Israel coverage got you down?


Don’t like U.S. press coverage of Arab-Israeli news? At least you’re not getting it from overseas media. Be relieved you’ve missed these examples, among many:

On Feb. 10, Australia Broadcasting Corp. reported that the Israel Defense Forces frequently and brutally tortured 14- and 15-year-old Palestinian boys during interrogation about rock-throwing and similar incidents.

Correspondent John Lyon told viewers he had been inside the Ofer military prison near Ramallah three times as part his ABC joint investigation with The Australian newspaper. In addition to three Palestinian youngsters, Lyon relied on Gerald Horton as a main source. Horton is a former business lawyer in Sydney who appeared in the West Bank six years ago to campaign against what he alleges is a dual system of justice, one for Palestinian Arabs, one for Israelis.

A senior Israel Defense Forces official knowledgeable about Israel’s judicial system in the West Bank told CAMERA’s Jerusalem office that Lyon never had been inside Ofer prison, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reporter never asked IDF representatives to comment on the “torture” charges and neither the IDF official nor his colleagues had ever seen Horton represent a Palestinian child in court.

Contrary to Horton’s claims, relayed by Lyon, “the rules of evidentiary admissibility in military courts are the same as the rules of evidentiary admissibility in Israeli civilian courts. … Beatings and other abuses are immediate cause for not allowing evidence.”

Lyon’s entire account, the IDF official asserted, was “simply fictitious.”

On Feb. 13, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz published a front-page reiteration of the “Israel-steals-Arab-water” canard. The paper’s Palestinian affairs reporter, Amira Hass, a virtual encyclopedia of erroneous coverage, claimed Israelis “use three times more water a day in their households as West Bank Palestinians do.” She charged this demonstrates “just one aspect of the large discrepancy between Israelis and Palestinians in access, development and use of water resources.”

What it actually demonstrates, as CAMERA pointed out, is that West Bank Arabs use most of their water for agriculture, in wasteful ways like flood irrigation of water-intensive crops. The Palestinian Authority also loses a great deal of water through leaky, ill-maintained pipes. That leaves limited water for residential use.

In contrast, Israel saves water in every way possible, starting with low flow
toilets and showerheads and efficient agricultural techniques like drip irrigation. A world leader in desalinization, Israel also recycles sewage, treating 78 percent and devoting most of that to agriculture.

To fairly compare Israeli to Palestinian fresh water use, Ha’aretz should have subtracted the additional fresh water Israel saves and produces from the total consumed. That would have shown fresh water consumption for all uses by Israelis at 150 cubic meters per year, versus 140 cubic meters for Palestinian Arabs. Hess’ charge of a 3-to-1 imbalance favoring Israeli and proving unfair discrimination evaporates.

On April 30, 2013, a Palestinian attacker murdered Israeli Evyatar Borosky at a West Bank bus stop. The BBC reported “attacks there are rare” and that it was the first time a settler was killed by an Arab since 2011.

Such assaults – fire-bombings, stone throwing and stabbing attempts – were anything but rare. They totaled 460 in the five preceding months, as BBC Watch, a CAMERA affiliate, pointed out. None had been fatal, but others resulted in serious injuries.

The West Bank (Judea and Samaria) is slightly smaller than the English county of Cumbria, BBC Watch noted. It doubted the network would describe more than three terrorist attacks there per day as “rare.” BBC then edited its Web site to note that fatal attacks were rare, still without saying attempts overall were chronic.

On Oct. 5, 2013, a masked man attacked Noam Glick outside her home in Psagot, next to Ramallah. The 9-year-old was rushed to a hospital and underwent surgery. BBC Watch noted the next day that the network’s Middle East news Web site had not reported the assault. BBC did report two arrests in the case on Oct. 9 – and told those who complained about lack of initial coverage that though the attack should have been reported at the time, the incident occurred on the weekend when staff was down and fewer stories reported. Yawn.

But if a masked Israeli had attacked a 9-year-old Palestinian, sending her to a hospital on Saturday night, want to bet it would not have warranted BBC coverage, as well as that of Australian Broadcasting Corp. and Ha’aretz? Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; constant monitoring that of news media sanity.

Eric Rozenman  is Washington director of CAMERA, the Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

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