne put "little or no weight". Not terribly important, but telling nevertheless.

The damage is done and is spreading steadily, and it's irreparable. Somebody should be answerable for this, and I don't mean Seamus Milne.

Whether the statement was a typical case of journalistic sloppiness or an intentional libel is for Amos Harel to explain. Being a lawyer by education, he should know the possible consequences if IDF decides to take him to task. And I, for one, wouldn't be sorry to see these consequences.