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August 6, 2013 9:04 am

The Media’s Lies and Omissions About Israel’s Prisoner Release

avatar by Paul Leslie

Email a copy of "The Media’s Lies and Omissions About Israel’s Prisoner Release" to a friend
Israelis protest the Cabinet's decision to free 104 prisoners, with "blood on their hands." Photo: Tazpit News Agency, Screenshot.

Israelis protest the Cabinet's decision to free 104 prisoners, with "blood on their hands." Photo: Tazpit News Agency, Screenshot.

The Netanyahu Administration has been a great disappointment for all those devoted supporters of Israel who have longed for a break with the policy of “diplomatic restraint” pursued by successive Israeli governments since the start of the 1993 Oslo negotiation process.

Public diplomatic statements calling upon the Palestinian Authority (PA) to fulfil its obligations and acknowledge Israel’s right to exist have been kept to a minimum – with Israeli governments only intermittently referring to the PA’s constant violation of Oslo and the Roadmap.

Whether it concerns the incessant incitement to hatred of Israelis, calls for the waging of jihad, or indoctrination aimed at inspiring and perpetuating violence towards Jews in general, no Israeli leaders have organised serious campaigns to combat these PA activities. This is not to mention the other PA violations like the “revolving door” detention and release of terrorists, and the recruitment of Palestinian policemen far in excess of the numbers allowed in the Oslo accords.

Dereliction of duty by all too many Israeli decision-makers has led to an information vacuum within the mainstream media, which fabricators of history and anti-Israel propagandists have been quick to fill. Israel’s diplomacy concerning Iran is an exception, at least since Netanyahu came to power, but even here the main arguments relate to the danger the Iranian nuclear weapons program represents for countries besides Israel.

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Israeli governments could have, and should have, stood up for the rights of their citizens to enjoy the same international legal protections as those of other countries and should be able to count on their international allies for support. But Israel couldn’t even get international support for invoking of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide against Iran, which entered into force on January 12, 1951 (despite the tireless efforts of the admirable Irwin Cotler).

If Israel’s current decision-makers thought they would get credit in the mainstream media for their release of prisoners, they have so far been largely mistaken.

In the U.K., it’s not only publications like The Guardian and The Independent that have carried articles referring to “political prisoners.” On July 30,  a short editorial appeared in the centrist London Standard, which said “The difficulties are apparent. Persuading Israelis to halt settlements is a tricky step. The Israeli government, while showing goodwill by releasing high-profile Arab prisoners —including alleged killers of Israelis and informers (my emphasis) — is considering a referendum on a settlement.”

And Ben Judah’s comment piece in the July 31 Financial Times, called for “tough love“ to be shown by the European Union, in the form of an economic boycott of “settlement produce,” if Israel didn’t take more steps to appease the Palestinians.

There have also been dishonest articles about this latest so-called “peace initiative” in the Israeli press, especially in “Israel’s Guardian,” the far-left outlet Haaretz. Haaretz is often wrongly characterised as a liberal publication. In the past, Yossi Melman hasn’t been one of the paper’s worst offenders. He cannot be compared to Haaretz contributors like Amira Hass, Gideon Levy, and Akiva Eldar – who are prepared to lie and distort because they seek to cripple their opponents on the right, and because they reject Israel’s legitimacy.

But Melman recently wrote this: “No less important, consecutive Israeli governments since the Oslo Accords have agreed to release them, but did not fulfill their promise, arguing that the PLO and the Palestinian Authority did not deliver on their promises, either.”  And, earlier in the same piece he wrote: “But since then, in all the deals, including the last one more than a year ago in which Israel released another 1,000 terrorists for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas and held captive for five years, very few returned to terrorism. Some even became advocates for peace.”

It should be recalled that the Palestinian Authority has committed itself to the following: (a) protecting all residents of, and all other persons present in, its territories; (b) actively preventing incitement to violence; and (c) apprehending and prosecuting perpetrators of terrorism, violence, and incitement. The Olso agreement also says that terrorists with civilian blood on their hands are not eligible for release. But Israel will be violating all of these commitments itself by releasing 104 Palestinian terrorists. That is something the mainstream media will not mention.

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