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It is no secret that Israel lost the media war over Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. To some extent, it was inevitable. Israel did not learn an important and bitter lesson of the Second Lebanon War.

If you do not win a war and occupy enemy territory, the territory remains under enemy control. They control the story and the way it will be told. They recruit people to tell atrocity stories about bloodthirsty Jews who murder little children. These fables are happily disseminated by the irresponsible and unprofessional reporters of Time, CNN, the Guardian and Newsweek. They take reporters where they want to take them and show them what they want to show them. The world's impression of Gaza is therefore that the Israelis left it in a state similar to that of Berlin after World War II, with few buildings intact. Goebbels, had he lived could have had a field day in the New York Times, exhibiting gemutlich and distraught Frauleins whose innocent kinder had been murdered by barbaric Bolsheviks and evil Jews. Of course, it is also a matter of value judgments. If you accept the basic premises of Nazism, then what was done to Germany was unforgivable. Since many reporters accept the basic premises of the Hamas, the portrayal of Gaza and the destroyed police stations and rocket launchers and the "fighters" "murdered" by the Israeli "occupiers" is sympathetic.

But Yvonne Green visited Gaza on January 28. She wrote a valuable and credible eye-witness account of what she saw, called Puzzled in Gaza. Everyone should read that account. The power and credibility of this account is due to the extensive and vivid detail that she provided and also to the dispassionate and relatively objective tone. She told us what she saw. An objective reader will probably come to the following conclusions from that article.

A lot of damage was done and Palestinians suffered.

Gaza is not destroyed. Most of Gaza is intact.

People are not starving in Gaza.

Innocent people did get hurt and killed, but they were the unintentional victims of war, not the victims of murderous Jews out to exterminate Arabs.

The reported casualties of the Gaza war are suspiciously invisible for the most part.

Structures were often destroyed without loss of life, because the IDF had leafleted the area and warned residents beforehand.

The conclusion from reading her Web log article is that she was convinced by what she saw, and an objective reader would probably be convinced as well: Far from committing barbaric war crimes in Gaza, it seems that the IDF took humanitarian precautions above and beyond any ever taken by any country using military force. But the power of the article rests in the fact that the author doesn't tell us most of these things in so many words. She simply reported what she saw for the most part, both the good and the bad.

It is true that the article, like many Web log articles, was marred by inconsequential flaws: misspelling of UNRWA and Jebalya, erratic punctuation and other marks of poor proofreading that are inevitable in all blog article including my own. Those flaws should not have been an excuse for ruining it and turning it into a propaganda piece.

A rather different version of Yvonne Green's Gaza trip was related in the Jerusalem Post under the same name. Journals do not obligate themselves to cite original sources, so people were unaware that there was a different version. The Post version was convincing to Zionists and partisans of Israel and has been forwarded extensively. It was much more polished and concise. But the Post version threw out the credibility baby with the bathwater, so it was no longer of any use as a neutral impressionistic account that told what there was to see. Instead of evidence, it presented conclusions. Instead of detailed descriptions and observations, telling the good with the bad, there is shrill political rhetoric and biased adjectives. The result was a bit of "Zionist Propaganda" that evoked justifiable skepticism even in a staunch Zionist Israeli friend. Such an article might be good for selling copies of the Jerusalem Post to "my country right or wrong" Zionists, but it is hardly going to convince neutral observers who have been snowed under by reports of Israeli "atrocities" from "objective" media. You owe it to yourself to read the two articles and compare.

Here is but one egregious example from the second paragraph of the Post version:

What I saw was that there had been precision attacks made on all of Hamas' infrastructure. Does UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticize the surgical destruction of the explosives cache in the Imad Akhel Mosque, of the National Forces compound, of the Shi Jaya police station, of the Ministry of Prisoners? The Gazans I met weren't mourning the police state. Neither were they radicalized. As Hamas blackshirts menaced the street corners, I witnessed how passersby ignored them.

Here is the second paragraph of the original version, admittedly much less polished and with punctuation that leaves something to be desired:

We drove away from Beit Hanoun to the ancient olive groves of Jebalia Reyes Hill which my guide said Israel had bulldozed because Hamas fired from them. Downhill I saw in the Abu Ayida familyís isolated compound the flattened remnants of several large houses and factories and a few small guardís houses. A family member, Taisir Fouad told me the 3 cars in the rubble were a Mitsubishi and two Hyundais, that $5,000,000 of damage had been sustained by the Abu Ayidas (this was not a general residential area) and that he and his 10 children had previously lived in a 900 square metre house and were now living in one room in Jebalia. I noticed a white kid goatís head and hooves itís body was covered in debris and a black and white goat, itís large stomach was rock solid under the gentle pressure I applied to it with my shoe. My guide took me into the only Abu Ayida house left standing, which he said the Israelis had used as a base. It had two storeys and my guide thought it measured about 700 square metres. Its concrete exterior was unclad. I hadnít expected the internal grandeur, the floors were marble and the chandeliers were amber glass. Outside and to the North of the house I was shown a flat piece of land where I was told the Israelis believed there were tunnels. I began to walk over to take a look but my guide told me to stop and follow him.

Ban Ki-Moon does not make an appearance anywhere in the original article and neither does the shrill, harassing rhetorical question. The "inconvenient" descriptions of destruction that provide credibility and balance were removed in the Jerusalem Post article. The words "precision" and "attack" cannot be found in the original version. These are conclusions, not observations. The Shi Jaya police station appears in the original in this sentence:

"My guide emphasised that he wasnít a refugee but a very proud Palestinian. He brought me to his grandparentsí birthplace, Shi Jaya the old city, east of Gaza City. The police station had been destroyed. It wasnít built by Hamas, my guide said, they seized it."

The Post version of the article has many additions that could not be found in the original, including this:

Corroboration of my account may be found in tardy and piecemeal retractions of claims concerning the UNWRA school at Al-Fakhora; an isolated acknowledgment that Gaza is substantially intact by The New York Times; Internet media watch corrections;

As far as I can determine, the acronym for this agency is UNRWA. Evidently the Post couldn't get that right either. But more important, the Post provides a link to the New York Times, which one might think was providing corroboration for the author's claims about the Times. No such luck, it is just an advertising link. If the Times really acknowledged somewhere that Gaza is intact, we won't know it from this article.

The Post's editing "tightened" and improved the English of that article somewhat, though I am still puzzling over the intended meaning of the cryptic clause "Internet media watch corrections". The Post version sacrificed credibility and balance in order to appeal to a more Zionist oriented audience that didn't want to read about dead goats. A dead Jewish goat is a tragedy, a dead Palestinian goat is an inconvenient fact that detracts from the story. But of course, someone else will report about a lot worse than dead goats. The author or the editors of the Post made the article into good propaganda, and thereby lost a golden opportunity to make Israel's case to the world.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2009. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000666.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 2 Comments

Please google a series of interviews with me on Bridges For Peace if you want more information on my trip to Gaza. Yvonne Green

yvonne green, Saturday, March 7th

Pardon my cynicism, if indeed it is cynicism. But many so called paragons of journalism are recipients of Arab largess for their poor excuses for reportage.

Howard Wolf, Friday, March 6th

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