Switched at Birth in Gaza?

July 18, 2012 1:05 pm 5 comments

IDF soldier checking a car at a road block near Jabalia during the first intifada. Photo: wiki commons.

A reader emailed me about a CBC radio program (originally from Radio Netherlands, link here) he heard recently about Ahmed Masoud, a British writer and playwright who was born in Gaza.

During the program, Masoud told this story that he had written for The Guardian last year:

I had a very happy childhood in a very large family, with five sisters and six brothers. I’m right in the middle, which is a good place to be. But we lived in one of the worst places on Earth – the Gaza Strip in Palestine – and when I was six, in 1987, the first intifada started.

…Despite everything going on outside I had a happy childhood. But all this changed when I was 17.

One day I came home from school and turned on the TV. There was a programme about Palestinian refugees and how their families were fragmented because of the troubles, and it talked about how children and babies were mixed up in hospitals.

I looked at my mother and she was electrified – her mouth was open, her eyes were staring and she looked like a ghost. I knew there was something she wasn’t telling me. My dad, too, was staring at the screen. I could see that behind his glasses there was a tear coming down. I hadn’t seen my dad cry before, and to see his tears falling down his cheek was terrifying to me.

Then he wiped his eyes and held my hand, and my mum’s hand, and he started telling the story about what happened when I was born.

At the time, the hospital was being raided and I was evacuated to a special care unit before my mum had even seen me. My dad heard news that the hospital was being bombed and went straight there. When he arrived he was told the room and cot number where he could find me. He ran as fast as he could, but when he got there, he found not one but two babies in the cot. He didn’t know which one was his – the one on the left or the one on the right. There was no time to make a decision. He had to take one. He wondered whether the number they had given him was a mistake, but when he looked around all the other cots were crammed with babies too. And he had to make that decision. So he picked me up. Even now, if you ask him, he can’t answer why he picked me and not the other baby.

He went back to my mum and she wrapped me up, and they ran with me through the streets back home. He didn’t say anything to her until they got home. My mum just put me to her breast and began to feed me. That bond, that love, that motherly feeling was there. The more she looked at me and fed me, the more she was sure I was her son.

Wow…what a story! It is custom made for reader (and listener) sympathy. You can almost feel the heat from the explosions and smell the gunpowder, as you picture Masoud’s father desperately trying to save his baby’s life from the heartless Israeli air raid at the maternity ward, and the parents’ desperate race through the streets of Gaza – with the still recovering mother forced to flee on foot, no doubt barefooted, dodging the falling bombs and debris while tenderly protecting her newborn baby.

Only one problem: Israel didn’t bomb any hospitals in Gaza when Masoud was born. It didn’t have air raids until the second intifada.

This story happened six years before the first intifada, when tens of thousands of Gazans were peacefully commuting to and working in Israel. Hamas didn’t exist. Thousands of Israelis lived in Gaza. More from Israel would go there weekly to buy goods cheaper than they were within the Green Line. Arabs with the proper means would travel to Israel to be treated in hospitals there.

Masoud’s birthday is August 27, and I cannot find any possible actions by Israel in Gaza in 1981 or 1982 around that date. Israel was fighting in Lebanon, not Gaza, and the very few protests there were met with riot control methods, not airplanes. (In 1981, there was one highly unusual mass protest in Gaza where one protester was killed, and that was in December. Most of the protests at the time were from the PLO in the West Bank.)

This story is fiction.

Now, it is entirely possible that Masoud’s father is the one who made up the story, perhaps because poor procedures in the Gaza hospital caused a possible mix-up. After all, he admits that there were two children in the same bassinet.

Or possibly Masoud himself, who has received awards for his autobiographical fiction and who co-wrote a dramatic and seemingly highly exaggerated BBC radio play about how he escaped Gaza during Cast Lead, just made it up.

What is not at all surprising is that the media would swallow such a story without the least modicum of fact-checking.

This article originally appeared on the Elder of Zion blog.

5 Comments

  • Radio Netherlands uses Public Radio Exchange (PRX.org) to distributes its programs.

    Radio Netherlands supplies a one-paragraph plug to help buyers get the gist of the story.

    Here is how they describe the item, which is their Story of the Week.

    “Ahmed Masoud was born in the Gaza Strip just before an Israeli air raid. His father rescued him from the cot as the hospital was getting hit by fire. Years later, Ahmed discovered that there were two babies in the cot. Did his father take the right one? And does it even matter?”

    http://www.prx.org/pieces/81453-the-state-we-re-in-2012-story-of-the-week-part-1

  • J. Thomas McAndrew was the UNRWA Field Officer for Gaza, and recorded his experiences in Reminiscences From Gaza 1981-1985. Below is part of his report. The link follows at the end.

    “I returned to Gaza in June 1981 to serve as deputy director and field administration officer of the UNRWA field office. It was not long before I realized that a sea change was taking place in the outlook and aspirations of local residents. In the first place, some 35,000 to 40,000 Gazans were then commuting to work within Israel each day, bringing a significant improvement in the economic condition of many families, both refugee and non-refugee. Gaza souqs and small retail establishments were functioning more normally than before, and it was not unusual for Israelis to drive to Gaza on shabat in their yellow-plated vehicles for shopping, as some agricultural products, gas and minor automobile repairs were less expensive than in Israel.”
    http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/item/2007/0709/life/mcandrew_gaza.html

  • Remember, Cain the elder was a murderer, who had blood on his hands. (Matthew 27:25) Remember, Esau the elder a cunning hunter, who went out & conquered the world, as a red blooded nation of people. (Revelation 6:2-4) They say that time heals all wounds, Hitler wounds or Jesus Christ wounds *Zechariah 10:4* Riders on horses shall be confounded by Dan the serpent!

  • I tweeted the CBC, Radio Netherlands and the Guardian this morning; no response yet. Feel free to do the same!

  • Sophie Osnah

    This is a wonderful disclosure. Why isn’t it published in world wide news so that everyone can see the truth?
    you are right…and I was under the impression that news and media have fact-checkers.
    In regard to BBC and CBC.. were they also sent this article?

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.