Tuesday, February 12, 2013

12-Feb-13: A picture, and the thousand words it does not tell

One of yesterday's "Best Photos of the Day" at the Guardian 
The nuances of the Arab/Israel conflict and the tsunami of Islamist terrorism that it spawned decades ago (continuing until now) are largely missed - in our opinion - in the media's coverage. Sometimes this is because of innocent motivations where the journalist or the editor or the photographer or the headline writer or the photo editor or the page composition editor or the news-reader or the expert analyst make simple mistakes or are just not careful enough with their research.

And all too often it's due to less respectable reasons.

Thanks to the fine people at CIF Watch, we have a very good illustration today of how this impacts on news coverage and the forming of public opinion.

CIF Watch do a sterling job of "monitoring and combating anti-semitism and the assault on Israel's legitimacy" at the British newspaper The Guardian and at the Guardian's blog called 'Comment is Free' (hence the name "CIF Watch").

Yesterday they highlighted a picture that was part of the Guardian's "Best Photos of the Day". You can see it above. Then the CIF Watch editors point out
"what a Guardian reader casually glancing at the Palestinian “prisoner” wouldn’t have known. A friend who’s fluent in Arabic read the poster and identified the ‘prisoner’ as Ayman Ismail Al-Sharawna. Al-Sharawna was jailed in Israel because of his involvement in a terrorist attack in May 2002, in which two Palestinians placed an explosive device near a group of civilians in Beersheba and fled the scene. Eighteen Israelis were injured in the attack. (A technical fault prevented the bomb from exploding fully.) He was sentenced to 38 years in prison, but released on October 18, 2011 as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal. On January 31, 2012, the IDF re-arrested Al-Sharawna, resident of a Palestinian town near Hebron, on suspicion of having returned to terror planning with a Hamas cell in the West Bank..."
For our own reasons, we have taken a strong interest in the October 2011 mass release of convicted and unrepentant murderers. We wrote and spoke about these reasons in many places during 2011 (such as this Haaretz article and this op ed from June 2011 and this Canadian radio interview on the day of the release) as well as before (in the New York Times) and after (this October 18, 2012 op ed) among many others. Numerous Shalit Round terrorists have been re-arrested already - more than a dozen by last summer (we posted about them in June 2012). But Israelis are already paying the price [see "13-Jul-12: "Noticeable increase in attempted terror attacks since Shalit transaction"] as we feared would happen.

Here's what we know about the man in the picture above. 

In the go-free list of more than a thousand convicted murderers and other terrorists released by Israel as the extorted price for the life of the young Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit, al-Sharawna walked to freedom under the name Mahmud Abdallah Abd al-Rahman Abu Sariya. (He has also been called Ayman al-Sharawna Ismail Salma in some reports such as this Israeli one - see page 5.) We posted a blog about him a year ago [see "1-Feb-12: One down, 1026 to go"], immediately after his re-arrest. 
He appears at position number 189 in the official terrorists-going-free list published by the Israel Prison Service. In May 2002 when he was 32, he and a colleague walked up to the Beer-Sheva Old City branch of an Israeli bank and placed a package on the ground before fleeing for their lives. (Hebrew report here.) That package contained a bomb that thankfully failed to explode completely. As a result, "only" ten people were injured. The terrorists intended to execute a massacre (16 Israelis were killed a few days earlier in a Hamas bombing attackon a club in Rishon Leziyon), and would probably have succeeded but for the incompetence or bad luck of the bomb-maker. Abu Sariya was sentenced to 38 years in prison, and was unjustly released after serving less than nine [more]
The New York Times report of the unsuccessful May 2002 massacre attempt says of the two hapless terrorists, one of them we now know to be Al-Sharawna/Abu Sariya, that 
Bystanders caught and beat one of the Palestinians, while the police caught the other several miles outside the city.
Since returning to Israeli custody last year, this lucky/stupid convicted/released/recaptured terrorist thug has embarked on several hunger strikes and is already a minor celebrity in his circles for doing so. On the Adameer site, which advocates for 'prisoner support' and for 'human rights' but strictly only if they are the rights of Palestinian Arabs, he has his own banner:

[Image Source]
The idolization of people like this man who tried - and in his case failed - to execute a random murder of a large number of people is a dominant feature of the Palestinian Arab narrative, along with professions of victimhood, oppression and frustrated glory. Over at the URUKnet website, they tell his story, in sadly typical fashion, under the headline "Ayman al Sharawna, a heroic Saga". 

And heroic it is... with not a word about his attempt to murder people in the streets of Beer Sheva by means of a bomb. Not a mention of his incredible good fortune in having his 38 year jail term unjustly lifted (on explicit conditions that are not mentioned) in the Shalit transaction and being allowed to walk free - and then being enough of an idiot to get re-arrested and thrown back inside to serve the time that had been lifted from his shoulders.

Some saga. Some hero.

And now he has a Guardian "Best Photo of the Day" as well. A stunningly fortunate fellow. But how sad that the editors at The Guardian have no idea whose case they are advancing, because if they were aware of the details of this miscreant's track-record they would surely have hesitated before publicizing him. Right?

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