C4′s Paralympic Dig at Israel

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Is it possible to report on any aspect of life in Gaza without having a dig at Israel? Apparently not. The UK’s Channel 4 Unreported World documents the efforts of the Gazan Paralympic team to qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

[Click on the image below to view the full program. Warning: HR is not responsible for the website hosting this video.]

It is revealed that the high number of disabled Palestinians in Gaza is not due to Israeli military action or even nefarious schemes to tamper with Palestinian gene pools but the result of high intermarriage within extended families.

Of course, there is always the exception and one featured Palestinian is disabled after being hit by an Israeli missile. The presenter never bothers to ask why this particular Palestinian was targeted. Perhaps he was even part of a rocket-firing squad. But we will never know because no questions are posed. Instead, according to the program, Gazan civilians are simply “killed and maimed by Israeli strikes, often in retaliation for rocket fire from Palestinian militants.”

Does Israel really indiscriminately attack Palestinian civilians in acts of retaliation? Of course not. Yet, we are also treated to the story of two children allegedly fired upon by an Israeli unmanned drone. According to presenter Aidan Hartley speaking to the boys’ uncle, “out of the blue, a drone fired a rocket in amongst the children, horribly wounding his two nephews.”

While it is acknowledged that Palestinian “militants” had fired rockets from that location, the details remain unsubstantiated. There are many examples of incidents where Israeli missile strikes have been aborted due to the presence of civilians, including children, near a target. Sad to say, but from past experience, it is difficult to take anything that Palestinian “eyewitnesses” say without some degree of skepticism.

But then, it is always possible to paint Israel in negative terms if you omit some relevant context. For example, Gaza is portrayed as a territory under siege, a virtual prison. Yet, no mention of why Israel has blockaded Gaza, no mention of Hamas, no mention of the Egyptian border. Only Israel is the responsible party to Gaza’s difficult situation.

Even Israeli humanitarianism is turned on its head. The aforementioned Palestinian disabled in an Israeli missile strike is mourning the loss of his mother to cancer. She died while being treated in an Israeli hospital, which, of course, is under no obligation to treat sick Palestinians. However, Israel is still the bad guy – for not giving a permit for the son to enter Israel and be with his dying mother.

But it gets worse. Blogger Richard Millett takes up the story:

Cifwatch had some subtitles in the programme translated by an Arabic expert and it now transpires that Hartley and his production team may have intentionally mistranslated the subtitles to leave out words that would have shown Israel in a good light, but which would have undermined the programme’s anti-Israel narrative.

Here is the relevant scene from the documentary:

Hartley is interviewing one of the Palestinian Paralympians who describes how he came to be disabled. The subtitles read:

“I was working on a building site and fell from a great height. After my accident, I went to a rehabilitation centre. At the centre I played sport for the first time. I felt it was a good replacement for something I had lost.”

But the subtitles should have read:

“After I was wounded, I went to Israeli hospitals and then to rehabilitation centers. The first time I did sports was at the Abu Raya center. I felt it was a good replacement for something I had lost.”

Hartley left out the fact that the Paralympian had been treated in Israeli hospitals!

And as for the “rehabilitation centers”, as opposed to just “a rehabilitation center” of the subtitles, our translator is almost certain that, from a grammatical point of view, those “rehabilitation centres” were also Israeli ones!

Additionally, the Paralympian actually said he first did sports at the Abu Raya centre, which is in Ramallah.

Mentioning those visits to Israel and Ramallah would not only have made Israel look too kind but would also have undermined Hartley’s later claim that:

“The Gaza Strip has the atmosphere of a large prison. People are hemmed in and its claustrophobic and travel outside of Gaza is very restricted for any reason.”

This claim had, in fact, already been undermined when we learnt from the above clip that the Paralympian not only went to Israel and Ramallah to try to mend his broken body, but has since been everywhere to compete including to Birmingham, in 1998, to Guangzhou, in 2010, and to many Arab Games.

The programme was introduced by Krishnan Guru-Murthy, one of the main anchors of Channel 4 News, at the end of the news programme, giving it even more credibility.

Heads should roll for this but its Israel so they won’t. However, if anything, Channel 4?s subtitling should no longer be trusted.

We couldn’t agree more. What could have been a genuine human interest story falls victim to the all too frequent compulsion to find a reason to blame Israel. That Channel 4 is responsible for this latest example should come as no surprise and the subtitling issue makes this all the more distasteful.

Please contact Channel 4 and make your complaints heard - http://www.channel4.com/4viewers/contact-us 

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