The media is feeding the big lie that Israel is malign and wrong

Coverage of the recent Gaza hostilities credulously repeated fictitious civilian casualty figures for Palestinians. The truth was that the IDF was uniquely successful in its targeting


BRADFORD, ENGLAND - APRIL 24: The Respect Party's George Galloway during election campaigning on April 24, 2015 in Bradford, England. Britain goes to the polls in a General Election on May 7. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

July 01, 2021 15:46

In the recent hostilities between Israel and its attackers in Gaza, a prime Israel-bashing meme was — as ever —the falsehood that the Israeli forces were killing a huge number of Gaza’s civilians.

In vain did defenders of Israel point out that Hamas deliberately sited its missiles and other weaponry in and among apartment buildings, schools and hospitals in order to maximise civilian casualties of Israeli air strikes and thus defame Israel as a wanton aggressor.

In vain was it pointed out that Israel goes to lengths deemed unthinkable by any other armed forces in the world to avoid the loss of enemy civilian life, including issuing residents of targeted buildings with evacuation warnings by text, phone calls or “knock on the roof” harmless missile strikes to tell anyone in there to get out.

None of these facts stopped the relentless flow of claims that the majority of those killed by Israeli missile attacks in May’s Operation Guardian of the Walls were defenceless civilians.

Now, however, the evidence from the updated casualty figures in that operation reveals that, relative to Israel’s massive bombardment of Gaza with some 1500 strikes, the proportion of civilian deaths was astonishingly small.

With two million civilians — 60 percent of whom are children — packed into densely occupied Gaza, and given the Hamas strategy of using them as cannon fodder for air attacks, any Israeli airstrike would be expected inadvertently to kill thousands.

The Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry says in fact that 256 Gazans were killed.

According to Israel’s Meir Amit Terrorism and Information Centre, which puts the figure at 234, nearly half of those were Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad combatants whom it has identified by name. Of the 95 of those killed who had no terrorist affiliation, 52 were children and 38 were women.

By international standards, this roughly one-to-one ratio of civilian to combatant deaths is amazing. In Afghanistan, Iraq or other theatres of war, British, American and other armies’ airstrikes usually achieve a ratio of about three civilians killed for every one combatant.

Moreover, a number of those Gazan deaths were caused by the Palestinians’ own rockets. Some 4,360 of these were fired at Israel, all aimed at killing civilians.

The Meir Amit centre says 68o of them fell inside Gaza killing at least 21 people; ten men, two women and nine children. In an analysis for Bar Ilan university’s Begin-Sadat Centre, Alex Safian has estimated that 91 Gazans were killed by these Palestinian rockets, some 36 per cent of the claimed Gazan death toll.

So the Israeli strikes were carried out with near-pinpoint accuracy that no other state’s armed forces could match. By any normal standards, this would itself be a story.

Yet the British media, which repeatedly pumped out the incendiary lie that the Israelis were mainly killing Palestinian civilians, mostly children, have ignored it. The lie remains uncorrected. The enormity of it — the way it reversed what actually happened and the implications of that reversal — is staggering.

In acting as the Palestinians’ useful idiots, the British and other western media have become the principal weapon in the Palestinians’ strategy of propaganda war against Israel to demonise, delegitimise and destroy it.

With the Arab world having all but deserted them, and unable to defeat Israel in war, the Palestinians are now reliant on a front against Israel consisting of the western media and the Islamic revolutionary regime of Iran (and aided less overtly by the EU as well as the Biden administration).

By perpetrating what are in effect blood libels against Israel, the media are actively helping fuel the murderous hysteria against Israel in the Muslim world. This is now interfering with British politics, with “Palestine” having been promoted by the demagogic George Galloway to inflame Muslim voters in this week’s Batley and Spen by-election.

The media’s systematic complicity in this incendiary and false narrative, which has been fuelling the ugly Jew-baiting demonstrations and attacks on British Jews over the past few weeks, is beyond shocking.

Many otherwise decent people in Britain, for whom concepts such as fairness, compassion and the rule of law are encoded within their cultural DNA, have turned against Israel because the media have systematically fed them the big lie that Israel is uniquely malign.

Various reasons have been advanced for this obsession with demonising Israel, particularly the influence of the hard left on the universities and the corresponding belief among cultural leaders that the Palestinians are victims of colonialism and therefore cannot be held responsible for any misdeeds.

But something more visceral and evil is also surely at work here: the profound need to knock the Jews off their presumed moral pedestal and believe instead that they are a source of all bad things in the world. And there’s a word for that pathological imperative.

So we shouldn’t hold our breath for the media to correct the record about the casualty rate in Gaza. We should expect instead, alas, that they will continue to repeat the same corrupt and disgusting behaviour over and over again.

Melanie Phillips is a Times columnist


July 01, 2021 15:46

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