Sunday, March 09, 2008

Gazans fire mortars at their own "humanitarian aid" (Hasbara failure #2)

Last week, a group of 8 British "human rights" groups released a report that slammed Israel for not allowing more humanitarian aid into Gaza and for its restrictions on movement for Gaza residents. While it was one-sided, it did throw a bone to Israel condemning Qassam attacks and airily declaring that Israel has the right to defend itself.

What it failed to acknowledge was that not only does Israel facilitate plenty of humanitarian aid into Gaza, but that terrorist actions directly affect how much they can safely provide.

Last Sunday, for example, Israel allowed 62 trucks to cross through the Sufa crossing. Almost unreported was that mortars were fired on the trucks, forcing them to turn back. Several hours later they tried again, successfully this time.

On Tuesday, Israel allowed some 160 truckfuls of aid to enter Gaza through three checkpoints. Again, mortar fire from Gaza was directed at the Kerem Shalom and Sufa crossings, which Islamic Jihad and PFLP took credit for.

On Wednesday, Israeli authorities discovered chemicals used for making explosives just one hour after Israel opened up Gaza crossings for shipments of humanitarian goods. The chemicals were discovered in a sealed container and were intended for use in Kassam rockets.

None of these stories merited a headline in any newspaper. All of them were buried in much longer articles about other topics. Not only does the Israeli government fail to publicize these issues appropriately, but even Israeli media bury these stories.

They just don't understand how Western media works nowadays.

Palestinian Arabs scream and cry about their "humanitarian crisis" and they get gullible Western humanitarian organizations to believe them, while at the same time they are continuing to do everything they can to minimize that same humanitarian aid. The idea that Palestinian Arabs are sabotaging their own humanitarian efforts, and using them to smuggle in rocket material, is newsworthy because it is ironic.

All Israelis know that these things happen every day and as a result these are regarded in Israeli media as "dog bites man" stories, buried within the larger articles about PalArab terror. But nowadays, the audience for the Israeli media is worldwide, and therefore at least the English-language stories need to be reported from the perspective of what Western audiences will find interesting and illuminating.

And the Israeli government press office needs to emphasize these facts, not just mention them.