Thursday, January 29, 2009

Palestinian rock thrower, channelling Wile E. Coyote, is killed by own rock

File under 'Cartoon Violence': From Israel National News, via Daniel Pipes:

A Palestinian Authority Arab who stoned cars in Samaria was killed by one of his own rocks, police have concluded. A Jewish man held in connection with the death has been released.

The Arab teenager hurled heavy stones at Israeli-owned vehicles along a Samaria highway last Tuesday evening. He managed to hit one car, which was driven by a resident of the nearby town of Emmanuel.

Fearing further attacks, the driver fired a single shot in the air to frighten away the stone-thrower. He then contacted local security officers to report both the attack and his own response.

A short time later, Israeli paramedics received a report of an Arab teen found unconscious and badly wounded next to a highway. The teen suffered a serious head injury that appeared to be a bullet wound. Medical personnel rushed to the scene but were unable to save the young Arab, who died a short time later.

Police originally believed that the resident of Emmanuel who reported firing in the air had in fact fired at his attacker, killing him. The man was arrested and questioned. However, an initial forensic report showed that the attacker had not been killed by a bullet, and the detainee was released.

A final forensic report, released over the weekend, showed that the attacker was killed when a stone he threw hit the car driven by the man from Emmanuel. The stone hit the car's tire and bounced back at high speed, hitting the attacker and leaving him with a fatal head injury.

Headline of the day

Yep, fighting has a way of doing that.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jenin redux: BBC and others report Hamas figures for Gaza dead as fact, ignore Israeli counter-claims

The row over the BBC's refusal to broadcast the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal for Gaza has give the corporation a wonderful opportunity to grandstand about its 'impartiality', but iIronically the furor is providing a smokescreen for the BBC's reporting on the conflict itself, which has been anything but impartial.

The BBC (along with Sky) is right not a broadcast an appeal which is, in effect, raising funds for the temporarily defeated side in an ongoing conflict. The public are free to donate to those charities if they want, but supposedly impartial news organisations should not be promoting the appeal.

If anyone's in any doubt about the emotive and political nature of the ad the BBC refused to run, here's how the New York Times described it:
As shown on Monday night, the video focused heavily on the plight of Palestinian children — small boys and girls wounded and sobbing, being rushed into hospital emergency wards and, at one point, a parent clutching a tiny white shroud. Other scenes were of apartment blocks collapsed into piles of twisted steel and rubble.
But in the case of the BBC, 'supposedly' is the operative word. While it claims the moral high ground in the row over the appeal, its reporting on the aftermath of the Gaza fighting continues to betray a bias the effects of which are far more insidious than the effects of broadcasting of the DEC ad would have been.

As I've written in a piece for Pajamas Media, the BBC, along with much of the rest of the world's media, is continuing to report Hamas's figures for the number of people killed in the conflict, without mentioning that the figures are disputed, and without reporting Israel's own figures, which suggest that a majority of the casualties were Hamas fighters. Here's the paragraph on casualties in today's lead BBC story on Gaza:
The Israeli offensive in Gaza killed about 1,300 Palestinians, of whom 412 were children; 21,000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged. Thirteen Israelis were killed during the three weeks of violence.
In another report, in which the BBC's Christian Fraser attempts to manufacture an Israeli 'war crime' based on uncorroborated claims by Palestinians, the BBC again states as fact that 400 children were killed in the Israeli assault:
One of the most alarming features of the conflict in Gaza is the number of child casualties. More than 400 were killed. Many had shrapnel or blast injuries sustained as the Israeli army battled Hamas militants in Gaza's densely populated civilian areas.
Bizarrely (and belatedly) the BBC is actually running a story on the conflicting casualty claims here, yet in its lead stories, both on the web and on TV, it continues to use the Hamas-approved numbers.

As I said, the BBC isn't alone. Here's a Reuters story about the DEC row, which will have been repeated by news outlets around the world:
But the BBC and Sky, which have 24-hour news channels watched in the Middle East and have closely followed Israel's three-week war in which 1,300 Palestinians were killed, have said they will not broadcast the appeal.
And here's CNN:
The conflict, which began December 27, has left more than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.
The New York Times, meanwhile, at least carries the Israeli claim of a slightly lower number of deaths, but again neglects to mention that many of the Palestinian dead were combatants:
About 1,300 people were killed, according to medical officials in Gaza (Israeli military officials have put the number at about 1,200), and more than 5,000 were reported injured.
Compare these figures with the claims of five or six hundred dead, and reports of many empty beds in Gaza's hospital, from the Italian journalist Lorenzo Cremonesi, and with the latest estimates from the IDF:
A continuing IDF investigation into the number of civilian Palestinian casualties during the Israeli offensive in Gaza indicated that only 250 of the fatalities were civilians.

The military estimates that between 1,100 and 1,200 people were killed during the offensive. Some 700 of are believed to be militants and most are believed to be Hamas operatives.

The IDF is still trying to ascertain the identity of the remaining fatalities, but security sources said many would probably turn out to be militants as well. "Hamas is familiar with the numbers and is doing everything it can to concealed them," said an IDF source.
As I point out in my Pajamas piece, we're unlikely to ever get a definitive death toll for this latest conflict - Gaza under Hamas has been a basket case at the best of times, and the latest fighting has only added to the chaos. And which numbers you believe will probably depend largely on which side you support in the conflict.

But if the MSM is happy to report as fact uncorroborated claims from a regime made up of liars, murders, torturers and crooks, it shouldn't have a problem reporting conflicting claims made by the military of a free and democratic nation, whose statements and actions are subject to intense scrutiny by its own media and courts.

Instead, the figure of 1,300 dead Gazans - mostly civilians and including over 400 children - has now been incorporated into the mythology of Palestinian victimhood, and is being used to incite hatred against Israel worldwide.

We've been here before, with Jenin in 2002 and Lebanon in 2006. There will never be peace in the Middle East so long as myths continue to be reported as news, and it's hardly surprising that the outlook remains bleak when much of the world's media shows no interesting in uncovering and reporting the truth.

Thanks to Rusty and Carl for linking.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Self-appointed spokesman for 'moderate' Islam apologises for calling Harry a 'thug'

Mohammed Shafiq is the spokesman for the Ramadan Foundation, which purports to represent young, moderate British Muslims. He's been omnipresent in the British media in recent days, condemning Prince Harry for using the word 'Paki' to describe an Asian fellow army officer. In several interviews, however, he apparently forgot that he was supposed to be the voice of reason, and called Harry a "thug". Now, just like Harry, he's apologized.

Shafiq normally does a better job of playing the 'moderation' game - so, for example, he was vocal in his condemnation of Sudan for arresting Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher who allowed her Sudanese pupils to name a teddy bear Mohammed. Shafiq has a good feel for mainstream public opinion, and doesn't try to defend the more outrageous behaviour of his co-religionists. But, as I've written in this piece on the Harry row for Pajamas Media, the mask slips when the issues become more nuanced (the article also touches on the double standards of other Muslim 'activists', and the media).

Shafiq has attacked Tony Blair for having the temerity to suggest that some British Muslims should do more to integrate, and the Pope for merely quoting a 14th-century emperor who was critical of Islam. He also criticized the decision to award a knighthood to Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie, on the grounds that Rushdie’s exercising of his right to free speech was offensive to Muslims, and has condemned the publication of The Jewel of Medina, a 'racy' book about the Prophet Mohammed by U.S. author Sherry Jones (I wrote about that row here). Before the Harry story broke Shafiq was accusing the Israelis of behaving like Nazis in their assault on Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

And now the mask has slipped again. Like Harry, Shafiq has discovered the pitfalls of opening your mouth without first engaging your brain.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Brits taking fight to the Taliban

Lost amid the coverage of Israel's assault on Gaza, British troops have been enjoying big successes against the Taliban in Helmand province, capturing four key enemy positions. Around 100 Taliban fighters were killed in the operation, which reached its climax with a battle on Christmas Day.

My brother Steve is in the middle of his six-month tour in Helmand, helping to co-ordinate artillery support for troops in the field from the British base in Musa Qala. He just sent a batch of photos, including this great shot of a US Marines CH-53 Super Stallion taking off from the base in the early morning (double-click for full-size image):

Karmic justice catches up with Somali pirates (and taxi drivers)

From the Telegraph:

Five Somali pirates who released a Saudi supertanker have drowned with their share of a reported £2 million ransom after their escape boat capsized.

Residents and pirates in the Somali port of Haradhere told the Associated Press that the boat, which was carrying eight men, overturned in a storm after dozens of pirates left the Sirius Star following a two-month standoff in the Gulf of Aden.

Three of the eight pirates managed to swim to shore but five were believed to have drowned.

The Telegraph reports that the ransom money was lost at sea, although it's not clear if all the money was lost, or if the three survivors managed to hang on to their share. Either way, karma has apparently has managed to achieve what the world's navies couldn't.

My girlfriend had a similar experience a few weeks back. A taxi driver overcharged her, and when she complained he became abusive and threatened to call the police. My girlfriend, not wanting to make a scene, paid up. The taxi driver drove out of our street, hit a patch of ice and crashed into a bus stop.

Sadly though, he held on to his money.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Israel is right to keep the MSM out of Gaza

My latest piece for Pajamas Media. It's not like there's a news blackout - there's plenty of information coming out of Gaza, much of it in fact skewed against Israel, and the last thing Israel needs is Christiane Amanpour and the rest of the MSM all-stars providing one-sided, context-free, 'infotainment' that focuses almost exclusively on Palestinian suffering.

Make sure you read the rest of the coverage at Pajamas, particularly Victor Davis Hanson.

Media's favourite Gaza doctor is terror-loving fascist

Unbelievable. A Norwegian doctor who is all over the TV news channels pontificating about the suffering of Gazans is a terrorist sympathiser. A regular Che Guevara. And these are the sort of people the world is getting 'impartial' reports from. (Via LGF)