Guardian Report Misses the Real Child Abuse

This is cross posted by Simon Plosker at HonestReporting

NBC News reports:

The images grow no less shocking with time — a gaping wound on a tiny skull, the hair matted with blood; a gunshot that pierced the skin of a small torso and went straight toward the kidney; and finally, the broken neck and severed penis of a 13-year-old boy, his mangled body contorted on a plastic sheet.

This isn’t, however, a story from Israel but the shocking example of what is happening to Syrian children being tortured and murdered by the Assad regime.

Meanwhile, in Israel, The Guardian runs a special report on the alleged mistreatment of Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military. With the report is an 11 minute video which includes footage of an interrogation. A Palestinian child cries, not as a result of torture but because he is going to miss some school exams.

By opening this critique with the emotive and disturbing description of a dead child, we could be accused of being deliberately manipulative. Just like The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood who also set the scene in a similar fashion:

The room is barely wider than the thin, dirty mattress that covers the floor. Behind a low concrete wall is a squat toilet, the stench from which has no escape in the windowless room. The rough concrete walls deter idle leaning; the constant overhead light inhibits sleep. The delivery of food through a low slit in the door is the only way of marking time, dividing day from night.

This is Cell 36, deep within Al Jalame prison in northern Israel. It is one of a handful of cells where Palestinian children are locked in solitary confinement for days or even weeks. One 16-year-old claimed that he had been kept in Cell 36 for 65 days.

It is an ugly scene for an equally ugly story that paints Israel as a serial abuser of Palestinian children. The real child abuse in reality, however, is that caused by Palestinian society and media that glorifies terrorists, suicide bombers and “martyrs”, encouraging Palestinian youth to follow the same path.

A vulnerable child is easy pickings for recruitment by terrorist organizations. In recent years the most predominant activities characterizing involvement of minors were involvement in suicide bomb attacks, Molotov cocktail throwing, stone throwing and stabbing. Minors have also been involved in grenade throwing, use of explosives, shooting, car bombs, transfer of weapons, kidnapping, rocket launching, as well as assault and murder.

See here for more on Children Dying to Kill.

And while it suits Palestinian propaganda to promote the image of children armed with stones facing Israeli armor, the reality is that stones can kill. As recently as September 2011, Asher Palmer and his infant son Yonatan were killed after the vehicle he was driving overturned as a result of Palestinian rock throwing.

The Israeli response: Unpublished by The Guardian

There are often complaints that Israel does not react in a timely manner to address allegations such as those made by The Guardian. While Israeli Government spokesman Mark Regev does appear in The Guardian’s video along with a token paragraph in the main article, most of the Israeli Security Agency’s (ISA) response went unpublished as Harriet Sherwood picked out only a few quotes.

Here, for the record, we are including the response from the ISA that was sent to The Guardian before its article was published. In it, the ISA states:

  • The claims that Palestinian minors were subject to interrogation techniques that include beatings, prolonged periods in handcuffs, threats, kicks, verbal abuse, humiliation, isolation and prevention of sleep are utterly baseless.
  • Those detained for ISA questioning receive the full rights for which they are eligible, in accordance with international treaties of which the State of Israel is a signatory and according to Israeli law, including the right to legal counsel and visits by the Red Cross.

Click here for the full ISA response.

DCI-PS: A Politicized, Anti-Israel NGO

We already know only too well from bitter experience, The Guardian’s anti-Israel agenda. But what of Defence for Children International – Palestine Section, the non-governmental organization (NGO) that collected Palestinian testimonies and collaborated with The Guardian?

According to NGO Monitor:

  • DCI-PS supports BDS campaigns, and is an active participant in boycott efforts in the framework of the UN and other venues. Also lobbies the UN and the EU to promote these campaigns.
  • Calls for Israel to “accept historical and legal responsibility for the Nakba, and recognise the principle of the right to return that was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in its Resolution No. 194 in 1948.”
  • Published an ‘urgent appeal,’ calling the UN Human Rights Council members to “endorse all the recommendations contained in the Goldstone report…and submit the report to the General Assembly and the Prosecutor of the ICC for appropriate action.”

This is only a small selection of examples of DCI-PS’s politicized and anti-Israel agenda that puts its credibility in doubt. After all, if this NGO is actively seeking evidence with which to attack Israel, then coaxing questionable testimony from minors of questionable character who may have already been involved in criminal or terrorist activity may be easier than it should.

The Guardian’s Agenda Journalism

If any further proof were needed of The Guardian’s brand of agenda-driven journalism, it appeared the day after the original article. This follow-up focused on the UK government’s response to the allegations raised by The Guardian.

This is a prime example of how a biased and one-sided article in the media can have damaging consequences way beyond simple public relations damage.

Commenting to The Guardian is Sandra Osborne MP, who has been leading the campaign in Parliament. The photo below of Osborne with Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh taken in July 2011 is an indication of where her sympathies lie.

Harry’s Place blog documents Osborne’s thought’s on the “moderate” Hamas leader:

We were also able to meet with Ismail Haniyeh who is recognised as PM in Gaza (while Fayyad is still seen as PM in the West Bank), who heads up the successful Hamas Parliamentary Group. He is a popular figure, living modestly locally in Gaza. He has been pivotal in taking Hamas down a more moderate road leading to a renunciation of violence and keeping the more militant factions within Hamas under control while promoting engagement with rival Fatah. We discussed a wide range of issues but he made it clear that some of the most important could not be seriously addressed until Israel recognised the Palestinian State and real progress was made.

Advocacy journalism is not, by itself, unacceptable. After all, it is the job of a free media to shine the spotlight on untoward behavior wherever it might be found. Indeed, the Israeli press is usually the first to expose issues that need to be investigated in a functioning liberal democracy.

What is unacceptable, however, is The Guardian’s relentless campaign to portray Israel in as negative a light as possible. If only the children of Syria or any number of other places in the Middle East had Guardian reporters advocating on their behalf instead of on the one place where the mechanisms of accountability and rule of law actually exist.

It would be naive to believe that there have never been any Israeli violations of those laws specifically meant to protect the rights of minors in detention. If these cases exist, there are authorities tasked with investigating and dealing with such deviations. This is not, however, the norm.

The Guardian, in collaboration with DCI-PS, has deliberately and falsely portrayed Israel as a country that tolerates the torture and abuse of Palestinian children, which is definitively not the case. Having to arrest, prosecute and imprison minors is by its very nature a difficult issue. Unfortunately, Israel has been forced out of necessity to address a problem arising from Palestinian society.

So where then is the real child abuse?

Send your considered comments to The Guardian – letters@guardian.co.uk

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