Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

The Arab Atrocity Story Again, and Again, and Again

November 29, 2012 4:35 pm 3 comments

Arabic newspapers. Photo: Johl.

In the last two or three weeks, we have heard more stories from  Gaza about  Israel killing or hurting “innocent” Arabs or Western journalists.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyyeh took both the Egyptian prime minister and the Tunisian foreign minister to visit the dead body of a boy who was supposedly killed by  Israel so that the three leaders could symbolically dip their hands in the boy’s blood and condemn  Israel for murdering an innocent “martyr.”

Arabs from North Africa to the  Persian Gulf saw pictures of the child’s blood brandished on Arab TV and the front pages of Arab newspapers. Then it turned out the boy was killed when a Hamas rocket, launched at  Israel , misfired and landed on the boy’s house. Arab TV and Arab newspapers did not publish retractions.

That is because the Arab atrocity story is a best seller, but one should treat the Arab authors—the PLO, Hizballah, Hamas (and the journalists who often work with them or are used by them) —with great, great skepticism. When they cry “Israeli murder !!!” we should be careful not to get caught up in their narrative.

“Ya-da ya-da ya-da”—as  Jerry Seinfeld  used to say.

When you hear Arab accounts of  so-called Israeli “massacres” and “bestiality,” remember that the Arab foes of Israel have perfected a modern literary motif known as “the Arab atrocity story” which usually turns out to be a contrived work of fiction.

No, Jews are not perfect, and Israelis are not supermen. Israeli policy makers and soldiers are NOT  halo-wearing demi-gods, but almost every narrative of Israeli “massacres” from Lebanon in 1982, Jenin in 2002 and Gaza in 2012 turns out to be either greatly exaggerated or completely false.

Remember Yasser Arafat and his agent Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator,  claiming that Israel massacred thousands in Jenin. Arafat and Erekat said that Jenin was the Palestinian Stalingrad—at least 5,000 dead. Even the BBC—the British Broadcasting Corporation—bought the PLO claims.

Later, the BBC Governance Unit admitted  the BBC had effectively turned itself into an arm of PLO propaganda because 23 Israeli soldiers were killed along with 52 Palestinians, 46 of whom were young adult males, almost all armed terrorists.

Woops!!!!! It turns out that the Israeli  commandos carried cameras and recording equipment on them as they searched out the terrorists, and they literally filmed their own military mission.

It seems that Arafat and his crew had turned Jenin into a huge terror base, using some of the inhabitants as human shields. Israel rooted them out at great cost to Israeli soldiers, but almost without any civilian casualties. Even when the UN investigated,  the UN—hardly Israel’s protector—found that Israel was telling the truth.

Remember that every time you hear a PLO spokesman or spokeswoman—Saeb Erekat or Hanan Ashrawi—making claims about Israel massacring someone.

In 1982, the same PLO spread stories that Israel had demolished most of the houses in southern Lebanon, and, they claimed, 600,000 people were homeless. The only problem was that there were not even 600,000 people in southern Lebanon.

The cycle of fictionalized  violence recurs in Gaza, in Lebanon and the West Bank every time there is a clash between Israel and terrorists.

In 1996 and 2006, Hizballah charged that Israel committed massacres in Kafr Kana in Lebanon. Hizballah built its case by using bodies taken from morgues and other sites. Israel even apologized. It was only much later that analysts showed how Hizballah doctored “evidence,” and planted bodies of children and toys to create a massacre.

Western news agencies wittingly and unwittingly often serve as the publicity agents for these phony atrocity stories, often because the stories are planted by Arab stringers—part-time employees who also get salaries from terror groups.

For example, France 2 TV spread a story of Israel killing a young Arab boy—Muhammad Dura—in 2000, the boy “dying” in his father’s arms. The only problem with the film—shot by an Arab stringer—is that the un-broadcast out-takes showed that the boy shielded his eyes from the sun after he “died.”

Another example: when a Reuters news agency Arab stringer, Adnan Hajj,  digitally manipulated his photographs of Israeli air-strikes on Hizballah bases in Beirut in 2006. The pictures were a Reuters best-seller. Only much later and much more quietly did Reuters issue a quasi-retraction.

Meanwhile, you will not hear any stories from Reuters, the BBC, the New York Times, about what Hamas gun men and Islamic Jihad thugs do to their own people—summary executions, frequent extortion and widespread corruption.

You will also never hear how Hamas, Hizballah or Fatah gunmen threaten Western news organizations or suborn them with local Arab agents who disguise themselves as stringers.

Hamas, Hizballah  and the PLO have used Arab “stringers”—part-time reporters—to infiltrate foreign news organizations.

The stringers are usually working for the terror organization but act as “fixers” and “enablers” for Western reporters, bringing them interviews, escorting them to refugee camps,  bringing them in and out of dangerous areas like the offices of Yasser Arafat or Ismail Haniyyeh.

These “stringers”  are basically terrorist chaperons who also serve as informers on the Western journalists.

That was the system used in PLO-controlled Beirut in the 1970’s-80’s, in Saddam Hussein’s  Baghdad in 1990, in Hizballah-ruled southern Lebanon, and in Hamas-run Gaza today.

The boy, in whose blood the Tunisian and Egyptian foreign minister and prime minister dipped their hands symbolically, was actually killed by a Hamas rocket. Many Hamas rockets misfire, and many Hamas bombs explode prematurely.

Hamas rarely admits its  explosive errors. A few years ago, a Gaza family  was killed on a beach. It was an Israeli air-strike, they claimed.  Later it was shown to be a Hamas bomb that was left unattended.

Nevertheless, the standard operating procedure is blame Israel. That always sells.

Dr. Michael Widlanski, an expert on Arab politics and communications, is the author of  Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat published by  Threshold/Simon and Schuster. A former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively at The New York Times, Cox Newspapers and The Jerusalem Post, he was  Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel’s Ministry of Public Security and teaches at Bar Ilan University.

3 Comments

  • This article is comical.

    “but almost every narrative of Israeli “massacres” from Lebanon in 1982, Jenin in 2002 and Gaza in 2012 turns out to be either greatly exaggerated or completely false.” To that I say “almost” is not good enough.

    Oh and explain the use of white phosphorous.
    Everyone knows hundreds and hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed by Israel in 2008.
    Please don’t try to convince people it’s Gaza’s rockets that are killing the Palestinians.

  • So true. The rules of war do not matter to these people as they attempt to poison others against Israel and Jews.

    The media’s gullibility may be interconnected with what seems a predisposition toward the Palestinian narrative, that balanced inquiry would show is checkered at best.

  • Just like the anti-Serb stories out of (now) Islamic Srajevo…

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Opinion The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love. CreateSpace, 2015. The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love, is a very interesting novel. Equally a political and romantic thriller, at times a real page-turner, it gets you intimately involved in the dire situation in today’s Syria, as well as in the romantic entanglements of its mostly New York-based characters — whose entanglements just might determine the fate of that dire situation in Syria. Along the way it introduces a really important idea that somehow […]

    Read more →
  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    JNS.org – Alan Gross used to be nothing more to me than a tragic headline. When I started my position at this news service in July 2011, Gross had been imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 for what that country called “crimes against the state.” Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, went to Cuba to help the Jewish community there access the Internet. After his arrest, he received a trial he describes as a “B movie,” […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    JNS.org – When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users — the home buyers and brokers — played into this […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Why do we think so negatively about psychiatrists that we still insult them by calling them shrinks? Some medics might be quacks, but we don’t generally refer to them as witches! Shrinks; The Untold Story of Psychiatry, by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, is a sobering account of how psychiatry has swung from a marginal, unscientific mixture of weird theories into one of the most common and pervasive forms of treatment of what are commonly called “disorders of the mind.” Is it […]

    Read more →