Israel Advocacy Update. Written by Emily Gian. Media and Advocacy Director, Zionist Federation of Australia..
A story published in the Associated Press last week in which a Hamas spokesperson confirmed that Hamas fires rockets from residential and heavily built-up areas barely created a ripple around the world.
This is precisely what the IDF and a number of observers both impartial and on the Israeli side have been saying about Hamas not just during the recent conflict in Gaza but for many years. At the same time, it is also what many in the media were not saying; although they suspected or knew it to be true, for their own purposes they chose to turn a blind eye. This makes these revelations even more telling about the way events in the Middle East are reported in the mainstream media.
As the good professor used to ask, “Why is it so”, I am also moved to wonder why it is that a group that advocates violence and follows its words up with deeds by attacking civilian targets gets a virtual free pass from our media (and for more on that, please see my last update, Romanticising Hamas?
This is not to mention the ongoing defence of Hamas and its actions by those on the now morally bankrupt far left and the far right who routinely attack Israel at the drop of a hat and willingly take to the streets in protest when its defends itself against Islamic jihadi groups bent on its destruction.
Throughout Operation Protective Edge there were many examples of Hamas using their own people as human shields, of them storing weapons in schools and mosques, and firing from playgrounds, residential areas and hospitals. When the evidence started slowly trickling into the media, it was thought that perhaps there might be a change in tide and in the way that the narrative of the conflict was being reported, but instead, many in the media did not even blink or feel embarrassed about being tricked or exposed for either their naivety at best or downright malice towards Israel at worse. They simply carried on with their agendas (or those of their editors).
There was no change when we saw the likes of the Hamas manual for urban warfare which stipulated their method of using civilians as human shields, and messages from Hamas telling people to ignore Israeli orders to leave and to stay in their houses. We heard their spokespeople saying the same thing on television and in newspaper interviews. We heard the head of foreign relations in Hamas’ Information Ministry, Isra Al-Mudallal, admit that they deported journalists who were reporting the “wrong message”, and now we hear them actually admitting that they fired rockets from residential areas and that it was deliberate.
The criminal minds of the Hamas spin doctors know they have a large segment of the media including major news distributors like Associated Press in their thrall to such an extent that you can almost imagine them sitting there in their luxurious apartments in Qatar and their bunkers in Gaza saying
“let’s see what other ridiculous games we can play with our useful media idiots to gain another UN credit for today?”
They know that time and time again, those useful idiots will come to the party.
Cue the evil laughter.
Jonathan Tobin wrote an interesting commentary on Hamas’ latest admission. Hamas and its apologists are justifying the shooting of rockets from residential areas by claiming that Gaza is such a densely populated urban jungle that they have no choice but to fire from heavily built up areas. Tobin points out that
“despite the contentions about Gaza being the most congested place on earth, that there are, plenty of vacant areas in the strip… if Hamas really wanted to avoid Israeli fire being brought down on areas where civilians lived they could have used such places”.
On this point, Alan Dershowitz also published a brilliant article entitled “the empty spaces in Gaza” which he used as a basis for an ad he attempted to run in the Guardian newspaper. The ad was rejected without any legitimate reason.
Of course, this begs the question the world really should be asking about Hamas. It is not just about the choice it makes to fire rockets from a crowded area or an open space, but the choice of firing rockets at civilians, full stop. The fact that Hamas fires missiles from heavily populated civilian areas at civilians elsewhere and therefore commits a double war crime is just an “added bonus” for the terrorist group. Yet far too many in the media, and indeed in the general community, are prepared to ignore this or write off the crime by making the false claim that the rockets are useless pieces of junk because they rarely kill (forgetting that this is so because of Israeli defensive measures such as the Iron Dome and an insistence on building civilian shelters to protect from bombing attacks). The majority of Israel’s civilian casualties were also as a result of the less sophisticated weaponry that cannot be protected by the Iron Dome.
But I digress. The choice should never be about where to fire the weapons from. The choice should be whether they fire weapons at all.
Meanwhile, the UN investigation into whether Israel committed war crimes is set to get underway shortly. William Schabas, the head of the inquiry who I have written about on a number of occasions, had attempted to convince the world that he is capable of acting without any bias. He even tried to suggest that “even if Spiderman was heading the probe, they would’ve attacked him”. That is not true because there is absolutely no record of Spiderman making any comments prejudging Israel’s actions during the recent campaign or criticizing its Prime Minister as Schabas has done.
Now it has been revealed that during his student days, Schabas was charged with an offence and tried to disqualify the entire panel from his trial, accusing them of… wait for it … bias! Obviously, as UN Watch points out, he should not be help to account for things that went on in his student days, but surely it says something about the sheer hypocrisy and gall of the man who felt that anyone who had a bias before his own trial should not sit on the panel, but what is good for the goose is not good for this gander!
And, as the world’s focus turns to Iraq and Syria, the Palestinian Authority has been showing its petulance and acting like a spoiled brat by getting more than a little annoyed that the issue of the Islamic State is taking the attention away from the Palestinians and their cause. This is despite the fact that the world remains largely silent about IS atrocities in Syria and Iraq and western streets that were filled during Operation Protective Edge with protesters, some of them violently anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, remain eerily empty.