Monday, August 03, 2015

03-Aug-15: Left, right and wrong

Real injuries, real attack, not so real account of
cause-and-effect: Mr Abu Sharah of Lod [Image Source]
As any number of thoughtful commentaries have pointed out in the past 72 hours, Israel is going through some challenging times in the wake of a sudden convergence of incidents in which lives were threatened and/or lost by the actions of Israelis perceived as "representing" a right-wing viewpoint.

You can therefore understand how news platforms of a certain bent would react to a report that seems to extend the run of right-wing malevolence. Not only a wild-eyed right wing Jew with a knife who hurls himself lethally at peaceful marchers in a human-rights parade. Not only a right-wing arson attack on a church connected with a miracle attributed to Jesus. And not only a right-wing firebombing of an Arab family asleep in their home, and death and awful injuries that ensue. But also...

But also
Amad Abu Sharah, a Palestinian citizen and activist from Lydd (Lod in Hebrew), was attacked in the early hours of Sunday morning at the entrance to his house on his way back from morning prayers at a nearby mosque...  A protest denouncing the attack is also scheduled for Sunday evening. The Arab residents of Lydd have been on high alert ever since the arson attack on a Palestinian home in the West Bank village Duma burned an 18-month-old infant to death on Friday... According to his police testimony, Abu Sharah was attacked by a group of religious Jewish men, who were armed with sticks, jumped on him and attacked him before fleeing. Neighbors brought Abu Sharah to Assaf HaRofeh Medical Center, where he is currently hospitalized... ["Palestinian citizen attacked in suspected hate crime", Samah Salaime in +972 Magazine, August 2, 2015 - archived here
Ms Salaime, the reporter, without revealing any of her reasons or evidence, shares with readers the concrete suspicions in the air
Activists in Lydd are planning to hold a meeting Sunday in light of the growing tensions between the settlers from the “Garin Torani” (a core group of national-religious Jews who often move into poor, mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhoods in order to strengthen its Jewish character) and the Arab residents of the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood in the north of the city. [+972]
The pressing need for a villain - a right-wing villain - is palpable. (For a less demonizing view of the admirable Garin Torani phenomenon, check out Wikipedia and - yes - Haaretz.)

The Chinese global news syndication agency Xinhua published a similar version of the attack report [see "Israeli Arab injured in central Israel in suspected hate crime attack", Xinhuanet, August 2, 2015 -  archived here], though show a little more care when describing the attackee's citizenship, calling him "Israeli Arab", which certainly sounds right. Recall that for +972, he's "a Palestinian citizen".

To be fair, someone at +972 - perhaps the reporter, perhaps an editor - had some tiny doubts about how well the Lod affair fit with the spirit of the times, and tacked this on at the end of their report:
According to the police, it is unclear whether the attackers were Jewish, and the matter is currently under investigation. [+972]
Turns out that was not a bad call, though neither report has been updated in the past 24 hours. We will be watching to see if they do a revision in view of the following:
An Arab resident of Lod in central was caught fabricating an alleged attack by "Jewish extremists" Sunday morning, as tension remain high over the murder of a young Palestinian child in a terror attack Friday. Imad Abu Sharikh was hospitalized in moderate condition after being severely beaten by a gang of youths Sunday. Abu Sharikh told police he was heading to the mosque when three "right-wing extremists" attacking him, shouting "filthy Arab, expel all the Arabs!" The report quickly made the rounds in the Israeli and Palestinian media, along with pictures of a bloodied and battered Abu Sharikh. The claim that he had been the victim of a racist attack by Jews was particularly sensitive, coming just two days after the death of Ali Dawabsha in an attack believed to have been carried out by Jewish extremists Friday. The leader of the Arab Joint List party MK, Ayman Odeh, rushed to issue a condemnation and blame right-wing "incitement." "Once again an Arab citizen (of Israel) was attacked for nationalistic motives, this time in Lod," Odeh said. "The racist, anti-democratic discourse of ministers and MKs from the Right gives a green light for thugs." ["Lod: Arab Man Fabricates Attack by 'Extremist Jews'", Israel National News, August 2, 2015]
The injuries of Palestinian/Israeli Mr Abu Sharah/Mr Abu Sharikh turn out to be real. But the story? Not so much:
As his version of events continued to unravel, police say it became clear the assault - which really did take place - was in fact the result of a family feud... Police soon arrested the three suspects - all of whom were Arab residents of the city. Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Jewish residents of Lod - who themselves are often targeted in racist attacks by local Arab extremists - voiced their dismay at the rush by some media outlets to immediately buy Abu Sharikh's story without fact-checking. "Again and again we get lectured by the media, while part of the media wants to only hear one side of the story," one resident told Arutz Sheva. "Day and night Jews are bullied in Lod, and if it even reaches the media no one dares to say out loud that the attackers are Arabs." [Israel National News]
We provided archive links above so that if the published +972 and Xinhua reports get updated to reflect the fundamental change in what's known, readers can check for themselves to see how. From experience, we advise not holding breaths.

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