Saturday, November 21, 2015

21-Nov-15: Lethal journalism: Fabricating victimhood at the "moderate" Palestinian Authority

Friday's funeral for Rabbi Ya'akov Don, one of the victims of the Gush Etzion ramming/shooting terror attack
a day earlier [Image Source]
As the tools for creating and disseminating news become more widely available via the Internet, a plague of false reporting and fact distortion has become a growing factor in the incitement of gullible audiences, and eventually the taking of innocent lives. (Think of Al Durah, the children killed in the Shati refugee camp, the Jenin massacre.) We're seeing an egregious instance unfold in front of our eyes.

Ezra Schwartz, 18 - murdered
Shadi Arafa is the name of the Hebron-area Palestinian Arab who was killed in a terror attack aimed at Israelis in the suburban-Jerusalem community of Gush Etzion two days ago ["19-Nov-15: Thursday, bloody Thursday"].

Three people were murdered in the attack: Arafa, along with Rabbi Ya'akov Don, 49, a beloved, lifelong educator (well-known in Toronto for the four years he spent there as a visiting teacher at CHAT) who left a widow and four children, and Ezra Schwartz, a young man of 18 from Sharon, Massachusetts who was spending a post-high school year learning in an Israeli yeshiva and engaging in acts of volunteerism (that was brought him to the Gush Etzion area that fateful day). Five of Ezra's friends, also students from overseas spending the year in Israel, were injured, none of them very seriously.

The deaths of the three came as a result of the terrorist, attacking while behind the wheel of his Toyota sedan, opening fire with an Uzi sub-machine gun at people inside other vehicles at the always-busy Tzomet Alon Shvut road junction [video]
[F]ootage from the scene shows that after he [the attacker] drove at high speed with his gun blazing at vehicles stopped in a traffic jam, he crashed into a car and got out unharmed with his hands raised, at which point a Border Patrol officer arrested him... [Israel National News]
Rabbi Ya'akov Don, 49 - murdered
Two Israeli women were hospitalized after the attack: one for wounds suffered in the shooting attack; the other for injuries suffered in the vehicle ramming. Both were sent to Shaarei Zedek Medical Center and released the following day.

The attacker identified by Palestinian Arab media as the terrorist is Mohammed Abdel Basset al-Kharoub, 24 from a village close to Hebron that is reported widely - but inaccurately - as Dir Smat. From our knowledge of the area, we think they mean the place various rendered into English as Dayr Samet, Dayr Samit and Deir Sammit. The killer's background is not our concern - though we do ask rhetorically how long it's going to be before we hear calls for the ramming/shooting murderer's release from behind Israeli bars on the customary nonsense grounds that he's a political prisoner?

But what is very much on our minds is the way our moderate, peace-seeking neighbours (excuse the deep cynicism) in the Mahmoud Abbas-dominated Palestinian Authority have turned reality on its head and declared the death of the Arab victim as another instance of Israeli malfeasance. And how little (meaning no) attention this has aroused in the mainstream news media.

The ramming/shooting terrorist was captured
unharmed. A celebrity now, his photo is
all over the Arabic-language media 
[Image Source
Here's how the editors at the European-funded, influential Palestinian Arab news source, Ma'an News Agency, tell it:
Hundreds of Palestinian mourners marched in Hebron on Friday for the funeral of Shadi Arafa, who was killed a day earlier in a shooting attack in Gush Etzion. Arafa's body was carried by mourners along Ein Sara street towards the al-Shuhada cemetery as the crowd shouted "God is Great" and slogans calling for national unity...
Official Palestinian sources said that Arafa, from Hebron, was killed by Israeli forces who opened fire during the shooting attack. Israeli sources say he was killed along with two other Israeli victims when a Palestinian gunmen [sic] opened fire with an automatic weapon. A series of attacks have been carried out by Palestinian individuals on Israeli military and civilians since the beginning of last month, leaving at least 15 Israelis dead.
In its Arabic-language on-line edition [here], Ma'an is less restrained:
A large crowd in the city of Hebron, after Friday prayers today, buried the body of the martyr [الشهيد] Shadi Zuhdi Arafa [شادي عرفة] at his final resting place in the Martyrs Cemetery in the Zoughair neighborhood in Hebron.
Ma'an's not-so-successful attempts to sound independent and authoritative are notorious. But in this case, it's the substance of their reporting that's the point. When, in their English-language edition, they write "Official Palestinian sources", they mean government ministry sources inside the allegedly-moderate Mahmoud Abbas regime, the Palestinian Authority. (There's some background here: "10-Mar-15: The not-so-moderate Palestinian Authority and the terrorism it enables".)

It's likely that every person in this crowd of Arab mourners at Friday's funeral
of Arafa in Hebron is there because his death at the hands of a
shooting/ramming Palestinian Arab terrorist has been knowingly twisted
by the moderates of the PA into another incident of "death by Israelis"
[Image Source: Ma'an
Here's an interpretation of what that means:
Israel had delivered Arafa's body to the PA late Thursday, reports the Palestinian Arab Ma'an News Agency. His body was taken from Bethlehem in Judea to the al-Ahli Hospital in Hevron... and there official PA sources [claimed] that IDF forces who responded to the attack killed Arafa... [D]espite the fact that Arafa was killed in a blaze of gunfire rained down on vehicles by an Arab terrorist driving by, the Palestinian Authority (PA) buried him as a victim of Israel in a twisted perversion of the events... [T]he PA Health Ministry's claim was apparently good enough for the masses at Arafa's funeral on Friday, who were organized into a protest by Hamas activists that began the funeral march from a local mosque... Funerals of terrorists in Hevron have been frequently used in recent weeks to incite more terror... Arafa's funeral would seem to show that even Arab victims of Arab terror are being used to incite more attacks. ["Arab bystander in shooting attack buried as 'victim of Israel'", Israel National News, November 20, 2015
The official mouthpiece of the Palestinian Authority, WAFA, on Friday published a heart-rending account of Arafa's death at the hands of an Arab terrorist (though he is not mentioned once), focusing on the pain of his mother and his pregnant widow who became his bride only a few months before... and on Israeli culpability. The article quotes his brother:
"This is [because of] the occupation and the crimes against the martyrs... We will follow the legal procedures in order to hold them accountable and bring our case to international courts... " [WAFA]
And brazenly invents a bogus Israeli alibi:
"Israeli forces claimed that they "fired by mistake on the young Arafa during an operation in the area" [WAFA]
On Twitter [click to view], there's a bunch of Arabic-language tweets, many with accompanying photos, proclaiming Shadi Arafa's "martyrdom", laying it at the feet of the Israelis. There are hundreds of hits when you Google (in Arabic) "martyr Shadi Arafa" - try it.

These Arabic-language accounts, along with the rich resources of photos and videos, inevitably have limited impact on Western audiences like the good people reading our blog. But we need to be aware that Arabic-speaking audiences are daily incited to more and more acts of terror, vengeance and hatred by precisely this kind of cynical mis-reporting. The process is appropriately described  as Lethal Journalism. And it's high time the price of allowing its practitioners to keep doing it, and of ignoring the way it's ignored by the global news media channels, is better understood and stopped.

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