Liveblogging Israel’s Media War 11/21/2012November 21, 2012 9:10 by Pesach Benson
I’m liveblogging the media war from the HonestReporting headquarters in Jerusalem. Come back to this page throughout the day for the latest developments.
For the duration of the Gaza conflict, turn to HonestReporting for everything you need to know.
7:43 pm: Word is that the cease fire will go into effect at 9:00 pm. Formal announcement to be made in Cairo.
7:37 pm: Finally some good news. But will it hold?
6:14 pm: YNet talked to some survivors of the Tel Aviv bus bomb.
5:57 pm: Worth reading: From “Sewage Pipes With Wings” to Sophisticated Missiles: How Hamas acquired its 10,000 rocket arsenal.
5:48 pm: At the beginning of the day, I noted an ugly tweet by Reuters’ Anthony De Rosa. One response to De Rosa was sufficiently embarrassing and, uh, viral enough to make the wire service’s social media editor remove his tweet.
5:32 pm: Is this post-disengagement Gaza CNN timeline biased, a little sloppy, or perfectly reasonable? The intro makes clear that Gaza wasn’t “occupied” after 2005, and it also acknowledged Judge Richard Goldstone backtracking on his UN report.
But it omits three other big moments for Gaza: Hamas’s violent takeover, Gilad Shalit, and the Mavi Marmara. Judge for yourself.
5:12 pm: The Washington Institute compares and contrasts Palestinian media coverage of the Gaza crisis.
In the West Bank, print and broadcast media controlled or influenced by the PA are emphasizing Palestinian suffering, but generally avoiding hate speech, calls to arms, or boasting about damage to Israel. In Gaza, by contrast, Hamas media are relentlessly inciting violence, indulging in venomous hate speech, and gloating about imaginary hits on Israeli civilian targets . . .
The past week’s major differences between PA and Hamas media demonstrate two key yet often overlooked points at stake in this crisis. First, beyond the obvious conflict between Israel and Hamas, the latest developments are also part of a continuing contest between the PA and Hamas. Second, these rival Palestinian governments are vastly different: compare Hamas’s viciously incendiary, relentlessly militaristic message with the PA’s emphasis on political opposition to Israel, not violent confrontation.
For U.S. policy, one immediate objective should therefore be to help the PA emerge from this crisis with at least some of its eroding authority and image intact, as a counterweight to the endless terrorism and rejectionism of Hamas — which is as pointless as it is popular in many other fundamentalist quarters.
5:06 pm: Ain’t this video ironic? A demonstration by Hebrew U.’s Arab student came to an awfully quick end when the air raid siren went off.
5:01 pm: I’m reading Der Spiegel‘s assessment of Hamas’ weapons stockpile.
4:42 pm: Hamas murdering suspected collaborators made the front page of the NY Post in a big way.
4:28 pm: London’s Jewish Chronicle: Amnesty International is taking disciplinary action against Kristyan Benedict over an offensive tweet about three Jewish MPs.
The tweet was criticised by Amnesty’s campaigns director Tim Hancock. He said: “We do not believe that humour is appropriate in the current circumstances, particularly from our own members of staff.”
Fellow Twitter users had immediately criticised Mr Benedict for targeting only Jewish MPs, and asked why he had not named any of the non-Jewish parliamentarians who had defended Israel during Tuesday’s debate.
4:10 pm: Back to the Tel Aviv attack. 21 people were injured. Bomb was placed under a seat. Blew up near the Kiriya complex, which could be considered the Israeli Pentagon. Palestinians in Gaza celebrated the news. More at YNet and the Times of Israel. Oh yeah, YNet separately reports that both the Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade (West Bank-based, Fatah-affiliated) and the Popular Resistance Committees (Gaza-based, Hamas-supported) are taking responsibility.
3:28 pm: I’m reading Gaza’s Internet Boy Wonder Takes on Israel
3:19 pm: Cycle of Violence is the surest sign of an intellectually lazy journalist. How else should I understand the latest from Time‘s Ishaan Tharoor?
2:53 pm: CNN takes a nice behind-the-scenes look at Israeli drone technology.
2:45 pm: CNN: The Tel Aviv bus bombing is a game changer that threatens the cease fire. Before the attack, Michael Oren discussed peace efforts with CNN, emphasizing that there’s no substitute for direct talks.
2:36 pm: Joel Lion, a former Sderot resident who is now Israel’s consul in Quebec, got op-ed space in the Montreal Gazette.
2:29 pm: Over at The New Statesman, Alan Johnston offers three reasons why Israel’s actions in Gaza ain’t disproportionate. I condensed it in my own words:
1. Not to minimize the deaths, but after 1,500 air strikes, 130 casualties is an awfully low number.
2. Proportionality doesn’t equal symmetry.
3. Hamas wants to wipe out Israel.
Mr. Morsi didn’t rise to power to carry the burden of the Palestinian question. The 18 magical days of protests in Tahrir Square that upended the military regime, and the elections that followed, weren’t about pan-Arab duties . . .
History has moved on, and Arab populations have gone their separate ways. They caught on to the sobering conclusion that the cause of Palestine had been hijacked by military regimes and tyrants for their own ends. As they watched the Syrian fighter jets reduce so much of the fabled city of Aleppo to rubble, they understood that their wounds are self-inflicted, that their political maladies have nothing to do with Israel. Hamas better not press its luck.
1:01 pm: Hamas acknowledges rocket fired from cover of Shifa Hospital. From The Independent:
Hamas officials at the hospital were asked how firing rockets from such a built-up area could be justified as it is likely to provoke Israeli action. One said Palestinians were merely defending themselves, another that it was probably the work of the Islamic Jihad militia.
12:51 pm: Sam Bahour (Times of London paywall) thinks hundreds of rockets in 2012 are chopped liver.
This last-ditch effort by Palestinians to take their issue back to the UN — and, by doing so, break the US monopoly on managing the conflict — may well be the fuel that powers the latest Israeli bombardment of Gaza.
In the late afternoon a van pulled up to a central crossroad and six men were pushed out with their arms bound. Forced to lie face down, they were then killed one by one. Izzedine al-Qassam, Hamas’s military wing, said the men were shot because they were informers for Israel’s intelligence services.
One trouserless corpse was dragged through the streets behind armed men on motorcycles to the home of the Dallu family, who lost ten of their number in an airstrike on Sunday. “This collaborator had nothing to do with us and we don’t care about this thing,” a family member told The Times after the motorcycle band had left.
12:37 pm: Life on the sidelines:
1. PA sidelined in Hamas-Israel conflict
2. Turkey finds itself sidelined as broker in Mideast
12:29 pm: Over at the NYT’s Room for Debate, David Makovsky, Daoud Kuttab, Lara Friedman, Khaled Fahmy, and Jessica Montell are trying to solve the Gaza crisis.
12:23 pm: Michael Oren got op-ed space in the NY Times.
Bound by its genocidal theology and crude anti-Semitism, Hamas cannot be induced to make peace. But it can be deterred from war.
12:16 pm: In other news, Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley postponed a trade mission to Israel. Washington Post coverage.
12:14 pm: Bad news.
12:08 pm: *** Breaking news *** Israeli TV reports explosion on Tel Aviv bus. Developing . . .
12:01 pm: David Ignatius weighs in as war grinds on.
11:57 am: Your daily dose of moral equivalence from Patrick Chappatte at the NY Times:
11:40 am: Writing, photographing, filming, graphically designing and editing responsibilities don’t make you a journalist if you work for Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, or Al-Qaida mouthpieces.This condemnation from the Committee to Protect Journalists was predictable enough.
Now let’s talk about Hamas using reporters as human shields . . .
11:09 am: Good food for thought and nice collection of links from Andrew Beaujon on the IDF’s social media efforts.
11:01 am: I’m reading Melanie Phillips: Yet more (real) news
10:49 am: Jeffrey Goldberg has a nice take-down on the “disproportionate response” silliness.
But then the editorial states the following, in an effort to suggest that the Hamas threat is not quite existential:
Israel has a vastly more capable military than Hamas, and its air campaign has resulted in a lopsided casualty count: three Israelis have been killed.
Whenever I read a statement like this, I wonder if the person writing it believes that there is a large moral difference between attempted murder and successfully completed murder. The casualty count is lopsided, but why? A couple of reasons: Hamas rockets are inaccurate; Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system is working well. But the Israeli body count isn’t low because Hamas is trying to minimize Israeli casualties. Quite the opposite: Hamas’s intention is to kill as many Israelis as possible. Without vigilance, and luck, and without active attempts by the Israeli Air Force to destroy rocket launchers before they can be used, the Israeli body count would be much higher. The U.S. judges the threat from al Qaeda based on the group’s intentions and plans, not merely on the number of Americans it has killed over the past 10 years. This is the correct approach to dealing with such a threat.
10:41 am: Last night, I blogged media confirmation that Palestinians fired rockets from a launch site in proximity to Shifa Hospital. Phoebe Greenwood added her eyewitness affirmation in a CTV video (hat tip Israel Matzav). It’s at the 1:50 point.
10:19 am: Once again, stray(?) bullets from Syria hit an IDF jeep patrolling the border. YNet says nobody was injured and soldiers didn’t return fire.
10:14 am: Haaretz: Some 200 foreign workers have left Israel in recent days. Several hundred more with the jitters are expected to return home by this weekend if no cease fire is reached.
10:12 am: The two Israelis killed by
crude home made projectiles rockets were Cpl Yosef Partuk, and Alayaan Salem al-Nabari, a Bedouin from an unrecognized Negev village.
10:00 am: Al Jazeera reporter in Ashkelon came under rocket fire on live TV.
9:51 am: Over at The Guardian, Seumas Milne justifies Palestinian terror. I’d like to see him condemn the indiscriminate rocket fire on Israeli civilians with the same degree anger he has for the Jewish state. A four-word parenthetical qualifier doesn’t cover Milne’s snobbery.
So Gazans are an occupied people and have the right to resist, including by armed force (though not to target civilians), while Israel is an occupying power that has an obligation to withdraw – not a right to defend territories it controls or is colonising by dint of military power.
9:42 am: Mads Gilbert, the radical Norwegian doctor/activist is back in the news. Although this quote in the NY Times is innocuous enough, I’m disturbed that Big Media’s treating him as a credible source:
Dr. Mads Gilbert, a professor at the University Hospital of North Norway, said things were better organized this time than during Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s three-week assault on Gaza in 2008-9, also waged to stop rocket attacks. “They have learned a lot from the last attack,” Dr. Gilbert said. “So far the capacity is up to the numbers. But I think we haven’t seen the peak.”
9:26 am: Unbelievably ugly tweet from Reuters‘ social media editor, Anthony De Rosa.
9:00 am: Tablet features the “kids” working at the IDF’s new media desk.
For Israel, taking the war to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest is a natural outgrowth of the Israeli government’s public diplomacy initiatives, from helping organize seminars to train Israelis to advocate on the country’s behalf over social media networks to underwriting a campaign to improve the image of settlers among bloggers.
The goal, as Dratwa explained it, is twofold: to get Israel’s narrative out in real time, as people read about red alerts in Tel Aviv and rocket landings in Gaza on Twitter, and to cut out the middleman of “old media” in communicating with pro-Israel activists.