Monday, January 16, 2012

16-Jan-12: Smiling baby-slashers, men who hide bombs in their clothing and bags, and reporters confused between facts and their own prejudices

This one's smiling too. The caption on this newsagency photo
from March 2011 reads: "A Palestinian man distributes sweets in
the streets of Rafah (Gaza Strip) on 12th March 2011 to celebrate an
attack which killed five Israeli settlers
..." referring to the massacre
we later learned was carried out by the Awads

The final chapter in the short but barbaric career of two young Palestinian Arabs who executed a massacre in the Fogel family home in Itamar on a quiet Sabbath night last March (see "19-Apr-11: What happened that awful Sabbath night in Itamar?") was written in an Israeli military court today.
The Samaria Military Court on Monday sentenced Amjad Awad, who was convicted for the murder of five members of the Fogel family in Itamar, to five life sentences and seven additional years in prison. Awad and his cousin Hakim brutally murdered Udi and Ruth Fogel and three of their children: Yoav, 11, Elad, 4 and four-month-old baby Hadas, last March. Awad was convicted of murder last November. Awad's cousin, Hakim, was convicted of murder in August and sentenced in September to five consecutive life sentences for his part in the Itamar massacre dated March 2010. Amjad was convicted of all charges against him: five counts of murder, two weapons trafficking counts and conspiracy to commit murder. He entered the courtroom smiling. [Ynet]
For people with a conventional emotional make-up - that's most of us - this takes some getting used to: the idea that a man convicted of slashing to death five people of whom three were aged 11 years, 4 years and four months walks to his sentencing with a smile on his face. Some day, a psychiatrist or a post-graduate researcher of death cults is going to try to make sense of smiles like those about which we wondered some weeks ago ("22-Dec-11: Know them by their actions. Oh, and by their smiles.")

Some of today's anti-terror action took place outside the court building. As Ynet reports, two Palestinian Arabs were stopped by Israeli security personnel carrying 10 pipe bombs, a gun and bullets, and arrested. Mark this down as yet another quiet achievement by the vigilant soldiers and Border Police who serve there (may they remain strong, safe and in good health) and those reviled Israeli security barriers.

Today's intercept happened at the Salem crossing where just a week ago (see "8-Jan-12: Terrorist outrage is blocked by quick thinking today at a security checkpoint") essentially the same scenario played itself out. Last week's intercepted terrorist had 11 explosives on his body.

Just before we turn away from the horrifying Awads (and while praying that they live long lives inside their Israeli prison cells), a reminder that, after the heart-rending massacre at the Fogel home and before the perpetrators were arrested, certain dark corners of the news media industry were busily engaged in a kind of demonization that, quite literally, is sickening.

Worthy of particular mention (thanks to CIFWatch) is British journalist Harriet Sherwood who wrote two Itamar massacre articles for the Guardian (here and here) and one for the Observer by mid March 2011. It has been noted that she distinguished herself by highly-biased use of language that failed to characterize the assailants as “terrorists” while making use of the pejorative term “hard-line settlers” when describing the community and victims where the horrendous crime took place. Of the 2064 words she had posted by mid March, CIFWatch's analysis showed this: 
  • Number of times Harriet Sherwood used the word “terrorism” or “terrorist”: (In fact the word was used once, but only when directly quoting an Israeli official)
  • Number of times Harriet Sherwood used the word “settler(s)” or “settlements”: 29
  • Number of times Harriet Sherwood referred to “settlers” in the pejorative, or vilified them in some manner: 2
  • Number of references to widely reported scenes in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip where residents joyfully celebrated the murder of five Israelis, including three children by handing out candy (see photo at the top of this blog entry: 0
Ms Sherwood is not the worst or the most objectionable of her profession. Last March, there were numerous other outrageous journalistic distortions that succeeded in poisoning the air of a nation grieving for its losses. But this is not the best of days to recall them. 

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