Monday, August 25, 2014

Look how traumatized he is
Yesterday I wrote that +972 Magazine had swallowed, without skepticism, an absurd story of a Gaza teenager, Ahmed Abu Raida, who accused the IDF of forcing him to search for and dig (!) tunnels for five days with hardly any food and without clothing.

Besides the obvious holes in the story, the more lurid details were clearly coaxed out of Abu Raida by the thoroughly discredited DCI-Palestine, a group that says outright that it will work overtime to smooth over any inconsistencies in the "testimonies" it prompts from Palestinian children. The same group has significantly  inflated numbers of children killed according to other Palestinian human rights groups, and it ignores cler evidence of children acting as militants that are noted by these other groups. Moreover, it creates statistics based on the coaxed testimony it elicits, claiming that an impossible 75% of children detained by the IDF are tortured.

Today, Jodi Rudoren and Fares Akram in The New York Times published the story with the same lack of skepticism as the Zionism-hating +972mag.

Not only that, but the NYT didn't even discount the additional details that further prove that this story is fantasy for any real reporter:

His assertions, of actions that would violate both international law and a 2005 Israeli Supreme Court ruling, could not be independently corroborated; Ahmed’s father, Jamal Abu Raida, who held a senior position in Gaza’s Tourism Ministry under the Hamas-controlled government, said the family forgot to take photographs documenting any abuse in its happiness over the youth’s return, and disposed of the clothing he was given upon his release.
Seriously? His father is a Hamas official and "forgot" to photograph the alleged bruises or to keep the alleged ill-fitting IDF clothes as evidence - a goldmine of anti-Israel material?

The NYT notes that the story first surfaced in a report from the equally one-sided Euro-Mid Observer, an organization that works closely with DCI in fabricating facts and statistics.

But there are significant differences between the initial report from Euro-Mid and the later, more lurid report from DCI-P:

On July 23, 17-year-old Ahmad Jamal Abu Reeda, says he was restrained by Israeli troops who threatened to kill him. After harshly interrogating and beating him, the troops ordered Abu Reeda to walk ahead of them at gun point, accompanied by police dogs, as they searched houses and other buildings. Several times, they demanded that he dig in places they suspected tunnels to exist. Abu Reeda was forced to remain with the Israeli forces for five days.
In this report, Abu Raida claims that he accompanied IDF troops while they searched for tunnels, a week later he is claiming that they sent him inside by himself to search for tunnels - because, of course, the IDF would trust a 16-year old son of a Hamas official to accurately pinpoint and report back on hidden tunnels in houses in the middle of a war zone.

The New York TImes didn't note the inconsistencies. The New York Times didn't research the record of lies and subterfuuge from DCI-P and Euro-Mid Observer. Instead of researching the history of those two groups, The New York TImes pretended that only the IDF finds DCI-P to be unreliable, making it a case of "he said, she said" instead of verifying easily found facts as real journalists would. The New York Times didn't think that the complete absence of corroborating evidence from the family was enough to cast doubt on the story, writing it as if the coaxed testimony had credibility.

To be sure, the NYT pretended to be even-handed, asking the IDF to respond and not getting an answer. But given the known biases and history of flat-out lies from DCI-P and Euro-Mid Observer, Jodi Rudoren and Fares Akram went the lazy route.

Let's be clear: quoting anti-Israel propaganda organizations that masquerade as "human rights" organizations is not reporting. It is recycling propaganda. And they rely on an interview with a teenager whose own testimony is not only ridiculous on the face of it, but self-contradictory (besides the "searching for tunnels" accusation, DCI-P claimed that he was threatened sexually, one of their favorite accusations, but Abu Raida did not say that to the interviewer in two lengthy interviews.)

Real journalists would be more than skeptical with over-the-top claims that have no independent corroboration whatsoever. Certainly a real journalist wouldn't headline a story based on such meager evidence. And real journalists would know that even Amnesty International admits that Palestinian Arab testimony is often suspect.

But lazy journalists, and journalists with an agenda, are a whole different breed. Instead of ignoring or abandoning a story that has little credibility, they decide to go ahead and use little caveats to cover their behinds, caveats that the average reader will discount because the story is written in a way to give credence to the incredible.

(h/t YMedad, PreOccupied Territory, EBoZ)

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