Sunday, January 11, 2009

Undercover Embed

"Throughout the two-week bombardment of the Gaza Strip most journalists have been kept out by the Israeli government on the pretext of security. And the Israelis are pleased with the result. Foreign journalists have been forced to report without getting to the detail of what is going on. That meant, at least in the early days of the bombardment, that reporters who would have been in Gaza were instead reporting from Israeli towns and cities under fire from Hamas, and Israeli officials found it easier to get themselves in front of a television camera. An Israeli official told me they were delighted at a BBC TV correspondent broadcasting from Ashkelon in a flak jacket, reinforcing the impression that the Israeli city is a war zone when there is more chance of being hit by a car than a rocket. The notable exception is al-Jazeera TV, which has a bureau in Gaza City and has been broadcasting live from there. Danny Seaman, head of the Israeli government's press office, who has described foreign journalists as a 'figleaf' for Hamas, says the exclusion of reporters from Gaza has worked in Israel's favour as it has forced a greater focus on Israel's side of the story. 'When you have hundreds of journalists coming in, most haven't the faintest idea about the war or the situation'*, he said. 'Take the UN school [where 42 people were killed by an Israeli shell] for example. There's a lot of questions as to what actually happened. If the foreign media had been there it would have had much more of an impact on the conflict than it does at the moment. For the first time, when Israel raised questions, journalists had to address these issues and not get caught in a feeding frenzy of reporting the story'... The BBC has two Palestinian producers in Gaza who have supplied material. But its Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, is among those unable to enter Gaza." (Ban on foreign journalists skews coverage of conflict, Chris McGreal, The Guardian, 10/1/09)**

One who has been given the nod by the Israelis to enter Gaza is New York Times*** reporter Taghreed El-Khodary, whose reports have begun popping up in The Sydney Morning Herald. Why Taghreed, when so many others were deliberately kept out? Could it be because she has an agenda? Here's the first of her 'reports' (Stench in the air: scant resources stretched to exhaustion, 6/1/09) to appear in the Herald (with my comments in square brackets):-

"Another woman found only half of the body of her daughter, 17, in the Shifa morgue. 'May God exterminate Hamas', she screamed... [Of course, that's exactly what you'd scream if an Israeli shell had sliced your daughter in half, no?] ... in a curse rarely heard these days during a conflict in which many Palestinians praise Hamas as resisters." [But certainly not The New York Times!] "Israel contends that Hamas has purposely endangered civilian lives by fighting in and around population areas." [While you're in the thick of the Gaza genocide, always make sure you raise an Israeli talking point.] "A week ago, after Israel began its air assault, hundreds of Hamas militants were taken to the hospital. [Says who?] Yet on Sunday, the day Israeli troops flooded Gaza and ground battles with Hamas began, there appeared not to be a single one. The casualties at Shifa on Sunday... were women, children and men who had been with children... " [Maybe, just maybe, your "hundreds of Hamas militants" are a figment of your imagination. Maybe, the heroes of the IDF really are just operating on the principle of 'I shot an arrow in the air, where it landed I know not where'.] "The Israeli Army has repeatedly emphasised that its operation is not aimed at Gaza's residents. But for Gaza's 1.5 million citizens the advance [blitzkreig!] of thousands of troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships means no place in the densely populated 140-square mile enclave is safe." [This is perilously close to Condoleezza Rice's "it's hard" for those poor Israeli troops to avoid killing civilians because the tiny strip is so densely populated.]

Then there was this: Matter of life & death for those caught up in a martyr's battle, 10/1/09, which received front page treatment in the NYT. Taghreed's back 'reporting' at Shifa Hospital:-

"On Thursday [the emergency room] was also a lesson in how ordinary people are squeezed between suicidal fighters [Suicide bombers to a man!] and a military behemoth. Dr Awni al-Jaru, 37, a surgeon at the hospital, rushed in from his home here, dressed in his scrubs. But he came not to work. His head was bleeding and his daughter's jaw was broken. He said Hamas militants [So he speaks corporate journalese then?] next to his apartment building had fired mortar and rocket rounds. Israel fired back with force [Yeah, we know, the heroes of the IDF only ever return fire], and his apartment was hit. His wife... and his one-year old son were killed. 'My son has been turned into pieces', he cried. 'My wife was cut in half. I had to leave her body at home'... A car arrived with more patients. One was a 21-year old man with shrapnel in his left leg who demanded quick treatment. He turned out to be a militant with Islamic Jihad. He was smiling a big smile. [As you would with shrapnel in your leg] 'Hurry, I must get back so I can keep fighting', he told the doctors. He was told that there were more serious cases than his, that he needed to wait. But he insisted. 'We are fighting the Israelis' [Oh, really?], he said. 'When we, fire we run, but they hit back so fast. [Taghreed, we've got the message!] We run into the houses to get away'. He continued smiling. [This nonsense is wiping the smile off my face. Maybe the Israelis could promote a shot of shrapnel as a Prozac substitute.] 'Why are you so happy?' he was asked. 'Look around you'. A girl who looked about 18 screamed as a surgeon removed shrapnel from her leg. [Now I'm confused. Is this because it was painful, or because she was being deprived of her shrapnel-Prozac? And why was this shrapnel victim given priority over Smiley, also a shrapnel 'victim'? I thought there "were more serious cases."] An elderly man was soaked in blood. A baby a few weeks old and slightly wounded looked around helplessly. A man lay with parts of his brain coming out of his skull. His family wailed at his side. 'Don't you see that these people are hurting?' the militant was asked. 'But I am from the people too', he said, his smile incandescent. [Enough already! Shrapnel in his leg, getting the bum's rush from the hospital staff, and he's more than smiling, he's positively beaming!] 'They lost their loved ones as martyrs. They should be happy. I want to be a martyr, too'." [Taghreed, how could you possibly have ended your report without reference to the 72 virgins?]

See what I mean?

[*Two of our own examples: the ABC's Matt Brown and Channel 9's Peter Stefanovic.]
[**See my 4/1/09 post Black is White.]
[***"In his memoirs, Max Frankel, the head of the New York Times editorial page in the 1970s and 1980s, admits that his editorials on the Middle East were written 'from a pro-Israel perspective'. The Times has continued to cover Israel from this same perspective, not only in its editorials but even in its news coverage." (Muting the Alarm over the Israel-Palestinian Conflict: The New York Times vs Haaretz, 2000-06, Jerome Slater, International Security, Fall 2007, pp 84-120)]


Anonymous said...

You miss the point.

Hers was shrapnel fired by Hamas (bad); his was Israeli shrapnel (good).

Note, too, the precision of the smiling man's age, whereas the girl was about 18.

Worse than the worst of Goebbels.


Anonymous said...

You write: One who has been given the nod by the Israelis to enter Gaza is New York Times*** reporter Taghreed El-Khodary.

Actually, she has always been in Gaza. She has been reporting there for many years. Used to be the TV reporter for LBC Al Hayat.