Independent “reveals” Israel’s secret war on Palestinian clowns

CAMERA has a continually updated post on biased and inaccurate headlines accompanying articles on the latest round of Palestinian terror – words which often invert reality, blurring cause and effect or otherwise obfuscating clear evidence of Palestinian culpability.

These headlines – and often strap lines – sometimes mislead not merely by the words chosen, but by the words and facts which are omitted.  Since many people often just glance at a headline – perhaps only skimming the text in the article – such omissions have the effect of conflating perpetrator and victim, and seriously misleading news consumers as to the actual sequence of events.

The following headline accompanying a story in the Independent, by contributor Matt Broomfield (whose personal views on Israel are clear in these tweets), represents another example of editorial choices which distort reality and recast a suspected Palestinian terrorist as the victim of Israeli oppression.

indy clown

Gauging from the headline, strap line, photo and photo caption, we learn that a Palestinian clown who teaches circus skills to children with learning disabilities has been imprisoned by Israel.

Here are the first four paragraphs:

Israel has imprisoned a Palestinian circus entertainer for nearly three months without charge, prompting Amnesty International and a number of Palestinian rights organisations to call for his immediate release.

On 14 December, children’s entertainer Mohammad Faisal Abu Sakha was detained at a checkpoint on his way work at the Palestinian Circus School. Since then, he has been detained without charge in an Israeli prison.

Mr Sakha is detained under an “administrative detention order”, allowing the Israeli military to detain him indefinitely. His family have not been allowed to see him since his arrest.

According to Amnesty, Mr Sakha specialises in teaching children with learning disabilities, who make up 10 per cent of the students at the Circus School.

So, we are told that the Palestinian clown who teaches circus skills to children with learning disabilities has not only been imprisoned, but placed in administrative detention. His only crime, we’re later told, is “making children happy”.

However, in the fifth paragraph, we are given a bit more information about the Palestinian clown who teaches circus skills to children with learning disabilities.

AFP report that Mr Sakha is suspected of association with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Though the PFLP does have an armed wing fighting the occupying Israeli forces, the United Kingdom does not consider them to be a terrorist organisation. 

However, Sakha is not only associated with PFLP – a US designated terror group which seeks the destruction of Israel and was responsible for numerous deadly attacks, including the assassination, in 2001, of Israel’s Minister of Tourism – but is being held specifically due to evidence he was involved in a planned PFLP terror attack.  (Blogger Elder of Ziyon has more background here on Sakha’s support for violence against Jews.)

In total, out of more than 450 words (including the headline and strap line) in the Indy article, only 43 touch upon the reason why Sakha was arrested and detained – and even those two sentences downplay his involvement with PFLP and whitewash the group’s history of violence.

The decision by editors to obfuscate Sakha’s extremism and alleged crimes, while focusing primarily on irrelevant details about his love of the circus, more befits the agitprop routinely peddled by anti-Israel activist sites such as Electronic Intifada rather than a report by a putatively professional journalist published at a British news site.

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