Saturday, October 30, 2010

Omissions and distortions

On Wednesday of this week, there was a non-violent demonstration by a small group of Israeli Jews in the predominantly Israeli Arab community of Umm El-Fahm to protest against the Islamist movement in the country led by cleric Raad Salah.  As we've noted many times, Reuters regularly distorts or withholds information from its readers which, while contextually vital to an understanding of the story, reflects poorly on the Palestinian Arabs.  Douglas Hamilton's piece on the demonstration in Umm El-Fahm and associated violence by local Arabs represents another such example of Reuters skewed reporting.

Hamilton refers to the Jewish marchers with the pejorative label "ultranationalist" while sanitizing Salah and his activities by writing merely that he was:
jailed by an Israeli court for disorderly conduct and assault after scuffles with police who confronted protesters during engineering work near at Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque, Islam's third holiest site in 2007.
There is no mention of Salah's extraordinarily vile history of incitement against Jews and the state of Israel.  In a sermon in 2007 for example, Salah told his Palestinian worshipers:
"They [the Jews] want to build their temple at a time when our blood is on their clothes, on their doorsteps, in their food and in their drinks. Our blood has passed from one 'general terrorist' to another 'general terrorist'... We are not those who ate bread dipped in children's blood."
Furnished with a more forthcoming account of the historical record, readers would have substantially greater insight into the rationale for the protest against Salah.

Hamilton also plays down Arab violence that accompanied the Jewish demonstration:
Israeli police on Wednesday fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse Arabs who were protesting against a rally by ultranationalist Jews in an Israeli-Arab town. 
Riot police, some on horseback, charged about 200 Arabs who threw stones at them before retreating, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Ten masked Arabs were arrested.
Note how Hamilton obfuscates cause and effect, leading readers to believe that Israeli police initially assaulted Arab "protesters" who only then responded with stone-throwing.  This is not merely an inversion of reality, it is a willful perversion of the statement by Micky Rosenfeld who actually said:
“As soon as stones were thrown and policemen were attacked, officers responded, firing stun grenades and tear gas at the rioters. We can confirm that 10 masked suspects were arrested,” Rosenfeld said.
Along the way, Hamilton quotes Israeli Arab residents and MPs rationalizing Arab violence:
Ahmed Tibi, an Arab legislator in Israel's parliament, said the anger displayed by Umm el-Fahm residents was understandable. 
"The unified position of the people of Umm al-Fahm was to repel those (ultranationalists) and the reaction was a natural one to this incursion by the security forces," Tibi said.
While failing to mention that, as a reflection of Israeli democracy, the demonstration by the Jewish group was formally approved by the leftist High Court of Israel.

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