Hamas

An insiders guide to reporting on Israel/Gaza conflict

Journalists over looking Gaza from Sderot   Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

Journalists over looking Gaza from Sderot Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

Tablet has an essay about the media manipulations in reporting the Israel/Gaza conflict.

It is by  Matti Friedman who is a former AP correspondent who explains how and why reporters get Israel so wrong, and why it matters. What she writes echoes what I saw in Israel.

The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues.

While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.

She looks at the disproportionate staffing and reporting on Israel compared with other countries.

Staffing is the best measure of the importance of a story to a particular news organization. When I was a correspondent at the AP, the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined. It was higher than the total number of news-gathering employees in all the countries where the uprisings of the “Arab Spring” eventually erupted.

To offer a sense of scale: Before the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the permanent AP presence in that country consisted of a single regime-approved stringer. The AP’s editors believed, that is, that Syria’s importance was less than one-40th that of Israel. I don’t mean to pick on the AP—the agency is wholly average, which makes it useful as an example. The big players in the news business practice groupthink, and these staffing arrangements were reflected across the herd. Staffing levels in Israel have decreased somewhat since the Arab uprisings began, but remain high. And when Israel flares up, as it did this summer, reporters are often moved from deadlier conflicts. Israel still trumps nearly everything else.

The volume of press coverage that results, even when little is going on, gives this conflict a prominence compared to which its actual human toll is absurdly small. In all of 2013, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago. Jerusalem, internationally renowned as a city of conflict, had slightly fewer violent deaths per capita last year than Portland, Ore., one of America’s safer cities. In contrast, in three years the Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 190,000 lives, or about 70,000 more than the number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict since it began a century ago.

News organizations have nonetheless decided that this conflict is more important than, for example, the more than 1,600 women murdered in Pakistan last year (271 after being raped and 193 of them burned alive), the ongoing erasure of Tibet by the Chinese Communist Party, the carnage in Congo (more than 5 million dead as of 2012) or the Central African Republic, and the drug wars in Mexico (death toll between 2006 and 2012: 60,000), let alone conflicts no one has ever heard of in obscure corners of India or Thailand. They believe Israel to be the most important story on earth, or very close.

That is an indictment in itself right there. That is a massive news imbalance.    Read more »

What the UN didn’t show with their maps of Gaza

UN Map

UN Map

Last week, the UN published several maps showing the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge. The maps paint a picture of catastrophe, marking damaged buildings with red dots scattered throughout Gaza.

But those maps tell only half the story: Hamas used many of these buildings  – including houses, hospitals and schools  –  as sites to launch rockets and carry out other attacks.

In many cases, the IDF struck buildings in order to stop Hamas’ violence. This means that the red dots on the UN’s maps represent more than destruction. They show the many cases in which terrorists attacked Israel from heavily populated areas in Gaza.

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Trotter on Good dead v Bad dead

Don’t know why I missed this yesterday.  It’s one of Chris Trotter’s best essays in some time.  A little on the heavy side first thing in the morning, but worth the time:

Where are the impassioned streams of citizens flooding our nation’s streets to protest against the actions of the Islamic State?

The righteous wrath stirred up by the Israeli assault upon Gaza has been plain to see. But the barbaric punishment meted out to Christians, captive Iraqi soldiers, Shia Muslims and followers of the ancient Yazidi faith has yet to inspire anyone to apply paint to placard.

Given the chorus of rage currently directed at the “Zionist Entity”, why are those who profess “progressive” sympathies so silent when it comes to the outrages perpetrated by the self-proclaimed caliphate?

The latest of these, the beheading of an American journalist, has generated a wave of revulsion around the world. Not least on account of the perpetrators’ cynical (but effective) use of social media to publicise their medieval celebration of cruelty and death.

But where are the Hollywood movie stars emoting to camera over the ritual killing of their defenceless compatriot? Where are the protest crowds of outraged progressives demanding justice for James Foley?

Does nobody else think it odd that the gunning down of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, can spark days of passionate protest, but the agonising decapitation of a helpless journalist elicits condemnation only from “mainstream” politicians and the equally despised “mainstream” media? Did progressives maintain a similar silence when images of a terrified Palestinian boy, caught in a deadly crossfire of Israeli bullets, appeared on the world’s television screens? No, they did not.

More and more, it seems to me, we are being presented with what some commentators are calling “good dead” and “bad dead”.

Why is Minto and his union rent-a-crowd out there calling for the destruction of Israel, yet they have no similar outrage when it comes to other deaths?   Chris is onto it.   Read more »

Today in Sderot [VIDEO + IMAGES]

Entry to Sderot    Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

Entry to Sderot Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

WARNING: This might look like a travel blog post, until you see the video.

You will hear people moaning about the children in the conflict with Gaza and you will hear them moan about civilians and the effect on them.

Yesterday I visited Sderot, a small town of 25,000 near the Gaza border. When I say near…the closest part of Sderot to Gaza is 840m.

Every bus stop – approximately 200m apart, sometimes more is actually a bomb shelter as well. Whether you make it there is another matter as I will demonstrate shortly.

As you drive around you notice that every house also has a bomb shelter attached or is integral to the apartment blocks. This is the investment the people of Sderot and the government makes to protect children and the civilian population.

There is also an Iron Dome protecting Sderot, but due to the proximity to Gaza you only get 15 seconds warning…if that.

We had just finished a visit at the Police station where they have piles of expended Hamas rockets they have collected and I was crossing the road towards the van when an alert was issued. My phone buzzed and over the loud speakers that are everywhere in Sderot came the Hebrew words for Red Alert.

I was walking towards this bus shelter where there were people waiting and IDF Captain Roni Kaplan, who I was with, grabbed me and pushed me towards the shelter. The rest of the group were a fair bit behind and they returned quickly to the shelter at the Police station.

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Bus stop and Bomb shelter, Sderot Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

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RED: How Israel warns it’s citizens from Hamas terrorism

Yesterday I mentioned the app that is available to push alerts of rocket strikes to your smart phone.

It is called RED and is available for iPhone and Android.

I have it installed on my phone and at dinner last night a flurry of alerts came in reminding me to share with you what it looks like.

When you login you have two possible screens.

The latest alerts and and a Map showing the latest alerts. It uses GPS and cell towers to know where you are.

Here is the Map screen showing the flurry of rocket attacks against Ashdod and Askelon and the general vicinity at around 6:45pm last night.

Screenshot_2014-08-23-19-07-15 Read more »

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Hamas kills 4 year old civilian in mortar attack

Hamas, on top of killing 18 alleged collaborators, have mortared a town in near Gaza and killed a 4 year old at a kindergarten.

A 4-year-old child was killed Friday evening after being critically wounded in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council by mortar fire during a large barrage of rocket fire from Gaza that also reached central Israel.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the fire on central Israel, saying that they had aimed for Ben Gurion International Airport. Iron Dome intercepted one rocket over Tel Aviv during the barrage.

At least 80 rockets were fired at Israel on Friday, with one landing a direct hit on synagogue in Ashdod, lightly wounding two and putting one woman in moderate condtion. Ten were treated for anxiety on the scene.

Earlier rockets fell near a preschool in Be’er Sheva, wounding a man while another landed meters from another preschool in the south, after a quiet night gave residents a much needed rest from renewed fighting which have seen a record number of rockets slam into Israel.

In the late afternoon hours, an apartment in Sderot also suffered a direct hit by a rocket from Gaza. Initial reports from the scene indicated that nobody had been injured in the attack.  

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What does it feel like to be under attack?

Haaretz breaking news page

Haaretz breaking news page

I was watching television in my room, shortly before 6pm last night.

I was about to go to dinner, but a siren started sounding. At the same time a txt message arrived on my cellphone and a push message on the app I downloaded.

This is the IDF’s early warning system at work. Hamas had launched a rocket at Tel Aviv and my hotel was in the calculated landing zone.

The Iron Dome detects the speed, trajectory and makes a calculation then sends out broadcast messages to anyone within about 500m of the calculated target zone. It takes 7 seconds for this to happen.

When you can hear sirens, you are in trouble.

About the time I got up from the bed the intercom system in the hotel announced that sirens and warnings were in effect and for all guests to move to the shelter.    Read more »

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Protecting Israel’s civilian population with the Iron Dome

Me with the Iron Dome    Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

Me with the Iron Dome Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

As you may have heard Hamas has broken the ceasefire and launched rockets again at Israel.

Israel is firing back and they won’t ever stop until Hamas gives it up.

Today I went to an Iron Dome battery in the South of Israel near Ashdod. Now you might think I shouldn’t say where it is, but Israelis and media can drive up and park and watch them in operation. They have to stay back 300m, and media can get within 150m.

We were able to get a little closer but had to remain behind the launchers. Still after a few shots we were asked to go back to 150m.

Before we started we were briefed on procedures should an alert be issued. That would require us to shelter behind a small hillock on the leeside from the direction towards Gaza. The rockets in this location fly low and fast and so the hillock would cop it not us.

Fortunately this battery didn’t fire while we were there. The one near Askelon did though. The battery we were at had engaged 4 rockets during the day out of 80 fired from Hamas. Read more »

Rocket fire resumes from Gaza

I was sitting at Blue Sky restaurant atop the Carlton Hotel in Tel Aviv having dinner with two Israeli bloggers talking about LGBTQ issues in Israel.

As we were eating dinner Hamas launched a rocket attack.

Iron Dome started firing and I have to say it was impressive.   Read more »

Auckland University goon squad defends Hamas

 

Yesterday the Auckland University goon squad were out in force  dribs and drabs protesting against Hamas..oh….I mean Israel. It did make me wonder though, as one of their chants were “Boycott genocide”. Juliet Moses confronted the rowdy teenagers and tried engage some sensible dialogue with their adult supervisor and enlighten them to a few facts about Hamas, only to be shouted down with petulant behaviour, abuse and more chanting because they didn’t like what she had to say to them. It just goes to show one thing from ‘that side’, that freedom of speech is tolerated, as long as it’s theirs.

Billy Hania the adult representing the rowdy toddlers blurted out a  delusional rant which stated that all the killing was a result of the Super Fund and other companies. It has been alleged that an Israeli chemical company that the Superannuation Fund invests in is “killing people” with white phosphorus. The trouble with that is, the IDF haven’t used it since 2009 and it is only used for smokescreens because its use as a weapon is now illegal.

Even David Shearer doesn’t know what’s going on, as is evident in his comment:

Labour defence spokesman David Shearer, who worked for the UN in some of the conflict zones where white phosphorus was allegedly used, this month called for the fund to sell its Israel Chemicals stake.

“We should be divesting from that [shareholding] immediately,” he said.

“New Zealand should not be investing in any type of munitions that can be used in the way Israel is using them at the moment.

“It is absolutely unacceptable and I think most New Zealanders would agree. I don’t believe it is right.

“There are plenty of good investments in the world without having to invest in armaments.” – source

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