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A View From Israel: Truth will prevail
By ISRAEL KASNETT
22/11/2012
Citizen journalism allows the further spreading of truth, bypassing biased media outlets
 
THE LAST week has seen thousands of articles on Israel’s bombardment of Hamas in Gaza. While coverage of Israel’s campaign to reduce Hamas’s capability to rein in terror on Israel appears slightly more balanced than the way it was in 2009, there are still quite a number of instances of nonfactual or negligent reporting by major news outlets and journalists.

According to the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, NPR’s Leila Fadel raises the false charge of Israel targeting journalists. She states that Israel “struck a media building,” without noting that the equipment Israel hit belonged to Hamas’s Al-Aksa TV and Al-Quds TV.

The Los Angeles Times described a slain top Islamic Jihad Fighter as a “journalist.”

A number of reporters were caught tweeting false information. BBC’s Wyre Davies falsely tweeted that of the 13 Palestinians killed in Operation Pillar of Defense, nearly all were civilians.

Davies’s colleague, Jon Donnison, retweeted a photo of a dead Syrian child, presenting it as a photo of a child from Gaza.

Photos of dead Syrian children are spreading across the Web, made to look like they are victims of Israel’s defensive measures in Gaza.

Clayton Swisher of al-Jazeera tweeted that Palestinian rocket attacks at Israeli civilians were legal under the laws of war.

As Honest Reporting points out on its website, last Friday, a four-year-old boy was killed by what many news outlets including Reuters, AP and AFP, considered an Israeli strike. In fact, evidence at the scene points to an errant Hamas rocket. Even the Palestinian Center for Human Rights admitted it believed that the explosion had been caused by a Palestinian rocket.

Less than 24 hours after her youngest son’s death, Esmat Sadallah, Muhammad’s mother, admitted he may have been struck by a rocket fired by Palestinian terrorists.

The BBC showed an unverified video of an injured man suddenly recovering – and then refused to acknowledge its own lousy editorial policy.

WITH ALL the misleading information out there, there are many facts about the true nature of Hamas that are being spread and credit needs to go where it is due.

Jeffrey Goldberg deserves credit for his article in The New York Times entitled “The Strange Obsession With Proportional Body Counts,” in which he argues against an editorial that claims the body count in Israel and Gaza is unequal. “The casualty count is lopsided, but why?” he writes. “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 Israel Air Force to destroy rocket launchers before they can be used, the Israeli body count would be much higher.”

In another article, entitled “Seven Truths about Israel, Hamas and Violence” Goldberg writes, “there is no long-term military solution for Israel, short of turning Gaza into Chechnya or Dresden.”

And he’s right. There’s no way to talk about proportionality without talking about the British bombing of Dresden in response to the London Blitz, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and even the 2002 Moscow Theater Crisis in which Russian forces killed approximately 120 civilians to reach Chechen terrorists holed up in a theater in Moscow.

Today, it is Syria that should be drawing attention.

Approximately 40,000 civilians have been killed so far and hundreds more are killed each day.

Alan Dershowitz, writing in The Wall Street Journal in January 2009, emphasized that “proportionality is not measured by the number of civilians actually killed, but rather by the risk posed. This is illustrated by what happened... when a Hamas rocket hit a kindergarten in Beer Sheva, though no students were there at the time. Under international law, Israel is not required to allow Hamas to play Russian roulette with its children’s lives.”

“Until the world recognizes that Hamas is committing three war crimes – targeting Israeli civilians, using Palestinian civilians as human shields, and seeking the destruction of a member state of the United Nations – and that Israel is acting in selfdefense and out of military necessity, the conflict will continue.”

Indeed, the International Committee of the Red Cross deals with proportionality in detail.

It says, “Launching an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, is prohibited.”

“The principle of proportionality in attack is codified in Article 51(5)(b) of Additional Protocol I, and repeated in Article 57. At the Diplomatic Conference leading to the adoption of the Additional Protocols, France voted against Article 51 because it deemed that paragraph 5 by its ‘very complexity would seriously hamper the conduct of defensive military operations against an invader and prejudice the inherent right of legitimate defence.’ Interesting. Israel finds itself in this very position.

The ICRC states, “upon ratification of Additional Protocol I, Australia and New Zealand stated that they interpreted the term ‘concrete and direct military advantage anticipated’ as meaning that there is a bona fide expectation that the attack would make a relevant and proportional contribution to the objective of the military attack involved. According to the Commentary on the Additional Protocols, the expression ‘concrete and direct’ military advantage was used in order to indicate that the advantage must be ‘substantial and relatively close, and that advantages which are hardly perceptible and those which would only appear in the long term should be disregarded.’ It seems safe to say that Israel’s campaign against Hamas carries obvious short- and long-term benefits and the advantages are highly perceptible.

CITIZENS TODAY are more aware of world events thanks to social media. Citizen journalism has now become important as it further allows the spreading of truth and largely bypasses biased media outlets.

Dan Hodges deserves credit for his article in The Telegraph in which he writes, “If the IRA were firing a few rockets or mortars at us, would we start bombing the Falls Road? Yes. We would.”

Matthew Lee of the Associated Press gets a special shout-out for for challenging US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on the reasons the US kept quiet instead of defending Israel against Turkey’s accusations that Israel is a “terrorist state.”

Lee apparently got them thinking, since the State Department reportedly passed on a message to the Turks that their “extremely harsh” rhetoric in accusing Israel of terrorism in its current military operations in Gaza, is “unhelpful.”

Israel’s friends and foes alike have said that a Gaza invasion would lead to a loss of support for the campaign and delegitimacy for its cause.

Say what? So it’s okay for Israel to defend itself – but not too much? A number of international leaders have cautioned that they would not support a ground offensive. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hinted to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that it could be illegal under international law.

Netanyahu said that Hamas was committing a “double war crime, by indiscriminately targeting Israeli civilians while they hide behind their own.

“The moment we draw symmetry between the victims of terror and the unintended casualties that result from legitimate military action against the terrorists – the minute that false symmetry is drawn, the terrorists win,” he said.

No matter what happens, foreign governments must be made to understand this. Israel’s future depends on its ability to stand up to pressure and fight for what is right. Citizen journalists can surely assist and the last few days have proven that diligence online is not only useful, but influential in spreading the truth.
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