Thursday, December 02, 2004

Fw: Checkpoint Propaganda

Checkpoint Propaganda

Molly Moore of the Washington Post recently reported "Checkpoints Take Toll on Palestinians, Israeli Army." In the article, Moore validates every Palestinian charge about Israeli checkpoints without providing adequate context.

One problem with the article is the use of loaded words and phrases: "segregated," "through concrete lanes resembling cattle chutes," and "dehumanizing."

In Israel's defense Moore only writes: "The Israeli military says the checkpoints are necessary to protect Israel and Jewish settlements in the territories from Palestinian attackers."

But it isn't just the military's claim that justifies, there is concrete evidence of that. Take for example the cases of Mamoya Tahio and Menashe Komemi who were manning a checkpoint near French Hill in September. Tahio saw a young woman who looked suspicious and tried to search her bag. Her bag, indeed, contained a bomb and she detonated it killing the two young soldiers and injuring 17 others. Had Tahio and Komemi not been at the checkpoint there would have been many more dead.

In January four soldiers, Andrei Kegeles, Tzur Or, Gal Shapira and Vladimir Trostinsky were killed when they attempted to accommodate a young woman who said that she had a metal plate in her leg. She too was carrying a bomb and detonated it, killing the men.

Moore even noted a similar circumstance from last year: "A year ago, two Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint south of Jerusalem were shot dead by a Palestinian who carried an automatic rifle rolled in a prayer rug." The implication of that incident is that even the most innocuous of people may be carrying something deadly. That implication is why, unfortunately, Israel needs the checkpoints. But Moore wasn't looking for justifications, she was looking for condemnations.

She reports uncritically, "At least 83 Palestinians seeking medical care have died during delays at checkpoints, according to the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group." Often Israel disputes these claims, but Moore provides no counterclaim.

Nor did Moore show that, for example, Palestinian have used civilian vehicles to hide bombs. Myths and Facts tells us: "For example, on November 2, 2002, a van carrying boxes of jeans pulled up at a checkpoint. Soldiers checked the IDs of the men in the van and discovered one of the passengers was a wanted man. The van was unloaded and it was not until the soldiers opened the last box that they discovered an explosive belt that was being delivered to a suicide bomber. Two weeks later a taxi pulled up to the same checkpoint. Soldiers found two computers in the trunk that seemed unusually heavy. They opened the boxes and found two explosive belts. They also found a bag with a gun (Ha'aretz, November 28, 2002)."

Knowing that provides a context for what Moore reports:"On one recent morning, soldiers demanded that a man squirt shaving cream from an aerosol can to verify its contents. They ordered another man to rip the red-and-silver wrapping paper off a box to reveal what was inside: a doll for his granddaughter." Even the most innocuous package may be deadly. Nor is this sort of request unusual. It is not uncommon in the United States to be asked to turn on a cell phone at security to ascertain that it is not an explosive device.

In her attempt to show the humiliation of the Palestinians, Moore ignores the context that forces the checkpoints to exist. Israel did not create checkpoints to humiliate Palestinians but in reaction to and increase in terror attacks. The toll to which Moore referred could have reasonably been attributed to the terror war against Israel that exploits the seemingly innocent in the service of mayhem. By failing to provide the necessary context, Moore's expose reads more like propaganda than a news story.
UPDATE: Media Backspin notes additionally that the Harawa checkpoint where Moore based her story was the one where a 14 year old was discovered with a bomb belt. That should have been mentioned too.
UPDATE: HonestReporting has issued a fullblown communique on the article, "Molly Moore's Narrow Turnstile". HR backs up my (unsubstantiated) claim that PHRMG was not a credible source. The communique also carries the news that according to an IDF investigation the Palestinian who played his violin apparently did it of his volition; he was not asked to do so by soldiers. (Best of the Web Today reports that the violinist claims that he was told to play by the soldiers.) Will the Washington Post report the findings of the IDF investigation even to cast a pall of doubt over them? According to the IDF Mahsom Watch backs the soldiers' version of events.
Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

Posted by David Gerstman at December 1, 2004 06:05 AM

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