Saturday, November 10, 2007

The "Everybody Does It" Defense

The al Dura case was one of the most infamous incidents involving journalistic malpractice and blatant propagandizing on behalf of the Palestinians. The way the video was edited and portrayed, it made the world believe that Israeli soldiers purposefully shot and killed a young child, Mohammad al Dura in the course of a gunfight with Palestinian terrorists.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

al Dura was photographed and videoed cowering behind his father in the middle of the gunfight at Netzarim Junction on September 30, 2000, and what the video that was never released by France's Channel 2 showed that it was physically impossible for Israeli soldiers to have fired the bullets that killed the child. Indeed, the video was staged.

They were never in the line of fire from the Israelis.

The fatal shot came from a Palestinian terrorist.

Yet, the media continued to portray the incident as one of Israeli brutality, despite Channel 2 knowing that the video would actually exonerate Israel and lay blame on the Palestinian terrorists. Indeed, the journalists at the media outlet sought to keep the unedited video under wraps.
And yet, one of the major differences between Western journalism and self-styled “Islamic media men” emerges on just this issue of the permissibility of staging the news and attitudes towards what constitutes honest information. According to the Islamic Mass Media Charter (Jakarta, 1980), the sacred task of Muslim media men [sic], is on the one hand to protect the Umma from “imminent dangers,” indeed to “censor all materials,” towards that end, and on the other, “To combat Zionism and its colonialist policy of creating settlements as well as its ruthless suppression of the Palestinian people.”

So when asked why he had inserted unconnected footage of an Israeli soldier firing a rifle into the Al Dura sequence in order to make it look like the Israelis had killed the boy in cold blood, an official of PA TV responded:

These are forms of artistic expression, but all of this serves to convey the truth… We never forget our higher journalistic principles to which we are committed of relating the truth and nothing but the truth.

When Talal abu Rahmah received an award for his footage of Muhammad al Dura in Morocco in 2001, he told a reporter, “I went into journalism to carry on the fight for my people.”
This was agitprop journalism - not journalism at all. It was propagandizing. Lies. Manipulation. Exaggeration. Omissions of key facts and details - all done to convey a story that was favorable to the Palestinians in the middle of their ongoing war with Israel and one that would demonize the Israelis in world opinion.

While it was a Palestinian "journalist" who produced the video, it was Western media outlets who spread this noxious agitprop around the world.

Their excuse for not checking things out further? Everyone else does it this way. It's the excuse of complacency, laziness, and in some instances outright bias on the subject matter.

If it fits your preconceived biases, then the story runs without a critical examination of the facts or video.

Palestinian journalists view their job as to fight the war against Israel by other means - using their words, videos, and product as a weapon to bludgeon the Israelis by any means necessary - even lying or omitting information.

The rest of the world's media outlets have no problem taking the Palestinian work product as-is, and therein lies the rub.

The world media outlets are just as guilty of journalistic malpractice as the Palestinian propagandists because they simply don't bother doing their jobs. They simply convey and retransmit the stories without applying any basic examination of the video or written pieces to see whether the stories hold water.

By the time someone questions the accuracy of the stories, it's too late.

Here we are in 2007, and Channel 2 finally admits that they withheld information that would exonerate Israel from the incident and that they lied about what the raw footage contained. That's seven years after the incident.

Seven years for the al Dura myth to be firmly cemented in world opinion as fact.

How many other lies has the media peddled regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict that were biased against Israel over the years? And to take it a step further, what about the stories run on conflicts over the past 40 years that demonized the US and cast the US in a bad light?

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